Thursday, May 10, 2018

TTT #12 God’s Spirit is Always with Us Whether We Realize It or Not

The 12th chapter of Thirty True Things that Everyone Needs to Know Now (TTT) is more relevant to Christians than to those who are not Christian believers. For that reason, I am including some ideas in this article that are not in the TTT chapter in order for the “us” and “we” to be inclusive of all people, regardless of their religion or lack thereof.
What is Meant by “God’s Spirit”?
This article is closely related to the one posted on Feb. 8 (see here), but the subject is so important that it merits more attention.
The hard-to-understand Christian doctrine of the Trinity is an attempt to express the simultaneity of God’s transcendence, historicity, and immanence. Those three words describe well core aspects of the traditional terms “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
While Spirit primarily expresses God’s immanence, as Fr. Richard Rohr states in his meditation for March 7 (see here), the Spirit is also “the foundational energy of the universe, the Ground of All Being." Thus, all people, and everything else, are rooted in that Ground and participate in that energy. 
But whenever and wherever God (by whatever name used) is present in the world or in the lives of individuals, such Presence is that of the Spirit—whether so recognized or not.
Every human experience of the “Holy”—or of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness—is because of the indwelling Spirit. 
God’s Spirit and Non-Christians
While it is mostly Christians who talk about the Holy Spirit and are, sometimes, aware of the Spirit's presence and power, the work and presence of the Spirit are certainly not limited to Christians.
In recent years a sizeable number of people have claimed to be spiritual but not religious. Many of these are people who formerly attended church regularly and identified as Christians. But many others who say they are spiritual have never identified with Christianity.
However, regardless of one’s past or present relationship to a religious tradition, if a person is truly spiritual is that not because of the presence of the Spirit in that person’s life?
All “mystical” experiences, whether linked to a religious tradition or not, are possible because of and directly related to the Spirit. Even when Christian terminology is not used and the presence of the Spirit not recognized, the reality of the Spirit is the same nonetheless.
God’s Spirit and Christians
In the 12th chapter of TTT, I seek to show that for Christians the Spirit is especially seen as the way in which believers receive guidance concerning how to live and what to do. Also, and perhaps even more importantly, just as Jesus promised his followers, “the Spirit of Truth” guides them toward “the truth” (John 16:13).
The Spirit is also the source of empowerment for those who are aware of and receptive to the Spirit’s presence. That empowerment was seen clearly in the growth of the first Christian community of faith, usually called the early church.
That growth was largely because of the coming of the Spirit with power upon those followers of Jesus gathered on the Jewish holiday known as Pentecost. (That pivotal event is recorded in the second chapter of Acts, the fifth book of the New Testament.)
In the past century, by far the greatest growth of Christianity worldwide has been because of what is generally called the Pentecostal movement. While there are definitely some aberrations in that movement, its conscious connection to and emphasis on the presence and power of the Spirit is significant and praiseworthy.

[Christian (in any sense) readers are especially encouraged to click here in order to read the entire 12th chapter, which mostly pertains to the last third of the above article.]


  1. Thanks again Leroy.
    Most helpful--look forward to having and sharing your book when published. I think I've noted previously Eugene Petersen's comment, "Only When we do the Jesus truth in the Jesus way do we get the Jesus life." (hopefullly an accurate quote.) This simply supports your emphasis that truth is revealed by how we live and respond.

    1. Thanks, Les, for your comments.

      Thanks, too, for the Peterson quote. I don't remember hearing that before, but I found that it is on page 334 in his book "Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places" (2005), a book which I have wanted to read (and which I ordered today by interlibrary loan).

  2. I question that The Holy Spirit is actually in the Heart and Life of a Non-Believing Christian?
    I always believed that when a person accepts JESUS as our LORD & Savior, we were indwelled with The Holy Spirit.
    Being a CareGiver 24/7/365 for my Dear wife of over 57 years, I constantly call on The Holy Spirit for Energy, Patience and Wisdom.
    I would like the opinion of others on this subject.
    Blessings to All,
    John(Tim) Carr

    1. John Tim, I am not sure what you mean by a "non-believing Christian," but I don't think anyone can exist in this life completely separated from the Presence of God through the Holy Spirit. Those who are not believers certainly are not aware of the Spirit and don't recognize or appreciate any of the "benefits" of the Spirit. But the Spirit is always there for all, "for we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28) in God/Spirit.

      You are fortunate because in your very difficult and demanding situation you know the Spirit and are able to call on the Spirit for energy, patience, and wisdom. And it is still hard, but certainly not as hard as it would be if you did not have the presence of the Spirit with you.

      That is one reason everyone needs to know that the Holy Spirit is with us always and will gird us up in difficult times.

  3. Thinking Friend Glenn Hinson in Kentucky makes these comments, which I appreciate (as always).

    "I agree fully, Leroy. Your thought has deep roots in Christian tradition. It’s sad that some Christians don’t have such an inclusive outlook. Your view makes me feel hopeful."

  4. Also just before noon today I received an email from local Thinking Friend Marilyn Peot, who has been a lifelong Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She wrote, in part,

    "I am amazed and delighted at your morning's 'Spirit' language. You've said the 'core' of it all. . . .

    Referring to 'Trinity' I am especially aware of Annie Besant's Prayer. She was the second President of The Theosophical Society. Their belief being: The only religion is Truth. I include her prayer here:
    O hidden Life, vibrant in every atom,
    O hidden Light, shining in every creature,
    O hidden Love, embracing all in oneness,
    May all who feel themselves as one with thee,
    Know they are therefore one with every other."

  5. I'm just now getting around to reading this fine article about MLK and the Holy Spirit in the Spring 2018 issue of "Plough":