In this chapter, we begin our exploration of the sensus fidelium by firstly highlighting the witness of Scripture to the enlightening role of the Holy Spirit, as but one of the many interrelated dimensions of the Spirit’s assistance in empowering Christians to appropriate the salvation Jesus Christ offers. This chapter therefore does not attempt a comprehensive exploration of the role of the holy spirit in the Christian life. After examining the scriptural witness to this Christian experience of enlightenment by the Spirit in the economy of salvation, this chapter then proposes a trinitarian theology of revelation in which the Holy Spirit is seen to be “the principle of reception” in the process of divine revelation.
THE EXPERIENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Jesus was being interpreted from the moment his public ministry began, yet being misinterpreted. The four Gospels consistently preserve the memory that, during his ministry, the earliest disciples misunderstand Jesus. This misunderstanding is later corrected by three decisive “events”: Jesus’ death on the cross, his resurrection from the dead, and the early disciples’ experience, after the resurrection, of being given an ability to understand aright the meaning of Jesus’ teaching and ministry, of his death and resurrection, and of his identity as God’s bearer of salvation. In this section, it is this gift of an ability to understand Jesus that I particularly wish to focus on, without wanting to reduce the Spirit’s work to a purely cognitive dimension….
According to Johannine pneumatology, Jesus promises another Paraclete, the spirit of Truth who will enable the community to understand the meaning of Jesus. Helmut Gabel neatly summarizes the Johannine vision:
In the view of the Gospel of John, the word of the eye-witnesses of Jesus and that of the future disciples is work of the spirit. The entire tradition process is a process enabled by the Spirit. The spirit is, as it were, the “interpreter” of Jesus, who leads to the true understanding of the Christ event and reveals the event in its deepest sense.
The Johannine vision can be outlined in four points. Firstly, the Johannine literature emphasizes that the Spirit/Paraclete is given to all individuals in the community.
Secondly, Jesus promises another Paraclete who will take the place of Jesus; nevertheless, although the Spirit/Paraclete takes the place of Jesus, the Spirit/Paraclete does not supplant or negate Jesus. The “secessionists,” according to the author of 1 John, are wanting to give independent authority to the Spirit over against Jesus, thereby serving the necessary element of continuity with Jesus. The Johannine literature emphasizes that it is the role of this Spirit/Paraclete to ensure continuity with Jesus. A phrase recurs: ‘from the beginning.’ The Spirit ensures continuity with the pre-Easter Jesus.
Thirdly, the Johannine literature emphasizes that it is the role of this Spirit/Paraclete, not only to ensure continuity with Jesus, but also to enable the community to interpret the word of Jesus for a new context, ensuring faithful adaptation and innovation.
Fourthly, the Johannine literature emphasizes that it is the role of this Spirit/Paraclete to indeed further the teaching of Jesus beyond what Jesus was able to teach, speaking a new word of the glorified Jesus…
The Fourth Gospel portrays Jesus giving his disciples the assurance that the Spirit/Paraclete will, in the future, be the teaching voice of Jesus himself.
I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the advocate, the holy spirit, whom the father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
The spirit/Paraclete will bring the past to memory, but the Spirit/Paraclete will be the voice of the glorified Jesus teaching in new situations in the present. However, this new teaching will be anchored in the Jesus of the past, because the Spirit/Paraclete will be speaking anew on behalf of the glorified Jesus.
It is this claim of access to new teaching that becomes problematic within the Johannine communities. The controversy lurking behind the themes of the first epistle is the divergent reception of the fourth Gospel. The author claims that the group emphasizing its pneumatic authority and an access to the new teaching of the glorified Jesus is losing its grounding in the tradition and the teaching of the pre-Easter Jesus. Thus there is a tension within the communities between those emphasizing the tradition (anamnesis) and those emphasizing the creative voice of the glorified Jesus going beyond the teaching he had given before the resurrection (inspiration). The writer of the epistle claims that both anamnesis and inspiration are demanded. It is a tension that will mark the history of the Spirit not only throughout the Johannine communities, but throughout the history of the church.” [emphasis ours]
Ormond Rush, The Eyes of Faith
The Catholic University of America Press (March 11, 2009) pp. 16-21
The fulfillment of eschatological instruction promised by Jesus
“The original meaning of the word ‘apocalypse’, derived from the Greek apokalypsis, is in fact not the cataclysmic end of the world, but an ‘unveiling’, or ‘revelation’, a means whereby one gains insight into the present.” (Kovacs, 2013, 2)
An apocalypse (Greek: apokalypsis meaning “an uncovering”) is in religious contexts knowledge or revelation, a disclosure of something hidden, “a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities.” (Ehrman 2014, 59)
“An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: apokalypsis … literally meaning “an uncovering”) is a disclosure or revelation of great knowledge. In religious and occult concepts, an apocalypse usually discloses something very important that was hidden or provides what Bart Ehrman has termed, “A vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities”. Historically, the term has a heavy religious connotation as commonly seen in the prophetic revelations of eschatology obtained through dreams or spiritual visions.” Wikipedia 2021-01-09