Union with Christ in the theology of Samuel Rutherford : an examination of his doctrine of the Holy Spirit
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By way of introducing this doctrinal study, we have traced in broad outline the effects of Hellenistic philosophy on the theology of the Holy Spirit. After reviewing some of the errors which arose in the identification of the Spirit with the creation of mediating grace, we noted that there was also a tradition which avoided the worst aspects of Greek dualism by identifying the Third Person of the Trinity with grace as a continuing realisation of the mission of Christ in history. The pneumatological theology of Samuel Rutherford manifests this emphasis in 17th Cent. Scotland. His doctrine of the Spirit is consciously integrated with his understanding of the Trinity in general and with Christology in particular. The Son and the Spirit are both sent according to the plan of the Father. The Spirit in His soteriological office is subject to the Son and produces by recreation the life of the Son in those chosen by the Father. Thus regeneration, faith, repentance, and sanctification are the believer's by an actual union of participation in the life of Christ. This activity of the Spirit presupposes not only His use of the Scriptures which He has caused to be written as an unerring revelation of God's will, but also His absolute control of all creation. The Spirit's power in this regard is manifest in every part of the world but most obviously in the Church which He guides and vitalises and in the life of the individual believer who is constantly under His influences. The presence of the Holy Spirit in man does not create a bridge between him and Christ as by a creaturely means nor does it annihilate the believer's personhood or responsibility as by an absolute imputation of Christ's life. Rather, by drawing men into a living union with the living Christ, the Holy Spirit establishes man's true creatureliness and his responsibility in an act of worshipping the triune God in and through Jesus Christ.