SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

 
vol.78 número4Islamic boarding schools (pesantren), Sufism and environmental conservation practices in IndonesiaViolence in the Bible and the Apocalypse of John: A critical reading of J.D. Crossan's How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian índice de autoresíndice de materiabúsqueda de artículos
Home Pagelista alfabética de revistas  

Servicios Personalizados

Articulo

Indicadores

Links relacionados

  • En proceso de indezaciónCitado por Google
  • En proceso de indezaciónSimilares en Google

Compartir


HTS Theological Studies

versión On-line ISSN 2072-8050
versión impresa ISSN 0259-9422

Herv. teol. stud. vol.78 no.4 Pretoria  2022

http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i4.7344 

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

 

Wesleyan Trinitarian theology and pneumatology: God's performative action

 

 

Anna Cho

Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

This article examines the Wesleyan Trinitarian theology and pneumatology as God's performative actions through insight into the speech act theory. Wesley's understanding of the Holy Spirit in the Trinitarianism, which reveals God's salvation performance, has not been studied relatively much in Wesleyan Trinitarianism. Also, in modern theology, Trinitarianism is being interpreted newly along with various disciplines through interdisciplinary dialogue. Therefore, this article attempted to re-examine Wesley's Trinitarianism and Holy Spirit theory with the speech act theory in the philosophy of language. These quests allow us to explain that the salvation of the triune God is revealed in the believers.
CONTRIBUTION: This article engages the traditional Wesleyan Trinitarian theology and pneumatology as God's performative actions for the salvations to reconsider it in the speech act theory. It can explain what God's performative action of salvation achieves in the lives of believers and how it transforms their lives

Keywords: Wesleyan Trinitarian theology; pneumatology; God's performative action; Christian life; speech act theory.


 

 

Wesleyan theology of the Trinitarian theology and pneumatology

The centre of Wesleyan theology is soteriology (Jones 2002:76). The core of Wesley's soteriology is holiness (Coates 2015:x), which leads to Trinitarian theology and pneumatology. As Starkey (1962:34) points out, Wesley's holiness theory is the work of God for us in Christ and in us by the Holy Spirit. Stated differently, Wesleyan theology is centred on soteriology, which means that it is centred on the doctrine of God (the existence and work of the triune God) (Dunning 1988:184) and how the triune God saves humans, transforms their lives and reveals the existence of the triune God in their lives. In other words, it has to do with how the Holy Spirit works in the believer. Thus, we cannot think of Wesley's Trinitarian theology and pneumatology separately. Therefore, we need to consider Wesley's Trinitarian theology and pneumatology together. Deshner argues that Wesley was a thorough Trinitarian (Deshner 1960:16), and Cannon argues that Wesley's Trinitarian theology was related to other principles of his theology (Cannon 1946:161). In addition, Starkey (1962:26-27) said that Wesley continued to think in Trinitarian terms and emphasised the importance of religious experience with the triune God.

Despite these characteristics of Wesleyan theology, Wesleyan Trinitarian theology and pneumatology have not been studied extensively. The reasons are: Firstly, Wesleyan theology is a soteriology-centred theology that emphasises holiness, so Wesley's Trinitarian theology and pneumatology were relatively less emphasised compared with holiness theory. Secondly, Wesleyan theology is expressed through preaching, so it is difficult to organise it academically. The Bible speaks of the existence of the Trinity, but it does not explain how it exists, it only requires us to believe in the triune God. Wesley argued that historically there is no full explanation of the mystery of the triune God, so the Trinity should not be believed in a philosophical interpretation but in the essence, which it explains (Wesley 1983a:200). Also, the mystery of the existence of God and the working of the Holy Spirit cannot be clearly explained by human reason. Thirdly, the emphasis of Wesleyan theology is on the evangelical experience of faith. The mystery of the experience of faith has limitations that cannot be properly expressed in human language, so it is difficult to express it in an academic statement.

As Wesley understands the Holy Spirit to be part of the Trinity, this article does not separate Wesley's Trinitarian theology from the Holy Spirit but examines the Holy Spirit within the framework of the Trinity. The discussion of the Trinity has been understood and interpreted from ancient times to today in a variety of new perspectives. Schwöbel (1995:1) expressed that modern theology is a renaissance of Trinitarian theology and today Christian theology reflects the relationship with the cultural situation of the times. Thus, he said that Trinitarian theology is linked to various disciplines (Schwöbel 1995:1). The Trinity, which was only discussed within the Christian faith, is now being newly interpreted through interdisciplinary dialogue along with social sciences, humanities, anthropology, natural sciences and arts, and the scope of research is gradually expanding. Namely, it is a discussion of how the triune God relates to human life, how God's existence and work in this world are revealed and how humans respond to the triune God. This triune God represents God's dynamic work of salvation, that is, God's performance. Nevertheless, studies on the performative action of the triune God in Wesleyan theology are inadequate and interdisciplinary studies for this seem to have been rarely attempted. As a result, previous studies have not been able to fully explain the religious and theological implications and depth of the Trinitarian theology and pneumatology of Wesleyan theology. Therefore, this article attempts to examine God's performative action, the work of salvation of the triune God, through insight into the philosophy of language, speech act theory (SAT).1 If we examine the Trinitarian theology and pneumatology of Wesleyan theology through the insight of the SAT, the following three hermeneutic contributions are expected.

Firstly, Wesley's Trinitarian theology expressed in sermons can be explained systematically from the biblical standpoint. Thus, interdisciplinary study of Trinitarianism and Holy Spirit theory through the SAT makes it possible to discover biblical, religious, and theological insights.

Secondly, it explains the relationship and activity of the Trinity and gives an understanding of linguistic interpretation of the pneumatological perspective of the Trinity.

Thirdly, it is possible to explain the transformation of the lives of believers through the work of the triune God (God's performative action). Therefore, this article attempts to examine Wesley's Trinitarianism and Spiritualism from the perspective of God's performative action through the SAT.

 

Wesleyan Trinitarian theology and pneumatology from insight on speech act theory: God's performative action

Understanding the basic concept of speech act theory as a methodology

The SAT is widely used as a methodology for academics using language such as law, philosophy, English literature, psychology and counselling.2 The SAT is also used as a methodology in theology, but its research is insufficient compared with other disciplines. In Briggs's article, 'The Use of Speech Act Theory in Biblical Interpretation', he pointed out that while the SAT has a clear potential to aid in the interpretation of biblical texts, only a few have used the SAT interpretively (Briggs 2001:230). Representative scholars who tried to derive the meaning and theological implications of biblical texts using the SAT as a methodology include Vanhoozer in systematic theology, Wolterstorff in religious philosophy and Thiselton in biblical theology. They consistently studied and proposed the usefulness of the SAT (Thiselton 2006:76-81; Vanhoozer 2002:162; Wolterstorff 2001:83). The SAT is important as a theological methodology because it is possible to discover the religious and theological implications of the Bible by exploring the practical meaning and use of language (biblical text), interpretation and application and reactions.

The SAT focuses on the actual meaning of language and the actions it leads to by studying the use and effectiveness of language. Language has a performance function. This means that language carries out its content and its meaning. Thus, language does not only refer to propositional statements or expressions of language but also to action itself. These characteristics of language are revealed in the form of a language game that implies the social and relational aspects of the language. In other words, the performance of language represents the interaction between humans and humans and texts and humans through communication behaviour. Thus, language is an action, and action becomes the basic unit of language. However, the previous philosophy of linguistics was not able to think in connection with language and action; language and action were considered separately (Austin 1975:4-6). Language drives action because of the language force, the performance of language. Thus, recognising and understanding that language drives action is understanding how much the performance of language (text) has a significant influence in our daily lives. In other words, it is an inquiry and an answer to what kind of relationship and influence the language composed of voice or text has with humans. Therefore, the theological study through the SAT allows us to simultaneously examine the practical aspects of the text (the experience of faith: reality) beyond the simple propositional recognition and meaning (recognition of faith: theory, doctrine) of the text. If so, SAT will be an important methodology for properly explaining and demonstrating Wesleyan theology (Cell 1935:73), which is biblical and experiential, and identifies the contents of the Bible and the reality of experience without separating them. This will help us to deeply understand the Trinitarian theology and pneumatology of Wesleyan theology, and it will allow us to examine how the triune God transforms the lives of believers and examines God's work of salvation, that is, God's performance.

Austin, the exponent of the SAT, argues that in order to properly grasp the actual meaning of language, constative sentences must be interpreted as performative sentences in everyday language.3 For example, when the bride and groom said 'I do' at a wedding ceremony, it may be a statement (recognition) of the situation of the wedding ceremony as a constative statement but at the same time, the bride and groom participate (action) in it and it means fulfilling responsibilities and duties as a bride and groom (Austin 1975:6). Usually, biblical texts or sentences of Christian faith are not constative sentences but subjective and performative sentences (Thiselton 2006:86). Constative statements are epistemological language. For example, the sentence 'there is a cup on the table' is grammatically perfect, but if there is no cup on the table, this sentence is incorrect. In this way, epistemological language is evaluated by constative based on objective facts. Traditionally, philosophy required logical consistency, relevance and grammatical accuracy in expression. Thus, knowledge and beliefs about God, described in theological and religious language, were in fact inexpressible. Evans, who first applied the SAT to biblical hermeneutics, emphasises that biblical language (divine religious language) should not be discussed in a logical form, but should be understood in the performance of God and insist that the Bible is performative statements (Evans 1963:158). If we describe the working of the triune God and the Holy Spirit in a constative (propositionally), the existence and work of the triune God is confined to speculative awareness and the salvation work and mystery of the dynamic triune God can never be expressed. This Trinitarianism cannot influence the lives of believers. The word of the triune God revealed in the Bible is performative and by the power of language, the word of the triune God becomes real, transforms the lives of believers and accomplishes God's work of salvation. For example, if the word 'God so loved the world' (Jn 3:16) is understood only in the form of language (grammar) in epistemological language, the given statement remains only a simple proposition. The practical meaning of the words 'God so loved the world' goes beyond the meaning of propositional recognition. This implies that the work of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and the love, actions, intentions and heart of God that God had no choice but to send God's Only Begotten Son to this world. In addition, Christians who have experienced God's love include acts of faith that try to imitate God's love by putting them into practice. Namely, love, faith and grace for God appear as concrete actions as actual manifestations of faith. Therefore, the performance of the triune God based on SAT enables to explain the existence of the triune God and the work of salvation.

Understanding the Holy Spirit in the Trinity: The triune God's Language Event

Wesley4 said that all sincere beliefs and good thoughts and actions, that is, the entire process of salvation, is only by the work of God's Spirit (Wesley 1983c:49). Soteriology, the centre of Wesleyan theology, achieves holiness in the lives of believers through God the Holy Spirit and the lives of believers are transformed and recreated. Wesleyan theology, which understands the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, enlightens and leads sinners to repentance by the Spirit of Christ, which is the Holy Spirit. This God's work of salvation is the triune God's self, working personally; God the Holy Spirit is the agent of salvation (Lowry 1946:74).

Traditionally, the consideration of Trinitarianism is mainly about God who revealed God's self through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, who revealed himself to us today through the Holy Spirit, based mainly on the understanding of the triune God, which was revealed through the Bible. The existence of the triune God revealed in the biblical text breaks through the text and carries out the content of the text (the content of revelation). The Trinity God is no longer in history and tradition trapped in letters but is a God who actually lives and works.5 The triune God is manifest in our lives today and invites us into God's life to build the kingdom of God on earth. The triune God carries out God's work of salvation in the lives of believers, and at this time, believers are liberated from sin and experience sanctification. Sanctification in Wesleyan Theology is the act of God the Holy Spirit and it is the grace of God that frees the soul from sin by the Holy Spirit and perfects it with love through the filling of the Holy Spirit (Greathouse 1979:110). In other words, holiness is the triune God's performative action of salvation. God the Saviour gives us the grace of salvation through Christ, and the Holy Spirit achieves sanctification; that is the work of salvation in the hearts and lives of believers. Wesley's salvation is God's work for us in Christ and in us by the Holy Spirit (Starkey 1962:34). Then, how does God the Holy Spirit work in the life of a believer and how does it appear? Also, how does the life of believers work by the Holy Spirit?

Accordingly, God the Holy Spirit as part of the Trinity reveals God self through God's Word and Bible to establish a relationship with us and communicate with us and this communication is manifested as God's performative action of the salvation by God the Holy Spirit. In the Bible there is the speech-act of the triune God. The word action of the triune God is not a separate object, but the existence and work of the triune God as a single entity. To speak means to do something (Austin 1975:94) and action is the basic unit of the means of speech. Thus, words and actions are essentially the same. This means that the word-action is not merely a 'communication', but a 'personal' subject.6 To speech-act is implied that it is a person with character. Verbal action always has a specific intention (purpose), and in order to realise it, speech-action is executed. In other words, what kind of heart, what kind of intention and what kind of character they have leads the person's speech act, and it becomes the person's personality. Thus, the existence of a person is revealed in the word-action, and when we acknowledge, accept, and trust that existence, we establish relationships and communicate personally.

The ultimate purpose and reason for God the Holy Spirit to connect and communicate with us is to save us. Also, the purpose and reason for communicating with God the Holy Spirit is to participate in the salvation work of God the Holy Spirit working within us. Then, how can we participate in the salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit? To personally communicate with God the Holy Spirit, accomplish God's work of salvation and participate in the work of salvation, the 'language event' between God the Holy Spirit and us must first take place. The fact that a verbal event takes place does not simply mean that a subject is executing a speech action. When we speech-act, it becomes an event. However, the 'language event' referred to means taking responsibility and obligation to each other and participating in speech-action, like 'game' (play). Simply speaking, Bs appropriate response to As speech-act makes the verbal behaviour real. A's speech action means 'inviting' B and B 'participate' in A's speech action, which means that the verbal event becomes real. This is the act of communication in the SAT. In general, communication means information sharing. However, if we see that the subject of speech-action is 'personality', we must know that what is done in communication is more than just sharing information. Communication behaviour not only conveys and shares information but also conveys the intention, mind, emotions, will, nature and thoughts of the subject performing verbal actions (word action). Namely, it is the act of revealing and sharing a person's personality and existence. In addition, when the person who recognised the subject of the verbal act and accepts his or her existence, in the correct sense, it becomes a communication act and a verbal event takes place. In other words, the act of communication means sharing and participating that are revealed in each other's verbal acts. Therefore, when we participate in the verbal act of God the Holy Spirit, God's work of salvation will be accomplished within us.7

The work of the triune God and the Holy Spirit: The mutual immanence of the triune God in the life of a believer

Previously, we looked at how the Holy Spirit accomplishes the work of salvation through the language events of the triune God through the insight of the SAT. Then, what kind of relationship does the triune God have with each other and what activities does the triune God do? The answer to this will allow us to explain the active nature of the Holy Spirit, who is alive today and is working dynamically in our lives. Therefore, in this part, we will examine the relationship and activity of the triune God through insight into the SAT.

Wesleyan theologian Wiley explains the triune God in the redemptive sense as follows: God sent His Son to this world to save us, God the Son incarnate came to save us, and the Holy Spirit applies the work of salvation to us (Wiley 1940:394). This is a traditional Wesleyan doctrine. As Williams (1960:93) explained, our salvation can only be described in the work of the intrinsic Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit accepts the redemptive work of Christ and makes us into the family of God the Father, all of which is the work of one God.

To put it simply, Wesleyan Trinitarian theology is the triune God who works in believers. The three Persons of the Trinity carry out their respective duties through cooperative ministry with each other in the divine providence and plan of salvation. God the Father reveals his plan and will for man and for the world and acts according to his divine plan (will). God the Son acts as a redeemer by carrying out the content of the revelation, and God the Holy Spirit acts as the perfector of the divine plan in human life and in the world, as a result of revelation. Wiley, who regards the salvation work of the triune God as sanctification, explains the role of the triune God as follows (Wiley & Culbertson 1946:316):

1. The originating cause is God's love (God the Father)

2. The meritorious cause is the Blood of Jesus Christ (God the Son)

3. The efficient cause or agent is the Holy Spirit (God the Holy Spirit)

In a similar vein, Herring (1955:18) said, 'the Father thought it, the Son bought it, the Holy Spirit wrought it'. Also, Baker insists that it is the will and plan of God the Father, which is because of God's omnipotent love and is carried out by the Holy Spirit through the Blood of the Son's cross (Baker 1979:21-24). This shows that the triune God is perichoresis with each one's own personality. Thus, God the Father dwells in God the Son, God the Son dwells in God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The three persons coexist together and are mutually intrinsic, thereby forming a unity with each other and each performing a divine activity. In addition, the action of God the Holy Spirit allows us to achieve unity and mutual immanence with God the Son and with the triune God through Christ who dwells in us. This relationship within the triune Gods performs distinct divine activities without being separated from each other by their personalities and attributes. However, this traditional Trinitarian theory is insufficient to explain the relationship and activity of the triune God, and furthermore, how the triune God indwells and associates with humans and accomplishes the redemptive work in human life. Through the insights of the SAT, we will clarify the theological and religious implications of the relationship and activity of the Trinity God and re-examine the Trinity theory.

In the SAT, the performance of language that causes a language event uses simple speech, meaning and reaction speech in the communication between the speaker/text and the listener/reader (Austin 1975:94-101). A locutionary act is an act of saying something. Illocutionary act carries out the intention of a locutionary act and is the power of language that makes the content of a locutionary act a reality (an act in saying something). Perlocutionary act is the result of illocutionary act (certain consequential effects by saying something).

What the SAT asserts is that language is not simply speaking, it is acting. Thus, when we say something, we do not convey specific knowledge or information, but rather do something. This discussion of verbal behaviour implies that the speaker is the actor and the listener who responds to the speaker's words also involves a specific action. In the SAT, the performance of language is classified into three categories: locutionary act, illocutionary act and perlocutionary act. In a strict sense, these speech acts are not separated from each other in terms of communication behaviour but cooperate with each other to form a complete verbal behaviour. The locutionary act, illocutionary act and perlocutionary act each have their own 'personality'8 within the unity of 'one language act' while maintaining the characteristics of the language, and have diversity according to the performance of the language.

Vanhoozer puts the three performative languages of the SAT analogously into the existence of the triune God on the premise that God speaks in human language in order to connect and communicate with humans (Vanhoozer 1994:177). The existence and relationship of the triune God is revealed through the act of communication with humans and the triune God acts divinely to save humans. To summarise this discussion briefly, God the Father acts as a speaker who reveals his will as locutionary act. God the Son performs the illocutionary act of the content of the locutionary act of the father. God the Holy Spirit is associated with the perlocutionary act of Jesus's illocutionary act to produce a specific effect on the believer. Namely, the speech act of the triune God becomes real in the lives of believers by the Holy Spirit. Vanhoozer's argument is that the three persons of the Trinity God perform mutual self-communicative actions and the agent of communication makes a covenant with God's people and faithfully executes it to fulfil God's work with humans. The triune God is the one who reveals and speaks the Word to humans (the Father), the one who embodies (the Son) and the one who completes (the Holy Spirit). Specifically, the Father reveals his divine plan, the Son carries out God's divine revelation and the Holy Spirit completes the will of the triune God in the lives of believers as a result of divine revelation. Simply speaking, the triune God is the revelator (speech act), the content of revelation (performing the speech act) and the result of revelation (result of speech act). Therefore, God the Trinity performs self-communicative actions in the form of soteriological Trinity in human life (Vanhoozer 2002:168). If the triune God is analogously substituted in the SAT, it can be expressed as follows.

 

 

In other words, the Trinity God reveals God's self to believers through self-communication, engages with them and takes speech actions to achieve the work of salvation. The Father is the planner and revelator of verbal acts (in terms of locutionary acts), the Son is the performer who executes the content (in terms of illocutionary acts) of the Father's revelation (speech act) and the Holy Spirit is the result and completion of revelation (in terms of perlocutionary acts). In this way, God the Trinity does God's act of self-communication and the mutual immanence of God's Trinity acts with human and language. Then, in the next part, we will look at how the results of the triune God's activities affect human life and the world and how God and humans carry out the work of salvation, the work of God's fulfilment.

God's performative action and Christian life

As we have seen earlier, in Wesleyan theology, the act of salvation of the triune God is not limited to the Holy Spirit but is the work of the entire triune God (Wesley 1983b:205). The characteristic of God's performance through the verbal acts of the triune God is that Christians can experience the existence and working of the triune God on this earth. The experience that Wesley means here is a Christian's clear intuition of the 'presence of a loving God' (Outler 1964:29). Namely, it means that the working of the triune God is practically revealed and the believer fully experiences the triune God. Thus, Wesley's theology equates the experience and the reality of faith (Cell 1935:73). Truly, as Wesley argued, we experience the triune God on earth in the sense that God will communicate with mankind by carrying out God's work of salvation in human life. This leads to a discussion of how the triune God's speech act becomes a language event (real) in our lives and how we participate in God's speech act. If our argument is valid, the triune God and human verbal actions will enable God's work of salvation and transform the lives of believers. If so, how can humans realise the work of salvation of the triune God?

Accordingly, we are participating in the speech act of the triune God. This means responding appropriately to God's verbal actions. In terms of communication behaviour, verbal behaviour does not cause a language event simply by the speaker's remarks. When the speaker and listener participate in verbal acts within a personal relationship between them, the language event becomes real and a new world is created. The SAT, in which language accompanies action and is considered essentially the same, asserts a language event in which the content of language, which is a propositional expression recognised in all verbal actions, becomes an action through the performance of language. Therefore, we consider the content of the language (propositional expression, p) and language force (F) as the actual meaning of the language and formulate it as F(p) (Searle 1971:39). For example, if we express the words of 1 John 4:16~21 as F(p), it can be expressed as 'God is love (p) and love one another (F)'. From the point of view of the speech act of the triune God, here God includes the mutual immanence of the triune God. Thus, the recognition of 'the triune God is love' (p), that is, in the propositional expression, the triune God is who God is, what attributes, what nature God has, what God did, and why God did it and what God will do is included. In other words, the revelation and existence of the triune God are revealed. In addition, the performative force of the language of 'love each other' (F) of the illocutionary act performs a double verbal act. Firstly, 'Love' (F) is God's command (word) required of those who know and believe (p) that God is love. These words have no influence on those who do not believe in the God of love. Therefore, for the speech act of the triune God to become a language event (reality), a personal 'relationship' between us and the triune God must be established. This does not simply inform God's command but recommends and requests that those who believe in God must love each other. Secondly, 'love' (F) means that the triune God makes you love each other by God's performative action.9 The illocutionary act of 'Love' (F) is exercitive. Therefore, it can be expressed as 'Trinity God is love and Trinity makes you love'.10 In other words, the declaration of God's command to 'love one another' triggers a voluntary act of participation, which is God's performance action, through the force of the illocutionary act and enables verbal events to be fulfilled in the listener's life.11 Namely, it makes it possible to bring about perlocutionary act in the listener (believer).

Expressing the given discussion as speech act F(p), 'the triune God is my Lord! My Saviour! I am a Christian'. Recognition (p) and actions (F) of the triune God make language events. These verbal events show the determination, will and deeds to meet God personally and confess that God is my Lord, to accept God's existence into my being, to establish a relationship and to participate in God's speech acts to live a Christian life. We can obey commands and it also means that God, who has asked us to love one another, is able to give us the power to do it. Namely, language events in the speech act F(p) consists of cooperation and participation. It is not only we who do it to God's command to 'love one another', but the God who gave the command and we perform the verbal act together. This means that when we participate in the speech act of the triune God, a new world is created and a transformation of life (world) takes place. The relationship is restored and the manifestation of concrete love in the world and neighbours, which has nothing to do with me, is transformed in life and a new world is created. The activities of the triune God become real in our lives.

Wesleyan theology sees the essence of God as holiness and love. In Wesley's sermon 'the Unity of the Divine Being', he regards the essential attributes of God as holiness and love and sees holiness and love in the same line (Wesley 1983a:60-71). Truesdale (1983:120) insisted that Wesleyan theology advocating a soteriological priesthood is based on 1 John 4:16, 'God is love'. Maddox argues that when Wesley speaks of the love of God, that love means holy love, respecting the values and responsibilities of the human beings loved by him. The holiness of God is revealed in the lives of believers in the form of love (Maddox 1994:53). Stated differently, when we participate in the speech act of the triune God, God's performative action is the 'power to transform into love' within us. It transforms our lives and the world. This does not simply mean that the power of the love of the triune God is communicated to us. Participating in the verbal act of the triune God is the act of accepting the entire existence of the language actor as my being. This refers to the events of the faith of the personality (character) of the triune God in us and of the existential transformation and sanctification, unity and fellowship that we are in God. Therefore, participation in the speech acts of the triune God, who is a 'speech-act agent', is a language event in which the character of the triune God is 'transferred' to 'participant in the verbal act' and the salvation of the triune God is realised in human life. In summary, the triune God is a verbal actor and appears as the revelator (Father), the realiser (Son), and the perfector (Spirit) of love in human life as a participant in the verbal act. In other words, the practice of the triune God is realised through language events among believers and believers can practice a holiness (love) life that transforms their lives on this earth.

 

Conclusion

In so far, we have looked at Wesleyan Trinitarian theology and pneumatology as God's performative action through insight into the SAT. Wesley's understanding of the Holy Spirit in the Trinitarianism, which reveals God's salvation performance, has not been studied relatively much. In addition, in modern theology, Trinitarianism is being interpreted newly along with various disciplines through interdisciplinary dialogue. Therefore, this thesis attempted to re-examine Wesley's Trinitarianism and Holy Spirit theory with the SAT in the philosophy of language.

If Wesleyan's Trinitarian theology and pneumatology are explored through the insights of the SAT, Wesley's Trinitarianism, expressed as a sermon, can be explained systematically from a biblical standpoint. This is possible through the methodology of the SAT, which explores the practical meaning and effect of language (text). Interdisciplinary research according to this makes it possible to discover biblical, religious and theological insights. It also explained the relationship and activity of the triune God and the understanding of the linguistic interpretation of the Holy Spirit perspective of the Trinity. Lastly, from the perspective of the triune God's speech act of communication between God and believers, we examined how the work of the Trinity God (God's performative act) changes and recreates the lives of believers.

These quests allow us to explain that the salvation of the triune God is revealed in the lives of believers and the existence and work of the living triune God in terms of the verbal actions of the triune God. The triune God unites with humans, associates with them and realises the holy love of the triune God in the lives of believers, allowing us to experience the triune God in our daily lives. Therefore, this study will help explain Wesley's Trinitarianism and Holy Spirit theory, which emphasises the reality and experience of faith and will contribute to examining the theological statements and implications for believers' experiences of the existence and activity of the triune God.

 

Acknowledgements

This article is written in honour of the author's mentors, Prof. Dion Forster and Prof. Insik Choi.

Competing interests

The author declares that she has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced her in writing this article.

Author's contributions

A.C. is the sole author of this article.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards of research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the author.

 

References

Austin, J.L., 1975, How to do things with words, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.         [ Links ]

Baker, H.J., 1979, This is the will of God, Schmul Publishers, Salem, OH.         [ Links ]

Briggs, R.S., 2001, 'The uses of Speech-Act Theory in biblical interpretation', Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 9, 229-276.         [ Links ]

Cannon, W.R., 1946, The theology of John Wesley, Abingdon Press, New York, NY.         [ Links ]

Cell, G.C., 1935, The rediscovery of John Wesley, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.         [ Links ]

Coates, G.R., 2015, Politics strangely warmed: Political theology in the Wesleyan spirit, Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene, OR.         [ Links ]

Cox, L.G., 1968, John Wesley's concept of perfection, Beacon Hill Press, Kansas City.         [ Links ]

Deshner, J., 1960, Wesley's Christology - An interpretation, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, TX.         [ Links ]

Dunning, H.R., 1988, Grace, faith and holiness, Beacon Hill Press, Kansas City, MO.         [ Links ]

Evans, D.D., 1963, The logic of self-involvement, SCM, London.         [ Links ]

Greathouse, W.M., 1979, From the Apostles to Wesley, Beacon Hill Press, Kansas City, MO.         [ Links ]

Herring, R.A., 1955, God being my helper, Broadman, Nashville, TN.         [ Links ]

Jones, S.J., 2002, United Methodist Doctrine: The extreme center, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.         [ Links ]

Lowry, C.W., 1946, The trinity and Christian devotion, Harper and Brothers, New York, NY.         [ Links ]

Maddox, R.L., 1994, Responsible grace, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.         [ Links ]

Outler, A., 1964, John Wesley, Oxford University Press, New York, NY.         [ Links ]

Schwöbel, C. (ed.), 1995, 'Introduction, The Renaissance of Trinitarian theology: Reasons, problems and tasks', in Trinitarian theology today, pp. 1-30, T&T Clark, Edinburgh.         [ Links ]

Searle, J.R., 1971, The philosophy of language, Oxford University Press, Oxford.         [ Links ]

Searle, J.R., 2010, Making the social world: The structure of human civilization, Oxford University Press, Oxford.         [ Links ]

Starkey, L.M., 1962, The work of the Holy Spirit: A study in Wesleyan Theology, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.         [ Links ]

Thiselton, A.C., 2006, Thiselton on hermeneutics: Collected works with New Essays, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI.         [ Links ]

Truesdale, A., 1983, 'Theism: The eternal, personal, creative god', in C.W. Cater (ed.), A contemporary Wesleyan Theology: Biblical, systematic and practical, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI.         [ Links ]

Vanhoozer, K., 1994, 'God's mighty Speech-Acts: The doctrine of scripture today', in P.E. Satterthwaite & D.F. Wright (eds.), A pathway into the holy scripture, Wm B Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI.         [ Links ]

Vanhoozer, K., 2002, First theology: God, scripture & hermeneutics, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.         [ Links ]

Wesley, J., 1983a, The works of John Wesley, vol. V, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.         [ Links ]

Wesley, J., 1983b, The works of John Wesley, vol. VI, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.         [ Links ]

Wesley, J., 1983c, The works of John Wesley, vol. VIII, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.         [ Links ]

Wiley, H.O., 1940, Christian theology, Beacon Hill Press, Kansas City, MO.         [ Links ]

Wiley, H.O. & Culbertson, P.T., 1946, Introduction to Christian theology, Beacon Hill Press, Kansas City, MO.         [ Links ]

Williams, C.W., 1960, John Wesley's theology today, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.         [ Links ]

Wolterstorff, N., 2001, After Pentecost: Language and biblical interpretation, vol. 2, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI.         [ Links ]

 

 

Correspondence:
Anna Cho
advocateanna@naver.com

Received: 12 Jan. 2022
Accepted: 12 Feb. 2022
Published: 29 Mar. 2022

 

 

1 . The theory of linguistic behaviour is widely used as a methodology in various academic fields such as law, philosophy, English literature, humanities, psychology, pedagogy, counselling and theology.
2 . As there are several articles explaining the SAT, in this article, only basic concepts of the SAT should be mentioned and appropriately explained to the SAT in the subject that requires argumentation.
3 . Biblical language is composed of both a divine language and human everyday language. God speaks to humans in human language. In addition, biblical texts and sentences of Christian theology are usually performative sentences that involve practical action. Thus, the methodology of the SAT helps to re-examine the biblical text and theology and to discover the religious and theological implications hidden within it.
4 . Wesley's understanding of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity can be seen in his sermon 'On the Trinity' (1 Jn 5:7). Here, Wesley says that although God is triune and one, he only believes without understanding how to do so. Wesley emphasises the Holy Spirit, which makes the work of salvation, and sees the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as the same (see Wesley 1983b:200-206).
5 . A brief look at the biblical basis for the Trinity is as follows. (1) Verses in which the person of God refers to one or more three persons (Ps 33:6; Is 61:1; 63:9-12; Hg 2:5-6). (2) A passage that mentions that the Son has fellowship with the Father and that God the Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of believers (Mt 11:25, 26:39; Jn 11:41; Rm 8:26; Eph 1:13-14). (3) A verse that refers to the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers and the work of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:5, 14:16; Rm 5:5; 1 Jn 5:6).
6 . The Bible verses in which God's words and actions are personified are as follows: Psalm 33:6, 9; Job 28:23; Proverbs 8:22. Also, the Bible passages that express God as a distinct person are Genesis 1:2; Psalm 33:6; Isaiah 63:10.
7 . Specific explanations and discussions will be given in Part 4.
8 . Language reveals the existence of beings such as the thoughts, intentions, feelings, will and character of the person who speaks the language and language is performed and executed according to the aspect of its personality, so it is expressed as 'language has a character'.
9 . The commands and promises of the biblical language are fulfilled by the performance of the language. This study of biblical language and SAT is well reflected in Evans' self-involving activity of language (language performance). For more information, refer to Evans (1963).
10 . 'Every command in the Bible is a hidden promise' (Cox 1968:179-180).
11 . Cf. 'The order is aimed at causing obedience; the promise is aimed at causing fulfillment
In the cases it is not the aim of the speech act to match an independently existing reality; rather, the aim is to change reality so that it will match the content of the speech act' (Searle 2010:12).

Creative Commons License Todo el contenido de esta revista, excepto dónde está identificado, está bajo una Licencia Creative Commons