Teaching young people about the Holy Spirit often goes in the too hard basket. It can be challenging to clearly articulate what the Bible teaches about the third person of the Trinity. So how can we do this effectively?
This year’s Youthworks HOUSE Conference is exploring the Holy Spirit’s person and work, with Dr David Höhne unpacking this topic over two conference papers. Youthworks College Dean of Students, Mike Dicker, sat down with David to find out more about his research into the Holy Spirit and what you can expect at HOUSE.
What sparked your initial interest in doing theological study of the Holy Spirit?
My initial interest sprang from the more general study I was doing on the doctrine of the Trinity. A number of sources that I was reading highlighted the fact that much of the Western tradition of theology basically ignores God’s actions in the power of his Spirit—distancing that work from God’s presence with us through Jesus the Christ and blurring the boundaries between God and Creation itself.
Why study the person and work of the Holy Spirit, rather than Jesus or the Father?
We need to study the person of the Spirit in relation to Jesus and the Father because we worship a Triune God. Isolating any one of the three from the other two is not Christian theology.
What do you think are some of the prevailing misconceptions of the Holy Spirit in evangelical churches?
In the last 100 years of Christian history too often people have blurred the distinction between the life of Creation that God gives us and the activity of the Spirit of God that sustains that life. We confuse our natural reactions to the various circumstances with the activity or presence of the Spirit.
We forget that God is present with us through his Word in the power of the Holy Spirit not as the Holy Spirit.
What sort of impacts do those misconceptions have on our ministry practice?
Our modern age is filled with romantic desires for authentic experiences that give us a sense of what is good, true and beautiful. Basically our feelings and our choices get confused with the work of the Spirit who is always drawing us towards authentic human life as revealed in Jesus Christ. It is when the Spirit of sonship moves us to be passionate as Christ was, in dying for the sins of the world, that we are ‘relevant and authentic.’
How might a better theological grasp of the Holy Spirit positively affect our ministry practice?
The Spirit works for freedom. Understanding the freedom that the Spirit brings to us through Jesus and from the Father is among the first steps of every Christian life.
Understanding that Jesus is uniting us to himself gives us assurance that whatever our feelings might be, we are considered by God the Father to be his children.
We do not need to live in fear and anxiety as so much of the world does around us. We can be confident that God’s Spirit is perfecting us through trials and temptations towards the glorious return of Jesus to be Lord of the new world that will be free from sin, death and evil.
We’d love to see you at HOUSE Conference—a three-day event specifically for youth and children’s ministers. Be encouraged by fellow workers and equipped by leading Christian thinkers, all with the aims of helping you effectively serve the young people God has placed in your charge.