Welcome, Holy Spirit
As the renowned scholar Thomas Oden noted, "No subject of Christian teaching is more prone to fanaticism and novelty and subjectivism than that of the Holy Spirit." The Bible's own metaphors for the Spirit are as elusive as they are evocative—wind, oil, flame, water, dove—making pneumatology a mysterious study. But shying away from the topic is no solution.
Gordon Smith encourages us to seek both fresh understanding and fresh experience of the Spirit through openness to learning more, no matter what our theological tradition. In this way, as we hold biblical convictions firmly but gracefully, the guiding principles of discernment and humility will help us intentionally live Spirit-responsive lives day by day.
Welcome, Holy Spirit is a much-needed master class with a trustworthy and encouraging teacher. How can we cultivate an understanding of the Holy Spirit that helps us experience the presence of the Spirit in worship, in witness, in joy and sorrow, in seasons of blessing and times of difficulty alike, all the while honoring the fullness of the Trinity? That is the objective of the reflections in this book: an attentiveness to the Spirit, not to replace Christ as the focus of our lives and worship but to bring us truly into the presence of the living and ascended Lord.
It is to this end that we pray, "Welcome, Holy Spirit."
Prelude: Images and Metaphors for the Holy Spirit
1. The Spirit in the Gospel of Luke and Acts: The Ascension and Pentecost
2. The Spirit in the Gospel of John: One with the Father and with the Son
3. The Spirit and Creation
4. The Spirit and Christian Initiation
Interlude: "Holy Spirit Experiences"
5. The Spirit and Transformation: From Beginnings to Maturity in Christ
Interlude: The Spirit, Prayer, and the Ministry of Spiritual Direction
6. The Spirit and the Word
7. The Spirit and the Church Local
8. The Spirit and the Church Global
Conclusion: A Call to Intentionality