The Scriptural Doctrine Of The Holy Spirit -- By: Charles F. Thwing

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 046:182 (Apr 1889)
Article: The Scriptural Doctrine Of The Holy Spirit
Author: Charles F. Thwing

The Scriptural Doctrine Of The Holy Spirit

Rev. Charles F. Thwing

The scriptural doctrine of the Holy Spirit has in Christian dogmatics been subordinated to the doctrines relating to the first two persons of the Trinity. Neither the church creeds nor the systems of theology have considered the teachings of the Bible in reference to the Spirit with that thoroughness which has been devoted to the teachings relative to the Son. It was not till the fourth century that the doctrine received explicit statement. The Apostle’s Creed merely asserts, without definition or limitation, a belief in the Holy Ghost. The Nicene Creed, though teaching the deity and consubstantiality of the Son with great explicitness, simply recognizes a belief in the Holy Ghost, “the Lord and Giver of life; who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the prophets.” The Symbol of Chalcedon (451) makes no reference to the Spirit; and the Athanasian Creed, though asserting with great force and definiteness the truths relating to the Trinity, lays far greater emphasis upon doctrines relating to the second, than upon those concerning the third person of the Godhead. Indeed, the creeds of the church, considered as a body, have subordinated the biblical teachings relative to the Spirit to those relative to the Son.

In the writings of the Fathers and in modern systems of divinity, with rare exceptions, a similar subordination is manifested. Although in the fourth century great diversity of opinions prevailed regarding the scriptural doctrine of the Spirit, Athanasius, Basil the Great, and the Gregories indicated their belief in his divinity and personality, but gave less prominence to the doctrine than to that of the Son. Augustine, too, in his work on the Trinity, argues with unanswerable logic in behalf of the three hypostases, but he fails to lay that importance upon the doctrine of the third person which he places upon the second. In modern times, also, the same condition prevails. How few are the references that Calvin in his “Institutes” makes to the Holy Spirit! Examine the systems of divinity published during the last century, and for a single page devoted to the scriptural doctrine of the Spirit, at least ten will be found relating to Christ.1 Few are the works that have been published concerning the Holy Spirit, but those on the biblical doctrine of the Son are well-nigh innumerable.

The causes of the subordinate position assigned to the scriptural doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the church creeds, the Fathers, and theological systems are patent. The most prominent is that every objection which...

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