a spiritual world

i don’t usually do stream-of-consciousness blogging but this is an idea that’s wandered in and out of my mind for years.  i want to capture it before it again takes it’s leave.

in the bible the greek word translated spirit is pneuma.  the same word also is translated as wind or as breath.  in old testament the hebrew word ruach is translated spirit, but again is frequently translated wind or breath.

the thing that hangs me up is this; sometimes when the bible uses spirit, it is clearly talking about an entity – for example, the evil spirit in acts 19 that terrorized the seven sons of sceva.  other places, spirit is used to describe personality or a person’s attitude.  examples of this are the “spirit of truth and spirit of error” in 1 john 4:6 and the “spirit of harlotry” in hosea.

if i use the term spiritual world, people think of it either as a religious code word or with a twilight zone spookiness.  in both cases it signals that i’m not talking about the real world, measured and studied by science and observed with the five senses.

but what if i redefine the concept a little?  let’s say that spirit, in the bible, means an unseen force that motivates a person’s actions.  those would include angelic or demonic entities of course.  but it also includes emotion, personality and character – topics that have entire disciplines of scientific study devoted to them.  and it seems like my working definition is in strong agreement with the literal uses of spirit (wind or breath). 

spirit is used over 500 times in our english bibles and about one quarter of them refer to god’s spirit.  is my definition offensive to trinitarianism?  does it change how i understand the holy spirit?  as i’m making my current lap through the bible i’m trying to understand.  if you’ve preceded me been down this path, i’ve very interested in what you’ve learned.


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