The Holy Spirit in the Christian Life

Gordon Fee believes, I think rightly, that the place, role, and ministry of the Holy Spirit are overlooked and downplayed in many churches. As a corrective, in his monumental God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul Fee first exegetes all the relevant passages dealing with the Holy Spirit in Paul’s letters and then offers 100 pages of theological reflection derived from that exegesis.

At the end, he offers an appeal to the church to pursue a way forward. He does not naïvely call upon us to the restoration of some ‘primitive’ Christianity. Rather what he hopes for is that we would recapture

“…the Pauline perspective of Christian life as essentially the life of the Spirit, dynamically experienced and eschatologically oriented — but fully integrated into the life of the church.” (page 901, emphasis his)

I think his is a hope and desire worth sharing. As others have noted, the Christian church is often confessionally trinitarian, but functionally bi-nitarian. I see that in my own practice and language. To Fee

“…a genuine recapturing of the Pauline perspective will cause the church to be more vitally Trinitarian, not only in its theology, but in its life and Spirituality as well. …our theologizing must stop paying mere lip service to the Spirit and…the church must risk freeing the Spirit from being boxed into the creed and getting him back into the experienced life of the believer and the believing community.” (page 902)

Such a movement will restore life and power to the church, and be central to the divine intention that the “…glory of the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)

“This will mean not the exaltation of the Spirit, but the exaltation of God…. Ethical life will be neither narrowly, individualistically conceived nor legalistically expressed, but will be joyously communal and decidedly over against the world’s present trinity of relativism, secularism, and materialism… . And the proper Trinitarian aim of such ethics will be the Pauline one — to the glory of God, through being conformed to the image of the Son, by the empowering of the Spirit.” (902)

It’s a good and worthy dream.

3 thoughts on “The Holy Spirit in the Christian Life

  1. I have often pondered the way we can look back at the Old Testament writing and see Christ everywhere, but we seldom look back and see the Spirit everywhere. I think we ought to read the OT in light of our Trinitarian view, too!

  2. Penni

    Great minds think alike. See Spurgeon’s “Evening” devotional for 16 Feb. “Common, too common, is the sin of forgetting the Holy Spirit.”

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