Immanence and the Holy Spirit

June 13, 2008 at 2:52 am 2 comments

About a month or so ago Pentecost was coming up and I asked my fiance to explain the history behind it. He explained that in the Book of Acts, the Apostles got together to celebrate the then Jewish holiday of Pentecost. They were feeling discouraged and didn’t know what to do next in since the ascension of Jesus. A wind came into the room, and flames appeared above their heads. They began speaking in different languages- ones that they couldn’t speak normally. Since people from all around the Jewish Diaspora of the time were there, various individuals understood Greek, Aramaic, Turkish and other tongues they were speaking. “How could this be happening?” They wondered. These were signs of God’s presence. God was trying to tell them not to give up- that He/She is always with them, and to continue with Christ’s mission.

Perhaps it is precisely because of the subtle and internal nature of the Holy Spirit it celebrates, Pentecost of all major Christian holidays has not been secularized. In the Trinitarian concept of the Christian God, the Person of the Holy Spirit is the most immanent- or present in this world. I realized that the concept of the Holy Spirit is closest to the way Pagans often view the Divine- especially the Goddess. In Gnostic thought, the Holy Spirit was also seen as feminine- as Sophia, the personification of Wisdom. This also reminds me of the Shekhinah, the feminine aspect of the Jewish view of God- who is also quite immanent- God was said to have sent the Shekhinah to “dwell among” the people of Israel.

Pagans tend to emphasize divine immanence while Christians tend in general to view God more transcendently. However this is not always the case. Christian mystics, sects such as Quakers (not all of whom see themselves as Christian) and others see God more as immanent. Pentecostals out of all Christians emphasize the Holy Spirit the most, and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit like speaking in tongues, healing etc. Strangely, despite their usually conservative theology, it is the Pentecostals in practice who are the most spiritually ecstatic. (Likewise with the Jewish sect of Hasidism).

*These ideas have been percolating in my mind for a while and I wondered if it was too late for a Pentecost-themed post but then on glancing at the Religion Calendar in the newspaper I realized that it was Eastern Orthodox Pentecost next Sunday. So I guess you could say this post is on Orthodox Standard Time!


Entry filed under: Christianity, Interfaith, Judaism, Theology. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. paarsurrey  |  June 16, 2008 at 3:56 pm


    Sorry, I don’t agree with you.
    I respect your religion; but I have my own free opinion. I think it to be too cruel for a father (God) to sacrifice/kill his beloved one (son) for others imaginary sins.

    The truth, in my opinion, is that Jesus was not God; he never proclaimed as such, there are no direct quotes from him in this regards. God talked with Jesus and revealed His word on him, He chose Jesus his Messenger/Prophet/Messiah, Jesus was not a son of God.

    Jews did not believe that Jesus was a true Moshiach or Prophet of God and to prove that they tried to kill him by putting him on cross, Jesus became unconscious due to the injuries inflicted on him. He was delivered from cross alive and placed in a room like tomb where he was treated for the injuries.

    This was done secretly lest the Jews again torture him. Afterwards, he went to spread the gospel to the remaining ten tribes of the House of Israel, he died a natural death later at some point in the history. This is all truth in my opinion.

    Kindly visit my blogsite for any peaceful comments and or peaceful discussion on interesting posts/pages there. You are welcome for your differing opinion/thoughts if you so like.


    I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

  • 2. caelesti  |  June 18, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Welcome, Paarsurrey. Actually I think we are more in agreement than it would seem. I am not a Christian or a believer in the Trinity- like you I see Jesus as a human- a prophet, a wise man perhaps, but a human, not the Messiah.
    I am a modern polytheist who likes studying other religions to learn from them, and in this post I was comparing concepts of the Divine in Christianity & Paganism.
    I’ve checked out your blog- it’s great to see others promoting interfaith understanding.


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