THE PERSON, MISSION and MEDIUM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT VIEWED IN VARIOUS BIBLICAL PERIODS (Series ‘09—01)

Eusebio Tanicala, Ph.D.

Before some people would declare me a “false teacher” for not agreeing with them on their view on how the Holy Spirit works, I would like to make known my position based on my understanding of the Bible. If my views in this series of articles will be questionable to anyone, I would appreciate receiving any scriptural explanation to the contrary. Or better still we could arrange for a personal conference.

One time I was asked what my position is about the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” I told the brother that it would help clarify the issues if we begin from the very basic ideas and from the very ancient epochs and not merely dwell on the syntax and grammar of some scriptures.

VIEWS FROM SECTORS OF THE RESTORATION MOVEMENT

From the Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement (403ff, 2004) there are four positions that have crystallized. We list them down.

A. “Verbal-restrictive (or verbal-intensive) position which holds that the work of the Holy Spirit is wholly immanent in the Word of Scripture – that is, that the Holy Spirit operates on the human heart mediately through fact and arguments drawn from the Bible.”

B. “Verbal-augmentative position, according to which the Holy Spirit invests the written and spoken Word with special powers beyond the text itself, a power especially suited to teach the human soul.”

C. “Verbal-coefficient position. In this view the Holy Spirit accompanies the preaching of the written Word, the Spirit and the Word, working independently of each other but in harmony. This view both saves the real presence of the Holy Spirit as a Person distinct from any fallible verbal presentation of the truth and prevents a conception of the written Word from being some kind of fourth presentation of the Godhead, a divine power-in-itself.”

D. “Verbal-transcendent (or Spirit-intensive) view … the general notion is that the Holy Spirit can and sometimes does act apart from the Word and immediately on the heart of the unbeliever who, while he or she believes the gospel, cannot will to change his or her life without a special spiritual impulsion.”

FOY E. WALLACE, JR’S VIEW

In their efforts to check “Pentecostalism movement” in the 1960s, some brethren took the position that the Holy Spirit indwells or influences people through the truth contained in the written/oral word only, the Bible. I believe that the late brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr. fairly represented the position of this group in his booklet “The Mission & Medium of the Holy Spirit.” This group takes “Verbal-restrictive” position as described above. And this is the view of some quarters that would like to declare me and those who are like me as “false teachers.”

Here is one paragraph from Foy Wallace’ treatise on page 7:

“That the Spirit of God enlightens and converts sinners; comforts and strengthens saints; that love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, fidelity, self-control, are all the fruit of the Spirit, we learn not from inner consciousness, but from the Word of God. The modus operandi – the mode, the medium, the how – is the Word of God. ‘The Spirit of God is ever present with his truth, operating in it, and through it, and by it,’ said Alexander Campbell in the debate with Rice. This statement is incontrovertible and unassailable and covers the whole issue. Independent of the Word we could never know ‘whether there by any Holy Spirit.’ All the knowledge of God, Christ, salvation and spiritual influence comes only from the Word of God. Apart from the inspiration of the apostles and prophets it is impossible for spirit to communicate with spirit except through words. God and Christ never personally occupied anyone; and for the same reason the Holy Spirit does not personally occupy anyone.”

The above paragraph could be presented in proposition forms for easier understanding:

  1. The Spirit of God enlightens and converts the sinner; comforts and strengthens saints … the how is the Word of God.
  2. The Spirit of God is ever present with his truth, operating in it, and through it, and by it.
  3. All knowledge of God, Christ, salvation and spiritual influences comes only from the Word of God.
  4. Apart from the inspiration of the apostles and prophets it is impossible for spirit to communicate with spirit except through words.
  5. God and Christ never personally occupied anyone; and for the same reason the Holy Spirit does not personally occupy anyone.

The above views have some weaknesses. I submit my observations and ideas so that the Filipino preachers will have a more biblical stand than the above and make their argument cogent.

To help us understand better the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit, I would like to submit the first biblical period, “Epoch A – When Nothing Existed Except the Godhead” And here are some questions to reflect on to answer the inquiries about the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit.

  1. When the Godhead was the only personality that ever existed, was the Godhead with the Holy Spirit as a member present in all of cosmic space? My answer is “Yes.”
  2. During this Epoch A, was the Holy Spirit personally present in all of cosmic space? My answer is “Yes.”
  3. Dogmatic Theology says that God is omnipresent; during this Epoch A, was the Holy Spirit personally present in all of cosmic space? My answer is “Yes.”
  4. During this Epoch A period, was the presence of God the same in dimension as His dwelling? My answer is “Yes.”
  5. During this Epoch A, was there a place where God was present where the Holy Spirit was not present? My answer to this question is “None.” Where you think of God’s presence, the Holy Spirit’s presence was co-extensive.
  6. During this Epoch A when there was no Torah or Bible, did the three distinct spirit persons of the Trinity communicate with each other? My answer is “Yes, they did communicate.”
  7. During this Epoch A, did the three distinct persons of the Trinity communicate through the truth found in the words of the Bible? My answer is “No.” There was no Bible then and the mind of the three persons of the Trinity need not digest truths from written or oral words because truth inherently resides in the Godhead.

Our second issue will be “Epoch B – From the Creation of the Invisible Principalities and Powers.” This covers the period from the time the invisible powers were created until the rebellion of the Devil. Ephesians 1:21; 6:12; Romans 8:38; Colossians 2:15 speak about this period.

%d bloggers like this: