Friday, June 10, 2011

The Holy Spirit: the third person of the Trinity or an embodiment of the life force of the universe?

A prayer for Pentecost by the Catholic radical feminist Joan Chittister was recently placed on the Facebook page for That All May Freely Serve. Chittister begins with an introduction, “The Holy Spirit embodies the life force of the universe, the power of God, the animating energy present in all things and captured by none.” She goes on in the prayer to say:

"May the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
bring fire to the earth
so that the presence of God
may be seen
in a new light,
in new places,
in new ways.

May our own hearts
burst into flame
so that no obstacle,
no matter how great,
ever obstructs the message
of the God within each of us."

The view that the Spirit “embodies the life force of the universe” is either pantheistic or panentheistic, making the Holy Spirit an embodiment of an impersonal force. The Father becomes the life force and Jesus is simply someone who has somehow gained a greater measure of the force or the animating energy present in the universe. Our redemption is shattered on the hard rock of gaining for ourselves this spirit in the same manner that Jesus supposedly did.

How different the biblical view of the Holy Spirit. How different the blessed work of the third person of the Trinity. Andrew Purves and Charles Partee in their book Encountering God: Christian Faith in Turbulent Times write of that work in the chapter, “The Communion of the Holy Spirit.” They write:
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity through whom Jesus Christ is present within history drawing Christians to and binding them to himself, to share in his communion with the Father, and leading them to participate in his “horizontal” ministry to the least of the brothers and sisters (Matt. 25:31f). The Spirit is the means by which Christians are ‘grafted’ into Christ (Rom. 11:17), by which Christians “put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27) In the Spirit we participate in the holiness of Jesus Christ. In the Spirit Christians can be witnesses to Jesus (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit is none other than the Spirit of Christ, alive and reigning in power to the glory of God the Father.
The authors go on to write of how Christians through the Holy Spirit are united to Jesus Christ. Using John Calvin’s Institutes they write “Through the work of the Holy Spirit, Christ brings us into union with himself, so to share in his own life before and from the Father.”

Through the Holy Spirit we are always united to Jesus Christ and always before the Father. And all of this is a gift given because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pentecost is not impersonal; it is about a person, the Holy Spirit who is God. Pentecost is relational; it is about our relationship, not with the universe, but the God of the universe. Pentecost is redemptive; we are united by the Holy Spirit to Jesus and stand before the Father robed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Pentecost is the Holy Spirit speaking only one message, that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.

11 comments:

Debbie said...

"May our own hearts
burst into flame
so that no obstacle,
no matter how great,
ever obstructs the message
of the God within each of us."

So it's all up to us?

What a sad thing, really. We are responsible, and if the "message of the God within each of us" is obstructed, it's our fault.

I'm so glad that God is greater than being just a life force of the universe, some presence within each of us. I'm so glad I know him personally, that he has been the active one in creating our relationship and forgiving my wrongs, and that I've encountered his amazing actions in my life. If I thought he was only a life force, what sadness and dreariness I would still be suffering.

Bjornke said...

Very nice post.

Dave Moody said...

so many heresies, so little time... *sigh*...

12But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as kthe wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure lto revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, ninsatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts otrained in greed. Accursed children!

2 Peter 2

Dave Moody said...

Sorry.. in a series on 2 Peter, and I've got tomorrow.. its bracing and terrifying, all at the same time...
dm

Viola Larson said...

Debbie & Dave, amen!

Dave, "bracing and terrifying" is right.

Thank you Bjornke

Sherry L. Kirton said...

I pray that YHWH personally reveals Himself to her and others who call themselves by His name. BTW, I need more Yeshua, too. LORD come.

reformedpastor said...

“The Holy Spirit embodies the life force of the universe, the power of God, the animating energy present in all things and captured by none.”

Jehovah's Witnesses believe this as well.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

Viola Larson said...

Thats true David I never thought of that.

Viola Larson said...

Sherry-Amen-and me too.

Doug Hagler said...

Joan Chittister, take note. According to Dave Moody, you are:

An irrational animal; born to be caught and destroyed; blasphemous; ripe for destruction yourself; a blot and a blemish; adulterous; insatiable for sin; trained in greed; accursed.

As always, the Christian love on this blog is palpable. (Dave Moody is of course likely to falsely claim that it is the Bible, or Peter, saying these things, and not him.)

I'm always happy to see the Bible giving people who want to say incredibly cruel and insulting things the moral smokescreen to make it not only possible, but for some, laudable.

Viola Larson said...

Doug,
Interesting thoughts on your part. You have raised all kinds of questions about scripture and what it means to be false teachers. You have in fact pushed me to do some Bible studying and probably later a posting.
In the mean time what do you make of that text? And what do you think about the term false techers?