Part Six: Is the Holy Spirit an impersonal force?

Our discussion will take the form of a simulated conversation between a Jehovah's Witness named Joe and a Christian named Chris.

Chris: Joe, can you explain to me why the Watchtower does not believe that the Holy Spirit has personality?

Joe: Let me read from the Watchtower's Reasoning from the Scriptures page 380. It says that "A comparison of Bible texts that refer to the holy spirit shows that it is spoken of as ‘filling' people; they can be ‘baptized' with it; and they can be anointed with it... None of these expressions would be appropriate if the holy spirit were a person." You see, Chris, the Holy Spirit is nothing more than an impersonal, invisible, active force. In fact the spirit can be considered to be like electricity.

Chris: It is true that the Holy Spirit is ‘invisible' and is a ‘force', but that does not prevent him from having intelligence, self awareness, will and other personal characteristics; things which no impersonal force such as electricity could possess. Angels are also invisible forces, yet you do not believe that they are impersonal, do you?

Joe: No. Angels are not impersonal beings. They are spirit persons. I think that this will help you to understand holy spirit. In my You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth book it says "John the Baptizer said that Jesus would baptize with holy spirit, even as John had been baptizing with water. Hence, in the same way that water is not a person, holy spirit is not a person."

Chris: Joe, can you read Galatians 3:27 in your New World Translation?

Joe: It says "For all of YOU who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

Chris: Since people can be baptized into Christ and clothed with Christ, does this prove that Jesus must not be a person?

Joe: Well, no. Jesus Christ is a person. But what about when it says that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples? How could a person be poured out?

Chris: Joe, would you read Philippians 2:17 in your Bible?

Joe: Sure. It says, "Notwithstanding, even if I am being poured out like a drink offering..."

Chris: If the pouring out of the Holy Spirit was evidence against his personality, then Paul would not be a person either because he is said to be poured out.

Joe: What about the filling of the Spirit? How could the Holy Spirit fill about 120 disciples if the Spirit is a person?

Chris: Joe, look at Ephesians 1:23.

Joe: It says "which is his body, the fullness of him who fills up all things in all."

Chris: Who is the "him" who fills up all things?

Joe: That has to be Jehovah God.

Chris: So it is Jehovah God who is the one who fills up all things. Is this "him" who fills all the disciples not a divine person? And isn't this divine person said to have personal characteristics?

Joe: Chris, often the Bible will personify a non-living thing. For example in my Reasoning book on page 380 it says that just because something is personified doesn't mean that it is a person, and ‘wisdom' is given as an illustration. Holy spirit is personified but it is not a person.

Chris: Doesn't the Society teach that wisdom personified is not an impersonal thing but is the person of Jesus? Now are you telling me that they are saying that wisdom personified is an impersonal thing? Sounds like double talk to me. Joe, do you believe that Satan is a spirit person because he has the qualifying attributes of a person?

Joe: Yes. We know that Satan is not an impersonal force like holy spirit. Satan is a real person.

Chris: The Society says in the Awake! December 8, 1973 magazine, "Is the Devil a personification or a person?...these accounts relate to conversations between the Devil and God, and between the Devil and Jesus Christ. Both Jehovah God and Jesus Christ are persons. Can an unintelligent ‘force' carry on a conversation with a person? Also, the Bible calls Satan a manslayer, a liar, a father..and a ruler..only an intelligent person could fit all those descriptions." Joe, in Acts 8:29 it says that "the Spirit said to Philip.." Using the Watchtower's reasoning, could an unintelligent ‘force' carry on a conversation with a person? The Holy Spirit even calls himself ‘me' in Acts 13:2.

Joe: Let me read that for myself in my Bible. It says "As they were publicly ministering to Jehovah and fasting, the holy spirit said: "Of all persons set Bar'nabas and Saul apart for me for the work to which I have called them." I've never seen that before.

Chris: The Holy Spirit is also said to be a comforter, a helper, a teacher, a guide, one who speaks and hears, all of which clearly shows that he is an intelligent person. And he can be lied to. Have a look at Acts 5:3, 4. No impersonal force an be lied to and the holy spirit is also called God in this passage.

Joe: But why would the Bible use a neuter term for Holy Spirit if the Holy Spirit is a person?

Chris: In the New Testament a neuter term is commonly used of children, unclean spirits and even angels. The neuter term does not repudiate their being persons. Your Bible even calls Jesus an "it". Does that mean that Jesus is not a person?

Joe: We have never called Jesus an "it". Only holy spirit is called it.

Chris: Have a look at Matthew 2:13. It says "Jehovah's angel appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying: ‘Get up, take the young child and its mother and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I give you word; for Herod is about to search for the young child to destroy it." The neuter term is used for child and the Watchtower translates that "it". Is Jesus an "it"? Is Jesus not a person?

Go back to Part One: Is the Trinity True? or Go to Main Transcript Page

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