October 25, 2014

Winning The War, Part V—“You Shall Receive Power”

two thrones“But you are to be given power when the Holy Spirit has come to you.  You will be witnesses to me, not only in Jerusalem, not only throughout Judea, not only in Samaria, but to the very ends of the earth.”   Acts 1:8  (Phillips)

At that time, indeed, the Church seems to have moved in a cloud of wonders, as if the exact pattern of the Glory was for a while discerned…, as if the Paraclete had brought Heaven out, the languages and habits of Heaven seemed, for a few years, a few decades, to hover within the Church after a manner hardly realized since except occasionally and individually. There was, as it were, a Liturgy of the Holy Ghost after the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Body, a true liturgy with a Real Presence and a communion.

Charles Williams, The Descent Of The Dove

There was absolutely no one in sight.  The ground over which we walked was as void of life as if it dropped from the surface of the moon.  This was one of the driest deserts on Earth, receiving less than four milliliters of rain annually.  Actually, there was life.  Tiny little finch-like birds shadowed our progress, although what they lived on was a mystery to me.   I saw no plant life.

The path ahead of us differed from the terrain on either side of us only in that there were no large rocks in it.  My companion told me it was a road, but who travelled on it was as absent as the finches’ food.  We were on an evangelistic sortie from one of the Mercy Ships operated by a large short-term missions agency.  I was the pack mule for his sketchboard and tracts and his translator, and Jim was, well, it was difficult to say just what Jim was.

He had converted to Christ from general mid-twentieth century Mammon-worship about twenty years earlier and his wife had taken umbrage to his new orientation.  She sued for a divorce (this was before no-fault), but I don’t think she got one.  By the time I met Jim they had been separated twenty years.  I heard that Jim decided he wanted to wait for his wife to come to faith and as long as she took, he was willing to wait.  In the meantime, he would spread the Gospel.  He wasn’t a member of the agency I was enrolled with.  He was more of a hitchhiker with them.  He had a devoted group of friends who raised his support and met his modest needs.  He didn’t mingle with the rest of the ship’s company, but spent all of his time praying and reading the Bible.

I was “volunteered” to go out with Jim because I spoke Spanish and was young and strong enough to carry his baggage.  Most people were a little afraid of Jim because he had a disconcerting manner about him.  The only way I can explain it is how less dedicated employees feel about hanging with the guy in the shop who really takes his employer’s interests to his heart, except that the employer was Jesus.

Jim wasn’t an innovator as far as evangelical theology was concerned.  His messages were straight up Navigators/ Campus Crusade fare; “Sin separates you from God – Jesus bridges the gap.”   Nothing fancy, no nuances.  It was very easy to translate Jim’s messages into Spanish and, I suspect, into any other language as well.

What made Jim a hard customer was his total disregard for his own comfort (which meant that he cared only marginally more about yours), and his disturbing habit of stopping every couple of hundred paces to ask the Lord if this was where he was supposed to stop and preach.

After walking for close to an hour and forty-five minutes through a landscape that varied so little you could have mounted a screen in front of you and projected a slide upon it for all the change you saw, Jim finally stopped and decided that this was the place he wanted to preach.

Nothing, nada, in sight.  Rocks, sky, a finch or two.  In a 360 degree panorama around us there wasn’t a soul in sight.  Jim told me to set up the sketchboard.  This was where he was going to preach.  I lost it.  “There isn’t a soul in sight, Jim,” I complained.  “Who are you going to be preaching to?”  Jim wrestled his sketchboard away from me and set it up himself.  “Translate”, he commanded.

I did as he asked.  He started in on one of his sketchboard talks illustrating how sin separated man from God and how Jesus’ death on the Cross remedied that.  About five minutes into his sermon, I noticed two small dots on the horizon to the east, and another three coming down the road from the south the way we had come.  By the time Jim finished his discourse, we had a group of about thirty.  Not a bad congregation for the middle of nowhere.

I translated another sermon for Jim, more or less along the same lines of the one he had just finished.  He made an altar call, and an old man and his wife responded.  Jim prayed with them, in English, me translating.  He distributed some illustrated tracts to the rest, thanking them for their time.  I found out from the old woman that there were several tiny settlements of miners in the area, but that the closest ones were two or three hours away to the east and north.  She and her husband were on their way to visit their niece when they came upon the small gathering and decided to stick around.  She thought it very unusual that there were so many people out and about.  Jim and I packed up our gear and headed back to the ship.  He didn’t speak a word to me on the long walk back, but I was sufficiently cowed by him not to desire any conversation.

When I told my colleagues about what happened, they all laughed.  I had been a Jim-virgin.  Everybody had incredible stories to tell about Jim and his ways, how he preached in the middle of gunfights, or was invited to mayoral banquets, or held revival meetings in whorehouses.  Supposedly, his goal was to preach in all 228 countries of the world, and now there remained for him only the true tough cases; Mauritania, the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Albania, North Korea.

I heard a rumor that his wife had returned and that they had remarried, but I could find no confirmation of that story.  However, according to some online sources (there have got to be some here who know who “Jim” is), Jim was able to complete his goal in the late ‘nineties when North Korea allowed a limited number of Americans to enter for a sporting event.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father.  Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified. Who spoke through the prophets.

The reason I felt compelled to tell this story about ‘Jim’ is that ‘Jim’ always struck me as a Christian who was ‘full of the Holy Spirit’.  He never spoke in tongues, nor did he pray for sick people and see them get healed.  If being kind and open to others is a prerequisite for holiness, ‘Jim’ was not that holy.   He seldom mixed with others, and was often brusque to the point of rudeness.

His evangelism, which was the overarching passion of his life, also had something of a mechanical quality to it.  After my experience with him in the Atacama Desert, I accompanied him on evangelistic sorties with some frequency.  I never saw ‘Jim’ directly engage an inquirer.  There was another evangelist with the agency, ‘Gary’, who had much more of a personal touch.  ‘Gary’ always had time for people.  He thrived on it.  Going out with ‘Gary’ always meant a day-long commitment, since he could easily spend hours explaining something to someone if he felt the inquirer was sincere.

‘Jim’ was the scarier one.  His sense of certainty was uncanny.  “Here!” he would say about where to put the sketchboard.  “I’m going to preach the parable of the sower”, he would say to me before I translated, so that I could prepare myself mentally.  Judging by the number of people who responded to his invitations, ‘Jim’ was a much more effective evangelist than ‘Gary’.

‘Gary’ always seemed to me to be more like all the other Christians I knew, myself included; well-meaning, good-hearted, and sincere, but basically in a fog about how to accomplish what God wanted to accomplish through him.  He did the best he could according to his lights, and left the results with God.  Everybody loved ‘Gary’ and often sought his advice on personal matters.

‘Jim’, on the other hand seemed to be carried along by a certainty unseen this side of Acts 16:7.  He was constantly praying under his breath, his brow puckered with what I assumed to be the effort of keeping himself in a place where he could ‘hear from God’.  He always seemed to know just what to do, and when to do it.  He would pray for the opportunity to visit difficult countries like Mauritania or Malta, and opportunities would present themselves.  People tended to avoid him, and certainly no one sought his counsel for anything intimate.

So why do I think of ’Jim’ as being the ‘Spirit-filled’ Christian and ‘Gary’ not?  I don’t think either of these men was hypocritical.  I believe both of them were doing what they believed God wanted them to.  It was just that ‘Jim’ seemed to have more assistance from outside the circles of the visible world than ‘Gary’, and I have always viewed ‘Jim’s’ almost shamanic relationship to the Holy Spirit to be superior to ‘Gary’s’ well-meaning hit-or-miss strategy.  It is this charismatic, mystical strand in Christianity that I want to investigate, and one that I believe is deprecated unfairly because of the abuse that has resulted from an unskillful use of these charisms.

I’m sorry that most of this post was a personal reminiscence of a strange man for who I have a good deal of respect.  By the permission of this board’s caretakers, I would like to spend some time discussing the Christian’s relation to the Holy Spirit, and I think there is room here for at least two more posts.

First, I want to make a brief inquiry into something Jesus said:

It is to your benefit that I go away.” 

I don’t know about you, but to me that is the strangest verse in all of the Gospels.  I think that the West has tended to implement that verse in one of three ways, and this has resulted in the Roman Catholic, the confessional Protestant, and the Charismatic streams within Western Christendom, three streams that are farther apart from each other than any of them are from Eastern Orthodoxy.   With the permission of Jeff and Mike and with the indulgence of the iMonk readership, I would like to make a case for the superior pneumatology of the Eastern Church.

I would also like to take my fellow Orthodox to task.  You see, despite my belief that the Orthodox Church is the Church Christ established on Pentecost and the “pillar and ground of the truth”, I don’t believe the current leadership of the Orthodox Church is in a position to assist the West with her pathologies.   I think Pope Francis is in a far better position, but, alas, I think Rome lost her mojo over the past, oh, thousand years.  However, if the Holy Father continues the Eastward movement his two great predecessors began and continued, he may resurrect Rome’s great Orthodox heritage.  Stranger things have been known to happen.

If nothing else, it could result in an interesting two weeks.  Fasten your seatbelts.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Mule,

    Really looking forward to this. I’m an ACNA priest and probably should be able to put it in clearer wording than I can, but admitting to one’s deficiencies is the first step in correcting them. Of course, I’m sure you know about the hubbub going on with the new trial ACNA liturgy that omits the filioque from the Nicene Creed. I know all the background about why it’s there and why some thing it shouldn’t be or should, but what I’m looking for is a more “boots on the ground” or how it impacts the person in the pew (or standing I guess in an Orthodox church). But can you give me a short explanation as to how this differing view of the Holy Spirit makes the East and the West different?

    • short and most-likely-wrong answer:

      The filioque appears to me the first step in that unfortunate Western tendency away from personality towards abstraction that has plagued it throughout the second millenium.

      The long answer will be forthcoming

      • Oh, I think that happened long before the second millenium, when the church fathers chose neo-platonic philosophocal underpingings to explain Christian theology. This lead the church to a more abstract understanding of God than the simple personal approach of the Hebrew scriptures.

        • David Cornwell says:

          I think you are correct.

        • The church, both East and West, relies heavily on neo-Platonic categories and language, particularly with regard to mysticism. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite was one of the major tributaries, perhaps the most important one, delivering Christian mysticism in neo-Platonic thought forms and language.

          I’m aware that one cannot derive a neo-Platonic idiom from Scripture without a good amount of superimposition. I think the Fathers of the church, and the trailblazers of Christian mysticism, used the language of classical pagan civilization and culture because it was the language at hand for, and because they were speaking to a society immersed in that language, and because it was their native idiom. I can’t imagine how they might have avoided it.

          But I think it did ultimately have a distorting effect on both mystical theology and experience. The primary problem is that many people come back from mystical experiences of God shaped by such language with an image of the divine as more like the unmoved mover of Greek philosophy and religion than the Living God of our Scriptures. The static is elevated above the dynamic not only for the mystic but for the wider stream of spirituality that the mystics experiences feed, a stream which itself has been contoured by too great an accommodation with the language of neo-Platonism on the part of Christian theology since the first centuries.

          The result is that, although we are very comfortable with phrase “the Lord is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,” we let that comfort blind us to “I am who I will be.” From what I understand, the Tetragrammaton can be rightly translated either way; the fact that we are more comfortable with the “I am who I am” rendering is the result of the imbalance that neo-Platonism has caused in our thinking and theology. This has the result of stressing “being” as more divine than “becoming,” static, solitary existence as more divine than relational process. The effects of that distorting imbalance are far-reaching, and deleterious.

          • And yet, it’s not as if Christian mysticism or theology with a heavy influence of neo-Platonism are somehow illegitimate or inauthentic expressions of Christian spirituality; it’s a matter of balance and integration, of using different idioms to express truthfully the encounter with and experience of the divine in special and ordinary experience.

            It would be foolish to try to excise the remarkable Christian mysticism of St. John of the Cross or of the anonymous author of the Cloud of Unknowing or of so many others from our spiritual heritage in the name of undoing neo-Platonic influence and returning to some supposedly pure, unsullied expression of spirituality at the beginning, which, if we were to arrive there, would turn out to be no beginning at all.

            There is no path back to a putatively pure, pellucid original thinking and experience of God in a pristine past from which we have deviated. We are, and always have been, awash in a sea of contingency and relativity, which is not to say that there are no stable, enduring truths and experiences: it’s just that stable, enduring truths and experiences are just as likely to be discovered for the first time in the present, or even in the future, as in the past.

            Which is to say that God is just as likely to reveal himself to us in Jesus Christ in the present and future as in the past.

  2. Excellent post, Mule, and I’m eagerly looking forward to the follow-up.

    As an aside, I’m beginning to get a lot more relaxed about Pope Francis. I don’t know if you’ve seen the latest media feather-ruffling about what he has said (this time in an open letter to an atheist publisher of an Italian newspaper), but I’m learning to stop being outraged and scandalised and stop doing the explanation (for my own reassurance of mind, mostly) of what he really meant, and instead sit back and enjoy the sputtering from both the left and the right wings of the Church and the blogosphere. Also, I’m learning to trust the wisdom and will of God in what is going on.

    I definitely think the Holy Spirit was laughing when He selected a Jesuit pope :-)

    • Pope Francis really does seem to have been called by the Holy Spirit . . . the Spirit goes where He wills, and so does Francis . . . in an old used Renault which he drives himself around Vatican City. He likes people. He likes evangelicals, he likes Muslims, he likes children and teens . . . he bowed to Queen Rania of Jordan when she visited with her husband at the Vatican, another break with tradition, or maybe not . . . maybe a renewal of the ancient Catholic traditions of hospitality and humility . . . if so, what could be more helpful in our troubled divided world?
      I like this man. At some very deep level, he is already changing the Church for the better.

  3. For some odd reason I seem to be encountering more and more contact with Eastern Orthodox thinking in my day-to-day. Mule, I am looking forward to reading what you have in store …seatbelt fastened, crash helmet, too.

  4. You tease. I got all excited and you’re saving it for later.

  5. I guess I’d feel more comfortable with “Jim” and his relationship to the Holy Spirit if I sensed (and I only have your story to go by) that he was actually proclaiming the Gospel and gathering people into the fellowship of the church.

    With rare exceptions, it is not simply the remarkable leadings of the Spirit in the Book of Acts giving people opportunity to make a sales pitch that show the Spirit’s presence and power, but the fact that the people he touches through the apostles come together and form communities in which they share the common life of Christ. “Jim,” on the other hand, sounds like an insurance salesman. And one could point to many actual shysters and cult leaders who gave off a similarly supernatural kind of aura.

    I’ve never viewed someone like the Apostle Paul in that light. He may have had some unusual experiences but the majority of his life as an “evangelist” was spent working hard with his hands surrounded by coworkers whom he befriended and for whom he laid down his life (see 1Thessalonians 2:7-12 for example).

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      Thank you, Chaplain Mike!

      It is so easy to be swept away by stories with emotional power, or profound experiences. But one can probably find similar-sounding tales by Buddhist Monks and Mormon missionaries. In essences, it is in the interest of those who profess belief in or trust in what Lutherans sometimes dismissively call “liver shivers”, to continue shape a mythology that conforms to that belief – and that mythology might as well be about heroes than about a Deity.

      Having spent years in a fundamentalist sect/cult that had a general evangelical experience, but a definite mystic bend to it, I fail to be impressed with such tales. They are a dime a dozen, and squinting at real events through a mysticized (is there such a word) haze, turning your head slightly side ward, can make for tales just like this. Yes, I even thought I had some like those too – and retold them, to my own embarrassment today.

      Count me deeply skeptical.

      • So much of it is due to the desire to escape contingency; but it’s doomed to frustration, because the creature can never escape contingency.

      • …squinting at real events through a mysticized (is there such a word) haze, turning your head slightly side ward, can make for tales just like this. Yes, I even thought I had some like those too – and retold them, to my own embarrassment today.

        Same here, and ditto on skepticism!

    • My Zen teachers used to tell us to avoid thinking about or getting caught up in displays of paranormal power, since they were distractions and delusions that would divert us from the work at hand; I think the same is true in our Christian context.

      • Chaplain Mike – well said. There are, sadly, far too many hucksters and shysters in the evangelical/charismatic and Pentecostal world. I’ve been around a few, and the aura of faux-spirituality was quite intense – but it was all an act.

        Robert F – I think your Zen teachers were right.

      • @ Robert about getting caught up in displays of paranormal powers;

        I am reminded of the sobering words of Teresa of Avila: “Such experiences are given to the weaker brothers and sisters to fortify their flagging faith.” Even attribution to “the grace of God” can be subtle self-aggrandizement because the phrase has virtually become a Christian cliche.

        Brennan Manning in Abba’s Child

  6. Several thoughts bounced through my mind as I read this.

    Quote: “I have always viewed ‘Jim’s’ almost shamanic relationship to the Holy Spirit to be superior to ‘Gary’s’ well-meaning hit-or-miss strategy.”

    A family from Haiti has recently begun attending our church. This weekend, at a men’s retreat, the father prayed over one of our pastors. It was a loud, long, intense, almost “shaman-like” prayer. A few years ago, I would’ve felt uncomfortable hearing it, maybe even a bit “fearful” of such a prayer, wondering if the Spirit of God was in it or some other spirit. But this weekend, I found myself marveling at this man’s prayer, at the boldness of his words and proclamations. And for all I know, when he heard me pray my feeble, subdued prayer a little later, maybe he thought, “Is the Spirit of God even in this man?”

    Another thought I had was this: God can work through any and all of us, whether we’re a Jim or a Gary, and His grace covers all of us, whether we’re a Jim or a Gary. That gives me a lot of freedom to not worry about whether I’m a Jim or a Gary.

    • I’m sure the haitian man you mention comes from a church where this kind of prayer is the norm. Believe me, people in many of those places actually aspire to delivering such prayers in public.

      I’m sure he was sincere, but I’m equally sure that it’s more or less a rhetorical skill in many, many churches. (Very much about church “culture,” in other words.)

      • Yes, I’m sure culture plays into it, and that’s why I even mentioned he was from Haiti. I guess my point was that people from different cultures could point at the way each other is doing things and say, “That’s too weird to be in the Spirit of God” or “That guy has no Spirit of God in him.” Which is a long way of saying, just because a person is like “Jim” doesn’t mean he has more or less of God’s spirit in him than one who is like “Gary”. God can and does work through the Jims of the world, and the Garys of the world, and even the Ricks of the world!

        • I’m willing to bet – given my own time in such circles – that it’s *much* more about the kind of church this man comes from (Pentecostal or charismatic, or a blend of the two) than the country he’s from.

          Not j/k about people spending time *learning* to pray like this – it comes off as highly impressive when done from the pulpit (or not), believe me! It’s definitely a learned skill, as are other rhetorical “tricks.”

    • I’ve also seen people try to out-pray each other in charismatic settings, or undercut the prayers of others. (all public, all verbal.) It’s a very disconcerting thing, and can have more than a little meanness in it.

      • I agree, numo. I no longer want to pray out loud in front of other people unless they are “formal” prayers. I feel like my prayers are between God and myself. Of course, if someone said to me, “I am ill. Can you pray for me?” In spite of the fact that I think God would hear that person’s prayer just as well as mine, I would do that if asked. I would maybe ask if she or he was OK with me praying silently, but if she needed to hear spoken words, I would do that. I remember Jesus at Lazarus’ tomb (John, chapter 11) and he basically said that he was saying words out loud for the benefit of the people around him, not because God needed those works spoken out loud.

      • numo,
        I was involved in a healing prayer group among some charismatically inclined Episcopalians some years ago, and I was amazed at the unhealthy psycho-dynamics in that circle; every little feeling or thought was treated as a direct communique from the Holy Spirit, and the one-upmanship of people giving what was in fact their own advice to others as a word from the Holy Spirit was disturbing. A lot of power-tripping was involved.

        And yet…and yet….after hands on prayer in that group, the episodes of cluster headaches that I had experienced periodically since childhood have never, so far, over a decade later, recurred; this despite my extreme skepticism and the fact that I was only going along with it to indulge the special pleading of another person.

        • Robert F – I hear you, on both the group itself and the freedom from certain kinds of illness/pain, though I think the one-upmanship and drama far outpace actual instances of healing (or whatever).

          I honestly don’t want to deny or discredit the times that are – for lack of a better word -real, but I know that I’ve had some very phony “words” (etc. etc. etc.) and think that these things were and are relatively rare.

          Many miracles are recorded in Acts, but never the times when people just prayed an “nothing happened.” I wonder why that is?

          • Also, numo, the way the Book of Acts is written, it sounds like non-stop excitement and spectacle. Stop and think about it however, there were long periods of quiet and ordinary life between the big events.

          • I don’t disagree with you, numo; I’ve never returned to that group or one like it because I felt that the negatives far outweigh the positives.

            Nevertheless, there is an element of ambiguity, because amid it all is a God who sometimes seems to work among culpably unwise people, who have terribly tawdry motives, to heal their very real hurts despite their woefully deficient understanding of themselves and him. A God who does not mind even the most confusing messiness, and doesn’t seem to worry too much about being misunderstood.

            In fact, that is a picture of salvation.

          • Yes, CM, the chronological compression of Scripture sometimes produces false and melodramatic impressions.

          • Chaplain Mike – exactly. but I think we tend to miss that.

          • Robert F – yes, you are absolutely right! (Re. your most recent comment.)

            But I do wish I hadn’t been in some of the small groups I was part of while in charismatic/evangelical-land….

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          My apologies if I sound super skeptical, but having grown up in Africa, I know it is the easiest thing in the world to impress a North American, especially religiously. Just include some suitable foreign/mystic elements in your speech/actions, without actually saying anything outright heretical, and you have them hook, line and sinker. Especially if your ethnicity is different. Ooooh! Aaaah!

          Silly white people :) Respect comes through being taken serious as an equal, not amazing as a foreign oddity.

      • Just chiming in — this was PRECISELY my experience when I was in a charismatic-run college fellowship, and ultimately part of what drove me out. I also find prayer to be deeply personal, and now I see these displays as tacky.

  7. Having spent about 30 years among the shamanic-like crowd, all I can say is that “Jim” seems very off to me in some obvious ways.

    but to explain that, I’d have to write a *long* comment about what I saw (and sometimes believed) in the charismatic wing of the “circus,” and I’m not sure it would be terribly helpful – or all that relevant.

    Let’s just say that I think most of the charismatics I’ve known (including me, formerly) have many things all wrong, and a few things right, and leave it at that.

  8. David Cornwell says:

    The “Thirty-Nine” Articles” upon which the belief structure of the Church of England and from which the Methodist Articles of Religion were adapted say next to nothing about the Holy Spirit. The teachings I heard in the church were mostly dependent on a local pastor or evangelist. In Methodism much of the work of the Spirit had to do with sanctification. Teaching about the Spirit’s leading, empowerment, and gifts seem to have been left to chance. Official doctrine is wary however about speaking in tongues. Here is the concerned article:

    “Article XV – Of Speaking in the Congregation in Such a Tongue as the People Understand
    It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the primitive church, to have public prayer in the church, or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understood by the people.”

    Holy Spirit conferences became common during the period of the Charismatic Movement. Asbury University and Seminary have both taught about the sanctifying work of the Spirit (holiness). Neither of those institutions are officially Methodist however. Books and works have been written on the Holy Spirit by faculty members, including some on the gifts of the Spirit. Also the writings of John Wesley speak of perfect love produced by sanctification, through the work of the Spirit.

    I’m anxious to read this series. Talk about the Holy Spirit makes the Church nervous.

  9. Regarding the quote from Descent of the Dove: Charles Williams writes as if he was there, during those years and decades, and has it all first hand; but he wasn’t, and he doesn’t.

    That’s exactly why the Church gets nervous about talk of the Holy Spirit: “… the pretending to extraordinary revelations and gifts of the Holy Ghost is a horrid thing…a most horrid thing…” (Bishop Butler). And it is.

  10. Mule,

    First, I would like to commend you for a very interesting series of posts. You may or may not remember me, but we use to cross paths on Greg K’s old board.

    I am looking forward to reading your next post on the filioque. As with Michael Spencer, I come from a Southern Baptist background. I enjoyed Michael Spencer’s writings because I could relate to the issues he had with the SBC. I still read Internet Monk from time to time.

    At any rate, I’m especially curious how you would relate the filioque to Baptists in general and Evangelicals specifically. Although this tribe has a lot of problems in my opinion, I’m at a loss as to how the filioque has anything to do with them. The vast majority of them aren’t especially familiar with the Nicene creed. I would wager that 99% of Baptist pastors, even well-read Reformed types, would probably give you a blank stare if you asked them about the filioque. Among the laity, you might as well be speaking Chinese.

    So what gives with the filioque? I’m curious to find out.