Basil the Great (329-379) - De Spiritu Sancto - Spiritual Worship
Worship is in spirit and in truth: So our Lord, when teaching the woman who thought God to be an object of local worship that the incorporeal is incomprehensible.
Perhaps nothing is more destructive or heretical than to believe that one man or a "team" can perform worship rituals for another, or even lead them into worship. While the early church assembled for the Lord's Supper and prayer, this is never called "worship." To the contrary, it is most unlikely that one person can worship in spirit (in the mind) a Spirit God while reading the words, watching my "part," trying to blend with the whole and watch the leader try to poke the song down your throat with a pointy finger. Total Document here.
(1.) "Let us explain what are our ideas concerning the Spirit; as well those gathered from Scripture as those which we have received from the unwritten tradition of the fathers. Who, then, but is elevated in soul when he hears the very name of the Spirit, and seizes upon thoughts of the highest nature? He is called the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, the right Spirit, the ruling Spirit. Holy Spirit is his leading and distinctive title....Impossible, then, that he who hears of the Spirit should picture in his mind a circumscribed nature subject to change or alteration, or in any way like to a creature; but, soaring to the highest thought, he must conceive a rational substance, boundless in power, unlimited in greatness, immeasurable by time or by aeons, bountiful in his good gifts; unto whom all things turn when they need holiness, whom all things long after that live according to virtue....Perfecting all others, himself wanting in nothing, not living himself by removal but the giver of life; not growing by accessions, but at once complete, stablished in himself and existing everywhere. The source of holiness; the intellectual light; giving to every rational power a certain enlightenment from himself for the discovery of truth. By nature unapproachable; comprehensible by his own graciousness. Filling all things by his power, yet communicable to the worthy alone. Not communicated to all in the same measure, but distributing his energy according to the proportion of faith. Uncompounded in his essence; various in his powers. Wholly present to each, and wholly present everywhere. Divided without passion; being shared, yet remaining whole, like a ray of the sun, whose favor to him who enjoys it is as if to him alone, but which shines over land and sea, and is diffused into the air. Even so the Holy Spirit, while he is wholly present to every one capable of receiving him, infuses into all a grace complete and sufficient, so that partakers enjoy him according to the measure of their ability, not of his power....Cleansed, then, from the disgrace which through wickedness has defiled, and turned back to what is by nature good, and having, like a royal image, stripped off the old appearance through cleansing, so alone it is that one "approaches the Paraclete....He shines upon such as are purged of all stain, and makes them spiritual through communion with himself. And as clear, transparent bodies, touched by the sun, become glowing, and send forth from themselves another splendor, so Spirit-bearing souls, illumined by the Spirit, become themselves spiritual, and transmit grace to others. Hence the foreknowledge of things to come, the comprehension of mysteries, the discovery of secrets, the diffusion of gifts, the heavenly citizenship, the choral song with angels, the everlasting joy, the perseverance in God, the likeness to God, then the goal of all desires to become God."&emdash;(Cap. 9, secs. 22, 23.)
Definitive conceptions about the Spirit which conform to the teaching of the Scriptures.
22. Let us now investigate what are our common conceptions concerning the Spirit, as well those which have been gathered by us from Holy Scripture concerning It as those which we have received from the unwritten tradition of the Fathers.
First of all we ask, who on hearing the titles of the Spirit is not lifted up in soul, who does not raise his conception to the supreme nature? It is called "Spirit of God," "Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father," "right Spirit," "a leading Spirit." Its proper and peculiar title is "Holy Spirit;" which is a name specially appropriate to everything that is incorporeal, purely immaterial, and indivisible.
So our Lord, when teaching the woman who thought God to be an object of local worship that the incorporeal is incomprehensible, said "God is a spirit." On our hearing, then, of a spirit,
it is impossible to form the idea of a nature circumscribed, subject to change and variation, or at all like the creature.
Our notes: To worship in spirit cannot be restricted to time and place. It cannot be "facilitated" or "manipulated" by another person being the intercessor, pray-er or sing-er or speak-er:
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers (an adorer) shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. John 4:23
God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:24
In spirit does not mean 'enthusiastically' or paying attention to the true meaning as one is involved in external worship in specified forms, at specified times and specified places. Philo invented that word: enthus o mania meaning to be mad, insane possessed by the demons.
Basil severely trimmed the earlier "liturgy" and thereby simplifying the collective assembly.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Eph 6:17
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; Eph 6:18
For we are the circumcision, which
- worship God in the spirit,
- and rejoice in Christ Jesus,
- and have no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3
We are compelled to advance in our conceptions to the highest, and to think of an intelligent essence, in power infinite, in magnitude unlimited, unmeasured by times or ages, generous of It's good gifts, to whom turn all things needing sanctification,
after whom reach all things that live in virtue, as being watered by It's inspiration and helped on toward their natural and proper end; perfecting all other things,
but Itself in nothing lacking; living not as needing restoration, but as Supplier of life; not growing by additions; but straightway full, self-established, omnipresent, origin of sanctification,
light perceptible to the mind, supplying, as it were, through Itself, illumination to every faculty in the search for truth;
by nature un-approachable, apprehended by reason of goodness, filling all things with Its power,
but communicated only to the worthy; not shared in one measure, but distributing Its energy according to "the proportion of faith;"
in essence simple, in powers various, wholly present in each and being wholly everywhere; impassively divided, shared without loss of ceasing to be entire, after the likeness of the sunbeam, whose kindly light falls on him who enjoys it as though it shone for him alone, yet illumines land and sea and mingles with the air.
So, too, is the Spirit to every one who receives lt, as though given to him alone, and yet It sends forth grace sufficient and full for all mankind, and is enjoyed by all who share It, according to the capacity, not of Its power, but of their nature.
23. Now the Spirit is not brought into intimate association with the soul
by local approximation.
How indeed could there be a corporeal approach to the incorporeal?
This association results from the withdrawal of the passions which,
coming afterwards gradually on the soul from its friendship to the flesh,
have alienated it from its close relationship with God.
Paul agreed. He did not say that we get our bodies all wound up into a charismatic (insane) fit but that we BURN UP our flesh so that our spirit can worship in reason:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1
Thusia (g2378) thoo-see'-ah; from 2380; sacrifice (the act of the victim, lit. or fig.): - sacrifice.
Thuo (g2380) thoo'-o; a prim. verb; prop. to rush (breathe hard, blow, smoke), i.e. (by impl.) to sacrifice (prop. by fire, but gen.); by extens. to immolate (slaughter for any purpose): - kill, (do) sacrifice, slay.
And be not conformed to this world: but ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2
Only then after a man is purified from the shame whose stain he took through his wickedness, and has come back again to his natural beauty, and as it were cleaning the Royal Image and restoring its ancient form, only thus is it possible for him to draw near to the Paraclete.
And He, like the sun, will by the aid of thy purified eye show thee in Himself the image of the invisible, and in the blessed spectacle of the image thou shalt behold the unspeakable beauty of the archetype.
Whence is it that we are Christians?
Through our faith, would be the universal answer.
And in what way are we saved? Plainly because we were regenerate through the grace given in our baptism.
How else could we be? And after recognising that this salvation is established through the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost,
shall we fling away "that form of doctrine" which we received?
Through His aid hearts are lifted up, the weak are held by the hand, and they who are advancing are brought to perfection. Shining upon those that are cleansed from every spot,
He makes them spiritual by fellowship with Himself. Just as when a sunbeam falls on bright and transparent bodies, they themselves become brilliant too, and shed forth a fresh brightness from themselves,
so souls wherein the Spirit dwells, illuminated by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual, and send forth their grace to others.
Hence comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of mysteries, apprehension of what is hidden, distribution of good gifts, the heavenly citizenship, a place in the chorus of angels, joy without end, abiding in God, the being made like to God, and, highest of all, the being made God. Such, then, to instance a few out of many, are the conceptions concerning the Holy Spirit,
which we have been taught to hold concerning His greatness, His dignity, and His operations, by the oracles of the Spirit themselves.
Basil the Great (329-379)