Contrary to the Watchtower’s teaching, the Bible clearly says that the Holy Spirit is God himself.
The Holy Spirit is called God (p. 196)
Ask one of the Witnesses to read aloud Acts 5:3-4: “Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”
- Ask, “According to verse 3, to whom did Ananias lie?” [The Holy Spirit]
- “According to verse 4, to whom did Ananias lie?” [God]
- You cannot lie to an impersonal force like electricity or radio waves. You can only lie to a person. And that person is identified here as God.
The Holy Spirit is called Jehovah (p. 196)
As I noted above, the Watchtower’s own rendering of 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 actually calls the Holy Spirit “Jehovah the Spirit.” If you haven’t already discussed that passage, this would be a good time to do so. Make sure they understand your point, that the Holy Spirit—not just the Father—is Jehovah.
The Holy Spirit is included in trinitarian passages (p. 197)
All three persons of the Trinity are mentioned together in parallel fashion in a number of Scriptures.
- Matthew 28:19, where Jesus commands us to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
- 1 Corinthians 12:4-6: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”
- 2 Corinthians 13:14: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
- Jude 20-21: “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”
Answering Watchtower objections to the deity of the Holy Spirit (pp. 197-199)
Most of the Watchtower’s objections to the deity of the Holy Spirit relate to its arguments that the Holy Spirit is not a person. In addition, it makes two further arguments.
Watchtower Argument #1: The Trinity doctrine wasn’t formulated until the 4th century. (pp. 197-198)
The Watchtower says, “Not until the fourth century C.E. did the teaching that the holy spirit was a person and part of the ‘Godhead’ become official church dogma. Early church ‘fathers’ did not so teach; Justin Martyr of the second century C.E. taught that the holy spirit was an ‘influence or mode of operation of the Deity’; Hippolytus likewise ascribed no personality to the holy spirit.”
Response: (p. 198)
These claims regarding the teachings of the early church fathers are false. If the Witnesses make such claims, ask them to find you the actual quotations on the internet. You can research this issue yourself and show them what you find. Justin Martyr taught that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all worshipped by early Christians. Hippolytus taught that God exists in a plurality, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Other church fathers had similar teachings.
In addition, what the Watchtower fails to state is that it wasn’t until the fourth century that the creeds of the church began to be formed at all, and when they were, they did not agree with the Watchtower’s position either with regard to the Holy Spirit or to the deity of Christ.
Watchtower Argument #2: The doctrine of the Trinity is unreasonable. (p. 198)
The Watchtower argues that the doctrine of the Trinity is difficult to understand and is therefore unreasonable. Does 1+1+1 = 1?
Response: (pp. 198-199)
The fact that something is difficult to understand doesn’t prove that it is false. The laws of genetics, chemistry, and physics are often difficult to understand. Must we therefore reject them as being unreasonable?
Is it unreasonable to believe that God is at least as complex as various aspects of the universe he created (cells and DNA, for example)? We human beings do not fully understand ourselves. How much less should we expect to fully fathom the nature of God?
The question is not what view of God is easiest for us to understand but rather what the Scriptures reveal about him.
Conclusion (p. 199)
Nowhere does the Bible tell us that having the right understanding of the Holy Spirit is essential to our salvation. The Holy Spirit points people to Jesus rather than to himself. However, a well-prepared defense of the personhood and deity of the Holy Spirit can go a long way toward leading Jehovah’s Witnesses to think independently of the Watchtower. It may make them more likely to give serious consideration to what you have to say about the identity of Jesus and God’s real plan of salvation.
- Please read the passages below. How might you use each of them to show Jehovah’s Witnesses that the Holy Spirit is God? (pp. 196-197)
- The Holy Spirit is called God (Acts 5:3-4) (p. 196)
- In the Watchtower’s own translation, the Holy Spirit is called “Jehovah” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). (p. 196)
- The Holy Spirit is included in Trinitarian passages (1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Jude 20-21). (p. 197)
- How would you answer these Jehovah’s Witness arguments? (pp. 197-199)
- The Trinity doctrine wasn’t formulated until the 4th century A.D. (pp. 197-198)
- The Trinity doctrine is both unreasonable and impossible to understand (3 = 1?). (pp. 198-199)