Monday, August 13, 2007

Ern Baxter Quotes on the Holy Spirit

While I am working (currently night shift 5 of 7) I have been busy collecting quotes on the "Pentecostal/Charismatic Postit Notes" blog. I am constantly amazed at what an incredible resource the New Wine Magazine is because that is where most of them have come from. The five teachers who wrote most of the magazine really did seem to have had a mature understanding and outlook into the Kingdom of God - which is why it is essential that the New Wine Magazine doesn't get lost in the dusty portals of time!

By the way some new editions have been added to the online Archive here so it is worth checking regularly if you have read all of them like me!

These two quotes by Ern Baxter on the Holy Spirit really stirred me. The first speaks of the general ignorance of the Person of the Holy Spirit (that I think still persists today despite the interest in charismatic life).

"The spiritual revitalizing we have been experiencing across the earth in recent years has indicated that great cross sections of the professing Christian community have been and yet are living in considerable ignorance of the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit and of the glorious possibility of being personally related to Him in meaningful experience".

The second quote draws a disturbing parallel that I have never really considered before - the danger of systematising or institutionalizing the Holy Spirit.

"It was not until the beginning of the fourth century that the Christian community got around to any extensive definition of the Holy Spirit. It is also interesting that by this time the supernatural and charismatic manifestation of the Holy Spirit had receded considerably. This shows the danger of reducing God, Christian experience and even the Bible to systematic definitions suitable to intellectual forms while not retaining vital relationship to God through the Holy Spirit".

Let us beware of reducing the Holy Spirit and His marvellous ministry and Presence among us to simple theological definitions and attempts at cerebral understanding and boxing. He is God and is worthy of our worship and praise and adoration and welcome among us! Speaking of worshipping the Holy Spirit - the Bluefish drew attention to something that Rob Rufus did at Brighton that slightly bothered me. Rob asked us to sing the old classic song "Father - Son - Spirit we adore You" but asked us to sing the refrain;

"Spirit we love You, we worship and adore You ... glorify HIS Name".

The point was that the Spirit doesn't draw attention to Himself but points it to Jesus. This is true but it is a familiar argument to me from my home church and has proved to be the beginning of the road towards limiting the Holy Spirit's work and eventually quenching Him and ignoring Him. I was encouraged to read in the transcripts of the Westminster Conference 2006 (which certainly wouldn't claim to be charismatic in any sense!) the following quote;

"Thus we are distinctly to worship the Holy Spirit and in doing so we worship the whole Trinity. This reminds us of the statement about the Spirit in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed - "who together with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified".


jul said...

Interesting change to the song. I think I'm with you. I was brought up with it being drilled into my head that we don't worship the Holy Spirit too (even though we sang that song haha). Now I don't agree with that line of reasoning but it is true that He glorifies Jesus. Not sure of Rob's intent; I know he makes a lot of an intimate relationship with the Spirit. If glory is the the weight of God's importance, then surely the Spirit is important?
I find it an interesting train of thought since I just wrote a song about the Holy Spirit with the lines "...cover this fragile flesh with your glory..." and "...until I am overwhelmed with your glory..." I've been uncertain about it a bit, I should send you the lyrics so you can give a theological critique!

Dan Bowen said...

I'd love to read it - it sounds RIGHT up my street! So glad that you agree with me! I wrote the comment tentatively hoping that I wouldn't provoke a whole torrent of wrath for daring to disagree slightly with the Rufus man!!

I am not sure why he did it either. I know quite a few Charismatics used to do that, or downgrade the Holy Spirit almost as an olive branch to cessationists. "Here look - we don't honour Him THAT much! We sing "Glorify HIS Name!". Ridiculous! The Holy Spirit is God and therefore worthy of our worship and devotion!

Now on the other hand I do agree fervently with Rob Rufus that the Holy Spirit seems to get particularly active and powerful when the Name of Jesus Christ is glorified and exalted! I had that experience walking back from work this morning. I was praying about some stuff and said "Holy Spirit please - come upon me. I want to glorify Jesus! I want to make His Name famous!". And suddenly I was crying! Because He was so close.

But that aside - I don't think we have to make deliberate acts like this just to "prove" we're not over-emphasising the Spirit too much.