I’ve often heard it said within Pentecostal circles that the Holy Spirit gets little recognition — even within our own Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. Of course, there’s some theological justification for this: According to Jesus’ promise in John 14:26, one of the Holy Spirit’s primary roles in the believer’s life is to direct our attention to Jesus:
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
As I was checking out a few of my unread feed subscriptions tonight, I came across a mention of the Google Trends service. This tool has been in service for quite some time, but since I was reminded of it, I thought I’d try a few comparisons out. The tool essentially shows you the trend-line for searches for the keywords you’re interested in. It doesn’t show you how many times the keyword shows up on Web pages, it shows you what the searchers on Google are looking for, over time.
The tool allows you to compare search terms on the same graph. So I plugged in “God, Jesus, Holy Spirit” to see what happened.
I was stunned.
You can see the graph under the image button in this post, or you can click through to do the search yourself.
Whatever happened to the Holy Spirit? Why are there so few people looking for information about the third member of the Godhead? Is he so uninteresting that nothing is being said, much less generating interest? It was God’s Spirit that moved on the face of the Earth to form it. It is by God’s Spirit that he works and moves in the world we see and live in. It is God’s Spirit that formed the Church. It is God’s Spirit that clothes us with power to witness and transform the world.
Why so little interest?
But, I thought, Google just shows us what people are searching for. What about references to God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit in actual pages?
- 354 million results for God
- 140 million results for Jesus
- 1.96 million results for “Holy Spirit”
Okay, I thought, That’s probably consistent with the fact that the majority of web pages out there are written by non-believers and are probably commercial in nature. Maybe the blogosphere would have a different result-set? After all, Spirit-filled believers should be truly motivated to use this technology to communicate the Gospel, and surely they’ll have more thoughtfulness about the Holy Spirit?
So, I re-ran the search queries through the Google Blog Search tool:
- 8,6 million results for God
- 2.3 million results for Jesus
- 0.22 million results for “Holy-Spirit”
As you can see, similar results, though Jesus fares a little less-well in the blogosphere compared to God. But, still, the Holy Spirit is getting short-shrift.
So, finally, I thought, let’s see how the PneumaBloggers fare. We’re Spirit-filled. We even identify ourselves as Pentecostal, Charismatic, or some blend of the two. Without a doubt, we’ll knock it outta the park when it comes to thinking and writing about the Holy Spirit. So I went to the PneumaSearch tool to run some queries against the PneumaBloggers in my list:
- 23 results for God
- 37 results for Jesus
- 73 results for “Holy Spirit”
As fellow PneumaBlogger Dan Edelen recently noted:
[T]he mark of the Church must always be the Holy Spirit in us. Everything else can be copied by other religions. But they do not have the Holy Spirit. Heâ€™s the promise. Heâ€™s the seal. Heâ€™s the power!
PS: I didn’t know where the results would lead when I started my little trend analysis, and boy am I glad my fellow PneumaBloggers helped prove my assumptions true!
[tags]Assemblies-of-God, Assembly-of-God, Blog-Search, Charismatic, Christianity, Church, Counselor, God, Google-Blog-Search, Google-Trends, Holy-Ghost, Holy-Spirit, Jesus, John-14, Paraclete, Pentecostal, Pentecostalism, Pneuma, pneumatology, PneumaBloggers, PneumaBlogs, Protestant, Religion, Search-Results, Spirit, Spirit-Filled, The-Church, Trend-Analysis, Trends[/tags]
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For what it’s worth, the total results for the PneumaSearch seem low, in my opinion.
And for anybody who’s interested, I created the little graphs next to the blog search results with Excel, then resized them with an image editor and added the text labels there. They should be accurate in terms of relative results.
My best friend once preached a message, Rich, entitled: “Will the Real Holy Ghost Please Stand Up!” While you search results certainly do provide interesting information, for me the question remains: Just whom do we, as a Pentecostal community, believe this Third Member of the Trinity to be?
My perspective is, no doubt, limited to those I have observed in this area and via TV tele-eveangelists, and (as always) subject to error, but it does seem to me that we, the “Church”, have either reduced Him to an insignificant “whiff” that attaches Himself to our actions, or erased Him altogether through a process of osmosis whereby we, ourselves, become the power/authority that He, alone, is.
In that sense, until we define this divine Personage, I’m not sure we can address your results.
Thanks, Jim, for your comments.
You’re right. Outside the Pentecostal/Charismatic world the Holy Spirit is often relegated to … oblivion while inside the P/C world the Spirit becomes and impersonal “power source” that we “plug in to.” Yes, I’ve heard this language.
We do too often treat the Spirit impersonally and often don’t know how to think about him much less talk, preach, or teach about him.
Thanks for the link and the quote. Nothing I’ve written on Cerulean Sanctum since 9/2003 has received more comments than “The Holy Who?” yet we still go blithely on and forget the Spirit.
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I found this post particularly interesting because I have had many recent conversations with fellow believers where I have been expressing the same dismay. I am currently re-reading Fee’s “God’s Empowering Presence” and have been intending to synthesize it down to a blog post soon. Thanks again for the stats to support my own experience/assumptions.
I am grieved that the NT church has forgotten God’s gift to us in these latter days.
Wow…! What amazing statistics, Rich…! Thanks for bringing them to our attention. In the city where I live, which hosts what argueably could be called the leading “cessationist” evangelical seminary in America today, it sometimes seems like the Holy Trinity has been changed from “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” to “Father, Son, and Holy Bible.” I am all about the “Word.” In fact, the vast majority of my preaching is exposition, but the written Word was never intended to replace the Spirit.
Blessings on your job search…!
Mark, you bring a smile to my face in spite of the sadness in my heart, for you say it even as I have been espousing it for several years now. I believe in the Bible as the inspired Word of God and find, within its pages, a foundation for my faith; but somewhere along the way, if we haven’t lifted it up like the brass serpent and bowed down before it, we have proclaimed it a sword in our hand rather than His, slicing off ears of our own choosing rather than allowing Him to perform surgery on the inner man, be it ours or whomsoever’s……..
The Holy Spirit is the awesome power of God! Jesus needed this Comforter to do what he needed to do on this earth, but remember, The Holy Spirit ALWAYS points to the Son, our Savior. He brings no attention to Himself, but always directs to the Son, points TO Him. Worry about the web traffic not going to the Savior of this world.