Tuesday, March 01, 2011

I believe in the Holy Spirit

I believe in the Holy Spirit.

I hear some of you cry. "Finally, after all that doubting, a sound post with a positive declaration of faith..."

Erm, well, sorry to disappoint you, but this isn't that post.

I'm wrestling with the whole area of faith vs experience at the moment. I'm working on a longer blog post on faith, which I'll post eventually, but I just realised this morning what it all boils down to. And that is this:

All my Christian experience leads me to believe, or rather to know that the Holy Spirit is an ever-present reality. (Hallelujah!)

I've seen the presence of the Spirit in my life and in the lives of others, I've experienced the promptings of the Spirit in my experience and I've even seen (minor) miracles and healings done in his name. Of course, I have heard tale of greater things than those, but I'm a skeptical sort, so I'll stick with "That which ... we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched" (1 John 1v1) rather than second or third hand reports.

The problem, or the doubt, is this:

While I know the existence of the Spirit, I don't (and can't) have equivalent experience of God the Father or of God the Son. Both of them are purely taken on faith. And that faith is built on things that were written thousands of years ago, by people possibly unknown to us. It takes a lot of faith to believe the words of that book. And when you doubt some of it (as I do, and have) you soon find that quite a lot of it unravels and falls apart.

Faith in the bible is (almost) an all or nothing stance. You can't have your cake and eat it. Life would be so easy if I could believe that the Bible was completely inspired and therefore infallible. But I've scratched at too many flaky bits to believe that anymore. But if bits of it are not infallible, or if bits of it are not inspired, then how can you decide which is which? And beyond that, how can you know if any of it is inspired, or indeed, if there was an inspirer?

The thing is, if you start with that which you can see and experience and go from there, I don't think you can ever get to the edifice of faith that is biblical Christian belief. Christian belief is a mixture of the experiential and the unverifiable written stuff. Most of which is just unquestioningly taken on board.

But if you start from the experiential and don't take on board the unverifiable, you end up in a radically different place to most Christians. Indeed, you end up closer to Pagans than Christians.

Confused? Yes I am! But still looking for the light.


Mike Gantt said...

The light is in Jesus. He lived. He died. He was raised.

Does His life, do His words, touch you? Do you wish that you could live as He did?

This is where faith must rest. The Bible is about faith in Him. If that's not the message you're getting from the Bible, you're getting the wrong message.

Ricky Carvel said...

That is quite clearly the message I get from the bible.

What I don't get from either the bible itself or from sources external to the bible is a good reason to accept the bible as trustworthy in terms of its presentation of historical facts. Indeed, external sources occasionally contradict the biblical evidence and internals sources are occasionally inconsistent.