Pneumatology: yes, that is a fifty-cent word! But it does not have to be scary. Simply put, pneumatology encompasses the study of the spirit. For our purposes here (and going forward) it refers to the Holy Spirit as part of the Christian Trinity. Spirituality can mean many different things to different people. Therefore, going forward, we define pneumatology as related to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The concepts of God and Jesus the son are reasonably understandable. But the Spirit is often understudied or avoided completely. This is not uncommon in Western cultures such as the United States. We have science and technology that explains so much of our physical world. We tend to separate things into two realms, physical and spiritual. Yet God created us in HIS image physically and spiritually (Gen. 1:27).
The word pneumatology, the study of the Spirit, derives from words in both biblical languages, Hebrew and Greek. The Old Testament Hebrew refers to ruach as air in motion, blowing, wind that is empty or transitory, spirit, mind, or breath. It refers to spirit as the breath of life of man or all flesh. This includes mind disposition and temper meaning breath, wind or spirit that was often associated with God and his dwelling (Holladay, ed., 1988: 334). The word pneuma in New Testament Greek means blowing or breathing. It commonly means a spirit or soul that gives life to the body and as part of the human personality. It can also refer to spirits, both of God and those not of God (Arndt and Gingrich, 1979: 674-76). The trinitarian view of God includes the spirit and if we take these original meanings as described, the spirit of God cannot be separated from the physical realm. and the relationship with and within humans and ultimately the church and her mission. The Holy Spirit indwells (Eph. 3:16-17). It forms an essential part of everyday life for those who have repented of sin and received salvation through Christ.
Our walk of faith should be considered through the lens of pneumatology, as in, cannot be separated from the mind and body. There are times when we see outward manifestations of the Spirit such as miraculous events, healings, etc. But the guidance, comfort and conviction (I don’t like that one either!) of the Spirit is part of our everyday life! When we think about mission in the church, it often becomes works of service for others: Jesus asks us to serve others out of love. We need also to refocus on the spiritual component of our everyday encounters. Pneumatology helps us to understand that serving others incorporates mind, body AND spirit. Since we have the Holy Spirit with us, we are able to see the mission God has for us… every day!