Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Milton on the Holy Spirit : Responses to Arguments That the Holy Spirit Is God

Milton on the Holy Spirit
Responses to Arguments That the Holy Spirit Is God
Thomas Allen

[Editor’s note: The following is the continuation of the summary of John Milton’s view of the Holy Spirit, as presented in Milton on the Son of God and the Holy Spirit from His Treatise on Christian Doctrine (London, England: British & Foreign Unitarian Association, 1908). Page numbers enclosed in parentheses are to this book. Biblical quotations are Milton’s translations. My comments are enclosed in brackets.]
    Next, Milton discusses arguments put forth proclaiming the deity of the Holy Spirit. First, the divinity of the Holy Spirit is defended “on the ground, that the name of God seems to be attributed to the Spirit” (p. 123). Acts 5:3, 4 states, “'why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost? . . . thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” Milton comments that this verse appears “too weak for the support of so great a doctrinal mystery” of the Trinity Doctrine. He adds, “For since the Spirit is expressly said to be sent by the Father, and in the name of the Son, he who lies to the Spirit must lie to God, in the same sense as he who receives an apostle, receives God who sent him” (p. 123). According to Paul, God has given men his Holy Spirit: “he therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit” – 1 Thessalonians 4:8. Moreover, the Holy Spirit in Acts 5:3, 4 may “signify God the Father; for Peter afterwards says, Acts v. 9, ‘how is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord’” (p. 123). Further, Acts 5:32 states, “whom God hath given to them that obey him” (p. 124).
    Then, Milton discusses Acts 28:25 (“well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet”). He notes “that the names Lord and Jehovah are throughout the Old Testament attributed to whatever angel God may entrust with the execution of his commands” (p. 124). He concludes, “It cannot therefore be inferred from this passage, any more than from the preceding [Acts 5: 3,4], that the Holy Ghost is God” (p. 124).
    Next Milton discusses 1 Corinthians 3:16 (“the temple of God . . . the temple of the Holy Ghost”). However, this verse does not say or even imply “that the Holy Spirit is God; for it is not because the Spirit alone, but because the Father also and the Son ‘make their abode with us,’ that we are called ‘the temple of God’” (pp. 124-125). Continuing, he states, “Therefore in I Cor. vi. 19, where we are called ‘the temple of the Holy Ghost,’ St. Paul has added, ‘which ye have of God,’ as if with the purpose of guarding against any error which might arise respecting the Holy Spirit in consequence of his expression” (p. 125). In Ephesians 2:22, Paul explains in “what sense we are called ‘the temple of the Holy Ghost’” (p. 125): “in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
    For proof of the Holy Spirit’s omniscience, Trinitarians present 1 Corinthians 2:10, 11: “the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God: for what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” First, Milton remarks that verse 10 does not refer to “divine omniscience, but only respecting those deep things ‘which God hath revealed unto us by his Spirit’ — the words immediately preceding” (p. 125). He adds, “Besides, the phrase ‘all things’ must be restricted to mean whatever it is expedient for us to know: not to mention that it would be absurd to speak of God searching God, with whom he was one is essence” (pp. 125-126). In verse 11, “the essence of the Spirit is not the subject in question; for the consequences would be full of absurdity, if it were to be understood that the Spirit of God was with regard to God, as the spirit of a man is with regard to man. Allusion therefore is made only to the intimate relationship and communion of the Spirit with God, from whom he originally proceeded” (p. 126). To support his conclusion, he cites 1 Corinthians 2:14 (“we have received . . . the Spirit which is of God”). “That which is of God, cannot be actually God, who is unity” (p. 126). In Matthew 11:27 (“No man knoweth the Son, but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him”), the Son proves that the Holy Spirit is not omniscient. The Son declares that the Holy Spirit does not know the Father or the Son unless the Son gives him such knowledge. Likewise, Mark 13:32 provides an additional argument against the omniscience of the Holy Spirit (p. 126).
    Trinitarians claim that the Holy Spirit is omnipresent because “the Spirit of God dwelleth in us.” Milton replies, “But even if it filled with its presence the whole circle of the earth, with all the heavens, that is, the entire fabric of this world, it would not follow that the Spirit is omnipresent” (p. 127). [Most Trinitarians seem to underestimate the quality of omnipresence and have little or no comprehension of omnipresence. To be omnipresent requires much more than dwelling in man, even in every human who exists, who has ever existed, who will ever exist. Omnipresence requires being everywhere simultaneously. It requires filling every void, particle, and spirit in the universe and beyond. Moreover, it requires filling hell completely and every being in it including Satan.]
    On the divine works of the Holy Spirit, Trinitarians cite Acts 2:34, 13:2, and 20:28, and 2 Peter 1:20. In response, Milton remarks that all that is needed to refute this assertion is Christ’s comment “respecting the Holy Spirit, the Comforter; namely, that he was sent by the Son from the Father, that he spake not of himself, nor in his own name, and consequently that he did not act in his own name; therefore that he did not even move others to speak of his own power, but that what he gave he had himself received” (p. 127).
    Trinitarians point to the miraculous conception (Matthew 1:18, 20 and Luke 1:35) as proof of the divine works of the Holy Spirit. Milton replies that “it is not to be understood with reference to his own person alone. For it is certain that, in the Old Testament, under the name of the Spirit of God, or of the Holy Spirit, either God the Father himself, or his divine power was signified” (p. 128). Commenting on Luke 1:35, Milton states that the Holy Spirit refers to God the Father, “unless we suppose that there are two Fathers — one Father of the Son of God, another Father of the Son of man” (pp. 128-129).
    To support that the Holy Spirit has divine honors, Trinitarians cite Matthew 28:19. Milton responds that although this verse mentions three persons, “there is not a word that determines the divinity, or unity, or equality of these three” (p. 129). Then, he cites passages that show that there were baptisms unto Moses (1 Corinthians 10:2), unto the baptism of John (Acts 19:3), in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38), into Jesus Christ and into his death (Romans 6:3), and into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13). Thus, Milton notes:
To be baptized therefore in their name, is to be admitted to those benefits and gifts which we have received through the Son and the Holy Spirit. . . . when we are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, this is not done to impress upon our minds the inherent or relative natures of these three persons, but the benefits conferred by them in baptism on those who believe  — namely, that our eternal salvation is owing to the Father, our redemption to the Son, and our sanctification to the Spirit (pp. 129-130).
    Continuing, Milton adds, “The power of the Father is inherent in himself, that of the Son and the Spirit is received from the Father” (p. 130). The Spirit does “everything in the name of the Father and the Son” (p. 130). To support his conclusion, Milton cites Matthew 28:18, 19, and 1 Corinthians 6:11 (“but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God”). Commenting on 1 Corinthians 6:11, Milton notes that “the same three are mentioned as in baptism, ‘the Son,’ ‘the Spirit,’ and ‘our God’; it follows therefore that the Father alone is our God, of whom are both the Son and the Spirit” (p. 130).
    Trinitarians claim that the Holy Spirit’s deity is proven by the invocation being made to him as in 2 Corinthians 13:14 (“the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all”). Milton replies, “This, however, is not so much an invocation as a benediction, in which the Spirit is not addressed as a person but sought as a gift, from him who alone is there called God, namely, the Father, from whom Christ himself directs us to seek the communication of the Spirit. . . . He who is sought from the Father, and given by him, not by himself, can neither be God, nor an object of invocation” (pp. 130-131). Continuing, he adds that “it is by the Son that we come to the Father, from whom finally the Holy Spirit is sent” (p. 131).
    Next he comments on 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6, where the Spirit, Lord, and God are mentioned. He states that “it is one God which worketh all in all, even in the Son and the Spirit, as we are taught throughout the whole of Scripture” (p. 132).
    Then, Milton comments on Matthew 12: 31, 32 (the unforgivable sin). First, “no reference to the personality of the Holy Spirit” (p. 132) is made. Second, “if to sin against the Holy Spirit were worse than to sin against the Father and Son, and if that alone were an unpardonable sin, the Spirit truly would be greater than the Father and the Son” (p. 132).  He understands that the “words must therefore apply to that illumination which, as it is highest in degree, so it is last in order of time, whereby the Father enlightens us through the Spirit, and which if any one resist, no method of salvation remains open to him” (p. 132). Nevertheless, Milton believes “that it is the Father himself who is here called the Holy Spirit. . . . [The] dreaded sin against the Holy Spirit will be in reality a sin against the Father, who is the Spirit of holiness” (pp. 132-133).
    Another argument for the deity of the Holy Spirit is that he “bestows grace and blessing upon the churches in conjunction with the Father and the Son: Rev. i. 4, 5, ‘grace be unto you and peace from him which is . . . and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ’” (p. 133). Milton replies, “[Clearly,] the Holy Spirit is not here meant to be implied; the number of the spirits is inconsistent with such a supposition, as well as the place which they are said to occupy, standing like angels before the throne” (p. 133). Milton concludes “that in this kind of threefold enumerations the sacred writers have no view whatever to the doctrine of three divine persons, or to the equality or order of those persons” (pp.133-134).
    Commenting on 1 John 5:7 [which is spurious, but was once a major proof text of the Trinitarians], Milton states that nothing in this verse “implies either divinity or unity of essence” (p. 134). He identifies additional problems with using this verse to support the Trinity Doctrine (pp. 133-135).
    Turning to 1 Timothy 5:21 (“I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels”), Milton remarks that one would have expected the Holy Spirit to have been named in third place, “if such ternary forms of expression really contained the meaning which is commonly ascribed to them” (p. 134) [and if the Trinity Doctrine is correct].
    Finally, Milton gives his description of the Holy Spirit: “[T]he Holy Spirit, inasmuch as he is a minister of God, and therefore a creature, was created or produced of the substance of God, not by a natural necessity, but by the free will of the agent, probably before the foundations of the world were laid, but later than the Son, and far inferior to him (p. 136). [Milton’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit is similar to that of pre-Nicaean orthodoxy.]

Copyright © 2018 by Thomas Coley Allen.

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Milton on the Holy Spirit: Scriptural Description of the Holy Spirit

Milton on the Holy Spirit
Scriptural Description of the Holy Spirit
Thomas Allen

    John Milton (1608–1674), who is best known as the author of Paradise Lost, believed in a unipersonal God instead of the triune God of three persons or gods in one God of today’s orthodox Christianity. The following summaries Milton’s view of the Holy Spirit as presented in Milton on the Son of God and the Holy Spirit from His Treatise on Christian Doctrine (London, England: British & Foreign Unitarian Association, 1908). About 150 years would pass before Milton’s essay was published. Page numbers enclosed in parentheses are to the book referenced above. Biblical quotations are Milton’s translations. My comments are enclosed in brackets.
    The Scriptures do not say in what manner the Holy Spirit, which is also “called the Spirit of the Father and the Son” (p. 109), exists or when it arose. “For though it be a Spirit, in the same sense in which the Father and Son are properly called Spirits; though we read that Christ by breathing on his disciples gave to them the Holy Ghost, or rather perhaps some symbols or pledge of the Holy Ghost, John XX. 22. — yet in treating of the nature of the Holy Spirit, we are not authorized to infer from such expressions, that the Spirit was breathed from the Father and the Son” (p. 109).
    Milton notes, “The terms emanation and procession employed by theologians on the authority of John xv. 26, do not relate to the nature of the Holy Spirit” (p. 109). He adds that on a single statement (“the Spirit of truth who proceedeth [or goeth forth] from the Father” – John 15:16) is a weak foundation on which to base the nature of the Holy Spirit — especially since these words relate to the mission of the Holy Spirit and not to its or his nature (pp. 109-110). Moreover, nowhere do the Scriptures say that the Holy Spirit is generated or created or “is any other mode of existence specifically attributed to it in Scripture” (p. 110). [Thus, the Trinity Doctrine of the Holy Spirit’s nature or substance is based on nothing more than pure speculation.]
    First, Milton examines Spirit in the Old Testament. He remarks, “The name of Spirit is also frequently applied to God and angels, and to the human mind” (p. 110). The Spirit sometimes “signifies God the Father himself — as Gen. vi. 3, ‘my Spirit shall not always strive with man’; sometimes the power and virtue of the Father, and particularly that divine breath or influence by which everything is created and nourished” (p. 110).
    Then, he notes that Spirit sometimes means an angle. For example, Isaiah 48:16 (“the Lord Jehovah and his Spirit hath sent me”) and Ezekiel 3:12 (“then the Spirit took me up”).
    Sometimes, Spirit means Christ, “who according to the common opinion was sent by the Father to lead the Israelites into the land of Canaan” (p. 111). [Like Trinitarians, Milton believed that the Son existed before his conception and that the preexisting Son interacted at times with Israel.] To support this supposition, Milton cites Isaiah 63: 10, 11 (“they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit . . . where is he that put his Holy Spirit within them”).
    Occasionally, Spirit “means that impulse or voice of God by which the prophets were inspired” (p. 111). An example is Nehemiah 9:30 (“thou testifiedst against them by thy Spirit in thy prophets”).
    At other times, Spirit means “that light of truth, whether ordinary or extraordinary, wherewith God enlightens and leads his people” (pp. 110-111). Examples are Numbers 14:24, Nehemiah 9:20, and Psalms 51:11, 12 and 143:10.  Then, Milton comments, “Undoubtedly neither David, nor any other Hebrew, under the old covenant, believed in the personality of that ‘good’ and ‘Holy Spirit,’
unless perhaps as an angel” (p. 112).
    More particularly, Spirit “implies that light which was shed on Christ himself” (p. 112). Examples are Isaiah 11:2 (“the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah”)  and 42:1 (“I have put my Spirit upon him”), which compares with Acts 10:38 (“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power”).
    Additionally, Spirit is “used to signify the spiritual gifts conferred by God on individuals, and the act of gift itself” (p. 112). Then, Milton cites several supporting verses.
    Concluding, Milton writes, “Nothing can be more certain than that all these passages, and many others of a similar kind in the Old Testament, were understood of the virtue and power of God the Father, inasmuch as the Holy Spirit was not yet given, nor believed in, even by those who prophesied that it should be poured forth in the latter times” (pp. 112-113).
    Turning to the New Testament, Milton notes that “what is called the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God, sometimes means the Father himself” (p. 113). Matthew 1:18, 20 (“that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost”) and Luke 1:35 (“the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God”) are examples.
    Sometimes, Spirit “means the virtue and power of the Father” (p. 113). Luke 11:20 (“I cast out devils by the Spirit or finger of God”) and Romans 1:4 (“declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead”) are examples.
    Milton notes that in many passages in the New Testament, phrases containing the word “Spirit” should “be understood of the power of the Father, than of the Holy Spirit himself” (p. 114). Examples are Hebrews 9:14, Luke 4:1 and 5:18 and Acts 1:2 and 10:38.
    Milton writes:
I am inclined to believe that the Spirit descended upon Christ at his baptism, not so much in his own name, as in virtue of a mission from the Father, and as a symbol and minister of the divine power. For what could the Spirit confer on Christ, from whom he was himself to be sent, and to receive all things? Was his purpose to bear witness to Christ? But as yet he was himself not so much as known. Was it meant that the Spirit should be then manifested for the first time to the church? But at the time of his appearance nothing was said of him or of his office; nor did that voice from heaven bear any testimony to the Spirit, but only to the Son. The descent therefore and appearance of the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove, seems to have been nothing more than a representation of the ineffable affection of the Father for the Son, communicated by the Holy Spirit under the appropriate image of a dove and accompanied by a voice from heaven declaratory of that affection. (pp. 114-115)
    Continuing, Milton notes that “the Spirit signifies a divine impulse, or light, or voice, or word, transmitted from above either through Christ, who is the Word of God, or by some other channel” (p. 115). Examples are Mark 12:36, Acts 1:16,  and 28:25, Hebrews 3:7, 9:8, and 10:15, 2 Peter 1:21, and Luke 2: 25, 26. He adds “that these and similar passages cannot be considered as referring to the express person of the Spirit, both because the Spirit was not yet given, and because Christ alone, as has been said before, is, properly speaking, and in a primary sense, the Word of God, and the Prophet of the Church” (p. 116). Citing Hebrews 1:1, Milton concludes that God “did not speak by the Holy Spirit alone, unless the term be understood in the signification which I have proposed, and in a much wider sense than was subsequently attributed to it” (p. 116).
    “Further, the Spirit signifies the person itself of the Holy Spirit, or its symbol” (p. 116). In Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, and John 1:32, a dove symbolizes the Spirit.
    Lastly, the Spirit “signifies the donation of the Spirit itself, and of its attendant gifts” (p. 117). John 7:39, Matthew 3:11, Acts 1:5 and 11:16 and 1 Thessalonians 5:19 are examples.
    Next, Milton asks who is this Holy Spirit, from where does he come, and what are his offices? He answers these questions by citing numerous passages where the Christ gives and the apostles give answers to these questions (pp. 118-119).
    Then, Milton notes that the Spirit “is called the Spirit of the Father, the Spirit of God, and even the Spirit of Christ” (p. 119). He cites several verses to support this claim.
    Milton writes,
If it be the divine with that a doctrine which is to be understood and believed as one of the primary articles of our faith, should be delivered without obscurity or confusion, and explained, as is fitting, in clear and precise terms — if it be certain that particular care ought to be taken in everything connected with religion, lest the objection urged by Christ against the Samaritans should be applicable to us —  “ye worship ye know not what,” John iv. 22 — if our Lord’s saying should be held sacred wherever points of faith are in question — “we know what we worship” — the particulars which have been stated seem to contain all that we are capable of knowing, or are required to know respecting the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as revelation has declared nothing else expressly on the subject. The nature of these particulars is such, that although the Holy Spirit be nowhere said to have taken upon himself any mediatorial functions, as is said of Christ, nor to be engaged by the obligations of a filial relation to pay obedience to the Father, yet he must evidently be considered as inferior to both Father and Son, inasmuch as he is represented and declared to be subservient and obedient in all things; to have been promised, and sent, and given; to speak nothing of himself; and even to have been given as an earnest (pp. 120-121).
[Trinitarians have certainly ignored Milton’s advice and conclusions.]
    Milton adds:
[nowhere do the Scriptures] expressly teach the doctrine of his [the Holy Spirit’s] divinity, not even in the passages where his office is explained at large, nor in those where the unity of God is explicitly asserted, as in John xvii. 3, I Cor. viii. 4, etc., nor where God is either described, or introduced as sitting upon his throne, — if, further, the Spirit be frequently named the Spirit of God, and the Holy Spirit of God, Eph. iv. 30, so that the Spirit of God being actually and numerically distinct from God himself, cannot possibly be essentially one God with him whose Spirit he is (except on certain strange and absurd hypotheses, which have no foundation in Holy Scripture, but were devised by human ingenuity, for the sole purpose of supporting this particular doctrine) — if, wherever the Father and the Holy Spirit are mentioned together, the Father alone be called God, and the Father alone, omitting all notice of the Spirit, be acknowledged by Christ himself to be the one true God (pp. 121-122).
    Continuing, Milton states, “It seems exceedingly unreasonable, not to say dangerous, . . . believers should be required to receive a doctrine, represented by its advocates as of primary importance and of undoubted certainty, on anything less than the clearest testimony of Scripture” (p. 122).

Copyright © 2018 by Thomas Coley Allen.

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Libertarians Versus Marxists

Libertarians Versus Marxists
Thomas Allen

Libertarians and Marxists are more alike than many realize. Libertarians agree with Marxists on at least one thing: economics is the most important factor in life and takes precedence over everything else. Like Marxists, libertarians believe that economics is the principal cause of social organization. Both treat economics like a religion. To them, country (a territory), nation (an ethnicity), race, culture, and the like have little or no value, especially if it conflicts with economics. (However, unlike libertarians, Marxists find some value in these collectives as tools to create turmoil.)
    Marxists and most libertarians believe that people need to be liberated from nationality, ethnicity, sex (distinguishing between male and female), and religion. Marxists believe that the best way to accomplish this goal is through socialism, whereas libertarians believe that capitalism is the best way.
A major difference between libertarians and Marxists is that Marxists know that they must impose their will on their opponents and proceed to do so. For the most part, libertarians fail to realize that they must force their will on Marxists and other statists and suppress them to establish a libertarian society. Persuasion will not stop those who feel compelled to run other people’s lives. Only force will stop them.
Another real difference between libertarians and Marxists is that libertarians favor little or no government while Marxists favor absolute government. Still, this difference is highly important, for a Libertarian regime guarantees much more liberty than a Marxist regime, which guarantees none. While Marxists want to use the government to destroy culture, etc., Libertarians object to using the government to protect and preserve culture, etc.
Unlike Marxists, who are nearly always wrong about economic issues, libertarians are usually right. However, on social issues and other noneconomic matters, both are usually wrong.
While Marxists promote homosexuality and other sexual perversions, unlimited immigration, and miscegenation to destroy society, Libertarians offer no objection to such destruction, especially when their beloved multinational corporations are promoting the destruction of society. However, libertarians seem to value the family more than Marxists do; at least, they are not as negative toward the family as Marxists are.
Genocide is another similarity between Marxists and libertarians. Genocide by Marxist is obvious. With mass murder, deportation, and integration, genocide by Marxist is too overt to ignore. On the other hand, Libertarians genocide in more subtle ways. For example, few libertarians would object to the Chinese overwhelming the Tibetans in such numbers that the Tibetans would cease to exist. However, most would object to the Tibetans trying to protect their ethnicity by such actions as prohibiting intermarriage and keeping the Chinese out of their community. Most libertarians object to using governmental power to protect and preserve races and ethnicities.
Whereas Marxists see the government as the priesthood of their god, libertarians view government as the priesthood of Satan (even if they do not believe in Satan). On the other hand, libertarians view corporations as angels, while Marxists present them as pure evil (although most Marxists are owned, directly or indirectly, by these corporations). As long as corporations promote the destruction of society and the enslavement of the people, libertarians do not object if the corporations do not collaborate directly with the government in the destruction. Likewise, Marxists do not object. Only when a corporation collaborates with the government to gain a market advantage do libertarians criticize the actions of a corporation.
However, libertarians and Marxists do disagree on some political correctness. Marxists favor political correctness no matter who imposes it because it is an effective weapon in destroying a society and a country. Libertarians only object to political correctness if the government imposes it. Yet, if their beloved corporations promote political correctness, they find it acceptable.
In summary, neither Marxists nor libertarians oppose the annihilation of noneconomic collectives, such as country, nation, race, religion, and culture. Whereas Marxists do not oppose using the government to destroy these noneconomic collectives, libertarians do. Nevertheless, libertarians have no objection to the government allowing and even encouraging, their destruction. Moreover, libertarians promote preventing the government from doing anything to protect them.

Copyright © 2019 by Thomas Coley Allen.

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