The Holy Spirit in Islam and Christianity

In Christianity, the Holy Spirit is the third of three persons constituting God. Along with the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is God. According to Orthodoxy, he proceeded from the Father only. According to Catholicism and Protestantism, he proceeded from both the Father and the Son altogether.

It is ironic that the Holy Spirit’s status as the third of three persons and proceeding from the Father and/or the Son is baseless in the Bible. Let’s have a look at the Holy Spirit’s nature according to the Bible.

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In the Old Testament, we notice that the Holy Spirit is not set up as God. He is rather portrayed as God’s Spirit that supports the believers. However, the Old Testament suggests incarnation, immanentism and pantheism, which are not endorsed by Islam.

In the Old Testament, we read about the Holy Spirit: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right and steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:10-11)

We also read: “But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, he fought against them. Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them.” (Isaiah 63:10-11)

In the New Testament, we observe that there is marked discrepancy over the Holy Spirit’s nature. The New Testament tells us that Mary was made pregnant by the Holy Spirit. There is nothing wrong with that. Actually, the Holy Spirit played an important role in making Mary pregnant with Jesus though the New Testament suggests incarnation, immanentism and pantheism like the Old Testament.

In the New Testament, we read:

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by [the power of] the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her [promised] husband, being a just and righteous man and not wanting to expose her publicly to shame, planned to send her away and divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying:

“Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 1:18-20)

According to the above verses from the New Testament, it is safe to say that if we take incarnation immanentism and pantheism for granted, it is Jesus who proceeded from the Holy Spirit not vice versa.

Since it is Jesus who proceeded from the Holy Spirit according to the New Testament, there should be no wonder when Jesus states as quoted by the New Testament that insult to him can be forgiven, whereas insult to the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven.

In the New Testament, we read: “Therefore, I tell you that people will be forgiven for every sin and insult to God. But insulting the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Human One will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven, not in this age or in the age that is coming.” (Matthew 12:31-32)

In consideration of the foregoing, if we concede that the Holy Trinity is right, the order of persons should go as follows: the Father, then the Holy Spirit, and then the Son.

However, even the verses interpreted as implying the Holy Trinity in the New Testament involve flagrant contradictions. For example, we read: Jesus came near and spoke to them:

“I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:18-19)

We may ask: who gave Jesus all authority in heaven and on earth? If it is the Father Who gave them, it is the Father Who must be God. If it is the Father and the Holy Spirit who gave them, it is the Father and the Holy Spirit who must be God to the exclusion to Jesus.

If Jesus really ordered baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, does that mean that they are gods or persons of the same god?

Politicians, for example, say: “in the name of people” and “in the name of the king”. Likewise, jurists say: “in the name of law”. Does that mean that people, king or law is their god?

We may also wonder: “where does the Bible explicitly state that the Holy Spirit is God or the third of three persons or proceeded from the Father and/or the son altogether?”

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References:

1- The Qur’an

2- Tafsir At-Tabari

3- The Bible

4- islamweb.net

From http://www.islamforchristians.com

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