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First of all, I'm well aware of the existence of scriptural arguments both for (link) and against (link, link) the personhood of the Holy Spirit. Whether one finds the arguments either for or against convincing may depend on multiple factors, and I suspect that, just like in the debate of cessationism vs continuationism, personal experience must probably play an important role for some individuals.

Question: According to (at least some) Trinitarians, can the Holy Spirit's personhood be accepted on the basis of first-hand personal experience with the Holy Spirit Himself, directly, instead of simply be accepted and believed on the basis of exegetical arguments? In other words, is it possible for the Holy Spirit to reveal His personhood so clearly and evidently to a believer that he or she would no longer have doubts in this regard, as any possible intellectual objections (such as the ones linked in the first paragraph) would be eclipsed by the weight of this undeniable first-hand experiential knowledge?


Related: Are there published testimonies from Christians who had the truth of the Trinity revealed to them through the Holy Spirit?

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    Protestantism doesn't privilege experiential knowledge over revealed scriptural knowledge. This whole enterprise feels very misguided to a Protestant like me.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 2 at 5:51
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    John 16:13 He shall not speak of himself The Spirit is come to lead into all truth and to glorify Christ. He, himself, is experienced but that experience is not the focus of the ministration. Those who have prolonged and mature experience of these matters will know His Presence.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 2 at 7:27
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator Well, that's the point. Either you have experienced these things (as a mature Christian) or you have not.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 2 at 7:56
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator I've never heard any Protestants even think of things in this way. I doubt any would give an answer to your questions like this, because it's just not what Protestantism is about.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 2 at 8:05
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator Yes, I am aware of the presence of the Spirit. And (lamentably) aware of His absences also. But I am 70 years old and experienced in these matters.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 2 at 8:13
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Intellectual assent and personal experience with regard to the 'personhood' of the Holy Spirit are strange ways to attempt to get Trinitarians responding. Perhaps that's why you have received lots of brief comments but (until now, two full months later) no actual answer. As a believer in the triune nature of the one God, I see your question as showing a failure to understand what the trinity doctrine is all about.

It is a naive to suppose that one way of believing in the personhood of the Holy Spirit can be used instead of another way, and that that will be sufficient. Both ways are combined. God does not reveal anything about his person (which is triune) according to our preference: "Oh God, I'm not an intellectual, and trying to collate all those scriptures just gives me a headache. I would rather have an experience of the person of the Holy Spirit. That will do me!"

Or, if we say to God, "I'm highly suspicious of all those experiences emotional people keep relating. I want to know intellectually that the Holy Spirit is a person. Please keep this grounded in facts that I can assent to" - would that not also be arrogance on our part?

Who are we to tell God that we want one way of verification instead of another?

The Bible is clear that if we do not believe what God has told us, we will get no further in any pursuit of God. Belief is a matter of faith in God's trustworthiness - that it is impossible for God to lie - that all his promises are true. God has told us plenty about the Holy Spirit. Those who obediently believe what God has told them experience the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Yet such is God's grace, that he has also bestowed the agency of the Holy Spirit to change the lives and beliefs of those who know hardly anything about God and Christ. Thereafter, they come to learn about this triune God. It is God's prerogative for us to learn, and to have verified to us, whatsoever he pleases.

In order to be converted to saving faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit guided me to search the scriptures first. I totally disbelieved the trinity doctrine, or even that the Holy Spirit was a person, but I had cried out to God for help. In answer, he caused events to unfold in such a way that I was led to a gradual understanding which caused a reversal of my stance. Thus my conversion to Christ was actually based upon coming to 'see' and believe in the orthodoxly Christian doctrine of the trinity. That included learning about and believing in the Holy Spirit in light of what had been revealed to me about the person of Christ. Once I bent my knees in Jesus' name, the rest followed - a mixture of further intellectual understanding combined with experiencing the Holy Spirit at work in my life.

Really and truly, those who think they should be the arbiters of what is intellectually correct (with regard to God) and/or who think they ought to have personal experiences of the Holy Spirit's personhood are on a hiding to nowhere (spiritually speaking). They will be left none the wiser. Humility in approaching God - admitting we can't see further than the end of our [spiritual] nose - and diligently searching the scriptures to be taught by the Holy Spirit has to be the starting point. Thereafter, God may be pleased to so lead each individual as they need to be led, for God deals with us all as individuals. But if you start out with your measure of what will be either intellectual or experiential standards God has to meet before you will be convinced, that would be to insult God, Christ, and the blessed Holy Spirit.

Let this scripture be the final word on the matter:

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does" (James 1:5-8).

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This may be a question that is far more important than most people realize. If the Holy Spirit is a person, should not Christians have more of an awareness of relating to him? Jesus promised to send him as his replacement on earth.

John 16 7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. NASB

If he were anything less than a person, then would he be an adequate and comforting replacement for Jesus? But as you say, your question is more directed to the presence of the Holy Spirit being confirmed through personal experience, and I will cite the biography of one person who reported his own experiences and that of another well-known person and what they said about their relationship with the Holy Spirit. Some people may consider these individuals to be controversial and everyone will have to decide what they choose to believe. After many years of studying a variety of subjects, I try to not be gullible, but I am also careful to not readily dismiss things that I do not have the means to evaluate, especially when it comes to God and the supernatural. It is an important role of the Spirit to guide us into truth. We should also agree that it is very important to not grieve the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 4:30)

A young immigrant from Israel became a Christian much to the consternation and dismay of his parents. This is some of the testimony taken from his book cited below.

It was three days before Christmas 1973. The sun was still rising on that cold, misty Toronto morning. Suddenly He was there. The Holy Spirit entered my room. He was as real to me that morning as the book you are holding in your hand is to you. For the next eight hours I had an incredible experience with the Holy Spirit. It changed the course of my life. Tears of wonder and joy coursed down my cheeks as I opened the Scriptures and He gave me the answers to my questions…. [I]t was pure joy. Yes, it was unspeakable. Yes, it was full of glory! If you had told me just forty-eight hours earlier what was about to happen to me, I would have said, "No way." But from that very moment the Holy Spirit became alive in my life. He was no longer a distant "third person" of the Trinity. He was real. He had a personality. pp. 11-12

A friend had invited this 21 year old seeker to attend a service where the healing evangelist, Katherine Kuhlman would be ministering. During worship, even though it was winter and the windows were closed, he felt a draft like waves of wind that washed over him. He wanted to talk to the Lord but all he could do was whisper, "Jesus, please have mercy on me." He said that he felt like the prophet Isaiah in the presence of the Lord.

Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts. (Isa. 6:5)

He witnessed spectacular healings such as the deaf regaining their hearing and a woman getting out of her wheelchair, but what impressed him even more was when Kuhlman suddenly began to sob uncharacteristically.

It continued for what seemed like two minutes. Then she thrust back her head.... It was a moment of incredible dimension. Still sobbing, she looked out at the audience and said with such agony, "Please." She seemed to stretch out the word, "Pleeease, don't grieve the Holy Spirit." She was begging. If you can imagine a mother pleading with a killer not to shoot her baby, it was like that. She begged and pleaded…. Then she continued her impassioned plea saying, "Please! Don't wound Him. He's all I've got. Don't wound the One I love!".... Kathryn Kuhlman was telling me about a person that was more real than you or I. pp. 18-19

Benny Hinn made it his quest to also know the person of whom Katherine spoke and recounted the story of how the Holy Spirit became his companion, counselor, teacher, and friend. He entitled his book after the greeting he called out every day upon awakening, “Good Morning, Holy Spirit”.

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    Benny Hinn is a very controversial figure. I'm pretty sure this answer will trigger some downvotes because of it ... 3 hours ago
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator Well, sometimes the messenger gets shot. But Hinn is a trinitarian who strongly believes in the personhood of the Holy Spirit, and hopefully this will provoke thought about what a Christian's relationship with the Spirit whom Jesus sent as his replacement should look like. 3 hours ago

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