On The Indwelling Spirit

Often in Christian history, the Spirit has been rendered inpersonally and elusively. Perhaps this reflects concern that the immanence of the God might detract from God’s transcendence. Yet the living one, who remains other than and distinct from the world pervadesit to “mysteriously empower creation from within.” (1) It is an astonishing thing that God has chosen to live in and with us in the kind of intimate relational proximity that has given rise to the language of “indwelling.”

Impersonal and elusive renderings of the Spirit may also be the result of a worry that an “indwelling Spirit” will give way to a “‘God in a bottle’ kind of individualism.” (2) Yet the living God, who draws closer to us than we can imagine, reveals a much bigger vision than the one animating this fear. The Spirit of God breathes, beckons, loves, and prays from an expansive place of abiding within whole communities and their members, and within the entire created order as well, inspiring a sense of kinship throughout, for the sake of a common good that portends a coming reign. Such a vision neither overly anthropomorphic nor privatistic and individualistic.

Colleen M. Griffith, “The Spirit and the Nearness of God”, in The Holy Spirit: Setting the World on Fire, Richard Lennan and Nancy Pineda-Madrid, eds. (New York: Paulist Press, 2017), p. 4.


(1) Denis Edwards, Breath of Life: A Theology of the Creator Spirit (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004), p. 12.

(2) J.A. Draper, “The Tip of an Ice-Berg: The Temple of the Holy Spirit”, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 59 (1987): p. 57.