"The language of Scripture makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and the Son in the Godhead (Matt.1:18; Matt.28:19; Acts 5:3,4; 2 Cor.13:14)...."
The second "perplexing truth" (which perplexes because it is only partly true), is the so-called "third person in the trinity," of which God has not seen fit to inform us in His Book. The root of our perplexity lies in the assumption that there is a trinity with three persons in it. This is, perhaps, the most perplexing thing in theology. Even school children are perplexed by it. I have just heard of a school boy who was standing outside the schoolroom door, bawling on account of a whipping he had just received. Another boy came along, and, before going in, asked him why he cried so. He told him that the teacher had asked him how many gods there are. "Why, you fool," said the newcomer, "there is only One." "Don't go in and say that," said the sobbing child. "I said three, and that was not enough!"
I know of a man whose main business is to explain the trinity. I am not going to tell you what he says because it is, if anything, more difficult to explain than the trinity itself. The remarkable thing is that this doctrine was never heard of during the time when the Bible was written. We, as Bible students, have nothing to do with it, except to push it out of the way when it impedes our vision of the truth. The whole Bible is against it. There is one God. This is the foundation truth of divine revelation. Only unbelievers or heathen have more than one. And you must remember that Christianity is largely heathen. The customs and teachings of our idolatrous ancestors have been imposed on the Bible. I sometimes wonder if, in the future glory, we will not be able to have phonograph records of explanations now given of the trinity. Then they will be most amusing and touchingly ridiculous.
|Christianity is |
Do you know that the Jews and Mohammedans consider us idolaters because we do not believe in one (and only one) God? The Jew must learn to repeat, "Hear, O Israel, Jehovah your God is one Jehovah." It is a wonder that any of them ever go over to Christianity, but God can accomplish His work even when His saints thwart Him. We should tell them that Christ is the Son of God, was born of a virgin, and had no earthly father, but we should not tell them that He is a member of a trinity in which He is "co-equal" with the Father. This is not in God's Book. It comes from another source, and is not faith, but credulity and sin.
There seems to be a terrible retribution attached to everything that we "believe" that is not taken directly from the Word of God. It is like a lie. It takes a good many more lies to conceal the first one properly. If we believe that "the Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and the Son in the Godhead," we are not believing God. We are seeking to improve on His revelation. The Jews who sought to kill Christ also accused Him of making Himself equal to God (John 5:18). What did He say? That He is the second person in the trinity? Did He say that He is, or that He is not? He said to them, "Verily, verily, I am saying to you, the Son can be doing nothing of Himself..." Can God do nothing of Himself? Does He observe the Son and do as He does? The Father sends the Son. Does the Son also send the Father? Is the Son to God what God is to Him? Does the Father say of the Son, "He is My God?"
|How Many Fathers |
The ambiguous word co-equal is not scriptural, hence is offensive to anyone who has God's honor at heart. The prefix co- is theological. Let us try to express it clearly. I suppose it means that each "person" in the trinity is related to the other two exactly as the others are related to it. If this definition is correct, then the Scriptures are full of "proofs" to the contrary. All is out of God. Nothing is out of the Son, although all is through Him. God's will is supreme. The Son says, "not My will but Thine." God is never spoken of as having a God. The Son always acknowledges Him. And so on. The relation between the two is unequal in almost every way. Only in their relation to mankind are they one, for in Christ the complement of the Deity dwells (Col. 1:19).
The same is true of the spirit of God. Being God's spirit, it is identified with Him, even more than a man's spirit is identified with him, for God is Spirit. But, when considered separately, it is spoken of in a way which is absolutely incompatible with the Supreme. It is sent, given, received, comes upon, fills, is an earnest, a seal -- none of which may be predicated of the Deity.
THE SPIRIT AS THE FATHER OF CHRIST
Who was the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ? Was it the "first," or the "second Person in the Trinity?" In Matthew 1:18, it is the holy spirit. This is confirmed by Luke 1:35, which reads in the Authorized Version as follows:
The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee,
And the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee,
Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee
Shall be called the Son of God.
Here we have a parallelism, such as we often find in Hebrew poetry. In the second line "the power of the Highest corresponds with "the Holy Ghost" of the first line. And we are left in no doubt as to the reality of this when we are told that the result was that He is called "the Son of God." Christ was generated by the Holy Ghost. He was generated by the power of the Highest. These must be one and the same. And they must be the power of the Highest, or He could not be God's Son.
|God is Compared to a Man |
and then He has a Spirit
This passage contains the solution to all of the perplexities as to the holy spirit of God. I would advise everyone to fasten it on the forehead of his memory. It absolutely negatives the trinity, for Christ cannot have had two "persons" (the Holy Ghost and the Father) as His Father. It shows that the holy spirit is God's power. It is with much regret that I bring in the word "personality," for it is unscriptural and impertinent. But, as it has been used, I will insist that, as the Holy Ghost and the Father cannot be two Persons, so they cannot have two distinct "personalities." Of course they have "personality," for God is a "person." When the spirit of God is a power, it may be spoken of as impersonal, as when it is used in reference to God, it is His "personal" spirit. The whole discussion about "personality" is a strife about words to no profit. Drop the word, and the perplexities disappear.
When spirit stands for God Himself, then it is personal. This whole theological mess is a muddle, as I will show you by an example. Do you believe in the "personality" of your own body? When we speak of "somebody" do we mean a person? Of course we do, though it is a faded metaphor. Yet if I press you further, and insist on your body separate from your spirit, let us say after death, when the spirit has left, is it "person" and has it "personality?" So you see your body and your spirit have no "personality" by themselves, but get it when they are united. This whole discussion as to "personality" is vain wrangling about unscriptural words, and should cease. It is merely throwing dust into the air so that we may not be able to see clearly. It is a trick to catch all who really believe the Bible and put them into the stocks of traditional orthodoxy.
God is related to us in many ways. Although He is Spirit (John 4:24), He is often spoken of as if He were a man with a human body and spirit. It is only thus that we can think of a Spirit having a spirit. Now no one insists that he has flesh formed into eyes (1 Peter 3:12) and nose and mouth (Matt.4:4) and arms (John 12:38) and fingers (Luke 11:20). All of this is marvelously true as to feeling, but not as to fact. It is by far the best way by which we, who have these members and have experienced the impressions associated with them, can be taught to enter into His thoughts. So also it is with God's spirit. Now the spirit of a man is only a part of him, and it alone gives life and intelligence. When God performs these functions then He is spoken of as if He were a man, and did them by His spirit, when, as a matter of fact, He has no body, and is all Spirit. This makes the whole subject of the holy spirit easy for us to understand, for God speaks of His spirit as if it were a human spirit, and we can compare it with our own spirits.
God manifests Himself to human beings in two ways, corresponding to the two elements in man's constitution -- flesh and spirit. Christ partook of flesh in order to present to our eyes and our ears something tangible for them to take in. God's spirit operates in our hearts and in the world, in order to reveal God through our spirits. In the past the incarnation was an appeal to the bodily senses. The future presence of Christ will be characterized by the powers of holy spirit. And this is why, in that day, they will be baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit (Matt.28:19). This cannot refer to the present time, for Christ ascended, and did not remain to the conclusion of the eon, as He will in the millennium.
|Deity, Divine, Divinity, |
If we take this as a formula to prove the trinity we will bring in more perplexity, for in the far more formal and impressive formula at the beginning of the book of Revelation (which I prefer to call the Unveiling of Jesus Christ) we have, not a trinity, but nine "persons" introduced, including seven spirits. It reads (Rev.1:4,5)
"Him Who is, and Who was, and Who is coming,
And from the seven spirits which, are before His throne,
And from Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead,
and the Suzerain of the kings of the earth."
These seven spirits are really seven and are referred to several times again (Rev.3:1; 4:5; 5:6), being further described in figures, as seven torches, and seven eyes. All arguments based on the assumption that every item in such a formula must be included in the "God-head," is therefore a matter of prejudice, habit, and superstition, not of intelligent faith. And it is downright apostasy when it "reasons" toward a conclusion which is contrary to the actual facts as elsewhere revealed.
One of the most effective means of removing perplexity is to obey the injunction to "have a pattern of sound words" (2 Tim. 1:13). The word "godhead" is a good example of an unsound word. It will not fit into the pattern of God's revelation anywhere. The Authorized Version uses it for three different expressions, which are closely rendered in English by Deity (Col. 2:9), divinity (Rom. 1:20), and divine, (Acts 17:29; 2 Pet. 1:3,4). Do you not think, where there are three distinct words in the Greek, that there is some difference between them, which we should endeavor to carry over into English? Often this is difficult to do. But in this case they are ready to hand. Is it wise to ignore them and use an expression which has no equivalent in the Greek, and which has little or no meaning unless associated with the trinity? Indeed, it was invented to help explain this unscriptural idea, and still is one of the false props by which it is supported in the popular mind.
THE ATTRIBUTES OF DEITY
"...and the attributes of Deity are ascribed to Him, e.g. eternal existence (Heb. 9:14) -- omniscience (1 Cor. 2:10) -- omnipotence (Luke 1:35);..."
|God never Speaks of |
Have you never wondered why the Bible never speaks of "the attributes" of God, or gives us a list of them? The ground for this omission is not far to seek. The Scriptures are given us to believe, not to provide subjects for debate, or material for reasoning. It should be self-evident that God's spirit, even if this is used in a figure of speech, as if He were a man and not Spirit, must have "the attributes of Deity." Our spirit has the attributes of humanity. Let us look at these for a moment. Hebrews 9:14 tells us that Christ offered Himself through the eonian spirit. I think you will agree with me that clarity is not one of the attributes of this deduction. What does it mean? Christ offers Himself to God. This, we are told was done through another person, the eonian spirit! What is the meaning of through? If you do something through another, who actually performs it? Did the Holy Ghost actually offer Himself to God, and Christ only do it through Him? This is perplexing, hence it probably is not true. The Scriptures were not written to perplex but to explain and clarify.
We should always remember that the word spirit in the Bible represents words in the original which literally mean breeze, or blast (John 3:8; Heb.1:7). And we should also remember that it is used of impersonal things, such as, for instance, "a meek and quiet spirit" (1 Pet. 3:4). I think you will agree with me that this is not a "personality" who is meek and quiet, but the spirit of a person. Then we talk about the spirit of the age. Now you know the Greek word here translated "eternal" is really of the ages. Too bad we cannot say age-ian in English. But we can use the Greek word, which has entered our language and has become naturalized under the name eonian. It means that which belongs to the eons, or ages, of which Scripture often speaks. The so-called "end of the world" is really the end of the eon, and we are very near to it now. These eons are the time within which God uses evil and sin to reveal Himself. And it was through the spirit of these eons that Christ offered Himself. Men conform to the age in which they live. His offering corresponded with the character and needs of all the ages.
I do not wish you to think that I do not believe in the endless existence of God's spirit. But you will agree with me that this passage is no proof. Nor is one needed.
THE SPIRIT'S OMNISCIENCE
|His Spirit |
Knows All Things
That God's spirit knows all that God knows is evident from the fact that knowledge is entirely a matter of spirit. God's spirit reveals to us what God has made ready for those who love Him. Our spirit is searching all, even the depths of God (1 Cor. 2:10). You would hardly say that God's spirit is searching, would you? That would prove that it is not "omniscient," would it not? What God has revealed through His spirit can hardly be an object of search by His spirit. We will agree however, that, if we apply these words to our spirits, then they do not teach that we are omniscient! This sort of reasoning seems to be better described as wishing don't you think so? Applied to the spirit, it should prove one thing. Applied to men it proves the opposite! There is nothing about omniscience in this passage.
Just how Luke 1:35 proves the omnipotence of the spirit is a perplexity which need not occupy our time, as it does not prove it and no proof is needed. Do not such arguments defeat their own ends? If that is the best that can be done it were better not to expose the weakness of the case, by doing nothing.
THE PERSONALITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
"...that He is a Person cannot be doubted; He can be lied to (Acts 5:3) and grieved (Eph.4:30), and we find Him speaking (Rev.2:7) and praying (Rom.8:27) and also exercising authority and giving directions (Acts 8:29; 14:6,7)."
|Spirit both Personal |
Reasoning from the Bible is one of the best methods of perplexing the people. Faith is the real cure for this disease. But let us try an antidote this time, just to see how it works. Let us "prove" the opposite! That the holy spirit is not a person is beyond doubt. It is the element in baptism, like water (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 1 Cor. 12:13; Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27). Now everyone knows that you cannot baptize in or into a person! How ridiculous! In Matthew 12:18 we read "I shall be placing My spirit on Him." Did our Lord go about with another "person" on Him? Perhaps some can manage that, but how, then, can the same person be filling John the Baptist at the same time? (I am speaking as a fool, so do not answer me). And Elizabeth is also filled with this "person" (Luke 1:41)! Then the Father gives this holy spirit to those requesting Him (Luke 11:13). How can one "person" be given to so many? See also John 7:39 and Romans 5:5. When our Lord exhaled upon them His disciples received holy spirit (John 20:22). See also Acts 2:38; 19:2; 1 Corinthians 2:12; Galatians 3:2. In days to come this spirit shall be poured out (Acts 2:18). It fell on those hearing Peter (Acts 10:44). It dwells in us (Rom.8:9). The Hebrews were made partakers of it (Heb.6:4). But why cite more evidence? No "person" can be spoken of thus. This has made me a bit dazed. I hardly know what a "person" is any more. I thought I knew once. Let us look it up in the dictionary. "An individual human being." No, that won't do. Ah, here it is, "one of the three modes of being constituting the Trinity." Now I know less than ever! What is a "mode of being?" Allow me to give you my very private and confidential opinion. This word "personality" has made fools of us all. Please do not tell anyone. They may not wish to be included.
|It is Personal |
only when Figurative
Those who cling to tradition and the apostate creeds can easily "prove" that holy spirit is a "person." Those who have in some measure escaped the deadly vapors of man-made theology can easily "prove" that the holy spirit is "impersonal," a power of God. Both are true, but the truth is corrupted in each case by the unsound, senseless, silly, sneaky word "person," for holy spirit may be either one or the other, just as our spirits may be considered as such, or, in one of the most common of figures, so that very few even know that it is a figure, the spirit of God may be used for God Himself. Then, it can be lied to and grieved, it speaks and prays, and has authority and gives directions.
It is foolish to consider the word "personality." I would advise you to repudiate it, because, not being of faith, it is sin, or a mistake. But if you are forced to use it, as I am in this defense, then go at the problem comparatively. Christ is a Person. He is called God. He has a God. Is this ever true of the holy spirit? No. On almost every point which involves personality Christ is in contrast to the holy spirit.
Then compare God's spirit with Christ's spirit, for it is spoken of in precisely the same way as God's spirit (Rom.8:9). Is the spirit of Christ a distinct person from Himself? Here the parallel is almost perfect. Christ's spirit is impersonal when considered by itself. It has personality when associated with Him. The word and idea of personality induce a needless, profitless speculative smoke screen, intended to protect the insane idea of the trinity, and to be a shibboleth which will discover all who cling to God's Word, so that they may be slaughtered.
|The Spirit as |
The holy spirit is related to God as Christ's spirit is to Him, and our spirits are to us. It is God's spirit. Take the first reference given. Peter says, "Ananias, wherefore does Satan fill your heart for you to falsify the holy spirit...you do not lie to men, but to God" (Acts 5:3). The second is like it, "And do not be sorrowing the holy spirit of God..." (Eph.4:30). And the third: "Now this He is saying Who is holding the seven stars in His right hand, Who is walking in the midst of the seven lampstands" (Rev.2:1, now see verse 7). "Who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit is saying to the ecclesias." Christ is the speaker, through the spirit. In some cases it is not easy to separate the spirit of God as given to us and as God's spirit apart from us. Indeed, we are so closely united by the spirit that no definite gulf should be between us. In such cases it is not wise to use such passages as the basis for deductions. Nor is it wise to use such passages as Acts 8:29 of God's spirit, when it is distinctly called a messenger of the Lord in the twenty-sixth verse. Nor should we confuse the spirit of Jesus with the spirit of God (Acts 16:6,7). When He died He could hardly commend God's spirit to Him (Luke 23:46).
THE PARACLETE, THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
"Our Lord's own references to the Holy Spirit (John 14: 16,17; 15:26,27; 16:7-11) makes it abundantly clear that He, at all events, considered this Comforter (Gk. Parakletos -- one called alongside to help) to be a Person, and a Person of power, understanding and authority (John 14,15, and 16), and the whole tenor of the New Testament is such as to point conclusively to the essential Deity and Personality of this One Who is the Author of the Holy Scriptures (2 Peter 1:21), the Interpreter of God's truth (John 16:13), and the Indwelling Manifestation of the Risen Christ (John 14:17).
When doctors disagree (and are disagreeable!), what shall the layman do? The passages about the Comforter have been fought over again and again. I have translated John 15:26 as follows: "Now whenever the consoler which I shall be sending you from the Father should be coming, the spirit of truth which is going out from the Father, that will be testifying concerning Me." Of course I knew how this would please the heresy hunters (who, by the way, are the most vicious and poisonous species of animal life on the earth -- beware of them!) but I could not serve God and save my own soul at the same time. Sure enough, the bloodhounds soon got the scent and gaped at me with their mouths, as the lions did in Daniel's den. But, as in that case, the Lord has stopped their mouths. How do you suppose He did it? As an American would say, they bit off more than they could chew, and it choked them. Let me tell you about one case.
|An Error in the |
A self-styled Greek scholar was asked to give his opinion about the CONCORDANT VERSION. In regard to the matter we are discussing he said:
"In John XV this neuter Greek word is used against all grammatical agreement with a masculine pronoun, `when He the Spirit of Truth is come.' I turned eagerly to see how this passage is rendered. The `he' is actually rendered `that' without one hint in text, margin, or notes, of the grammatical phenomenon. Comment is needless. This is sheer propaganda."
Let none of my readers be frightened at these great growls. They were intended to make me jump out of my boots, but I have hunted lions, and I have heard that, if you look them squarely in the eye, they will wince. Let us first state clearly what this representative of scholastic wisdom has said.
First you will notice that he accuses this spirit of truth, by means of which the Scriptures were written, with using bad grammar. He says that the holy spirit refers to spirit (which he calls neuter) by a masculine pronoun, that is, "When He masculine the spirit neuter..." In doing this do not think that he is accusing me! I did not write John's evangel! But misery loves company, and I feel highly honored to find that I am not alone in my abysmal ignorance. The apostle John is very good company, and I am inclined to rank him above my critic in his knowledge of Greek. What do you think? But I ought not to put it this way. Forgive me. We must not blame John for the errors in his evangel. We must blame God, for He inspired it by His spirit. Is it not a serious matter to find fault with the works of God? Will not a really godly man tremble at such a preceding? Forgive me if I make another general observation. I am deeply conscious of the frailty of mankind. In making a translation of the Scriptures, where literally millions of opportunities are given for making a mistake, and even one will be used by ferocious critics to damn the whole, I have used extraordinary means of testing and cross-checking to avoid error. But I realize that perfection is not possible with human beings such as we are.
|The Apostle John |
But, with my critics, the matter stands very differently. They have no excuse. If they think aught is not correct they have every opportunity to investigate. They claim to have unapproachable knowledge, which does not admit of even the possibility that they may be wrong. I think we may safely say that an error on their part approaches the unpardonable. To be ourselves in error when we publicly stake our reputation on our condemnation of one who is correct should automatically and permanently oust us from the judgment seat.
Where were we? Ah, yes. We find ourselves in the dock along with the apostle John and the Inspirer of God's Holy Word, and the charges are that they wrote it wrong and I translated it likewise. Our accuser does not take his place with the attorneys, but pushes the judge off the bench and takes his place. But trials are a trial. I will not impose on the patience of my readers any longer. One of my attorneys pointed out that the word translated He (masculine) does not refer to spirit (so-called neuter), but to Paraclete masculine. So, by a single simple fact, the tables were turned. We took our seat on the bench and the judge took his stand in the dock. His confession is this: "I think you are largely right over ekeinos. You can take it if you like as simply in agreement with Parakleetos, but He is the right translation."
|His Critics |
When a judge is compelled to confess to the crime which he charged to another we are inclined to be pitiful. We would hardly be so hardhearted as to quibble over the meaning of "largely" right. One would suppose that he was small-ly right, instead of wholly, inexcusably, humiliatingly wrong. So we must harden our hearts and show further that "He" is not the correct translation of ekeinos, and that "that" is.
He, in both English and Greek, is an iterative pronoun. It simply saves the repetition of a proper noun. In Greek it is autos. As no one questions this, why prove it? Ekeinos, that, is a demonstrative pronoun. On account of a weakness in the English language, that-one is usually rendered he in the masculine in the Authorized Version. This, however, is a serious fault, as it fails utterly in conveying the demonstrative force. Hence, in the CONCORDANT VERSION it has been rendered "that" whenever possible. Of course "that" always occurs in the sublinear. What is wrong with this? Nothing! Some seem to think we chose "that" because it is neuter. But "that" may be masculine. We can say that man. We can say that Paraclete, or Consoler. This self-judged judge still charges me with wresting this passage to suit my views, when, as a matter of fact, it is absolutely correct, so far as the word "that" is concerned, and his assertion that "He is the right translation" is a determined attempt to twist it to agree with his heresy regarding the holy spirit of God. I now ask you, dear reader, can I give better evidence than the confession of an opponent that the heresy of the distinct "personality" of the holy spirit seeks to corrupt God's Holy Word in order to support this error?
THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
|The Spirit is a |
Seal and an Earnest
The Consoler, or Paraclete, is the spirit of truth. In his first epistle John uses this expression again. "By this we are knowing the spirit of truth and the spirit of deception" (1 John 4:6). Is the spirit of deception a person? The spirit of glory and power (1 Peter 4:14)? The spirit of life (Rev. 11:11)? The spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10)? The spirit of slavery (Rom. 8:15)? The spirit of sonship (Rom. 8:15)? The spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29)? The spirit of wisdom (Eph. 1:17)? In every case the spirit is so closely connected with the Deity, Who is Spirit, out of Whom all is, that, viewed from one angle we feel that we must say yes, but taken apart from all associations, we must say no. There is no life apart from God's spirit, but life is an impersonal thing, and the spirit of life is a thing that comes from God. It did not increase the number of witnesses from two to three (Rev.11:11), but changed the two from death to life.
So it is with the spirit of truth. When the spirit of truth came to earth it did not increase the population by one person, but was distributed among many persons. In no case was each of these changed into a dual personality, but he received power to receive the truth of God, and it guided him into the truth, and it glorified Christ. But, more than this, after our Lord had left his disciples, and no longer was present with them in their trials and tribulations, it took His place, and consoled them by means of the truth.
But, you say, why then is it called a Comforter, or Consoler? Does not that "prove" that it is a "Person?" This spirit is presented to us under various figures. None of these "proves" anything as to personality. The holy spirit is a seal, hence might be an inanimate, impersonal object. It is an earnest, and this has no personality (2 Cor.1:22). This question cannot be decided in any such way. Personification is a common figure of speech. Christ is called the Truth. Is truth therefore a person? As He is the truth personified I am inclined to view "the spirit of truth," the "Comforter," or Consoler, as the spirit of Christ, and only God's spirit in the ultimate sense that His spirit came from and belonged to God. But I cannot insist on this because figures of speech are not a proper basis of reasoning. David found God's rod and staff (crook and club) his comforters. Were they persons? You say no. Yet, there is an element of personality even in the crook and the club, for they are in the hands of a Person. This element, coupled with a desire for evidence for the trinity, and almost universal ignorance as to figures of speech, has led to this perplexity.
THE GENDER OF SPIRIT
"The neuter pronoun used in connection with the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:16) is merely a matter of grammatical accuracy, the Greek noun for `spirit' being neuter; in other passages (John 15:26; 1 Cor. 12:11) referring to the same Spirit, the pronoun is masculine in accordance also with the exigencies of grammatical construction."
|"Spirit" is not |
He or She, but It
In Greek and Hebrew the words for wind, or spirit, are indefinite in gender. If you will look this up in a Greek grammar you will probably find that it is called neuter, that is neither masculine nor feminine. I used this term for a while, but, when I sorted out every grammatical form used in the Scriptures I found that the name "neuter" is misleading, for the forms thus named were often used with the masculine or feminine, as well as the neuter. We have no pronoun for this in English, so I was compelled to use it. But even it is not strictly neuter in English. A child is it. A crowd is it. But, of course, one with an evil eye, can make out that I translate pronouns referring to the word spirit consistently, like the Greek, because of my ignorance of the laws of grammatical agreement. Not so. Spirit has no gender, either in English or in Greek. It is it.
Two passages are given to disprove this. One we have already considered. Led astray by the learned counsel who claimed that the apostle John had made a "howler" in Greek grammar, some may think that the "he" of John 15:26 (that, CV) refers to the word spirit (which is "neuter"). I feel sure that John, inspired by the spirit of God, was quite as well qualified in Greek grammar as his modern critics. In fact I am willing to back him against them all. But they treat John as they treat me. First they distort my words. Then they point with the finger of derision at them. John did not refer to "spirit," but to ho paracleetos, the Consoler, and he deliberately chose the masculine pronoun to indicate that he referred to the masculine noun and not to the indefinite (spirit). So the first example proves the opposite. "Spirit" is not denoted by a masculine pronoun here.
|Gender does not |
But suppose it was, would that prove "personality" in Greek? Far from it! Fury, Euphrates, fish, foot, and fraud are masculine. Fight, flesh, form, are feminine. Are all these "persons" also? It is only those who wish that spirit were masculine, who try to make out that others use such an argument.
The next passage reads, "the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." There is no pronoun to show the gender, in the Greek, hence the appeal is based on nothing. But in English there is a rule that the pronoun must agree with its antecedent in gender. Now the gender of spirit (in English) is not masculine, hence the pronoun should not be he. Grammatically, the Authorized Version is incorrect. It was not inspired, like the Greek of John's evangel. But the word spirit here may be taken as personified, and then we cannot object to using he. But it proves nothing.
Few, indeed, are the passages which are brought up to prove the distinct personality of God's holy spirit. Many are those which seem to prove the opposite. It is the figurative language in the few which seems to give color to the argument. When the spirit of God is called a seal, that is not taken literally as proof that it is impersonal, but when the figure personification is used, then it is deemed final. In this way we can prove the "personality" of anything. Our version says "Wine is a mocker." Therefore wine must be a "person!" This is all contrary to the great rule that figures must never be used as if they were literal, in reasoning.
|Let us be Done |
To sum up: The question as to the "personality" of the holy spirit is a profitless speculation, entirely unnecessary for those who really believe God, but vital to those who hold fast to the heresy of the trinity. It is a part of the hocus pocus inherited from the Roman Church, and should have been left behind with "the mother of God," and similar superstitions. There is really nothing perplexing in the Scriptures, in the sense of contradictory. That is introduced by injecting speculations into it which are based on tradition and supported by ignorance and the suppression of the main part of the evidence. It is vain reasoning. I have not tried to "prove" one side or the other. The perplexity cannot be removed in that way. It will vanish only when we discard all human hindrances (though disguised as helps) and find our way back to the pure, perfect, unparalleled Word of the living God.
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