Secret Church: Exploring the Holy Spirit: Reflections: Neglect of the Holy Spirit

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is one of the most misunderstood parts of Christian theology.  All types and streams of Christianity would do well to spend some extended time studying what scripture has to say about the role of the Holy Spirit.  The following are summaries of some tendencies that are seen in different types of churches.  These tendencies do not exist in every church that could be classified in one of these brackets but do reflect some problems that can arise from a unclear view of the Holy Spirit.

Mainstream evangelical churches have a tendency to emphasize theology and knowledge and minimize the role of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is not taught in the midst of many mainstream evangelical churches as a part of there theology.  The Spirit is frequently seen as an “it” such as presented by Craig Groeschel in his book about the power of the Holy Spirit in churches entitled It (I have not read Groeschel’s book and really respect him and his ministry so I am not equating the theological concerns of viewing the Holy Spirit as an “it” to Craig Groschel or to LifeChurch.tv).  This “it” view presents the Holy Spirit as a guiding force that is not personal rather abstract.  This view presents the Holy Spirit as something that moves and acts in the universe but has no real value to the Christian.

Charismatic churches have a tendency to over emphasize the Holy Spirit and minimize theology and scripture. The gifts of the Spirit can be emphasized to the point that spiritual gifts establish a hierarchy of spirituality upon which believers should be ranked.  Charismatic churches sometimes also allow miraculous gift, such as prophecy and speaking in tongues, to be used to produce divine revelation without keeping them in check with the revelation of God given in scripture.  The focus on new revelation from God devoid of scriptural truth can lead to error in our theology.

Prosperity preachers twist the role for the Holy Spirit by making Him a genie which grants the wishes of the people so that the Holy Spirit does not operate according to the will of God but rather the will of man.  This makes the Holy Spirit not a person who indwells the Christian and leads him or her, but rather a source of divine blessing from a God who exists to cater to man’s wants and desires.

The Holy Spirit is clearly misunderstood.  Tomorrow, I will pass along some bullet points about the role of the Holy Spirit as presented in scripture from Secret Church.

  • Matt

    I understand your points, but you’ve exaggerated for evangelicals and charismatics. And why do “prosperity preachers” even get mentioned? Say what’s necessary and leave the rest. 

  • benbirdsong

    The goal of this post was to picture the theological errors and traps that some have fallen into. Prosperity theology seems to me to be th biggest trap that the American church has fallen into.

  • Matt

    Understood. Now what about other types of churches and brands–mainline denominations, liberal theology, and the “rest”? Be fair about it. Talk about this issue as it regards everyone and not just where you seem to notice it more. The Holy Spirit is a theological topic for all Christians. Now, let me stop annoying you 😉 and say that your article is good but stands to be great. Let it evolve if only by showing a landscape of the topic in the world of the Church. That’s interesting, but you sound peeved here. 

  • benbirdsong

     That is fair.  These are thoughts that came after attending a conference on the topic taught by Dr. David Platt.  This could and probably should be expanded to include a larger breadth of theological error.  Thanks for the feedback and for reading!