The Authority Of The Holy Spirit: The “Missing Link” In Our Contemporary Understanding Of Divine Authority? -- By: John A. Studebaker Jr.

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 25:2 (Fall 2004)
Article: The Authority Of The Holy Spirit: The “Missing Link” In Our Contemporary Understanding Of Divine Authority?
Author: John A. Studebaker Jr.


The Authority Of The Holy Spirit:
The “Missing Link” In Our Contemporary Understanding
Of Divine Authority?

John A. Studebaker Jr.

John A. Studebaker Jr. is an Adjunct Professor in the Christian Studies department at William Tyndale College in Farmington Hills, Michigan and director of Bridge Ministries. This article grows out of “The Authority of the Holy Spirit in Contemporary Theology with Special Reference to Authority in the Church” (Ph.D. diss., Trinity International University, 2003). Comments may be sent to jstude@characterlink.net.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asked a poignant question in the 1960s in his short book entitled Authority: “How much do we hear about the Holy Spirit and His authority?”1 His main point in his final chapter is that the authority of Christ and the authority of Scripture, as critical as they are, do not provide a complete development or conception of divine authority in themselves. Without the authority of the Spirit these other authorities cannot be “felt” or realized on a practical level. Lloyd-Jones provides examples in church history—specifically those periods marked by tendencies toward intellectualism or formalism—to illustrate the resulting deficiencies that followed the church’s neglect of the Spirit. The final effect is that the church’s “authority”—that is, her display of Christ’s authority and Scripture’s authority in the world—often goes unnoticed in the surrounding culture. Lloyd-Jones sums up his argument with a surprising declaration: “Here, I truly believe, we are dealing with the main source of weakness in modern Evangelicalism.”2

In our times this problem may be even more acute. Our “postmodern” culture is marked by a profound relativism, telling us that no one version of “truth” can have priority over another. As a result, Christianity seems to have become just one voice among many. Confronted with the fact that the church and her message are no longer recognized as “authorities” in our culture, many churches in America seem to have retreated from cultural engagement. Could there be a “missing link” in our contemporary understanding of divine “authority” and of the church’s place within it?

In this discussion we will attempt to search out an essential but relatively undefined doctrine. We shall search Scripture and historical theology in order to develop an evangelical model of the

doctrine of “the authority of the Holy Spirit.” Our premise is that Christianity presents a unique principle of divine authority...

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