Author Topic: Holy Spirit  (Read 2119 times)

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Offline winsome

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Holy Spirit
« on: Sat Dec 12, 2009 - 06:25:28 »
Following on from a discussion with CDHealey in the Filioque topic I’m would like to know how do Orthodox view the Holy Spirit? What I’m getting that is that is easy to have some sort of image of the Father and the Son from our ideas of earthly fathers and sons, however imperfect that may be of Divine Fatherhood and Sonship. But the Holy Spirit (and even more the older term of Holy Ghost) is something rather more nebulous. I’ve heard some explanations that don’t seem very satisfactory to me.

Also the term processing. What does it mean?

thanks

Offline CDHealy

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Re: Holy Spirit
« Reply #1 on: Sat Dec 12, 2009 - 09:21:49 »
There are no images of the Holy Spirit in Orthodoxy much beyond what you find in Scripture.  We depict the Person of the Son in icons.  Of course, "Father" as you note carries it's own images and metaphors.  But we don't have much more than what you find in the Scriptures relative to images, metaphors or what have you for the Holy Spirit.

Orthodox are, in my experience, much more intentional about worshiping the Holy Spirit (and the Holy Trinity in total) than other groups, even Pentecostals/charismatics.  Every prayer service of the Orthodox begins with the invocation of the Holy Spirit:

"O heavenly King, O comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who art everywhere present and fillest all things, treasury of good things, and giver of life, come and dwell in us and cleanse from every stain, and save our souls, O blessed one."

This invocation gives some additional imagery that may be helpful, but ultimately the Holy Spirit is a mystery.

I don't think there is anyway we can come to understand what "procession" of the Holy Spirit from the Father means.  It is that action of the Father by which the Holy Spirit eternally exists.  Just as the Father begetting the Son is that action of the Father by which the Son eternally exists.  But because the procession is not the same thing as the begetting, it makes a distinction not only between Father and Spirit, but also Spirit and Son.

But what that action amounts to in human understanding?  I'm not sure I can have any notion of what that means.  First of all, calling it an eternal action is incomprehensible to me.  I have the concept "eternity" but I have no ability to fully grasp that concept.  So, too, I know that the eternal generation of the Spirit by the Father is called "procession," so I get that conceptually that is what that action is called, but what it is?  I have no earthly idea.

I'm afraid I cannot help you  more than that.

But perhaps you had a more specific intention in mind behind your question?

Offline Joel, the Son of Pethuel

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Re: Holy Spirit
« Reply #2 on: Sat Dec 12, 2009 - 10:45:10 »
I will agree.

What we DO understand is that there is a difference and distinction between generation and procession. But what that difference is is something completely beyond the realm of our comprehension. Perhaps as eternity unfolds we'll begin to have a little light shed on that, but who knows...

As short as analogies fall, there is a scriptural analogy that was touched upon in the filioque thread, and that is the analogy of a word and a breath coming from God (e.g. "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host). It's impossible to use that analogy to give an actual description, but I believe it is sufficient to demonstrate that there is a difference.

But one thing to consider is that only the Word was made flesh. The Father did not take on flesh, and nor did the Holy Spirit. The way that each person of the Trinity has been revealed to us is as distinct as each Person is distinct from the others. And the way that the Holy Spirit is revealed is in a way that is very different from the Word taking on flesh and showing Himself very plainly.

When the Son was revealed, it was as a baby covered in blood and afterbirth, being cleaned, being nursed, having his diaper changed, growing, eating, sweating, sleeping, praying, suffering, dying and rising from the dead.

When the Holy Spirit was revealed, it was as a rushing wind and cloven tongues of fire descending on the disciples. St Paul says that we are to be "filled" with the Holy Spirit. Christ said that the Holy Spirit would teach us and remind us of all that Christ did and taught; that He would lead us into all Truth.

The Holy Spirit is known by us when He fills us and makes Christ manifest in our lives.

One thing to keep in mind (not to confuse this thread with the filioque thread) - although the Orthodox do not believe that the Holy Spirit has an eternal origin in the Son, we also do not see the Son and Holy Spirit as two squabbling brothers standing on either side of their father, having nothing to do with each other and no relationship with each other.

Both "come from" the Father (although in distinct ways), and their life, along with the Father's life, is One Life. Although a word and a breath come from the "thought" in two distinct ways, their "missions" are related to each other. It would be wrong to envision two vectors moving from a single point 180 degrees apart from each other, as if one has nothing to do with the other save for their common source of origin.

So the Holy Spirit is our God whose Life is bound up with the Life of the Son. Outside of that, it would be very difficult (nigh unto impossible) to explain Him.
« Last Edit: Sun Dec 13, 2009 - 08:15:39 by Joel, the Son of Pethuel »

Offline winsome

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Re: Holy Spirit
« Reply #3 on: Sun Dec 13, 2009 - 06:30:29 »
Thank you both for your commments. They are both helpful.

Quote from:
This invocation gives some additional imagery that may be helpful, but ultimately the Holy Spirit is a mystery.

We always want to understand in detail (well I do anyway) but sometimes things are better left as mystery.

God bless

winsome


 

     
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