The inner witness of the holy spirit is something that a lot of proactive Christians talk about. A self validating faith which sits well with their intellectual and emotional wavelength.
In a recent discussion, this topic came up and I would like to share that discourse with you. A decent chap on the forum posted this and I took the opportunity to share my thoughts. Here is the original statement from him.
This might be a stupid question – but William Lance Craig talks about this a lot. He states that the inner witness of the Holy Spirit can be self warranting and greater than any apologetic argument for the existence of God and the truth of Christianity. What exactly does this feel like. Is it just a certainty or is a different feeling altogether? How do I know I have got it. I would say that I am a Christian and I do believe – but what really does it mean to have an inner witness of the Holy Spirit?
My Reply: The thing is, a man in firm belief regardless of what that belief may be, can say the same. For example a suicide bomber who explodes on public has the same feeling of confirmation in him, that he actually takes his life along the others.
This kind of feeling of certainty is present in every belief system, not saying that in Christian faith this is meaningless. Just that because of nothing else to contradict it, this kind of becomes unfairly indisputable. He replied:
I agree with that – but my question is – how to I know it is the Spirit on a personal level – and not just my own convictions.
My Reply: You can’t. In the end it will be open to doubt on all levels. Because no outside party can determine this. You alone must feel either right or wrong.
Basically I have intellectually convinced myself that Christianity is correct – now I want to discover more of the real benefits of having a close and personal relationship with my savior – in other words more emotional experiences if you were. (I am not talking about Charismatic as I have major issues with that – although that may be part of the problem of course…..)
My Reply: To be honest, this conviction should be taken with the rest of the framework of theology. It should be taken with a testimony and works of God in your life, on your understanding of scriptures.
All meta physical claims are somewhere circular but this one is prone to be more on the side of error rather than true.
The holy spirit is not associated with feelings and neither should a believer be looking for those to validate his faith. I personally think that the inner witness of the holy spirit is:
1. The logical answer to where Intellectual reason and evidence has brought you.
2. The confirmation of the scriptures and Jesus’s words as well as the apostles that we are granted to be God’s children, the holy spirit being the inner witness in us.
3. An experience based in personal revelation, that be in prayer, healing, vow etc. (this again has to be corroborated from scriptures and teachings)
When I was a teenager, I fellow-shipped with people who were very nice, good folks but nonetheless a bit misdirected, close to Charismatics thought not officially. Because of that and the books I read about holy spirit by Benny Hinn, watching TBN, Jesse Duplantis, Joyce Meyer etc and people like them; it kind of twisted my knowledge of God and the holy spirit and I stumbled badly because of the many false teachings present in their material. For i could never communicate to God in the same way yet those books promised it would happen to me as well. And my prayer life looked dead in my own eyes and I slowly began to drift away from the more “spiritual-on fire” crowd. It was only after a good 4-5 years that I was able to shake off those ideas and get a better idea of theology.
There is certainly a thing as the inner witness of the spirit but that must accompany something more tangible, in my opinion. No single feeling should be taken alone, isolated from the rest. After all the Westbro baptists also think they are Christians and motivated by the holy spirit, which is shame by the way.
An inner witness without fruits is, in my opinion, no witness at all.