Thursday, January 2, 2014

Modern Evangelicalism prides itself in an extensive lineage of orthodoxy.  We admire the clarity and resolve of the early Church Fathers, we uphold the conviction of the reformers and look upon the work of the fundamentalists with great pride.  For the modern evangelical, to deny the hypostatic union of Christ's nature (that He is both fully human and fully divine) would be an outrage.  To deny that God's divine nature is Trinitarian (that God exists as three persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit and each person of the Godhead is unified/coequal/coeternal in essence/substance yet distinct in function) would be an affront to the very character of God, labeled heresy and worthy of an Old Testament ashes and sackcloth response.  But for all of our orthodoxical bluster, how profoundly Trinitarian are we in actual practice?

The Evangelical Church today is in large part neglecting or even omitting in many cases, an entire third of the Godhead.  We have successfully pushed the Holy Spirit out into the periphery of our worship gatherings, our fellowship, and even our personal spiritual lives.  Even though we may point to portions of Scripture, credal statements or the doctrinal positions of a given church, what do such things truly mean for us practically?  Tozer put it this way: "A doctrine has practical value only as far as it is prominent in our thoughts and makes a difference in our lives.  By this test the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as held by evangelical Christians today has almost no practical value at all."  He continues by pointing out that our formal creed is sound, the problem however, lies within our working creed.

Why this breakdown from doctrinal statement to doctrinal practice?  Why do we adamantly proclaim the praises of God the Father and God the Son but awkwardly mention in passing or avoid altogether God the Holy Spirit?   

For me I believe part of the issues lies within the difficulty of mentally comprehending the person of the Holy Spirit.  I can get a mental picture or at least an idea of God the Father and God the Son because I have tangible examples of what a father is to be like and what a first century carpenter may have looked like.  But trying to grasp how a relationship with an intangible individual works is awkward and difficult, often leaving more questions than answers in my thought process.  This, however, should not deter us from diligently seeking to foster and deepen our relationship with the Holy Spirit.  As God, He possesses the very same attributes that we have come to truly know and adore of God the Father and Son.  He possesses the same love and mercy, the same knowledge of our pain and grief, the same desire to know us and be known by us.  He is our helper, the one who sets us free from the curse of the law and regenerates us into newness of life!  How then can we neglect and ignore the presence and very real power of the Holy Spirit in our lives?  To do so is absurd, He is with us if we choose to acknowledge this objective fact or not, why deprive ourselves of this intimate portion of our relationship with God?

Let us move out of the realm of simply 'knowing about' God the Holy Spirit and into the beautiful relationship of truly knowing Him.  Let us be Trinitarian in daily practice like we are Trinitarian in proclamation.  Yes we might be forced to take some chances, yes we might make some mistakes, and yes things might even get a little messy along the way.  But as we learned from the sage words of Ms. Frizzle in her Magic School Bus, those are exactly the things we must do to learn deeper and more profoundly.  Oh that we would cease favoring two over one and begin to seek God, unified in essence and substance, coequal, coeternal, as He truly is.

by Matt Gould