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Spiritual life as a process of reception (part II of II)

13 May

Part I is here

More from Pastor Kleinig:

“Christian spirituality presupposes that we have been given the gift of eternal life and enjoy it now here on earth…

The Sacred Scriptures not only teach us about eternal life but also bestow it.  We also have ‘the real teacher of the Scriptures,’ the Holy Spirit, who uses the Scriptures to teach us the things of God.  We do not need devise our own theory and practice of devotion based on human reason and experience.  Instead, we may discover the hidden gift of eternal life from God by praying for the Holy Spirit to be our instructor.

…we, not once but repeatedly, pray to receive the Spirit as the teacher of eternal life whenever we have our devotions.  As beggars who kneel before our great Benefactor, we are drawn into the life of the triune God and share in His work here on earth.… We should pray that the Holy Spirit would use the Scriptures to disclose the mystery of our participation in the divine life of the Holy Trinity.

…Apart from the Spirit and the power that He gives us, we have no access to eternal life and know nothing about it.  Without His illumination, the teaching of the Scriptures remains mere theory without any reality.  Prayer for God’s ongoing bestowal of the Holy Spirit through Jesus and the ongoing reception of the Holy Spirit is the foundation for Christian spirituality, the life that is produced and developed by the Holy Spirit.  And that is a lifelong undertaking.” (17, 18)

As I said, I will be posting more quotes from Dr. Kleinig’s book as it relates to the topic of this blog.  In the meantime, for more, you can also see here and here.   Pastor Will Weedon also has many quotes from Kleinig’s book on his blog (you can find them by using Google’s Advanced search option, limiting your search to his blog).

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7 Comments

Posted by on May 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

7 responses to “Spiritual life as a process of reception (part II of II)

  1. George A. Marquart

    September 7, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    “Prayer for God’s ongoing bestowal of the Holy Spirit through Jesus and the ongoing reception of the Holy Spirit is the foundation for Christian spirituality, the life that is produced and developed by the Holy Spirit.” And from the previous post: “These three terms describe the life of faith as a cycle that begins with prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit through meditation on God’s Word, and results in spiritual attack.”

    In the entire New Testament there is one passage that speaks about asking for the Holy Spirit and receiving Him as a result. This is Luke 11:13, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Different manuscripts show the following variant readings:
    πνευμα αγιον (Holy Spirit) – 75, א, B, C, K, W, X, Δ, Π, Ψ, f1, f13, 28
    πνευμα αγαθον (a good spirit) – L 1230 1253 1646, ℓ 4, ℓ 12, ℓ 15, ℓ 19, ℓ 69, ℓ 185, ℓ 211
    δοματα αγαθα (good gifts)– Θ, ℓ 32m

    The latter variant is the wording used in the parallel passage in Mathew 7:11, for which there is no record of variant readings.

    So what we are being told is that this one variant of a single verse in Scripture is “the foundation of Christian spirituality”.

    On the other hand, there are numerous passages that show clearly that the Holy Spirit dwells in every one of God’s children. There are no passages, including Luke 11:13 that show the Holy Spirit is given or received in an “ongoing” manner. Although our Confessions are fairly meager on this subject, here is what Luther’s Large Catechism says on the subject under the heading of Infant Baptism, “. 50] But if God did not accept the baptism of infants, He would not give the Holy Ghost nor any of His gifts to any of them; in short, during this long time unto this day no man upon earth could have been a Christian. Now, since God confirms Baptism by the gifts of His Holy Ghost, as is plainly perceptible in some of the church fathers, as St. Bernard, Gerson, John Hus, and others,…”

    What Dr. Kleinig teaches is wrong, contrary to the Scripture, and damaging to the children of God. Luther says he makes God a liar, since he does not believe the promises of God.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

     
  2. infanttheology

    September 8, 2011 at 11:56 am

    George,

    I see no contradiction between the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and us continuing to pray for Him, to “use the *Scriptures* to disclose the mystery of our participation in the divine life of the Holy Trinity”. It is only because He already does dwell in us that we would ever ask for such a thing.

    This reminds me of Luther’s explanation of the Lord’s prayer. For example, the Kingdom of God comes without our prayer, but we ask here that it would come to us also. Again, without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we would not even think to ask for such a thing.

    Because the Spirit of Christ (as He is also called) is within us, we want more, not less, of Him.

    I also think about what Paul says in Ephesians 3:14-21, where he prays that Christ may dwell in us richly. But doesn’t Christ already dwell in us? Of course. But we pray that our knowledge and realization of His indwelling – and *all* that means for us (everything we need, we *already have*) would increase more and more. Again, more of Him, not less.

    Again, I am not really seeing a contradiction here.

    Best regards!

    Nathan

     
  3. George A. Marquart

    September 8, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Nathan: You write, “I see no contradiction between the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and us continuing to pray for Him, to “use the *Scriptures* to disclose the mystery of our participation in the divine life of the Holy Trinity”. It is only because He already does dwell in us that we would ever ask for such a thing.” Well, guess what? I don’t see a contradiction either. What I object to, as I pointed out from the citations from the posting, is that we should pray to “receive” the Holy Spirit, as Dr. Kleinig does when he writes, “we not once but repeatedly, pray to receive the Spirit as the teacher of eternal life whenever we have our devotions.”

    As to Luther’s explanation of the Second Petition, that is part of the reason why we in the Lutheran Church do not have a proper doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God. Luther confuses justification with sanctification. Clearly, if indeed “we pray in this petition that it may come unto us also”, we do not understand that the Kingdom does not come to us, but we come into the Kingdom, as our Lord told Nicodemus, John 3:5, “no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” Moreover, we are not at times “more” in the Kingdom, and at times “less”, but always totally throughout eternity (Ok, sin against the Holy Spirit excepted).

    As to the Ephesians passage, I am reasonably sure that this is a metaphorical expression. This is not a “real presence”. Our Lord said that He would be “with us” but not that He would be “in us”. On the other hand, about the Holy Spirit He said, John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, because He abides with you, and He will be in you.” Do you see the precision? On the following Sunday He breathed on them and said, John 20:22, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

    The problem with Pietists like Dr. Kleinig is that they always make God’s people think that they are not doing enough to stay in the Kingdom and that they are always on the edge of falling away. They want to be better than even our Lord expects, and they want to persuade other to do the same. Thereby they create terrible spiritual distress. On the other hand, Luther was certain where he stood. When assailed by doubt, he said, “I am baptized”. He did not pray for “more” Holy Spirit, only to wonder afterwards whether God had answered his prayer.
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

     
  4. infanttheology

    September 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    George,

    I will be unable to respond again until Monday.

    “Luther confuses justification with sanctification.”

    Did you mean Kleinig?

    Thanks again for your response. I’m going to stick with what I’ve written for now. I don’t see Jesus being in me as a metaphor. I don’t have a problem with the idea that while we have all of Him, the realization of that in us has a long way to go.

    I suppose I am a pietist then – even if I recoil at some of the things that Arndt (but not necessarily Starck) said. I think we do indeed “walk in danger all the way” and that we had better be looking to God’s words more and more for life, even as we already have total salvation in Him.

    I understand your point about the variant, but I’m not inclined to fight it so much. Talking about being in the word and desiring, longing for, groaning for the Spirit (even as this groaning/*prayer* is produced by that same Spirit) is synonymous with heartily imbibing His Word. The Word and Spirit cannot be decoupled.

    So, what do we do for the person for whom this creates terrible spiritual distress?

    I offer this:

    https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/a-child-of-the-reformation/ (hey – we’ve been here before, haven’t we?)

    and this:

    https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/transformation-failure-3/

    So, in short: we have peace and joy, even as we tremble, as Walther says. In our heart of hearts, we know He is not a hard man. He does this all out of love – not only for us, but for the whole world.

    “On the other hand, Luther was certain where he stood. When assailed by doubt, he said, “I am baptized”. He did not pray for “more” Holy Spirit, only to wonder afterwards whether God had answered his prayer.”

    To say “I am baptized” is to reassure one’s self of one’s true identity, which is one full of the Spirit. Along with this, comes the promised gift of the growth by that Spirit (unless rejected). Saying this, is, in effect, praying for the Spirit, by the Spirit (groaning), and this can’t be done without the Word that grants peace and all good things (Rom. 5:1).

    In Christ!
    Nathan

     
  5. George A. Marquart

    September 11, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Dear Nathan: yes indeed we have been there before.

    No, I meant that in Luther’s explanation of the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer in the Small Catechism Luther confuses Justification with Sanctification. If we who are in the Kingdom (no disagreement there?) should pray that the Kingdom “would come to us also”, then it is not a “one time” event, such as our justification and entrance into the Kingdom through the waters of Baptism. Therefore Luther is speaking of Sanctification here, because otherwise God’s people should not pray this prayer again and again. Or are we into “more” Kingdom here, just like more “Holy Spirit” or that annoying kid who yells “more Parks sausages, Mom”?

    If the Spirit and the Word cannot be decoupled, then what is this groaning? Sighs too deep for words? Non verbal communication is incompatible with the Word, which is verbal. I agree that it is proper to say that the Holy Spirit has chosen to work through the Word, but is this groaning, or are these sighs “Word”? When the Holy Spirit gives us His gifts, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord, do we get these through some Bible verse that convinces us to be wise, understanding …etc, or does the Holy Spirit bestow these directly, as part of our Sanctification (which does involve reading Scripture), as St. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 12: 11 “All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” We have laid down a law for the Holy Spirit as if we understand fully how He works. Yes, He uses the Word, but He is God, the Lord and Giver of Life Himself, and He can give gifts to each person as He chooses in concord with the Father and the Son.

    Or the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22 “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”? Do we receive them as a result of reading a particular part of Scripture, of does the Spirit grant us these apart from the Word?

    “Even as we tremble”? Walther also had this streak of Pietism. When the gracious Father wrapped His son in a cloak and gave him a ring and kissed him, did He want this son to tremble? If we are to love perfectly (which we will only do in the Heavenly Kingdom) then we cannot fear, because of the well-known verse, “Perfect love casteth out fear.” Indeed Luther wrote a beautiful sermon about what it means to “fear God”, and it turns out that the German uses one and the same verb “to fear” for the activity of fearing (Furcht) and having awe (Ehrfurcht). It is this latter that we are called to do, and rightly so. But why should we fear Him Who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son? This Son Himself said, Luke 12:32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”

    Walther indeed says that even the converted should fear and tremble, lest because of our own doing we fall away from grace. Well, Walther is simply wrong. I don’t know how he interprets the Philippians 2:12 passage, but I do know that many interpreters see this fear and trembling directed at our own abilities rather than toward God.

    The old Adam in us yearns for the Law and cannot accept the free gift we receive in the Gospel. He always wants to contribute something, and along come the Pietists and tell us that, indeed, we should fear and tremble because it is clear we are not responsive enough to the admonition not to sin. To this St. Paul responds, Gal. 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”, and Romans 8:15ff, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba,” Father.’ 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” And Luther? “We tremble not we fear no ill…”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

     
  6. Nathan

    September 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    George,

    Forgive the terse nature of my replies. I just write quickly here – not saying all of it is best said or even right.

    I don’t believe in a separation of justification and sanctification. No one who is not sanctified will be saved. I believe in distinguishing between justification and sanctification because Rome’s understanding of it was so faulty and destroyed good pastoral practice.

    Justification is a one-time event applied perpetually until we die. We need the constant reassurance and actual forgiveness of God in Christ applied to us throughout our Christian lives. Otherwise, our faith dies.

    “If the Spirit and the Word cannot be decoupled, then what is this groaning? Sighs too deep for words? Non verbal communication is incompatible with the Word, which is verbal. I agree that it is proper to say that the Holy Spirit has chosen to work through the Word, but is this groaning, or are these sighs “Word”?”

    No, this groaning is born of the Word, which is within us, both unconsciously and consciously. The words in our heart are those that tell us about Christ, and in fact, bring us Christ, by His Spirit. It is this transforming Word within us that makes us groan. This is something that has already happened.

    “or does the Holy Spirit bestow these directly, as part of our Sanctification (which does involve reading Scripture)”

    Sure, that to. But here the believer, by the Spirit, goes to the Word to get more of the Word which already dwells within Him.

    “We have laid down a law for the Holy Spirit as if we understand fully how He works. Yes, He uses the Word, but He is God, the Lord and Giver of Life Himself, and He can give gifts to each person as He chooses in concord with the Father and the Son.”

    No, the Scriptures tell us how He works. There is more to this of courses – mysterious stuff – but this is in addition to how He has revealed to us that He works.

    “It is this latter that we are called to do, and rightly so. But why should we fear Him Who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son? This Son Himself said, Luke 12:32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.””

    We shouldn’t, but we will, insofar as we are sinners. This should not be denied, even as we strive for the “fear” that is solely “awe”.

    “He always wants to contribute something, and along come the Pietists and tell us that, indeed, we should fear and tremble because it is clear we are not responsive enough to the admonition not to sin.”

    Not should. Will.

    I said: “Are God’s commands, threats, and punishments – His Hammer which shatters – to be proclaimed so that persons may see themselves as sinners – sinners who should then be given the confidence of faith – i.e. be actively persuaded via the Promise (Christ) that they have God’s forgiveness for all their sins (and hence, life and salvation) – even as they tremble?”

    In the future life, God’s commands will not cause fear. His threats and punishments will be unecessary. As it stands, He only does these things now, not so that we would fear, but that, becoming fearful, we would cling in trust, and thereby grow in love.

    + Nathan

     
  7. Nathan

    September 12, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    George,

    “Pietists and tell us that, indeed, we should fear and tremble because it is clear we are not responsive enough to the admonition not to sin.”

    I suppose you could say, “what if a person hears God’s law and does not become fearful – is this OK?”.

    Answer: of course, insofar as we are saints we delight in all of God’s law. But – Romans 7 assures us that we are not this, and death, which we all experience, is not good, for it is a result of sin. Therefore, such a person does not exist. It is not really a fruitful exercise to ask whether or not it would be OK for them not to fear and tremble, because insofar as they are sinners, they will tremble.

    “The old Adam in us yearns for the Law and cannot accept the free gift we receive in the Gospel. He always wants to contribute something”

    Yes. And he also wants to not do what God actually says.

    + Nathan

     

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