Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Theology of Fallibility and the Church of the Holy Spirit

One of the most central teachings of Jesus, without doubt of utmost importance to all Christians and especially to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Christians is freedom of conscience. This teaching is founded on Jesus' promise to his followers to send them the Holy Spirit who will dwell in their hearts and lead them into all truth.
In John 7:37-39 Jesus made the promise of "Living Water"!
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood there (in the Temple) and cried out:
"If any human is thirsty, let him or her come to me!
Let the man (or woman) come and drink who believes in me!"
As the scripture says: From his breast will flow fountains of living water.

John adds this comment on the mysterious connection of Jesus' death on the cross and the gift of the Holy Spirit: "He was speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive; for there was no Spirit as yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified."

At the last supper John records Jesus as promising: "I shall ask the Father and he will give you another Paraclete (the Greek word means advocate) to be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth whom the world can never accept since it never sees nor knows him." (John 14: 16-17) Jesus declared further: "I have said these things to you while 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 I have said to you." (John 14: 16-17)

Jesus declared further: "I have said these things to you while still with you but the Advocate, the Holy Spiirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you." (John14: 25-26) The title Advocate which Jesus gives the Spirit means we will have our own public defender, one who speaks with us and for us; one who will plead our cause.

Fulfilling the Prophets

Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, sees Jesus' gift of the Holy Spirit as the fulfillment of this prophesy of Jeremiah:
Look, the days are coming, Yahwey declared, when I shall make a new covenant with the House of Isreal when those days have come...Then I shall plant my Law, writing in their heart. Then I shall be their God and they will be my people. There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbor or brother, saying, "learn to know Yahwey"! No, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest...since I shall forgive their guilt, and never more call their sins to mind (Jer. 31-34).

Notice that Jeremiah foresees that the new covenant in which every human being from the least to the greatest who believes in the messiah will have direct access to God who dwells in their hearts. This access to God will not be a privilege of the few who are gifted with extraordinary intelligence, or ritual rank, or even holiness! The Holy Spirit is portrayed in the prophets as a thoroughgoing respector of democratic process. There is no hint here that one must depend on extrinsic authority in order to inform one's conscience and learn what God wants. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, God will directly and immediately inform our conscience.

In the Acts of the Apostles on Pentecost sunday, Peter records these words of the prophet Joel: "I shall pour out my Spirit on all humanity. Your sons and daughters will prophesy; your young people shall see visions, your old people dream dreams. Even on slaves, men and women, shall I pour out my Spirit" (Acts 2: 17-18; Joel 3: 1-2.).

It should be clear from these passages that the Prophets foretold that the spiritual movement created by Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit will of its esssence be a democratic movement in which all members are equal in authority because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It follows that all authority will be based on a discernment of spirits that happens from the bottom up and not from the top down. Just as Jesus had to "go away" in order for the Spirit to come, so today the hierarchy have to "go away" or be transformed into listeners who discern what the spirit is saying through the people of God. As Jesus intended,Theology of Fallibility all authority in his Church must come from the bottom up!


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