Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost?

If we would but catch a glimpse into the minds of many believers in Kampala and its surrounding areas, we would meet with confusion, stirred up by the apparent burning of bibles by Pastor Aloysius Bugingo of House of Prayer Ministries, Bwaise, Kampala. Whether the said Pastor personally burnt the bibles is beyond the scope of this article. What is certain though, is that he encouraged his congregation to burn them, and himself collected them for burning. For more on this, you might consider watching this  clip.

I will be able, God willing, to write about what this saga reveals about the evangelical movement in Uganda, and the loopholes in the Pentecostal Movement. As for now, I would like, if possible, to offer clarity as to the two reasons raised by Pastor Bugingo as to why he thinks there exists a need to burn certain bibles. I do this, because I believe that faith feeds on clarity. Always

The first of these two is the issue of the usage of ‘Holy Ghost’ rather than ‘Holy Spirit’ specifically in the Authorized King James Version. According to Pastor Bugingo, the many believers struggling with demonic oppression owe this to their reading of Bibles that use Holy Ghost, which according to him, allows satanic forces room in the heart of the believer who mistakes them for the Holy Spirit.

This confusion, however, owes to failure to understand the etymology of words ‘Ghost’ and ‘Spirit’, and the cultural context of the 17th century when KJV was produced. KJV, like most translations are, was translated from Greek New testament manuscripts. When you check both the titles ‘Holy Ghost’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ in Greek New Testament, they are the same, they are both Greek words ‘Ágio Pnévma’. It is therefore wrong to view ‘spirit’ as the opposite of ‘ghost’, because they are not.

Indeed, in Greek (as in English), the words Ghost and Spirit are interchangeable, they are synonymous. They both mean “an immaterial being.” As Samuel Kusasira rightly notes, ‘by “ghost,” the KJV translators did not intend to communicate the idea of “the spirit of a deceased person.” In 1611, when the KJV was originally translated, the word “ghost” primarily referred to “an immaterial being.” With recent Scripture translations, “Spirit” has replaced “Ghost” in most instances. Some of this came about because words don’t always hold their meanings. In the days of Shakespeare or King James, ghost meant the living essence of a person.’

When we understand that Spirit and Ghost mean the same thing, then what makes the difference is the adjective we use for the word ‘Spirit’ or ‘Ghost’. When we say ‘evil spirit’, what informs us about the moral state of the spirit in view is the adjective ‘evil’. The word ‘spirit’ gains more clarity by the addition of the adjective, a meaning it did not originally have, namely, the moral aspect.

The same goes for the word ghost. For example, an evil ghost is demonic, while the Holy Ghost is, as the adjective says, holy. There is no holy evil spirit, or evil holy ghost. There is either an evil spirit or the Holy Spirit; an evil ghost or Holy Ghost. Neither ‘spirit’ nor ‘ghost’ tells us the moral condition of the entity in question, only the adjective does.

Thus, for someone to advocate for the burning of Bibles because they use ‘Holy Ghost’ instead of ‘Holy Spirit’ is wrong and uninformed. It is our task, all of us, to acquaint ourselves with language, being able to check the dictionary, or the internet and books to be sure, especially before we speak, that we know what we are saying. This is of greater significance if we lead multitudes. We cannot afford to be blind leaders of many.

If you were asking whether you have a wrong version, because it has the words ‘Holy Ghost’, relax. Read your Bible. It is faithful to the original manuscripts, because Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost mean the same thing, the Third Person of the Trinity. It is what the Apostles wrote, and you can trust them. Let no man dissuade you from God’s word. Study and read your Bible. It is fine. Do not let yourself be confused by just anyone who holds a microphone.

In my next article, I will endeavor to explain why some translations ‘miss’ some verses. This was the second reason Pr. Bugingo gave as proof enough that certain bibles need to be burned. I hope this article helped you. I would like to hear your views. Please contact me using ‘contact’ section, or drop a comment. Blessings.