The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
Not as controversial as some of the other doctrines
Christians in the mainline…
Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, some Baptists, etc.
…and many Evangelicals don’t know very much about the Holy Spirit!
The only real controversy surrounds the more “Charismatic” expressions of the Christian faith.
Some Christians shy away from the Holy Spirit because
They associate Him with the “weirdos” who “speak in tongues and bark like dogs!”
The “fire pit walkers” and “snake handlers!”
But the truth of the matter is, the Holy Spirit is active and moving in the Church and in the world
Empowering and transforming worldly people into Kingdom people!
Not to be feared, but embraced as God!
So it is important that we clarify this doctrine and lift it up
Because it speaks of our understanding of God and His Triune Nature.
The Holy Spirit is not just another name for God.
Nor is He just the immediate Presence of God
He is God in our presence
But He is understood to be the third Person of the Trinity
With all of the attributes and power of God
Not a third “god” but the third Person of the Triune God, or Trinity
Nor is the Holy Spirit simply “The Force” from Star Wars
Which a recent study by the Ligonier ministry found 62% of “evangelical” Christians believed!
And so it is important that we refer to the Holy Spirit using the second person pronoun of “Him”
And not the impersonal pronoun “it”
Some have offered to use the female personal pronoun “She” for the Holy Spirit
But there is no scriptural ground to do so
English, unfortunately, does not have a non-gender personal pronoun
And God is consistently identified in Scripture with male pronouns
So the Holy Spirit is “He” “Him” and “His”
Even though there is really no necessity to identify Him as male
Unlike God the Father, and God the Son
It is a limitation of our language in talking about the Holy Spirit.
Our tradition affirms the Holy Spirit
From the Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church, Article IV—Of the Holy Ghost:
The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
From the Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, Article III – The Holy Spirit:
We believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from and is one in being with the Father and the Son. He convinces the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. He leads men through faithful response to the gospel into the fellowship of the Church. He comforts, sustains and empowers the faithful and guides them into all truth.
As you know, The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 by the merger of The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church.
Unfortunately, The United Methodist Church has been lax in teaching its official doctrine, so much of what is our “official doctrine” is ignored or even repudiated by those who claim to be United Methodists in good standing.
Our Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) has been neglected and many UM’s do not know what our church teaches about the third Person of the Trinity!
The Holy Spirit in Scripture
Present in Creation, as the wind/spirit of God hovering over the waters