Perriman’s Challenging Series on the Holy Spirit

I appreciate good and thought-provoking writings about the Holy Spirit. Though they are usually within the realm of the oft debates between continuationism and cessationism, it is good to read something outside the ‘normative’ discussions.

I also appreciate some of the foundations of the narrative-historical perspective from writers like Andrew Perriman. The narrative-historical perspective is not so much about producing abstract systematic theology, such as Trinitarianism or charismatic pneumatology, though foundational tenets of the faith are not denied. Rather, it is about understanding Scriptural statements within the specific context of the Scripture’s narrative, which comes to us from a particular historical framework of first century, second temple Jewish thought. Many theologians refer to this as the grammatical-historical hermeneutic. But I think the more nuanced narrative-historical method is looking to take up this hermeneutic of Scripture with even more focused attention.

Thus, I was very much interested in Perriman’s recent series on the Holy Spirit that he has only just begun. So far, three articles have been posted:

  1. The Holy Spirit 1: Conceived by the Holy Spirit
  2. The Holy Spirit 2: He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire
  3. The Holy Spirit 3: This is my beloved Son

I can expect Perriman’s thoughts to challenge both cessationist and continuationist, or anyone within the fold of evangelicalism. But it’s good to get a challenge, and especially from one who is very much interested in grounding their theology within the Scriptural narrative.

So head over to Perriman’s blog and see what you think.


12 thoughts on “Perriman’s Challenging Series on the Holy Spirit

  1. Scott,

    How much of Mr Perriman’s writings have you read?

    I have been doing some reading on his blog. Here is a very long thread:
    I didn’t read it word for word because of the length. But I believe I read all of of Perriman’s comments, athough quickly enough that I certainly may have missed something.

    But the crux of all of this is that it seems to me from what he said there that he is not at all certain, or perhaps doesn’t believe at all, that Jesus was ontologically God.

    So I guess I would have to ask this question. If that is indeed the case, why are you taking anything he says about anything else here too seriously? If we don’t even share the same idea about something as basic to Christianity as the deity of Christ, how can you trust or take seriously what he has brought up in these other articles about the Spirit? And about the virgin birth.

  2. Scott, hi. As you know we’ve been chatting about this gentleman over at Theologica. And Mr. Perriman has been kind enough both to mention us in his blog and to join Theologica.

    You say “though foundational tenets of the faith are not denied.” I would be glad to see that this is the case. I’m with Cheryl though (hi, Cheryl) in having taken your advice (Read his blog and see what you think), and being thereby more troubled than ever (though I also appreciate some fine things he has to say) that he does in fact deny basic tenets of the faith.

    That being said, not denying is a tad weak for our glorious Lord.

    Try walking up to your lovely wife and saying, “I don’t deny that I love you.”

    You also won’t deny that she would be worthy of more than that, more like shouting your love from the highest hills. Why not shout an affirmation of Christ’s divinity as loudly?

    • Marv,

      If you are reading this, I wanted to let you know that I saw your last question to Mr Perriman over at Theo. Since I resigned as a member there some time back, I can no longer post there. But it would seem to me from what I have read, one might have to qualify that question, “Is Jesus God?” I think that even if he were to say “yes” at this point, he may be saying that He reached that status after the resurrection. He seemed to be saying, if I read him correctly, that the Philippians 2 verses precluded Him being God before that time.

      Having a hard time wrapping my head around exactly what he IS saying.

  3. Cheryl

    Sorry I haven’t responded to your email yet. I did hope my longer comment on the Holy Spirit Theologica thread, which contained my story, would give some response to your inquiry.

    I’ve read much on Andrew’s blog on so many varying topics, and I’ve read his book on Romans, which I reviewed here. I have his book on eschatology but have not been able to read it yet. Some of his stuff is challenging. There is some ‘deconstructing’ goign on, but not for the sake of tearing down the Christian faith, but to remove some of the layers that might not be as ‘biblical’ as we first thought.

    I think you have to realise that Andrew is interacting with biblical and critical scholarship. And so there is a lot of engagement beyond ‘popular’ theology we might find in our local Christian bookshop. And there is a lot of looking simply at the text rather than LATER systematic formulations that have become essential in Christianity now. He does not deny those formulations but he does recognise the Bible is not a systematic text and that any later systematic developments are secondary to the initial narrative of Scripture.

    I have not read the link you left me, but what I imagine is that his approach is that the Jesus account in the Gospels actually portrays the Jesus story at Jesus’ own time, meaning what it all ,want in the 50’s AD. The question Marv brought up recently is that, by the time the Gospel writers were writing, there would have been 20 years to formulate things, and thus you have all the doctrines formed not too much later on but very quickly and therefore they are in the Gospel writings. But it is worth considering that they were not developing major ‘systems’ early on, but we’re still telling the Jesus story as it was at Jesus’ time. So, coming to Jesus’ story, there is a lot of allowance for what it meant for him to be fully human, simce he was, ot grasping at his eternal attributes, having to learn to hear the Father, ‘learn’ his mission, see his mission confirmed, etc. All this did not pop out of the sly as a download. Something similar to my recent post on Theologica about Jesus not knowing everything in his humanity.

    So Perriman believes Jesus is the eternal and divine Son of God. But, though I cannot speak for him, I think Andrew would say the later more developed doctrines that we know were just that, later developments in response to the current heresies arising in the 3rd and 4th centuries. But the Gospels simply as first century, Jewish writings, were communicating more about the kingly Messiahship of Jesus as fulfilling the Israel story.

    It’s challenging things to think through, especially when we have layers of teaching that only ever reads the Bible through later lenses of systematic formations and the Reformation. It’s hard not to read certain passages in certain ways because, well, that’s just what they say. But, as I understand it, biblical scholarship today is more interested in what it meant in the 50’s AD, in it’s initial context. Then we move to the trajectory of developing certain helpful doctrines down the line.

    Perriman is challenging. But I think he is no wolve in sheep’s clothing.

  4. Scott,

    What do you make of this quote from Perriman in his comment on 6-3010 at 15:ll: “In 2:34 Peter announces to all Israel that ‘God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified’. That makes no sense if ‘Lord’ denotes ‘God’. You would not want to say that God has made Jesus ‘God’, surely? ‘Lord’ in this context – a context very similar to Romans 1:1-4 – must mean something other than ‘God’. In Philippians 2, of course, ‘lordship’ is something that is given to Jesus because he followed the path of obedience. It effectively presupposes that he was not God in his life of servanthood on behalf of Israel.”

    Sorry, but I don’t see how that is saying anything other then that he doesn’t believe Jesus was God while on this earth.

  5. Cheryl

    He believes Jesus is and always has been the eternal, divine Son of God. Perriman is asking of the text: “What is Matthew saying in one particular passage in ITS particular context?” and, “What is Luke saying in one particular passage in ITS particular context?” All of this being embedded in a first century, second temple Jewish story.

    He is not asking what was Athanasius and Nicene defending against and formulating a few hundred years later.

  6. Scott,

    He just got done saying that in Philippians 2, ” It effectively presupposes that he was not God in his life of servanthood on behalf of Israel.”

    Is that not a blunt, straight forward statement that the Bible in this place teaches that Jesus was ot God? Beats me how it can be read otherwise.

    Can you explain that to me?

  7. Cheryl –

    I haven’t been able to read anything of the links you gave me. And I cannot ultimately answer for particulars from Perriman. I just know the overall approach and questions he is asking as he comes to the text.

    Also, one thing you need to remember – One particular interpretation of one particular passages says nothing about someone’s overall theological understanding, whether Christology or ecclesiology or eschatology. It might seem that he therefore denies the divinity of Christ. But he is offering one particular reading of one particular passage within that passages particular context. He would not be looking to approach the passage with Athanasian-Nicene glasses on.

    I have to leave it there. I cannot speak for Andrew ultimately. I simply understand the overall approach he is taking and why he is trying to take it.

  8. If he believes Jesus is and always has been the eternal, divine Son of God on what does he base that belief? He says it isn’t taught in the synoptic gospels and says that Paul’s statement “effectively presupposes that he was not God….”

    So where in his Biblical theology does he get that Jesus is God? And is the Bible very contradictory on this issue or what? If it is denied in Philippians and affirmed elsewhere, it must be. And in all the reading on his blog that I have done, I am like Marv. I haven’t in one place found where he affirms Christ’s deity. He affirms that He may very well have a part in the trinity, but in view of his other statements, that does not seem to equal that he affirms that He is God. The best that he seems to do is to make iffey/maybe statements on the subject.

  9. I decided to send a personal message to Mr Perriman via his blog asking him if he could provide some clarification on this subject. It IS a very big issue to a large share of the church today.

    I hope he has the time to do so. I am eagerly awaiting any reply that he sends my way.

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