The Holy Spirit in Our Faith

No doctrine strikes some moderns with utter mystification like the Holy Spirit. Some talk about the Holy Spirit as if it were a constant presence while others “believe” in the Spirit but never say a thing … and how do you know if you’ve got the Spirit?  Mike Nappa did a survey of 845 Christian teenagers, The Jesus Survey, and asked them about their beliefs in the Holy Spirit.

Before we get there Nappa has an intermission in which he observes that only 9% of Christian teenagers take the traditional, evangelical, orthodox view on the first four questions: Scripture, deity of Christ, death and resurrection and only one way. He calls these Confident Christian Teens. 91% doubt at least one of the major doctrines.

What happens at your church when it comes to teaching about the Holy Spirit? What about with your youth group?

On the Holy Spirit the issues are beliefs and experiences.

The issue of beliefs is that the Spirit resides in every Christian today. The issue of experiences is personal and proofs.

1. 57% strongly agree and 34% somewhat agree that the Spirit resides in all Christians today; girls are higher on this one that guys. 55% strongly agree on the experience while another 31% somewhat agree; again girls are higher.

2. Confident Christians are at 86% on beliefs and 100% on the experiential side.

3. But these numbers show a significant number of Christian teenagers have doubts about the Spirit and experiencing the Spirit today. Only 55% of Christian teenagers are 100% sure they’ve got personal experience of the Spirit. Females are about 10% more in touch with beliefs and experiences of the Spirit.

4. Nappa: 100% correlation between the four major beliefs and Spirit beliefs and experiences.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://www.dualravens.com/ravens Patrick O

    “But these numbers show a significant number of Christian teenagers have doubts about the Spirit and experiencing the Spirit today.”

    Wouldn’t this also be true for a vast number of older Christians? Throughout history?

    Unlike the other topics, there really never has been a settled understanding of the Holy Spirit. What are, for instance, the pneumatological heresies? The Spirit is God–but often, as one writer put it, more like tinsel on the Christmas tree–there for decoration and to give a bit of flair to what we already want to do in practice and worship.


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