Re: Holy Spirit in Islam and in New Testament Thinking

Eric Weiss (
Mon, 27 May 96 10:43:46 EDT

Years ago, before I began learning Greek, I had several lengthy discussions
with a member of the Baha'i religion (closely related to Islam in its
theology about Jesus and the Holy Spirit) about whether the Holy Spirit was a
"He" or an "It" and whether the Holy Spirit was the one the author of GJohn
referred to as the Spirit of Truth. That was my first exposure to the neuter
noun/neuter pronoun issue related to the Holy Spirit.

[I recall that about every time the author of GJohn uses a masculine pronoun
in the relevant passages, it can be shown that it probably refers to a
previous mention of hO PARAKLHTOS (masculine); the author always uses a
neuter pronoun to refer to TO PNEUMA, whether the Holy Spirit or the Spirit
of Truth. Non-Greek-reading Christian apologists who point to translations
and "show" that GJohn uses masculine pronouns ("He") to refer to a neuter
word (PNEUMA)--hence "proving" that the Holy Spirit is a person--have no real
basis for their argument.]

Anyway, the person I spoke with had a vested interest in maintaining that the
Holy Spirit was a neutral force and that the Spirit of Truth was not the Holy
Spirit but referred to the (yet to come) Baha'ullah. For him to admit that
the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Truth and the Paraclete (despite GJohn
14:16-17,26) might be the same would have required him to abandon the
cardinal tenets of his religion. Likewise, for him to admit that the Holy
Spirit might be a person would also require him to go against another major
tenet of his religion. The other night while doing some street evangelism I
had a conversation with a Muslim and also encountered the same strong
resistance to considering the Holy Spirit as being personal. If "Akbar" is a
Baha'i or a Muslim, you will most likely NEVER convince him that the Holy
Spirit is a person or that the Holy Spirit = the Paraclete = the Spirit of
Truth, no matter how many logical proofs or syllogisms you offer. And if you
go to the Greek text, you'll be rebuffed with arguments about variant and
corrupt manuscripts, etc. Believe me, I know. This is all to say that the
issue "Akbar" is raising is probably for him not grammatical or textual but
theological and hence will never be resolved by arguing about the grammar or
the Greek text.