sprint backlog - 18 February 2020

Research Computing team goals for the period 18 February - 3 March, 2020. If you have any questions or comments please contact rc-help@colorado.edu.

Intro to Python workshop

Reserch Computing is presenting its regular Intro to Python course.

RCAMP portal testing framework

The RC Account Management Portal (RCAMP) handles account requests and group membership in the RC environment. In order to help us better update and develop the portal and its dependencies we are rebuilding and enhancing its automated test infrastructure.

Internal training for upcoming CC* hybrid cloud environment

RC is developing a hybrid "coud" environment with support from the NSF Campus Cyberinfrastructure (CC*) program. Development of this environment is ongoing; but our team is also taking this time to learn more about Amazon EC2 and OpenStack virtual machines in order to better support our users when the platform is ready.

Better staff access to fail2ban on login nodes

RC login nodes are protected from brute-force attacks using fail2ban: if a login node sees a sequence of login failures from the same source, that souce is "banned" from all login node access for a period of time. During a training, however, when such authentication failures are common from multiple people in the same room, it is inconvenient to wait for the ban to expire. RC system administrators have the ability to cancel such a ban, but they are not usually present at trainings. To better support this use case, we will be delegating the ability to cancel such bans to the rest of the RC team.

PetaLibrary monthly status reports

A monthly email status report is sent out to PetaLibrary allocation owners and and contacts; but this report has fallen out of date, and has not been updated to reflect changes in the PetaLibrary infrastructure. We are updating this reporting script so that all PetaLibrary allocations are reported, irrespective of their deployment location.

Updated MPI in rebuilt Core Software

Our efforts to update our core software stack are ongoing, with our next goal being to install up-to-date Intel MPI and OpenMPI.

RC trainings review

Finally, to better plan future RC trainings and other user support activities, we are reviewing the trainings, office hours, and consults that we've supported in CY2019.

God in your own image

You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.

~ Anne Lamott quoting her “priest friend Tom” in Bird by Bird

an open letter to the TED team

Some time back I was talking with church leadership about possible opportunities for me to serve the church, including potential calling to leadership. At the time I insisted that theological differences between myself and the church disqualified me.

I still believe I have important theological differences with the church, even if only in my own questioning and theological formation; but I have felt a weight of consideration ever since, and I believe that the Spirit is provoking me to action. What that means I do not yet know, but I decided that, at the very least, I could formally put my name in for consideration by the church, and leave it to the church, rather than my own preemption, to disqualify me.

After applying I was asked to schedule a 30-minute conversation with the church's trustees, elders, and deacons (TED) team. As part of the conversation, I will be expected to share responses to the following questions:

Please share a brief statement (3-5 minutes) about your faith in Christ and how your personal relationship began and continues.

I have been raised in the church my entire life, my father a Christian Rock Band Jesus Hippie and my mother proselytized by him early in their relationship. I didn't appreciate the full impact of my upbringing until adulthood; but my father always had an earnest heart for God, and my mother a love for everyone around her. I grew up assuming these characteristics, and I am so thankful that they are encoded so deeply in who I am.

As a family we attended a Church of the Nazarene; but I also exclusively attended a small private school, kindergarten through highschool run by a fundamentalist Baptist church, followed by four years at a Nazarene univeristy. Church, has been embedded in virtual every aspect of my life for as long as I can remember; and more than that, a pervasively diverse church context means that I have always had to acknowledge and consider different, conflicting, and often opposing views of God and the scripture, even within Christianity.

This much pervasive access to church can make the experience of God somewhat mundane; so it wasn't until somewhere in my teens that I really felt God alive in my life. It's somewhat cliché, but I attended a weekend cursillo retreat run by local Methodist churches as part of The Upper Room ministries. I shouldn't have needed it--I had exactly the same kind of example at home already--but it was there that I first recognized the difference between assumptively "going to church" and living a life that is transformed by the Spirit and oriented toward God. I continued to work (and speak) at the retreat for years after, and my entire family attended successively afterward.

The next notable impact to my faith came as a result of my wife and I living for three and a half years in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Though we were only there professionally, the facts of being a Christian in the nation of Isalm cannot be avoided--and why should they? There our understanding of God and Christ was deepended through comparison and contrast with the people around us. We met several strong Christians, largely among the students, and gathered to worship in our homes (eventually our home specifically) every week.

We have worshiped almost exclusively at Presbyterian churches since returning to the States, first at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York and now at First Pres in Boulder, an extension of our existing desire to challenge our own theological background and assumptions through comparison and contrast.

What is currently going on in your life spiritually? What is God teaching you? What growth are you experiencing?

Fankly, this is something going on in my life spiritually: I am trying to be ever more open to the leading of the Spirit, particularly where I habitually resist Him. For example: when we were first asked to open our home to our church in Saudi Arabia, I literally said, "OK; as long as I'm not expected to lead." Of course, it was scarcely a year later that I was preparing scripture readings, selecting songs for us to sing together, and distributing communion, after our previous leaders graduated from their respective academic programs and returned home.

I love theology, and I try to not let my esoteric interests get in the way of ministry and community. Most recently I have been reading the work of David Bentley Hart. I finished his defense of universal salvation "That All Shall Be Saved" and found it a profound challenge to what might be the last vestiges of my fundamentalist assumptions about hell; but I am currently re-reading the New Testament with his defense in mind to better discern my assumptions about scripture from my actual reading of it. After and during that I am also reading his defense of theism: "The Experience of God."

More personally, the Spirit is convicting me regarding how I respond to disagreement in my marriage. I say this here only because my comments so far have been largely academic, and I don't want to imply that the Spirit doesn't affect me more intimately as well; but, while I'm open to discussing such things, I tend to wait for them to be asked explicitly as well.

How did you come to be a part of First Pres? What experiences have you had as a part of our church family? What excites you about the future?

We came to Boulder largely chasing my wife's family (in Greeley) and the church family that we had had in Saudi: themselves largely from the Boulder area. When we surveyed the churches in the area we found mostly a certain type of closed conservatism, a certain type of loose liberalism, or a certain type of seeker congregation: none of these seemed to fulfill our expectations to be challenged toward growth in the faith. But we found First Pres, supported by our previous experiences at Redeemer, and encouraged by what we heard in sermon recordings online. We attended and, in our first services we encountered academic theology (led by Carl); passionate tradition (bagpipes); and earnest community (in coffee with Erik).

We showed up to Family Small Groups without prior arrangement; and, though there was no group for us to join on the spot, our chidren were cared for and we were told to enjoy the evening together.

At First Pres I feel at home, in a way that I have not felt since I left my childhood church.

How do you seek to discern God's will for you personally? How might you discern God's will in a group setting?

I seek God's will for me personally through prayer and study; but I cannot ignore the transforming work of the Spirit in my life as well. I can scarcely believe my life, and I am excited by the prospect of even deeper relationship with God.

In a group setting, if my self-assessment is accurate, I have a tendency and aptitude for listening to all perspectives and helping to bring parties to at least a common understanding. I consider what is said long after a group meeting, and often follow-up off-cycle to ask questions or assert possibilities. I pray, but more generally I believe that I feel the Spirit leading throughout the day, and I hope that I would be able to discern that leading in a more formal group as well.

Perhaps more technically, I argue. And I hope that that is not understood as argumentative; but I try what I believe to be Truth by presenting it for scruitiny. I am strong in my beliefs, but I am also quick to abandon my own misunderstandings. When I argue, I argue from scripture and (where it is a help and not a distraction) well-established shared belief.

I was also pointed to the Essential Tenents of ECO [1]; and it is here that I am afraid I will have the most trouble. As above, I don't intend to be argumentative; but I also do not want to conceal anything, so I will do my best to enumerate my concerns here.

I want to be clear: I do not begrudge ECO or First Pres these essential tenents. I recognize the importance of common doctrine, and I value the diversity of Christianity as expressed in the diversity among congregations: that diversity does not necessarily need to be expressed within each congregation. Still, First Pres is my home; and if I am to serve here, I have to be honest about what I believe as well.

Regarding "God’s Word: The Authority for Our Confession"

I have serious concerns regarding the common definition of the Word of God. Even today, Carl preached in his sermon that God's word is incarnate, proclaimed, and written; but the essential tenents omit acknowledgement of God's word as proclaimed altogether.

I further fear, and have for many years, that the veneration of the so-called "written Word of God" is a form of idolatry: the Bible serves as an image of God's Word, and its worship (in everything but name) is troubling to me. More striclty, I consider the scripture a testament to the Word of God, not the Word itself (as opposed to Christ, the Word Incarnate.)

I do acknowledge, as Paul taught Timothy, that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." But I'll still point out that Paul certainly was not talking about the gospels, the revelation, or much less the epistles (particularly that he was contemporaneously writing), but "the sacred writings" that Timothy had been acquanted with "from childhood." This is not to say that the Christian scriptures are not themselves "Breathed out by God," and I have faith in the work of the Spirit in preserving the Scripture through church tradition and study; but I believe the true nature of the scripture is more complex than is often exhorted in such essential tenents, and the true nature of the Word of God more complex still.

We confess that God alone is Lord of the conscience, but this freedom is for the purpose of allowing us to be subject always and primarily to God’s Word.

We are happy to confess ourselves captive to the Word of God

Perhaps there is some scriptural basis for this imagery that I am missing; but without it I am troubled by this imagery. Life in Christ is denotatively freedom; we are not captives, but heirs, ransomed from sin and death. I do not deny that "the Spirit will never prompt our conscience to conclusions that are at odds with the Scriptures that He has inspired"--perhaps this is an unnecessary complaint; but the heart with which we approach the Word matters to me, and I find it important to recognize that the Spirit changes our desires to be those of God; we are not captive to the Word, but freed by it.

Regarding "secondary authority"

[W]e affirm the secondary authority of the following ECO Confessional Standards as faithful expositions of the Word of God: Nicene Creed, Apostles’ Creed, Heidelberg Catechism, Westminster Confession, Westminster Shorter Catechism, Westminster Larger Catechism and the Theological Declaration of Barmen.

I don't know how I missed this before; but this greatly expands the scope of the so-called "essential" tenents. I have studied some of these; but certainly not all, and I would be loathe to assumptively confirm their authority in my theology, or my adherence to them, without further study (and given the differences raised by the primarily-stated essential tenents, I can only expect there would be further differences in a greater body of confessions).

regarding "Trinity and Incarnation: The Two Central Christian Mysteries"

I have strong, fundamental concerns regarding the doctrine of the Trinity.

But first let me be clear: I believe in God, non-contingent, transcendent, Father and creator of all. I believe that Jesus, the Christ, is the incarnate Word of God, one with the Father, in the Father and in whom the Father is. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the paraclete, the helper and advocate, who comes in the name of Christ and is sent by the Father, the Spirit of Christ and, thus, the Father.

But there is a great deal of distance between that and bold claims about God as having a fundamentally "trinitarian" nature. This is not quite idolatry; but it is seeking to define God by our experience of him, where he is more accurately transcendent. God has revealed himself freqntly through social terms, but it is eisegesis to read this as emphatically trinitarian. God did not direct Israel, for example, to worship "God the Creator; God the Fire of the Bush; and God the Pillar of Cloud"; but God. And if God did not direct worship to a plurality, but a unity God, then we should not break from that direction.

And what of the Word of God? Surely the Word of God is God, as John proclaimed. But if Christ is one part of a trinity God, then surely the Word is a person of God, existing before "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." So perhaps the trinity is more accurately "the Father, the Word, and the Spirit"?

But I am particularly troubled by extra-Biblical habits I have observed recently of praying to individual "members of the trinity"; we are to pray to God, the Father, as Christ did and directed us to.

affirmed by all Christians everywhere

This is simply not true: there have been many Christians that have had different interpretations and understandings of the being of Christ. I may not agree with them, but to ignore them is distracting and disingenuous.

like us in having both a human soul and a human body

This anthropology isn't Biblical, so far as I can tell. Maybe it is technically true to say that Christ had a human soul; but this statement does not mean what a western mind will infer from it. God did not make a human body and then put a human soul into it; man became a living soul when God breathed into it. As such, to say that Christ is "like us in every way but sin" but then say that he has a "human soul" is both non-sensical and contradictory.

Regarding "God’s grace in Christ"

Our desires are no longer trustworthy guides to goodness, and what seems natural to us no longer corresponds to God’s design.

I hope that these tenents do not mean to indicate that we who are alive in the Spirit are unable to discern good. "We have received [...] the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual." It is the promise of life in the Spirit that our hearts are turned towards the things of God; that our desires are made trustworthy, being those of the Spirit.

Jesus takes our place both in bearing the weight of condemnation against our sin on the cross

I require further study here; but I believe this to be incorrect theology. Christ did not "bear the weight of [presumably God's] condemnation against our sin"; in stead, his death paid the ransom to free us from our slavery to death.

Regarding "Election for salvation and service"

I am thankful that ECO does not, at least here, go so far as to proclaim limited atonement an essential tenent. (Perhaps it does implicitly by extension through one of the "secondary" authorities.) But I must say that the language of atonement does not appear, to me, to be concerned with eternal salvation or the church in general, but of specifically the work of the Spirit in Israel in the church age. "Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened." But later "a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved."

"just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all."

Therefore I hold that, at the very least, the concept of election as expressed by Paul does not reflect eternal salvation, or its absence; but the work of God in the lives of some for the age towards an ultimately redemptive purpose for all.

One last thing: Paul explicitly doesn't use the word "elect" to refer to Gentiles; only Israel.

Regarding "Living in obedience to the Word of God"

I note here only to claim this commandment as expressed:

pursue truth, even when such pursuit is costly, and defend truth when it is challenged, recognizing that truth is in order to goodness and that its preservation matters;

mINd | IN the Holy Spirit

A response to the "small group questions" for the 20 October 2019 message at First Pres, Boulder. [1]

But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

excerpt from the English Standard Version of Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians [2]

Religion has been described by some as a human striving upward to discover the divine. In contrast, Christianity has been described by others as God’s descent downward in revelation to humanity. What do you think about this statement?

I think it's reaching to say this is a contrast of statements from "some" and "others." In my experience, I have only ever heard Christians make either of these statements. I don't necessarily disagree with the sentiment; though I do worry that it betrays a certain ignorance of the perspectives of non-Christians; that it serves more to bolster our own pride rather than to proclaim the gospel.

Why was Paul careful not to use eloquence or wise words and persuasive speech in proclaiming the gospel to the Corinthians (1Cor.2:1–5)? What did Paul use instead?

Paul did not want the Corinthians faith to "rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." [3] Even if Paul used eloquent words to spread Truth, the eloquence itself might be used to undermind himself in pride, or to undermine the Truth by misdirecting attention. By sharing the Truth simply, there are no distractions.

What type of wisdom did Paul speak?

"Not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age [but] a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory." [4]

Jesus said in John 16:13 that when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you into all the truth. How is Paul saying something similar?

Paul says that "no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God" and that "we have received [...] the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God." Further, that "we have the mind of Christ." [5]

I find this particularly interesting in relation to other studies that I am working through; because sometimes we are exhorted by modern teachers and traditional theology that, because God's ways are higher than our ways, we cannot question where theology draws conclusions that seem counter to our understanding of good. Here Paul encourages us that, if we are in Christ, we should be able to understand what is good (and Christ also seems to expect the same of the people he ministers to.)

When have you sensed the Holy Spirit was guiding you or leading you in your life? What were signs of this?

I think the Holy Spirit guides us at all times; the question is whether we prioritize that Spirit or what remains of our flesh. As a result, I feel the Spirit's leading most in retrospective meditation, when I see all that God has done in my life, against all likelihood.

What helps you listen to the Spirit? What hinders you?

Prayer. Meditation. Calm. And just acknowledging the Truth of what is good to myself.

saINts | IN the Holy Spirit

A response to the "small group questions" for the 27 October 2019 message at First Pres, Boulder. [1]

I don't begrudge the church its tradition, especially on All Saints' Sunday; but I am frustrated that this is being passed off as a message in the series about the Holy Spirit.

Depending on one's age and personal health we have varying degrees of understanding our own mortality. When have you personally felt most vulnerable to death, or at least an end to your vitality?

Being a parent probably makes me the most aware of my own mortality, such as it is. In my children I see a reflection of the age I have lived so far; and my life on earth is largely oriented around providing for their welbeing. I find myself wanting to be with them forever.

Read Psalm 27:1–10 and Psalm 91 in parallel. Discuss the promises you see that overlap, and why are the important to us as God’s people?

Psalm 27:1-10

Psalm 91

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Both beg--and trust--to live with God in his temple, and I expect that is the focus here, given the topic of the passing of the saints; but I must point out that both of these passages focus on refuge from troubles in this life, and not explicitly in anything like an "after-life."

Read Romans 8:31–39. How might these passages be used by you if you were visiting someone on their deathbed?

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I was afraid that I was going to feel this was a tenuous conection at best; thankfully, Paul makes it explicit, that "neither death nor life [...] will be able to separate us from the love of God."

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18. What is new here to you, and how can a verse like this change the way we live in the present?

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Erik mentioned this in the sermon; but it's worth repeating that it is not that we do not grieve; but that we do not grieve in the same way as those who have no hope.

I feel like there is context here that we are missing; because the focus is not simply on assurance that the dead will rise; but that they will rise before those who are still living on the earth are caught up with Christ. Perhaps it is only a matter of emphasis?

convINced | IN the Holy Spirit

A response to the "small group questions" for the 20 October 2019 message at First Pres, Boulder. [1]

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

excerpt from the English Standard Version of the Gospel according to John [2]

How would you describe the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to someone who is not familiar with this teaching of the Bible?

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. [3]

We as humans are broken relative to our purpose, and our spirit misunderstands the difference between good and evil. Through Christ we are able to return to the created purpose, and our spirit is superseded by God's, which leads us toward Good.

What role(s) does the Holy Spirit play in our lives?

The Spirit is the life God breathed into creation. Our life died when man chose to follow his will over God's; but through Christ we are able to live again, and the Spirit leads us in the will of God.

What are the different names/descriptions for the Holy Spirit throughout the pages of scripture?

I've got to be frank: I'm going to Wikipedia for this one. [4]

  • Spirit of God

  • Spirit of "Yahweh"

  • Spirit of Wisdom

  • Spirit of Christ

  • Spirit of Truth

  • Paraclete (advocate; helper)

I don't know why I haven't noticed this before; but the Holy Spirit (such as is described in the Gospel of John) is the literal opposite of the Satan in creation. The Satan is the accuser or the adversary. The Holy Spirit promised by Christ is the advocate or the helper. Both refer to a legal context, as in a trial, with הַשָּׂטָ֖ן ("the satan") being not unlike a prosecuting attorney, and ὁ Παράκλητος ("the paraclete") being not unlike a defense attorney.

One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict us regarding sin. How would you define sin? How has the Holy Spirit recently convicted you regarding your own personal sin?

My understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit is that he is the replacement of our wills with that of the Father's. By giving us a spirit of Truth, a spirit from God, we know what is truly good for us, whereas before our will was broken and choses what is not part of God's creation. Part of this is a conviction of sin, where we are pointed away from the good that God has for us, so that we can recognize it and replace it with a desire for what is good.

The Holy Spirit is working in my life most recently (and, in reflection, throughout most of my life) toward having a right heart that is pointed at God and not as an accuser myself, even tangentially. I am habitually a creature of justice, and my desire is to bring the world around me into better alignment with "the good"; but when I am unable to do so (either by my own ignorance or by the fact that it is outside of the sphere of my control) I too easily allow myself to behave incorrectly out of frustration. It is a kind of worry, I think: that if I cannot bring about good outside of me, it somehow indicates a deficienty in myself. But it is precisely the worry that is the deficienty, and I must focus on having a heart after God without external dependency.

Why is it important for the Holy Spirit to convince us of righteousness?

The scripture says that the Spirit ἐλέγξει ("will convict" in the ESV; but potentially significantly more ambiguous [5]) of righteousness because "I [Christ] go to the Father, and you will see me no longer." Because we will not have Christ incarnate in the world to serve as an example for righteousness, the Spirit will show us what is good. He will question, check, and test our understanding of good; control, check, and monitor our pursuit of it; and audit our behavior to help us better understand the good into the future.

How should an awareness of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit affect our daily lives? In what ways has it affected your life personally? How do you hope it affects your life in the future?

My mind keeps bouncing around in scripture; but I settle most on Romans. [6]

I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

The Spirit, sent by the Father and come in the name of the Christ, fills us with the Word and frees us from our bondage to sin. To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. I pray that this peace will continue and expand, that I will live more tomorrow than I do today.

wINd | IN the Holy Spirit

A response to the "small group questions" for the 13 October 2019 message at First Pres, Boulder. [1]

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

excerpt from the English Standard Version of the Acts of the Apostles [2]

Last week Erik humbly said that his theology of the Holy Spirit is more robust and developed than his personal experience of the Holy spirit. How about you? Which is more developed--your understanding of the Holy Spirit or your experience with the Holy Spirit? What does that tell you about yourself, if anything? Share one way that you like to grow personally as we continue through this series.

I like this question a lot. I think my experience of the Holy Spirit might be more developed than my understanding of him. As should likely be obvious from my last post in this series, I am unconvinced of many of the Trinitarian perspectives on the Spirit; but his work in my life is clear, at least to me. My life is an ever-increasingly-unlikely series of serindipity, and I attribute this to God's Spirit at work in my life. Even just examining my heart, and comparing it with my younger self: I know I have further to go, but I can not take credit for how I have changed.

We explored the name Ruach/Pneuma or Wind/Breath for the Holy Spirit. What stood out to you from the message and the scripture? What was your take-away or lingering question?

Jane used The Bible Project's video on the Holy Spirit [3] to impart this context, and I must say that it's stuck with me. I think we miss out on a lot of useful metaphor in the scripture because we don't have the same anthropology as the authors, and it's great to have that illuminated. I've been watching so many of their videos [4] and listening to their podcasts [5] since then.

Take some time to read these various passages: Ezekiel 36:24-37:14, John 3:1-8, John 20:19-22, Acts 2:1-21. Make note of all the references to the Holy Spirit. What do you notice? What questions do you have? enjoy your time together exploring God's word.

The Spirit is life. New life.

I am fascinated to see John record the coming of the Holy Spirit to his disciples from his breath before pentecost. I don't think I knew it was so explicit.

What practices do you currently have in your life that help you be open to the Holy Spirit at work in you? Are there practices you would like to try? Talk together about how you might do something together to be more open and surrendered to the work of the Spirit. Commit to it until you meet again--be sure to check in next time you are together.

Say "yes" to things. Have a heart for God, and attribute leadings toward and in him to the Spirit. You wouldn't be afraid of it if you didn't think you were going to be required to do it.

TrINity | IN the Holy Spirit

A response to the "small group questions" for the 6 October 2019 message at First Pres, Boulder. [1]

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

excerpt from the English Standard Version of Genesis [2]

What is your own best understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity? How do you explain it? What Scriptures, if any, help you?

I scarcely know how to begin with this question.

That's a lie: I know that my fist reaction is, "I can't believe that a message on the Spirit has immediately become about the Trinity in stead." It strikes me as very Presbyterian, that the Spirit is too uncomfortable, too mysterious, to actually talk about for too long, so we have to talk in the abstract about the Trinity in stead.

Erik's message purported to embrace an admittedly detached Presbyterian mindset by defending a discussion about the Spirit before really getting to know the Spirit. This seemed fair enough to me; but then these three things were:

  • is God (that is, the Holy Spirit is actually God)

  • is love (but, already, the message went far away from being particularly about the Holy Spirit, in stead saying that "the Trinity", or God in his entirety, is love)

  • is transformation? (talking about the redemptive work of God in creation; but, again, this was largely talking about God in his entirety, not necessarily or specifically the Holy Spirit)

So I come away from this disappointed that a series purportedly about the Holy Spirit is already in this first message almost entirely about the doctrine of the Trinity, not the least because I consider the doctrine of the Trinity extra-biblical and likely completely incorrect.

The second helvetic confession states that "there are not three gods, but three persons, consubstantial, coeternal and coequal"; but even this simple, essential facet of Trinitarian theology is anti-scriptural.

The prompt asks what scriptures help me with my understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. I recognize that this isn't the intent; but I can think of no more succinct defense of my leaning than to quote Christ:

You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

excerpt from the New Living Translation of the gospel according to John [3]

If the Father is greater than Christ, then they are not coequal. And if they are not coequal, there is no Trinity.

I further and specifically reject the assertion that life without the Spirit leaves us with a "two-thirds God" as Erik claimed in his sermon. The Spirit is a comforter to us in our life as inheritors of the kingdom of God; but the Father is not "one third" of God, nor is Christ. Israel was not worshiping one third of God when they worshiped the God of Abraham; and Christ's disciples were not restricted to the presence of one third of God when they followed him.

I have been overly negative here, and I think with purpose; but I am aware that I have failed to answer the question, "What is your own best understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity?" My views on this matter are incomplete, and I am afraid they will remain so until the Spirit has broken my will over the study that will be necessary to complete it. Hopefully that will appear here some day. Not today.

Many protestants work with a functional "Bi-Une" God, focusing primarily on the Father and Son. Why do you suppose that is?

The Father and Son are relatively easy to consider in the abstract, as actors in history or the cosmos relatively distinct from ourselves; but to understand the Spirit is to invite God into your life. To be transformed. "Life," such as we think we know it, without the Spirit is the lie of our age. It is the temptation we are each confronted with: to know good and evil by our own wisdom, rather than to surrender our spirit to God's redeption as his.

What gets lost in our faith and our understanding of God if we set aside the Holy Spirit?

Christ is the promise of an escatalogical salvation from damnation or destruction. The Spirit is the living comfort of salvation from the hell of our broken creation today. In Christ we have hope of life into eternity. In the Spirit the new life starts now.

Throughout this series we will be reminded of the Holy Spirit's vital role in our faith. As we get started, what role does the Holy Spirit have in your life now?

I recognize the Spirit's action in my life, and often. I attibute much of my life and my being to the work of the Spirit, and I consider this attribution an intentional declaration of faith and an act of worship.

John 14:15-31; Romans 8; and Galatians 5:13-26 are some of the prominent places where teaching on the Holy Spirit can be found. What do you notice about the Spirit's work there?

I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Many of these passages reflect the role of the Spirit as comforter, as originally promised by Christ to his disciples. I do think that many of the uses of the word spirit (πνεῦμα) in Romans 8 are misattributed and coarsely interpreted to be explicitly the Holy Spirit. Paul explicitly distinguishes the Spirit of God with Πνεῦμα (a capital Π), even though the ESV grossly categorizes all uses of the word as Spirit (with a capital S).

This is notably not the case in Galatians, where most (all?) of the instances of the Spirit are rendered with a capital Π.

How can you seek to be more aware of God as Trinity this week? What may happen if you do this?

Since I'm coming to this three weeks later, I suppose I have missed the call; but, as I expect I've made clear above, I question the validity of the doctrine of the Trinity, so I don't think this call carries much weight to me.

Now if you want to know what might happen if I seek to be more aware of the work of the Spirit this week, that's a whole 'nother deal. I can always use more awareness of God at work in my life, and his presence is felt in my relationships with my family, my community, and even myself. He convicts me when I do not want to do what I ought. He convicts me when I do what I ought not do. And he comforts me with a heart that ever-increasingly desires the things of God. [4]