This is part 4 of my review of Najeeb Awad’s God Without a Face?: On the Personal Individuation of the Holy Spirit. See also Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3.
Let me conclude my review of Awad’s God Without a Face? with a clear support for his purpose and his argument. There is a distinction between the West and the East with regard to the individuation of the Spirit. We cannot simply lay the blame at Augustine’s feet, because many factors influence modern theology and the Enlightenment has done no favors to Trinitarian theology. Whatever the source, the simple critique of Awad is that the west represents a unitarian anhypostatization of the Trinity (104). A less technical way to say this is that the church at large in the West, and particularly Protestants, have little room for the individuation of the Spirit. There are many examples that demonstrate otherwise, but a large majority of those in the west lack a substantial place for the Spirit.
To combat this problem, Awad is rightly calling for a robust encounter with the Trinity. If God is really three persons, three hypostases, then we need to be able to account for the individuation of each person of the Trinity. This is not simply a charismatic (i.e., pentecostal) movement, but rather a call to take the revelation of God’s self seriously. Obviously, this can (and has been) appropriated by the larger pentecostal/charismatic movement, though they are often not the ones who will be reading and drawing from the deep patristic tradition explored by Awad. At the same time, it is important to note that the experience of the Spirit is not merely limited to those who have this more refined perspective on his individuation, just as he is not missing from non-Charismatic churches. God has been working through the centuries through and in the church, but that is no reason to ignore this call to a more careful and thoughtful interaction with God’s self-revelation as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Accordingly, I can recommend Awad’s detailed and comprehensive monograph for those wanting to explore modern, patristic, and biblical conceptions of the Spirit.