The Holy Spirit and Unity in Stone-Campbell Perspective

On November 7, 2011, I met with the Stone-Campbell Dialogue in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Interested persons from the Disciples of Christ, Christian Church/Churches of Christ and Churches of Christ met for some dialogue, fellowship and service in the community. This was the sixteenth time the Dialogue has met. It was the second time I had been invited to present a paper as the focus of discussion.

I presented a paper on the role of the Holy Spirit in the praxis of unity drawing upon Stone-Campbell resources in our common history.  The paper is not intended to be a final statement of any sort but rather a tentative discussion starter.

Spirit and Unity Presentation Stone-Campbell Dialogue 2011



9 Responses to “The Holy Spirit and Unity in Stone-Campbell Perspective”

  1.   rich constant Says:

    “The paper is not intended to be a final statement of any sort but rather a tentative discussion starter.”

    well! :-)

    blessings john mark
    couldn’t help myself
    :-)

    rich

  2.   Adam Gonnerman Says:

    I once went to a gathering of preachers in Albuquerque when I served Sunrise Christian Church in Farmington, NM (bad days, those). I’m sure it was nowhere near as interesting as the one at which you spoke. ;-) Thanks for sharing this paper. I’ll print it and give it a read tonight on the commute home.

  3. Avatar of W Keith Brenton  Keith Brenton Says:

    Thanks, John Mark … not sure I would limit the action of the Spirit to only five areas — even those as broad as confession, ministry, prayer, worship and sanctification (It just sounds limiting, even if it isn’t) — but this perspective is certainly many steps in the right direction.

    “‘For in him we live and move and have our being.” Epimenides had it right; Paul says: “The God who made the world and everything in it … he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”

    • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

      Well, the five is a purely pedagogical device. If we were to give a n exhaustive list….well, that is impossible. So, we are left with limited perspectives. Thanks for the affirmation.

  4.   Clyde S. Says:

    John Mark–I appreciate this very much. So much of the time we focus on how the church is not united like it should be, but we do not know what to do to express the unity of the Spirit.

    One of my favorite quotes is Stone’s plea, “Let every Christian begin the work of union in himself.” Your paper helps promote that, practically and theologically. I was blessed.

  5.   Jenny Says:

    Hello John Mark,
    I was directed to your blog by my current minister, since he knew of you and knew I am also researching the unity in the body of Christ. I also found your article on hermeneutics and gender. Why I bring this up is that you took a very unique approach to discovering the ultimate point of the gender role by delving into the roles displayed by God the Father and Jesus the Son.
    I took this route to start to delve into how unity is supposed to function in the church. Because of my different direction I’m afraid I found the discourse a tad dry. Unity is anything but dry. It, to me, is love in action. However, your discourse was solely directed to the Holy Spirit in Unity. I have seen a public reemergence of the study of unity and hope that in the years to come the body of Christ will start to look less divisive and more inclusive. “May they may be one, as we are one.” John 17:22
    Let me know what other conclusions you come to!

    • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

      “Love in action” is a good approach. When we confess, we love in action; when we pray, we love in action; when we worship together, we love in action; when we are engaged in mission, we love in action; when we are transformed, we love in action. I think “love in action” is a good summary of my five points of praxis.

  6.   riverwindfire Says:

    I really like the way you’ve re-cast the theology of unity from a more institutional-organizational framework to one moved by the Spirit – and it does help me to see that leaders in our generation of the American Restoration Movement are not the first in the movement to think this way.

    I also like the “love in action” aspect you’ve just replied. All this makes eminent sense to me.

    However … I’m a little left behind (no pun intended), and I apologize if my density offends. Re-theologizing unity in terms of the Holy Spirit, i.e. changing the frame so that we see it and hopefully walk in it differently, is very helpful. We are moved to participate in loving unity because the Spirit effects it. We will find Him there, in our communion together.

    I’m trying to see in more concrete and visible terms, what you’re saying about how the Spirit effects this. Are you saying that He does this manifestly by things like increasing our ability to love? increasing our tolerance of differences, or at least, providing a greater sense of discernment about what’s really important? Increasing our sensitivity to suffering, and our courage to step in to do something about it?

    I’m all in favour of all that, and I want to walk all of that out better in my own life. However … wouldn’t “the fellowship of the Spirit,” “the unity of the Spirit,” etc. imply other activities of the Spirit among us, which would be more immediately identifiable as “from the Spirit”? Is there room in your vision of the unity of the Spirit which allows us to expect Him to move in the more obviously “supernatural” (for lack of a better word) ministries of “targeted speech (prophecy),” “remarkable recovery (healings),” “eyes of the heart opened to the great hope of the Great Day,” “prayer in the Spirit,” etc.?

    I’m trying to hear the NT speak of the fellowship of the Spirit: and it seems to speak a lot in terms of “shared experience” and “extended experience of the Spirit” in these more dynamic ways, and not only in aspects of His work which are more theologically comfortable to our faith-heritage.

    I apologize if it seems my comments are unfair – I suppose that my questions are outside the scope of the purpose of your paper, right? ;-)

    • Avatar of johnmarkhicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

      I think of “shared experience” or “extended experience” as the experiences of prayer, liturgy, confession, mission and transformation. These can be more particularized, of course…such as a shared experienced of lament where we are moved to worship/prayer, etc. Or, shared experience of mission as we encounter the marginalized and are changed (transformed) by that. These “five” are not necessarily independent or cerebral, but overlapping, synergistic and acts by which the Spirit manifests the unity that the Spirit has already achieved.

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