Rushdoony on “The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit,” from Systematic Theology (Part 2)

The Spirit and the Kingdom

The free will advocates have reduced God to a beggar at man’s door, pleading with man to allow Him to enter. Such a view in effect makes man ultimate, or god. Others so insist on God’s determination that man becomes an automation. Early Calvinism was a vigorous and socially determinative force; today Calvinism, or those who bear the name, is a quietistic, pietistic, and retreatist movement which is irrelevant to our world. Why? The Scripture both insists on the absolute predestination by God of all things, and on man’s responsibility. All primary freedom is God’s, and belongs to God alone; man’s responsibility and liberty is a secondary freedom, established by God Himself…

Still another problem confronts us…. Hellenic thought very early influenced the church, beginning with some of the earliest church fathers. Certainly, the triumph of Aristotle in Thomism, and later its reappearance in Arminianism, gave to the church an alien doctrine of God. This is often best stated by the medieval philosophers, because they were more logical thinkers than many of the Protestant churchmen who also fell heir to this error. The fusion of Greek and Biblical views of God led to a belief in the Trinity in terms of Aristotle. The three persons of the Godhead came to be analyzed as substance (the Father), structure (the Son), and act (the Spirit). The Son thus as Structure became the reason in all ultimate being, the mind, as it were, of God. The Father became ultimate being, and this contributed to the impersonality which has haunted the doctrine of the Father: as pure being, with reason isolated from Him, He was a difficult concept to warm to or view as a Person. The Spirit, as pure, ultimate act, was impersonal and mindless, so that “to be filled with the Spirit” came to mean, in terms of this paganized view, to be anti-rational and emotional in an irrational sense. To be filled with the Spirit meant thus a kind of transcendence but also a form of abandonment and even hostility to reason and to our being, an all too solid flesh. Indeed to cultivate the Spirit for some required the abandonment of intellectual pursuits and achievements… (p. 298)

[T]he early church had the same problems we have today, a tendency either to neglect the Holy Spirit, or to see Him in terms of His effect on man and in man. This puts us into a practicing humanism.

H.B. Swete cited five aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. These are (1) creation and conservation; (2) bestowal of intellectual gifts; (3) prophetic inspiration; (4) anointing the Messiah and his forerunners; (5) the moral and religious life of man. An important point made by Swete was that, while the prophetic gift was exercised by certain individuals, “the prophetic gift belonged to the nation, as the elect people.” (A Dictionary of the Bible, p. 403) Moses made bitter reference to the failure of the people as a whole to be prophets (Num. 11:29). Abraham was a prophet (Gen. 20:7), and all of the covenant people were called to be prophets, but few were, because of sin. The vision of Joel is of a prophetic people (Joel 2:28-29). Much later, Paul longed for a prophetic people rather than a tongue-speaking church (I Cor. 14:5).

To prophesy is to speak for God, and to predict by applying God’s word. To declare that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) is to prophesy. The Holy Spirit works to further God’s Kingdom and reign. He is God, and He is God-centered in all His ways, not man-centered. (301)

Our Lord defines our goal thus: “seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). The Kingdom and righteousness or justice are one and the same thing. What the Son commands, the Father and the Spirit command. Their works of creation, regeneration, sanctification, preservation, and providence have not man as its center, but God’s purpose, glory, and kingdom. The work of the Spirit in man and the world is inseparable from this fact… (301-02)

The focus of the Spirit’s work is God’s Kingdom. All the same, to a condemned generation (Gen. 6:11-13) the Spirit witnesses through Noah. Nothing is too great nor too small for the Spirit’s concern, and even a world sentenced to obliteration is given a witness form the throne, the Third Person preaching to it through Noah… (302)

The Spirit creates, judges, and summons to redemption. Even as in creation He hovered over the waters to bring forth the first creation, so He hovers over all things, and works in all things, to bring forth the new heavens and the new earth. (302-03)

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