Grace: The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Grace: The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Grace: The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Grace: The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Synopsis

This is a new, i.e., corrected and updated, edition of a book first published in 1979. It has also been recast in inclusive language. As a systematic treatment of the theology of grace, it concentrates on what may be termed the key question in this branch of theology, the person of Jesus as the arena where the full drama of the interaction of God and humanity is played out. The book breaks new ground in that it attacks the long-standing dichotomy between the Incarnation and grace, and offers a new principle of synthesization. This is that the Holy Spirit is Spirit of Sonship primarily for Jesus himself, so that it is the creative outpouring of the Spirit on him by the Father that brings about the Incarnation. The Spirit is seen as the Spirit of filiation for others only in function of his role in relation to Jesus. A more profound interpretation of the patristic expression “sons [and daughters] in the Son” emerges from this study. While the book is situated in the Catholic tradition, its ecumenical implications are manifold.

David Coffey, now retired, held the William J. Kelly, S.J., Chair in Catholic Theology at Marquette University, having previously been Principal of the Catholic Institute of Sydney. He has published widely on the Trinity, Christology, and grace. He is a priest of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Excerpt

When first invited by Marquette University Press to prepare a new edition of this, my first book, I was immediately confronted with the difficulty of the decision that lay before me. On the one hand it would give me an opportunity to correct mistakes and to drop material that I no longer agreed with or considered appropriate. And more importantly, it would give those interested in the theological “system” that I had developed over a lifetime—almost without intending it—an opportunity to examine its foundations laid down here for the first time. The first edition, from 1979, was no longer in print. In any case, being of necessity published in Australia, having had a limited print run, and not having been properly distributed overseas, the book had never been readily available, and, apart from those university libraries that stocked it, had in the intervening years become well-nigh inaccessible. True, a reprint was undertaken in 1988, but this did little to alleviate the situation. It too was small, it was still not distributed abroad, and very few people knew of its existence.

On the other hand the problems associated with a second edition were formidable. It would have been relatively easy to authorize another reprint, but the original was couched in a non-inclusive language that could no longer be reproduced. Even just recasting the text in inclusive language presented thorny problems at times. How was I to maintain a reasonable standard of expression without undergoing some loss of meaning? On this I could only do my best, and doubtless, what I have produced will not please everyone. The question of updating the theology presented the biggest challenge of all. I did not want to write a new book on grace, nor was that my brief. It was to be a second edition of my first book. I took this to mean that it was to remain a book of 1979 and not become a compendium of my life’s work, as was, for example, Rahner’s Foundations of Christian Faith. At the same time certain developments in my thinking over the years could not be ignored. Here I settled for a compromise, and decided to incorporate the more important advances made, like the Lonerganian methodology for distinguishing the biblical, immanent and economic . . .

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