World-renowned New Testament scholar offers a straightforward examination of what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit.
Who exactly is the Holy Spirit? What does he do in our lives? How can we know him more deeply, and is it possible to tap in to his power? Should we pray to the Holy Spirit? Is it possible to be aware of his promptings and speaking into our lives?
Dr. Scot McKnight answers these questions and more in this comprehensive examination of what the Bible says about this divinely important but often confusing member of the Trinity. This is the third work in a three-part series examining some of the more mysterious components of the Christian faith. Scot's The Heaven Promise examines the afterlife. The Hum of Angels elucidates the Bible's teaching on God's supernatural messengers and protectors. Now, Open to the Spirit examines the most mysterious member of the Trinity.
Scot blogs at Patheos, a large multiperspective blog format. It serves many influential voices from many faith and nonfaith traditions. Scot's blog draws primarily a Christian readership, one that is looking for intellectual engagement and thoughtful analysis of Scripture, theology, and culture.
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The Spirit Is Essential.
Takeaway: As much as the use of the phrase, it is a relationship not a religion bugs me (because of how it is usually used), Christianity that pursues theology or behavior modification and not Christ gets distorted.
Scot McKnight is trying to biblically point the reader to the importance of the Holy Spirit. McKnight is a New Testament scholar and mostly is oriented toward a biblical theology of the Holy Spirit. Open to the Spirit also reminds me of Amos Yong’s Who Is the Holy Spirit: A Walk With the Apostles. In Yong’s commentary on Acts he is drawing parallels between the work of Jesus in Luke with the work of the Holy Spirit through the early Christians in Acts. In Open to the Spirit, McKnight is showing how Jesus in his earthly life was guided by the Holy Spirit similarly to how Yong shows the early Christians being guided by the Spirit.
Here are a couple of quotes from the book to give a sense of it: (% is location in the book)
A sticking point when it comes to our understanding of the Holy Spirit is that humans are not open to the invasive, transcending, and transforming presence of the Holy Spirit. There are, of course, reasons why we are not open. Two that come immediately to mind are (1) we don’t want transcending power, and (2) we don’t want the transforming presence of God because we’d rather stay the way we are. (5%)
The surefire test to know the Spirit is at work in your life is observable change as you grow toward Christlikeness. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, and it doesn’t have to be giant leaps from selfishness into selflessness. Rather, what we look for is visible change, shifts, movements, and growth. (40%)
Such a conclusion denies the truth of how Spirit-prompted people live. They are joined together in the metaphorical Body of Christ, the church, which physically is the fellowship and community of those who follow Jesus. A Spirit-prompted Christian life is about learning to live in fellowship with other Spirit-prompted people. In that community, we learn to live the gospel at the deepest levels. Kevin Vanhoozer, an evangelical theologian, once observed that “it is the life of the church, not the commentary [our explanations of the faith], that is our most important form of biblical interpretation.”5 The Spirit drives Spirit-filled people to the Body of Christ. When we are open to the Spirit who creates the church, we will be open to God’s community, the church. (49%)
When we all exercise our Spirit-prompted gifts, we are drawn out of ourselves and toward one another. Are you open to the new orientation the Spirit has for you? Are you open to the Spirit’s gifts in others to edify you? For the Spirit-prompted gifts to work well, we need the Spirit-prompted fruit as well. They are mates lost without each other—which is why the fruit of the Spirit is the focus of the next chapter. (58%)
“A saint,” Schmemann wrote, “is thirsty not for ‘decency,’ not for cleanliness, and not for absence of sin, but for unity with God.”6 Such a thirst for union with God, for worship of God, for the ecstatic joy of loving God, is the Spirit’s work that gives us victory over sin. Back to the meaning of sin. If sin is self-reliance and self-centeredness, then the Spirit’s fruit will be loving, holy, and Christlike living. Never lose sight of these words from Paul: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.*9 To achieve victory over sin involves first becoming people who are shaped by love, which is a virtue that orients life toward others. Victory over sin and the flesh produces an inner sense of well-being and contentedness (joy and peace and forbearance) and becomes thoughtful toward others (kindness, goodness, and gentleness) as well as faithful in our relationships with others (family, friends, church, community). Finally, the inner self is no longer out of control but is marked by “self-control,” which means Spirit-controlled. (77%)
1 person found this helpful
- Joseph Abitz
Scot didactic great job to explain in a sensible and scholarly way the Holy Spirit. We who profess our faith in Jesus, especially those of us raised in legalism and misguided teaching in church that God is different today then he was in biblical times. But if asked privately told with conviction that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Well it can’t be both. And Scot does a great job explaining that to help the reader try understand what is unfathomable to the human brain, who is God in form of the Holy Spirit.
This was a great read, thought provoking and transformative in growing my relationship with God. I am grateful for the gift of the author to help those of us wanting to know God more, show more of Him and His glory and majesty to better praise and glorify Him.