How can it be that in a charismatic generation we’ve forgotten the Holy Spirit?
Love Ravenhill. No one cut to the chase better than he did. That’s the kind of thinking I pray gets exhibited on Cerulean Sanctum daily.
I wrote on the Holy Spirit last Thursday, but driving home from church today I got overwhelmed with a similar message, so I’d like to go into more detail.
Many people already know that I claim to be a charismatic, though I dislike the term immensely, and hate much of what the charismatic movement has transmogrified into in recent years. You can’t be around charismatics very long and not run into some—for want of a better phrase—serious wackos. Loyal readers will know that I routinely hold the spiritual feet of the charismatic movement to the fire. I simply possess no tolerance for charismania, as I call it.
On the other hand, this post addresses the other side of the issue.
A few questions:
1. Why is it that you can surf a hundred Christian blogs and not find a single mention of the Holy Spirit?
2. How is it possible that you can go to your average Christian bookstore and buy a dozen Christian books and find virtually no mention of the Holy Spirit?
3. Why is it that the institutional churches have either turned the Holy Spirit into a “fairy godmother” or gutted His power to do anything more than help us remember a few Bible verses?
4. In fact, how is it that some Christians routinely allow the Bible to replace the Holy Spirit in the Trinity?
5. How can it be that we can talk about eschatology, soteriology, epistemology, and a hundred other Christian -ologies, but someone casually asks to define pneumatology and entire swaths of mature Christians will scratch their heads?
How are any of these possible?
The inescapable truth is that every aspect of Church that we practice today existed before the Holy Spirit was given, yet we had no Church! The Church exists for one reason only, and that’s the Lord placed His Spirit inside us! Community existed, religious practice existed, love existed, service existed, even the Scriptures existed, but the Holy Spirit did not make his dwelling place in human beings.
Folks, the mark of the Church must always be the Holy Spirit in us. Everything else can be copied by other religions. But they do not have the Holy Spirit. He’s the promise. He’s the seal. He’s the power!
How then can we talk about everything else BUT Him?
One of the most compelling reasons for the Western Church’s comatose state can be found in our non-existent pneumatology. We’ve reduced the Holy Spirit to some index cards with a few memorized Scriptures on them. We’ve taken the Holy Spirit and accepted His seal on us for salvation, but then we move on as if He’s done with us.
Consider this well-known verse:
…Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.
We’ll quote that till we’re blue in the face and then go right out and minister from the flesh.
I’m not a supporter of the Emerging Church, but I’m sympathetic to some of the reforms they’re calling for in the Church as a whole. Yet I’m utterly mystified that a reform movement could be so lacking in any concept of the Holy Spirit. Pneumatology in the Emerging Church? I’ve not heard one peep about it. As far as I’m concerned, any reform movement that perpetually leaves out the mention of the Holy Spirit is nothing but flesh-centered hogwash.
And you, the institutional church guys. Stop laughing, because you’re the ones who forgot what the Holy Spirit is all about. No wonder your spiritual offspring in the Emerging Church are clueless about the Holy Spirit. You gave them nothing to work with. You’re the one’s who shoved the Holy Spirit in a closet and forgot about Him!
Yeah, I’m a little peeved about this. I hear a lot of pointless talk on the Web about revival and how to rouse the sleeping Western Church, yet almost nothing about the Holy Spirit. I promise this: if we start preaching on the necessity of the Spirit to empower our lives to holiness, evangelism, and true manifestations of the Spirit’s power to a generation unimpressed with talk without walk, we’ll see revival.
Ask yourselves how the Church grew from a couple hundred disciples at Pentecost to around 20-25 million adherents by the time of the First Council of Nicaea in 325. Most people couldn’t read, no NT canon existed, the Gentiles had passing references to the Scriptures, persecution of Christians flourished, Christians didn’t meet in megachurches, and yet Christianity flourished. How?
Not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit!
How is that we’ve forgotten this? Worse, how is it that we’ve forgotten the Third Person of the Trinity altogether?