I do apologize for the long delay, and hope that those who have read the book or are reading will take a few moments to share their reflections.
Chapter Four is The Holy Spirit: God’s Redemptive Presence in the World. It concerns Harding’s appreciation for the indwelling Spirit in a church climate that was largely rejecting this vital teaching. After a brief introduction of the subject, readers are informed of influential writer J. C. Hollowway and his attacks against Harding’s stance. Those who are familiar with the arguments, still presented today, will not be surprised by them. (The Spirit works only through the word, etc.) Holloway actually thought that Harding was “a danger“. Harding thought that Holloway was “an example of rising deism among churches of Christ.”
“The Holy Spirit in Harding’s theology was the Christian’s enabler. The Spirit is the secret to living in the shadow of the second coming.” Far from viewing this as an inconsequential matter, the indwelling Spirit was a centerpiece of Harding’s apocalyptic worldview. Harding and Holloway regarded each other with pity, each believing the other was treating the Word of God disrespectfully. As a result of their differing views, Holloway and Harding also disagreed on subjects such as special providence, grace and prayer. By the 1930’s Holloway’s view had emerged as the dominant tradition among churches of Christ.
The next sections identify aspects of this discussion and present Scripture that teaches the same. God is presented as relational – seeking intimate communion with His creatures. “The narrative of Scripture reinforces the longing of God for relationship with his creation.” Both in the Old and New Testaments The Spirit of God plays a predominant role in the Father’s relationship with humans. In the life of Jesus, the Spirit is present at baptism and birth. He is also present in the re-birth of those who have faith in Christ. The church is “God’s new community ….born and baptized of the Spirit.” In an excellent manner Hicks and Valentine lay out a theology of the Spirit from the pages of the New Testament.
In a following segment of the chapter, Living In The Spirit is the subject. Readers are encouraged to “learn to enjoy God.” “Prayer and worship, as means of being filled with the Spirit, bring us into intimate communion with the triune God as a foretaste of the new creation.” Living by the Spirit also means that we are longing for transformation. In our ongoing participation with God in life we are also equipped to serve God, using gifts that He has given to us.
In conclusion Hicks and Valentine write, “Though surviving in pockets in the Churches of Christ, Harding’s perspective was soon eclipsed by rationalistic and symbolic views.”
What do you think…. is the Spirit actually the Word … or is the Spirit of God alive within the Christian?
In your experience, what is the view of most people with whom you have been associated?
Does it matter to you if the Spirit indwells via the word or personally? Why?
How important is this issue in regards to fellowship?
Why could it be said that our culture is more open to the personal indwelling today?
What does the Bible say?