Before we get into the theology, a group has decided to grade all mainline churches in Europe against the rancid rainbow. They defined church as one who is a member of their ecumenical council, which nicely excludes the SSPX and the Pentecostals. Their fervour generally makes ecumenicists quake in their shoes. Briggs comments on their methodology, and it is worth noting that he considers the perfect score is 1: allow the sinners into worship and let them have access to confession, lawyers included. Having said that, time to look at some serious theology. Let’s start with Aquinas, and I have to thank Briggs for bringing this out of the wayback machine.
1 Now, divine Scriptures’ authority not only tells us about the Father and the Son in divinity, but together with these two also numbers the Holy Spirit. For our Lord says: “Going, therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mat. 2.8:1g). And 1 John (5:7) says: “there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost.” Sometimes, also, the procession of this Holy Spirit is mentioned by Scripture. We read in John (15:26): “When the Paraclete comes, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He shall give testimony of Me.”
ARGUMENTS WHICH MADE SOME THINK THE HOLY SPIRIT A CREATURE
1 Now, in the opinion of some, the Holy Spirit is a creature exalted over other creatures. They used the testimony of sacred Scripture for this assertion.
2 Amos (4:13) says, if we take the Septuagint literally: “Behold He who forms the mountains and creates the spirit and declares His word to man.” And Zechariah (12:1): “Thus says the Lord who stretches forth the heavens, and lays the foundations of the earth, and creates the spirit of man in it.” It seems, then, that the Holy Spirit is a creature.
3 Moreover, our Lord says, speaking of the Holy Spirit: “He shall not speak of Himself, but what things soever He shall hear, He shall speak” (John 16:23), and from this it appears that He speaks not with the authority of a further power, but to one who commands He is in a service of obedience, for to speak what one hears is proper to a servant. Therefore, the Holy Spirit seems to he a creature subject to God.
4 Again, “to be sent” appears proper to an inferior, since there is in the sender an implication of authority. The Holy Spirit, of course, is sent by the Father and the Son, for our Lord says: “The Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things”; and: “Men the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father” (John 14:26; 25:26). The Holy Spirit, therefore, appears to be less than the Father and the Son.
5 Moreover, divine Scripture, associating the Son with the Father in matters of divinity, makes no mention of the Holy Spirit. This is clear from Matthew (11:27), when our Lord says: “No one knows the Son but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father but the Son,” making no mention of the Holy Spirit. And John (17:3) says: “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You sent.” There, again, no mention is made of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle also says: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 2:7); and: “To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things and we by Him” (1 Cor. 8:6); and in these places also there is nothing said about the Holy Spirit. It seems, therefore, that the Holy Spirit is not God.
6 There is more. Whatever is moved is created, for it was shown in Book I that God is immobile. But to the Holy Spirit motion is attributed by divine Scripture. One reads in Genesis (1:2): “And the Spirit of God was moved over the waters”; and in Joel (2:28): “I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh.” It seems, therefore, that the Holy Spirit is a creature.
7 Moreover, everything that can be increased or divided is mutable and created. These seem to be attributed to the Holy Spirit in sacred Scripture. For the Lord said to Moses: “Gather unto Me seventy men of the ancients of Israel; and I will take of your spirit, and will give to them” (Num. 11:16-17). And 2 Samuel (2:9-10) says that Elishah begged of Elijah: “I beseech you that in me may be your double spirit”; and Elijah answered: “If you see me when I am taken from you, you shall have what you asked.” The Holy Spirit, therefore, appears to be mutable and not to be God.
8 Again, no sorrow can come upon God, since sorrow is passion of a sort and God is not subject to passion. But passion does come upon the Holy Spirit; as the Apostle reveals: “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30); and Isaiah (63:10) says: “They provoked to wrath and afflicted His Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, therefore, seems not to be God.
9 What is more, it is not suitable for God to entreat, but to be entreated. But to entreat is suitable to the Holy Spirit; we read in Romans (8:2.6): “The Spirit Himself asks for us with unspeakable groanings.” Therefore, the Holy Spirit appears not to be God.
10 Moreover, no one makes a thing a gift appropriately unless he has dominion over it. But God the Father gives the Holy Spirit, and so does God the Son. For our Lord says: “Your Father from heaven will give the good Spirit to them that ask Him” (Luke 11:13); and Peter speaks of “the Holy Spirit whom God has given to all that obey Him” (Acts 5:32).
11 For these reasons it seems, then, that the Holy Spirit is not God.
12 Once again, if the Holy Spirit is truly God, He ought to have the divine nature. Thus, when the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father” (as John 15:26 has it), necessarily He receives the divine nature from the Father. Of course, what receives its nature from a thing which produces it is generated by that thing. For it is proper to one begotten to be produced unto a similarity in species to its principle. Therefore, the Holy Spirit will be begotten and, consequently, the Son. And this is repugnant to sound faith.
13 If the Holy Spirit, furthermore, receives the divine nature from the Father and not as one begotten, the divine nature must be communicated in two ways: by way of generation in which the Son proceeds, and in that way in which the Holy Spirit proceeds. But one nature seems not to have two fitting modes of communication if one examines natures universally. It seems, therefore, that the Holy Spirit, since He does not receive the divine nature by generation, does not receive it in any way at all. He thus appears not to be true God.
14 Now, this was the position of Arius, who said that the Son and the Holy Spirit were creatures: the Son, to be sure, greater than the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit the servant of the Son; just so, he said that the Son was lesser than the Father. Arius was followed in respect of the Holy Spirit by Macedonius, “who rightly held that the Father and the Son were of one and the same substance, but was unwilling to believe this of the Holy Spirit. He said that the Holy Spirit was a creature.” Hence, some call the Macedonians Semi-Arians, because they are in partial agreement with the Arians, and in partial disagreement with the same group.
Arius is wrong: the same arguments can be made about the son, who was sent from the Father: though John points out that the Son was from the beginning, and through him all things were made (John 1:1-3). Arius is arguing too much from a theory of God that he does not understand: neither do I, but I don’t pretend that I do.
Naturally, we are fallen, and our understanding is flawed. Though we were made in the image of God, we are not God. We have, from Adam, an underlying flaw, shared by all. Woke included. Here Calvin corrects the sophists and those addicted to theological speculation.
6. We thus see that the impurity of parents is transmitted to their children, so that all, without exception, are originally depraved. The commencement of this depravity will not be found until we ascend to the first parent of all as the fountain head. We must, therefore, hold it for certain, that, in regard to human nature, Adam was not merely a progenitor, but, as it were, a root, and that, accordingly, by his corruption, the whole human race was deservedly vitiated. This is plain from the contrast which the Apostle draws between Adam and Christ, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Rom. 5:19-21). To what quibble will the Pelagians here recur? That the sin of Adam was propagated by imitation! Is the righteousness of Christ then available to us only in so far as it is an example held forth for our imitation? Can any man tolerate such blasphemy? But if, out of all controversy, the righteousness of Christ, and thereby life, is ours by communication, it follows that both of these were lost in Adam that they might be recovered in Christ, whereas sin and death were brought in by Adam, that they might be abolished in Christ. There is no obscurity in the words, “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Accordingly, the relation subsisting between the two is this, As Adam, by his ruin, involved and ruined us, so Christ, by his grace, restored us to salvation. In this clear light of truth I cannot see any need of a longer or more laborious proof. Thus, too, in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, when Paul would confirm believers in the confident hope of the resurrection, he shows that the life is recovered in Christ which was lost in Adam (1 Cor. 15:22). Having already declared that all died in Adam, he now also openly testifies, that all are imbued with the taint of sin. Condemnation, indeed, could not reach those who are altogether free from blame. But his meaning cannot be made clearer than from the other member of the sentence, in which he shows that the hope of life is restored in Christ. Every one knows that the only mode in which this is done is, when by a wondrous communication Christ transfuses into us the power of his own righteousness, as it is elsewhere said, “The Spirit is life because of righteousness,” (1 Cor. 15:22). Therefore, the only explanation which can be given of the expression, “in Adam all died,” is, that he by sinning not only brought disaster and ruin upon himself, but also plunged our nature into like destruction; and that not only in one fault, in a matter not pertaining to us, but by the corruption into which he himself fell, he infected his whole seed. Paul never could have said that all are “by nature the children of wrath,” (Eph. 2:3), if they had not been cursed from the womb. And it is obvious that the nature there referred to is not nature such as God created, but as vitiated in Adam; for it would have been most incongruous to make God the author of death. Adam, therefore, when he corrupted himself, transmitted the contagion to all his posterity. For a heavenly Judge, even our Saviour himself, declares that all are by birth vicious and depraved, when he says that “that which is born of the flesh is fleshy” (John 3:6), and that therefore the gate of life is closed against all until they have been regenerated.
7. To the understanding of this subject, there is no necessity for an anxious discussion (which in no small degree perplexed the ancient doctors), as to whether the soul of the child comes by transmission from the soul of the parent. It should be enough for us to know that Adam was made the depository of the endowments which God was pleased to bestow on human nature, and that, therefore, when he lost what he had received, he lost not only for himself but for us all. Why feel any anxiety about the transmission of the soul, when we know that the qualities which Adam lost he received for us not less than for himself, that they were not gifts to a single man, but attributes of the whole human race? There is nothing absurd, therefore, in the view, that when he was divested, his nature was left naked and destitute that he having been defiled by sin, the pollution extends to all his seed. Thus, from a corrupt root corrupt branches proceeding, transmit their corruption to the saplings which spring from them. The children being vitiated in their parent, conveyed the taint to the grandchildren; in other words, corruption commencing in Adam, is, by perpetual descent, conveyed from those preceding to those coming after them. The cause of the contagion is neither in the substance of the flesh nor the soul, but God was pleased to ordain that those gifts which he had bestowed on the first man, that man should lose as well for his descendants as for himself. The Pelagian cavil, as to the improbability of children deriving corruption from pious parents, whereas, they ought rather to be sanctified by their purity, is easily refuted. Children come not by spiritual regeneration but carnal descent. Accordingly, as Augustine says, “Both the condemned unbeliever and the acquitted believer beget offspring not acquitted but condemned, because the nature which begets is corrupt.” Moreover, though godly parents do in some measure contribute to the holiness of their offspring, this is by the blessing of God; a blessing, however, which does not prevent the primary and universal curse of the whole race from previously taking effect. Guilt is from nature, whereas sanctification is from supernatural grace.
It is worth noting that Calvin refers to Paul, who points out that it is in the spirit of God that we have life, and as noted this morning, he is our guarantor of life eternal. To deny him is profound foolishness.
We may be fallen, but we are, I pray, not that stupid.