delivered at "Theology on the Bayou" in Lafayette, Louisiana @ Trinity Anglican Church
“…knowing is, existentially speaking, a journey with many twists and turns, as we seek cognitive rest. But of course, God has not left us alone in this journey. He has provided us with many resources, chiefly his Word, the facts of the creation, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But he has also provided us with resources in ourselves. We are his image, and so he has made us to know in a way analogous to his own knowledge. He has given us minds, wills, imaginations, and so on. And with redemption, he has remade these gifts in the image of Jesus.” - John Frame, Systematic Theology
“Though reason without grace cannot see the way to heaven nor believe this Book in which God hath written the way, yet grace is never placed but in a reasonable creature, and proves by the very seat to make reason see what “by nature only it cannot,” but never to blemish reason in that which it can, “comprehend.” - William Laud, A Relation of the Conference…
“If the Tree of Knowledge is not planted by the Tree of Life, and sucks not up sap from thence, it may be as well fruitful with evil as with good, and bring forth bitter fruit as well as sweet. If we would indeed have our knowledge thrive and flourish, we must water the tender plants of it with holiness...The reason why, notwithstanding all our acute reasons and subtle disputes, Truth prevails no more in the world, is, we so often disjoin Truth and true Goodness, which in themselves can never be disunited. They grow both from the same root, and live in one another.” – John Smith, Select Discourses
We must begin by asking how a doctrine like the Holy Spirit and a doctrine like the mind of man have become so at odds with one another. Today we may say there is not only a spirit of confusion around the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the mind of man, we may even go so far as to say there is enmity. This confusion may be seen in a few false dichotomies concerning the Holy Spirit and the mind of man:
Either you are spiritual or intellectual.
Either read a book or pray in the Spirit
Either trust the Spirit or trust your reasoning
Either pray about it or think about it
If the mind is moved, the Spirit still must move.
Either learn logic or learn to love
These false dichotomies, which I suspect no one would explicitly confirm though perhaps inwardly believe or even practice, show a confusion on the relationship between the Spirit of God and the mind of man, even the spirit of man and the mind of man. But this confusion need not be the case, and in so far as we search out the Scriptures and take our common experiences, we will find this is indeed not the case. For our time today, I’d like to set for three possible relationships between the Holy Spirit and the mind of man. Following these three relationships, I intend to show that one of them is true and the other two false.
When speaking of the Holy Spirit and the mind, we may take one of three different focus points:
Holy Spirit and the Divine Mind
Holy Spirit and Fallen Man’s Mind
Holy Spirit and the Redeemed Man’s Mind
Our intention today is to consider the third and final point: the Holy Spirit and redeemed man’s mind. In this consideration, there are three postures or relationships generally conceived:
Each of these three relationships says something of the Holy Spirit and something about man’s intellect.
Indifferent: To say the Holy Spirit and man’s mind are indifferent toward one another means that the Holy Spirit’s interest’s in redeeming man is not one pertaining to man’s intellect. This position would say the Holy Spirit’s work being done somewhere other than the mind; in this relationship, any redemption in the mind would be accidental. This position likewise states something about man’s mind, that it is indifferent toward the third person of the Trinity. This would mean that man’s mind may take interest in what appear to be more earthly endeavors: reading, conversation, emotions, science, and reasoning, but it should not, says this position, have an interest in the Holy Spirit, in submitting to the Holy Spirit or loving the Holy Spirit.
Inconsistent: This second positon is harsher than the first, and it states that the Holy Spirit and man’s mind are inconsistent with one another, that they both cannot be important in the same way and the same respect. This would put forth they cannot occupy the same space in any of God or man’s activities. Whatever the Spirit does, the mind does not do, and whatever the mind does the Spirit would never condescend to do such work. This places man’s mind and the Holy Spirit not only as opposite authorities in different realms but even contrasting authorities in those same realms. What the mind does it does always without the Holy Spirit, and what the Holy Spirit does it does without man’s mind.
Integrated: The third position, and the one we will spend the remainder of our time with here is that the Holy Spirit and man’s mind are integrated, and that is especially the case in God’s people. This is to say that when the Holy Spirit acts, he always acts in accordance with man’s mental faculties. This also says that when a Christian reasons, he is doing so in immediate relationship with the Holy Spirit. To say the two are integrate is to say the constituent and operative parts of each function in harmony, cooperation, and in a mysterious dialogue.
As we search out the Scriptures and consider the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the mind of man, we will find five doctrines of the Holy Spirit correlate and prove the relationship of integration to the life of the mind:
Doctrine: “We know God as Lord...God’s lordship is grounded in his Trinitarian existence…and by the Spirit he is present everywhere…And if he is present everywhere, our attempts to know the world ought to recognize that presence.” John Frame
Mind: Our attempts to know the world ought to recognize and submit to that presence.
Doctrine: The things of the Spirit of God are spiritually discerned. – 1 Cor. 2:14
Mind: The natural man’s faculties are not in submission to God and therefore 1) “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God” (1. Cor. 2:14) and 2) his “reason is not competent to understand the world via God’s revelation” (J. Frame)
Doctrine: The Holy Spirit is God, having the power, authority, and presence of God. “The Spirit is God’s control, authority, and presence in the world. That is to say, he is the Lord. As Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King, the Spirit is God’s authoritative word, his abiding and mediating presence, and his powerful control over all things.” (J. Frame)
Mind: Where the Spirit convicts, moves, and rests the mind, so God is doing the same. There is no truth which resides outside the Spirit. Therefore, to know truth is to know what God is doing by his Spirit upon the earth.
Doctrine: “The quod sit, that there is a God, blear-eyed reason can see; but the quid sit, what that God is, is infinitely beyond all the fathoms of reason. He is a light indeed, but such as no man’s reason can come at for the brightness.” (William Laud, “Scripture and Reason”)
Mind: We are not rationalists (those who most love reason), but we also are not mysologists (those who hate reason). We glory in the revealed and reasonable truth that our reason works only within the confines of revelation, both natural and special.
Doctrine: “That there is an essential union between the Holy Ghost and the other Divine Persons is both by evident consequence deducible from, and is immediately asserted in Scripture.” (Isaac Barrow)
Mind: The integration of reason and revelation are best seen in how God reveals himself in Scripture.
The greatest proof for this integration between the Holy Spirit and the intellect is Scripture. Scripture itself. Consider that for a moment. God has given us a book. Which must be read. Which must be contemplated. Which must be prayed. Which must be sung. Which must be debated and reasoned through. And God uses that book as the chief method of the Holy Spirit’s revelatory work in the Church.
This is part of an ongoing consideration, preceded by the following entry...
A Spirited Intelligence: 35 Theses on the Intellect and the Holy Spirit