Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Holy Ghost Personified

Of course the title of this post is an intentional misnomer since the Holy Ghost is, in fact, a person. As Mormons, we believe that the Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead, and is a person of spirit, usually referred to as a "personage", presumably because the word "person" might imply a physical body. But we rarely speak of the Holy Ghost as a person. Rather, we almost always talk of the Holy Ghost in terms of the "power of the Holy Ghost" or the "Gift of the Holy Ghost". The Bible Dictionary entry on the Holy Ghost hardly even mentions that he is a person. Recently I have been pondering why we don't at least sometimes speak of the Holy Ghost in the same way we speak of Jesus--as a person.

This is understandable when we consider that we know virtually nothing about the Holy Ghost as a person. We know some things about the Father, and much more about Jesus. But any history of the Holy Ghost as a person is absent from scripture, and I haven't been able to find any substantial statements from church leaders on the subject either (perhaps some LDS history buff can correct me).

Perhaps the history of the Holy Ghost as a person is not important for us to know. It is important that we understand a little about the character of God, since we pray to him, for example. It is also important that we understand Jesus as a person, since we strive to be like him and rely on the atonement, an act he performed as a person. Perhaps the Holy Ghost is only important to us because of his current mission, not anything to do with his personage.

That explanation is good enough for me, but the curious side of me still wonders what his story is. Did he volunteer for his role in the plan of salvation, like Jesus did? Did we know him in the pre-mortal life? What is he like as a person, beyond his role as the Comforter and a teacher of truth? I'm not expecting any answers to these questions, of course, but I'm just a little surprised that more people aren't asking them.

8 comments:

Peter said...

Hey mate,

I have actually asked, I also ask if he will ever get a body? If not, is it because of the eternities of man?

There are many questions, I haven't come across any answers. I figure I will find out when I am ready.

Peter

Mike said...

I once had a institute class where the instructor I think taught that he would be born during the millenium, but I don't remember if he quoted from any authority or if he was just speculating.

Jared said...

The office of the Holy Ghost, may mean that it is an office or calling.

Mike said...

Jared,

Are you saying that the Holy Ghost might not be one person, but can change from person to person based on who is "called"? I've never heard that before, but it's an interesting theory. But I haven't commonly heard it refered to as the "office of the Holy Ghost". Are you getting that from scripture of a general authority?

Jared said...

Mike,

The term "office of the Holy Ghost" comes from GA. One example from James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, page 147. Note the first view words from this quote:

The Office of the Holy Ghost in His ministrations among men is described in scripture. He is a teacher sent from the Father; 28 and unto those who are entitled to His tuition He will reveal all things necessary for the soul's advancement. Through the influences of the Holy Spirit the powers of the human mind may be quickened and increased, so that things past may be brought to remembrance. He will serve as a guide in things divine unto all who will obey Him, 29 enlightening every man, 30 in the measure of his humility and obedience; 31 unfolding the mysteries of God, 32 as the knowledge thus revealed may effect greater spiritual growth; conveying knowledge from God to man; 33 sanctifying those who have been cleansed through obedience to the requirements of the Gospel; 34 manifesting all things; 35 and bearing witness unto men concerning the existence and infallibility of the Father and the Son. 36

Anonymous said...

I've often wondered if the Holy Ghost is the feminine element of the godhead. Think about all of the things the Holy Ghost does: comfort, protect, teach, warn, remind. Doesn't that sound like our moms?

Susan M said...

I've always figured the Holy Ghost was really just a network of people. But maybe I'm crazy.

Mike L. said...

Anonymous and Susan,

Interesting theories. I think the scriptures indicate, though, that the Holy Ghost is male and singular. John 14:26 says:

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."

But, with that said, there's no rule that says you have to interpret all scriptures literally, so I suppose that leaves some room for your views.

I think this just proves my point: we know very little about the Holy Ghost as a person.