Thursday 17 December 2020

What about the poor old Holy Ghost?

The Cinderella of the Trinity - not many people seem to take much notice of the Holy Ghost! 

Who is He, after all? There are several ideas:

1. A spirit of the undivided Trinity that proceeds from the Father. (Eastern Orthodoxy).

2. A spirit of the undivided Trinity who proceeds from the Father and the Son. (Western Catholic Christianity, and most Protestants too).

3. A separate personage from the Father and the Son (who are also separate personages); who is a spirit being (in contrast to the Father and the Son who are both embodied). (Mormon). 

4. The spirit of the ascended Jesus Christ. (The author of the Fourth Gospel and Bruce Charlton). 

No doubt readers will have their own opinion on this matter; but if you are undecided, I recommend re-reading the Fourth Gospel, testing its information on the Holy Ghost by your deepest intuition - and if confirmed than regarding the Holy Ghost as Jesus. 

I have certainly found that the Holy Ghost has become far more important and influential - more present - in my life, since I understood Him in this fashion.

Maybe this understanding will work for you too, will come to have the clear ring of truth?


edwin faust said...

It's a curious thing that the early centuries of Christianity are marked by several furious, sometimes violent arguments about the nature of Christ and His relation to the Father and the Holy Ghost. Yet, in later ages, the Trinity became practically irrelevant, especially the Holy Ghost. Many people experience at times a strong guidance, a deep intuitive certainty that they are being helped by a spiritual being. This existed in pre-Christian times (e.g. Socrates, who in the Alchibiades says that his guardian or tutelary spirit prevented him from approaching certain people or speaking at certain times). Doctrinal definitions now seem far less important than they were when creeds were being formed and an ecclesiastic government was being shaped, and people who believe in the Holy Ghost are not too bothered about the old heresies and orthodoxies concerning procession and provenance.On the one hand, this may be a good thing; on the other, it may illustrate the relative unimportance of religion in the lives of most people. Anathemas may have disappeared because of indifference.

Bruce Charlton said...

@edwin - "Anathemas may have disappeared because of indifference. "

I'm sure that is the commonest reason by far!

Yet there is also a feeling of solidarity between serious Christians of many diverse types - across divides that used to be very hostile. I think serious Christians feel they cannot depend on their churches, but can trust at least some of the serious Christians in other denominations.

I would regard this as one benefit of the events leading up to 2020, and 'things coming to a point', generally.

Josh said...

After bouncing around for awhile I recently landed on #4, as well. Have noticed an increased ability to converse with the Holy Spirit this year. This active Christianity seems to be the future (in perfect contrast to the stale approach mainstream churches have taken).

Bonald said...

Reading about those first millennium Christological debates, most of them seem pointless and stupid, just a matter of different churches using words a bit differently, and tearing up the Church over it. The fights over Monophysitism, Nestorianism, and Monothelitism all seem that way. And yet, the dogmatic principle seems to be a key to the health of Christianity (except your romantic kind). When denominations stop getting worked up over this stuff, they quickly slide into indifferentism and then drop the faith entirely. One might say that it's better, spiritually speaking, to come down on the wrong side of one of these arcane debates than to not care about it, but of course that shows the imperfection of my own Christian spirit. A true dogmatist would not defend the dogmatic spirit; he would defend the true dogma.

Anyway, Catholics find it baffling that the Orthodox accuse us of being heretics over this whole procession of the Holy Spirit thing. To us, it feels like the sort of thing that, when the theologians properly unpack it, will just end up being yet one more semantic issue. Probably this just shows how much healthier the Orthodox Churches are at this time.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Bonald - That is a reasonable observation as far as the past was concerned; on the other hand it substantially invalidates Christianity that different Christian Churches have been so destructive of each other, so often!

I suspect that a wrong turn was made in this regard very early in Christian history - before records were kept; about what should be regarded as core to the faith.

But whatever was necessary or inevitable in the past; I believe that men and society have irreversibly changed. In our era, those who look to any external institution (including churches) for ultimate authority are all ending-up (very rapidly) on the side of the Global Establishment System.

It already seems that the choice is either Romantic Christianity, or anti-Chrstianity - well, we haven't quite reached that point, but seem to be heading there fast.

What I find strange is that I am quite explicitly in a minority of one as a Christian (extremely heretical and unorthodox); and yet I have had some very appreciative and supportive comunications (mostly by e-mail) from people who seem like serious and real Christians in many different churches. And I feel the same about individuals iacross the whole range of denominations - I am really delighted to see a strong Christian faith, wherever it may be.

These are the data. 'Mere Christianity' seems like a real thing.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

From the Father (Orthodox), from the Son (you), from both (Catholic), or from neither (Mormon).

Pathfinderlight said...

As a Catholic, I never understood why the Protestants and "Bible Christians" around me never emphasized their personal relationship to the Holy Spirit. When meeting a Pentecostal, whose denomination is named for the relationship with the Holy Spirit, I put the question to him. In response, he mentioned that he considered Pentecostals to be essentially low church Catholics. He also talked about the rationalist movement that was taking over Europe at the time of the Reformation and how an over-emphasis on logic shut many Protestants off from the more spiritual aspects of Christianity.

Chip said...

I like 4 best but they all may have elements of truth. I am seeing it as Holy Ghost/Spirit proceeding from THE Son/Jesus, who in turn as THE Word/Son, was the Expression of God/Father, hence proceeded from God, and in that sense the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father too, a "step" removed maybe.