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However, in the new age, the Spirit rests on all followers of the Messiah


The Holy Spirit and the Renewal of All Things: Pneumatology in Paul and Jurgen Moltmann
"This universal presence of the Spirit is the context in which the second level of the shekinah fits-the presence of the eschatological Spirit in God's people. The presence of God in particular people, events or places was sporadic in the Old Testament. However, in the new age, the Spirit rests on all followers of the Messiah regardless of who or where they are, and this is not a temporary but a permanent endowment. This is the phenomena that Joel foresaw when he wrote that someday God would 'pour out' his Spirit on all of his people. Paul expresses this phenomenon in terms of the 'indwelling' of the Spirit."

"Experience of the Spirit is of great importance to believers, and this is natural, if the Spirit is the source of new, eschatological life. However, experience of the Spirit must also take its place within a larger context. For every present encounter with the Spirit is one instant in a long history of pneumatic activity. Forgetting this point results in an overblown evaluation of the significance of experiences of the Spirit. It also results in those experiences losing much of their meaning. The Spirit encountered today is the same Spirit that spoke through the prophets, empowered Jesus and the apostles, and will someday bring about the complete transformation of all things. It is the eschatological Spirit. To experience the Spirit is to be drawn up into this pneumatic movement. Therefore, any experience of the Spirit must take its meaning from this larger historical context...

The eschatological history of God's dealings with the world gives us a temporal sense of context. But context can also come in spatial terms. Here the issue for pneumatology is the presence of the Spirit. In the eschatological age, God is present on more than one level. In chapter eight, I expanded Moltmann's concept of the shekinah and claimed that it must have three levels. The first level is God's universal presence in creation through the Spirit. For Moltmann, God is in all things, and all things are in God. He elucidates this in pneumatological terms. The Holy Spirit is the immanent transcendence that imbues all things with divine presence. The Spirit is 'God in all things.'

This universal presence of the Spirit is the context in which the second level of the shekinah fits-the presence of the eschatological Spirit in God's people. The presence of God in particular people, events or places was sporadic in the Old Testament. However, in the new age, the Spirit rests on all followers of the Messiah regardless of who or where they are, and this is not a temporary but a permanent endowment. This is the phenomena that Joel foresaw when he wrote that someday God would 'pour out' his Spirit on all of his people. Paul expresses this phenomenon in terms of the 'indwelling' of the Spirit.

The metaphors of 'pouring out' and 'indwelling' are a fascinating pair. One suggests the sending of the Spirit by the Father. He is the one who pours out his Spirit. The image of the Spirit being poured out also connotes the profusion of Spirit-presence in God's people. The Spirit is not just dripping or trickling on God's people; he is pouring all over them, soaking them through and through. This image also brings to mind the collection of God's people as a whole. God pours out his Spirit on all of them, regardless of who they are.

The indwelling of the Spirit, on the other hand, suggests the destination of the eschatological giving of the Spirit... Although we as modern Western Christians tend to think in terms of infusion of the Spirit's presence within the individual, Paul understands the Spirit to indwell both the individual believers and the believing community. To quote Vos, the Spirit dwells within 'the entire circle of believers, and within the life of very believer over the entire range, subconscious and conscious, religious and ethical, of this life' (1952; 58). The image of the Spirit-indwelt community connects with the image of the community soaked with the Spirit that has been poured out in the eschatological age.

In general, the early Christian community understood the outpouring and indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be phenomena of the eschatological age. Today we take such blessings for granted. As the eschatological overtones of the reception of the Spirit have faded over time, much of the theological significance of this event has drained away. In the Protestant tradition, Christians are much more likely to interpret the reception of the Spirit in terms of salvation or an infusion of personal empowerment for living a holy life and ministering to others. They associate the reception of the Spirit with faith in Christ and personal conversion rather than with the fulfilment of ancient promises and the execution of God's vast plan of redemption. The difference in perspective is significant. Whereas the typical believer today thinks in terms of the Holy Spirit entering her life, the more significant aspect of the event of the reception of the Spirit is that she is entering into the life of God. That is, she is being taken up into the Trinitarian history of God's dealings with the world, which in this age are eschatological in nature.

The infusion of the Spirit into the believer's life is a phenomenon of eschatological blessing that is shared by all followers of Christ. It is universal to all believers, but it is not universal to all human beings. However, it is the first installment of an even greater outpouring when God's shekinah reaches its third level: the fullness of God's presence permeating all of renewed creation in the eschaton. This is the state of God's being 'all in all.' Therefore, when a believer experiences rebirth to new life, she can look at it as an occasion for rejoicing and also groaning. She rejoices because she experiences the indwelling Spirit as a fulfilment of her most basic existential hopes, and she groans because she longs for all of creation to enjoy the same gift."

The Holy Spirit and the Renewal of All Things: Pneumatology in Paul and Jurgen Moltmann
T. David Beck, Pickwick Publications, 2007, p. 237-39




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