Response to “Why the Holy Spirit cannot be a separate 3rd Person”

The Father is not the Holy Spirit

Here I am going to respond to selections of Kel’s article.  The selections I have chosen are the ones I regard as embodying Kel’s main arguments; I have left out what I regard as repetitious or off the point.  If I have missed or misunderstood Kel’s arguments, anyone who reads this – including Kel – is welcome to bring that to my attention.

. . .

In his section “Why the Holy Spirit Can’t be a Seperate 3rd Person,” Kel asserts that “the Scriptures do make it absolutely clear that the Father is the Holy Spirit in a number of ways.”

First he says that “The Holy Spirit is the Father’s Spirit.”  No argument there.  The Holy Spirit belongs to the Father.  Then he states that “The Holy Spirit is the Spirit OF God the Father.”

Argument:

“When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:11-12).

But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. (Matthew 10:19-20).

Just as nobody would say the spirit of Elijah is another person separate from Elijah we should not say the Spirit of God is another person separate from God the Father. Just as nobody would say their own spirit is not themselves but someone else, nobody should say the Holy Spirit of God the Father is another someone else.”

Response:

The problem with this argument is that the Holy Spirit can be the Spirit of the Father in two ways; first, He could be the Spirit who is the Father; second, He could be the Spirit that comes from the Father.  Since Elijah is mentioned, let’s look at Luke 1:17, where the angel said of John the Baptist, “and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” – RSV.

The spirit “of” Elijah here is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that Elijah had upon him, and not the spirit who is Elijah, since it was by the Holy Spirit that Elijah had any power.

Argument:

The argument is then raised that because where John 4:24 says God is Spirit,

“Trinitarian translations tend to use a lower case ‘s’ in this verse to read, “God is spirit.” The word “God” in this context is obviously a reference to God the Father and it is not acceptable in Trinitarian doctrine to say God the Father is the Holy Spirit because they are two different persons in Trinitarian doctrine. . . God the Father is Spirit, Holy Spirit. God the Father is Holy. Our Holy God is therefore Holy Spirit.”

Response:

This argument makes no sense to me.  The capitalization of the S in this verse is irrelevant to the point because one could say that the Holy Spirit himself is spirit.  All the Persons of the Trinity are Holy Spirit, but only one of them is designated “the Holy Spirit.”  Nothing in that designation implies that the Father and the Son are not also Holy and not also Spirit.  Kel’s claim about “Trinitarian translations” is also suspicious.  Note the following taken from Biblehub.com:

New International Version: God is spirit

New Living Translation: God is Spirit

English Standard Version: God is spirit

Berean Study Bible: God is Spirit

Berean Literal Bible: God is Spirit

New American Standard Bible: God is spirit

King James Bible: God is a Spirit

Holman Christian Standard Bible: God is spirit

NET Bible: God is spirit

Aramaic Bible in Plain English: For the Spirit is God

GOD’S WORD Translation: God is a spirit

New American Standard 1977: God is spirit

Jubilee Bible 2000: God is a Spirit

King James 2000 Bible: God is a Spirit

Douay-Rheims Bible: God is a spirit

Darby Bible Translation: God [is] a spirit

English Revised Version: God is a Spirit

Webster’s Bible Translation: God is a Spirit

Weymouth New Testament: God is Spirit

World English Bible: God is spirit

Young’s Literal Translation: God is a Spirit

Are we supposed to believe that all those translations – including the King James Version – which capitalize the word “Spirit” are non-Trinitarian translations, and vice versa?  I don’t believe that.

Argument:

“Paul tells us there is ONE Spirit (Eph. 4:4) and we know that this one Spirit is the Spirit of the Father (Matthew 10:20) and the Holy Spirit is the one and same Spirit. Therefore, Jesus cannot be talking about another Spirit . . . . There is no way of honestly escaping the fact that this passage is referring to the Holy Spirit and that Jesus’s words “God is Spirit” necessarily mean “the Father is the Holy Spirit.”

Response:

In the Bible, oneness of spirit does not necessarily mean oneness of person.  Paul warns the Corinthians against immorality with this as part of his argument:

“Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two shall become one flesh.” But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit (with him).” – 1 Corinthians 6:16-17, RSV

Yet the Bible also says of believers (in this case who have gone to heaven) “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem . . . and to the spirits of just men made perfect.”  – Hebrews 10:22-23.

Clearly, the spirits of many individual humans are in a sense one spirit in the Lord.

The text of Ephesians 4:4 is as follows: There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

Many people are baptized but there is one baptism, many have faith yet there is one faith.  And there are many individual spirits who are one spirit in the Lord.  My position is that the one Spirit of Ephesians 4:4 refers to the same kind of oneness as does 1 Corinthians 6:17. As Jesus said, he wants us to be one just as he and his Father are one (John 17:22).

In this sense, the Trinity can be understood as three Persons in one Spirit.

Argument:

“Believers in the doctrine of the Trinity, have to accept the absurdity of one person fathering baby Jesus but another person turns out to be Jesus father.”

Response:

The argument here is that since the baby Jesus was conceived by that action of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20 and others), that makes the Holy Spirit Jesus’ Father, so how can the Holy Spirit be a different Person from God the Father?

Here I must point out that although the action of the Holy Spirit produced a result that normally requires a human father, that fact does not make the Holy Spirit Jesus’ Father. Jesus turned water into wine, which is normally done by a grapevine, and multiplied loaves of bread, normally requiring a bake oven.  Does the fact that Jesus used his power to get the same results mean Jesus is a grapevine or a bake oven?  Of course not. The Bible does not say by what means the Holy Spirit caused Mary to be with child, and nowhere does the Scripture say that the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ Father.

In the section “The Father Our Comforter” Kel argues that because the Holy Spirit is a Comforter and God the Father is a Comforter, the Father must be the Holy Spirit.  It is remarkable to me that Kel could use an argument like this, considering that in his section entitled “The Attribution Association Farce” he argues “A person can theoretically share absolutely everything in common with another person and it will still not amount to a common identity,” for here he is using the same argument that he claims proves nothing.

In conclusion, I would to offer the following passages to show that the Holy Spirit is not God the Father (or the Son).

1 In John 15:26, Jesus said “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about me.” – NASB

2 In John 14:26, Jesus said “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” – NASB

What sense does it make to say that Jesus will send us the Holy Spirit from the Father, if the Holy Spirit is the Father?  Note also that both the Father and Jesus send the Holy Spirit, but that does not mean that Jesus is the Father.

3 God the Father does everything on His own initiative; but John 16:13 informs us that “when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”  – NASB