Project Augustine

Chapter 10: “The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life”

  1. In your own life, how much (or how little) is the Holy Spirit a reality in your life?  If the Holy Spirit is a reality in your life, how did you experience Him (or you thought you experienced Him)?  How can you distinguish that something is from the Holy Spirit as opposed to your own desires, gut feelings, emotions, etc.?  Or is He too mysterious, too extreme, or vague for your personal tastes?  Do you think experiencing or knowing the Holy Spirit is vital for a Christian’s walk?  Why or why not?
      1. “Routine neglect and suspicion of the work of the Holy Spirit has damaging effects on both Christian life and Christian theology.  It can lead to distortions in the understanding of God, the doctrine of Scripture, the significance of the natural order, the value of human culture, the interpretation of Christ and his work, the nature of the church, the freedom of the Christian, and the hope for the final fulfillment of life.  When the work of the Holy Spirit is forgotten or suppressed, the power of God is apt to be understood as distant, hierarchical, and coercive; Christocentric faith deteriorates into Christomonism; the authority of Scripture becomes heteronomous; the church is seen as a rigid power structure in which some members rule over others; and the sacraments degenerate into almost magical rites under the control of a clerical elite.” (p. 224)

     

  2. On page 229, Migliore writes, “d.  Still another aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit is the communal.  The Spirit is the power who unites us to Christ and to each other.  This has also been called the incorporative work of the Spirit: ‘Through the agency of the Spirit, believers are caught up, as it were, in the life of the Godhead, incorporated through the activity of the Spirit into the Son, given there the firm and assured status of children of God by adoption, enabled to join the Son’s ceaseless prayer of Abba to the Father.’  This uniting or incorporating power of the Spirit is not the power of mere togetherness of the like-minded or the kinship of people of the same family, race, economic class, or nation.  It is the power of new community that unites strangers and even former enemies… United in Christ by the power of the Spirit we are one community… the Spirit remakes us as persons-in-community who no longer live as isolated, self-centered individuals.”
    1. So is there a supernatural or definite “spiritual” element when we gather together in Christian communities as opposed to secular gatherings?
      1. Do you think we’re experiencing the Holy Spirit right now in this group?

  3. On the bottom of page 229 and top of page 230, in point “f” he writes about the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit.  What are your thoughts about these gifts like speaking in tongues, gift of prophecy, or gift of interpretation, divine healings, etc. that are so prevalent in many Pentecostal or charismatic churches?  Are you secessionist (ie have they stopped)?  Does “evidence” or testimonies of these reports bolster your faith?  Are you bothered by them?  If so, then why?

  4. On pages, 231 – 232 he writes about the filioque phrase in the Neo-Constantinopolitan Creed.  I thought Migliore’s explanation was the clearest I’ve ever read about this.  Any thoughts about the filioque clause?  Does it make a big difference in your understanding of the Holy Spirit’s role or “origin”?  Do you side with the Western or Eastern interpretation? Why or why not?

  5. On page 234, he writes that “the work of the Holy Spirit must not be confined to the life and witness of the church.  There is a cosmic dimension of the work of the Spirit… The Spirit of God is present and at work in the world of nature,… in the search for truth in the sciences, in the skills of creative artists, and in the histories of the world religions.”  Does the Holy Spirit work in and through other religions like Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, ancient pagan religions like Greco-Roman, Zoroasterism, native American religions of the “Great Spirit”?  If so, is this thought too inclusive where it dilutes the unique message of the Christian gospel, or is this view liberative?

  6. On page 237, he writes about the differing understanding b/w Catholics and Protestants about the doctrine of justification.  Catholics criticized the Protestants for disregarding “the importance of a transformed life and the call to obedience and service.”  Likewise, the Protestants accused the Catholics of making “good works a prerequisite for attaining the justifying grace of God.”  Any thoughts?  Or is justification neither of these two interpretations?
    1. Pages 238 – 239, I liked Migliore’s broadening of the definition of justification to include our obsession of justifying ourselves for the approval of others, drive to succeed, gaining recognition, acceptance, which leads to depression, drug abuse, sex abuse, and addiction in many forms.

  7. Any thoughts about Migliore’s section on sanctification?
    1. I liked his reference to Moltman on page 244 where he writes, “As Moltman notes, in a superficial, apathetic, and dehumanized society, willingness to risk suffering can be a sign of spiritual health.”  Have you willingly suffered for your faith?
    2. Then he writes about the meaning of repentance, in Greek metanoia, as being a renewal of the mind.  But I think it has more to do than being attentive to ourselves and to others as he writes.

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