We return this week to Moser's book The Elusive God. In these three sections Moser addresses God's intervening Spirit, the acquaintance with the power of God's intervening Spirit, and the split between Jerusalem (philosophy) and Athens (theology). While there are a number of places in which I wanted to agree with Moser, I found the arguments scarce, the explanations often confusing, and some of the claims simply repetitive. Perhaps this is because this section marks more of a turn to theology rather than philosophy, but nonetheless I still expected more clarity.
As we've seen to this point, Moser certainly doesn't think it is sufficient to have propositional knowledge of God. His claim is that a perfectly loving God is going to offer a distinctive kind of purposively available evidence. A kind of evidence that has been widely overlooked by philosophers and theologians. This evidence is that divine self-revelation of God's imparted Spirit to humans. With the imparting of God's Spirit, humans receive the power to be transformed towards God's moral character.
I'm far from an expert on these matters, but from the small sample of theology I've read it doesn't seem to me that the imparting of God's Spirit and it's transformative power have been much neglected. Perhaps I've just been reading all the right stuff, but I doubt it. Examples like this, and the repeated kicking at natural theology, keep me thinking that I wished Moser would just make the case for his positive argument without trashing the practice of philosophy and theology along with their practitioners.
In any case, Moser makes a number of appeals to the writings of Paul in making the case for how the imparting of God's Spirit gives us two things, (1) a new noncoercive power that is felt by the recipient and observable by others, and (2) directly self-authenticating firsthand veridical evidence of God's reality. One thing that get's confusing is that it often isn't clear on the first reading who power is supposed to be evidence for. On the one hand we can have knowledge of God's Spirit via our conscience, but we can also have knowledge via the evidence of new power. Of course both of these are also supposed to serve as evidence for others, at least if the have "eye's to see".
I've read this section about 15 times and it still isn't clear to me what the Spirit is supposed to be. I suspect that if one didn't grow-up Christian, or spend a good deal of time reading theological literature, one could easily get lost or confused about the Spirit. Here are a few candidates for what Moser means when he talks of Spirit:
- Spirit = Holy Spirit (i.e. third person of the Trinity)
- Spirit = God (e.g. God is Spirit and he's imparting himself)
- Spirit = gift of spirit
Moser could have meant any of these, or he could have meant none. The matter is complicated by his remark that the Spirit of God is also the Spirit of Jesus Christ, but when talked about this way it sounds more like team spirit. I think I want to agree, at least to some extent, on the power of the Spirit. However, I want to make sure that Moser and I are thinking of the same thing, and that simply isn't clear to me.