Nisi per Spiritum sanctum—The Holy Spirit and the Confession of Faith

in Journal of Reformed Theology
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The confession of faith in the lordship of Jesus Christ may be considered the originary practice of the Christian life. As such it recommends itself as a primary site at which to investigate the relation between the agency of the Holy Spirit and human activity. Focusing on 1Cor. 12:1–3, which identifies the act of the Spirit as the sine qua non of Christian confession, we examine its importance within the theological setting of Paul’s apocalyptic gospel in order to illumine classical Reformed debates about the nature of faith and ‘effectual calling’ in relation to the act of publicly confessing faith in Christ. Recognition of the Spirit as the present power of God’s eschatological reign, militant to shape reality, to win and secure faith, and to move women and men to a free creaturely acknowledgment of the same, proves essential to understanding the act of confessing the faith.




See H.-J. Kraus, Systematische Theologie (Neukirchener: Neukirchener Verlag, 1983), §§180–187, pp. 451–469.


Richard Hays, First Corinthians (Louisville: John Knox, 1997), p. 208.


See V.H. Neufeld, The Earliest Christian Confessions (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1963), pp. 53, 60. Cf. Eph. 1:15, Rom 16; 2Cor. 3:17–18.


See Thistleton, pp. 924, 927.


V.H. Neufeld, The Earliest Christian Confessions, pp. 61, 63, 64, 68, 146.; Cf. O. Cullmann, The Earliest Christian Confessions, translated by J.K.S. Reid (London: Lutterworth, 1949), pp. 22–24.


H. Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, p. 517 citing J.H. Heidegger.


See. G.C. Berkouwer, Faith and Sanctification (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952), pp. 42–44. On the problem of this separation, see H. Berkhof, The Christian Faith, pp. 441–442. Witius speaks of the word being “fecundated by the transcendent power of the Spirit”—H. Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, p. 518.


H. Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, pp. 518–519 citing Witius.


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