Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost [ghost, i.e., spirit, a translation of Gr. pneuma=breath, air], in Christian doctrine, the third person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is sometimes defined as the aspect of God immanent in this world, in human beings, and in the church. Jesus' promise to his disciples of a Comforter (or Paraclete, i.e., advocate), in John 14, is considered his principal reference to the Holy Spirit, and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and the communication of the gift of tongues, as recounted in Acts 2, is thought to be an example of the work of the Holy Spirit in time. This incident is commemorated on Pentecost (Whitsunday). Certain Christian groups, such as the Montanists and the Society of Friends, have attributed utterances of their members to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. For the controversy over the procession of the Holy Spirit, see creed.
or Holy Ghost or Paraclete

In Christianity, the third person of the Holy Trinity. Though references to the spirit of Yahweh (God) abound in the Old Testament, Christian teaching about the Holy Spirit is derived mainly from the Gospels. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism, and outpourings of the Spirit are mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, in which healing, prophecy, exorcism, and speaking in tongues are associated with its activity. The Holy Spirit also came to the disciples during Pentecost. The definition of the Holy Spirit as a divine person equal in substance to the Father and the Son was made at the Council of Constantinople (AD 381).

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In mainstream Christianity, the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is one of the three entities of the Holy Trinity which make up the single substance of God; that is, the Spirit is considered to act in concert with and share an essential nature with God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ). The Christian theology of the Holy Spirit, or pneumatology, was the last piece of Trinitarian theology to be fully explored and developed. For this reason, there is greater theological diversity among Christian understandings of the Spirit than there is among understandings of the Son (Christology) and of the Father. Within Trinitarian theology, the Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as the "Third Person" of the Triune God - with the Father being the First Person and the Son the Second Person. There are also distinct understandings of the Holy Spirit by non-Trinitarian groups and some non-Christian groups who use the term as well.

Doctrine

New Testament background

The Holy Sprit is From God. This is from Genesis 1, where it is written that "the spirit of God was floating over the waters [of creation]" - indicating the Holy Spirit; and from 1 Samuel 11:6, where it is written that "the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly."

The first overt appearance of the Holy Spirit in Christian theology is in the words of Jesus, speaking to his disciples () shortly before his death. He characterizes the Holy Spirit to them as the 'Spirit of Truth'. Chronologically though, the Holy Spirit makes a first appearance at the beginning of Jesus' ministry when he is baptized in the Jordan River (, , ). In these accounts, the incorporeal Holy Spirit is described as descending upon Jesus 'like' or 'as' a dove.

In John's Gospel, emphasis is placed not upon what the Holy Spirit did for Jesus, but upon Jesus giving the Spirit to his disciples. This "Higher" Christology sees Jesus as a sacrificial lamb, and as coming among mankind in order to grant the Spirit of God to humanity.

Although the language used to describe Jesus' receiving the Spirit in John's Gospel is parallel to the accounts in the other three Gospels, John relates this with the aim of showing that Jesus is specially in possession of the Spirit for the purpose of granting the Spirit to his followers, uniting them with himself, and in himself also uniting them with the Father. (See Raymond Brown, "The Gospel According to John", chapter on Pneumatology). In John, the gift of the Spirit is equivalent to eternal life, knowledge of God, power to obey, and communion with one another and with the Father.

Mainstream Christianity

Christians believe that the Holy Spirit leads people to faith in Jesus and gives them the ability to lead a Christian life. The Holy Spirit dwells inside every Christian, each one's body being his temple (). The Holy Spirit is depicted as a 'Counselor' or 'Helper' (paracletus in Latin, derived from Greek), guiding people in the way of the truth. The Holy Spirit's action in one's life is believed to produce positive results, known as the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. A list of "spiritual gifts" that may be bestowed include the charismatic gifts of prophecy, tongues, healing, and knowledge. Christians holding a view known as cessationism believe these gifts were given only in New Testament times. Christians almost universally agree that certain spiritual gifts are still in effect today, including the gifts of ministry, teaching, giving, leadership, and mercy (see, e.g. ). The experience of the Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as being anointed.

Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as the promised "Advocate" (i.e. "strengthener", "fortifier") in . After his resurrection, Christ told his disciples that they would be "baptized with the Holy Spirit", and would receive power from this event a promise that was fulfilled in the events recounted in the second chapter of Acts. On the first Pentecost, Jesus' disciples were gathered in Jerusalem when a mighty wind was heard and tongues of fire appeared over their heads. A multilingual crowd heard the disciples speaking, and each of them heard them speaking in his or her native language.

The Holy Spirit's existence is affirmed in the Apostles Creed and responsibility for the Virgin Birth of Jesus is asserted. In the Nicene Creed (an extensive elaboration of the Apostles Creed), the Holy Spirit is further affirmed to proceed from either one or both of the other members of the Trinity (God the Father and God the Son) (see filioque controversy). This is taken to further imply that the Holy Spirit is consubstantial and co-eternal with the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is also asserted to be the "Lord and Giver of Life".

Particular Christian views

Roman Catholicism

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following in the first paragraph dealing with the Apostles Creed's article I believe in the Holy Spirit. "No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." Now God's Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit who "has spoken through the prophets" makes us hear the Father's Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who "unveils" Christ to us "will not speak on his own." Such properly divine self-effacement explains why "the world cannot receive [him], because it neither sees him nor knows him", while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them."

As regards the Holy Spirit's relationship with the Church, the Catechism states: "The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit...Thus the Church's mission is not an addition to that of Christ and the Holy Spirit, but is its sacrament: in her whole being and in all her members, the Church is sent to announce, bear witness, make present, and spread the mystery of the communion of the Holy Trinity...Because the Holy Spirit is the anointing of Christ, it is Christ who, as the head of the Body, pours out the Spirit among his members to nourish, heal, and organize them in their mutual functions, to give them life, send them to bear witness, and associate them to his self-offering to the Father and to his intercession for the whole world. Through the Church's sacraments, Christ communicates his Holy and sanctifying Spirit to the members of his Body."

The Catechism also lists the various symbols of the Holy Spirit in the Bible:

  • Water - signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism. As "by one Spirit we were all baptized", so we are also "made to drink of one Spirit." Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified as its source and welling up in us to eternal life. (Cf. ; ; ; ; ; ; ; )
  • Anointing - The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit, to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. (Cf. ; ) In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called "chrismation" in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew "messiah") means the one "anointed" by God's Spirit.
  • Fire - symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit's actions. In the form of tongues "as of fire", the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself.
  • Cloud and light - The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and "overshadows" her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus. On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the "cloud came and overshadowed" Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and "a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!'" ()
  • The seal is a symbol close to that of anointing. "The Father has set his seal" on Christ and also seals us in him. (cf. ; ; ) Because this seal indicates the indelible effect of the anointing with the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, the image of the seal (sphragis) has been used in some theological traditions to express the indelible "character" imprinted by these three unrepeatable sacraments.
  • The hand. It is by the Apostles' imposition of hands that the Holy Spirit is given. The Letter to the Hebrews lists the imposition of hands among the "fundamental elements" of its teaching. The Church has kept this sign of the all-powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in its sacramental epicleses.
  • The finger. "It is by the finger of God that [Jesus] cast out demons." If God's law was written on tablets of stone "by the finger of God", then the "letter from Christ" entrusted to the care of the apostles, is written "with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts." ()
  • The dove. When Christ comes up from the water of his baptism, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down upon him and remains with him. ()

Pentecostalism

The Christian movement called Pentecostalism derives its name from the event of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit when Jesus' disciples were gathered in Jerusalem. They also believe that, once received, the Holy Spirit is God working through the recipient to perform the gifts of the Spirit. These gifts are portrayed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12.

The Pentecostal movement places special emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit, and especially on the gifts mentioned above, believing that they are still given today. Much of Pentecostalism holds that the 'Baptism with the Holy Spirit' is distinct from the salvific born again experience, as a usually distinct experience in which the Spirit's power is received by the Christian in a new way, with the result that the Christian can now be more readily used to do signs, miracles, and wonders for the sake of evangelism or for ministry within the church. There are also many Pentecostals who believe that Spirit baptism is a necessary element in salvation, not a "second blessing". For a more detailed discussion, see Pentecostalism.

Many Pentecostals also believe that the normative initial evidence of this infilling (baptism) of the Holy Spirit is the ability to speak in other tongues (glossolalia).

Orthodoxy

Eastern Orthodoxy proclaims that the Father is the eternal source of the Godhead, from whom is begotten the Son eternally and also from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally. Note that unlike the Catholic Church and western Christianity in general, the Orthodox Church does not espouse the use of the Filioque ("and the Son") in describing the procession of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is believed to eternally proceed from the Father, not from the Father and the Son. Orthodox doctrine regarding the Holy Trinity is summarized in the Symbol of Faith (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed). Oriental Orthodox also coincide with Eastern Orthodox usage and teachings on the matter.

Dispensationalism

According to dispensationalism, we are now living in the Age of the Spirit, or church age (however some like Harold Camping say the church age has ended and we are in the tribulation period). The Old Testament period, under this view, may be called the Age of the Father, or of the (Mosaic) law; the period covered by the Gospels, the Age of the Son; from Pentecost until the second advent of Christ, the Age of the Spirit, or the church age (see also Joachim of Fiore).

The Mosaic Law was still in effect up to the time when Jesus Christ (the second person of the Trinity) died on a Roman cross, was buried and rose from the dead (). The church age was fully established at Pentecost where the disciples' were given the Holy Spirit, and sent out by him to plant his church in the world.

A controversial view holds that at the time of the Rapture, the Holy Spirit will depart the Earth, although it is seldom mentioned today. However, the Rapture is another disputed point of Christianity. .

The church age is said to close with the second coming of Christ.

The Churches of God Movement

In the Scripture, the word most frequently used for "spirit" is ruwakh (רוח) meaning "breath, wind, spirit" in Hebrew. In the Greek Scriptures, the word is pneuma, having a similar meaning. The Churches of God (Anderson, IN) believe that the Holy Spirit is one of the three persons within the Holy Trinity. As the promised comforter (John 16:7), the Holy Spirit comes into the life not only as a gift but an experience. Through the infilling and work of the Holy Spirit a Christian grows in their relationship with God and there is an instilling of wisdom, understanding, and an increasing of faith and strength. The Holy Spirit is offered generously through God's love, but given only to those that seek him.

Third Wave

The expression Third Wave was coined by Christian theologian C. Peter Wagner around 1980 to describe what followers believe to be the recent historical work of the Holy Spirit. It is part of a larger movement known as the Neocharismatic movement. The Third Wave involves those Christians who have allegedly received Pentecostal-like experiences, however Third Wavers claim no association with either the Pentecostal or Charismatic movements.

Branch Davidian, Some Messianics, and others

There are numerous Christian groups who base their thinking in regards to the gender of the Holy Spirit on the fact that the Hebrew word for Spirit, Ruach, is feminine. They give no weight to the facts that the Greek word for Spirit (Pneuma) is neuter, and the Latin one is masculine, because the Logos ("oracles" - words) of God were are said to be given unto the Jews (Rom. 3:1, 2).

Foremost among these groups, and the most vocal on the subject are the Branch Davidian. In 1977, one of their leaders, Lois Roden, began to formally teach that the feminine Holy Spirit is the heavenly pattern of women. In her many studies and talks she cited numerous scholars and researchers from Jewish, Christian, and other sources.

They see in the creation of Adam and Eve a literal image and likeness of the invisible Godhead, Male and Female, who is "clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" (Rom. 1:20). They take the oneness of God to mean the "familial" unity which exists between them, which unity is not seen in any other depiction of the Godhead by the various non-Hebrew peoples.

Thus, having a father and mother in heaven, they see that the Bible shows that those parents had a son born unto them before the creation of the world, by whom all things were created. The final element in their belief that mankind is literally made in the image and likeness of Gods is that of a divine daughter, a feminine counterpart of the son. They say that the concept has it roots in the Bible and Jewish concept of The Matronit. They see that the King James translators understood the concept of Christ having his own spirit (feminine counterpart), by using the terms "Holy Spirit" (Mother - Spirit of God), and "Holy Ghost" (Daughter - Spirit of Christ). Here are some example of Branch Davidian teachings on the Subject.

These concepts are also taught among other groups, to one degree or another.

There are some other independent Messianic groups with similar teachings. Some examples include Joy In the World ; The Torah and Testimony Revealed 

There are also some scholars associated with more "mainstream" denominations, who while not necessarily indicative of the denominations themselves, have written works explaining a feminine understanding of the third member of the Godhead. For example, R.P. Nettlehorst, professor at the Quartz Hill School of Theology (associated with the Southern Baptist Convention) has written on the subject. Evan Randolph, associated with the Episcopal Church, has likewise written on the subject.

Here are some historical examples:

"Holy Spirit" or "Holy Ghost"

Holy Ghost was the common name for the Holy Spirit in English prior to the 20th century. It is the name used in the Book of Common Prayer, the Catholic Douay Rheims bible and the King James Version, and is still used by those who prefer more traditional language, or whose religious vocabulary is largely derived from the KJV. The term is still retained in the traditional-language rites of the Anglican Church. The original meaning of the English word ghost closely paralleled the words spirit or soul; only later did the former word come to acquire the specific sense of "disembodied spirit of the dead" and the associated pejorative connotations.

In 1901 the American Standard Version of the Bible translated the name as Holy Spirit, as had the English Revised Version of 1881-1885 upon which it was based. Almost all modern English translations have followed suit. Some languages still use a word that overlaps both English words, such as the German Geist.

In Norfolk, a county in the United Kingdom, Religious Education teachers are told to avoid using "Holy Ghost" as it allegedly "suggests a trivial and spooky element to the third part in the Trinity".

Gifts and fruits

Fruit of the Spirit

Christians believe the "Fruit of the Spirit" are virtues engendered in an individual by the acceptance of the Spirit and his actions in one's life. They can be found in the New Testament (): "But the fruit of the Spirit is love (Gk: agape), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control." The Tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1832), lists 12 segments making up the Fruit of the Holy Spirit: "charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, [and] chastity." Many Christians believe that the fruit of the Holy Spirit are enhanced over time by exposure to the written word of God and by the experience of leading a Christian life. They further believe that the Fruit of the Holy Spirit are products of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit: "wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord."

Gifts and filling of the Spirit

Some Christians claim that when they align themselves with God through Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit dwells inside of them. Some consider conversion to be the point of filling, others hold to a "later filling", "second work of grace", or "baptism of the Spirit" when a believer begins manifesting various gifts and abilities.

The Holy Spirit empowers the believer for ministry in the church and world and allows him/her to commune with the Creator.

The Sevenfold or Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out on a believer at baptism (accordant to Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, died 397) are the: 1. Spirit of Wisdom; 2. Spirit of Understanding; 3. Spirit of Counsel; 4. Spirit of Strength; 5. Spirit of Knowledge; 6. Spirit of Godliness; 7. Spirit of Holy Fear; (from De Sacramentis 3.8). Ambrose believed that all of these were poured out on the believer at baptism.

Another understanding of Gifts of the Spirit holds that different gifts are given to different people, perhaps even at different times, according to the needs of the church, to carry out God's work on earth. Saint Paul believed that all Christians should work together, each with different functions like the parts of a human body. See 1 Corinthians 12. From this perspective, the Holy Spirit can manifest gifts of many kinds, giving:

  • Wisdom;
  • Eyes illuminated to the Word of God;
  • Knowledge revealed to them;
  • Supernatural faith;
  • Power to Perform Miracles;
  • Ability to Heal or Experience Healing;

or causing the believer to:

  • Feel the presence of God;
  • Feel powerful sensations through the body;
  • Overwhelming sense of joy;
  • Be made an "apostle" (sent one, missionary);
  • Be called as a Pastor/Holy person;
  • Have the ability to teach from the Word of God;
  • Be able to lead and administer;
  • Have a knack for seeing needs and extending mercy;
  • Give;
  • Use one's life to help others;
  • Consistently open one's home in hospitality;
  • Love and forgive supernaturally;
  • Evangelize (speak/spread forth the Good News);
  • Engage in Glossolalia, commonly called "speaking in tongues";
  • Engage in Xenoglossy or Religious Xenoglossia, speaking in an unlearned language;
  • Raise the dead;
  • Interpret different tongues;
  • Hear God speak;
  • Exorcise Evil Spirits that possess a person;
  • Have a strong, personal connection to God;
  • Be able to prophesy;
  • Have visions;
  • Discern spiritual, physical and mental conditions;
  • See angels and demons at work.

There are four listings of gifts of the Spirit. , , , and . In each of these references it is made clear that these gifts are for the building up of the Body of Christ, or the Church. St. Paul is aware of spiritual power that manifests itself in at least these ways and teaches the church of their presence, role and importance. These are to be distinguished from talents which all people enjoy because they are created in the image of God. Spiritual gifts provide the power and abilities needed to do the work of Christ in the world.

Some Christians, especially of Eastern Orthodoxy, believe that early fathers were especially guided by the Holy Spirit, making their writings almost as canonical as the Testaments.

Numerous other supernatural happenings have been linked to the Holy Spirit, and it is often claimed that the power of the Holy Spirit is manifested more in some than it is in others depending on the individual's openness to God using them and the Spirit's sovereign will.

Life in the Spirit

The following is an example of what is generally held by evangelical Christians.

Life in the Spirit is spoken of in many places within the Bible. We note this fact from many theological scholars, including Dr. Gilbert Stafford in his book Theology for Disciples, "The church was empowered both to increase numerically and to live a quality of life." We should be able to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all Christians. This can be seen as three separate movements, the conviction of sin, the holiness of character, and for power in service.

The Conviction of Sin This is an on going ministry and work of the Holy Spirit. It was first spoken of by Jesus as recorded in John 16:8. The purpose of this conviction is for Christians to live set apart lives to honor God. It is through the conviction of sin that the Holy Spirit leads into a life that can be described as having a holiness of character.

With the infusion of the Holy Spirit into the lives of Christians so that they can live with a holiness of character. Holiness, and the Holiness movement, at times has been looked upon as legalism, and sometimes went that path. Yet the call to holiness of character should not be perverted by history. One who follows Jesus and is indwelled by the Spirit and submitting to that Spirit will live a life that has the fruit of the Spirit coming out of it, but this is not only for our own benefit, it is to serve God, and others.

Finally, we realize the movement of the Holy Spirit giving Christians power for service. This is for serving the Kingdom of God. This is where the gifts of the Spirit come in. The purpose of service within the Kingdom of God is to glorify God, and to extend the purposes and ministry of the kingdom, as stated in Acts 1:8.

Depiction in art

The Holy Spirit is often depicted as a dove, based on the account of the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus in the form of a dove when he was baptized in the Jordan. In many paintings of the Annunciation, the Holy Spirit is shown in the form of a dove, coming down towards Mary on beams of light, representing the Seven Gifts, as the Archangel Gabriel's announces Christ's coming to Mary. A dove may also be seen at the ear of Saint Gregory the Great - as recorded by his secretary - or other Church Father authors, dictating their works to them.

The dove also parallels the one that brought the olive branch to Noah after the deluge (also a symbol of peace), and Rabbinic traditions that doves above the water signify the presence of God.

The book of Acts describes the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles at Pentecost in the form of a wind and tongues of fire resting over the apostles' heads. Based on the imagery in that account, the Holy Spirit is sometimes symbolized by a flame of fire.

There are also some artworks that have depicted the Holy Spirit in a feminine sense as seen in the Sistine Chapel.

Non-Trinitarian Christian views

In the belief of many nontrinitarian religions — Christadelphians, Unitarians and Jehovah's Witnesses, for instance — the Holy Spirit is God's spirit or God's active force, and not an actual person. These beliefs may be drawn from passages such Luke 1:35: "The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.'" Here the phrase Holy Spirit is taken by non-trinitarians to be Synonymous parallelism with the power of the Most High. Thus their claim that Holy Spirit is considered to be God's power, not a person. However, Trinitarians take this very phrase to indicate a distinct entity, separate from God the Father, being that this usage is no different from a phrase such as "The Ambassador will present himself to the President, and represent to her the Graces of the Emperor " does not mean that the Ambassador is not a distinct entity from that of the Emperor (which is the view of the non trinitarians).

Some Christadelphians believe that one way God uses his Holy Spirit is in the form of his angels. They also believe that sometimes the phrase Holy Spirit refers to God's character/mind, depending on the context that the phrase is in.

Latter-day Saint views

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the name "Holy Spirit" has many references, depending on its usage and the context in which it appears. The term "Holy Spirit" can denote the Holy Ghost; Spirit; the Spirit of God; Spirit of the Lord; Spirit of Christ (or Light of Christ) or even Spirit of Truth. Latter-day Saints teach that these terms are distinct from one another, showing the many aspects and/or functions of God. For example, the Spirit of God has been used as a synonym for the "Holy Ghost", which is a usage that denotes the nature of the Holy Ghost, a distinct personage of the Spirit and an actual distinct and separate person of the Godhead. Spirit of God has also been used to denote a force or power which is impersonal and fills the immensity of space. This latter use is not the Holy Ghost, but denotes a "non-personage", as the Power of God or the Light of God that emanates everywhere.

Examples of these distinctions are shown within the Bible (King James Version) verses as:

  • Holy Spirit - ; ;
  • Spirit -
  • Spirit of God - ; ; ;
  • Spirit of the Lord - ; ;
  • Spirit of Christ - (notice here how the word "Spirit" is linked to "Spirit of God" and the "Spirit of Christ");
  • Light of Christ - ; ;
  • Spirit of Truth - ; ;

There are many other such references within the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Holy Ghost is considered a third and individual member of the Godhead; by virtue of their holy nature and the everlasting covenant existent between them, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit operate as 'One God' (united in the attributes of perfection and pursuit of a common, divine goal). The Holy Spirit exists as a distinct and separate being from the Father and the Son, having a body of spirit with no flesh and bones, whereas the Father and the Son are said to be resurrected individuals having immortalized bodies of flesh and bone. Though The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is technically "Non-Trinitarian", their belief in the Godhead is often misinterpreted as an endorsement of Trinitarianism.

Jehovah's Witness views

Jehovah's Witnesses point out that personification in the Bible occurs often, including terms such as wisdom, sin and death, water and blood, and does not indicate that the subject is a person. The fact that the Holy Spirit is referred to impersonally several times is used to assert that references of this manner would not occur in such frequency if this was a divine member of God, just as it does not occur with the Father or the Son. Additionally, at Jesus' baptism in , Jesus received God's spirit at that time, which Witnesses say conflicts with the idea that the Son was always one with the Holy Spirit. Jesus relates in Mark 13:32 "But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." The Witnesses note that the Holy Spirit is conspicuously missing from this statement, just as it is missing from Stephen's vision in where he sees only the Son and God in heaven.

Also noted, in regards to the mentions of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together (as in ; ; ), nontrinitarians bring out that none of these verses offer any evidence of the equality of nature or authority among them, just as the numerous simultaneous references to "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" or "Peter, James and John" do not infer an equality in any manner. Alvan Lamson says in The Church of the First Three Centuries: "The modern popular doctrine of the Trinity . . . derives no support from the language of Justin Martyr: and this observation may be extended to all the ante-Nicene Fathers; that is, to all Christian writers for three centuries after the birth of Christ. It is true, they speak of the Father, Son, and . . . Holy Spirit, but not as co-equal, not as one numerical essence, not as Three in One, in any sense now admitted by Trinitarians. The very reverse is the fact." In fairness however, it should be noted that while not explicitly expressing the Trinity in words these very Apocrypha writings from Justin Martyr and many others of ante-Nicene Fathers from A.D. 70 on, do refer to the duality of Jesus and the Father, Jesus being worshiped and referred to as their God.

Oneness Pentecostalism

Oneness Pentecostals believe that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God himself both in action and in person. They believe the Holy Ghost is not a distinct individual in personage, or in personality apart from or together with God. They believe the Holy Spirit simply is God. They also believe that the Holy Spirit is the life giving power of the body of the man Jesus Christ both before death and after his resurrection, and that in heaven Jesus will be the visible appearance of God on the throne, of whom the church will be his bride. They believe the Spirit of Jesus is the same Spirit that moved over the face of the waters in Genesis 1, spoke to Moses from the burning bush,is the Comforter of John 14, and filled believers in the book of Acts. They believe his human flesh was created by himself and that he choose to dwell with man in this way. They believe that Jesus' body had a spirit until death, just as any live body has a spirit until separated by death, but believe the spirit of Jesus Christ is the Holy Spirit of God and therefore was able to return to and raise his human body from the grave. They believe the Holy Spirit had been manifested many times throughout biblical history as the burning bush, a pillar of fire, a finger writing on a wall, or even as angelic forms that spoke to Abraham, Gideon, and even wrestled with Jacob, but the greatest of all manifestations of the Holy Spirit was in the infant human form that was born of the virgin Mary in the city of Bethlehem. The Bible says he was conceived by the Holy Sprit, and that he would be called Emanuel, meaning God with us. This was the only form that God ever took that was born flesh and blood, and that could legally take away the sins of the whole world in which he loves so dearly. In this manifestation he would have to be tempted in all ways such as us, yet without sin. He was unlimited as God, but chose limit himself to the form and weaknesses of a natural, finite man. He would have to mind and obey his parents, pray to and obey his heavenly Father, live through life's tempations, yet remaining perfect, with out sin. This was only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit living inside his earthly body.

Unity Church views

The Unity Church's co-founder Charles Fillmore considered the Holy Spirit a distinctly feminine aspect of God.

To the Christian metaphysician the Holy Spirit is just what the name implies, the whole Spirit of God in action. In the Hebrew Jehovah is written Yahweh, Yah being masculine and weh feminine.

In the New Testament Christ stands for Jehovah. Jesus talked a great deal about the Holy Spirit: that it would bear witness of him, come with him, and help him to the end of the age.

Do not be misled by the personality of the Holy Spirit and the reference to it as "he." This was the bias of the Oriental mind, making God and all forms of the Deity masculine.

Holy Spirit is the love of Jehovah taking care of the human family, and love is always feminine. Love is the great harmonizer and healer, and whoever calls upon God as Holy Spirit for healing is calling upon the divine love. Jesus Christ Heals, pp. 182-183

Roman Catholic views on Unitarianism

There are many Roman Catholic writings that attempt to explain how the Holy Spirit, prior to Pentecost, might have been mistaken as not being a Person of the Trinity. One, the New Catholic Encyclopedia states: "The O[ld] T[estament] clearly does not envisage God's spirit as a person … God's spirit is simply God's power. If it is sometimes represented as being distinct from God, it is because the breath of Yahweh acts exteriorly. … The majority of N[ew] T[estament] texts reveal God's spirit as something, not someone; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God." (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. 14, pp. 574, 575).

If it is sometimes represented as being distinct from God, it is because the breath of Yahweh acts exteriorly (Isa. 48:16; 63:11; 32:15). Very rarely do the OT writers attribute to God's spirit emotions or intellectual activity (Isa. 63:10; Wisdom of Solomon 1:3-7). When such expressions are used, they are mere figures of speech that are explained by the fact that the RUAH was regarded also as the seat of intellectual acts and feeling (Gen. 41:8).

Neither is there found in the OT or in rabbinical literature the notion that God's spirit is an intermediary being between God and the world. This activity is proper to the angels, although to them is ascribed some of the activity that elsewhere is ascribed to the spirit of God"

This encyclopedia further states:

"… the NT (New Testament) concepts of the Spirit of God are largely a continuation of those of the OT. … The majority of NT texts reveal God's spirit as something, not someone; this is especially seen in the parallelism between the spirit and the power of God.

When a quasi-personal activity is ascribed to God's spirit, e.g., speaking, hindering, desiring, dwelling (Acts 8:29; 16:7; Rom.8:9), one is not justified in concluding immediately that in these passages God's spirit is regarded as a Person; the same expressions are used in regard to rhetorically personified things or abstract ideas (see Rom.6:6; 7:17).

Thus the context of the phrase 'blasphemy against the spirit' (Mat.12:31; cf. Mat.12:28; Luke 11:20, see also Eternal sin) shows that reference is being made to the power of God".

Thus, it must be noted that Roman Catholic teaching has always held the Holy Spirit, however depicted, to be a distinct Person of the Trinity, not just an aspect or manifestation of some attribute of the Father or the Son.

According to those who hold the minority (and, for Catholics, heretical) view of Binitarianism, the Holy Spirit is not a separate being, but the Father and the Son are. One such group, the Living Church of God teaches this about the Holy Spirit, "The Holy Spirit is the very essence, the mind, life and power of God. It is not a Being. The Spirit is inherent in the Father and the Son, and emanates from Them throughout the entire universe (; ). It was through the Spirit that God created all things (). It is the power by which Christ maintains the universe (). It is given to all who repent of their sins and are baptized and is the power by which all believers may be "overcomers" and will be led to eternal life" (Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs).

The view that the Holy Spirit is not a distinct person has been considered to be heretical by mainstream Christianity, including Roman Catholicism. For example, Epiphanius of Salamis referred to some of those as Semi-Arians and Pneumatomachi ("spirit-fighters") and called them, "A sort of monstrous, half-formed people of two natures … Semi-Arians … hold the truly orthodox view of the Son, that he was forever with the Father...but has been begotten without beginning and not in time … But all of these blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and do not count him in the Godhead with the Father and the Son" (Epiphanius. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80), De Fide). Section VI, Verses 1,1 and 1,3. Translated by Frank Williams. EJ Brill, New York, 1994, pp.471-472)

Non-Christian views

Bahá'í Faith

In the Bahá'í Faith, the Holy Spirit, also known as the Most Great Spirit, is seen as the bounty of God. It is usually used to describe the descent of the Spirit of God upon the messengers/prophets of God, which are known as Manifestations of God, and include among others Jesus, Muhammad and Bahá'u'lláh. In Bahá'í belief the Holy Spirit is the conduit through which the wisdom of God becomes directly associated with his messenger, and it has been described variously in different religions such as the burning bush to Moses, the sacred fire to Zoroaster, the dove to Jesus, the angel Gabriel to Muhammad, and the Holy Maiden to Bahá'u'lláh. The Bahá'í view rejects the idea that the Holy Spirit is a partner to God in the Godhead, but rather is a pure reflection of God's attributes.

Islam

Holy Spirit in Islam is an agent of divine action or communication commonly identified with the angel Gabriel (ar: Jibreel) or Ruhul Qudus but also alternatively with the created spirit from God by which he enlivened Adam, made Mary pregnant with Jesus, and inspired the angels and the prophets.

Judaism

In Judaism, the idea of God as a duality or trinity is heretical (see Deuteronomy 6:4). Nonetheless, the term Ruah Ha-qodesh (Holy Spirit) is found frequently in Talmudic and Midrashic literature. In some cases it signifies prophetic inspiration, while in others it is used as a hypostatization or a metonym for God. The Rabbinic “Holy Spirit,” has a certain degree of personification, but it remains, “a quality belonging to God, one of his attributes” and not, as in Christianity, representative of “any metaphysical divisions in the Godhead.” See also shekhinah.

Mandaeanism

Rastafarian view

As a movement that developed out of Christianity, Rastafari has its own unique interpretation of both the Holy Trinity and the Holy Spirit. Although there are several slight variations, they generally state that it is Haile Selassie who embodies both God the Father and God the Son, while the Holy (or rather, "Hola") Spirit is to be found within Rasta believers (see 'I and I'), and within every human being. Rastas also say that the true church is the human body, and that it is this church (or "structure") that contains the Holy Spirit.

Sant Mat

(see Surat Shabd Yoga)

See also

References

External links

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