What Has Become of the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit? -- By: George Hibbert Driver

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 093:369 (Jan 1936)
Article: What Has Become of the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit?
Author: George Hibbert Driver

What Has Become of the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit?

George Hibbert Driver

There is a waste in the world which is like the wilderness in the old Jewish dispensation. Men are wandering in it for lack of one thing: A guide, a thread to hold by until they follow out to the way. Amazingly, within the last few years comparatively, there has dropped from sight, or there is dropping from sight, for most of even the most evangelical churches, a doctrine which is more beneficent than anything that could be imagined for the modern world. So vital is the topic, however, that there must be perfect candor. And not a little heart searching as we adduce the evidence, mass the conclusions, and force home the lesson.

To say, at the outset, that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit has dropped from the modern world, would be to invite a sheaf of rejoinders, a host of qualifications, a sharp denial, too, in some quarters. Of course, this cannot be said without some retractions if made too dogmatic and sweeping. Philosophy will say, in some quarters, we do not longer know what you mean by the Holy Spirit in the old sense; as for His personality, science has given us such a different setting for our religious thoughts that the spiritual world is no longer understood in this personal way. Yet, not science, nor its doughty counterpart philosophy, has been able to dissever the notion of person from the human existence. And it still shall remain that we know, or can know, nothing in the spiritual realm-or in any other-except in terms of ourselves, we being person.

The case is, frankly, that there has dropped out the once accepted reference to the Holy Spirit, His Person and the predominant part He plays in all Christian things whether it be the conduct of the local church, the contents of preaching, the extension of the Gospel in missions, or the final interrogations into the nature of the Godhead, the relation of Christ to God, and operations of the Holy Trinity-if God,

in such an Entity, may be found in practical Being and Power to-day. The general impression is specious. The statistics, however, cannot be sought in so inward a matter as belief in the Holy Spirit. Appeal must be made, however fraught with error, to the strength the religious idea has in the modern mind in terms of its fruit.

Just forty years ago, there was held in Brooklyn, New York, a conference on the Ministry of the Holy Spirit (October, 1894). Prominent preachers of a number of denominations, outstanding evangelists of that turn of the century, and a prominent social worker, who spoke on “The Holy Spirit in His Relations to Purity of Mind,” all took part. There is no information at hand as to the effect of this meeting...

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