In his book, “Come Thirsty” author Max Lucado writes about the strange behavior of the residents he calls “Tuckered Town.”
Turn north of Stress Village, drive a few miles east of Worryville, bear right at the fork leading through Worn-Out Valley, and you’ll find yourself entering the weary streets of Tuckered Town. Her residents live up to the name. They lumber like pack mules on a Pike’s Peak climb. Eyes down, Faces long. Shoulders slumped. Ask them to explain their sluggish ways and they point to their cars. “You’d be tired too if you had to push one of these.” To your amazement that’s what they do! Shoulders pressing, feet digging, lungs puffing, they muscle their automobiles up and down the street. Rather than sit behind the wheel, they lean into the trunk.
The sight puzzles you. The sound stuns you. Do you hear what you think you hear? Running engines. Citizens of Tuckered Town turn the key, start the car, slip it into neutral, and shove! You have to ask someone why. A young mother rolls her minivan into the grocery store parking lot. “Ever thought of pressing the gas?” you question. “I do,” she replies, brushing sweat away. “I press the gas to start the car; then I take over.” A bizarre answer but no more bizarre than that of the out-of-breath fellow leaning against his 18-wheeler, wheezing like an overweight, cigar smoking, marathoner. “Did you push this truck?” you ask. “I sure did,” he gasps, covering his mouth with an oxygen mask. “Why not use the accelerator?” He cocks his eyebrow: “Because I’m a Tucker trucker and we’re strong enough to do our own work.” He doesn’t look so strong to you and you just walk away wondering, “What kind of people are these? A pedal push away from power, yet they ignore it. Who would live in such a way?” You’ll find more joy at an Amish prom.
“Binitarian” Christians are trying to follow Christ much like the residents of Tuckered Town are trying to drive cars: doing all the work themselves! What is a “Binitarian?” A “Binitarian” is someone that so emphasizes the Father and Son they have largely forgotten the third PERSON of the Trinity, i.e., the Holy Spirit.
Even the historic creeds tend to be more binitarian than trinitarian. For instance, the Apostolic Creed (386 AD) mentions the Holy Spirit once in one short sentence, “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” Although the primary focus of the Chalcedonian Creed (451 AD) was to understand the dual nature of Jesus as “fully God and fully man,” it makes no mention of the Holy Spirit. The Nicene Creed (325 AD) does a little better. Regarding the Holy Spirit it says–
I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
Of all the major creeds the Athanasian (440 AD) says the most about the Holy Spirit:
For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal.
So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord.
The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding.
From this creed we see that the Holy Spirit is God the way the Father is God and the Son is God. As a fully “co-equal, co-substantial, and co-eternal” person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, possesses the same “omni-qualities” of the Father and Son, i.e., omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Although he doesn’t get the press clipping they do, the Holy Spirit is God in every way the Father and Son are God.
A Person Not An It
As we launch our new “Holy Spirit Is” series today I want us focus on the personhood of the Holy Spirit. In the upcoming weeks we will cover all the amazing things he wants to do to us, for us, and through us, but today let’s stay focused on his personhood. We need to do this primarily because the most common pronoun I hear good church folks use in reference to the Holy Spirit is “IT.” Let’s stop here and ask, “How would you like it if someone called you an “IT?” It wouldn’t feel so good would it? Why? Because you are a person, not an “it” as in a “thing” or an “entity.” The Holy Spirit is a PERSON not an “it” like an innate force or cosmic energy. He is his own distinct person and thus has his own personality. As we saw with the personhood properties of the Father and Son, the Holy Spirit is rational (thinks), volitional (wills), emotional (feels), and relational (engages others).
I think what may inadvertently obscure the personhood of the Holy Spirit are the three primary symbols used to illustrate his work. For instance:
The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus as a “Dove” at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River (Luke 3:22). Obviously, a person can’t be a dove and a person but one can be dovelike in terms of love of peace.
At Pentecost the Holy Spirit burst on the scene as a “Rushing Wind” (Ruach, Pneuma) thus becoming the tour de force of the early church (Acts 2:1-4). Again, one can’t be an inanimate object and a person but this image speaks to his life-giving power (“wind beneath my wings” lol).
Lastly, in Acts 2:3-4 the Holy Spirit descended upon the 120 in the Upper Room as Flame/Fire. A person can’t be a flame/fire but s/he can be pure and holy. To sum, the Holy Spirit is a person but the dove, wind, and fire symbolism speaks to those aspects of his ministry that empower us and make us holy. As my Italian grandfather would underscore every statement; “Capeesh” (understand)?
I’m not sure if you can tell but I am more of an extrovert than an introvert. Extroverts are generally people persons because they derive energy from people, not from tasks, unlike those weird introverts (lol)! For me, no gathering is big enough and there is never enough people to go around (why I want our church at 10,000). When people ask me why am I so energetic, I usually respond, “Because of God and you.”
However, as I slip into my early 40s (lol!) I’m feeling the need to do better energy management. Unfortunately, I have been experiencing that my cells just don’t divide as rapidly as they used to. As such, visits to Tuckered Town have been a little more frequent than they used to. If I’m not careful Tuckered Town can easily turn into “Hotel California” i.e., a place where one “can check out but never leave.” In order to get out of that lame town before sundown I must go full Trinitarian. Therefore, I immediately schedule an in-person-meeting with the most energetic of all people persons, the Holy Spirit. When I am in his presence Isaiah 40:31 becomes my reality:
Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength,
they will run and not be weary they will walk and not faint.
Ever find yourself tired in Tuckered Town? Get to know (through prayer) that Person called the Holy Spirit and you will be out of there quicker than an overcaffeinated origami artist!