Whose spirit does what… and when… and how?

Monday Musings for July 08, 2019

Good morning, Musers,

What’s up with our spirits anyway? And while we’re at it — what’s up with God’s Spirit… a.k.a. the Holy Spirit? You’d think we know… but we Evangelicals tend to be weak in our knowledge (and “use”) of the Holy Spirit — especially when compared with Jesus and God the Father.

Oh — we evoke his name… and we acknowledge his place in the Trinity… but that’s all form and knowledge. What do we do with him… and how does all this indwelling stuff work anyway? Those are some of the questions we investigate today.

In the very early days of the Church — back when the trinitarian doctrine was first being formulated — the Holy Spirit was pretty much the forgotten person of the Trinity. In some early creeds, he was virtually an add-on… often included only by the words “… and the Holy Spirit.”

We, however, are in a position of advanced knowledge compared to the early church thinkers — but this is because we’re standing on their shoulders. We have, as all subsequent scholars have, learned from their debates.

Today, the doctrine of the Trinity is one of the definitive Christian doctrines. It separates us from other monotheistic religions like Judaism and Islam. Now, I’m not dumping on the Jews here. The Old Testament did not reveal the Trinity (… revelation being progressive and all that). The New Testament did… but what’s a commentator to do with such revelations?

You see, the problem was never the data. The Bible reveals all three persons as God; it was how we’d explain the data… and those trinitarian verses have always been a theological (and philosophical) brain full. Nevertheless, we have persisted, and the Trinity — which is part of what explains Christ’s deity — is an important doctrine to “own” … but also… to be able to explain.

But be warned: the Holy Spirit is (arguably) the toughest one to understand… especially since we have our own spirits — or are they souls? … or do we have both? Either way, what happens when that other spirit — God’s Holy Spirit — moves in and takes residence within the decidedly unholy creatures that Christ died for?

You see, we Evangelicals enjoy being saved — and we even enjoy telling people about it! … and we do not neglect the Holy Spirit totally… I mean… sometimes we even acknowledge him as our saving agent! The problem is he scares us to death! Why is this?

Because, if we spent more of our time being filled with the Holy Spirit and less time grieving him, then our lives would be much different… and we don’t really want them to be different… and we hobble God’s kingdom by bowing to this fear.

Perhaps this is because of a lack of knowledge. When the Holy Spirit comes inside of us to dwell, what exactly happens? Does he kick out our own spirit… or shove it in the corner? Do our spirits subsume up into his? … conflate with his? … or does it matter?

Of course it does. Everything matters! It’s just that not everything is of primary importance when it comes to doctrine. But, wouldn’t you like to know some of these things about the Holy Spirit? … to see what he’s up to? Me too. So, join me today as we explore the spirits.

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