– THE USE OF “HOLY GHOST FIRE”
It is apparent that the phrase “Holy Ghost fire!” is commonly used by “many Christians” while praying, as a weapon of destroying the “enemies”. I remembered my last holiday experience in Nigeria, December 2016; I was on the way to my hometown (Orlu, Imo state) from CIWA Port Harcourt in a cab, a sleeping woman suddenly woke up and shouted “Holy Ghost fire!” I stared at her for a moment to ensure that all is well, but she added “Holy Ghost fire, destroy them, fire burn them, ‘fa-ya-ya-ya-ya!’” At this point, I knew there was indeed “fire on the mountain”. Before I could ask her what the problem was, another concerned passenger quickly interjected: “Madam, what is the problem, who are you calling the fire for?” with this, she reacted violently against the young man and said, “Oh, they have sent you to question me abi?” Holy Ghost fire will burn and destroy all of you…” I almost burst into laughter, but quickly controlled myself, and thanked God that I wasn’t the “scape goat” in this issue, because if I’d asked her, I believe she would have unleashed the “imaginary fire” on my head as well (LOL). At this point, I felt so sorry for the woman because she really did not know what she was doing, instead of talking to her, I continued to mind my business, due to her violent character. To cut the story, I want to believe that the aim of this write-up is already taking shape.
What is really this thing called “Holy Ghost fire” Is it biblical? Put differently, is there any place in the Scripture where the Holy Ghost Fire is said to be our weapon of war against our enemies? Or is the Holy Ghost Fire a supposed weapon of war in warfare prayer? Does it reflect a true Christian spirit?
Dear friends in Christ, the aim of this post is not to vilify or condemn any Christian denomination, but to expose the Truth, so that knowing the Truth, we might be set free from our ignorance (cf. Jn 8:32). It is “crystal-clear” that we are in the era of “Holy Ghost fire”. It is even unfortunate that some of my fellow Catholics are guilty of using this phrase to wage war on perceived enemies. This is unscriptural – I mean, there is no place in the entire Bible which justifies the use of Holy Ghost fire as a weapon of destruction against the enemies. In the same vein, there is no record that shows that our Fathers of faith (the early Christians, the Church fathers, etc.) ever used this phrase. Even up to date, the Western and Eastern world where Christianity spread from never used this phrase. Where does this come from? I really do not know, but I know that the phrase, became very rampant in the early 90s especially in Nigeria, and perhaps, some other countries.
It appears that many people who pray with such phrase tend to follow Elijah’s example in the Old Testament where on two occasions he called down fire. One of which was during his encounter with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:21-40). If you study the account of Elijah and the prophets of Baal, you will realize that Elijah never called down fire on the false prophets. As a matter of facts, the calling down of fire by Elijah was on the prepared altar and the purpose was to validate that YAHWEH (God) is the true and only God and that He alone should be worshipped… and not the other way round as some may want to believe. The second occasion was with the Captains and their respective armies of fifty whom Prophet Elijah called down fire to consume (cf. 2 Kings 1:9-14). But was it the supposed “Holy Ghost Fire” he called? The Scripture DID NOT say so. From that context, it is obvious that the fire Elijah called down was the “wrath of God”. Are we to imitate Elijah in this way? Jesus in the New Testament clarifies us on that. When His disciples – James and John wanted to err in this regard; they wanted to do want Elijah did (just as many Christians are doing today). Jesus rebuked them. He corrected them and said that His mission (just as it should be every Christian’s mission) is not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. This we see in the gospel of Luke 9:54-56.
Dear friends, do we think we are so righteous enough to call fire on another man? Who approves or what qualifies you to think that you can walk in Elijah’s footstep even when Jesus our Lord and model never approved such an act? Do you think you would have been alive today if other Christians prayed fire on you whenever you do something evil? Growth in Christianity is inevitable. We should learn to decipher the Truth from the chaff. Let God alone be our guide.
Jesus never taught that the Holy Ghost would be a “fire” which should be used to burn and destroy our enemies. The Holy Spirit, also known as the Holy Ghost; is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. He is the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Scripture shows that the Holy Ghost on different occasions is referred to symbolically as either a dove, wind, oil, cloud, water, or even fire (cf. Acts 2:3). However, the Holy Spirit is NOT dove, wind, water or fire BUT a “Divine Person”, just as we have the Person of God the Father and the Person of God the Son. The Holy Spirit is God. Attaching fire to Him to have “Holy Ghost Fire” doesn’t automatically turn the Holy Ghost to a destructive agent or make the Holy Ghost a violent God who burns whatever or whoever we wish. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit before His departure from the earth. Jesus never speaks of the Holy Spirit as fire (or fa-ya-ya-ya-ya) as some of us call it. Instead, He speaks of the Holy Spirit as the PARACLETE (John 14:26) – in the original Greek text of the New Testament, we read, “Parákletos” (παράκλητος); also in Latin, “paracletus” meaning “advocate or helper”. The Holy Spirit is also our Comforter, Counsellor, Guide. As you can see, the Holy Spirit has a friendly attribute. He is not a wicked or violent Spirit but a gentle “Divine Person”. So, how can He be a weapon of vengeance on our fellow humans?
Now, what is the characteristics of God’s kind of fire in respect to man (as we see at Pentecost)? It is a Holy fire, it is pure and has a purifying and sanctifying motive. Put differently, God’s kind of fire as the New Testament reveals to us is for purification, baptism, sanctification. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles on Pentecost day in the form of parted tongues as it were on fire (Acts 2:3). In this case, the fire didn’t burn them, but enkindled in them the love of God, made them perfect Christians, “soldiers of Christ”, defenders of the faith, fearless evangelists, which initiated and aided the missionary life of the Church. Hence, if we must use “Holy Ghost fire”, let it be a way of inviting the presence of God in our lives, to sanctify us, to enkindle the love of God in our hearts, to do the will of God; and NOT as a weapon of destruction on people. Those who still ignorantly maintain that they must use the Holy Ghost fire as a way of attacking their fellow men should NOT criticize the Boko Haram sect or Fulani herdsmen; because, personally, I see no difference between these kinds of human beings. Let us stop this “Boko haramic” way of life – it is evil!
Some Christians might say that the Holy Ghost fire is used to attack the evil spirits… Dear friends in Christ, if we think that we need the Holy Ghost fire against the evil spirits; then, we should understand that, it is not in our responsibility to do. Let us learn from Jesus. He is our example. He never used any kind of fire to cast out demons or against the evil spirits in His time. Likewise, He never used the Holy Ghost fire against the Pharisees and Sadducees who were His enemies. Jesus taught us to love and pray for (NOT against) our enemies. (Mtt. 5:44 – “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”). Jesus demonstrated this, when on the cross, he prayed “Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Dear friends, in cases of encountering attacks from the evil one, as Christians, let us call on the name of Jesus with faith (and not Holy Ghost fire), and we shall be saved. (cf. Rom. 10:31; Acts 2:21) The “Fire – Judgement” is exclusively reserved for God to use – and we shall come to know this at the last day when satan and all his agents (all doers of evil inclusive) would be condemned eternally to the lake of fire.
Therefore, dearest friends in Christ – my fellow Catholics, charismatic members, dear pastors and evangelists, prayer warriors, etc., we should be watchful and be on guard against ugly representations of the Christian faith. Whoever brainwashed our generation in this regard should realize that as Christians, we are expected to emulate the life and teachings of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Therefore, abusing and misusing the Holy Ghost fire makes our Christian faith to appear tenuous (i.e. very weak). I call on our religious leaders, clergies and religious bodies to help us correct this negative trend of using Holy Ghost fire as a weapon of destruction. I also suggest that the ugly trend be looked into, and our Christian brethren be reoriented on the basic tenets of faith. Local churches should also preach against this, and hastily do away with any subject that encourages the aggressive and violent use of Holy Ghost fire as a weapon of destruction. Only those who love violence, pray in a violent manner but Christianity does not support violence; after all, Jesus Christ taught us humility as a virtue, and not violence.