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Engaging the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

Love and Gift in the Trinity and the Church

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Distinguished theologian Matthew Levering offers a historical examination of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, defending an Augustinian model against various contemporary theological views.

This work, a companion piece to Levering's Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation, critically engages contemporary and classical doctrines of the Holy Spirit in dialogue with Orthodox and Reformed interlocutors, providing an introduction to the pneumatological landscape shared by all Christians. Levering focuses on the Spirit as Love and Gift in the economy of salvation as well as the Spirit's mission to the church as Christ's body. Through careful exegesis and interplay with sources from across the spectrum and throughout church history, and with special attention given to Thomas Aquinas and his theological heirs, Levering makes a strong dogmatic case for conceiving of the Holy Spirit as love between Father and Son, given to the people of God as a gift.

Engaging the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit will be of much interest to professors and students of systematic theology as well as Catholic and Protestant scholars.

1. The Holy Spirit as Love and Gift
2. Naming the Holy Spirit: East and West
3. The Holy Spirit and the Filioque
4. The Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ
5. The Holy Spirit and the Church
6. The Holy Spirit and the Unity of the Church
7. The Holy Spirit and the Holiness of the Church


"Matthew Levering has acquired a well-earned reputation for being amazingly prolific without ceasing to be substantive and profound. In this work he has done it again! No one interested in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit--and especially in the seminal contributions of Augustine and Aquinas--can afford to ignore this rich and stimulating book."

George Hunsinger, Hazel Thompson McCord Professor of Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

"This is surely the most substantive theological treatise on the Holy Spirit to appear since Yves Congar's great work on the subject over a generation ago. Like Cardinal Congar, Matthew Levering knows that 'the river of life' flows in both the West and the East, and more than Congar, he brings the immense riches of the Western Catholic tradition's teaching on the person and work of the Spirit to bear on the manifold problems of the present."

Bruce D. Marshall, Lehman Professor of Christian Doctrine, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

"In this landmark achievement, Matthew Levering presents his theology of the Holy Spirit. The result is a deeply informed, robust, Catholic articulation of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, whose proper names are Love and Gift. It is rare to encounter such a remarkable range of biblical as well as doctrinal theologians, presented by way of irenic yet vigorous discussion. As readers of Levering would expect, Thomas Aquinas takes the position as the theologian of the Holy Spirit. This book is vintage Levering!"

Hans Boersma, J. I. Packer Professor of Theology, Regent College

"An exemplary work of ecumenical theology. Levering guides the reader through the most central and subtle questions of the theology of the Holy Spirit. He engages systematically with scriptural, patristic, medieval, and modern topics and relates the whole study coherently to the mystery of the Church. A splendid achievement of wonderful intellectual breadth and profoundly Catholic verve."

Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP, director, Thomistic Institute, Washington, DC

The Author

  1. Matthew Levering

    Matthew Levering

    Matthew Levering (PhD, Boston College) is the James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary, University of Saint Mary of the Lake, in Mundelein, Illinois. He previously taught at the University of Dayton. Levering is the author of...

    Continue reading about Matthew Levering


"[An] erudite and rich study of the Holy Spirit. . . . [Levering] offers a profound exploration of the nature and function of the Holy Spirit within the life of the Trinity and in the experience of the church. In doing so he interacts in detail with Scripture, with classical Christian tradition, and with contemporary theologians. An important dialogue partner is Thomas Aquinas; Levering amplifies Aquinas's identification of the Spirit as the love between Father and Son and as dynamic and creative gift to the church."

Donald Senior, CP,

The Bible Today

"A carefully crafted account of pneumatology. . . . This is a book thoroughly conversant with its topic. Unlike many approaches to the subject of the divine names, Levering does not outpace the necessary dogmatic particulars of the argument. . . . This is a worthy addition to works on pneumatology that merits diligent reading."

Andrew Hay,

Expository Times

"Levering's theological intelligence and sincere love for Christ and the church makes this book an illuminating resource. He continues to be a wonderful teacher to evangelical Protestant readers for his scrupulous attention to Scripture and for his knowledge of Augustine and Aquinas, who have proven to be valuable resources for recent evangelical theology on the doctrine of God. Furthermore, this book is a gold mine of textual research and contains much of the most important secondary literature on this topic, primarily in English and French. Much of it is lucidly presented in the footnotes, often with insightful comments or objections from Levering, as well as in a compendious index. . . . This book stands as one of the most punctilious, exuberant, and spiritually invigorating inquiries into the doctrine of the Holy Spirit on offer today."

J. David Moser,

Trinity Journal

"In his fantastic new book, Engaging the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Matthew Levering argues that 'the Holy Spirit should be praised and contemplated under proper names 'Love' and 'Gift,' with respect both to his intra-trinitarian identity and to his historical work in Jesus Christ and the church.'. . . While there is much to be said about his argument--and he acknowledges and engages some pushbacks that I would have about the mystery of trinitarian naming and the elevation of certain aspects over others --I found interesting Levering's assertion that Thomas Aquinas's definitions and explanations of trinitarian processions and missions help his case. . . . Regardless of how one views Trinitarian naming, Levering's assertion that 'The Spirit's mission is always ordered to those whom Jesus came to redeem, and thus to the kingdom of God' pushes us to think about the fittedness for elevating these aspects of the Spirit's role and mission."

Brandon D. Smith,

Biblical Reasoning blog