But, to keep the examples general enough for our questions in focus here, it is Moltmann who provides clearer words to illustrate how the Spirit plays in giving this holistic dimension a voice. In his book, The Source of Life, he writes, “In charismatic experiences God’s Spirit is experienced elementally, not personally. And from these experiences we can deduce and discern that the Holy Spirit is the source of life, the origin of the torrent of energy” (Moltmann 1997, Kindle Edition, location 863). To answer our question here directly, a strong pneumatology interplays in the orthopathic life by literally being the ground of this life. But how do we point to specific modes of being and learning in order to understand how we are mediated the benefits of this ground in affective ways?
The modern push of Eastern Orthodox thinkers to illuminate personhood in light of a strong doctrine of the Trinity actually has its roots in the mystical tradition of Christianity and goes back as far as the beginning of Christianity. However, modern Eastern Orthodox thinkers are right to emphasize patristics. The study is very illuminating for our attempt here to build a theological voice for the orthopathic life. However, the study of the patristics, because they are so foundational to the doctrine of the Trinity, is not merely for the Orthodox. Mark Del Cogliano of the University of St. Thomas St. Paul, Minnesota, has an illuminating note in his book review of Richard Norris’ translation of Gregory of Nysssa: Homilies on the Song of Songs, and illustrates this point well. He writes,
Norris highlights Gregory’s belief that God is beyond the perceptible and intelligible created order and so must be mediated to humanity. But this mediation takes place primarily within the human being who has been created in the image of God. Since this divine likeness was lost through the fall, the more the divine image is restored in a person, the more one knows the archetype of that image. So, knowing (or seeing) God amounts to the same thing as being like God. In other words, progress in either virtue (being like God) or knowledge (seeing God) entails progress in the other (Cogliano 2013).*
And, as Kallistos Ware said under inspiration by Gregory of Nyssa’s reflections on the Song of Songs said, “we see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder” (Kallistos 1995, 10). The point being of these two quotes is that the Holy Spirit is a partner of our first-person experiences, by the grace of being the source of life, and can be mediated through the scriptures (which was Nyssa’s stance), or through the participation in the Church (which is Kallistos’ stance), or in charismatic experiences in and of themselves (my own view echoed in thoughts like Moltmann’s quote from earlier). There’s plenty of space for us to be affected before we’re ever effective, and the Spirit is the ground of this affect.
*this is a copy and paste from a paper I’m in the process of editing so proper citations are correct in that paper but due to lack of HTML skill was not able to make them show up here. I apologize!