The Holy Spirit — Person or Power?
This Appendix is an additional study to show the absurdity of viewing the Holy Spirit as a personality like the Father and Christ Jesus. Biblical teaching about the Holy Spirit is clear enough, but the opinions of men (prompted primarily by theological and philosophical speculations about the nature of material and spiritual substances originating near the fourth century) have clouded the whole issue. It is time that the biblical teachings about the Holy Spirit be restored to their proper place of recognition. Let us ask a series of questions about the Holy Spirit and then answer them briefly.
Question One: What are the biblical proofs which could support the Holy Spirit as being a distinct person within the Godhead?
Answer: Though the word “Spirit” in John 14:26 is neuter in gender (expressing no personality of itself), the pronoun that describes the Spirit is masculine. This would lend weight that the Spirit is a personality and that he appears as one of masculine gender. Thus, it seems perfectly proper to call him "he”. This is emphasized by the repeated statements that “he shall teach you” (verse 26); “he shall bear witness” (John 15:26); “he, when he is come will convict” (16:8); “he shall guide you” (16:13); “he shall glorify me” (16:14). These verses strongly imply, so many scholars urge, that the Spirit is a personality because of the use of the masculine pronouns. Besides this, the Spirit is said to be able to speak: “The Spirit speaketh expressly” (I Tim. 4:1). It is argued that the Spirit could hardly utter words from its mouth unless it was a personality itself.
Comments: While it is true that the above verses seem to show the Holy Spirit as being a masculine person, it could also be shown from hundreds of biblical verses (both Old and New Testaments) that many things animate and inanimate are given genders though they are not personalities at all. Such things are even given “mouths” to speak. “If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body... And if the ear shall say, because I am not of the body” (I Corinthians 12:15, 16). Of course, feet and ears do not have mouths to speak. They are simply personified by Paul in order to make a point. No one would seriously consider them to be personalities. “Let the heaven rejoice, and let the earth be glad...let the field be joyful...then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice” (Psa. 96:11,12). But really, the heavens have no actual mouth with which to express joy; the earth has no faculty of its own to be glad; the fields of grass cannot actually show joyfulness; nor can trees of the forest demonstrate a happiness as a human can. The Bible says that “The mountains and hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees shall clap their hands” (Isa. 55:12), but is there anyone so bold as to suggest that mountains and hills can actually sing or that trees really clap hands. Indeed, no one has seen a tree that has hands in the first place.
Simply because the Holy Spirit is given the attributes of speaking and is given a masculine gender in a few scriptures, no one could legitimately insist they prove the personality of the Spirit. True, they provide evidence in favor of the proposition, but there are many other scriptures which give the same “personalities” to hands, ears, trees, hills, mountains, the earth, heaven (and other inanimate things), it is precarious business to demand the personality of the Spirit from some few verses. Even today, it is common for us to refer to ships of the sea in the feminine gender, but none of us really thinks of those ships as being real persons.
Question Two: It is acknowledged by all that the Bible gives personality to many inanimate things as figures of speech, yet the Holy Spirit is so intimately connected with God and Christ (who are personalities), should it not be accorded a personality on account of this association?
Answer: This is true, but what kind of personality would one give the Holy Spirit? The Bible provides the following description: “And John [the Baptist] bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode on him [Christ]” (John 1:32). This verse gives a description of the Holy Spirit in the Bible and it agrees with what the first chapter of Genesis says of the Spirit; “And the Spirit of God moved [Hebrew: was fluttering] upon the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2). In order “to flutter” one must have wings. We are told that heavenly creatures such as Cherubim (Ezek.1:4-28) and Seraphim (Isa. 6:1,2) have wings, but all of these creatures have the overall appearance of men (with some added exceptions). Yet the wings of the Holy Spirit must be like those of a dove because that is how John the Baptist saw the Holy Spirit light upon Christ at his baptism.
Comments: Though John the Baptist saw the Holy Spirit appearing as a bird, does the Spirit actually have such a form? If it does, how can it dwell in each Christian (John 14:17; Romans 8:9) and remain looking like a dove and having all the characteristics of a bird? A dove occupies space (about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide). How could a single “dove” dwell in millions of Christians around the world at the same time in such a single form?—or does he appear as several million separate “doves”? Really though, the whole concept bridges upon absurdity if accepted literally. Such a thing would mean the theologians have created a male “Bird God” like the ancient Egyptians had. It is wrong to even think of such a thing as possible. The Holy Spirit as a dove is clearly a figure of speech. The Scripture says John saw the Spirit like [as] a dove. In no way did he mean that the Spirit always has the form of a dove—or, that the Spirit had any form at all. At the baptism of Christ, the Father simply allowed John to witness the power of the Spirit coming upon Christ in the symbol of peace, kindness, and gentleness. The Bible does not mean the Holy Spirit always appears like a dove (though it is described as such) no more than it looks like a man. But, if one insisted on the personality of the Holy Spirit, then Luke says it has the bodily form of a dove (Luke 3:22) and this means that the person has created a male “Bird God” that looks just like a dove. This, however, is not what the Bible means. The “he” and the “him” which refer to the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John are clearly figures of speech and do not describe a personality that looks like a male dove.
Actually, Christ described the Holy Spirit as being something like the wind. The basic meaning of the word spirit is wind or air. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). From a physical point of view, the wind is probably the best representation of the Spirit and its actions. The wind can be felt but not seen.
There is another identifying point in the Bible about the true Holy Spirit. We are told by the Scripture that the Holy Spirit can be “poured out” on people. See Acts 10:45. This makes perfectly good sense to me. My profession before I went into biblical and historical studies was that of a meteorologist, a person dealing with the weather sciences. Now, we have an atmosphere which envelops this earth. When that atmosphere begins to move, it is called wind. Though very much lighter in weight than water, the wind acts very much like water in its physical actions. Air can be “poured out” of a container into warmer air, and the cold air will act just like water being “poured out” of a similar container. And note this. Christ said that the Spirit is like the wind [even the word “spirit” means wind], and colder or heavier air can be “poured out” like water from a container. And what does Acts 10:45 say? It states that “on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The Spirit is really like the wind and it can be poured out [like water] on people. But someone in the form of a dove or a human being cannot in any way be “poured out.” The fact that the Holy Spirit is reckoned as a dove or that the Spirit is sometimes personified is no proof whatever that the Spirit is a personality of its own. We get into absurdities when one accepts such things as being literal.
Question Three: In spite of the fact that figures of speech describe the Holy Spirit which cannot be actual, some feel the Holy Spirit surely must be a personality because in I John 5:7 he is shown as one of the three witnesses “in heaven, the Father, the Word [Son], and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”
Answer: The truth is, all italicized words in the above text were not part of the original writings of John. Those words are not found in any known Greek manuscript except four, and those four are Greek translations from a late rendition of the Latin Vulgate. Even those four manuscripts were written in the 16th century. There was another in the 12th century which had the italicized words inserted in the margin by a later hand; another was written in the 14th or 15th centuries; and the other was an 11th century manuscript which had the extra words. The extra section is not found in any ancient version (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic) except the Latin. Even then it is not found in the Old Latin or the early Latin Vulgate translated by Jerome. It was introduced into the Vulgate later (probably in the 5th or 6th centuries).
Without a shadow of a doubt, the italicized words mentioned above in First John 5:7 are not original with the apostle John and are thus not a part of the genuine text of the New Testament. See Professor Bruce M. Metzger’s A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, pp 716-718 for certain proof of this.
Comments: The fact that these added words were placed inside the text of the New Testament was to give some credence to the doctrine of the Trinity, that is, that the Holy Spirit is a personality who is co-equal with the Father and Son in the Godhead. But look at this. Had that teaching been clear in the Bible itself, why insert them into an apostolic writing? Really, the addition of those extra words speaks against what their authors intended to teach. They have a negative effect and help to show that the doctrine itself is spurious. As all should realize, there is no clear-cut teaching of the so-called church doctrine of the Trinity found anywhere in the Holy Scriptures.
Question Four: Even though the italicized words in I John 5:7 do not
belong in the original apostolic writings, other original writings must surely
show the personality of the Spirit.
Answer: Really, there is very little (if anything) to support it. One can see this when one compares the references made by the apostles to the Godhead. In cardinal texts dealing with deity, the personalities of the Father and Christ are constantly mentioned in association with one another, but the mention of the Holy Spirit is almost always absent. Note how Paul and the other Apostles consistently referred to the authority of the ones they represented (the Father and Jesus Christ). The superscriptions to their epistles are a perfect example of this. Note what they state. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7; I Cor. 1:3; II Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col. 1:2; I Thess. 1:1; II Thess. 1:2; I Tim 1:2; II Tim 1:2; Titus 1:4; Phile. 1:3; II Pet. 1:2). In these official salutations of the apostles, there is not one mention of the Holy Spirit. Also James said he was: “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1). John said: “And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (I John 1:3). In all, there is no mention of the Holy Spirit!
In all these introductions of the apostles showing the ones they represented, there is not one mention of the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit were an individual co-equal with the Father and the Son, this consistent omission is incomprehensible. In fact, it would have been effrontery and insubordination on the part of the apostles. In modern terms, this would be like recognizing three people who own and run a business, but representatives in the field would only give references to two of them as the ones who own the business. This is unthinkable.
Comments: There are many other sections of the apostolic writings which also show a non-placement of the Holy Spirit (as a personality) alongside the Father and the Son. In Romans 8:17 Paul mentioned that Christians are heirs of God the Father and heirs of Christ, but he said nothing about Christians being co-equally heirs of the Spirit. Why not, if the Spirit is a co-equal individual with the Father and Christ? In I Corinthians 3:23 Christians are said to belong to Christ as he belongs to God, but nothing about anyone belonging to the Holy Spirit as though he were a personality too. In I Corinthians 4:1 Paul said the apostles were ministers of Christ and also stewards of the mysteries of God [the Father], but he said nothing about the apostles being representatives of the Holy Spirit as if the Spirit were a co-equal person with the Father and Son. In I Corinthians 11:3 Paul said the man was head of the woman, while Christ was the head of the man, and that God was head of Christ. There is nothing about the Holy Spirit, as a person, being the head of someone. In I Corinthians 15:28 Paul said all things would finally be subdued by Christ, and that Christ would in turn hand over all power to God the Father. But the Holy Spirit as a co-personality is not so much as mentioned in Paul’s account of this prophesied transference of power and authority. In II Corinthians 2:14-17 Paul said that the apostles were commissioned to speak in the sight of God the Father and in the sight of Christ, but nothing about being in the sight of the Spirit. In II Corinthians 5:19 it was God the Father who was working in Christ for the reconciliation of the world to himself, yet Paul said nothing about the Holy Spirit as a personality involved in that reconciliation. In II Corinthians 12:19 Paul said that the apostles had the responsibilities of speaking before God the Father within the authority of Christ, but again there is not a single mention of the Holy Spirit as having an individual role in that matter of authority. In Ephesians 5:5 Paul mentioned the Kingdom of God along with the Kingdom of Christ, but never referred at all to a Kingdom of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit were a person, why did Paul leave him out? In Colossians 3:1 Paul spoke of Christ sitting on the right hand of God the Father. But there is nothing about Christ sitting either on the left (or right) of the Holy Spirit. Again I ask, why not, if the Spirit is co-equal with the Father and Christ?
All these scriptures (and there are many more) speak against the teaching that the Holy Spirit is a person as is the Father and Christ. But ranking above them all in clearness is I Timothy 2:5. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” There is no scripture more plain in showing the divine personalities in rank of authority that man has above him. The only mediator between you as a human being and God the Father is Jesus Christ. There is none other! This means that not even the Holy Spirit (sent here on earth to be a comforter to man) is a mediator. However, if the Holy Spirit were a person who is co-equal with the Father and Son (as the Trinitarians have devised out of their own heads), it would have been an affront of the highest order to exclude the Holy Spirit from some intermediary role between mankind and the Father. Such would be unthinkable if the Spirit were an individual like the Father and Son. On the other hand, if the Spirit is simply the power of God to exercise the purpose of God’s will on earth and in the universe, then Paul’s statement in the First Timothy 2:5 (and in all other sections of his epistles) makes good sense. But making the Spirit a personality causes chaos in understanding many other scriptures. Note the next point carefully.
God is described as being everywhere in the universe. “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell [sheol], behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Psa 139:8-10). But how is it possible for God to be in all these places with the psalmist, and still be in all other places with everyone else of his children? The answer is simple. The psalmist also said: “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit” (Psa.139:7). It is God’s Spirit, not himself, which pervades the total space of the universe. God, as a personality and as an individual who is in heaven, cannot be everywhere at the same time. But his Spirit can. That is why the Spirit itself cannot be an individual or else it too would not be able to be everywhere at the same time. If the Spirit is the power of God to accomplish his purposes, all makes sense. If the Spirit is a person himself, the whole matter of God and the Spirit becomes incomprehensible to us humans.
Question Five: While the above information seems to agree with the scriptural revelation, we find Paul in II Corinthians 13:14 mentioning the Spirit alongside the Father and the Son. Does this not show his personality after all?
Answer: In this case Paul did ask the Corinthians to remain in the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and in the communion of the Holy Spirit. The word “communion” means that they should be “sharing” in the Holy Spirit.
Comments: There is nothing here to suggest that the Holy Spirit is a personality. Paul is hoping that the Corinthians will have “a communion” [or a sharing] with the Holy Spirit. If one looks on the Spirit as that faculty of power which allows the saints of God to be in association [communion] with God and Christ, that statement makes perfectly good sense. The Spirit, in this case, is like the telephone line, or the radio beam, which is actively energized with electrical power to allow one to be in communication [communion] with someone else while the parties are at a distance from each another. It is the power which keeps the Father and Christ in a present contact with people on earth. “I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter [the Holy Spirit] will not come unto you” (John 16:7). All Christians can be in communion with the Father and the Son through the agency of the Holy Spirit. This is what gives comfort at the present time while the Father and Christ (as personalities) are in heaven and away from people on earth.
Question Six: Yet did not Christ ask people to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)? Surely this shows the personality of the Spirit since Christ said he had a name.
Answer: To speak in “the name” of something does not necessarily mean that the subject is a personality. Even today an officer of the law may call out to an escaping criminal: “Stop, in the name of the law.” It simply means “by the authority” of something. If one wanted to show in plain language what Christ meant in the baptism formula of Matthew 28:19, it could go like this: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them by the authority of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” And since the Spirit is the means by which man is convicted of sin (John 16:8), a baptism on this earth would not have been effective unless the authority of the power which reproved the person of sin and activated his mind towards righteousness had not been involved. After all, it was to be the Holy Spirit which, from Christ’s time onwards, would guide the Christian into all truth (John 16:13). There is, however, nothing in the text of Matthew in mentioning “a name” to suggest that the Holy Spirit was a personality.
Question Seven: Indeed, are there not “seven spirits” of God rather than just one Holy Spirit?
Answer: Though seven spirits are mentioned in Revelation 1:4 alongside the Father and Christ, the identification of these particular spirits is given elsewhere. Let us note the scripture in question. “Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before the throne; and from Jesus Christ” (Rev.1:4).
The phase “is, was, and is to come” is a translation of the Old Testament name for the Lord (YHVH). In this case it refers to the Father because Christ is mentioned in the latter part of the verse and in distinction to him. Yet, in the midst of this superscription is the mention of “seven spirits before the throne.” So, we have the Father, the Seven Spirits, and the Son. Are those Seven Spirits personalities? Yes they are. Are they the Holy Spirit itself? No they are not. This is made clear in Revelation 8:2. They are there identified with those in Revelation 4:5 and are equated with the seven angels who stand before the throne of God. These are the seven lamps, or spirits, mentioned in Revelation 4:5 and are equated with the seven angelic beings who preside over the seven churches of Revelation 1:20. Angels are, themselves, spirits. “He maketh his angels spirits” (Heb.1:7). So, since these Seven Spirits are angels, they cannot be a part of the Godhead. This is because angels are not to be worshiped.
But again note an important point. In this introduction of the apostle John to the Book of Revelation, he refers to the Father, the seven angels, and Christ, but not once to the Holy Spirit as a personality to be worshiped in a co-equal sense with the Father and Christ.
Question Eight: Since the Scripture says that it was the Holy Spirit which caused Christ to be conceived in the womb of Mary (Matt. 1:18), do we not have a problem if one considers the Holy Spirit an individual person who is co-equal with the Father and Christ? Would this not make the Holy Spirit the father of Christ and not the Father Himself?
Answer: This would actually be true. If the Holy Spirit is a person in his own right, yet equal with the Father and Christ in deity, then the Spirit would be the father of Christ, not the Father. But this cannot be. Throughout the Bible, Christ recognized only one Father, and He was the supreme head of all. However, through His spirit (His divine power), Christ was conceived in Mary. If this is not the case, then the father of Christ was not the Father, but the Spirit was. But when the Spirit is understood as not being a personality, the problem is averted, and in a very common sense manner.
Question Nine: Just what is the Holy Spirit?
Answer: Let us first find out what God the Father is. The Bible says that the Father himself is Spirit (John 4:24). And there can be no doubt that the Father, as a Spirit, is holy. He, himself, is a Holy Spirit. But this is not all. Even Christ Jesus is a Spirit too. Paul informs us that there is a Spirit which “maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26). But Paul also said the only one who intercedes with the Father was Christ (I Tim. 2:5). And this is what Paul went on to teach in Romans 8. “It is Christ who died, Yea rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34). Who, then, is the intercessor who makes intercession in Romans 8? Paul said that Spirit represented Christ. And indeed, Christ is a Spirit. Paul said that the “last Adam [Christ] was made a quickening spirit” (I Cor. 15:45). This clearly shows that our Lord Jesus Christ is a Spirit, and that the Father is a spirit too (John 4:24). Thus, when the Bible says that the Spirit does this or the Spirit does that, or that the Spirit speaks, groans, rejoices, etc., it often means that it is Christ (and in some contexts the Father) who is doing the actual speaking, groaning, rejoicing. Of course, they do it through that spiritual power which activates and sustains the forces that keep the universe in operation.
The fact that Christ is sometimes called the Spirit (and the Father is also mentioned as the Spirit) should not be a surprise to anyone since it is shown in all areas of the later New Testament. In no way do the texts about the Spirit refer to a separate and distinct personality from the Father and Christ called the Holy Spirit. Remember that both Christ and the Father are themselves called the Spirit, and both of them are “Holy.”
Question Ten: Does the Bible support the proposition that the Holy Spirit is a distinct member of the Godhead?
Answer: The Bible itself does not condone the suggestion. This may be a hard pill for some to swallow, but it is true. Yet, this is not accepted by all. There are some theologians who point to the Hebrew word Elohim (which means God), and state that it has a distinct plural meaning to it. This is a fact! Indeed, Elohim is many times connected with singular verbs, which might give the impression of plurality within singularity, something that the doctrine of the Trinity might propose. The first verse of the Bible has this characteristic. “In the beginning Elohim (plural) created (singular) the heavens and the earth” (Gen.1:1). But some get even more emphatic when certain plural pronouns and verbs are used in the context. “And Elohim [plural] said, Let us make [plural] man in our image” (Gen. 1:26). “And the Lord Elohim [plural] said, 'Behold the man is become as one of us'” (Gen. 3:22).
This may at first appear as an Old Testament vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity (that there are three Gods—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet they are still one God). But this could hardly be the case. If it is so, why did not the Hebrews from the time of Moses to Christ speak about the Trinity in the Bible and in their ordinary literature? In no way did they see such a concept in the meaning of the Hebrew words. The fact is, the word Elohim is plural (not dual or triune of itself). Its plurality could embrace a number of three OR MORE in its meaning. This makes excellent sense from other parts of the Old Testament. Even angels are called Elohim (Exo.34:15), as well as the human judges of Israel (Exo.21:6; 22:8,9,20,28), and we are told that even human beings on earth are called Elohim (Psa.82:6).
Though angels and humans are not a form of deity to be worshiped, the word Elohim cannot be restricted to three Gods in one. It embraces many sons of God, and this even includes humans (John 10:35).
Question Eleven: Why, then, is the word Elohim: (God) found in the plural if the Trinity doctrine is not the answer?
Answer: This is an important point and it needs an answer. Particularly is it essential because the foundational position of Judaism and Old Testament teaching is that God is one. Most people recognize that monotheism has its bedrock teaching located within the pages of the Old Testament. And so it does. “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God [Elohim] is one Lord” (Deut.6:4).
There is one Lord (singular), yet He is called Elohim (plural). And throughout the Old Testament this plural word is governed by singular verbs. What an enigma! At least, it appears to be that way on the surface.
The answer, however, is simple and is plainly explained in the New Testament. The word Elohim is like what we call a collective noun. It is a word that has a plural significance embodied within it, yet the plural numbers perform their actions in unison, as a unit! Such a word is “army.” No one thinks of an army as comprising only one or two men. The word “army” brings to mind many hundreds (even thousands) of troops. But what if a newspaper headline said: “The Army Is On The Move”? Everyone would know what is meant. It means all the separate members of the army were all marching in unison, and under a single command.
Another word of similar construction is “family.” There may be ten members of one family. To say “The family is going on a picnic” makes perfectly good sense. While each of the ten members goes, it is the family as a unit that performs the action.
This usage exactly describes the Godhead of the Bible. It is a divine Family unit made up of separate members. We are told of the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. But are there more members? One thing for certain, the apostle Paul said that each person redeemed by Christ is “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3,4,10; 2:6). He further illustrates this by saying that each Christian individually (as well as all collectively) make up the one body of Christ. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the one body, being many, are ONE body: SO ALSO IS CHRIST” (I Cor.12:12).
Christ is part of the Family of God (of Elohim). We can be sons and daughters of the Father too, and we are all members of the one body of Christ. And Christ said all humans were “Gods” (Elohim) (John 10:35).
But if the Holy Spirit is a personality like the Father, like Christ, and like ourselves, what is he? Is he our brother, like Christ is to us? Is he the Father’s son as Christ is? If so, is he the second-born son, since we know Christ is the first born? Or, is he the brother of the Father?
Of course, the whole thing is silly. Elohim, in Scripture, is made up of the Father, the Son and human beings (Psa.82:6; John 10:34-36), while the Spirit is the power that Elohim uses to perform the purposes of the divine Family of which we humans are a part.
The word Elohim is not limited to three (a Trinity). Ultimately, it will include a vast number of the sons and daughters of God.
Question Twelve: Didn’t the real creation of the Trinity doctrine have its “orthodox” origin in the fourth century after Christ?
Answer: There can be no doubt that this is correct. In fact, there were great debates going on within the Christian community of the fourth century about the matter of the Trinity. There were many top scholars of that period that refuted it as an untenable doctrine in the Holy Scripture. These people were known as Arians (and others) and they were represented by great numbers throughout the Empire and beyond its borders. The Arians were not always right in their concepts of the deity of Christ (because some did not think him as “God,” as he surely was), but they were not Trinitarians. It could really be said that a belief in the Trinity became an “orthodox” doctrine by the insistence of the Roman Empire and its legions, not by biblical teaching. And this did not occur until the fourth century. It might be asked that if the teaching was so clear in the pages of the New Testament, why did it take so long for people to accept it, and then only by the Roman military and state police enforcing the doctrine?
Question Thirteen: Isn’t it a fact that every theologian or scholar who has studied the subject of the Trinity doctrine (even those who sternly believe its “orthodoxy”), say that teaching is inexplicable to human understanding? It is a concocted doctrine no one can rationally explain.
Answer: This is true! It could well be said that no human on earth—in past or present times—has been able to comprehend the doctrine of the Trinity in a way that makes it sensible. The fact that the Trinity is impossible to understand humanly is one of its major weaknesses.
While it is not a difficult proposition to conceive of the Father in one place at the same time with a shape and form, and that the Son is also beside Him with also a distinct shape and form, it is impossible to perceive of the Holy Spirit being a separate personality with shape and form and at the same time inhabiting ten or a hundred million people at the same time. But if the Spirit is simply the power of the Father and the Son to accomplish their wishes throughout the universe (and not having shape and form), all can become sensible. This is the position that the biblical revelation shows (if one stays solely with the Bible). When some doctrine, like the Trinity, is so vague and impossible of human explanation (even in its fundamentals), it deserves to be looked on with reasonable suspicion.
Question Fourteen: But have not some people related experiences in which they claim to have seen the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in a body form?—either all three together, or each separately? Does this not prove the personality of the Holy Spirit after all?
Answer: There are many people who dream dreams and have visions of various kinds. The Bible warns about the reliability of such experiences (Deut. 13:1-5). We are told to test the spiritual perceptions of others because many false prophets have emerged as a consequence (I John 4:1). It is not always possible to be certain if anyone’s visionary experience is from God. This is especially true when a person says he or she has seen something that the teaching of the Bible does not countenance. And in regard to the Bible, there is not one example of any righteous person in either the Old or New Testament who has “seen” the Holy Spirit as a personality. Indeed, at no time has a person “seen” the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit together as personalities. If this has not occurred to any righteous person of the Bible, why should God pick out certain modern people to have some extraordinary and special experiences which show “the Trinity”? And even with those who say they have “seen” the Holy Spirit as a person, how can they be sure the “person” is the Holy Spirit? It could very well be some other “spirit” that is counterfeiting the Spirit of God (II Cor. 11:14,15). This is especially so since there is no example in the Scripture of the Holy Spirit being in human form. When it is personified, it is reckoned as a dove, a bird with wings that “flutter” (Gen. 1:2). Most times, however, it is described as like the wind that cannot be seen.
It seems to me that it is better to stay with the biblical descriptions than those of a few visionaries who have experiences contrary to Bible teaching. There are lots of false visionaries around (I John 4:1).
Question Fifteen: Finally, when Christ bestowed the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and Christians in general, what was the method by which he gave it to them? Did a separate God enter them?
Answer: The New Testament said Christ “breathed” on them (John 20:22). Did some human form come out of his mouth and enter every apostle? This is hardly a suitable belief. But since the word “spirit” itself means wind or air, it becomes perfectly natural that a “breathing” out of his body allowed God’s power to be dispensed to them.
This is even more sure because on the Day of Pentecost after Christ’s rising from the dead, the Bible says the Spirit came into all the disciples “as a rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:2). It filled not only each of the persons in the house, but even the whole house itself. How a single (and separate) God, distinct from the Father and Son (but also being one of them), could do this is incomprehensible, especially if the Holy Spirit has form and shape as does the Father and the Son. If, however, we understand that the Holy Spirit is simply the power of God that pervades the entirety of the universe, but is also in each single saint on earth, all makes reasonable sense that all logically minded persons can understand.
Conclusion: Anyone can believe as he or she pleases on this matter. As for me, I have tried to state my case rather strongly, and I feel I have presented the overall philosophical teaching of the Bible. But when it becomes necessary to invent verses in later times (as in I John 5:7) and place them in the Scripture as being apostolic writings (when the apostles taught no such thing), it becomes evident that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as a personality along with the Father and Son is a very weak one. And since the apostle Paul made it clear that there is only ONE mediator between God and mankind and that one person is Jesus Christ, I think it is better not to invent another separate mediator (another personality) called the Holy Spirit to intervene. The Holy Spirit has its role of providing the power that cements the relationship between God and man through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why should one accept a doctrine which everyone knows is inexplicable, and which only became a sign of “orthodoxy” when the Roman Empire used its military forces and civil police to enforce it? It is a church doctrine, and a very ill-conceived one at that. It was designed to sustain the doctrines of Plato and his successors to sustain their beliefs concerning the supposed composition of the material and spiritual universe (and consequently the elements out of which “God” and “Christ” are supposed to be formed). The doctrine of the Trinity as it now stands among mainline Christian denominations is an archaic philosophical concept of “God” which is a church doctrine not compatible with the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
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