Stop Enslaving God to Man’s Logic!
1 When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. 2 For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. 5 I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NLT2)
With the acids of modernity washing over them, Enlightenment preachers were in a quandary. In a world in which people sought empirical confirmation as the definitive sign of trustworthiness, what could the preacher commend that the community could believe, especially since so much of the Bible and of Christian doctrine asserted things that cannot be investigated by the usual empirical or philosophical means?
The Holy Spirit is not enthusiasm. I have found enthusiasm that hummed with excitement, and the Holy Spirit was nowhere to be found there at all; and I have found the Holy Ghost when there has not been much of what we call enthusiasm present.
Neither is the Holy Spirit another name for genius. We talk about the spirit of Beethoven and say, “This or that artist played with great spirit. He interpreted the spirit of the master,” The Holy Spirit is none of these things. Now what is He?
He is a Person. Put that down in capital letters … He is Himself a Person, with all the qualities and powers of personality
I have seen caricatures of pastors and priests who seem befuddled by the science of the day, and are either overwhelmed or disgusted by modern philosophy and the science it interprets.
The battle over COVID is one example – as pastors and priests are like tennis balls – be whacked between caring for their people’s physical and spiritual/mental health. There is a real threat to physcial health, one that is easily documented as the numbers of those hospitalized due to COVID is 10 times what it was 6 weeks ago. Yet visiting those locked in, shows a trauma just as real, if not documentable.
You see it as people bypass what scripture teaches about the star that guided the wise men to Jesus, that guided them for years, no mere days. Yet that too is someothing that modern astronomers scoff at, so the conjunction of a couple planets, barely visible with the naked eye, is tosssed in as an example.
There is this ideae that a religion must be reasonable, logical, documentable. How many books and lectures are out there, searching for the historical Jesus? How many more progressive theologians want to explain away the miraculous, and focus only on the teaching of Jesus. (Well not ALL the teachings of Jesus)
The reaction to this is just as ludicrous – the idea that God has set no boundaries, that everything must make us happy, even to the point of ecstasy. We look for manifestations, or more like interpret what we see and experience as if such ecstasy is what reveals God’s presence. COVID becomes less of a disease, and more of a sign of the second coming. The convergence of stars is not something that astonomers and mathematicians predicted as much as the Sign of the Second Coming ( even though it shows up every 20 years or so)
I see the Apostle Paul finding the third option between meansuirng God by our logic or emotion. He simply focuses in on Chirst crucified.THat is what matters, that is what makes the difference, that is what is going to make a difference. We must trust in the power of God over the wisdom of man. ut we need to do so without enslaving God to our emotional neesds.
That kind of faith, that kind of dependence on God comes in the midst of a relationship that is born in intimacy. That comes as Christ invades our lives, just as He did 2000 years ago. As the Holy Spirit cicumcises our heart, cutting away the desire to be equl with God intellecutally, and yet also cutting away our desire to get our way.
Tozer explains this as he notes the Holy Spirit is neither enthusiasm or genius! We interact with Him daily, as He reveals the love of the Father, shown through Jesus, the Son of God whos is the “reason”(logos/word) of God in flesh.
Far deeper than mere philosophy, far more stable than emotional reactions, this is the greatest thing we can know.
God with us… Immanuel.
Ronald J. Allen, Thinking Theologically: The Preacher as Theologian (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2008), 19.
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).