The Holy Spirit






Today we begin Systematic Theology III, and specifically, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.


The focus of STIII:

- Pneumatology (doctrine of the Holy Spirit).

- Ecclesiology (doctrine of the Church).

- Eschatology (doctrine of last things).


Goals of STII:

- To understand the practical implications of these doctrines for life and ministry.

- To develop framework and skills to evaluate major opposing non-evangelical positions with reference to these respective theological topics.


There are various positions within evangelicalism, but there are also many outside evangelicalism. Since many people are not aware of what those are, they are also unaware when those outside positions begin to influence an evangelical opinion.


Example: The influence of Eastern Orthodoxy and the Catholic contemplative moments on how Christinas relate and interact with the God; and specifically, the Holy Spirit.


- To analyze contemporary issues confronting the Church and society.

- To rely more consistently on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit (pneumatology).

- To serve more wisely and rightfully in our local church (ecclesiology).

- To hope more soundly on God’s future work in your life and in the world (eschatology).


So that is our goal with these next episodes of STIII. All of ST is practical,, but STIII is the most hands-on because it deals with dynamic everyday issues in the life of the Christian and Church.


Introduction to Pneumatology


Etymology:

Gk. “Pneuma” = spirit, wind, breath.

Gk. Logos” = word, study.

So “pneumatology” is simply the study of the Spirit.


Just by way of reminder, ST is traditionally broken into three units (ST I, II, III).

All focus on different theological topics.

Each ST focuses on a particular person of the triune Godhead.

ST I: Theology Proper (the person and attributes of God in general).

ST II: The person of, and work of Christ.

ST III: The person and work of the Holy Spirit.


Pneumatological Prolegomena


The doctrine of the HS is often a debated and confusing topic, but it does not need to be this way.


Pneumatology is a relatively straight forward doctrine, but it is made confusing, and even emotional, due to various traditions (primarily new and contemporary) and presuppositions.


The typical Christian is often not even aware of these presuppositions. They were simply raised in a certain tradition or church culture, and so every person presumes that their experience is normative and correct.


So when we read certain passages on the HS, and hear someone make a certain statement about the HS, we are compelled to interpret these things through our pre-formed lens.


Tradition and upbringing are very powerful forces that all of us should be aware of.

Beyond that, it is undeniable that every single person has a presupposition.


In light of that, let us give you our presupposition as we approach the doctrine of the HS, but also our doctrine of the Church and Last Things.


Our presupposition is in accordance with the Reformational principle of Sola Scriptura.


Since Scripture is the sole possessor of divine authority, it is necessarily the only source in our formulation of this doctrine.


So what does this eliminate?

- This eliminates traditions (i.e., what has been said, taught, and held in history).

- This eliminates experience (both personal and corporate).

- This eliminates appeals to authority (e.g., scholars, pastors, bible teachers, etc.).


The only source of authority is the Scripture alone, so any conclusion on the person, nature, and work of the HS must be developed from the text of Scripture alone.


**Note: Now we might give some historical views on various issues related to the HS, but they in no way bear any authority for developing an accurate understanding of the HS.


The Importance of Pneumatology


A proper understanding of the HS is necessary because God’s work today is primarily worked out through the HS. The most prominent member of the Trinity (in His manifestation) is the person of the HS.


This is true in the Church (local and universal). This is true in the world.

Our primary interaction with God is via the HS (e.g., regeneration (Jn. 3), prayer (Rom. 8), the gifts (1 Cor. 12-14), all areas of sanctification -- both personally and corporately (Eph. 4), etc.


Additionally, a proper understanding of the HS is vital to grasping both the depth and significance of our salvation.


A proper pneumatology gives understanding, but also brings clarity to the nature of our relationship both to God and to one another (2 Cor. 1:22, Eph. 4).


The HS is integral to the process of sanctification (e.g., becoming like God) -- to orienting ourselves toward God and toward His will.


A proper understanding of the HS is necessary in grasping a deeper understanding of the Word of God, as well as developing better skills with the Word of God.


Remember, the Spirit is the Divine Author of God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:16), but he is also the Divine Illuminator of God’s Word (1 Cor. 2:15).


So we will develop all of that later, but the HS is central to anything related to the Word of God--


The Word is the Word of the Spirit, and the Spirit is the Spirit of the Word. There is such a tight connection, and that is vital to grasp. To have a low view of the Word, is to have a low view (functionally) of the Spirit, and to have a low view of the Spirit is to have a low view (functionally) of the Word.


Two Major Divides in the Church’s Pneumatology (both in doctrine and experience)


Not only is there confusion, but actually division-- which ironically, is the opposite of what the Spirit seeks to do, according to Eph. 4. And so, no doubt , this is one of those great schemes of Satan the Scripture talks much about.


So what does this debate involve? The debate involves:

- The language of “baptism of/in/with/by the HS.”

- The operation of the spiritual gifts.


These are the two major issues of division, and so below are what the various view espouse on these two issues of disagreement:


The Views:


Pentecostals/Charismatics


Believe “Baptism of the HS” is a secondary blessing subsequent to the conversion experience. This could happen seconds, minutes, hours, after conversion… or decades after conversion.