RA Torrey on the Personhood of the Holy Spirit

R.A. Torrey

R.A. Torrey

R.A. Torrey (1856–1928) was an independent Congregationalist educator and evangelist. He was ordained in 1883 as a Congregationalist minister serving as a pastor and missions supervisor (1883–1889). In 1889, D. L. Moody asked Torrey to become the first superintendent of the Moody Bible Institute where he served until 1908. Torrey pursued his interest in mass evangelism and missions with overseas tours, including meetings in Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Japan, Germany, Great Britain, Canada, and elsewhere. In 1912, Torrey took leadership of the newly formed Bible Institute of Los Angeles (Biola). His leadership was foundational for the school which today boasts one the top apologetics programs in the country as well as the well respected Talbot School of Theology. Torrey stayed at Biola until 1924. We need more men like him today.

In our increasingly pagan environment, poorly educated false teachers are infiltrating the body and spreading heresies and denying basic biblical theology. Recently the Lord has led me to address the attacks upon the Holy Spirit by Russ Houck (who claims a doctorate in theology from an unaccredited school) and his popularizer Rob Skiba, both who teach that that He is merely an impersonal force. While its common among the cults, it is a dangerous heresy. Torrey wrote an excellent book The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit stating in the very first chapter that this is not an optional doctrine but rather one that is fundamental to the worship of the true God:

It is of the highest importance from the standpoint of worship that we decide whether the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, worthy to receive our adoration, our faith, our love, and our entire surrender to Himself, or whether it is simply an influence emanating from God or a power or an illumination that God imparts to us.If the Holy Spirit is a person, and a Divine Person, and we do not know Him as such, then we are robbing a Divine Being of the worship and the faith and the love and the surrender to Himself which are His due.
RA Torrey, The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, (New York: Fleming HL Revell Company, 1910), 7.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has questions or perhaps was misled by the heretical teachings of Houck and Skiba. It is available as free download here.

Rob Skiba’s Faith Statement the Mark of a Cult

Babylon Book200Popular author Rob Skiba is intentionally deceiving his followers. It is a matter of public record that I have confronted him concerning his denial of the trinity, specifically the personhood of the Holy Spirit. Terms like “trinity” have specific definitions that reasonable people agree on in order to make communication possible. Think about it this way, if I decided to redefine the word “red” to match the color green and then started stopping at green lights I would cause a traffic accident. Well Skiba is causing a theological pileup on the freeway. Recently he published a statement of faith on the internet. His disingenuousness ( I will prove)  is apparent right from the start in point number one:

I believe in one eternal God whose name is YHWH (Deuteronomy 6:4). He is the Father of the only begotten Son, Yeshua (a.k.a. Jesus – John 3:16) , and He has sent His Holy Spirit to empower, comfort and encourage us in our walk with Him. I believe the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one (Genesis 1:1-4; Isaiah 11:1-5; John 1:1-14; 10:30; 17:11; 1 John 5:7), thus, commonly referred to as the Trinity. [1]

He wants people to read it and think he is affirming the trinity. But he really is not. The above statement is intentionally deceptive. I have undeniable proof that he does not believe what is “commonly referred to as the Trinity.” He argues vigorously against the trinity and my facebook notes comment section have a record of it. What is “commonly referred to as the trinity” is undeniably “one God in Three persons.” Here are some sources.

Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion:

Trinity. The Christian understanding of God as triune. Trinity means that the one divine nature is a unity of three persons and that God is revealed as three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The ultimate basis for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity lies in the divine self-disclosure in Jesus, who as the Son revealed the Father and poured out the Holy Spirit. See also economic Trinity; immanent Trinity.[1A]

Here’s another theological dictionary:

    Trinity A reference to the doctrine that God is one and yet exists eternally in three   persons.[2]

Even a non-specialist dictionary like Webster’s gets it right:

Trin•i•ty \ˈtri-nə-tē\ n

[ME trinite, fr. AF trinité, fr. LL trinitat-, trinitas state of being threefold, fr. L trinus threefold] 13c

1           the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead according to Christian dogma

2           not cap a group of three closely related persons or things

3           the Sunday after Whitsunday observed as a feast in honor of the Trinity[3]

It doesn’t get any more “common” than Webster’s. Clearly, what is commonly referred to as the trinity is the belief in “one God in three persons.” Rob denies the Holy Spirit is a person just like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. This is Rob’s comment from our facebook discussion that first alarmed me to his cultic theology.

Skiba denies Holy Spirit and calls Trinity doctrine the "real heresy."

Skiba denies Holy Spirit and calls Trinity doctrine the “real heresy.”

Note in the last paragraph he writes the majority view (one God in three persons) “is the very definition of absolute heresy.” So he has effectively called every Christian theologian over the last 1700 years a heretic. He has no respect for anyone who has come before him and, as shown in previous posts,  his cultist views are based on a surface reading of an English translation. Very poor form. But now he publishes a faith statement giving the reader the impression he affirms what he so vehemently denies? His conscience is apparently seared. He is very well aware that what he believes is far removed from what is “commonly called the trinity.” So why is Rob misleading you about his beliefs? He wants to keep his fans and followers who might (and should) leave his fold if he told the truth.

It is common practice amongst the cults. For example The Way International holds a similar stance. Ken Boa writes, “The Way often uses the right terminology but in the wrong way.”[4]  Similarly, “Theosophy proceeds deceitfully and parasitically by its practice of using (misusing) Christian terminology.”[5] Also, “Though this cult uses Christian terminology to communicate its mystical Eastern concepts to a Western audience, it is vehemently opposed to every major tenet of biblical Christianity.”[6]  If it walks like a duck then it’s probably a ___ *quack! Skiba’s deceptive faith statement is clearly cultic because it uses known Christian theology to deceive followers into thinking he affirms Christian doctrine. If you follow Rob Skiba’s teaching and attend his church you have joined ranks with these cult groups listed here. Birds of a feather…

Addendum, here’s another argument from Skiba that clearly shows he does not believe “what is commonly referred to as the trinity”:

Skiba Denies Personhood


[1] Rob Skiba, “Statement of Faith” http://www.babylonrisingblog.com/Faith.html (accessed September 24, 2013).

[1A] C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 118.

[2]Millard J. Erickson, The Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology, Rev. ed., 1st Crossway ed. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2001), 204.

[3] Merriam-Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003.

[4]Kenneth Boa, Cults, World Religions, and the Occult (Canada; England: Victor Books, 1990), 244.

[5] Boa, Cults, World Religions, and the Occult, 138.

[6]Boa, Cults, World Religions, and the Occult, 131.

The Forgotten Trinity

Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mt 22:37)

I love the trinity! How can a professing Christian be passionless for what is supposed to be the central doctrine of the faith? The Trinity is an essential Christian doctrine, but these days it seems to be all but forgotten. People who claim to be Christian no longer seem to think it is important yet the very Gospel of our salvation is trinitarian. Note that Dr. White states clearly that the denial of it is to apostatize from the Christian faith: to deny the trinity is a denial of the Gospel. Dr. Norman Geisler says the same here. If you doubt this, you need to listen to this lecture carefully. If you have no doubt, then God bless, this lecture will greatly encourage you.

The doctrine of the Trinity is based on three foundational biblical truths:
1) Monotheism: The Bible teaches there is one and only one true God.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”(Dt 6:4)

“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.“(Is 43:10) Jesus applied this text from the Septuagint to himself: “I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.”(Jn 13:19)

2) Three Divine Persons: There are three distinct persons who are God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

  1. The Son speaks to the Father (John 12:28). He is a distinct person.
  2. The Father speaks to the Son (Matthew 3:17). He is a distinct person.
  3. The Holy Spirit also speaks (Acts 13:2). He is a distinct person.
Each has all the basic elements or powers of personhood: mind, will, and emotion.

Son: The three elements of personhood all are attributed to God the Son. The Son can communicate and teach (John 7:17) as only persons do. He has intelligence and knowledge – mind- (John 2:25):“and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.(Jn 2:25); emotion (John 11:35): “Jesus wept”; and will (John 6:38): “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”(Jn 6:38). The personal pronoun “He” is used consistently of the Son.
Father: The three elements of personhood all are attributed to God the Father. He has the power of intellect to know (Matt. 6:32):“your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”; the emotional faculty to feel (Gen. 6:6): “And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”; and the power of will to choose (Matt. 6:9–10): “Our Father in heaven … your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In addition, personal attributes, like the ability to communicate (Matt. 11:25) and teach (John 7:16–17), are also attributed to the Father.
Spirit: All the elements of personhood are attributed to the Holy Spirit in Scripture. He has a mind (John 14:26): “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you.” He has will (1 Cor. 12:11): “All these are the work of one and the same spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines”; and He has feeling (Eph. 4:30): “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Personal pronouns (“He” and “His”) are attributed to the Holy Spirit: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”(John 16:13, emphasis added).

The rules of grammar dictate that personal pronouns have an antecedent within the context of the pronoun[1], it is not within the proper use of language to claim that “he” in John 16:13 is referring to anyone other than the Holy Spirit.
3) Co-equal and Co-eternal: The three divine persons are co-equal and co-eternal. Because very few people deny the deity of the Father, most of the attacks center on denying the deity of Christ and deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit. (video: 11:14-11:16)

  1. The Father is called God (Phil. 1:2).
  2. Jesus is called God (John 1:1,14).
  3. The Holy Spirit is called God (Acts 5:3-4).


Father: Yahweh (YHWH) is the name given by God for Himself in the Old Testament. It is the name revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, when God said, “I am who I am.”


Jesus: The strongest claim Jesus made to be Yahweh is in John 8:58, where He says, “Before Abraham was born, I am!” This statement claims not only existence before Abraham, but equality with the “I am” of Exodus 3:14. The Jews around Him clearly understood His meaning and picked up stones to kill Him for blaspheming (cf. John 10:31–33). The same claim is also made in Mark 14:62 and John 18:5–6.


Thomas saw Jesus’ wounds and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Paul wrote, “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!” (Rom. 9:5). He calls Jesus the one in whom “all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9). In Titus, Jesus is “our great God and Savior” (2:13), and the writer to the Hebrews says of Him, “Your throne, O God,” The New Testament opens with a passage concluding that Jesus is Immanuel (“God with us”), which refers to the messianic prediction of Isaiah 7:14. The very title “Christ” carries the same meaning as the Hebrew appellation “Messiah” (“Anointed One”). In Zechariah 12:10, Yahweh says, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced.” The New Testament writers apply this passage to Jesus twice (John 19:37; Rev. 1:7) as referring to His crucifixion.


Holy Spirit: Attributes of God such as life (Rom. 8:2); truth (John 16:13); love (Rom. 15:30); holiness (Eph. 4:30); eternality (Heb. 9:14); omnipresence (Ps. 139:7); and omniscience (1 Cor. 2:11) are ascribed to the Spirit. Particular acts are associated only with God; both God the Father and the Son are said to perform these acts, and so is the Holy Spirit. These include the act of creation (Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30); the acts of redemption (Isa. 63:10–11; Eph. 4:30; 1 Cor. 12:13); the performance of miracles by His own power (Gal. 3:2–5; Heb. 2:4); and the giving of supernatural gifts (Acts 2:4; 1 Cor. 12:4–11).

These are the three foundations that all Christians should know in order to give a meaningful defense of the Christian faith. If someone worships a non-triune God, they have constructed a false god. It is not the same God as the God of the Bible.  It is not just a simple doctrinal disagreement because we are not even worshiping the same God. It goes against the first commandment. It is blasphemous. It qualifies as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit to say that the person of the Holy Spirit does not exist, is just a force, or is not God. I hope those of you who claim to love God will love him as the triune God who exists with all of your mind as well as your heart (Matthew 22:37).


[1] “Pronoun”, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology, Michael S. Heiser, (Logos Bible Software, 2005).

The Incoherence of Adventist & Watchtower Christology

Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses share the view that Jesus and the Archangel Michael are one and the same:

Michaeal Heb.Mika’el, literally, “who [is] like God?” He is here described as “one of the chief princes [Heb. śarim].” Later He is described as Israel’s particular protector (Dan. 12:1). His identity is not definitely stated here, but a comparison with other scriptures identifies Him as Christ. Jude 9 terms Him “the archangel.” According to 1 Thess. 4:16, the “voice of the archangel” is associated with the resurrection of the saints at the coming of Jesus. Christ declared that the dead will come forth from their graves when they hear the voice of the Son of man (John 5:28). It thus seems clear that Michael is none other than the Lord Jesus Himself .

Francis D. Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 4 (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1978; 2002), 860.
From the Watchtower Bible and Tract society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) :
At times, individuals are known by more than one name. For example, the patriarch Jacob is also known as Israel, and the apostle Peter, as Simon. (Genesis 49:1, 2; Matthew 10:2) Likewise, the Bible indicates that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth.
“Who is Michael the Archangel?”  http://www.watchtower.org/e/bh/appendix_11.htm (accessed 4/19/2011).

Yet one wonders, how they can hold such a view in light of the scriptures. For example, in the book of Jude, an argument is made against false teachers and apostates who have infected the church. Jude makes an argument that they blaspheme “glorious ones”  or beings of higher status themselves. To drive the point home he argues that Michael did not dare pass judgment on Satan:

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”(Jud 8-9)

If Michael is actually Jesus Christ the eternal glorious second person of the trinity upon whom all fullness of God dwells (Col. 1:19), then how could it possibly be so that he lacked authority to judge the devil?  It is logically incoherent! This argument only makes sense in light of the orthodox position that Satan is a rebel archangel himself giving him equal status to Michael. Adventist and Watchtower theology has demoted Christ. It is heresy.

Jesus had no qualms against rebuking and judging the devil,

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.(Jn 8:44)

Michael is an angel. Angels are created beings. That they were created is clearly implied in Psalm 148:2, 5: “Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.… Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.” They were in fact created by Christ,

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.(Col 1:16)

Jesus is not Michael. The Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses are preaching a different Jesus.