Re: verification

Murphy (
Sun, 09 Feb 1997 12:29:56 -0500

Paul Arveson wrote:

> There IS a test for the presence of a spiritual influence:
> "If any man's will is to do His [God's] will, he shall know whether
> the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority."
> (John 7:17)
> The point here is that God's spirit does have a powerful influence,
> but this influence is not directly physical, such as spirits as
> portrayed in movies, by new age charlatans, by illusionists, or
> by natural scientists who, like the scribes of old, are looking for
> some kind of a 'sign'.
> There is one reliable kind of 'Spirit detector'. It is the human
> spirit, or heart, or will. Jesus claims that if our hearts, or our
> wills, are aligned with God's will, then we will know it. We will
> achieve verification of Jesus' claim of authority directly.
> Too bad if this doesn't fit our modern expectations of verification
> in the philosophy of science. Too bad for philosophy, that is.

Without disagreeing with what Paul has said as far as it goes, I
think it's necessary to say something further. N.B. that this comes
from a Lutheran standpoint - not that I'm trying to pick denominational
quarrels, but it avoids wasting time if preconceptions are set out at
the start.
The Holy Spirit works in a saving fashion _normally_ through
means, rather than directly, the means being Word & sacraments. I.e.,
we have the promise of the salvific presence of Christ when the gospel
is preached & when baptism & the Lord's Supper are celebrated. This
doesn't mean that the Spirit can't work in other times & places, but
there's no promise of it.
Thus proclamation & sacraments are signs that the Spirit is at
work. Whether anybody will become or remain saved at that point is
another matter - & that's more where Paul's comments come in.
There's a close correspondence with the way God works
providentially in creation. In the vast majority of cases, God works
mediately, though natural processes. God may work immediately in a
miraculous fashion, but you'd better not count on it.
George Murphy
There is a close correspondence with the way God works
providentially in creation.