Many Christians have quite clear ideas about God the Father and God the Son, but only rather vague, indistinct ideas about God the Holy Spirit. This stems, in part, from the fact that as human beings Christians have knowledge of fathers and sons in everyday experience, but not of personal bodiless spirits.

Though reluctant to admit it (it’s so unspiritual!), even ministers often share this indefiniteness about the Holy Spirit and almost dread occasions that call for special sermons on this subject. It is much easier to preach about Christ and to take silent refuge in the fact that even theologians have found it far easier to formulate a doctrine of Christ than of the Holy Spirit. Yet this uneasiness is not so much a matter of deficient spirituality as it is a misunderstanding about the possibilities of knowing the Holy Spirit.

Two other Christian truths are still without clear and adequate formulation. Both, interestingly enough, are intimately related to considerations of the Spirit. They are: eschatology (the doctrine of the last things) and ecclesiology (the doctrine of the Church). The dependence of both upon the Spirit is clear from the biblical teaching that the Church was constituted, and the last things were introduced, by the outpouring of the Spirit upon the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–17).

With the rise of the ecumenical movement and with the impact of Albert Schweitzer’s insistence in The Quest of the Historical Jesus that Jesus was an eschatological figure, a vast amount of research has been turned on the New Testament teaching about eschatology and the Church. And as a by-product came a deeper understanding and richer appreciation of the Spirit.

Our Knowledge Of The Spirit

This concomitant emergence of greater knowledge ...

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