Is the Holy Spirit “Christ’s Representative” or “Christ Himself”? An Interesting Comparison.

Article by Paul Chung

“THE HOLY SPIRIT IS CHRIST’S REPRESENTATIVE, BUT DIVESTED OF THE PERSONALITY OF HUMANITY, and independent thereof. Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be His successor on earth. No one could then have any advantage because of his location or his personal contact with Christ. By the Spirit the Saviour would be accessible to all. In this sense He would be nearer to them than if He had not ascended on high.” -The Desire of Ages, p. 669 par. 2 (Emphasis in caps supplied)

The statement shown above is found in the book, The Desire of Ages page 669. The focus of this statement is the presence of Christ through His representative, the Holy Spirit. But the original manuscript source for this particular statement was taken from the letter Ellen White wrote to Edson White and his wife, dated Feb 18, 1895. See below:

“Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that he should leave them, go to his Father, and send the Holy Spirit to be his successor on earth. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS HIMSELF, DIVESTED OF THE PERSONALITY OF HUMANITY, and independent thereof. HE WOULD REPRESENT HIMSELF AS PRESENT in all places by HIS HOLY SPIRIT, AS OMNIPRESENT.” -Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, p. 93; {Lt119-1895.18} ( Emphasis in caps supplied)

As you can see, the statement, which appears in the book, The Desire of Ages, is a slightly modified version of the original letter. What is of particular significance is that The Desire of Ages version reads, “the Holy Spirit is Christ’s representative, “ while the original letter reads, “The Holy Spirit is Himself.” In the letter, Ellen White further explains the meaning of her words so as to make it even more unambiguous by adding, Christ “WOULD REPRESENT HIMSELF AS PRESENT IN ALL PLACES BY HIS HOLY SPIRIT.”

The handwritten original is not known to be extant, but the original letter, as transcribed by Ellen White’s secretary, bears her signature and other interlineations, signifying her approval of the letter.[1] See attached pictures.

20663815_533326330332300_3691803664874059960_n.jpg
20664061_533326460332287_4379676387617131190_n.jpg

How do we account for the change in the wording in The Desire of Ages? We have only the 1895 letter, no working drafts for the finished chapter, leaving us with the conclusion that what was published in 1898 represents the edited reading approved by the author.[2] For further info on how the book, The Desire of Ages was written, click the link below: http://www.whiteestate.org/issues/D...

Whenever we see discrepancies such as this, some immediately regard any changes as corrupted and will resort to some form of conspiracy theory and say that Mrs. White's writings have been tampered with and even make it their personal goal to zealously promote them as such.

Keep in mind, The Desire of Ages was published while Ellen White was alive and the writer of this article believes she had clear oversight on the matter. 

Consider what she said about her published writings:

Ellen White had the oversight. She would always read her articles and books to see that they expressed what she wanted BEFORE they were published. She explains herself: 

"EVERY ARTICLE I prepare to be edited by my workers, I ALWAYS HAVE TO READ MYSELF BEFORE IT IS SENT FOR PUBLICATION... {Lt84-1898.18}

"I READ OVER ALL THAT IS COPIED, TO SEE THAT EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE. I READ ALL THE BOOK MANUSCRIPT BEFORE IT IS SENT TO THE PRINTER. So you can see that my time must be fully occupied. Besides writing, I am called upon to speak to the different churches, and to attend important meetings. I could not do this work unless the Lord helped me. {Lt133-1902.4}

"I WISH TO WRITE WORDS THAT SHALL REMOVE FROM THE MINDS OF ANY OF MY BRETHREN THE IMPRESSION THAT I DID NOT, BEFORE THEIR PUBLICATION, READ THE PAGES IN TESTIMONY FOR THE CHURCH, VOL. 9, relating to Sunday labor. {Lt94-1910.1}

Therefore we can be reasonably certain that at the very least, the way the wording was originally published conveys what she intended.

Moving on, It’s always interesting to note that while most Seventh-day Adventists (Trinitarians) are likely to quote the very statement from the book, The Desire of Age but will rarely refer to the original letter, either because most of them are not aware of it or perhaps they intentionally choose not to bring it up (because the original letter do not support their view of the Holy Spirit as a distinct, separate divine being, rather, it unmistakably supports the idea that the Holy Spirit is Christ’s own Spirit as non-trinitarians believe). And even if the “original letter” is pointed out to them (SDA Trinitarians), it’s likely that most will simply overlook or choose not to acknowledge the obvious implications that exist within the statement (because the letter explicitly and unambiguously describes the Holy Spirit as Christ Himself represented by His own Spirit).

Let’s examine the statement carefully:  "THE HOLY SPIRIT IS HIMSELF, DIVESTED OF THE PERSONALITY OF HUMANITY, and independent thereof. HE WOULD REPRESENT HIMSELF AS PRESENT in all places BY HIS HOLY SPIRIT, AS OMNIPRESENT.”

Trinitarians often argue that it is the Holy Spirit who is referred here as “Himself” and not Christ. Then, according to Trinitarian’s argument, the statement should read, "THE HOLY SPIRIT IS [Holy Spirit] HIMSELF” as opposed to "THE HOLY SPIRIT IS [Christ] HIMSELF.

Some questions you must answer if “Himself” is the Holy Spirit (a separate being as taught by trinity):

1.“Holy Spirit is Himself ”?

Given the context, what would be the point of stating the obvious, if the statement is to be understood as “Holy Spirit is [Holy Spirit] Himself?" This would seem uselessly redundant. Reading the phrase as it was originally written clearly and understandably show the phrase as trying to identify two distinguished identities... as in “Holy Spirit is [Christ] Himself”

2. “He would represent Himself as present in all places by his holy spirit...”

Does the Holy Spirit have a Holy Spirit because it reads, “HE WOULD REPRESENT HIMSELF AS PRESENT in all places BY HIS HOLY SPIRIT” Unless you believe that the Holy Spirit has another Holy Spirit in order to be omnipresent, the whole sentence simply does not render itself to read that the Holy Spirit is Himself. There is no evidence in Scripture that says Holy Spirit HAS a Holy Spirit. The Bible does speak of Christ having a Spirit (Rom 8:9, 1Pet 1:1, Gal 4:6).

3. "Divested of the personality of humanity"

How is it that the Holy Spirit was "divested" (to strip away) of the personality of humanity" when he was never invested with humanity in the first place?

What does divested mean? (following definition and supportive statements are adopted from Jason Smith's study)

According to Ellen White, She used the word “divested” 161 times; the word “divest” 94 times and the word “divesting” 12 times. In every single instance the meaning is the same and very clear. It is the stripping, removal or cessation of an item, attribute or characteristic that was originally a part of the person or thing that is being divested.

See examples below:

“He was God while upon earth, but HE DIVESTED HIMSELF OF THE FORM OF GOD, AND IN ITS STEAD TOOK THE FORM AND FASHION OF A MAN. He walked the earth as a man. For our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. He LAID ASIDE his glory and his majesty. He was God, but THE GLORIES OF THE FORM OF GOD HE FOR A WHILE RELINQUESHED… {RH July 5, 1887, par. 4}

Note: Here divested means that the Son of God, who is truly God in nature, stripped Himself of His original Divine form. He took another form in its place, a human one.

“Christ was the Majesty of heaven, the Commander of the heavenly hosts. But HE PUT OFF off His crown, AND DIVESTED HIMSELF OF HIS ROYAL ROBE, to take upon Him human nature, that humanity might touch humanity... {BEcho May 29, 1899, par. 7}

Note: Again it is very clear that divested means that the Son of God took off or removed His royal robe.

“By the vision of the sheet and its contents He sought TO DIVEST THE APOSTLE’S MIND OF THIS PREJUDICE and to teach the important truth that in heaven there is no respect of persons;…{AA 136.3}

Note: Here God was trying to strip or remove from Peter’s mind his prejudice against the Gentiles.

“God permitted His Son to be delivered up for our offenses. He Himself assumes toward the Sin Bearer the character of a judge, DIVESTING HIMSELF OF THE ENDEARING QUALITIES OF A FATHER. {EA 224.3}

NOTE: Here we see that God changed His attitude towards His Son. He had to stop acting towards Him with the qualities of an endearing Father to His Son and start behaving towards Him as a judge to a sinner.

“None but men sacredly appointed for the purpose could look upon the ark, DIVESTED OF ITS COVERINGS, without being slain; for it was as though looking upon God himself. And as the people gratified their curiosity, and opened the ark to gaze into its sacred recesses, which the heathen idolaters had not dared to do, the angels attending the ark slew above fifty thousand of the people. {1SP 409.1}

Note: Here we see that the ark “divested of its coverings” means that its covering was removed and the people could look upon it. There are other uses of this verb in its various forms but whether it is to be divested of self, selfishness, pretense, self-righteousness, etc,… The meaning is consistent throughout. It is the stripping, removal or cessation of an item, attribute or characteristic that was originally a part or thing that is being divested.

However, when it comes to the quotes that pertain to the holy Spirit being “divested” of the personality of humanity, then, all of a sudden, certain of our trinitarian brethren insist upon a new definition.

Now here is the problem. Our trinitarian friends believe that the holy Spirit is a “separate” Person from God and Christ. It (or He) never had the personality of humanity in their theology. This puts them in a massive bind!

HOW CAN THE HOLY SPIRIT HIMSELF BE DIVESTED OF THE PERSONALITY OF HUMANITY IF HE NEVER ACTUALLY HAD ONE?

Because they (trinitarians) cannot successfully field this question and because it is a complete impossibility within their system, what they have opted to do is redefine the word “divested” in order to make this quote fit their doctrine. They usually say that when Mrs. White wrote that the holy Spirit is Himself “divested of the personality of humanity” what she means is that the Spirit was “deprived” of the personality of humanity.

Now “deprived” is a synonym but our trinitarian friends haven’t really thought the matter through. In order to deprive someone you have to have something that they want or need.

Does that definition really work with the Holy Spirit? Did the holy Spirit (considered a separate, independent Person by our trinitarian brethren) want or need an human personality? And if so, Who deprived Him of one?

Truthfully this effort to keep their doctrine in tact does not work. It creates more questions than it answers and it does not fit with Mrs. White’s consistent usage of the word “divest.”

Even more so, why would sister White even mention the Holy Spirit as "divested" of the personality of humanity? Why use that verb? At best it appears VERY awkward and misleading language if she meant something other than the standard meaning. What would be the point of even bring it up? What was she trying to communicate? We have seen that “deprived” really doesn’t work.

It was decreed in the councils of God that the only-begotten Son of God must leave His high command in heaven, and clothe His divinity with humanity, and come to the world.
— The Review and Herald, August 6, 1895 {4BC 1153.5}

Here is a more reasonable deduction. Sister White used that language because she believed that Christ Himself was the Spirit of the truth and she was trying to convey to her readers the thought that Christ Himself was going to be coming back to the earth but in “another” capacity, a spiritual one, via His actual Spirit with its restored omnipresent capability. And this answer makes perfect sense. The holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ Himself but divested of the personality of humanity. In other words, while Jesus was down here on earth accomplishing His mission, He was clothe with humanity; He was not exercising an omnipresent Spirit. He could not have a true human experience if He had done that but, after His work on earth was done, He took back up His Divine glory and started exercising this Divine capability again. Thus we read a statement like this one:

“Christ is withdrawn only from the eye of sense, but HE IS AS TRULY PRESENT BY HIS SPIRIT AS WHEN HE WAS VISIBLY PRESENT ON EARTH. {ST April 7, 1890, par. 6}

4. "He would represent Himself."

It also reads, "He would represent Himself." If "He" is the Holy Spirit, then it should read, "He [ Holy Spirit ] would represent Himself" This is not even biblically correct! According to Scripture, Holy Spirit is supposed to "represent" Christ, and NOT Himself. In fact, the whole context of the very statement is to reveal how the Holy Spirit would be sent as Christ's representative, NOT as representative of Himself.

Thus, the phrase should logically be understood as “He [Christ] would represent Himself [by His own Spirit]” Which by the way completely agrees with the other statements by Ellen White (see below):

“The Holy Spirit is the SPIRIT of CHRIST; it is HIS REPRESENTATIVE. Here is the divine agency that carries conviction to hearts. When the power of His Spirit is revealed through the servants of God, we behold divinity flashing through humanity.” — (E.G. White, 13MR 313.3, 1895)

"I testify to my brethren and sisters that the church of CHRIST, enfeebled and defective as it may be, is the only object on earth on which HE bestows HIS supreme regard. While HE extends to all the world HIS invitation to come to HIM and be saved, HE commissions HIS angels to render divine help to every soul that cometh to HIM in repentance and contrition, and HE COMES PERSONALLY BY HIS HOLY SPIRIT into the midst of HIS church." --{E.G. White, CET 206}

Summary:

If the statement in The Desire of Ages says, “the Holy Spirit is Christ’s representative” and the original manuscript says, “The Holy Spirit is [Christ] Himself” then, one would want to harmonize the two and would reasonably conclude that the Holy Spirit is “Christ’s representative,” who is none other than Christ Himself, His own Spirit; not another being as Trinitarians claim.

Below is another statement that is a slight variation of the noted quotes above:

“Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that he should leave them, go to his Father, and send the Holy Spirit to be his successor on earth. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS HIMSELF, divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. HE WOULD REPRESENT HIMSELF AS PRESENT IN ALL PLACES BY HIS HOLY SPIRIT, AS THE OMNIPRESENT. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall (although unseen by you), [This phrase was added by Ellen White.] teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” [John 14:26]... “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will come not unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you””[John 16:7] {14MR 23.3} (caps emphasis added)

Note: “(although unseen by you)” was added by Ellen White herself as noted by the publisher of the statement.

Additional Statements on Christ’s “Representative” :

“CHRIST came to our world, but the world could not endure His purity. He has gone to His Father, but HE has sent HIS Holy Spirit to REPRESENT HIM in the world till he shall come again.” — (E.G. White, Ms1, Jan 11, 1897)

“CHRIST has left HIS Holy Spirit to be HIS REPRESENTATIVE in the world, to give celestial aid to every hungering, thirsting soul.” — (E.G. White, Lt84, Oct 22, 1895)

“While JESUS ministers in the sanctuary above, HE is still by HIS SPIRIT the minister of the church on earth. HE is withdrawn from the eye of sense, but HIS parting promise is fulfilled, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20. While HE delegates HIS power to inferior ministers, HIS energizing presence is still with HIS church.” — (EGW, DA, p. 166)

“We cannot be with CHRIST in person, as were His first disciples, but HE has sent HIS Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, [John 16:13 quoted]” — (EGW, Ms30, June 18, 1900)

“When God’s people search the Scriptures with a desire to know what is truth, JESUS is present in the PERSON of HIS REPRESENTATIVE, the HOLY SPIRIT, reviving the hearts of the humble and contrite ones.” — (E.G. White, 12MR 145.2, 1898)

Note: Christ is physically MINISTERING in the Heavenly Sanctuary and HE is also MINISTERING on earth by His own Spirit.

“CHRIST came to our world, but the world could not endure His purity. He has gone to His Father, but HE has sent HIS Holy Spirit to represent HIM in the world till he shall come again.” — (E.G. White, Ms1, Jan 11, 1897)

“Though the ministration was to be REMOVED FROM THE EARTHLY TO THE HEAVENLY TEMPLE; though the sanctuary and our great high priest would be INVISIBLE TO HUMAN SIGHT, yet the disciples were to suffer no loss thereby. They would realize no break in their communion, and no diminution of power because of the Saviour's absence. WHILE JESUS MINISTERS IN THE SANCTUARY ABOVE, HE IS STILL BY HIS SPIRIT THE MINISTER OF THE CHURCH ON EARTH. He is withdrawn from the eye of sense, but HIS PARTING PROMISE IS FULFILLED, “LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20. While He delegates His power to inferior ministers, HIS ENERGIZING PRESENCE IS STILL WITH HIS CHURCH. DA 166.2

“The work of the ministry is no common work. CHRIST IS WITHDRAWN ONLY FROM THE EYE OF SENSE, BUT HE IS AS TRULY PRESENT BY HIS SPIRIT AS WHEN HE WAS VISIBLY PRESENT ON EARTH. The time that has elapsed since his ascension has BROUGHT NO INTERRUPTION IN THE FULFILLMENT OF HIS PARTING PROMISE,—“LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, even unto the end of the world.” God has provided light and truth for the world by having placed it in the keeping of faithful men, who in succession have committed it to others through all generations up to the present time. These men have derived their authority in an unbroken line from the first teachers of the faith. CHRIST REMAINS THE TRUE MINISTER OF HIS CHURCH, but HE DELEGATES HIS POWER TO HIS UNDER-SHEPHERDS, to his chosen ministers, who have the treasure of his grace in earthen vessels. God superintends the affairs of his servants, and they are placed in his work by divine appointment.” ST April 7,1890, par. 6

“There may be a similarity in moral character between believers and some unbelievers; nevertheless there is a difference between them, which the human conception does not comprehend. The difference may not always be seen, but it exists unseen by the eye of sense and unappreciated by the unconverted mind. This difference is in the state of the heart; the one has an abiding hope and faith in Jesus Christ; while the other is unmindful of God and of spiritual things. CHRIST DWELLING IN THE HEART BY FAITH IS A FORTRESS TO THE BELIEVER. The Christian struggling against opposing influences may sometimes be overcome and speak and act in a manner unbecoming to a Christian. But the Lord will pardon. He is very tender of the bruised lambs of His fold.” Lt317a-1904.18

"If ye, then, being human and evil, 'know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your HEAVENLY FATHER give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?' Luke 11:13. THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE REPRESENTATIVE OF HIMSELF, is the greatest of all gifts. All 'good things' are comprised in this. The Creator Himself can give us nothing greater, nothing better. When we beseech the Lord to pity us in our distress, and to guide us BY HIS HOLY SPIRIT, He will never turn away our prayer." (MB 132)

“I will pray the Father, and he shall send you ANOTHER COMFORTER, that he may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” [John 14:16, 17.] THIS REFERS TO THE OMNIPRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, CALLED THE COMFORTER.{Lt7-1891.14}

[1] Tim Poirier, Ellen White and Current Issues Symposium 2006-Ellen White’s Trinitarian Statements: What Did She Actually Write? p. 36
[2] Ibid p. 38

For further study, please take a look at the following article:

Who is the Comforter in John 14?