BACKGROUND TO BUDDY #3

Note to the reader: the series of articles entitled Background to Buddy were extracted from a Christian nonfiction work that formed the basis for the novel Buddy, which is available from either Amazon or Signalman Publishing. Directions are noted on the page entitled Buddy on this blog site. The purpose of this work was to explain the reasons why I consider the Holy Spirit to be functionally female. Adventure episodes and humor were added for the entertainment of both the reader and the author.

Chapter 2: A Problem of Understanding

It seems like we Christians are given almost daily instances of our Churches falling away from the faith of our fathers. Here we find another Church that claims the impossibility of knowing absolute truth; over there we see another denomination bowing to the pressure of political correctness, making statements that blatantly contradict Biblical truth; from another direction we hear of a congregation attempting to accommodate its beliefs with those of Islamists or Buddists or Shintoists or whatever else might be out there.

In the face of these assaults against our Christian faith, we quite naturally wish to turn back toward the faith of our fathers, attempting to cling to their system of thought regarding God and Scripture.

But how far back do we need to go to achieve the pure faith that we’re looking for? Certainly we must look backward past the twentieth century, because during that entire era mere survival occupied center stage. Warfare, disease and famine became commonplace. The need for preservation extended to the various Christian denominations, which occupied themselves with such mundane issues as building and maintaining Church attendance and providing for the convenience and comfort of their members. Child-care services were offered; youth programs were adopted; organizational charts were pored over and deacons, greeters and other fixtures were allocated. The messages themselves were pure vanilla and thoroughly predictable. Despite Jesus’ assertion that His kingdom was not of this world, the trend of the Church mission headed toward the development of personal tools to support the acquisition of physical prosperity. Many pastors possessed impressive knowledge of the Bible, but little of it seemed to have reached their hearts. Their collective tendency to ignore large parts of it, their timidity to challenge the inroads of popular science and their own self-serving biases betrayed the shallowness of their understanding of God. Their pulpit behavior drastically affected the attitudes of their congregants. How many people in our day have come to God with enthusiasm, only to go to a lackluster Church that terribly misrepresented His message of love, hope and joy, and, above all, the reality of His presence? How many other people are being invited, in the name of ecumenism, to join up with godless, anti-Christian religions, and are accepting this siren call because they are so ignorant of Scripture?

We must continue on back past the nineteenth century in our search for a faith of substance. Many sects of that era had become contaminated with the errors of the Enlightenment, including the possession of doubts about the dating and authorship of several important Old Testament books and, of course, the passive acceptance of the oppositions of science toward the Book of Genesis. By the beginning of the twentieth century, in fact, many if not most Christian denominations had either accepted the tenets of Darwinian Evolution or had simply ignored the issue altogether, setting the stage for a progressive rejection of Scripture as an inerrant source of truth.

If we go back yet further in time we approach the dawn of the Protestant movement, where the Church itself was just emerging from the corruption of Catholicism, its rigid order of worship, its unrestrained allegorization of Scripture and its insertion of human intermediaries between God and man, in the process denying Scripture itself to the masses. In attempting to right these very real wrongs, the Protestant movement addressed such issues as occupied the attention of the Protestant fathers. They focused narrowly on such matters as common readership of Scripture, the use of local speech in the conduct of services, and, theologically, the basics of Scriptural interpretation, the existence of heaven and hell and the nature of these places, and of whether or not God had granted to man free will toward salvation.

These are undeniably important issues. But there are many other theologically vital matters that were not addressed, either then or still earlier, leaving us yet with some very wide gaps in our understanding of God and Scripture.

Even before Constantine had removed the outlaw status from Christianity and made it a state religion, the truly momentous issues tackled by the early Church fathers failed to broach certain subjects. Theological positions were taken in response to various heresies, primarily regarding the nature of Jesus Christ: the deity of Jesus was asserted against the claims of Arius1, as was His eternal preexistence with the Father, along with that of the Holy Spirit; Gnosticism2 was denounced along with the duality that denied Jesus in the flesh, and the Church Fathers confirmed that Jesus was both fully man and fully God; the Trinitarian Godhead was acknowledged, although questions regarding the nature of this Trinity were left unanswered, largely because nobody wanted to grieve the Holy Spirit. A common fear prevailed then among the clergy, as it does to this day, that delving too deeply into the nature of this Deity might cause one to commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, a sin that Jesus noted in Matthew 12:31 and 32 was unforgivable.

In virtually every historical period that we wish to choose, we find, to our dismay, that representative Church fathers possessed the same failings that we ourselves do. It is only in small and scattered groups that, then as now, the true Church has resided. To this very day, as a consequence of man’s waste of time and energy in the name of religion and of his almost constant misuse of God’s gift to him of His Word in Scripture, significant gaps and misperceptions remain in our understanding of God. Many honest, courageous pastors and theologians openly acknowledge these intellectual holes and go so far as to admit to confusion regarding them.

The spotty historical record of spokespersons for God in bringing the knowledge of God to the Church laity raises an important issue: just who are the legitimate spokespersons for God, and what credentials should they possess to practice the role of instructing others about God?

Certainly a basic knowledge of God is a necessary prerequisite for teaching others about Him. One would think that the more knowledge that a person acquires about God, the better he would be as a teacher. In that sense, the possession of a college degree in theology would seem to be an appropriate credential for the task. The higher the degree, in fact, the more acceptable the teacher should become: a master’s degree, then would trump a mere bachelor’s degree, and a doctorate would trump a master’s degree.

But that’s not the way it seems to work in practice. Certainly the possession of a higher degree in theology is a good indicator of the commitment of the teacher to God. Furthermore, God has blessed us with His own presentation of Himself in His Word, Holy Scripture. He also gave it to us in languages of precision – Hebrew and Greek. It would certainly make sense that a good teacher should possess a good working knowledge of Scripture and the languages in which it was originally written. Beyond that, a good dose of Church history, including the challenges she faced from heretic notions, and the manner in which she resolved these issues, would seem to be an appropriate asset to the teacher.

So far, we have seen that the more the teacher learns about God, the better equipped he is to teach others about Him. But it is also true that so far we have addressed just the basics of a theological education. With the exception of the language training and the mental discipline that the student of theology has acquired in mastering these basics, and important as these factors are, these basics are also readily available to the committed layperson. The problems for the college student enter in as his instruction proceeds beyond the basics, with the introduction into his theological curriculum of man’s opinions about God.

Those problems aren’t new. In fact, they’re ancient. The Jewish scholars possessed, in addition to those portions of the Old Testament that had been written before them, a large body of extra-Biblical knowledge. Some of that knowledge was contradictory to their Scriptures and otherwise misleading. Other elements of that knowledge merely catered to the students’ intellectual pride, causing them to spend exorbitant quantities of time delving into issues quite peripheral to the truly important components of a knowledge of God.

In our modern era, many of our seminaries indoctrinated their students with extraneous, virtually irrelevant information regarding God. They were made to tackle turgid and almost incomprehensible works by self-declared theological intellectuals on such subjects as whether God had the ability to create out of nothing, or whether man possesses an iota of free will toward his salvation, or whether God’s creative days consisted of 24 hours, or what domains of intellectual activity are purely secular, and what rightly belong to God. A layman conversant with Scripture could answer almost any one of these issues within seconds merely by consulting his faith3.

But the problem with seminary curricula goes beyond the issue of wasting time and energy. Some of the study material actually is false and misleading. The teachings of the German School of Higher Criticism4 infected many seminaries throughout Europe, America and throughout the world for well over a century. The thrust of their teaching was the questioning of the authorship of several Old Testament books, including Isaiah and Daniel. After much cogitation, the intellectual luminaries of this school arrived at the conclusion that these books had multiple authors, all of whom made their contributions after the arrival of Jesus on the scene. The result of their work was the removal of all elements of the supernatural from these prophetic writings. Unfortunately for them, their findings were completely overturned by Ahmed the Wolf, who, in tossing stones into caves, uncovered the Dead Sea Scrolls5. Subsequent investigation of these scrolls, which included the complete text of Isaiah, established their dates as prior to the incarnation of Jesus.

Unfortunately for us, many of our pastors had graduated from these seminaries and gone into our communities with this false knowledge. Moreover, this new understanding handed to the institutions of higher learning by the Wolf didn’t go far to correct the falsehoods the students were forced to digest. Many seminaries blithely continued to pursue the German School train of thought despite its having been compromised. Then, too, the students were (and still are) also subjected to other falsehoods, such as the wholesale allegorization or even outright allocation to myth of certain Biblical passages that make more sense when interpreted naturally.

The timidity of these misguided pastors when confronted by secular challenges and their lackluster sermons reflected the miniscule and rather capricious God that they had come to know in the colleges. Many times I have personally encountered teachings in Church that were destructive to faith. Examples include the denial of the inerrancy of Scripture and a scoffing of the suggestion that Jesus would come to earth a second time.

By the time they had graduated, these faithless pastors had been assaulted from other directions in addition to an abuse of Scripture. Having been forced to absorb a large quantity of secular knowledge as a prerequisite to obtaining their pastoral credentials, they were steeped in Darwin’s theory of evolution and other wonders of the Enlightenment such as the Principle of Uniformity6. These rickety pinnacles of man’s knowledge, of course, thoroughly contradicted the Genesis creation story. Sadly, the contradiction was resolved for the students by their professors, in favor of the secular position. Sadder yet, many future pastors bought into the trash handed to them.

It would be wrong to apply this denouncement of seminary education across the board. There have been and remain some seminaries of exceptional fidelity to the God of Scripture. Despite the failings of some seminaries, even prominent ones, there are many very good pastors who hold advanced degrees in theology and make excellent use of their knowledge to instruct others in the Word of God. But one might take note of the class of persons singled out in the Gospel accounts as enemies of Jesus, and His eventual killers – the elite of the theological intellectuals.

There must be something else, then, besides supposedly advanced intellectual knowledge about God, that qualifies a person to teach about Him.

The Apostle Paul makes a good subject for this topic of qualification. Paul himself was among the Jewish intellectual elite, but that worked against him until he encountered God directly. Subjected to a massive dose of illumination on the road to Damascus, Paul afterward became a uniquely effective spokesman for God. While he was able to draw on his extensive theological training in presenting Jesus to the Gentiles, one can discern in his writings the massive influence of the Holy Spirit upon his thoughts and his life.

Scripture tells us that the indwelling Holy Spirit requires the faith of commitment rather than knowledge for the imparting of wisdom to the Christian. This wisdom is, then, available to all Christians. While knowledge (of the right sort) is useful to the would-be teacher about God, the indwelling Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. It is a necessary prerequisite, even before one attempts to teach about God, to the interpretation of His Word in Scripture for a proper understanding of who He is and what He wants of us.

One would think, given this essential nature of the indwelling Holy Spirit in acquiring an understanding of God, that one of the first items on a list of subjects to master is an understanding of the Holy Spirit. That was my first interest as a new Christian. As I began to delve into this subject, however, I was appalled at the poverty of information regarding it. Books abound on the Holy Spirit, so a lack of literature on the Holy Spirit is not the problem. The problem is the sterility of the various treatments of the subject. Despite the overwhelming mass of words devoted to the Holy Spirit, there is virtually nothing available that appeals to the intuition. Certainly, if our Lord went to the trouble of describing Himself in Scripture, He should have had more to say about such a major part of God such that it would be accessible to the common person. In particular, it shouldn’t require an intellectual development akin to a geometric proof to establish a perception of the Holy Spirit.

After having read several books devoted to fruitless expositions of the Holy Spirit, my frustration deepened. I took this problem to a number of my intellectual betters, who distressed me further by having nothing of value to say on the subject. In particular, I found a consensus of confusion regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit. Wondering within myself just how these people could have spent so many years studying about God with such minimal results, I decided to address the subject myself in the detail that was necessary to acquire a basic understanding. My tools for this endeavor were Scripture and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

It was into this void of knowledge that I stepped rather blindly with my understanding through Scripture, as I had expressed in my book Family of God7, that the Third Member of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, performed an executive function, which, being of a responsive nature to the Divine Will, was basically a female role. This understanding is consistent with my conservative viewpoint that insists upon Scripture as having been inspired by God and inerrant in the original text.

In Family of God I offered what, to me, were valid reasons for that opinion in the face of numerous Scriptural references to the Holy Spirit by the use of the pronoun ‘he’, which, of course, is a masculine designation. Furthermore, I was fully aware, despite the tendency of falling-away Churches to attach a variety of gender designations to God, of the persistent understanding within mainstream Christendom that the Holy Spirit is a non-female Entity.

Despite its great value to me in pointing the way toward loving God, this understanding has placed me into a pot of hot water. With the presentation herein, I hope to extract myself from the pot before it comes to a boil. Whatever happens after that, at least I’ve offered my case.

My prayer is that the reader will take from it a deeper understanding of his God and particularly of the Trinity and the interaction among the Members of the Godhead, and from that understanding acquire a greater love for Him.

NOTES

General Notes:

1. All bible references are taken from the King James Version
2. Only the first appearance in each chapter to an item to which a note is associated is subscripted.

Chapter 2

1. See Wikipedia re Arianism. Arianism refers to the belief of Arius of Alexander and his followers in the fourth century A.D. that Jesus (and sometimes the Holy Spirit as well) was lesser than the Father and therefore was not truly God. It was declared a heresy at the Council of Nicaea under the aegis of Emperor Constantine in 325 A.D.

2. See Internet Encyclopedia of Philosopy re Gnosticism. The Gnostic philosophy was a pseudo-intellectual cult, most popular in the first and second centuries A.D. that believed, among other notions, that the physical world was an error. This led to the thought that Jesus in the flesh couldn’t have been God. Church Father Irenaeus (see Irenaeus in the Gnostic Society Library on the Internet), Bishop of Lyons in the second century A.D. wrote a most delightful denouncement of this deviant doctrine in his Against Heresies. I can’t help but share a portion of his commentary in Chapter IV of Book 1 with the reader:
“Now what follows from all this? No light tragedy comes out of it, as the fancy of every man among them pompously explains, one in one way, and another in another, from what kind of passion and from what element being derived its origin. They have good reason, it seems to me, why they should not feel inclined to teach these things to all in public, but only to such as are able to pay a high price for an acquaintance with such profound mysteries. For these doctrines are not at all similar to those of which our Lord said, ‘Freely ye have received, freely give.’ They are, on the contrary, abstruse, and portentous, and profound mysteries, to be got at only with great labour by such as are in love with falsehood. For who would not expend [all] that he possessed, if only he might learn in return, that from the tears of the enthymesis of the AEon involved in passion, seas, and fountains, and rivers, and every liquid substance derived its origin; that light burst forth from her smile; and that from her perplexity and consternation the corporeal elements of the world had their formation?
“I feel somewhat inclined myself to contribute a few hints towards the development of their system. For when I perceive that waters are in part fresh, such as fountains, rivers, showers, and so on, and in part salt; such as those in the sea, I reflect with myself that all such waters cannot be derived from her tears, inasmuch as these are of a saline quality only. It is clear, therefore, that the waters which are salt are alone those which are derived from her tears. But it is probable that she, in her intense agony and perplexity, was covered with perspiration. And hence, following our notion, we may conceive that fountains and rivers, and all the fresh water in the world, are due to this source. For it is difficult, since we know that all tears are of the same quality, to believe that waters both salt and fresh proceeded from them. The more plausible supposition is, that some are from her tears, and some from her perspiration. And since there are also in the world certain waters which are hot and acrid in their nature, thou must be left to guess their origin, how and whence. Such are some of the results of their hypothesis.”

3. According to Genesis 1 and John 1, the entirety of creation is attributed to God in the persona of Jesus Christ. Therefore, there is no topic that the Christian can consider to be purely secular. The alternative point of view embraces naturalism and its view that God is necessary for nothing, including life. This is the driving philosophy of committed evolutionists. The layman’s capability of mastering the issue of man’s possession of free will toward his salvation, typically put in terms of Calvinism vs. Arminianism, is another matter entirely. Eminent theologians have been grappling with it for centuries.

4. Higher Criticism, or Historical Criticism, began in the 17th century in Tubingen, Germany, and has achieved some popularity among liberal theologians in America in the eighteenth century up to the present. The movement questions the authorship and dating of several Old Testament books on the basis of literary style. Underneath the overt scholarship is the intent to remove supernatural elements from Scripture, as well as to attribute large portions of the writings to myth. Conservative Christians, including myself, consider the movement to be blasphemous. A more friendly assessment is available from Wikipedia.

5. See “Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls” and read the accounts by Wikipedia and the Maxwell Institute for an overview of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and their contents, which were dated from about the second century B.C. to the Roman destruction of 68-70 A.D. The discovery was made by shepherd Muhammed edh-Dhib, a Bedouin of the Ta’amireh tribe who threw a rock into a cave while searching for a stray goat. See the Wikipedia entry for Muhammed edh-Dhib for a confirmation of his nickname of Muhammed the Wolf or Ahmed the Wolf.

6. See the Wikipedia entry for “uniformitarianism”. This concept is embraced by the naturalist community as settled law, whereas in actuality there is no logical justification for it.
7. Family of God, Arthur Perkins, published 2004 Falcon Books, portions or all available on request to perkinsart44@yahoo.com

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