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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Arguing About the Holy Spirit

From time to time, my inbox gets choked with forwarded threads of online discussions, one of which is from a Yahoo!Group created by members of the church I am affiliated with. One of its hot discussions concerns the Holy Spirit -- on whether the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian personally or representatively ("through the word only," some might add).

While the participants' zeal for their religious convictions is commendable, their dwelling on the "indwelling issue" is to me pathetic. For with all their show of scholarship and their belief in the "timeliness" of the issue, I see mootness in their discussion -- perhaps relevant only to a small circle of theologians and would-be theologians, but largely irrelevant to a larger, strife-torn and distressed world crying out for the Spirit who, they perceive, has forsaken them; or to a great body of meaning-seekers disillusioned with churches which the Spirit seemed to have abandoned.

It is beyond me why they split hairs over whether the Spirit indwells personally or representatively when  parties on either side of the issue after all believe that the Spirit does work somehow in the life of a Christian. It looks odd to me that some Filipino Christians would assume that a theological issue as this which was imported from the USA must necessarily be an issue in the Philippines. It looks odd to me, too, that a few American authors would be quoted in defense of a particular view and seem to be regarded as having the final say on the matter. These, I think, simply reveal the fact that some Filipino Christians have not really broken free from a Christianity that may be best described as a "westernized franchise" (to borrow from Ed Lapiz).

I find it strange that some preachers can be so sure about their positions on issues concerning a Being as inscrutable as the Holy Spirit. I find it blasphemous that some Christians would consign God to a theological prison walled and barred by their incontestable interpretations of certain sacred texts.

Actually, what I am more interested in is not how well these Christians can make good use of their Greek Lexicons and Bible Commentaries but how well their scholarship can put the Sacred Text (which is "Greek" to many) to more practical application -- especially in establishing a loving company of believers more passionate about community development than sectarian debates.

I'd rather see preachers doing a little more soul-searching, asking themselves whether the Spirit they have so spiritedly been arguing about has truly transformed their lives for the better; or whether the power of their logic or inferences is as strong and inspiring as their personal and collective testimonies.

I'd prefer to know how far these fellow Christians have devoted their lives in an honest-to-goodness assessment of the spiritual state of their own churches, and how far they have gone in helping turn, as it were, cemeteries and deserts into bustling cities and fertile farmlands.


maryann foyos Apopot said...

You really have great blog posts... I always have these questions in mind: " Why are there many religions?"... "Why is there sectarianism?"... "Why can we not unite w/ our common belief in one GOD instead of being divided because of our differences?" Am confused w/ all these different religions that claim they are the only ones who know the truth & that they are the only ones who are going to be saved.

I have to admit am not a voracious reader of the Bible. But I know what is right & what is wrong. I practice the GOLDEN RULE. I try to walk my talk.

Until now,I am in constant search for meaning & soul searching...Any recommendations in my soul searching & guidance in my journey in this physical world?

Margaret said...

kindly credit Global Ministries for the Cross and Flames graphic.

scott saboy said...

hi margaret, thanks for the reminder, and my apologies for my initial failure to link the logo to the GB website. :)