Is It Acceptable To Praise (Worship) The Holy Spirit

Recently I heard two really beautiful songs, "Come Holy Spirit (Fall On Me)" as well as "Come Holy Spirit (Fall Afresh On Me)". Lovely tunes, really made my heart soar, but then one of my uncles took a look at the songs and shook his head, and said they were 'wrong'.

"We don't worship the Holy Spirit," he said, "We worship God the Father and that's it. The Holy Spirit is the Counsellor given to us to help us and guide us, not for us to worship. Sure, you can pray to Jesus, but it's explicitly clear that we worship God the Father alone,"

Hmmm... Now, I know there's probably someone out there with the issue, "Do I pray to Jesus or God the Father?" But for this topic I'd like to discuss the very 'simple' question: Is it acceptable to sing songs that praise the Holy Spirit?

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Hey Alan,

I am agreeing with all you say.

You then say 'So why not?' So why not what? I don't quite understand. It's been a while so maybe I've lost track.
Hi Loraine,
"So why not........ praise The Holy Spirit'! I don't see the problem as He ( The Holy Spirit) is a comforter, a counsellor, an instigator( of godly things) and He is God. All glory goes to God the Father anyway through Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as I believe that it does.
Hi Allan,

Thanks for taking the time out to clarify, much appreciated. I would have acknowledged your response earlier but only saw it yesterday.

God Bless. Lorraine
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen.
Amen indeed! I love that song!

Since the Holy Spirit is God, it is certainly possible (and acceptable) to praise God the Holy Spirit for what He has done or is doing, e.g., coming down at Pentecost, indwelling and sanctifying believers, inspiring Scripture, interceding on our behalf during our times of weakness in prayer.

It is not acceptable to praise God the Holy Spirit for things that God the Son did (like dying on the cross) or that God the Father did (like sending the Son), but as long as our worship of the Holy Spirit reflects what the Bible teaches about Him then our worship is good and acceptable to the triune God.

yes (!)

A most interesting question, since Komm, Heiliger Geist has been used in Lutheran worship since 1524, and many songs have been written since, mostly as a type of prayer for God's Spirit to dwell within us, per Jesus' promise that the Father would do just that - send His Holy Spirit.  This would be in contrast to the cultist who believes that the Spirit (and for some, even Jesus himself) are emanations from God, rather than being fully equal with God. 

To invite the Spirit "in" is, poetically speaking, a metaphor for our willingness, desire, or openness for God to do His radical work within us, described in some detail in John 14:9-21, and again in the sixteenth chapter.  We are saying in effect, "Yes - when You said we could receive Him (John 14:17), we realize the importance of the Holy Spirit and the active witness and even dangerous interaction with the world that will result." 

Primarily in John, Jesus also describes his Sonship before the Father in ways analogous to the humility of an earthly son before his father.  The Son asks, the Father gives.  Why is this necessary if they are all God?  Why is there a Trinity if they are all God?  Trying to formulate an exact, incontrovertible answer would drive anyone mad - and rather than go mad, those that insisted on an answer often ran to heresy ("Jesus, therefore, had to be less than the Father if he was subservient"), in order to get the theological ducks in a row.  But the ducks don't stay in a row.  Push one interpretation all the way into its slot and another will pop out, like when you're trying to reassemble a piece of machinery that is spring-loaded.

However, all that said, I cannot think of a single passage in which Jesus recommends praying to Him (Jesus), and indeed someone tried to call Him "good master", and he replied "why do you call me good? Only God is good." (Luke 18:19).  The most famous example, the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9) is all toward the Father.  However, He concludes (Matthew 28:18) "I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth" - and of course, there are many, many other passages in which He, or a disciple such as Paul, affirms Jesus' equality with God.  There is also the aspect to consider that Jesus could not, while in the human body, assert Himself definitively as God (though hinting in many ways), simply because He was in that body that had not yet been crucified and raised - to those around Him, he looked exactly like just another Joe, and it would be categorically wrong for Him to accept worship (notice that He freely allows Thomas, in the upper room, to respond, "My Lord and my God!")

The number of Scriptures supporting the equality of the Spirit are way fewer, but they are potent: Jesus sends us out today, "baptizing in the name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  He breathed on them and said "receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven.  If you refuse to forgive them, they are unforgiven."  Curiously, some of the Scriptures used as "proof texts" for the Trinity are contested by their absence in some ancient manuscripts.  Either they were added to help understanding of the text about them, or they were in the original inspired text and removed by someone who couldn't handle the ineffable concept of the Trinity.

Actually, we can "praise" even a person who builds a house well or hits a home run in a baseball game - we are expressing admiration for one who does well (Jesus expressed admiration for some who did well).  Unfortunately, we find ourselves worshiping the ballplayer or some other American Idol or even some concept of good living.  In doing so, we cheapen the idea of worship, bringing it down on our own level.  But as the Holy Spirit is very much God, and one with the father and the Son, I see no reason to question or abstain from using the language of "worship."

Wow Greg, certainly food for thought that got me reading over and over so I could fully grasp all you have said. 

You say :

However, all that said, I cannot think of a single passage in which Jesus recommends praying to Him (Jesus), and indeed someone tried to call Him "good master", and he replied "why do you call me good? Only God is good." (Luke 18:19).  The most famous example, the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9) is all toward the Father........how right you are but it has never crossed my mind. 

Thanks!  For a long time I've wondered about why most songs direct praise to God the Father, thanks to Jesus and a sort of mysterious awe towards the Spirit.  I committed to the Lord in 1973 in a Pentecostal environment, where there was emphasis on being filled with the Spirit of God - yet our teaching reflected a classical approach with the Old Testament God who protected you, Jesus who loved you and saved you from your own disastrous self, and the Spirit who... well, sorta gets in you... and... well, it's God in you.  And they sometimes used the impersonal pronoun "it" instead of "He", so the idea of worshiping "It" seemed contrary to purposes.  Kinda nice today to be a Methodist - they avoid the pronouns and genders altogether, which reduces confusion (but makes for some odd-sounding phrases in the sermon and the hymns).  So this thing of "worshiping the Spirit" has bugged me for a long time, and it's nice to be able to talk about it in these dialogues.

Coming about 5 years late to the discussion and it may have been said already and if so, apologies! This used to bug me as a young Christian ("Father/Jesus/Spirit we love you we worship and adore you, glorify your name in all the earth...") but then I realised, coming from an Anglican background, that the Nicene creed states:

'And I believe in the Holy Ghost [Spirit], the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.' (my emphasis)

Whilst not infallible, the Nicene creed is considered authoritative in most mainline Christian traditions. Note the use of 'who' to describe the Spirit rather than 'it'.

Hope that helps,

James

Yea, amen and that really helps!

James Goodman said:

Coming about 5 years late to the discussion and it may have been said already and if so, apologies! This used to bug me as a young Christian ("Father/Jesus/Spirit we love you we worship and adore you, glorify your name in all the earth...") but then I realised, coming from an Anglican background, that the Nicene creed states:

'And I believe in the Holy Ghost [Spirit], the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.' (my emphasis)

Whilst not infallible, the Nicene creed is considered authoritative in most mainline Christian traditions. Note the use of 'who' to describe the Spirit rather than 'it'.

Hope that helps,

James

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