In the theology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses there are many false teachings that are in conflict with biblical theology. These conflicts are not of a non-essential nature like pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-tribulation teachings on the Second Coming of Jesus, or whether or not a Christian can lose their salvation. Disagreements among Christians on these doctrinal issues does not determine whether or not one is in fact a Christian. A Christian’s salvation is not in jeopardy if they are wrong on such non-essential doctrinal areas like the one’s mentioned. The line is drawn, however, when an essential doctrine of the Christian faith is denied and attacked. Essential doctrines like the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the person of the Holy Spirit among others are doctrines that draws a clear distinction between true Christianity and false Christianity. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are an excellent example of a group who do deny one or more of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. In this blog we will look at what the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach about the Holy Spirit and attempt to show from the Bible how they are in error.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that the Holy Spirit is not a person, let alone God, third person of the Divine and Holy Trinity. The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that the Holy Spirit is God’s “active force.” Their line of reasoning starts off deriving from the denial of the doctrine of the Trinity. If God is not a Triune Being, then the Holy Spirit sure can’t be God and if the Holy Spirit isn’t God then He cannot be a person. The Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledge that the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit speaks (Acts 13:2), has a will (1st Corinthians 12:11), and has emotions (Ephesians 4:30), but these are just personifications like wisdom, sin, and water are in the Scriptures. Furthermore the Jehovah’s Witnesses will ask, “the Bible says, ‘They all became filled with holy spirit.(Acts 2:4) Were they “filled” with a person? No, but filled with God’s active force.”(You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth, pg 40) One last reason the Jehovah’s Witnesses give as to why the Holy Spirit is not a person, let alone God, is because He doesn’t have a personal name like the Father and Son have, “The Holy Scriptures tell us the personal name of the Father–Jehovah. They inform us that the Son is Jesus Christ. But nowhere in the Scriptures is a personal name applied to the Holy Spirit.”(Reasoning From The Scriptures, pg 407)
How do we as Christians answer the Jehovah’s Witnesses reasons for the Holy Spirit not being a person, let alone God? We need to first realize that the Bible in no way identifies the Holy Spirit as an active force. Even their New World Translation of the Bible doesn’t give such an identity to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is only identified as an active force because of their denial of the doctrine of the Trinity. Being able to speak, exercise a will, and to express emotions are all personal attributes and expressions which only a person has. When the Holy Spirit said in Acts 13:2, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them…”, did the church send out Barnabas and Saul in obedience to a personification or to a person? I don’t know of anyone who listens to and obeys personifications, but I know I can listen and obey a person who communicates to me information and commands. Only personal beings can express such actions as speaking, willing to do an action, and express emotions. In no way can an active force do these things and to label such attributes which the Holy Spirit has to non-personal personifications is illogical and not biblical.
The second argument against the person of the Holy Spirit is because He filled over a hundred and twenty disciples and no person can do so. If the Holy Spirit is God, then the Holy Spirit is omnipresent–everywhere at the same time–which would mean that there is no place where the Holy Spirit cannot be, including in individual persons. Did you know that the Bible teaches that Jesus also fills all things? Yes it do. In Ephesians 4:8-10 we see that Jesus fills all things which demonstrates His ability to be omnipresent, which only God can do. Jesus is a person, is He? Yes He is and yet we see Jesus fill all things. Therefore the Holy Spirit can be a person and still fill a multiplicity of people. Even more, this demonstrates the divinity of the Holy Spirit for again, only God can be omnipresent.
Lastly, are the Jehovah’s Witnesses right in saying that the Holy Spirit is not a person because He doesn’t have a personal name? No. But if it is true a person is only a person if they have a personal name, then abortion is not immoral and pro-choice groups are justified in their stance. Remember: Jehovah’s Witnesses are pro-life. In Reasoning from the Scriptures, they say, “Deliberately induced abortion simply avoid the birth of an unwanted child is the willful taking of human life (pg 25).” With the same line of reasoning for why the Holy Spirit is not a person–no personal name–I can use the same line of reasoning in favor of abortion. An unborn child–a human fetus–doesn’t have a personal name. Therefore abortion isn’t wrong because it isn’t a personal being–a person. Of course no Jehovah’s Witness will agree with what I stated so they should disagree with their own reason here for why the Holy Spirit isn’t a person.
In conclusion we see the reasons why the Holy Spirit is in fact a person according to the Bible and plain reason. He has the attributes of a person: Mind, will, and emotion. God the Father and Jesus have these attributes of person-hood. Even Satan, demons, and angels have these attributes of person-hood. So we should agree with the Bible on the person-hood of the Holy Spirit. We should reject the teaching that the Holy Spirit is an active force. No Bible version nor the New World Translation itself teach this false doctrine. The denial of the person-hood of the Holy Spirit is nothing more than an attempt to debunk the doctrine of the Trinity which the Christian Church has believed and taught for almost two thousand years.