Essay / The Third Person of the Trinity

Spiritual Enlightenment and Pneumatological Epistemology

Daniel Castelo is Professor of Dogmatic and Constructive Theology at Seattle Pacific University and Seminary. He was one of the plenary speakers at the 2020 Los Angeles Theology Conference on the Holy Spirit, and contributed chapter 5 to the resulting book, The Third Person of the Trinity: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics. Oliver Crisp and I edited that volume, which has just been released by Zondervan Academic in December 2020. It’s got twelve chapters by fourteen authors, and I wanted to pick out Daniel’s chapter for special attention here: “Spiritual Enlightenment: Contributions of a Pneumatological Epistemology.”

1. What’s your chapter in The Third Person of the Trinity about?

​The chapter is essentially an extended meditation on the kind of knowledge God-knowledge is. It is an invitation to reconsider what theological reasoning involves through the lens of pneumatological tropes and categories.

2. How does this chapter fit into your teaching or your writing?

​As I teach theology in a university context, I am repeatedly confronted with the way theology can interact fruitfully and self-critically with other disciplines. In this sense, I am pushed at times to look at theology from other lenses and to see how we pursue our work alongside other academic endeavoring. As I mention in the chapter, I now stress to all my students that one of the basic questions they must have considered extensively upon graduating from our university is what kind of knowledge theological knowledge is. My hope is that they integrate spirituality into that formal account and that they have an appreciation for multiple kinds of rationalities.

As for my writing, this chapter and its themes are a reflection of some of the work I have been doing in Christian mysticism, spirituality, and pneumatology.

3. Where did the idea for this particular essay come from?

​The title of the essay is derived from the writings of the Cappadocians. I found it compelling to use as a way to stress that in the Christian order of knowledge, there are different kinds of “enlightenment.”

4. What’s the next thing you’re working on, or looking forward to working on?

​I have several chapters/entries contracted at the moment for various collections, but as far as books/monographs, I am contracted for ones on Latinx theology and a Wesleyan doctrine of God. I also wish to explore the book of Job as an anti-theodicy and the Wesleyan understanding of Christian perfection as a mystical doctrine.

5. A bonus question not related to this book chapter: What’s the most stimulating thing you’ve read lately in theology?

​I have really enjoyed Simeon Zahl’s The Holy Spirit and Christian Experience (OUP 2020); it is the kind of work that has the potential to establish a research agenda to be pursued by others over many years; it is a trailblazer.

For more sneak-peeks of The Third Person of the Trinity, check out our other interviews. You can pick up a copy of the book here.

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