Defining the Holy Spirit

I’m am reading through a book with a slightly overdramatic title concerning the lack of attention given to the Holy Spirit. So far I am really enjoying the book. But I came across a part dealing with how we define the Spirit and it made me stop and think (which is a mark of a good book). The author stated that we too often think of the Holy Spirit as a power and not a Person. The author posits the Spirit as Person (unfortunately with gender specific language rather than gender neutral but that isn’t a huge theological point worth debating at this time) He/She (notice I didn’t use He-She which could spark a different type of theological debate) rather than It. I realize that I should have come to this realization prior to this moment or have at least dealt with it and be thinking about it being a worship leader (we worship more than just the Father, and the Son regardless if most worship lyrics don’t mention that). I guess I just pushed my pneumatology to the background and it took this passage to intentionally look at it again.

I agree that when we view the Spirit as an It, the term lends itself to the misconception that the Spirit is a power we can wield – which is thoroughly problematic to think we have and control or power over the spirit. Viewing the Spirit as Person give a more personal approach to understanding the Spirit in the same sense we understand our personal relationship with Christ and The Father. And since we should view all three as equal but distinct I like the view of Spirit as person.

It wasn’t till I read this part of this book that I intentionally spent time thinking about this again.
What do you think? How do you see the Holy Spirit? As outside power or person? Share your thoughts below, I’m interested in your thoughts and beliefs on the matter.

He's a nice guy


  1. Drew Causey   •  

    I think I know what book you’re reading; I read said book while taking a course in seminary on the Holy Spirit (not required reading; just because it was popular). If you’re looking for other recommendations on books dealing with the Holy Spirit, I’ll give you a list.

    The Holy Spirit is a person (I’m glad you see it that way). Thinking of the Spirit in any other way is a dishonest portrayal of the character of the Triune God. Any doubts about how to best understand the Spirit can be cleared up by examining how Jesus taught about the Spirit, the Helper, the Paraclete; the way He teaches us about the Spirit can very easily correct any misleading thoughts about the Spirit as a power or force.

    Perhaps the problem is that definite article; not that there’s much to do about it, but the “the” can cause our English-thinking minds to associate the Spirit with an it instead of a personal being.

    • Nathan Sutliff   •     Author

      I am always open for book suggestions. Thanks for the comments, I really like your point about the definite article. Anytime we use an article like the to describe something I think it creates a different sense of how we relate to it. For some reason, like said book suggests, this subject is neglected in many modern churches and really needs to be part of how the church is defined.

      thanks for your comments

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