Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Language – Purity of Thought, Purity of Word: VI

Tapping Into the Power of the Holy Spirit?

There’s a book out titled Spirit Rising – Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit. The promo language includes, “[the authors] show why devotions, preaching, worship…aren’t enough without a vital, joy-giving connection to God’s agent on earth.”

Does language matter? Consider:

What image is portrayed by the words tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit? I see a plumber tapping into a water line to run water from the line to a faucet; I see an electrician tapping into a power grid to supply energy to a house; I see an oil exploration drill tapping into oil deposits deep beneath the earth’s surface. Whether it’s water or electricity or oil it is a resource, a commodity; it is something I use; not a Person I worship and submit to. Whether it is oil or water or electricity it is something that I control, not a Person who controls me. Does language matter?

Then we have the promotional language that tells us that the Holy Spirit is God’s agent on earth. Really? If the Holy Spirit is God’s agent then the Holy Spirit is not God, for an agent represents a principal and therefore is not the same as the principal. When Paul, in 2 Corinthians Chapter Five, styles himself an ambassador he makes it clear that he and his coworkers are representatives of God, they do not purport to be God. An ambassador is an agent of a country, a sovereign – an ambassador is not the sovereign.

If the Holy Spirit is but an agent of God, then the Holy Spirit is not God. Yet, as historic Christianity has affirmed for 2,000 years, the Holy Spirit is God. A fair reading of John Chapters 14 – 17, among others, with Jesus referring to the Holy Spirit as a Person, demonstrates that He is not an “it”, a resource that can be tapped into the way we tap into water, electricity or oil. An “it” can hardly teach us all things.

And if he is not an He but an agent, then he is not God and not being God he is not sovereign, and while we may owe him respect and obedience, it is no more than we owe any other messenger from God, whether it is an angel or Paul the Apostle. We certainly don’t owe an agent worship – that would be idolatry.

Ah, but He is God the Holy Spirit; and while we may not understand the mystery of the Trinity we can experience the mystery and live in the mystery.

Does language matter? For good or ill language shapes us, whether it causes us to be clearly defined in our lives, speech and thinking; or whether it turns us into jelly fish or chameleons…well, that is another matter.

(In my next post I’ll pick back up on the thread of profane language, but I had to get this out of my system.)

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