The Christadelphians deny the doctrine of the Trinity. Therefore, they also deny that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Godhead. When we say that the Holy Spirit is a person, we do not mean that He has a body of flesh and bones, that His first name is Holy and His last name is Spirit. Rather, the Holy Spirit has personhood in that He is self-aware, has a will, and can speak. However, the Christadelphians teach that the Holy Spirit is a force, the invisible power and energy of the Father by which God is everywhere present. It is a "power concentrated through an individual or angel for the purpose of a specific miraculous event or activity."1
They teach that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force by which God inspired the Bible and moved through people the same way as a wind would drive a ship, carrying it along with it. In support of their position, they quote 2 Pet. 1:21 which says, "for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." They interpret the moving of the Holy Spirit as the moving of the force. They then sometimes go to Acts 27:17 which also contains the word "moved" when it is referring to the ship being "driven along" by the storm.
The problem with this type of thinking is that words mean what they mean in their immediate context. You do not take the meaning of a word in one scripture, take it out of its context, and apply it to another verse. This leads to error and is particularly dangerous when other scriptures are ignored that contradict the interpretation that the Christadelphians are trying to support.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity. He is fully God. He is eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, has a will, and can speak. He is alive. He is a person. He is not particularly visible in the Bible because His ministry is to bear witness of Jesus (John 15:26). Please consider the following verses as support for the personhood of the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit is lied to
- "But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land?" (Acts 5:3).
- The Holy Spirit has a will and is called "He."
- "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills," (1 Cor. 12:11).
- The Holy Spirit loves
- "Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me," (Rom. 15:30).
- The Holy Spirit speaks
- "And the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go up and join this chariot,'" (Acts 8:29).
- "And while Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 "But arise, go downstairs, and accompany them without misgivings; for I have sent them Myself," (Acts 10:19-20).
- "And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them," (Acts 13:2).
- The Holy Spirit can be insulted
- "How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Heb. 10:29).
If the Holy Spirit is like a force, then how can it be lied to? How can a force have a will, or be able to love, or speak, or be insulted? Clearly the Bible demonstrates that the Holy Spirit is alive and has attributes of life, self-awareness, and a will and is not a mere force.
The Christadelphians go to great lengths to deny the personhood of the Holy Spirit. But, it should be obvious that the Holy Spirit is not a mere force like a radar or a wind. Rather, He is the third person in the Trinity.
- 1. The Testimony: The Distinctive Beliefs of the Christadelphians, Vol. 58, No. 691, July 1988, p. 254.