"The Holy Spirit is no skeptic, nor has he inscribed only doubts or opinions in our hearts, but assertions that are more certain and steadfast than life itself and any experience"
posted by Chris Tilling @ 1:08 AM
I am somewhat skeptical of this argument by Luther. Is the Holy Spirit really in the business of inscribing "assertions" per say? Not only this, but one which are more "certain" than our own individual experience? Or is the Holy Spirit more about intuition or suggestion, invoking a pre-rational phantasm which dissipates if one is to try and control it, grasp it -- nay, one must embrace its evanescence; that is, if one has ears to hear. Tell me, what was so propositional and certain about Pentecost in Acts?Understanding and suspicion are not contradictory; they are contrary, sure, but they are two different points on the same continuum: the faith(less) walk of ups and downs, twists and turns. We must not readily assume for there to be a terminus got by our own effort and assertions? Does not suspicion bring about later understanding, where without the former there would be no latter. After being exhausted with increased suspicion, doesn't one wish to return to a kind of imaginative child-like way that was lost in the midst of our big ideas (similar to Ricoeur's "second naivete")? Sure, we can make arguments that assert discipleship, but are those arguments willing to realize themselves as arguments? Further, are we willing to let the other respond to our arguments; are we willing to risk changes to our ideas, to listen -- I mean really listen, instead of just waiting to have your turn to speak -- and even risk the dissolution of our own ideas? I would maintain that if our arguments are motivated by a spirit which rests outside of our own experience, our own situatedness, then we will presume to arrive at the terminus of truth which is backed by reason. This will be the death of discourse, because we are working from conclusions that do not reserve any sort of emendation powers -- just going through the motions. These folk will fly the banner of discourse, yet there will be no ruah elohim behind it.
But I thought you would have some perceptive insight on the royal wedding.
In Luther-speak, what manner of vexatious Spirit be this, that he inscribe most certain assertions in the hearts of men, and yet the content of such assertions be different for each man, such that they become the subject of endless disputation amongst those very men?In normal English, what Luther says would only really be justifiable if we mostly agreed about what God was saying. A "certain assertion" which nobody other than - let me see - Luther seems to perceive correctly isn't much of a certain assertion.I'm waiting for the royal wedding post, too.
Thanks, Poe, I agree with you and I like your comments.I would suggest the following. For there to be a communication of revelation, there need to be propositions (even if they are second-order and provisional). And while these propositions may not be the revelations themselves, they can, by the Spirit, become the vehicle of the revelation or unveiling of the hidden God particularly in Christ. In this sense I want to affirm propositional revelation, and in this sense also I would claim Holy Spirit confidence in them. Do I make sense?
I will grant you a "propositional revelation" if and only if it comes with the strong caveat that the very act of revelation (communal and/or existential) is in and of itself communicative to begin with, via the flourishing yet evanescent power of suggestion/intuition. Language and thus proposition (a continuation of this experience) must always be checked, even confounded by this viscerality (see Babel); the latter ought to always take precedence over the former -- though in doing so, it ought to naturally then bear the fruit of proposition. Of course, I am not arguing for a kind of Kierkegaardian revelation, as I tend to think revelation is primarily a communal thing, though deeply perspectival: like a concert where where a multitude of people are singing along with the band, though the precise meaning of the words themselves take a backseat to the indescribable thrumming bass-line generated by the multitude of voices, now coursing through your body. I think this is Pentecost par excellent.Therefore, my bone of contention with Luther was with the adjective "certain" modifying assertion, in regards to the Holy Spirit; moreover, placing said "certain assertion" of the Spirit in tension with experience/life. My polemic thus was pointing toward a kind of assertion, and not assertion itself. What do you think of this sort of revelation argued by Luther? Do you grant this certitude? And does it trump life and experience?
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I am New Testament Tutor at St Mellitus College and St Paul's Theological Centre, London. I'm also a Visiting Lecturer at King's College London. Less well known is that I am also the original writer of the now famous song “Beans, beans, good for your heart…”, and inventor of the “you must have fallen out of the stupid/ugly tree” repertoire of insults. I am the main proponent of the Human Faecal Matter for Brains Opening in chess (actually not what I wanted to call my brilliant and original opening Knight manoeuvre 1.Na3, 2.Nc1), and I also claim to have independently discovered the haiku™ poetry form (© Copyright Chris Tilling 2007) without any help from the Japs. My blog, Chrisendom, is primarily occupied with biblical and theological themes – especially those Apostle Paul shaped, but I try as best as I can to squeeze in a decent amount of inappropriate baloney on the way.
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