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From holy spirit to Holy Ghost


by Paul Sumner

Chapel Hill Harvester Church (Decatur, Georgia, USA)

  The Scriptures forewarn that in opposition to the holy Spirit of God there is "an unclean Spirit" (Zech 13:2), a "Spirit of harlotry" (Hosea 5:4), "a different Spirit" "who is now working" (2 Cor 11:4; Eph 2:2) in humanity to mislead, distract, seduce.

Behind a veil of sacredness and miraculous power, this Other Spirit [Greek, pneuma heteron] promotes himself so much so that God the Father and Jesus are all but eclipsed. So enamored with this mysterious Spirit are millions of people that we could call their religion Spiritanity.

The roots of this religion are ancient, actually pre-Christian. They're Edenic. For in Eden we first hear That Other Voice, beckoning humans to depart God's explicit word (Gen 3).

Not long after the end of New Testament era, Christianity moved away from its Hebraic biblical roots and began theological innovations. Immediately, this alien Spirit exploited them in order to focus attention on himself.

One could even say this Spirit quietly guided those innovations — just as one tweaks the rudder of a giant ship to eventually, over time, turn it off course.

Deception gradually appears as light, not as deception.


How Theology Opened the Doors

Quotations from theologians explain the gradual steps that this Spirit used to enter Christianity.

The earliest creeds of the Christian Church do not call the Holy Spirit "God" nor do they require worship of the Spirit. This changed with the Nicean Creed adopted at Constantinople in AD 381. It introduced these phrases: "The Holy Spirit, the Lord and Life-giver ... [who] with Father and Son is worshiped together and glorified together."

  • “Early Christian writers, the Fathers, and theologians of the Church under the guidance of the teaching authority of the Church, gradually made more explicit that which was contained only implicitly in the original revelation. Thus the infallible Church, in the course of time, penetrated more deeply into and became more acutely conscious of what it possessed and, gradually, solemnly defined its faith.” [M. J. Donnelly, "Holy Spirit," New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), Vol. 7, p. 96]

  • “The operations of the Spirit ... were not uncommon in the apostolic Church, but these provide no clear evidence of the recognition of the personal distinction of the Holy Spirit or of the tribute of a special devotion. By the mid-4th century Catholic doctrine regarding the Holy Spirit was explained fully and clearly, but for long this resulted in no widespread popular devotion. Among the elite, however, devotion to the Holy Spirit ... existed from early times.” [M. F. Laughlin, "Devotion to the Holy Spirit," New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), Vol. 7, p. 98] (emphasis added)

  • “There is nothing [in the OT] that compels us to regard the Spirit in a Trinitarian fashion. It is enough to give us pause that devout and learned Jews, making a very close study of the Old Testament with a reverent acceptance of what it says as the very Word of God, do not come to a belief in a Spirit in any way separate from the Father.” [Leon Morris, Spirit of the Living God (1960), pages 28-29]


The Holy Ghost “Conspiracy” in English Bibles

As Christian dogma developed, theologians created a dilemma for themselves in how they translated and printed the Bible.

Their doctrinal assumptions about the Spirit forced them to distinguish between (1) the Spirit of God (or, of the Lord) and (2) the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit. The first term was used to described God himself in his invisible activity, communicating breath, or inner nature. The second term designated the Third Person of the Triune Godhead: God the Spirit.

In effect, theologians taught there were two Holy Spirits.

English-speaking Christian leaders devised special vocabulary to differentiate the two Spirits. For the Spirit as God himself, they consistently used "Spirit." For the Third Person of the Trinity they coined the term Holy Ghost, even though the original Bible languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) make no such distinction.

This distinction first appears in English Bibles with the publication of John Wiclife's (Wycliffe) translation in 1380-82. After that, every major English Bible followed suit for over two centuries: William Tyndale (1534), Myles Coverdale (1535), the Great Bible (=Thomas Cranmer's, 1539), the Geneva Bible (1557), and the Rheims version (a Catholic counter-Reformation work, 1582).

The two-Spirit model received its greatest publicity with the Authorized or King James Version of 1611 — a version that is still in use today among some English-speaking Christians. [See the fuller study: From holy spirit to Holy Ghost.]

What the distinction between "(Holy) Spirit" and "Holy Ghost" does is sever the New Testament from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), because the term "Holy Ghost" intentionally occurs only in the NT.

This reflects the Catholic belief (expressed above) that OT Jews were unaware of the later doctrine of the Trinity and the separate personhood of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, it would be misleading to suggest in an OT version that the Jews were doctrinally informed about Christian doctrines before those were revealed to the Church.

[See the fuller study: The Personhood of the Holy Spirit.]

This severing of Scripture in two by Christian theologians undermined the authority of the Hebrew Bible: the Bible of Yeshua and his apostles. And that opened the door to expanded sources of revelation of truth — revelations that an Another Spirit, cut loose from scriptural limitations, exploited.

Data source: The English Hexapla [translations of Wiclif, Tyndale, Cranmer, Genevan, Anglo-Rheims, A.V.] (London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1840).


Devotion to the Holy Spirit in Modern Times

As the Roman Catholic authority M. F. Laughlin noted above, "Among the elite ... devotion to the Holy Spirit ... existed from early times." That is, it existed only in the inner leadership circles of the Catholic Church — those who instituted doctrinal and dogmatic innovations. It was not a phenomenon among the laity.

That parochialism of the Holy Spirit would change. A democratization occurred.

1) For example, in the late 1800s, when Protestantism was in decline after the American Civil War, Catholic leaders looked for ways to build and spread their faith. Several campaigned for increased devotion to the Sacred Heart (of Christ). However, some Catholics felt the word "heart" carried too many connotations of warm, tender affections or "interiority and spirituality." And that was definitely not a potent spiritual force in a modern society.

They needed another compelling image.

Many then realized that the Third Person of the Trinity had been the "neglected" presence in Catholic teaching.

They also realized that the Holy Ghost was really at the heart of "the Church's infallibility," since it was the Spirit who regularly guided the Papacy in formulating its dogmas. So logically to increase the Church's authority — as the only repository of divine truth — several men strove to revive ancient Catholic devotion to the Third Person.

They formed the "Confraternity of the Servants of the Holy Ghost" in 1879.

Among them was John Joseph Keane, Bishop of Richmond, Virginia. So convinced was he of the power of this movement that he predicted that devotion to the Spirit "would naturally be the dominant devotion of the future church." He wrote this in 1883.

[Consider the article/book review: The Female Spirit Within Christianity.]

Source: Joseph P. Chinnici, OFM, Devotion to the Holy Spirit in American Catholicism (Mahwah, N.J.: Seabury Press, 1985), pages 35-41.


2) In the twentieth century, Cardinal Leon Joseph Suenens (1904-1996), Roman Catholic primate of Belgium, was a major figure in the reforms of Vatican II. He was also key promoter of charismatic renewal within the Catholic Church. Some of his translated books include Come, Holy Spirit (1976), Ecumenism and Charismatic Renewal (1978) and A Controversial Phenomenon: Resting in the Spirit (1989).

In his A New Pentecost? (1975), Suenens wrote: "The power of the Spirit is at work deep within the heart of the Church, breathing into it a fresh youthfulness. Everything points to the fact that we are living at a turning point in the history of the Church [emphasis added]."

This turning point includes the regathering of Protestants back to the bosom of the Mother Church via the Holy Spirit Renewals. These renewals, incidentally, do not hinge on a person's theological base. One can remain devoted (or be converted) to Roman Catholic ideology and still "get the Spirit."

Access to the Holy Ghost was being democratized. Anyone — not merely the Catholic elite — could "get" the Spirit, as long as they were open to His purposes and didn't question the underlying theology or the bizarre, even unholy, experiences accompanying His reception.

Source: Personal communications with the late Biblical Aramaic scholar Asher O. Jarck of Karslruhe, Germany.

The Holy Spirit Church, Heidelberg, Germany


Benny Hinn — Apostle of the Third Person

Benny Hinn is a Pentecostal evangelist who heads a multi-million dollar ministry and hosts a daily TV program called "This is Your Day!" broadcast throughout the world, and promotes his ministry through his web presence He is a persuasive spokesman for the idea of "a turning point" in Church history and for convincing Christians to worship the Holy Spirit. And he roots his ideology in the doctrine of Trinity.

A Greek Orthodox Armenian who was born and raised in Jaffa, Israel, Hinn was spiritually nurtured in a Catholic school. "I considered myself to be a Catholic ... Was I a Catholic? Absolutely. Catholicism was my prayer life." As he grew up he came to adore Kathryn Kuhlman, the Pentecostal evangelist, and wanted to be like her. In time, Hinn says, the Holy Spirit appeared to him in a vision which led to his worship of the Third Person.

In his book Good Morning, Holy Spirit (1990), Hinn attempts to overcome Christian resistance to worshiping the Holy Ghost. Time and again, he strokes his readers:

Does He deserve our praise and adoration? Christians have a major problem when it comes to the topic of worshipping the Spirit. It's a subject they would rather not discuss. ... [But] if He is all the things we've been discussing — equal with the Father and the Son, then He is to be worshiped. (pages 89, 90, emphasis added)

Who is the Holy Spirit? He is the most beautiful, most precious, loveliest person on earth. (50)

You need a friend here and now, and the person of the Trinity that is dwelling on earth is the Holy Spirit. He's the one you desperately need to know. (111, emphasis added)


For Hinn, the Spirit has taken Jesus's place.

I had found the simplicity of the Christian life — a personal relationship with the Holy Ghost" [not Christ]. He's not a servant [as Jesus was]; He's in charge. He's the leader of the body of Christ [in other words, Christ isn't]. (132, emphasis in original; bracketed comments by P. Sumner)
In fact, the Spirit is the actual father of Jesus: "Jesus Christ is a child of the Spirit" (133). With this remark, Hinn rightly anticipates his reader's reaction: "Before you say, 'Now hold it there ... I thought God the Father was the Father of Jesus.' Well, you're right, but you're also wrong" (pages 132-33). Thus in Hinn's theology the Spirit has also taken over the Fatherhood.

Hinn masks his Holy Ghost replacement theology by appealing to a traditional shell-game tactic used by many Christian leaders: the mystery of the Trinity.

Don't read me wrong! I am in no way saying that Christ was in a lesser position than the Spirit. Not at all. Jesus is not lower than the Holy Ghost, nor is the Holy Ghost lower than Jesus. There is absolute equality in the Trinity. (136-37)
With this, Hinn attempts to quell all objections. Since we cannot grasp the mysterious workings of the Three Persons, we must keep quiet and trust those to whom the mysteries are revealed. That includes Hinn.

Hinn's purpose is to maneuver the reader/seeker into adopting his unbiblical agenda.

Often someone asks, "Benny, who should I pray to?" My answer is, "Please don't confuse the issue. You pray to the Father." "Well, then," the seeker says, "you told us we are to talk to the Spirit." "I have to tell them, 'There is an enormous difference between talking and praying. I've never yet prayed to the Holy Ghost.' " (142)


This last comment is disingenuous, for a few pages later Benny Hinn tells readers:

Your daily prayer should be: "Blessed Spirit of God, please help me today not to grieve you.... Holy Spirit, I'm sorry for the anguish I've caused you. But please, please, stay by my side." (157)

It is imperative that you say: "Holy Spirit, I'm asking you to assist me.... You simply say: 'Spirit of God, I surrender to you.' " (159, emphasis added)

After all Hinn's efforts to aggrandize the neglected Holy Ghost, he has the temerity to tell his readers: "The Holy Ghost will never promote Himself; He'll promote Jesus" (166).

But this is not a book about Jesus. Hinn proves that with the last sentence of the book: "When the sun comes up tomorrow, He will be longing to hear you say, 'Good morning, Holy Spirit' " (177).

Since this book was published in 1990, Benny Hinn's ministry has expanded into a wealthy empire. He regularly wears a clerical collar, suggesting he is an ordained priest, and puts on an air of sober papal authority. He traverses the earth, promoting his Pentecostal Holy Ghost program of renewal: his religion of Spiritanity. He even leads tours to Israel.

The Catholic-raised, Pentecostal Benny Hinn fulfills the 1883 prophecy of Catholic Bishop Keane that devotion to the Spirit "would naturally be the dominant devotion of the future church."


Conclusions & Observations on Spiritanity

  1. Spiritanity draws it authority from the Doctrine of the Trinity — not the Hebrew Bible or even the New Testament (as Christian theologians admit).

  2. It promotes new revelations of divine truth, independent of written Scripture — even at times in clear contradiction of Scripture.

  3. It has long been an element in elitist Roman Catholic circles, and devotion to the Third Person is being revived by some leaders as a way to reassert the "teaching authority" of the Church of Rome and as an ecumenical force to bring Protestants back home — via the lordship of the Spirit.

  4. It is transferred through specially anointed leaders and Spirit-seers who have priest-like authority in bestowing the Holy Ghost on others during ceremonies resembling shamanistic channeling of divine powers.

  5. Its reception is not dependent on the recipient's understanding of Scripture, trust in the Messiah, personal repentance, or the character of its mediating dispensers.

  6. Its mediators avoid telling people about the dangers of seeking supernatural encounters, while they themselves profit materially, enormously, from the supporters of the Holy Ghost Industry. This is not new. Acts 8:18-24 tells us about Simon a magician who used religion as a fountain of power and self-promotion. In stark contrast, when Jesus discontinued his miracles and taught self-crucifixion, the crowds left.

  7. This imitation Holy Spirit exalts itself, not Jesus, by creating a religion in which the Holy Ghost is Lord of all — even though Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me " (Matthew 28:18). No such authority was given to the Spirit.

  8. Consequently, Spiritanity is anti-Christian and anti-Jewish because it completely diverts the focus of biblical faith on Jesus the Messiah sent by God (John 3:16) and on the God who sent him (John 17:3).v

As one writer described the Nazi movement in Germany, I would say that the major Catholic and Pentecostal leaders of the Holy Ghost/Spiritanity movement are "digging a riverbed" through which a flood of unimaginable falsehood, deception, and darkness will envelope the earth and all but drown the true Faith.

And it is all being accomplished in the Name of Jesus Christ on the foundation of the doctrine of the Triune God promoted by orthodox Christianity.

Paul Sumner


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From holy spirit to Holy Ghost