Read On the Holy Spirit by Basil the Great Free Online
Book Title: On the Holy Spirit|
The author of the book: Basil the Great
Date of issue: March 6th 2013
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 469 KB
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St Basil, much like St Gregory of Nazianzen, begins his work with a dense discussion of the terminology. It is easy for today's reader to miss what is important in the debate. St Basil spends the first few chapters sparring over the use of prepositions as they are applied to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He makes the point that since all of the prepositions his opponents use (or use to say that because ______ is not applied to the Holy Spirit; therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God), he shows that the so-called "less than full deity" prepositions are also used of the Father, the fact that they are used of the Son and Spirit in no way implies that the latter two are lesser in divinity.
Interestingly, one of St Basil's key arguments is the oral tradition of the Fathers. The implications of this for ecclesiology are staggering. Merely going to "the bible alone" is not enough and is sometimes heretical! St Basil writes,
So like the debtors,—of course bona fide debtors—they clamour for written proof, and reject as worthless the unwritten tradition of the Fathers (X.25).
Salvation is found in the regenerating grace of Baptism--baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (X.26). Concerning the sometimes omission of the Holy Spirit in baptism (the supposed contrast between Jesus's command and Peter's command), St Basil says, given the biblical witness, "the naming of Christ is the confession of the whole" (XII.28).
In XVIII St Basil gives a long and pregnant with meaning defense of the monarchia of the Father. Again, this is a crucial moment in the doctrine of the Church. Another key defense of the consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit is the "operations of the Spirit." Whether in the creation of the heavens or the advent of Christ, the Spirit is there (XIX).
One cannot help but wonder if St Basil's critique of those who advocate that the Spirit is free (free probably in the sense of "autonomous") would not also apply to Calvin's doctrine of the Son as "autotheos" (XX)?
The Spirit cannot be on the same level as "angels" because angels are circumscribed in place (XXIII), whereas the spirit is "everywhere present and fillest all things."
Is this the most articulate, sophisticated presentation of the Holy Spirit? No, but it is an important--even crucial--moment in the life of the Church. St Basil placed his defense of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit within the tradition of the Church. To use modern analytic philosophical language, he removed it from the possibility of "Scriptural defeaters." One can reject his use of "tradition" as a question-begging defense, and in some ways perhaps it is, but one must grant at the same time continuity to his argument. The heretics do not use tradition--and often proudly admit it--therefore they remove themselves further from Christ and the apostles. Maybe they can quote the words of Christ, but they remove themselves from the ancient and venerated community of Christ
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Read information about the authorBasil of Caesarea (Arabic: باسيليوس الكبير ), also called Saint Basil the Great, was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). He was an influential 4th century Christian theologian and monastic. Theologically, Basil was a supporter of the Nicene faction of the church, in opposition to Arianism on one side and the followers of Apollinaris of Laodicea on the other. His ability to balance his theological convictions with his political connections made Basil a powerful advocate for the Nicene position.
In addition to his work as a theologian, Basil was known for his care of the poor and underprivileged. Basil established guidelines for monastic life which focus on community life, liturgical prayer, and manual labor. Together with Pachomius he is remembered as a father of communal monasticism in Eastern Christianity. He is considered a saint by the traditions of both Eastern and Western Christianity.
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