Pastor Mark, Do Reformed Churches Really Neglect the Holy Spirit?

Mark_DriscollIn a recent post entitled, Is the Trinity Father, Son, and Holy Bible?, Seattle Pastor Mark Driscoll writes, “In Reformed churches, you won’t hear a lot about the Spirit, as they tend to attribute much of his work to the gospel and the sovereignty of God.  So when lives are changed, the explanation is that what happened was because of the gospel without much reference to the Spirit’s application of it.”

Now I don’t know what experience Pastor Mark has in Reformed churches, but I would like to point out a couple things.

1. According to Reformed theology, as preached in Reformed churches, the primary means of sanctification is the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, secretly communicating, persuading, and applying the word to believers.  At our congregation, I pray every Sunday in a specific purposeful prayer before the sermon that the Holy Spirit would work in us to make us more holy through the word.  This is known as the prayer of illumination, and has been a staple of Reformed worship ever since Calvin published La Forme de Prières et Chants Ecclélsiastiques, (1542) aka. the Genevan Liturgy.  And when we pray for the Spirit to illuminate us, we mean it, and we expect it, as I’m sure most Reformed churches do.  I usually preface it with a pithy exhortation reminding us how absolutely necessary the Spirit’s work is for us to benefit from His word.  So much for not talking much about the Spirit!

2.  According to Reformed believers, the Spirit’s greatest miracle is in the regeneration or New Birth of a sinner.  It is His own sovereign, particular, and peculiar work from start to finish.  Reformed preachers, myself included, tend to make the Spirit’s work in regeneration a specific point of emphasis.  As it should be.

There, now I feel much better.  Now, do you think that the Reformed tend not to emphasize the Holy Spirit?

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Categories: Doctrine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Pastor Mark, Do Reformed Churches Really Neglect the Holy Spirit?

  1. Keep in mind that MD’s definition of “Reformed” is quite a bit broader than what we might allow. But Ursinus’ commentary on the Catechism is quite clear. He well expresses the confessional Reformed view: the Holy Spirit is the first and chief efficient cause of faith. The instrumental cause of faith is the Word of God, particularly the preaching of the gospel.

    • Yes, of course it is the confessional Reformed view. Maybe Pastor Mark will comment and fill us in on what churches he had in mind.

      Good distinction. The Holy Spirit is the chief efficient cause of faith. The Word of God is the instrumental cause. I would add that although the works of regeneration and illumination are sovereign works of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they terminate on the Spirit.

  2. George Syms

    John Calvin was referred to historically as the theologian of the Holy Spirit. Our dependence on the Spirit’s work for everything in the Christian life is quite evident. It is not surprising that some believe because we’re not pentecostal in our practice that somehow we neglect the Spirit’s work.

  3. George, you’re absolutely right. And I can say as a former Pentecostal and now a reformed minister that I now have a much deeper and fuller appreciation for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s elect.

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