Recently I was at conference at a local Church where the speaker was talking about the Holy Spirit. He made the comment that people treat the Holy Spirit as, “the crazy uncle of the trinity.” This observation struck me as hilarious, but very keen. Perhaps such an observation of the western Church is due to people not being able to differentiate between the human responses to the Holy Spirit and the divine person. Perhaps also the lack of embrace of the Holy Spirit in the western Churches is because of our recent “ontological hangover” caused by two hundred years of getting drunk on Enlightenment philosophy. I say all this to highlight that an adequate Doctrine of the Holy Spirit is not based human responses any more than a Doctrine of Jesus Christ or YHWH are. Also, an adequate Doctrine of the Holy Spirit shouldn’t be limited to an anthropocentric (interpreting reality based on human values, experiences ) view of reality. The Holy Spirit, being of the same essence with the Son and Father (homoousios), deserves as much attention in our Theology and Worship as the other members of the trinity. The following is a simple (and incomplete) Creed on the third person of the Trinity taken from the saga of Scripture.
“We Believe in the Holy Spirit.”
We believe the Old Testament proclaims… that before anything was created, the Spirit of God swept over the formless and dark void that was to become the universe (Gen 1:2). Pharaoh testified to his servants that Joseph, the interpreter of dreams was “one with the Spirit of God in him.”(Gen 41:38) Joshua was set apart and led Israel because he had the “Spirit in him” (Num 27:18). The Spirit of the Lord gave Samson great strength and power to defeat the Philistines during the time of the Judges (Judges 13:25,14:6,14:19,15:14,15:19). When Samuel the prophet anointed the shepherd David with oil, the Spirit of the Lord forevermore dwelt with David the future King of Israel (1 Sam 16:13). The Psalmist cries out to God for the Holy Spirit not to be taken from Him (Ps 51:10). Elijah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Jonah, Habakkuk, Haggai, Amos, and all the prophets, prophesied in the Spirit of the Lord. The Prophet Isaiah wrote concerning Christ that the Spirit of the Lord shall rest on Him (Isaiah 11:2; Lk 4:18).
We believe the New Testament proclaims… that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Mat 1:18,1:20; Lk 1:35,), was filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 4:1;) cast out demons, healed, and performed miracles in the power of the Spirit (Mt12:28; Acts 10:38), and baptized people with/sent forth the Holy Spirit on believers (Mat 3:11; Lk 3:16; Jn1:33,Acts 1:15). After Christ’s ascension to the right hand of the Father, the Apostles were instructed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2), received power from the Holy Spirit to be witness (Acts 1:8), preached boldly in the Spirit (Acts 4:8; Acts 6:10), remained faithful in martyrdom (Acts 6:5;), and performed healing, deliverance, and other miracles with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4; Acts 5:13-15). After Paul’s eyes were opened by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17), he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:9).
We believe in the fruits and the gifts of the Holy Spirit today as it was recorded in the New and Old Testaments. The gifts of the Spirit are: prophesy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing, assistance, leadership, and discernment of spirits (1 Cor 12, 14). The fruits of the Holy Spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit (Gal 5:25).