Sculptor Spirit

Models of Sanctification from Spirit Christology

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Leopoldo A. Sánchez M.
  • Downers Grove, IL: 
    IVP Academic Press
    , February
     290 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Recently, a pneumatological renaissance has emerged. The scope of this revival is two-fold: in academic communities as well as ecclesial movements. There is the work of historical theologians and dogmaticians Willem van Vlastuin, Cornelius van der Kooi, Michael Welker, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, and Christopher Holmes to name a few). Then, there are ecumenical and global Pentecostal movements. One particular and emerging field where the concerns of both communities and movements converge is in the study of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in Spirit Christology. (see Myk Habets, Ed., Third Article Theology: A Pneumatological Dogmatics, Fortress Press, 2016 and Ralph Del Colle, Christ and the Spirit: Spirit-Christology in Trinitarian Perspective, Oxford University Press, 1994).

Sculptor Spirit: Models of Sanctification from Spirit Christology is evidence of the increasing attention and growth of Spirit Christology. Leopoldo A. Sánchez M. seeks to bridge the field of practical theology (practice and everyday life) and pneumatology (the study of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit). The author defines Spirit Christology as “a trinitarian framework or lens that interprets created life in terms of God’s action in Jesus, and through him on others, by the power of the Spirit” (xvi). In eight chapters, this book argues for a “Spirit Christology, which looks at the role of God’s Spirit in Jesus’ life and mission, provides a theological framework for articulating a models-based approach to sanctification that can assist pastors and church leaders to engage the spiritual hopes and struggles of neighbors in and outside the church, especially in a North American context” (xvi). Sculptor Spirit presents models of the sanctified life by dialoguing with Church Fathers, the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther and contemporary authors from diverse Christian traditions.    

Following an introduction making the case for the necessity of considering Spirit Christology and sanctification as well as the rationale for a models-based approach to the sanctified life, two chapters address recent and past accounts of the field of Spirit Christology today and in early church theologians. 

The next five chapters expound on the five models of sanctification or life in the Spirit.  Each of these chapters includes: (1) a biblical section; (2) a catechetical section that centers on patristic voices; (3) a section on Protestant reformer Martin Luther; and (4) a final section that delves into the contemporary applications of the model. 

A final chapter seeks to “test the usefulness of a Spirit Christology and the models of sanctification” (194) previously discussed in light of the “perceived spiritual needs, struggles, and hopes of North American neighbors” (194). Sánchez surveys the work of various sociologists of religion, demographers, generational gurus and church writers to explore and understand the state of spirituality and spiritual conditions of Christians and their neighbors in North America. He presents the work of Robert Wuthnow, Christian Smith, and Melinda Lundquist Denton, along with Pew Research Center statistics on “Nones,” and Haydn Shaw and Ginger Kolbaba’s work on generational intelligence, among others. This last chapter closes with brief discussions on the challenges and implications facing racial-ethnic minorities and the children of the Global South immigrants to the U.S., and suggestions – dialogue, modeling and invitation – to connect with neighbors who hunger for spiritual life. 

Sculptor Spirit is a promising text for both theologians and practitioners. Here is a constructive proposal that advances the field of Spirit Christology, evidences the use of contribution, and the role of historical theology as well as highlighting the increasing importance and role of theological retrieval and that by its endorsements alone and its explicit contents questions and challenges colonial accounts of pneumatology characterized by its “instrumental (i.e., Enlightenment) rationality and occidentalizing ethics” (x). Directly related to this, Sculptor Spirit ought to be welcomed, for it delves into a loci (pneumatology) that is alleged to be historically neglected. On numerous occasions, Sculptor Spirit acknowledges that top-down, hierarchical, one-size-fits-all, and grand visions and illusions of pneumatology are not enough. Researching, studying, and practicing pneumatology requires and demands humility, and Sculptor Spirit personifies this.


About the Reviewer(s): 

David A. Escobar Arcay is Adjunct Instructor in Religion, Christian Theology and Leadership at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary and Western Theological Seminary and is a doctoral student in Divinity at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Date of Review: 
September 9, 2019
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Leopoldo A. Sánchez M. is the Werner R. H. and Elizabeth R. Krause Professor of Hispanic Ministries at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. A Concordia faculty member since 2004, he is professor of systematic theology and director of the Center for Hispanic Studies.



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