Monday, January 13, 2014

Articles of Religion Revisited-- Part 3 The Holy Spirit

So here we go with the third installment of a journey through the Articles of Religion once again. Today we complete our look at the Trinity by looking at The Holy Spirit.

Article III—The Holy Spirit
We believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from and is one in being with the Father and the Son. The Spirit convinces the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, and leads people through faithful response to the gospel into the fellowship of the Church. The Holy Spirit, comforts, sustains and empowers the faithful and guides them into all truth.

The first struggle I had with this article was not directly about theology or understanding. It was found in attempting to update the language some to be more balanced from a gender standpoint. My struggle was not in working to be more balanced, the challenge was to do so while not reducing the personhood of the Holy Spirit. Using pronouns such as he or she, do not help reach for balance, however, they can reduce our ready understanding of the Spirit as more an it.

With that said, the Holy Spirit is certainly not an it, rather a person, the very person that is God. With humanity as the ongoing presence of God as promised by Jesus during his ministry, the Holy Spirit is God's continuing work in us and in the world. You know that little voice that can encourage or convict? You know those situations when you "just have a feeling"? That quite possibly could be the work of the Holy Spirit.

If we view God as the creator of all things, and Jesus as the light of the world, then the Holy Spirit is the power of God made manifest. One of the last conversations Jesus has with the disciples is found in Acts 1:8 where the followers are reminded that they will receive power to be Jesus' witnesses when they receive the Holy Spirit. Shortly after that on the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit comes upon the disciples and the world is never the same.

Over the centuries much has been made of the Holy Spirit. Of that understanding, as with all understandings, there are some elements of truth and some elements of invention. Bottom line, for this writer, the Holy Spirit is God revealed to us in an ongoing relationship offering us power to witness, gifts for service, conviction for holy living, and comfort through the trial.

Strangely, most followers of Jesus can all too often live as though the Spirit is not real, or active. We can live as Francis Chan stated it, with a Forgotten God. The person of the Spirit is with us, ready to be our advocate, and ready to led us to greater connection with God. The question is of our willingness to connect.

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