I Believe in the Holy Spirit (Anglais) Broché – 13 mars 1998
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Originally published as three successive volumes, the three-volumes-in-one edition is a convenient way to approach Congar's classic text and a smart buy to boot. I am certainly well pleased with my personal copy. Volume 1 begins with an overview of the biblical and historical basis of Christian experience of and reflection on the Holy Spirit. Volume 2 digs more in depth into the development of pneumatological doctrine and understanding. Volume 3 addresses difficulties in and offers constructive and definitive ideas for advances. Although they can certainly be read separately with profit, they do form an organic whole that offers optimum benefit to those who tackle them together. Volume 3 is perhaps the most dense reading, although throughout the three volumes there are areas which require some potentially intimidating technical exposition. However, in general Congar writes in a quite readable way, and the entire work is amazingly accessible for such breadth and depth.
If there is a shortcoming to this series, it is simply that in the mammoth task of summarizing and analyzing so much material Congar is inevitably forced to be somewhat selective. A few times I have found myself wishing he had gone deeper here or less deep there. Nevertheless, that's just the nature of the work and not usually a noticable negative. With an almost unerring instinct, Congar attempts to offer the most focus where it appears it will be most effective for the most members of the wide-ranging Christian family. Of course, it is always distinctly Catholic. An excellent benefit is that one could easily follow up on Congar's clearly identified sources for further investigation in areas of special personal or professional interest. In this regard, it serves as an extraordinarily helpful bibliography on pneumatological studies (up to its own publication date, of course). Overall, I'd certainly say Yve Congar's I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT is a highly recommended resource for those with interests in serious investigations into contemporary pneumatology!
Congar really mastered in the filed of applying historical method into theology and confidently stresses that the relationship between God in the Tri-unity is still a mystery yet to be revealed. However, study of the Holy Spirit may provide better glimpse about the relationship of God in Himself. "...the history of salvation is not simply the history of God's revelation but also the history of his communication of himself" (III, 12). Congar acknowledges the efficacy of Rahner's datum: the economy of the Trinity is the immanency of the Trinity" Thus on the one hand, he agrees on a mild side from Rahner's notion saying "... even if God's creatures did not exist, God would still be a Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit, since creation is an act of free will" (III, 13). However, on the other hand, he disagrees with the next part of Rahner's assertion that the above statement can be equally true in vice versa. Along with Schoonenberg, Congar believes that the mystery of the immanent Trinity is unknown and unknowable.
Man can only comprehend what God has revealed about himself. Thus, the only way to understand the intricacy of the Trinity--the ontological being or manner of the immanent God--is to understand God's salvific action in the history for men--the procession of the Son from the Father (Filioque). With his major theme "love" (On the Holy Trinity, 15. 17. 28), Augustine has developed analogies to illustrate the "interrelationship" of the three "persons" of the Trinity. But his insufficient treatment of its complexity brought controversy and division. Congar this time, however, comes to defend Augustine's position saying "Augustine's aim was to guarantee the perfect consubstantiality of the three persons" (III-87). It is also the point where Augustine makes the point of Filioque that Congar draws his thesis about defining the Holy Spirit as "gift" yet not a thing or power.
Despite the fact Congar has made many profound insights it is hard to deny that the whole discussion seems to be cyclical without making any conclusion. Congar may want to justify his position by using an old Anglican's saying that Rome does not need to change but only to explain but it seems that the understanding of the Holy Spirit through the Trinitarian biblical theology has taken a right route but rather than trying to reach the conclusion through a historical theology if he would have remained as an exegete and biblical theologian to fully discuss this robust issue he would have been made more widely accepted contribution.