La Croix’s cracked open and students settled into their seats in the Fermanian Conference Room to listen to a conversation about the Holy Spirit—its role, image and importance between the Church of the Nazarene and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jan. 30.
“[These conversations] help us to understand each other more fully,” PLNU Dean of School of Theology and Christian Ministry Mark Maddix said to preference the panel. “It’s easy for us to have criticisms of each other or not know each other when we don’t truly understand what a religion believes or what they value. This has been an opportunity for us to really get to know each other on a personal level but also to ask the hard questions of each other and each of our traditions.”
Brigham Young University Professors (BYU) J.B. Haws, Rachel Cope and Emeritus Dean of Religious Education Robert Millet joined the panel with Eastern Nazarene College Professor Mary Lou Shae, PLNU Professor of Theology and World Religions Professor Michael Lodhal, along with Maddix.
These meetings have been taking place for five years, twice a year. Professors from Brigham Young University (BYU) come to PLNU in the winter and the Church of the Nazarene visits Salt Lake City, Utah in the fall.
Haws said the LDS church believes the Holy Spirit is human in appearance, made of “spirit-matter” but does not have a physical body. Millet chimed in to say the Holy Spirit serves as a comforter, sanctifier, and teacher which was a common theme for both the Nazarene church and the LDS church. Shae stated the Nazarene church believes the Holy Spirit is God’s representative to us and through us.
Maddix said it is important to learn from other traditions within the Christian tradition and other religions to understand them better.
The conversation continued on to how the churches talk about or describe the presence of the Holy Spirit and if they believe the Holy Spirit is omnipresent. The last portion of the night was allocated to students to ask questions.
“I enjoyed the LDS and Nazarene discussion panel because it allowed for members of both communities to respectfully engage in discussion regarding the Holy Spirit. It was a great experience and I’m thankful that there are events like this on campus,” senior psychology major and Christian studies minor Sharon Nagra said.
“When you dialogue with a different tradition or perspective, you find yourself beginning to enter into their shoes and actually defend them,” Maddix said during the discussion.