I am writing this brief essay to report a conceptual error with regard to my formulation of manipulation formerly given in the short summary here, which has been corrected. This is in accordance to my policy where I reserve the right, also stated at the short summary, to retract and modify my findings as new information comes to my attention, as is consistent with a web site that claims to do theology after the manner of engineers and scientists.
The error I refer to was the unwarranted assumption that all miracles were merely a matter of scale and target, with the biochemical manipulation of the believer being the starting point and lowest power level available. This was an unwarranted extrapolation that has recently been corrected when the Spirit revealed a misconception with regard to His mission. In my desire to get this correction out as quickly as possible, I beg the indulgence of my readers for calling upon their memory of the scriptures more than usual without giving references in the interest of brevity. This may be regarded as a summary of what I hope to be a larger and more thorough essay.
I was at an online forum, typing in the assertion that the Spirit had empowered the disciples after Pentecost in response to a topic, when the Spirit reminded me that He had not been given to the disciples before Pentecost, yet they did miracles. In fact, in the light of Luke 10:8, where raising the dead was one of their abilities given by Jesus, why did the disciples not consider a plan where they would resusicate Jesus themselves? On the other hand, John the Baptist did no miracles despite having the Holy Spirit on him since conception (John 10:41).
Or perhaps no visible miracles. A quick review of the miracles before the Baptism of Jesus and the initiation of his ministry indicates that the Holy Spirit was indeed working, but at the biochemical levels that I outlined in The Symbiotic Refinery. The conception of John, the assembly of a single cell blastocyst into which Jesus, the Son of God, would occupy (Hebrews 10:5), the muting of Zacharias, the divinely inspired dreams given to the Magi and Joseph, are all miracles working at the biochemical level of each person affected. And recent experiences I have had interacting with fellow Christians to increase their effectiveness and personal power over temptation and sin lead me to firmly believe that the effectiveness of John the Baptist's preaching was due to the "miracle" of the Holy Spirit convicting those who heard him. The big visible stuff didn't start happening until after Jesus received the Holy Spirit.
There are three places in scripture that seem to indicate that power beyond the neurochemical/biochemical level comes from the Holy Spirit. The first is Samson. However, I believe he does not count because though the Scriptures state that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him prior to his feats of strength and prowess at the beginning of his ministry (Judges 13:25; 14:6; 14:19; 15:14) , the words are absent at other times, such as when he took personal revenge (14:4; 14:8) or used his strength to escape the consequences of playing with the enemy (16:3; 16:9; 16:12; 16:30). My take is that the sensation of the Spirit coming upon him was part of the protocol by which God told Samson to act on behalf of His people, but was obviously absent when he acted on his own or had started on the downward path to his ruin by violating the Nazarite restrictions. Since his strength was present regardless of the presence of the Holy Spirit ("The Spirit of the Lord"), it follows that it was not mediated nor dependent on His presence.
The second statement relating miracle bestowing power to the Spirit was Jesus telling the disciples in Acts 1:8 that "ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." This is a rather strange statement given that the disciples were given authority over demons, disease, and death, and exercised miraculous powers against all three during Jesus' time of ministry up to the Crucifixion. We tend to focus on their failure to cast out an especially strong demon, but that's only because it was easier to enumerate their single failure than an obviously long string of nearly unbroken successes. Indeed, the background of the feedings of the 5000 and 4000 has Jesus struggling with the disciples to increase their expectations of what was possible to them. It is that fact that is the hard aspect of the question of why the disciples did not try to recuscitate Jesus. When and where did the power go?
The third statement relating miracle bestowing power to the Spirit is the fact that Jesus began to do miracles after his Baptism by John when the Holy Spirit settled upon him. However, the very first thing the Spirit did was to "drive" Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil, which looks like the Spirit convicting Jesus with the thought of going there. The "big visible stuff" started happening after he got back from the wilderness, chose the Disciples, gave authority and power to them, and sent them out.
Of the three statements, the first can be dismissed as not being relevant, while the second and third are relevant. In the second, the Spirit comes, then Jesus comes, then the power comes to the disciples. In the third, Jesus goes, the Spirit comes, then the power comes to the disciples.
I don't know about you, but I didn't see a pattern at first. After puzzling over it a bit, I decided it was prudent to give up and run to the Spirit to lead me into a solution. That seemed especially appropriate since it was Him who got me seeing this conrundrum in the first place!
As of December 9, 2009, I believe I have a lead that I will express in computer terms: what we are seeing in the Gospels is the use of two interfaces to effect miracles, while in Acts we see a revision change in one of those interfaces previously seen in the Gospels. When I use the word "interface", I am referring to the way that a "user" of that "interface" "plugs into the interface" to get the benefits that the interface delivers.
First, the interface that is common and unchanged across the Gospels and Acts is the unilateral work of the Holy Spirit at the bio-molecular level. As I pointed out in my discussion of Proverbs, the Spirit actively seeks for those who will connect with Him, and the evidence from Old and New Testaments is that the primary benefit of this interface is wisdom. This wisdom is effected by the Spirit moving at the neurochemical level of the brain and body of the recipient. The secondary benefit of this interface is Manipulation, where other biochemical processes are manipulated by the Spirit, but whose activity was confused by the Old Testament writers with sovereign miracles that were effected by the Trinity. That is, we should view the creation of the first cell of Jesus Christ's body and the miraculous births of Isaac and John the Baptist as evidences of Manipulation, but not the Plague of Hail or the destruction of the cities of the plains. In fact, it seems highly doubtful that the Spirit actually assembled the first cell of Jesus Christ's body from scratch. What probably happened was that the Spirit interfered with the meiosis of one of Mary's pre-egg cells so that it was diploid rather than haploid. There ARE virgin births in nature, arising from errors in meiosis, but all such births are of females. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ, a male, required that the Spirit would have to rip apart and reassemble one of the X chromosomes into a Y chromosome, but that would not be at all difficult for Him since Y chromosomes have a much smaller fraction of genetic material than an X chromosomes. All the other miracle pregnancies of Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca, Hannah, and Elizabeth, would only require that the Spirit shepherd (i.e. "lead") the appropriate eggs and sperm to the right places, or just manipulate hormone levels to create a proper environment for pregnancy to proceed normally.
Because only biochemicals are affected by the Spirit, I will call this "interface" the "low power interface", with the understanding that I am not saying that the actual power of the Spirit is restricted to affecting the universe at the biomolecular level. Rather, the power level is dictated by the desire of the Spirit to not be as forceful, or more forceful, than demons when it came to the practical extending of Prevenient Grace to sinners. Given the Total Depravity of man, God has to do something to have any man saved because none would be saved if God did nothing. At the same time, God did not want puppets because He did not make puppets to begin with, and the Trinity has so enjoyed the free-will love extended from each to the others that anything less would be less than satisfying, if not utterly distasteful to the One Member Who's the stickler for the Truth. Restricting the interface's effects to the biochemical/biomolecular level determines the least powerful effective power level. Going lower would not be effective, and going higher overrides man's will too much. Again, I state that the power level of this "low power interface" is not an actual upper limit of the Spirit's power, but is the upper limit of what He is able to affect that is consistent with the goal of preserving free will.
The misconception I had was that there was only one interface, Manipulation, and that there was no upper limit to its power. Everything I wrote in "The Symbiotic Refinery" still holds true because I deliberately restricted my discussion to biochemical systems within the Believer.
The other two interfaces are the "high power interfaces", capable of affecting reality at all levels and possessing unlimited power. There are two, because there are two physical versions of the actual "interface", which is Jesus Christ. Version 1 is post-Baptism, pre-Gethsemane, when I conjecture that it was "taken offline" for "upgrading". Jesus is the Source of All Miracles, but only by virtue of being connected to the Father through the Spirit. The way Jesus talks of the Father, it appears that He is the generator and source of power, the Spirit is the transmission lines, and Jesus is the "plug" into which his disciples plug to get power for miracles. In Gethsemane, when Jesus yielded to the Father to go through with Calvary, I conjecture that the power flow stopped because Jesus ceased to be a righteous and holy conduit of that power when he took on the sins of the world as His own. The disciples could not do miracles after the Ressurrection and before Pentecost because they derived their Pre-Calvary power from Jesus by virtue of his similarity to them in body and soul (though not in spirit) before the Resurrection. In a sense, the "configuration" of the post-resurrection high power interface was incompatible with their unglorified bodies. For power to come again to the disciples, it was necessary to change how they plugged into the post-Resurrection Jesus. This did not happen until Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came to live in them forever, making them members of the Family of God. This changed their interface with regard to Jesus Christ and restored their ability to draw power from God the Father through Him.
Here is my current working hypothesis: the low power interface is Manipulation, while the high power interface is Unification with the Trinity, and especially with Jesus. Like the disciples who worked miracles through what Jesus gave them in the Gospels, the miracle workers in Acts also get their power from Jesus, albeit through a different interface because the post-Resurrection Jesus is physically different from us, and thus must be interfaced to differently, from the pre-Ressurrection Jesus, who was as fully human as we are, yet was also God. Those who pine for the days when Jesus was human have very good cause to believe that miracles were easier then than now. After all, even a man not associated with Jesus or His disciples was casting out demons in His name! And there is utterly no doubt that Jesus said YES to healing every one who came to him, and also to the few where He took the initiative. Would it have been easier to be miraculously healed by Jesus or by him through his disciples before the Crucifixion than now? Absolutely! There is NO record that Jesus EVER said NO to anyone, though there are times when he didn't make it easy or guaranteed.
Unfortunately, for people who pine for the pre-Resurrection Jesus, that Jesus is gone with the wind, being replaced by that same Jesus clothed in a different form and seated at the right hand of the Father. However, we must trust what He said to the disciples when He told them that it was to their advantage (and ours) that He was going away so that the Comforter would come, replacing a Savior touchable by the hand by the same one but who must now be touched by the spirit of man through the Spirit of God.
Here is another working hypothesis: just as this website has discovered that there are systematic methodologies by which one can plug into the low power interface and enjoy the benefits of Manipulation, Suppression, and Illumination through Manipulation, there must be a systematic methodology (currently unknown or known anecdotally) by which one can plug into the high power interface and enjoy its benefits through Unification. Happily, the knowledge of how to plug into that interface is obtainable through Manipulation! To use computer science terminology, we "bootstrap" into the high power interface using the low power interface. (In this view, using the Name of Jesus Christ to work a miracle is part of some protocol to invoke the high power interface, in the same way a protocol is used to invoke the low power interface for Suppression.)
I will finish by pointing out that the purpose of the "Symbiotic Christianity" section of this website is to document the full capabilities and potential of the Holy Spirit's "low power interface", along with detailed methodologies for invoking them. My impression, based on what the Spirit has not only said to me personally but through those who claim to hear the Holy Spirit, is that this is my current assignment and mission in the Kingdom of God, apparently due to the fact that my personal skillset, and the accident of me being the first to make the mental connections necessary to establish this as a field of study that can be systematically explicated, makes me the only one qualified to map the territory out to a level of detail necessary for the average believer to navigate around in it with the same ease that I do. While it is still an open question if I will be given the job of documenting, to a similar level of thoroughness, the capabilities and potential of the "high power interface", it DOES appear that this research is one end of the Cumberland Gap through which whoever is given that task must pass. Completeness of the task that I have been given thus dictates that I cut the Wilderness Road through the Gap. Given the way the Spirit works with me, I guess I won't find out the answer to that question until WE get there.
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