Unification Theology

by Young Oon Kim

The Holy Spirit

In the New Testament the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is closely related to Christology. The Spirit comes upon and overshadows Mary when her child is conceived. The Spirit hovers over and alights on Jesus at his baptism. In his first sermon at Nazareth, he defines his messianic mission with the OT words: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me ..." (Lk. 4:18). This Spirit dwells in Jesus throughout his life, enabling him to speak with authority, to heal sickness and to cast out demons.

Besides uniting Jesus the Son to God the Father, the Spirit's purpose is to unite all men to God. The Spirit refers to God at work, with us, and within us. The Spirit teaches us, guides us, helps us to witness and serves as our comforter, advocate and counselor. Hence, Paul describes Christian discipleship as "life in the Spirit" or "surrender to the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25). Believers will manifest the gifts of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faith, meekness and self-control (5:22,23). By sowing the things of the Spirit, a Christian can reap everlasting life, Paul writes (Gal. 6:8). In other words, the Holy Spirit signifies the regenerative and redemptive activity of the immanent God.

As a sign of God working in and through man, the Holy Spirit naturally is particularly active in the Christian community. 11 Corinthians speaks about "ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit" (3:6). Christian preaching and teaching are considered gifts of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). When the first apostolic council was convened to clarify Christian faith and practice, the delegates issued a report, saying, "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us" (Acts 15:28), showing that doctrinal decisions should represent cooperative deliberation of Christians with the Spirit.

According to Acts, the Church was born at Pentecost when the assembled Christians were showered with charismatic gifts. As Luke interprets this event, the Spirit unexpectedly descended upon the entire gathering. Among other things, Pentecost suggests how' the Spirit works for unification. Through the gift of tongues, the Christian community was able to unite men and women in spite of national, racial and linguistic differences.

The Church is empowered, illumined and blessed by the communion with the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, the divine activity of the Spirit in regeneration and restoration cannot be confined to the institutional churches. As we read, "The wind (of the Spirit) blows where it pleases ... but you do not know whence it comes and whither it goes" (John 3:8). The Spirit is not a servant of the Church but rather the Church should be a servant of the Spirit. The Spirit points beyond the churches to the coming kingdom of God. Only as they serve as agents for the transformation of the entire world can Christians consider themselves members of Christ's body. The final work of the Spirit is to unify all peoples in a new creation. Thus, when St. John of Patmos was caught up in a prophetic trance, he heard the risen Jesus announce, "He who has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 2:7).

Most importantly, the Spirit serves as the organ for the transmission of divine revelation. For example, in the Old Testament the prophet Jeremiah declared that "the word of the Lord came to him, saying.. ." (1:11). Similarly in Acts, Peter receives a vision showing him that Christians need not continue the dietary rules of the Torah. In both cases, a spiritual experience gave new revelation which supplemented, clarified and corrected the sacred writings of their day. Thus, the Fourth Gospel describes the Holy Spirit as "the spirit of truth" which will reveal things which the original disciples either did not or could not understand when Jesus was on earth. The Spirit authorizes continuing revelation.

Finally, the apocalyptic tradition in both Judaism and Christianity assumed that the arrival of the messianic age would be accompanied by a marvelous outpouring of the Holy Spirit. As the prophet Joel predicted, the Day of the Lord will be ushered in when God's Spirit is poured out on all mankind. Old men shall dream revelatory dreams and young men shall see visions (2:28,29).

Having seen how varied Biblical usage is concerning the Holy Spirit, it is easy to understand why no official doctrine has been generally agreed upon. Who or what then is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ? In the early Church three questions were especially perplexing. First, is the Holy Spirit a person, a self-conscious entity different from God the Father or Jesus Christ the Son? Second, if the Spirit is a distinct being, is it masculine, feminine or neuter? Third, as a separate entity, is the Spirit equal to or subordinate to God the Father and Christ the Son?

Let us see how the discussion over the Spirit's gender arose. The Hebrew word for spirit (ruach) is feminine while the Greek word (pneuma) is neuter. Furthermore, in the Old Testament the wisdom of God (Sophia) is portrayed as a female spirit (Proverbs, chaps. 8 and 9). Finally, in John's Gospel, the Holy Spirit which Jesus promises his disciples serves the feminine function of comforting and reassuring Christians whose faith is threatened by the continuing delay of the Parousia as well as by intense persecution.

There is clear evidence that some early Christians believed that the Holy Spirit was a female entity. The Gospel of the Nazarenes, used by Jewish-Christians in the post-apostolic age, contained a quotation of Jesus in which he speaks of "my mother, the Holy Spirit." The Acts of Thomas, a product of either early Syriac or Egyptian Christianity, includes hymns or liturgical prayers of invocation to the Holy Spirit addressed to "the compassionate mother ... the Feminine who reveals hidden mysteries ... and darling of the Most High's compassion. In the Gospel of Mani, we find a trinitarian doxology, derived from some ancient Christian group, which praises the power of the Father, the blessing of the Mother and the goodness of the Son. 39

Nevertheless, most Christians thought of the Holy Spirit as a separate masculine entity. The term Paraclete, used in the Johannine Gospel, means "Comforter" and possesses the masculine gender. Also, the Jewish tradition was on the whole extremely masculine-oriented and hostile to all feminine definitions of the Godhead. Consequently, at Nicea and Chalcedon the ecumenical councils affirmed that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit were distinct yet equal, consubstantial and all of the same sex.

In Unification theology the main point is that the Holy Spirit is not a separate entity, a being different from God the Father. The Holy Spirit simply refers to God's redemptive activity. Hence in Genesis the Spirit is defined as God's breath: The Lord God breathed His Spirit into Adam, making him a living soul. Similarly in the Fourth Gospel the Spirit is described as a wind which blows from one direction to another, coming and going at will. The common New Testament term pneuma means simply "air" or "wind," an impersonal energy derived from God. Thus, Unification theology thinks of the Holy Spirit not as an individual person but rather as a sign of God's work in history and His direct influence upon our individual spiritual life.

However, according to Divine Principle, since God possesses polarity, there is a sense in which it is legitimate to refer to the feminine activity of the Holy Spirit. Because the Spirit carries out maternal functions of comforting, nourishing and nurturing individual Christians, it serves as a mother spirit. As Macquarrie points out, the Holy Spirit most clearly introduces a feminine element into the doctrine of God. When the Spirit is described as hovering over the waters of the deep (Gen. 1:2), like a hen brooding on her nest, so that God gives birth to the world, this clearly suggests the feminine principle. 40 At the same time, as God's energy at work, the Holy Spirit manifests masculine qualities. To conclude, in different ways, God's Spirit appears feminine, masculine and impersonal.

Unification theology also stresses the multiplicity of spirits affecting our world and influencing human destiny. Besides the spirit of God the Father and the spirit of Jesus, there exists a multitude of benevolent ancestral spirits and angels who make contact with earth and attempt to guide men's lives. Especially at a crucial point in God's dispensational program, the whole host of heaven descends to our earthly plane in order to actualize God's plan. That is why the Christians at Pentecost were suddenly able to speak in foreign tongues. They were assisted by discarnate spirits working to realize God's providential purpose. If then the Holy Spirit refers to the working of the transcendent God within history and inside the human soul, this helpful and providential activity may be carried out by numerous ancestral or angelic messengers rather than being limited to a single agent. Like God himself, the Spirit is invisible and incorporeal-a bright light or a field of magnetic energy, so to speak. Therefore when the Holy Spirit needs a definite form, it uses and works through the medium of a discarnate human spirit or an angel. It should now be obvious that the term "Holy Spirit" has been used rather loosely to cover all kinds of work by spirits.

39 Cf. W. Lewis' anthology Witness to the Holy Spirit (1978).

40 J. Macquaffie, Principles of Christian Theology (1977), pp. 329-330.

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