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Author Topic: Holy Spirit in the center of our soul ?  (Read 612 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 23, 2013, 01:59:54 PM »

Does the Holy Spirit of God dwell in the center of every Orthodox Christian's soul by virtue of the sacrament of baptism?  Does the Holy Spirit dwell in the center of every human soul by virtue of being made in the image of God with the difference being (perhaps) that the Holy Spirit is active in the soul of the Christian but merely a latent potential in the souls of non-Christians?

Some of my family members believe the Spirit of God might possibly dwell within them but vehemently reject and are offended by any Christian claim that only through the sacrament of baptism will the Spirit become active or accessible or fully salvific in their lives.  They believe everyone has equal access to God within their own hearts regardless of religious orientation and therefore see the Orthodox Church as completely superfluous, at best, or even an obstacle to their individual enlightenment.

When I try to explain to them why I enjoy a more fully confirmed faith in the indwelling Spirit of God and wonder why anyone wouldn't also avail themselves of this they become offended again by what they see as Christian exclusivity and triumphalism.  When I ask them how they or any human could speak confidently about God and salvation based on their own understanding outside of Christ and His Church they consider this to be a personal attack not deserving an answer.

Sadly, I'm beginning to think perhaps their reluctance isn't really intellectual but an instinctive antipathy to the Spirit of God.   Perhaps someone here could clarify the relationship between the human soul and Spirit of God in the Christian vs. the non-Christian so I might explain it to my family in a more helpful way?
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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2013, 02:14:10 PM »

Everyone knows All paths lead to one silly :p
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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2013, 02:51:42 PM »

Good questions and good topic. Looking forward for the answers myself.
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2013, 07:08:21 PM »

Sounds like they've read you a version of the Miranda Rights:  Anything you say can and will offend us.  Of course God loves us, God is love.  They appear to have made up their minds, so to them what they believe and understand is true.  Perhaps they've not had any direct and identifiable experience with God yet, or if they have, they interpret it in their own way.  There isn't a lot to say to people who are entirely content with themselves and their lot with no hunger for God.  As with the parable of the paralytic, they have to want to be healed.  When Jesus asked the paralytic, "Do you want to be healed?", the answer should be obvious, but it isn't.  People can be inwardly paralyzed and afflicted, and just be completely adapted to it to the point that it is accepted as normal.  


I don't know your family or circumstances, so one can only offer conjecture.  Overall though, having one family member convert to a different religion, or to become Christian in a non-religious family, often upsets things quite a bit from what I have observed.  Less can definitely be more on many occasions.  They have to come to God in their own way.  Let them ask if they are interested in something, would be my suggestion.  And pray for them everyday.  

I can see where they might be coming from, because there are so many religious or non-religion options out there it's hard to discern what all those things are without a great deal of study.  Not everyone has the time and inclination to even scratch the surface of religious studies.  Perhaps to them, you are just another opinion in a multitude of opinions about something that can't be finally and certainly known in this lifetime.  




This is long, but I typed it out for you in case you don't have the book so you can read and digest it for yourself, from St. Theopan the Recluse, (your patron saint?) The Path to Salvation:

How Christian life begins in the Mystery of Baptism

    The Mysteries which primarily refer to the beginning of the Christian life are Baptism and repentance.  Therefore, the rules concerning the beginning of life in a true Christian way are set forth first under the heading of baptism, and then under repentance.  
  
    Baptism is the first Mystery (Sacrament) in Christianity; it makes a Christian man worthy to be vouchsafed the gifts of grace through other Mysteries also.  Without it one cannot enter into the Christian world and become a member of the Church.  The Pre-eternal Wisdom has made a house for Himself upon earth, and the door leading into this house is the Mystery of Baptism.  By this door not only do people enter into the house of God, but at this door also they are clothed in a garment worthy of it; they receive a new name and a sign which is impressed upon the whole being of the one being baptized, by mean of which, later, both heavenly and earthly beings recognize and distinguish them.

A New Creature in Christ Through Holy Baptism

If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creature, teaches the Apostle (II Cor 15.17).  This new creature a Christian becomes in Baptism.  From the font a man comes out not at all the way he went in.  As light is to darkness, as life is to death, so is a baptized man opposed to one who is unbaptized.  Conceived in iniquities and born in sins, a man before baptism bear in himself all the poison of sin, with all the weight of its consequences.  He is in a condition of God’s disfavor; he is by nature a child of wrath.  He is ruined, disordered in himself with relation to his parts and powers, which are directed primarily towards the multiplication of sin.  He is in subjection to the influence of satan, who act in him with power by reason of the sin which dwells in him.  As a result of all this, after death he is unfailingly the child of hell, where he must be tormented together with its prince and his helpers and servants.
    
Baptism delivers us from all these evils.  It takes away the curse by the power of the Cross of Christ and returns the blessing.  Those who are baptized are the children of God, as the Lord Himself has given them the right to be:  And if children then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8.17).  The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the baptized person already of satan, who now loses authority over him and the power to act arbitrarily in him.  By entrance into the Church—the house of refuge—satan is denied access to the newly baptized one.  He finds himself here as in a safe enclosure.

     All these are spiritually outward privileges and gifts.  But what happens inwardly?  The healing of the affliction and injury of sin.  The power of grace permeates within and restores here the divine order in all its beauty.  It treats the disorder in the structure and relationship of the powers and parts, as well as changing the chief orientation from oneself to God—to pleasing God and increasing one’s good deeds.

     Therefore, Baptism is a rebirth or a new birth which puts a man in a renewed condition.  The Apostle Paul compare all the baptized with the resurrected Savior, giving us to understand that they also have the same bright nature in their renewal as was possessed by the human nature the Lord Jesus through His resurrection in glory (Roman 6.4).  And that the orientation of activity in a baptized person is changed may be seen in the words of the same Apostle, who says in another place they they already should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and rose again (II Cor 5.15).  For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God (Rom 6.10).  We are buried with Him by baptism into death (Rom 6.4); and : Our old man is crucified with Him, that henceforth we should not serve sin (Rom 6.6).  And so, the whole activity of a man by the power of Baptism is turned away from oneself and sin, and towards God and righteousness.

Remarkable are the words of the Apostle:  That henceforth we should not serve sin, as well as his other words:  Sin shall not have dominion over you (Rom 6.14).  This gives us to understand that he power which, in our disordered, fallen nature, draws us towards, sin, is not entirely exterminated in Baptism, but is only placed in a condition in which it has no power over us, no dominion over us, and we do not serve it.  But it is still in us, it lives and acts, only not as a lord.  The primacy from now on belongs to the grace of God and to the soul that consciously gives itself over to it.

    Saint Diadochos, explaining the power of Baptism, says that before Baptism sin dwells in the heart and grace acts from outside, but after Baptism, graces settles in the heart and sin attracts us from outside.  It is banished from the heart as an enemy from a fortress, and it settles outside, in the parts of the body, from where it acts by means of attacks in a fragmented state.  This is why there is a constant tempter, a seducer, but no longer a master: he disturbs and alarms, but does not command.  And so, the new life is born in Baptism! (Philokalia, vol. 1).

    Here our attention will be directed to how the Christian life begins through Baptism in those who were baptized as children—just how this occurs.  For here the beginning of Christian life is put in order in a special way which comes from the relationship of grace to freedom.

    You already know that grace descends upon free desire and searching, and that only by the mutual cooperation of these two is there begun the new grace-given life which is in accordance both with grace and with the nature of the free person.  The Lord gives grace freely.  But He asks that a man seek it and receive it with desire, dedicating himself entirely to God.  The fulfillment of this condition in repentance and in the Baptism of adults is clear; but how is it fulfilled in the Baptism of infants?


The next chapter discusses the baptism of infants.


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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2013, 07:59:32 PM »

Sounds like they've read you a version of the Miranda Rights:  Anything you say can and will offend us.  Of course God loves us, God is love.  They appear to have made up their minds, so to them what they believe and understand is true.  Perhaps they've not had any direct and identifiable experience with God yet, or if they have, they interpret it in their own way.  There isn't a lot to say to people who are entirely content with themselves and their lot with no hunger for God.  As with the parable of the paralytic, they have to want to be healed.  When Jesus asked the paralytic, "Do you want to be healed?", the answer should be obvious, but it isn't.  People can be inwardly paralyzed and afflicted, and just be completely adapted to it to the point that it is accepted as normal.  

Thank you very much for taking the trouble to quote St. Theophan - may God reward your kindness.  I enjoyed reading it again very much but I'm afraid it might not be any less offensive to my family than what they hear from me!   Wink   I might have to leave them be until God grants them more open-mindedness or He grants me more communicative skill.

I think you are right about people having to want to be helped - which reminds me of an old drinking buddy  who recently confided sincerely that he had no use for God because he'd just bought a house and a dog and that was all he needed to be happy... that and quite a large amount of daily intoxicants!   Tongue   

"no God, no problem!" saith the drunk and there but for Grace go I.  Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2013, 08:15:51 PM »

We must love others as ourselves, for the disciples of Jesus day that meant Jews and Greeks and gentile, This is equal to today with just different names.

While I was brought up Orthodox, I have personally thought of my friends who were different theologically as having the same access to the Holy Spirit as me, whether they were Catholic, Protestant, or Jew.

That is not to say I argued the finer points of theological differences sometimes, but it is God who alone can judge others.IMHO
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2013, 12:58:56 AM »

[...] I have personally thought of my friends who were different theologically as having the same access to the Holy Spirit as me, whether they were Catholic, Protestant, or Jew.

I agree we should love others (though I do not) and we should not judge people (though I do) but if others already have the same access to the Holy Spirit as the Orthodox do what is the point of becoming Orthodox?
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2013, 01:14:26 AM »

God does not choose to whom He gives The Grace of The Holy Spirit because He is love. He gives it to all people freely and endlessly. However, each person has the freedom to accept or reject. As someone has said, to accept or reject you have to truly want that, not just go through a program.

The difference of orthodox "vs." non-orthodox is a matter of truth. Orthodoxy is not so much a religion, but a place where we all find God and each other according to principles we all agree are true and beneficial (not arbitrary ones).

The Mystery of Baptism is a mystery, not a law. It's something that God performs in order to bring someone in deep and solid communion with Him as a gift and as an act of care. Those who are not baptized don't lack anything as persons, it's just that they haven't yet had that golden opportunity to be rescued by God.
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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2013, 11:38:41 AM »

God does not choose to whom He gives The Grace of The Holy Spirit because He is love. He gives it to all people freely and endlessly. However, each person has the freedom to accept or reject. As someone has said, to accept or reject you have to truly want that, not just go through a program.

The difference of orthodox "vs." non-orthodox is a matter of truth. Orthodoxy is not so much a religion, but a place where we all find God and each other according to principles we all agree are true and beneficial (not arbitrary ones).

The Mystery of Baptism is a mystery, not a law. It's something that God performs in order to bring someone in deep and solid communion with Him as a gift and as an act of care. Those who are not baptized don't lack anything as persons, it's just that they haven't yet had that golden opportunity to be rescued by God.

Ioan , I knew you'd have something good to say here!  As always, thank you sincerely.  If only my brother might agree!   Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2013, 07:51:45 PM »

[...] I have personally thought of my friends who were different theologically as having the same access to the Holy Spirit as me, whether they were Catholic, Protestant, or Jew.

I agree we should love others (though I do not) and we should not judge people (though I do) but if others already have the same access to the Holy Spirit as the Orthodox do what is the point of becoming Orthodox?

Let our heart ,not our minds guide us to where we can make the most of what God wants, which can take place at all of those, course I do not do that much ,as I should and could, but my heart says to welcome all.
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2013, 01:22:34 PM »

Let our heart ,not our minds guide us to where we can make the most of what God wants, which can take place at all of those, course I do not do that much ,as I should and could, but my heart says to welcome all.

yes, it's very good to welcome our neighbor into our heart and into our Orthodox faith - but if a Jew, for instance, has the same equal access to the Holy Spirit as Orthodox Christians do why should they (or anyone else) embrace our faith?
 
I have personally thought of my friends who were different theologically as having the same access to the Holy Spirit as me, whether they were Catholic, Protestant, or Jew.
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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2013, 01:29:57 PM »

Let our heart ,not our minds guide us to where we can make the most of what God wants, which can take place at all of those, course I do not do that much ,as I should and could, but my heart says to welcome all.

yes, it's very good to welcome our neighbor into our heart and into our Orthodox faith - but if a Jew, for instance, has the same equal access to the Holy Spirit as Orthodox Christians do why should they (or anyone else) embrace our faith?
 
I have personally thought of my friends who were different theologically as having the same access to the Holy Spirit as me, whether they were Catholic, Protestant, or Jew.

The Orthodox Faith is the fullness of our relationship with God and one another. Orthodoxy is not in dispute with any other faith. God loves everybody equally. He does not prefer the Orthodox since they have only been blessed by Him to be Orthodox. In fact, we should be very sorry for the majority of people on earth right now who simply are not able to become Orthodox. It is true that they cannot become deified saints in the state that they are, but that's not to say that they lack any sort of Grace of The Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2013, 02:28:17 PM »

Let our heart ,not our minds guide us to where we can make the most of what God wants, which can take place at all of those, course I do not do that much ,as I should and could, but my heart says to welcome all.

yes, it's very good to welcome our neighbor into our heart and into our Orthodox faith - but if a Jew, for instance, has the same equal access to the Holy Spirit as Orthodox Christians do why should they (or anyone else) embrace our faith?
 
I have personally thought of my friends who were different theologically as having the same access to the Holy Spirit as me, whether they were Catholic, Protestant, or Jew.

The Orthodox Faith is the fullness of our relationship with God and one another. Orthodoxy is not in dispute with any other faith. God loves everybody equally. He does not prefer the Orthodox since they have only been blessed by Him to be Orthodox. In fact, we should be very sorry for the majority of people on earth right now who simply are not able to become Orthodox. It is true that they cannot become deified saints in the state that they are, but that's not to say that they lack any sort of Grace of The Holy Spirit.

Was it you, Ioan, who mentioned the Grace of God is freely given to all but not everyone accepts it?  Can someone knowingly reject the Orthodox Church (or even Christ Himself) and expect to receive the Grace of God from some other source?  This is what I think my brother is doing.
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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2013, 02:54:31 PM »


Was it you, Ioan, who mentioned the Grace of God is freely given to all but not everyone accepts it?  Can someone knowingly reject the Orthodox Church (or even Christ Himself) and expect to receive the Grace of God from some other source?  This is what I think my brother is doing.

Yes, I said that. We need to assess what "knowingly rejects" means. Just like in the case of atheists, it doesn't necessarily mean that they truly reject God, but their choice might be based on: negative experiences with Christianity (including Orthodox Christians), not being informed about the faith, being given wrong information (which they might find repelling), etc. In such cases, it is not certain if one truly rejects God.

To truly reject God would be something like the demons do. They say: "I hate You. You are not God. I am. I kill you." For humans, to truly reject God, they'd have to know God and this is fully possible only at the Second Coming of Christ when all will be in His full Presence. Sure, there are levels in becoming good or evil, but until then it cannot be finished. So, God allows us our freedom and until it is clear that we reject Him, He will not abandon us and deprive us of His care. God's default is to love and care for everybody regardless of their merits. It is up to the creature how it responds to Him.

P.S. Anyway, to answer your question, no an Orthodox cannot confess that The Grace of The Holy Spirit, as in Salvation, can be found anywhere else.
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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2013, 03:22:21 PM »

ahh... OK, so the non-Orthodox might be spared hell through the Mercy of the Holy Trinity but the Orthodox Church facilitates the fullest relationship with God for those who really want it.  It helps me to feel better about my brother to think that what he doesn't like is his own misunderstanding of the Church rather than disliking God Himself.
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« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2013, 04:15:50 PM »

ahh... OK, so the non-Orthodox might be spared hell through the Mercy of the Holy Trinity but the Orthodox Church facilitates the fullest relationship with God for those who really want it.  It helps me to feel better about my brother to think that what he doesn't like is his own misunderstanding of the Church rather than disliking God Himself.

Yes, and another thing is that everybody has to become Orthodox sooner or later. Orthodoxy is human nature. It's not that God spares them from hell, but He awaits them, but they also have to undergo repentance, even if it is after death (as the case of those who simply were not able to receive Christ in this life).
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« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2013, 06:26:13 PM »

Yes, and another thing is that everybody has to become Orthodox sooner or later [...] even if it is after death

How is this idea different from apokatastasis or "universal reconciliation" declared heretical by the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553 ?
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« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2013, 06:27:37 PM »

Yes, and another thing is that everybody has to become Orthodox sooner or later [...] even if it is after death

How is this idea different from apokatastasis or "universal reconciliation" declared heretical by the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553 ?

Everybody who wants to be saved, not even those who reject God is what I meant.
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« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2013, 07:20:39 PM »

Let our heart ,not our minds guide us to where we can make the most of what God wants, which can take place at all of those, course I do not do that much ,as I should and could, but my heart says to welcome all.

yes, it's very good to welcome our neighbor into our heart and into our Orthodox faith - but if a Jew, for instance, has the same equal access to the Holy Spirit as Orthodox Christians do why should they (or anyone else) embrace our faith?
 
I have personally thought of my friends who were different theologically as having the same access to the Holy Spirit as me, whether they were Catholic, Protestant, or Jew.

Because we should not presume we know what only God has power over such as the Holy spirit .

 When Jesus told the disciples he would send them the Holy spirit, was he not addresing his fellow Jews?
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« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2013, 07:58:48 PM »

I think to better understand this one must understand what the Holy Spirit really is and why is it called Holy and if there are others spirits that give life and indwell bodies besides that and where does our souls really come from.
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« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2013, 08:00:18 PM »

When Jesus told the disciples he would send them the Holy spirit, was he not addresing his fellow Jews?

I think He sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles first and then to their followers.... and no, I don't think He sent the Holy Spirit to the Jews who denied Him and delivered Him up to be crucified - but that's just my opinion. I don't believe Christ saves people who reject Him but God alone knows.
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« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2013, 10:56:17 AM »

The questions are : Does the Holy Spirit really come from outside and not within us? Is he something totally excluded from our natural being? Something that descends on us according to some circumstances? Also what is grace?
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