The technical details of God's "force" and "spirit" and "authority"?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Post Reply
Stefan Kristensen
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed May 24, 2017 1:54 am
Location: Denmark

The technical details of God's "force" and "spirit" and "authority"?

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:08 pm

In my experience we need to attempt to put together theories that concern the technical details for the various elements in the cosmological and anthropological understandings of the NT writers, in order to really get to the bottom of the texts. They may not have had written dissertations on all the details of anthropology and cosmology, but it seems to me that there are a hell of a lot of questions that they'd have needed to answer, before putting together all their theological teachings concerning central things such as the new creation at baptism, the parousia, the nature of God's kingdom, and especially the nature of the resurrection.

Surely they had different ideas from one another about these things, and they would probably not have been entirely systematic, but I'm convinced that it's important to try and create theories that fills the holes in what might have been their understandings of the technical details of all of this. It's a fun exercise anyway!

I think that the author of gMark as well as Paul thought of 'spirit' as a fine, thin physical matter which is like air. The Greek word for "to breathe" and "to blow" (both for wind and human mouths) is closely connected to the word for "spirit", "pneo" and "pneuma" respectively. "Breath" or "wind" is the word "pnoe". So what about spiritual beings and the holy spirit?

And I think that there is an idea that God is in some sense life iself. All life in the world has its source in him. And life is connected to some kind of force, a strength. So that things come to life and grows as God infuses this life force into them, both vegetation, animals and humans. So it is God that makes grain grow in a field by some kind of force that makes the seed come alive and acquire its new form, or its "body" as Paul puts it in 1 Cor 15:37.

In 1 Cor 3:6-7 he uses the imagery of a sower and grain and field about God as the one who has made the converted Christians "grow" like he makes the grain in a field grow: "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. ... you are God’s field, God’s building."

I think it can be argued that there is a technical term for this specific force of life from God: "dynamis" (δυναμις), "force" or "power". "Force" is preferably, because power is kind of the synthesis between "force" and "authority", and it is absolutely vital to distinguish between these two, force (dynamis) and authority (exousia)! If we confuse these two things we can never hope to grasp the technical details which are so imporant to try and understand what goes on in the whole scheme of things, both in the gospels and in the epistles.

Authority can be transferred, even God's authority. From God to Jesus, and from Jesus to the Christians. Authority means "permission". And in the case of Jesus it means permission to wield the force, yeah, almost like Star Wars. So Jesus gets permission to wield the life force of the creator, and the Christians are able to share Jesus' permission, by association with his name. They are his kin, and by proxy God's kin. They can all wield the force.

But there is only one who has this force, there is only one source for the force: God. The farmer may plant and cultivate his crops but the growth process itself is the work of God's force, which only the creator himself can grasp (Mark 4:27).

As Jesus goes around and heals and excorcises he is wielding God's force, because that is the permission he has, his "authority" from God. The force of God does many things, but perhaps the most important thing from a human perspective is to raise the dead. It is the "dynamis" which brings the dead back to life. Resurrection means the force at work. Whenever we see the word "dynamis" ("δυναμις") we must think of the life force of God which also brings life to the dead.

The Sadducees don't know about the resurrection, and that is because they "know neither the Scriptures nor the force of God" (Mark 12:24). But here's the thing. The spirit of God seems to be the concrete instrument or carrier of the force. When we think of the general concept of 'force', basically it denotes that thing which makes something move. If a man has a strong arm then he has much force to move things, and if a man has a weak arm then he only has a little force to move things. Strenght gives force, but these are different things, and a force works through a physical instrument like an arm - or a spirit.

Now, if the holy spirit is the carrier of the force, or perhaps even the manifestation of the force, its physical shape, then it makes sense that the spirit can "drive out" Satan's spiritual beings. Because they are also forces, but since God is infinitely stronger than Satan his spirit carries a bigger force than the spirits under Satan's command. If a spirit is understood in the frame of a 'moving airy substance' exactly like a wind or one's breath, we can imagine that when a human is possessed by an evil spirit, it sort of merges with the normal life spirit of the human, creating sickness and/or sin. And so when the holy spirit comes it 'blows' the other spirit away, literally. And in the gospels this often happens with a "loud cry".

The technical details of such an idea might be that the spirit exits the body in the form of breath, because is has become part of the person's breath, i.e. his life spirit, and when a spirit exits as a forceful airy substance out through the mouth, it makes perfect sense that this happens with a "loud cry". So it is not just the sound itself which signifies the spirit leaving the body, it is just as much the forceful out-breathing of the entire alien spirit at once, as it separates itself again from the person's own spirit. This also explains why Jesus gives a "loud cry" himself, as he "out-breathes" on the cross: it is the holy spirit which leaves him, but apparantly taking his own life spirit along with it. For some reason.

In the case of the holy spirit, which carries God's life force, when it enters a human it creates a new state of being. Since it is the spirit of God, the human takes part in God's nature, it is his transformative life force that enters the person. I think the experiences of ecstatic state were considered evidence that these invisible spirits were there, either evil or divine. In 1 Cor. we have a clear witness for this, since the Corinthians were apparantly pretty ecstatic! Having in abundance what Paul terms "gifts of the spirit".

But this experience of holy spirit ecstasy was connected conceptually with the same thing as the resurrection from the dead. Because it was the same force at work, and through the same spirit. The ecstatic gifts of the spirit experienced by the Corinthians were of the same nature as the more general experience of being a Christian after having been baptized, because it seems that for Paul the Christians always carry the holy spirit within them, but maybe only in smaller doses, and then sometimes get a bigger dosis. Also, prayer is a way to get a dosis of the holy spirit.

Now, Paul also speaks about the bodies of the resurrected at lenght in 1 Cor 15. He seems to say that the flesh and blood bodies will be "transformed" at the parousia, and the new bodies are going to be "spiritual". I think the idea is, that as the Christians now in the fleshly bodies have a little holy spirit in them, merged with their own life spirit, at the resurrection (at the parousia) the body will be fully constituted by the substance of the holy spirit. And as such, the humans will be clothed in bodies of pure life force, the God's "dynamis".

What do you think? Am I close to something that makes sense? Or am I completely lost? Does it even make sense, what I've written!?

Post Reply