Felix Taylor posted Garner Ted Armstrong’s interaction with John Ankerberg (see Guess What I found on Youtube.com???). Right now, I want to comment on their discussion about the Trinity, specifically their disagreement over the Holy Spirit.
According to Armstrong, the Holy Spirit is not a person. Rather, it’s God’s power, or a force. Like most Christians, Ankerberg disagrees, for he views the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Trinity.
Armstrong’s argument is that there are passages of Scripture that treat the Spirit as an inanimate object. For example, Acts 10:45 says that God poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles. “Can you pour out a person?,” Garner Ted asks.
What’s interesting about this tape is that Ankerberg doesn’t always respond directly to Armstrong–with him being present, that is. Rather, the show frequently cuts to a sort of mini-documentary that summarizes and critiques Armstrong’s argument. Well, one of those mini-documentaries says that the New Testament is using figurative language when it presents the Holy Spirit with inanimate characteristics. John 10:9 calls Jesus a “door,” after all, and he’s still a person!
Ironically, Armstrongites have done the exact same thing with passages that portray the Holy Spirit as personal: they assert that those are figurative. I once asked an Armstrongite member of my family, “What do you do with the passages that present the Holy Spirit as speaking? Don’t they imply that the Spirit is a person? A person speaks!” He responded, “So it says the Holy Spirit is speaking. Big deal! Proverbs 1:20 says wisdom cries out in the streets! And we all know that wisdom’s not a person. The Bible uses personification!”
Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is. Ankerberg, Walter Martin, and their ilk make it a test of orthodoxy to believe in the full Trinity. Armstrongites, on the other hand, act like they’re better than everyone else because they see the Holy Spirit as a force. Why’s it important, either way?