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RS/MP Lesson 21: “The Gift of the Holy Ghost” (Gospel Principles Manual)

Posted by joespencer on November 5, 2010

This short little lesson contains a good deal of food for thought. It at least passingly deals with the complex relationship between the Holy Ghost and the other members of the Godhead, outlines at length the “difference” between “the Holy Ghost” and “the gift of the Holy Ghost,” allows for discussion of Elder Bednar’s recent talk on what it means to “receive the Holy Ghost,” contains some of Elder Packer’s instructive words on feeling vs. hearing the Holy Ghost, and refers to Nephi’s intensely rich discussion of the Holy Ghost in 2 Nephi 31-32.

Curiously, moreover, this lesson is without question the most changed for this new edition that I’ve yet seen. In addition to the usual kinds of changes, there are a few major deletions and one enormous addition, as well as a few doctrinally significant smaller alterations. I’ll note these as I go along.

The Holy Ghost

There is little in the first paragraph of this first section that is surprising, and what it summarizes is presented at length in chapter 7. But I do want to note (1) a couple of changes made to the manual for the new edition here, all of which I think are instructive, and (2) one theological/doctrinal point it mentions almost in passing.

Two relatively small changes were made to the first paragraph. The first: what now reads as “He is ‘a personage of Spirit’ (D&C 130:22)” read before as “He is a spirit in the form of a man.” On the one hand, this change is merely representative of the larger effort to make the manual (a bit) more scriptural, replacing bald statements with references directly to scripture. On the other hand, though, I wonder if there isn’t an implicit recognition that “He is a spirit in the form of a man” assumes a good deal that we are not terribly sure about. The second: “His influence can be everywhere at once” read before as “He can be in only one place at a time, but his influence can be everywhere at once.” This change is, it seems to me, related to the first: a bit nervous about definitively stating that the Holy Ghost should be identified as a spirit “in the form of a man,” we might be careful about deciding that the Holy Ghost “can be in only one place at a time.” I don’t know that I want terribly to get into the theological implications of the earlier or more recent versions of these statements, but I do think it is worth recognizing that these changes are a gesture of doctrinal humility, at least an implicit recognition that we know less than we have sometimes thought.

But let me get on to positive rather than negative points. In the middle of the first paragraph is the statement: “His [the Holy Ghost’s] mission is to bear witness of the Father and the Son and of all truth.” Ignoring the “all truth” business for my purposes here, I think it is worth fleshing out this question of “bearing witness of the Father and the Son.” The language here obviously comes from Third Nephi, where Christ says: “I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me” (3 Nephi 11:32). Christ is thoroughly consistent with this triple formulation: the Father bears record of the Son; the Son bears record of the Father; the Holy Ghost bears record of the Father and Son.

Whatever else might be at work in this formulation, I think it is important to recognize that no one bears record of the Holy Ghost. While there is a reciprocal witness-bearing relationship between the Father and the Son, the Holy Ghost bears record of them both, and no one bears record of the Holy Ghost. Moreover, it’s worth noticing that there is never a distinction drawn between the Holy Ghost’s witness of the Father and the Holy Ghost’s witness of the Son (that is, it is never said that “the Holy Ghost bears record of the Father, and the Holy Ghost bears record of the Son”—it is always said that the Holy Ghost bears record of the Father and the Son). All this seems to imply that the Holy Ghost bears record not of two distinct “members” of the Godhead, but that the Holy Ghost bears record precisely of the reciprocal witness-bearing of the Father and the Son. That is, there may be reason to suspect that the Holy Ghost somehow bears witness to the Father-and-Son-in-relation (a relation of witness-bearing), as if the Holy Ghost (the Holy Spirit of Promise from D&C 132?) seals up—at least for us—the Father/Son familial relationship that is at work in the Godhead.

In this regard, I think it is interesting that the most constantly experienced ordinance in the Church inscribes us in precisely this kind of play. In the sacrament, we approach the Father (“O God, the Eternal Father”) in the name of—that is, as if we were—the Son (“we ask thee, in the name of thy Son”), thus attempting to position ourselves within the Father/Son relationship. We go on, interestingly, to witness, and if we keep the covenant outlined in the prayer, we ask always to have “his Spirit” to be with us. If we take this Spirit to be the Holy Ghost, then it seems that right in the sacrament, we ask to have the Holy Ghost confirm our inscription within the familial Father/Son relationship. In the ordinance(s), we are, vicariously through the Son, made sons/daughters of God, and that through the reception of the Holy Ghost—such that we ourselves join the Father through our witness.

These are only the beginnings of thought on this subject, but I think there is a crucial kernel here.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

Before getting on to fleshing out the above ideas—especially through the formula “Receive the Holy Ghost!”—the lesson takes up a kind of diversion by addressing the “difference” between “the Holy Ghost” and “the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Let me deal with this briefly.

I’ll confess I was a bit surprised to see no talk of “the power of the Holy Ghost” here. I suppose I’m too used to talks and lessons in which it is claimed that the distinction here drawn is actually a distinction between the power and the gift of the Holy Ghost. In the lesson, though, the distinction is only made between “the Holy Ghost” and “the gift of the Holy Ghost” (and thus is in line with what Joseph Smith himself taught; more on that in a moment). I’ll take that as a helpful boon, because—quite frankly—the power/gift distinction makes a mess of the scriptures, since the scriptures refuse to make any consistent distinction between “power” and “gift” as regards the Holy Ghost.

That said, what is at work in the distinction drawn in the lesson, that is, between “the Holy Ghost” and “the gift of the Holy Ghost”? Note that the teaching on this point is drawn directly from Joseph Smith: the manual cites the Joseph Smith Teachings manual from the past couple of years. Though only a passing reference is here made to Joseph’s words, it is helpful to quote those words directly (they come from a Nauvoo sermon recorded by Wilford Woodruff): “There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him” (Teachings, p. 95). Allow me to quote two other helpful teachings from the same lesson in the Teachings manual, teachings that clarify what Joseph means when he speaks of the gift of the Holy Ghost being a “sign or ordinance”: “Baptism is a holy ordinance preparatory to the reception of the Holy Ghost; it is the channel and key by which the Holy Ghost will be administered. The Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, cannot be received through the medium of any other principle than the principle of righteousness” (pp. 95-96); “What if we should attempt to get the gift of the Holy Ghost through any other means except the signs or way which God hath appointed—would we obtain it? Certainly not; all other means would fail. The Lord says do so and so, and I will bless you. There are certain key words and signs belonging to the Priesthood which must be observed in order to obtain the blessing. The sign [taught by] Peter was to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, with the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost; and in no other way is the gift of the Holy Ghost obtained” (p. 96).

What light does all this shed on the distinction Joseph himself drew between “the Holy Ghost” and “the gift of the Holy Ghost”? At the very least this: the gift of the Holy Ghost is a good deal richer than perhaps we tend to recognize, is a question of something far more profound than just “we get help in our everyday struggles through a constant feeling of God’s love,” which is perhaps the way we tend to understand the thing. As Joseph Smith makes clear, the gift of the Holy Ghost, through “certain key words and signs belonging to the Priesthood” and associated with baptism as “the channel and key by which the Holy Ghost will be administered,” is tied into things much more sacred, more covenantal, and more celestial than our vulgar interpretation of the gift. I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t actually “the Holy Ghost” rather than “the gift of the Holy Ghost” that we usually talk about when we talk about having a constant sense of peace or guidance in our daily affairs. To have the gift of the Holy Ghost, it seems, is something much more, perhaps.

At any rate, let me get on to the wording of the ordinance itself, discussed briefly in the next section of the lesson—particularly because it has something to say about the question of the Godhead raised above. I think it will also help to clarify the distinction drawn in the present section.

Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost

This section of the lesson is the most altered part of any lesson I’ve yet seen in this manual. The first sentence has been greatly revised. A reference to Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine has disappeared from the end of the second paragraph. And a full paragraph, quoting David O. McKay, has been removed from the end of the section. Setting all this aside, however, I want to focus on just one moment, the quoted wording of the ordinance itself: “Each person must ‘receive the Holy Ghost.'” The wording in the ordinance is, I think, even a bit stronger, since “Receive the Holy Ghost” is introduced with “And we say unto you.” (Note that there is no indirection at all. It is not “And we say unto to receive the Holy Ghost.” Nor is it “And we say unto you that you will receive the Holy Ghost.” It is “And we say unto you: Receive the Holy Ghost.”)

In his last General Conference talk, Elder Bednar spoke on this four-word phrase (“Receive the Holy Ghost”). Let me quote a bit from his words: “These four words—‘Receive the Holy Ghost’—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not simply to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26). The Holy Ghost does not become operative in our lives merely because hands are placed upon our heads and those four important words are spoken. As we receive this ordinance, each of us accepts a sacred and ongoing responsibility to desire, to seek, to work, and to so live that we indeed ‘receive the Holy Ghost’ and its attendant spiritual gifts. ‘For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift’ (D&C 88:33).” I endorse these words without reserve.

But what do they imply? At the very least, they make clear that the gift-ness of the gift is here a question of its being received. Thus, it is not God’s givingness—His grace—that is in question, but our own receptivity, our own willingness to see the gift as a gift, to receive it as a gift. The gift is not some magical bestowal, as if the priesthood ordinance somehow presented us with a card that, whenever we present it (worthily), entitles us to a portion of the Holy Ghost. Indeed, if we take Elder Bednar’s words about “priesthood injunction” seriously, it would seem that the ordinance is less a question of the right authority being employed in order to ensure that the Holy Ghost is given as a gift, and more a question of coming to the priesthood to have the injunction itself authoritatively pronounced. Perhaps, in the end, the gift of the Holy Ghost is first and foremost a question of coming to position oneself in a particular relationship before the priesthood. Before baptism and confirmation, the Holy Ghost can of course work on us in whatever way God chooses. With baptism and confirmation, we inscribe ourselves in priesthood signs and keywords, channels and keys, in order to orient ourselves with regard to the priesthood. The last moment of that initial orientation is to have the injunction pronounced: “Receive the Holy Ghost.” It is not, apparently, that we then have a tangible gift we did not have before; it is that we have authoritatively been enjoined to receive.

I wonder about how this might recast the role of the Holy Ghost in bearing record of the Father and the Son. I imagine that there are rich implications here, and that Elder Bednar’s teachings only open the way to them.

Recognizing the Influence of the Holy Ghost

Interestingly, this entire portion of the lesson was added for this new edition. It draws principally on a single teaching from Boyd K. Packer: “The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear.” In large part, it seems this quotation is meant to replace the large one by David O. McKay that was removed for this edition. President McKay’s words were about “overcom[ing] evil tendencies” and “govern[ing] our appetites” in order to be open to the Spirit. Replacing that, then, is this quotation about how to recognize (rather than free oneself up for) the promptings of the Spirit.

I wonder what to make of that change. Is it an indication that there is less confidence today about how to recognize the Spirit than there was before? If so, is that a good thing or a bad thing? That is, does it suggest that people have come to recognize that they might have been overconfident about their abilities with the Spirit? Or does it suggest that people are generally further from the Spirit and so less cognizant than before of its workings? Or is the change perhaps an indication of the general cultural shift in Mormonism from a kind of “your task is to conquer yourself in order to prepare yourself for the Spirit’s grace” to a kind of “God is graceful and the Spirit attends, but we have to be mindful of that constant grace”? If so, is that a good thing or a bad thing? That is, does it suggest that we have begun to recognize collectively that a misguided emphasis on works only makes people feel miserable and guilty, and so we’ve begun to emphasize grace? Or does it suggest that we have, in this postmodern age, become afraid of telling people they need to repent and show genuine fidelity to the work of God?

These are genuine questions for me.

One of God’s Greatest Gifts

In this last part of the lesson, brief reference is made to 2 Nephi 31-32, Nephi’s remarkable text on the Holy Ghost. I haven’t the time at present to lay out a lengthy commentary on those two chapters, but I think they deserve careful attention. At the very least, it should be recognized that the Holy Ghost in 2 Nephi 31 is connected with the ability to “speak with the tongue of angels” and so to “shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel” (2 Nephi 31:13). Note that this verse is clearly connected with 1 Nephi 1:8, where Lehi sees in vision the throne of God surrounded with “numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.” There seems to be some idea here that to receive the Holy Ghost is to join that throng, to become, in some sense, “angelified.” To put it another way, to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, for Nephi, is to cross through the veil, to enter into the presence of the Lord. Nephi makes this clear by using veil imagery throughout 2 Nephi 31-32: to be baptized and receive this gift is to pass through the “gate” so as to “speak with the tongue of angels.” Moreover, if what Nephi is talking about seems vague or murky, he says it is because his readers will not “knock,” and so they will be left in the dark, instead of being brought into the light. Telling his readers that he cannot reveal what lies beyond the reception of the Holy Ghost, he tells his people that they must present themselves in prayer before the veil, anticipating the personal visit of Jesus Christ, who will then provide a new law.

Again I’m brought back to the idea that the gift of the Holy Ghost is far more than we usually make of it. Rather than understanding its simply as having a divine companion or a constant feeling of peace, it seems that Nephi understands it to be an indication of one’s having passed through the veil. Again it seems to be a question of priesthood, of key words and signs, etc., as Joseph Smith taught. If the gift is, according to Elder Bednar, a question of one’s relationship to the priesthood—a particular way of arraigning oneself before the priesthood through the reception of an injunction—then there is reason to believe that this gift has everything to do with the highest and holiest ordinances of the temple. We are told, it will be remembered, in D&C 132 that it is “the Holy Spirit of Promise” who seals every ordinance, and particularly that makes sure one’s calling and election. These things, it seems to me, are things we ought to think about much more carefully.

A sketch of a few lesson notes here. Hopefully they are worth something.

18 Responses to “RS/MP Lesson 21: “The Gift of the Holy Ghost” (Gospel Principles Manual)”

  1. Justin said

    Is it an indication that there is less confidence today about how to recognize the Spirit than there was before?
    My understanding is that the gifts of the Spirit (D&C 46) are how we are to avoid deception. A reliance upon leaders shows that the gifts are no longer functioning among the saints in their capacity to discern truth from error. As this is a part of their very nature and a main benefit in their use, it may very well be that the gifts are no longer being used, at all. If this is the case then we are bringing on the wo pronounced by Moroni upon the Gentiles, in Moroni 10: 24-26.

    If so, is that a good thing or a bad thing?
    Without the gifts of the Spirit manifesting, saints will not be able to recognize the hand of God in coming events. They will be likely to fall in line with the other Christian interpreters and will thus be in error — bad thing.

    • joespencer said

      I’m not sure the change I indicated points to anything like an increased reliance upon leaders, though it might do so in a round about way. I agree—quite agree!—that a decline in the gifts of the Spirit is bad, but I’m similarly not sure that there is any indication in the manual’s change that there is a decline in the gifts of the Spirit, though of course there may be.

  2. Robert C. said

    Joe, very nice.

    I wonder if you wouldn’t mind being a bit less cryptic with respect to 2 Nephi. In particular it’s this reference to a personal visit of Jesus Christ that intrigues me. This is such a prominent theme for Joseph Smith and Nephi, and Moroni, and yet it seems I’ve only heard it discussed much, at least directly, in the Church by Fundamentalists.

    Perhaps Nephi’s should be read as basically saying indirect discussion of this topic is all that is appropriate or possible…?

  3. sjames said

    Joe

    I don’t follow your attribution of voice in the statement:

    “In the sacrament, we approach the Father (“O God, the Eternal Father”) in the name of—that is, as if we were—the Son (“we ask thee, in the name of thy Son”), thus attempting to position ourselves within the Father/Son relationship”

    Are you using the ‘royal’ all-inclusive ‘we’ because the ‘we’ refers to those administering, not those partaking, the sacrament?

    To position ourselves (the partakers) as ‘the Son’ which you appear to suggest, does not seem an appropriate positioning in light of the rest of the prayer.

    In my mind it seems that as it is the Lord’s priesthood that administers on behalf of ‘all those who partake and drink’, we might conclude that ‘the Son’ is represented here.

    • joespencer said

      I’m not assuming the “royal we,” but a collective “we”: as a people or a congregation, “we” ask the Father, etc.

      As for whether that fits the rest of the prayer, I think it can be read either way. The prayer could imply that “we” is the priesthood, while “they” is the congregation. In this case, the priesthood would take up the position of the Son. (Of course, that’s anything but exclusive, especially in light of the universality of the priesthood in the temple. And the sacrament is what I’m drawing on here more than anything because it’s talk-about-able.) But the prayer could also imply that “we” is the collective congregation, the “they” simply following from the indeterminate “all those,” thus not indicating anyone in particular. (Helping to lean me in this direction is the language of “kneeling with the church” used in the relevant texts.) In this case, the whole people approaching the Father via the sacrament takes up the position of the Son.

      Both possibilities, I think, are real.

      • sjames said

        Fair enough.

        An aside – do the sisters pass the sacrament in your unit, they do in mine?

      • joespencer said

        As in, line up at the front and pass the sacrament? Or as in take the tray from the deacon and then pass it to the next person? If the former: no, not in my ward. If the latter: yes, of course.

        Of course, there is nothing specifically sacerdotal about passing the sacrament (otherwise, arguably, the deacons themselves couldn’t do it; they have no specific authority outlined in the revelations), and so, technically, anyone can pass the sacrament. Though I suspect that there are those who would be quite bothered by it….

        Why do you ask?

      • sjames said

        As you observe, the latter is the case. I’m suggesting there is a sacred relational dimension to this practice, beyond the level of the deacon’s duty or administration, in terms of offering the emblems to your neighbour having (in most cases) partaken yourself and then inviting your neighbour to ‘receive’ them, and all they represent and are.

        It also speaks to the distributed nature of many functions and callings in the church and in the temple by which doctrines and ordinances, and the power of godliness and the Holy Ghost, are manifest.

  4. NathanG said

    Or does it suggest that we have, in this postmodern age, become afraid of telling people they need to repent and show genuine fidelity to the work of God?

    I remember reading every week through the missionary guide (small white one) that my calling was to call people to repentance. I often thought about how many times I called or invited people to repent. It was roundabout at best. I compared my own teaching to Samuel the Lamanite on the wall and figured, “we just don’t really call people to repentance”, but our way was to teach of Christ and that the first fruits of faith in Christ would be repentance. I taught people about ways of life (chastity, WofW, tithing, etc.) and figured I was doing what was asked of me. Looking back, I don’t think I spent nearly enough time teaching about Christ and I didn’t do nearly enough with repentance. I don’t suppose my experience was vastly different from other missionaries. I suspect there is a degree of truth of us being afraid to tell people to repent. Why? Hypocrisy? General attitude of we accept people as they are? Don’t want to be judgmental?

    I recently had a stake president whom I was eager to hear speak. I was excited for the hour drive to a stake priesthood meeting, just to hear him. Every talk included a very direct call to repentance (usually a significant portion of his talk). The thing about it is that it was an encouraging call to repentance, not a condemning call to repentance. I always left his meetings with a desire to heed his call.

    Maybe we shouldn’t be afraid to tell people to repent (at least to the degree our various stewardship would allow) because it is actually helpful to people.

    • joespencer said

      Very nice thoughts here, Nathan. I concur.

      I think this topic deserves a good deal more thought. I imagine that a large part of our “problem” is that we think preaching repentance is always a form of explicitly identifying something specific that someone needs to change. And that inevitably leads us to worry about the arrogance at work in preaching repentance. But I believe that preaching repentance is less a question of identifying specific “sins” to be conquered than of making clear that there is something more to press on towards. Preaching repentance might, at its best, be nothing more than teaching the scriptures with genuine insight and power….

      • NathanG said

        Agreed. I think President Hinckley’s closing remarks at nearly every conference was a good example of reminding us there is something more to press on towards. My stake president was using similar generalities. I think that is effective. The Spirit can then lead towards what that means for me as the listener. I already know what my sins are, but the invitation was always motivating to do what I already knew I needed to. Perhaps the preaching of repentance is more about preaching the hope of repentance, or that repentance can truly result in forgiveness through the atonement of Christ. That is probably what is needed more often than, “repent and stop doing this behavior”.

  5. joespencer said

    Nathan says: “I already know what my sins are . . . .”

    Nicely put. To inspire hope and confidence is perhaps all that is needed to motivate repentance.

  6. Robert C. said

    Joe #2, I suppose my puzzlement is ultimately over how to read 2 Ne 32:8, “and there will be no more doctrine given until after [Christ] shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh.”

    The Fundamentalist reading that I had in mind above would interpret this as a special, personal visitation rather than Christ’s personal appearance to the Nephites.

    The reason I’m hesitant to simply reject this interpretation is because of the kind of beliefs regarding 2nd anointing kinds of special visitations in the early days of the restoration, and various passages in the D&C (which I should look up to refresh my memory).

    Ultimately, 2 Ne 32:8 is likely better read as a reference to the events of 3rd Nephi. But it are these other issues that your post got me thinking about, and I guess I’m anxious to make better sense of them. Put differently, it’s the tendency in the Church today to use personal kinds of revelatory experiences, and “pure testimony” about such experiences, as a kind of mystical trump card that I’m trying to reckon with. How do we read 2 Ne 32 in a way that doesn’t feed into this way of understanding revelation, which is ultimately a kind of lazy spirituality, IMHO…?

    (I’m not articulating this well, but hopefully you catch the drift of my question better.)

    • joespencer said

      Yeah, that’s much clearer now, Robert.

      If 2 Nephi 32:6 is a reference to Third Nephi, then it’s a complex one. Note what he says: “Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.”

      When Christ comes to the Nephites, he begins by coming directly back to this “doctrine of Christ,” in terms almost identical (and at times strictly identical) to Nephi’s. When he exposits this doctrine, Christ notes that there have been (longstanding) disputations about these “points of doctrine,” and a number of things he says makes it clear that the contention has to do with the problematic/problematizing teachings of Abinadi in Mosiah 15. From this, it seems to follow that even before Christ could get on to “more doctrine” he had to catch his audience back up to Nephi himself, through a kind of return to the small plates.

      Of course, even after making a solid “return to Nephi” in 3 Nephi 11, Christ goes on to outline a whole series of doctrines, but none of them arguably fails to appear in Nephi’s own record (the great bulk of Christ’s teachings are just further articulations of Nephi’s own doctrines concerning the eschatological gathering of Israel). Unless, of course, Nephi has reference only to the sacrament (and a few other points of order in the Church), especially when he employs the language of “observ[ing] to do” what Christ “say[s].” But the unquestioned focus of Christ’s visits in Third Nephi is simply twofold: (1) let’s get back to Nephi’s small plates (in which case, we’re not “going beyond” anything); (2) let’s set you all up to receive the Holy Ghost (in which case, again, we’re not really “going beyond” Nephi, since that is precisely the point where Nephi hushes up).

      Now, I don’t doubt that Nephi actually does largely have reference to Third Nephi, but that reference itself is quite complex. And I do find myself wondering whether 3 Nephi 27-28 shouldn’t be privileged here. There we have Jesus appearing in a more limited setting, and there we have some things being said and some other things happening that go way beyond anything in Nephi’s record….

      Thinking, but not concluding….

    • Robert C. said

      Thanks, Joe—very interesting, and help (somewhat!)….

  7. Jacob B. said

    Joe,

    Excellent insights as always. I brought up essentially the same thoughts regarding the giftedness of the Holy Ghost in our Elder’s Quorum today (been reading a lot of Marion lately, I think that partially had something to do with it. That the gift of the Holy Ghost is given post-baptism is, of course, essential. Now, within a newly made covenant, the recipient is told to *receive* the Holy Ghost, in other words to understand the Holy Ghost as a gift. It’s not that one has 20% Holy Ghost Pre-baptism and 100% Holy Ghost post-baptism. Such metaphysical interpretations are nonsense and nonscriptural. It is that now, within the covenant, we orient ourselves toward the Holy Ghost in such a way that it becomes a gifted grace to us; we now have an obligation to conceive of the Holy Ghost and its witness-bearing in a way that we were not obligated before. True, we might of our own accord try to conceive of the Holy Ghost in this way from outside the covenant. After all, anyone, as the scriptures make clear, can be exposed to its influence or power. But not only is it unlikely that such an orientation have the normative force that it has within a covenant, but its giftedness becomes obscured where there is no covenant in force. The gift of the Holy Ghost: that the Holy Ghost be recognized or conceived as a gift.

  8. kirkcaudle said

    “It is that now, within the covenant, we orient ourselves toward the Holy Ghost in such a way that it becomes a gifted grace to us; we now have an obligation to conceive of the Holy Ghost and its witness-bearing in a way that we were not obligated before.”-Jacob

    This is great Jacob. Thanks.

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