Sunday, May 24, 2015

Two Opposing Ways of Discerning the Movement of the Holy Spirit

Pentecost and the Holy Spirit were the subject of the day for a few of us today, and I mean a few since today's celebration falls on Memorial Day weekend.

Such is the status of the Holy Spirit these days. Cheapened by attributions of the Spirit's power to anything from transgender clergy to gay marriage, is it any wonder that the spirit of the age exerts more power over us than does the Holy Spirit? 

The Holy Spirit seems to be the most misunderstood of all of the persons of the Trinity. Let me illustrate by the following two very different views of how we might discern the Holy Spirit.

First from the Christian Broadcasting Network, "Seven Keys to Hearing the God's Voice",

  • Scripture: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (II Timothy 3:16-17).   
  • The Holy Spirit speaking to our heart: "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, 'know the Lord,' for all will know Me, from the least to the greatest of them" (Hebrews 8:10-11). 
  • The Prophetic (word of knowledge, word of wisdom, personal prophecy): "Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good" (I Thessalonians 5:19-21). 
  • Godly counsel: "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14).  
  • Confirmation: "By the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed" (Matthew 18:16).  
  • The peace of God: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Colossians 3:15).  
  • Circumstances/Timing: "After these things he (Paul) left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working; for by trade they were tent-makers" (Acts 18:1-3 -- this relationship between Paul, Aquila and Priscilla -- which happened as a result of circumstances -- became one of the most important strategic partnerships in the book of Acts)
Compare this to something from "The Circle of Atonement" entitled "Discerning the Holy Spirit",
  • When it comes, it has a deep feeling of rightness to it. It rings a bell of truth deep within.
  • It challenges your surface desires and agendas; it is in a certain sense uncomfortable. It stretches you.
  • It carries a higher perspective on the situation than the one you had before asking.
  • The "tone" reflects a higher Source. The day before the Course dictation began, Helen wrote, "Christ says I can tell something is wrong whenever I get a 'snappy' answer….The tone is wrong" (Absence from Felicity, p. 198).
  • It speaks to the needs of the internal and interpersonal dimensions of the situation, not just the issues of external form.
  • It is fresh, out of the blue. It does not just restate thoughts you had before asking. (This is not always the case, but it is a very frequent feature of real guidance.)
  • It offers a course of action that you didn't even know was an alternative. You find yourself saying, "Why didn't I think of that before?" Jesus once remarked that, in a certain situation, Bill "saw only one alternative, and was unable to keep an open mind" (Absence from Felicity, p. 289).
  • It seems to meet everyone's needs all at once, in remarkable and perhaps unexpected ways (even though it may not meet their needs as they have defined them). Jesus told Helen, "Any gui­dance which comes from Me will not jeopardize anyone" (Absence from Felicity, p. 289).
  • It seems to take everything—all the facts, all the issues, all the needs, all sides of the situation—into account and wrap it all into one unified package, including things that you had not factored in at all.
  • It answers a somewhat different question than you originally posed, because the perception that produced the question was part of the problem. The Course says, "And what you hear may not resolve the problem as you saw it first" (T-30.I.3:3).
  • You asked for guidance with other people, and some or all of you received the same basic message. 
Take one guess which method is being used by Christians who claim that the movement towards acceptance of same sex marriage in the Western world is driven by the Holy Spirit?


  1. Pewster,
    God The Holy Spirit is a person not an 'It'. "Is it any wonder that the spirit of the age exerts more power over us than does the Holy Spirit?" I would like to have you talk more about the "spirit of the age". I feel an article coming on myself also. The spirit of the age is destroying many churches.

    1. The "The Circle of Atonement" has a loose grip on "It". The spirit of the age seems impossible to get a grip on as It is always changing. The great attraction of the spirit of the age is that it distracts us from thinking about our eternal future.

  2. Pewster,
    Funny we both should mention "The spirit of the age". GAFCON'S CHAIRMAN included this in his 2015 Pentecost letter. "It is therefore a tragedy when Christian leaders whose minds have been captured by the spirit of the age commend the values of the world to the Church and claim they are led by the Spirit of God."

    1. Many sheep in the pews are pretty much at the mercy of those leaders.