Monday, March 30, 2015

Common Sense Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit


Up until the rise of the Modern era, spirits in general were perceived as commonsensical. Now, post Hume, Newton, and Descartes, even the existence of spirits is questioned. The Age of Reason led to a materialistic worldview that has no room for supernatural elements themselves.[1] In a Post-Christian and empirical time, evidence is needed just as much as rational argumentation for even the simplest of beliefs. The Holy Spirit who had been easily implied through-out the Reformation now needs to be defended just as much as being understood. The outline below will give a brief catechetical study toward the defense of the Holy Spirit, His identity, and His revealed purpose. [2]


Perhaps the ironic aspect of the evidence toward the Holy Spirit is the fact that the belief in Christianity is so nonsensical. It doesn’t make sense that anyone would put their faith, hope, and trust in a man who was tortured, crucified, and buried. Yet, Christians do. There are many arguments supporting the case for Christ including historical (both Christian and non-Christian evidence which also defends his resurrection), practical (any man claiming to be God would either be a liar, lunatic, or the Lord), and reasonable (if God were a father-like loving God, wouldn’t he want to reveal himself to us??).

Still, even with these proofs before us, to profess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to confess it with the mouth and hold it in the heart, takes more than brute facts. It is experiential. Even in the confession, a strength empowers the speaker to make their claim. That we are able to do so boldly and inspirationally, to continue to relate Christ’s life to our own with immediate impact, that is supernatural. It doesn’t fit into a materialistic, pre-determined worldview.[3]

This is reinforced as we go to the best preserved historical document of the time.[4] It reveals that this Spirit has always been a part of the picture. There is evidence of Him in the Old Testament, hovering over the deep in creation and breathing life into the dry bones in Ezekiel. And, He continues in the New Testament where He descends on the anointed one of God as well as His followers beginning at Pentecost. In Him we live and move and have our being.[5]


The Church has upheld the identity of the Holy Spirit as a person of the Trinity. He proceeds from the Father and through the Son. The Son is filled with the Spirit as He proclaims the Father. They are a Trinity in unity and have unity in Trinity. Their personhood is not to be confused, but they are at the same time One Lord. This understanding comes from the symbiosis of the same historical document mentioned above as well as the time’s pinnacle of human reasoning.

But, who is this guy?... Guy? The Spirit as described in text and experienced in person acts like its own being. It is in motion, descends, and dwells like a spirit. But, it can be grieved and lied to. It can be sent and send out. It teaches, comforts, convicts, and speaks. It is its own person in correlation with the Father and the Son, working in, through, and for us.


It may be hard to see the effect of the Spirit because His work is empowering. Through His actions, His identity and our own identity flow as one. He is the motivation behind the evidences we witness. He takes us, the dry bones of flesh (including soul), and sanctifies us. He inspires us with belief and motivates us to grow in faith. We cannot even believe in Him apart from Him.

[1] Dr. Angus Menuge, a professor of philosophy at the Concordia University of Wisconsin, has published a book describing how this view is self-defeating: Agents Under Fire.
[2] This document is presented as an apologetic manner to address that “Christendom is a thing of the past…”
[3] That was my attempt to address the empirical/natural argument for the Holy Spirit specifically. For an example that spirits in general exist, I’d recommend research into the churches of Africa.
[4] The Bible. 
[5] This is a brief summary of the revealed argument for the Holy Spirit. See Genesis 1:2, Ezekiel 37, Mark 1, Matthew 3, Acts 2, and Acts 17 for these examples specifically.

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