Article IV-The Holy Spirit-His Person

Holy-Spirit-DescendsContinuing on the series of the Free Methodist Church’s Articles of Religion (see here and here for an explanation of the series and format):

¶105 The Holy Spirit-His Person

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. Proceeding from the Father and the Son, He is one with them, the eternal Godhead, equal in deity, majesty and power. He is God effective in Creation, in life and in the church. The Incarnation and ministry of Jesus Christ were accomplished by the Holy Spirit. He continues to reveal, interpret and glorify the Son.

¶131 Scriptural References

The doctrines of the Free Methodist Church are based upon the Holy Scriptures and are derived from their total biblical context. The references below are appropriate passages related to the given articles. They are listed in their biblical sequence and are not intended to be exhaustive. Matthew 28:19; John 4:24; 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:13-15.

This is probably one of the more difficult articles we have seen yet. It is not because we are talking about God, but because we are talking specifically about the Holy Spirit. Father, ok–that sounds like a person. Son, ok–that sounds like a person. The Holy Spirit–sounds like a title of some kind of force, especially since it begins with the.

Another difficulty is in dealing with a pronoun for this person of the Trinity. Since the Son literally became a human man, it is easy to use he as a pronoun. Father, if using this title, is easy, too. (There are lots of people for whom the masculine idea for God is a horrible issue, but that is a different post for a different day). Yet why do we use a masculine pronoun for the Holy Spirit? Actually, most people will bend over backwards doing verbal gymnastics to try and avoid using a pronoun at all for the Spirit. The Hebrew and Greek words (the languages of the Old Testament and the New Testament, respectively) for spirit are both feminine, so in the Bible the pronouns (if they are used) would be feminine. In Syriac Christianity there is a very, very long tradition of referring to the Holy Spirit with feminine pronouns. Since God is neither male nor female, either are appropriate.

Just don’t refer to the Holy Spirit as it.

The Spirit is not a force. The Spirit is not love between the Father and the Son. The Spirit is not the power of God in the world. The Spirit is a person. This person connects us to God. Technically, this person connects us to the Godhead, which is theological language for the three persons of the Holy Trinity together. Below is a funny video trying to explain the Trinity.

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14 thoughts on “Article IV-The Holy Spirit-His Person

    • There have been lots of people down through history that have agreed with you on this point. There are also lots of people down through history who have decided that, despite the knee-jerk reaction of incoherence, the Trinity is still a valid way of describing the Christian God.

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      • hardly knee-jerk here, steven. incoherency here comes from violating the LNC. for example and by analogy:

        fido, rover, and spot are the same dog and at the same time, different dogs.

        the trinity stands to describe the relationship between god, jesus, and the holy spirit. some think it must be believed, as central to salvation.

        god or fido, what has been described about either?

        when a contradiction exists in a definition, what does “i believe in” express?

        certainly we can engage in doublethink, however we would assume both “one” and “three” are true but we would know absolutely that one of these is false or both of these are insufficient and as such, we are not entirely sure what we believe about god, jesus, the holy spirit, fido, rover, and spot.

        ontologically, there is either modalism or there is tritheism.

        trinitarianism assets both modalism and tritheism at the same time. as any explanation then, it fails. and when explained, all explanations collapse to “it’s a mystery”. that phrase ensure that the trinity doesn’t obtain as sufficient for describing relationships between god, jesus, and the holy spirit.

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      • I find it interesting that you draw a hard line in the sand between modalism and tritheism and say there is no other explanation. If the biblical record is correct, which is an assumption I am willing to make, modalism is incoherent since Jesus interacts verbally with the Father. Jesus also sends the Spirit. So either Jesus was creating a massive delusion that there really are different persons by interacting with them as if they were different, all the while knowing that it is just himself, or modalism is wrong.

        As for tritheism, if it can be shown that Jesus is the embodiment of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which many scholars have shown, then tritheism falls apart. And with modalism being incoherent, that doesn’t leave any other option according to what you have posted.

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      • i’m not saying what i believe. i’m telling you that modalism and tritheism are the ingredients of trinitarianism.

        OF COURSE god, jesus, and the holy spirit are separate entities! scripture makes this clear.

        it can not be shown that embodiment entails to homoousia. there’s no reason to equate fulfillment with ontology. and, scholars have not at all shown the literal embodiment of the god of anyone! memra is an intermediary between god and the material world. god cannot directly interact with the material world, according to hebrew tradition. memra is how god’s will is carried out in the material world. memra and god can NOT be ontologically identical since this becomes incoherent, negating any need of memra at all. this goes right into logos philosophy as well. see the stoics and philo for either.

        modalism indeed is not an option. in that case, tritheism is all there can be, since we consider god, jesus, and the holy spirit divine. however, tritheism is heresy. “one” is impossible because there are “three”. “three” is impossible because “they” are claimed as being “one and the same”.

        but rather than evade my question, what does it mean to say you believe fido, rover, and spot are the same dog but at the same time, different dogs?

        explain that without admitting it’s inexplicable by saying in the end, “it’s a mystery”.

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      • I really did not see the question previously, so I was not trying to evade it. Sorry if it seemed that way. I would actually point you to a couple of books that would do a good job of explaining what is conveyed in this Article, and all of the Articles pertaining to Trinity. I do this, not to try and evade anything, but since these are topics that have had volumes written over 2000 years, and countless articles, conferences, councils, and other work, it is simplistic to try and reduce the issue to comments back and forth on a blog:

        God Crucified by Richard Bauckham
        The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ by Daniel Boyarin
        The Meaning of Jesus by Marcus Borg and NT Wright
        On the Incarnation by Athanasius of Alexandria
        On the Holy Spirit by Basil the Great
        After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity by Miroslav Volf

        These may actually answer the question you are asking in a much more full way than a response here could do.

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      • sure. and if i’ve read them?

        what i’m asking you is very simple.

        you believe in the trinity, stephen. i’m asking you what “i believe in” means when the object of belief entails contradiction. that’s it.

        so, even in laymen’s terms, you can tell me if a contradiction exists, and if not, then you can tell me succinctly the aquinian distinction that saves the day.

        fido, rover, and spot are the same dog, and at the same time, not the same dog.

        if i whimsically name that “dogsa” and tell you “i believe in dogsa”, what is it that i am purporting to believe in?

        simple enough.

        no one needs five volumes of theological jargon here. surely you know what you believe and as a result can articulate it and also make a case for it.

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      • Your original question was:

        when a contradiction exists in a definition, what does “i believe in” express?

        I have offered several resources for you to explore what people have written about the “contradiction” of the Trinity. You imply you have read these six books (although by misspelling my first name, which is written on the banner of the blog I would wonder how closely you read them) and insist that there is contradiction.

        You state that I must

        explain that without admitting it’s inexplicable by saying in the end, “it’s a mystery”.

        The thing about all of our knowledge of the Trinity is that it is based upon 2000 years of Christian experience. The biblical and theological language we use is the best we can use to describe our historic and present experience of God. Without that experience, one will never understand it. No resorting to “mystery.” Just as it is not possible to explain poverty to someone who has never lived it, or love to someone who has never known love, without an experience of the Trinity, one will never understand.

        I don’t have to philosophically try to explain homoousia, or the hypostatic union of theanthropos. The resources to which I directed you already do that. But still, just like Plato’s man in a cave, if you have not experienced it, you will never understand it. There is no argument that can be made that will prove an article of faith. As a result, you are seeking answers in the wrong way, unless you are just seeking to prove you are right. If that is the case, then I will defer to your superior way of sprinkling theological and philosophical terms throughout your posts in an effort to be right.

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      • ok, so you’re saying it isn’t a mystery.

        i want you, yourself, to explain the trinity to me. it ought not take six books to do it, eh.

        simply, how can fido, rover, and spot be the same dog but at the same time, different dogs?

        you’re saying there is a correspondent experience to the trinity. well, fine and true as that may be, if the definition of trinity entails a contradiction then again, what in the heck do you mean by “trinity”?! is there one god, or three?!

        and what? misspelling a name has something to do with reading? it’s a bit narcissistic, don’t you think, that the import of your name should indicate so much. tsk, tsk, tsk.

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      • misspelling a name has something to do with reading?

        It shows how closely you read.

        i want you, yourself, to explain the trinity to me.

        No.

        you’re saying there is a correspondent experience to the trinity. well, fine and true as that may be, if the definition of trinity entails a contradiction then again, what in the heck do you mean by “trinity”?! is there one god, or three?!

        It is only something you can understand by experience. That is why I said “no” above. You can’t understand it.

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      • right, it shows that i really don’t think your name is of import to this conversation … you certainly beg to differ.

        if the trinity is a contradiction then what is “it” that corresponds to this experience you say exists?

        “no” is your inability to speak coherently to an experience. the fact is, i may do complete injustice to describing an orgasm, but i can do it and do it without contradiction. it’s not that you fear doing injustice to a description of some experience. it’s that the description given is incoherent because of contradiction. that in essence, the trinity is the claim fido, rover, and spot are and are not the same dog. there’s no mystery there. you’re right. it is clearly non sense, literally.

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      • There really is nothing more to say. You are convinced you need logical, rational proof of Trinity and are convinced that you will not find it. That really does not matter to me. You are not the first person to make these arguments, which is why I pointed you to other works that address them. You are not even the most articulate to pose them. Yet for all of the arguing by people who only see a logical contradiction in their own estimation of the Trinity, we who believe will still be here and the Church will still grow. It has for the last 2000 years and it will continue to do so because people still have experiences of the Reality you cannot rationally accept.

        Keep up with baiting people on the “contradiction of the Trinity.” The reality, however, is that we are not going anywhere and we have nothing to prove. I do not have to explain God to your satisfaction to prove I am a good Christian. Nor do I have to convince you that I am right. I have pointed you in the direction you can go if you really want to wrestle with this issue.

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      • oh, i don’t doubt there’s some experience one may have. what i’m saying is that what we SAY of that experience has to be of some USE to DESCRIBE that experience. it is simply a matter of fact that without some distinction, the description that goes by the title, “trinity”, describes nothing because it entails contradiction.

        for instance, i don’t doubt that you had a run-in with a canine. however, of i want to know about it and ask if you were chased by one or more dogs and you say you were chased by three dogs but really only one, but really, three, i’m just going to scratch my head. any rational person would.

        you think i’m asking you to prove something. no. i just want to know of some distinction that makes the idea of “one and three” not contradictory.

        if you think that is of real import to christian life, then as a fellow christian, i really think you have some responsibility to explain it. after all, writing a blog about it means you want to preach about it and too, you claim that there is some christian experience that is best described by the trinity and i don’t. so i can only think you propose you’re having experiences i am not, or that we can agree that the trinity may not at all be actually necessary to describe any christian experience, as i do seem to be missing any experiences to my knowledge. perhaps merely on your say-so?

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