Where is the Spirit?

I’m on the Presbyterian Church’s environmental taskforce, which has the role to address environmental issues and how the Church can respond at both the Assembly and parish levels. To contribute to that end I’m reengaging with some eco-theological literature.

First on the list is Dorothee Sölle‘s To Work and To Love: A Theology of Creation. It is a bit dated, being written in 1984, notably before the fall of the Soviet Empire (she praises Yugoslavia). One thing that struck me is her reflection on the absence of the Father God in German theology and the emphasis on Christ, notable in Dietrich Bonhoeffer. She blames this focus on the rejection of the “father” motif given the strong man image in Fascism. The shift to Christ was a reaction of that. I have written about sociomorphism before, this being the idea that the form of our society influences how we view God, but hadn’t thought until now that it might apply to the Trinity. But of course it makes perfect sense that how we view spirits, father and sons will influence how we view the Spirit, Father and Son (to use the traditional language of the Trinity).

But where is the Holy Spirit in refocus on Christ? It doesn’t appear, with the re-emergence of Trinity being a more recent phenomenon. Without the Spirit Soelle struggles with how God, who is supposed to be transcendent relates to the world. This is a weakness of the book and a strength of more recent trinitarian theologies of creation, where the full Trinity relates to creation, as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.