The Universal Christ

"The resurrection gives us a Christ who is spiritually present; the Holy Spirit gives us a Christ who is universally present. By the coming of the Holy Spirit the risen Christ is made omnipresent, and the whole process of revelation here and now completed. Nothing higher can be looked for until the veil is dropped on the other side. Momentous consequences follow the acceptance of this truth. If the age of the Spirit under which we are now living marks the final outgoing of God to man; if the God who is manifested in Christ is every-where present in the Spirit; if through the medium-ship of the Spirit he dwells in the inner sanctuary of the soul; if he is not only with man, but in man; if through the Holy Spirit his presence within the soul is realized as the presence of Christ, then the time foretold by Jesus has come when temples and shrines are no longer indispensable, when every man has immediate access to God as the Father, and when every humble receptive soul may become "an habitation of God in the Spirit." "
- James Mann Campbell (The Presence, p. 89)

The New Covenant Gift of the Spirit

"Let us recall the three considerations that have been
mentioned. First, that our Lord Himself in His Divine-human nature was on earth, and is now in heaven, possessed of the fulness of the Spirit, and this in such a manner that the Spirit entered into all He was in the one sphere, and enters into all He is in the other. Secondly, that the Spirit given us by our Lord in His glorified condition is His own Spirit in the most definite and particular meaning of the words. Thirdly, that when the Spirit is bestowed upon us He must be made inwardly and experimentally ours, entering into all that we are in a manner similar to that in which He entered into all that Jesus was and is. Let us fix these three points distinctly in our minds, and it will follow that the Spirit promised as the chief gift of the New Covenant is pervaded by human as well as Divine elements. As the Spirit of the exalted and glorified Lord, He is not the Third Person of the Trinity in His absolute and metaphysical existence, but that Person as He is mediated through the Son, who is human as well as Divine. It is on this particular aspect of His being that He diffuses Himself through the members of Christ's body, and abides in them. Only as human, entering into and coalescing with what is human, can He be also our Spirit dwelling in a living and real way within us."
- William Milligan (The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of Our Lord, p. 189)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Spirit of Jesus, part 13 of 13

    "The contrast between the amount and the char-
acter of the references to the Spirit in the synoptic
and Johannine theologies is at first sight remarkable,
even perplexing. It is possible, of course, that
owing to its messianic associations the idea of the
Spirit may have occupied a larger place in the
teaching of Jesus than the synoptic records would
suggest, and some critics, e.g., Dr. Kattenbusch l
and Dr. E. A. Abbott, 2 even argue that a basis may
be found for some of the Johannine sayings on the
Spirit. Thus the former considers that words like
God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must 
worship him in spirit and in truth (iv. 24), the 
Spirit bloweth where it listeth (iii. 3, 8), and it is 
the Spirit who imparts life, the flesh is of no use 
whatever (vi. 63), are fairly genuine. 'Certainly,' he
adds, 'Paul did not go beyond his master when he
told the Corinthians what were the greater (see link for Greek).'
This is true, but it does not imply that Jesus, e.g.,
must have used a term like the Aramaic Parklete,
which was variously paraphrased by the synoptic
writers. There are organic correspondences of 
thought between the Fourth gospel's view of the 
Spirit in relation to Christ and some elements, un- 
connected with the Spirit, in the synoptic tradition. 
'At any rate, the thought of John xvi. 7, which is 
not positively developed until xvi. 13 f., seems to me 
to be too great for any one except Jesus. This 
conviction, held in spite of all the untoward experi- 
ences of the preceding days, that his return to the 
Father, so far from interfering with His training of 
the disciples, would, on the contrary, carry it to 
completion, appears to me to be so congenial to the 
dauntless faith and humility of the Lord, and so 
essential as a link in His conceptions of what His own 
end and the end of the world implied, that in spite 
of the silence of the synoptic gospels I must attribute 
those words to Him.' 1 However this may be, the 
difference between the messianic Spirit of the earliest 
tradition in the synoptic gospels and the indwelling 
Spirit of the Fourth gospel is surely too great to 
permit of us reading back the latter into the 
theology of Jesus. It is an interpretation of His 
person, rather than an utterance of His own faith. 
    Instead of attempting to harmonise the synoptic 
and the Johannine sayings on the Spirit, or of trying 
to find some basis for the latter in the historical 
teaching of Jesus, it is better for our present purpose 
to recall the inner significance of the Spirit idea in 
the Fourth gospel. What it lays stress on is that the 
religious value of Jesus consisted in His essential 
nearness to the God of love, the eternal and sublime 
One who revealed Himself thus to the faith and need 
of men. This absolute significance of Jesus is repre- 
sented in the synoptic theology as a rule by other 
terms than those of the Spirit. The Fourth gospel, 
by developing the Spirit from the older messianic 
sphere into one more congruous with the Greek 
mind, is able to express the personality of the risen 
Lord in terms of the Spirit, but the religious content 
remains under the verbal differences; the theo- 
logical evolution from the naive synoptic view to 
that of a personified hypostasis ought not to be 
allowed to obscure the identity of the devotional 
instinct which really prompts the more complex 
statement. This instinct still moves under the 
influence of the historic Jesus. It is the incarnate 
Logos which furnishes the material for the insight 
and vital energy of the Spirit in the community. 
He will take of mine and declare it to you. The 
theology of the Fourth gospel, as of the first three, 
would be impossible apart from the historical reve- 
lation of God in Jesus, and equally impossible if the 
life of Jesus on earth had exhausted that revelation. 
In this aspect, the doctrine of the Spirit in the Fourth 
gospel renders explicit what is presupposed in the 
earlier records. 
    It has an important bearing also upon the interpre- 
tation of the gospels in general as records of theology. 
Some Jewish rabbis, in the second century, used to 
attach a punning significance to the Greek term for 
the gospel, (see link for Greek). It is just 'awon gilion, they 
said, a piece of blank paper, a page without meaning 
or value. There are methods of treating the religious 
ideas of the gospels, within as well as outside the 
Church, which render them practically a blank page 
for faith. One is the tendency to explain the 
Christian ideas independently of a historical Jesus, 
or to minimise the cardinal and creative significance 
of His personality for the beliefs which are associ- 
ated with His name. Another is to confine His 
religion to a literal, historical reproduction of what 
He said and did on earth, identifying Him with some 
eschatological or humanitarian propaganda of His 
own age. Such methods, by minimising or exagger- 
ating the historical significance of Jesus, are untrue 
to the standpoint of religious faith from which the 
four gospels are written, faith in the living Lord who 
said, according to the Fourth (xvii. 26), I have 
made known to them thy name, and I will make it 
known. Theologies can be got from other stand- 
points, but none of them will be a theology of the 
gospels, and it is very doubtful if any of them will 
prove to be much of a gospel at all."


*See link for footnotes.

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