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Holy Spirit

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English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, wit...

Child Jesus with the virgin Mary, with the Holy Spirit (represented as a dove) and God the Father, with child john the Baptist and saint Elizabeth on the right, 1665-1670 Bartolomeo Esteban Murillo via Wikipedia

In Christian theology, The Holy Spirit is one of the three “persons” constituting the Holy Trinity of The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit.

Each person is said to be eternal, equal, distinct and yet of the same substance. The term Holy Ghost is an old English version of the Latin Spiritus.

In the New Testament Jesus promises his disciples that the Paraclete or Spirit of Truth will return. However, the worldly and evil people of this world cannot and will not see it unless they repent (John 14:16-17).

Around 360 CE the early Christian Church opposed as heretical the idea of the pneumatomachi–-the teaching that Jesus Christ but not the Spirit is Divine.

In 381 the Council of Constantinople repudiated these heretics by declaring the dogma of the Holy Spirit. This was further elaborated in 589 by the Council of Toledo’s dogma of double procession, or the filioque, which stipulates that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

This teaching became popular as the Nicene Creed spread throughout the empire of the Franks from the 9th-century onward. But due to an apparent temporal paradox (How can the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son if the Holy Trinity is co-eternal?), the filioque has been controversial and, indeed, openly attacked by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Many Christians tend to describe the Holy Spirit as an indwelling of the divine. That is, God is wholly-other but also immanent as a numinous experience. On the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Karl Gross cites Evelyn Underhill:

As they know themselves to dwell in the world of time and yet to be capable of transcending it, so the Ultimate Reality, they think, inhabits yet inconceivably exceeds all that they know to be — as the soul of the musician controls and exceeds not merely each note of the flowing melody, but also the whole of the symphony in which these cadences must play their part. » Source

However, a philosophical problem arises with the idea of indwelling. It’s obvious that many religious groups (and individuals) claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit while promoting drastically different agendas. Perhaps a partial solution to this problem could be to say that some of these groups and individuals are closer to enacting God’s will than others.

Related Posts » Arius, Calvinism, Christianity, Confirmation, Joachim of Fiore, John the Baptist, Otto (Rudolf), Psychosis, Spirit, Swedenborg (Emanuel), Tradition, Wave

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2 thoughts on “Holy Spirit

  1. “As they know themselves to dwell in the world of time and yet to be capable of transcending it, so the Ultimate Reality, they think, inhabts yet inconceivably exceeds all that they know to be — as the soul of the musician controls and exceeds not merely each note of the flowing melody, but also the whole of the symphony in which these cadences must play their part.”

    Evelyn Underhill as quoted by John Titor
    San Fransisco, 1967.

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  2. Thanks… nice quote! Do you happen to have the title of the book by Titor? In any case, your comment inspired me to add more to the entry. I really like Underhill.

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