“The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the father and the Son, very and eternal God.”
Does being a part of an organised church with a fairly formalised liturgy “quench the spirit”?
Should I be concerned that I’m not a real Christian because I haven’t spoken in tongues?
Can I be a person who is really guided by God’s spirit without having to get involved in all that Jesus stuff?
There is so much to write about the Holy Spirit, that maybe I’ll just keep myself to these three questions.
1: There are those who feel that a truly “spiritual” experience of God can’t be had as long as one maintains a formalised liturgy. The caricature is of mindless drones who repeat liturgy without ever engaging mentally. If arms aren’t raised, and hands aren’t clapped, then surely emotions aren’t experienced and minds aren’t engaged.
My issue with this is twofold. Firstly, I am not sure when emotions became the final arbiters of whether one has had a “spiritual” experience. Secondly, I have to say that in my time in the Newcastle Diocese, (where prayerbook liturgy is the expected norm), while I have encountered those who sit without engaging, I have also encountered lots of people who find the liturgy a rich, powerful and deeply emotional thing. I feel like God speaks to many of the people, as they learn doctrine through liturgy, and as they have opportunity to truly consider what they are saying, rather than being simple entertained.
I can say unequivocally that God’s spirit is at work amongst the people in my parish.
As I was leading Morning Prayer this morning, I couldn’t help but appreciate the poetry of the language that our forefathers used in writing. It’s been a great tool for me to use, and an encouragement/rebuke to think that those who I may have previously looked down on for being “locked in” to a formalised style of prayer, have nonetheless been thoughtful and consistent in bringing their supplications before the Lord day by day. I feel God’s spirit at work in me as I read these prayers, and as I find paragraphs, read before, appear fresh to me,as God reworks my heart.
2: No matter what the actor Fred Savage does in his career, he will always be that kid from “The Wonder Years.” I feel for the guy! I clicked on his wiki & he has done all kinds of movie & TV acting, as well as a heap of directing. The problem is that sometimes a unhealthy amount of focus gets poured out on one small part of a persons activity.
This is the way I feel about speaking in tongues.
Am I against it? Heck no, it’s biblical!
Have I experienced it personally? Nope.
Am I particularly worried about that? We have a No again! Different gifts for different people at different times. As Paul himself says “In the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.”. I’m happy for those people who have experienced this gift (though I’d be happier if more people read 1 Cor 14 & sought more orderly biblical worship), but am just as happy that God has gifted me in other areas, and most importantly, that I have an opportunity to wield the “Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17)
3: One problem with talking about the Holy Spirit is that the word “spiritual” has been hijacked by popular culture, to refer to anything that seems to give us some sense of inner well-being. Go have an expensive dinner & you’re likely to hear people talking about it being a “spiritual” experience. But when the articles talk about the Holy Spirit, and more importantly, when the Bible talks about it, we are talking about God’s spirit, not some vague general feel-good power.
A Faith that is rooted in a trinitarian mindset, seeing Father, Son & Holy Spirit as being three-in-one recognises that you can’t talk about God’s spirit without engaging with Jesus & God the father because they are inexorably linked! And if you’re connected to Father, Son & Spirit, then you can’t help but talk about the church, God’s people, who Father, Son and Spirit have been investing in since day dot.
Am I even touching the surface with the Holy Spirit? Nah, but it’s nice to share a thought or two…