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|Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky|
Orthodox dogmatic theology
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The equality of honor and the Divinity of the Holy Spirit.
In the history of the ancient Church, whenever heretics tried to lessen the Divine dignity of
the Son of God, this was usually accompanied by a lessening of the dignity of the Holy Spirit.
In the second century, the heretic Valentinus falsely taught that the Holy Spirit was not distinct
in His nature from the angels. The Arians thought the same thing. However, the chief of the
heretics who distorted the apostolic teaching concerning the Holy Spirit was Macedonius, who
occupied the cathedra of Constantinople as archbishop in the 4th century and found followers for
himself among former Arians and Semi-Arians. He called the Holy Spirit a creation of the Son,
and a servant of the Father and the Son. Accusers of his heresy were Fathers of the Church like
Sts. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, Athanasius the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose,
Amphilocius, Diodores of Tarsus, and others, who wrote works against the heretics. The false
teaching of Macedonius was refuted first in a series of local councils and finally at the Second
Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381. In preserving Orthodoxy, the Second Ecumenical
Council completed the Nicaean Symbol of Faith with these words: “And in the Holy Spirit, the
Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is
equally worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets,” as well as those articles of the
Creed which follow this in the Nicaean-Constantinopolitan Symbol of Faith.
From among the numerous testimonies in Holy Scripture which concern the Holy Spirit, it is
especially important to have in mind those passages which a) confirm the teaching of the Church
that the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal Divine power, but a Person of the Holy Trinity, and b)
which affirm His Oneness in Essence and equal Divine dignity with the First and Second Persons
of the Holy Trinity.
a) A testimony of the first kind — that the Holy Spirit is a Person — we have in the words
of the Lord in His farewell conversation with His disciples, where he calls the Holy Spirit the
“Comforter” “whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth
from the Father, He shall testify of me” (John 15:26). “And when He is come, He will
reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not
on Me: of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more; of judgment, because
the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:8-11).
The Apostle Paul speaks clearly of the Spirit as a Person when, in examining the various
gifts of the Holy Spirit — the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, the discerning
of spirits, diverse tongues, and the interpretation of tongues — he concludes: “But all these
worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will” (1 Cor.
b) The Apostle Peter speaks of the Spirit as God in the words addressed to Ananias, who
had concealed the price of his property: “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy
Spirit... Thou hart not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:3-4).Concerning the equality of honor and the Oneness of Essence of the Spirit with the Father
and the Son there is the testimony of such passages as: “… Baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of
the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen” (2 Cor. 13:13). Here all three Persons of the Holy Trinity
are named as equal. And in the following words the Savior Himself expressed the Divine dignity
of the Holy Spirit: “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven
him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this
world, neither in the world to come” (Matt. 12:32).