on Tuesday, 7 September 2021 at 10.23 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Church in Wales, News, Opinion
Church Times Welsh agree to same-sex blessings in church
BBC Church in Wales to give blessings for same-sex marriages
The Telegraph The Church in Wales to bless gay marriages
The Guardian Church in Wales votes to bless same-sex marriages
Equal The Church in Wales will bless same-sex marriages and civil partnerships
Charlie Bell Equal A fly on the wall
Charlie Bell could do with some theological training. The Holy Spirit is a Person not an “it”
Hello there, Peter! I do have theological training, so far as I remember – it’s linguistic training I could probably do more of. Maybe a better word would have been ‘their’ – but I don’t feel terribly comfortable using the word ‘he’ or ‘she’ when referring to the Holy Spirit, and I get all tied up. That said, the etymology of ‘it’ is quite interesting, and given it comes from Old English as a neutral pronoun that could be used for persons, I’m not sure I feel quite so uncomfortable in using the word for the Holy Spirit. Just goes… Read more »
Fair point. On reflection I was being a little too acid with you. Ad hominem is always a low blow.
It’s a personal bug bear of mine that the Holy Spirit seems to have His pronouns dispatched in all possible directions. Having said that, you make an interesting point which I will need to digest.
You have to blame the Bible for the multiplication of pronouns, not Charlie! The word ‘spirit’, πνεῦμα, is neuter in Greek, so the Holy Spirit is ‘It’ throughout the New Testament, except for a couple of verses where St John calls the Holy Spirit the Advocate, παράκλητος, a masculine noun, which opens the way to ‘It’ becoming ‘He’. And then again, in the Hebrew scriptures and in Aramaic the word ‘spirit’ is feminine, which gives a third arguable option.
We also sometimes use ‘it’ for babies so the usage does include humans so I don’t personally have either a theological or grammatical problem using it to refer to the Holy Spirit.
Peter Hopkins might also need some theological training, if I was rude enough to make such a suggestion! The Holy Spirit is a hypostasis, for which the translation ‘person’ is problematic. It certainly doesn’t mean what we mean by person in every day speech. I wouldn’t use ‘it’ for the Holy Spirit, but whether the use of ‘it’ is appropriate has been courteously answered by Charlie.
Speaking of the Holy Spirit as the Third Person is hardly eccentric. It is perfectly orthodox. You overstate the strength of your argument.
I suppose it’s a step forward but given that the Bishop of Edinburgh only recently officiated at the marriage of Major General Alastair Bruce, a senior officer of the British Army, to his husband Stephen Knott it seems rather small beer in comparison. The Welsh of course are hamstrung by the quadruple legal lock against same sex marriage that the English bishops campaigned for and was also imposed upon the Anglican people of the Principality. There seems scant prospect of that legal lock being unpicked anytime soon. The bishops will no doubt tell us that exclusion is part of their… Read more »
The ‘quadruple lock’ (I have never understood that there is anything fourfold about it except the rhetorical exaggeration) does not apply in the same way to Wales. A clause inserted at the direct request of the then Archbishop of Wales provides for the Lord Chancellor to make provision for same-sex marriage for the CinW if and when it is asked for by their Governing Body.
Fr Dean – ‘The Welsh’ is shorthand but not reflective of the irrelevance of the Church in Wales. Barely 20,000 of the population attend public worship, about 0.8% and that trend shows no sign of reversing. The number of baptisms (a sign of growth) is in the low hundreds. I predict that the majority of those who have their marriages blessed will be from England. The central point of Disestablishment was to cut the umbilical cord with the Church of England. In the recent past the Church in Wales has failed to find a candidate within its own nation to… Read more »
I imagine the moderator will want to move the conversation on to the substantive issues from the published articles and I was not intending to provoke a series of comments on the Trinity. Having said that the Trinity really matters. May I offer what therefore needs to be the final comment on the matter. David Exham misunderstands the meaning of hypostasis. It is used of Christ Himself and I would hope we are all agreed He cannot and should not be described as “it”. There is nothing problematic about the translation “person” The Holy Spirit as the Third Person of… Read more »
I did not take David to be questioning the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and its persons, merely noting that the Latin translation of the Greek has resonances that are hard for us to overcome. This is a fairly benign observation and not the first time I’ve heard it. Of course, the Trinity is not three people.
“Of course the trinity is not three people” is that what you meant to say ??
I like the idea of describing the Holy Spirit as ‘She” – any takers? (Bishop John Taylor’s excellent book ‘The Go-Between God’ affected my view of the cooperating work of the Spirit within the Trinity).
Since people are discussing the Holy Spirit, I believe there has been recognition through Christian experience and tradition, that God is three persons in one community… a community who shares with such eternal givenness and trust that they even share consciousness and awareness, while still being three persons. To me, a deep part of the character of God is community… an eternal community, into which we are invited. God’s estate and household are ever in community, and we are called to share in this community, a bit like Ruth was welcomed into Boaz’s good estate and household. This three persons,… Read more »