Ask anyone to tell you about the Holy Spirit and you will likely receive blank stares. How do you describe a spirit, let alone one that is marked as “Holy”?
Rene Girard’s book “I See Satan Fall Like Lightning” changed my life – and changed my understanding of the Holy Spirit. He points out that Jesus used a specific name for the Holy Spirit. In the Greek of the New Testament, that name is “Paraclete.”
Paraclete is often translated as Advocate. For example, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever.” Others translations are: Helper, Comforter, Counselor, and Redeemer.
Those are all good translations, but Girard points out that the word Paraclete actually means, “Lawyer for the defense.” Now, if the Holy Spirit and God are one, which I believe is true, then this changes everything.
We often think of God as the “Judge,” but Jesus tells us that’s wrong. God isn’t judgmental. We also tend to think of God as a killjoy prosecutor who accuses us of sins, but that’s also wrong. A god who stands in judgment or accusation isn’t a god worth believing in. That god is an idol created in our own judgmental image.
Rather, because of the Holy Spirit, we know that God is the Lawyer for the defense. God stands with and defends those who are accused, the scapegoats and victims of human culture.
Despite Jesus explicitly saying, “Do not judge” we can be pretty judgmental of ourselves and of others. Jesus tells us not to judge because God isn’t in the judging business. The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, reveals that God is in the defending and forgiving business.
The only remaining question is, where will we stand? Will we stand with the spirit of judgment as we accuse one another, or will we stand with the Holy Spirit of God as we defend one another?
For more brief theological reflections, like Adam’s Facebook page Adam Ericksen – Public Theologian.