The Holy Spirit in Church History
The church came to understand that there are 3 ‘persons’ in the Godhead. Personhood in Christian theology is not the same as our modern understanding of the word. Rather, the word comes to us from Greek theaters, where personae were masks worn by actors to suggest their different roles.
In that sense, we know the 3 persons in the triune Godhead by what they do. Who they are is a metaphysical question. We cannot deny the fact that Greek philosophy had an impact on early Christianity, which led to the tendency of defining faith systematically. ‘It became more important to reflect on what God is in himself than to consider the relationship in which people stand to God. Behind all of this lies the notion that the abstract idea is more real than the historical.’
In the same trend ‘the Holy Spirit became the “spirit of truth” or the “spirit of wisdom”, where one’s primary interest was in the Spirit’s original being rather than activity in history.’
Coming back to their respective roles in salvation history, the Father creates, the Son redeems, and the Spirit sanctifies. However, in this definition, we may be talking in modalistic terms. Modern-day oneness Pentecostals acknowledge the 3 distinct roles, but they are not willing to concede 3 distinct persons. Orthodox theology on the other hand stresses that the 3 may be appear in history at different times, yet they all exist simultaneously (Matthew 3:16-17, 2 Corinthians 13:14).
In the earliest ecumenical creeds, especially the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, the Holy Spirit is not explicitly called a ‘person’, but all his attributes that definitely those of a divine person. For example, he is the ‘Lord and the Giver of Life’. Later in the Athanasian Creed (8th century), we find the word ‘person’ applies to Father, Son, and Spirit.
Mention should also be made of the Filioque Controversy. Alister McGrath explains:
‘One of the most significant events in the early history of the church was agreement throughout the Roman Empire, both east and west, on the Nicene Creed. This document was intended to bring doctrinal stability to the church in a period of considerable importance in its history. Part of that agreed text referred to the Holy Spirit “proceeding from the Father.” By the ninth century, however, the western church routinely altered this phrase, speaking of the Holy Spirit “proceeding from the Father and the Son”.
The Latin term filioque (and from the Son) has historically been a source of contention between Eastern and Western Christianity till today. On one hand, the stress is on the Father as ‘the sole and supreme cause’ of all things, while on the other hand to create a distinction between the Son and the Spirit. They both derive from the Father, ‘but in different manners’. Augustine alluded to John 20:22, where Jesus breathed the Spirit on the disciples as evidence of the latter proceeding from the former. He also wrote ‘…the Holy Spirit also proceeds also from the Son. But this is something given by the Father to the Son….’ In doing so, he proposed a middle way (though he lived long before the controversy), that both camps can agree on. 
The Church of Pakistan comes from the Western theological tradition, and that is why we speak of the Spirit proceeding from the Father and Son. Thus we can see that the Church gradually came to define what it believes about the Holy Spirit. However, many Christians speak today as if they own the Holy Spirit, as it some supernatural force at their disposal. We must recognize the Spirit as our Lord who is worshipped with the Father and Son.
We also must long from the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit, but with the humble understanding that the Spirit has descended upon the church collectively, not on individual Christians. Sadly, in our highly politicized churches, the most divisive individuals are claiming to be agents of the Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit in the Qur’an
In the final section, I will briefly comment on the Islamic understanding of the Holy Spirit. Muslim polemicists often attack our understanding of the Holy Trinity, so we can rightly investigate how well they know their own concepts of the Holy Spirit.
Islamic doctrine states that the Holy Spirit is the messenger-angel Gabriel. With this understanding, let us look at 2 verses from the Holy Qur’an:
“We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of apostles; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit. Is it that whenever there comes to you an apostle with what ye yourselves desire not, ye are puffed up with pride? - Some ye called impostors, and others ye slay! (Sura 2:87)”
‘We’ is Allah. So we have Allah, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in a single sentence. Does this parallel with what we read concerning Jesus’ baptism? The more crucial question is: How does a messenger-angel ‘strengthen’ a prophet? Note that Christ is the only one in the Qur’an to have the holy spirit backing him up. Of course, this doesn’t imply that others were not. In the New Testament we read that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, where he was cared by the angels (Matthew 4:1,11). Is the Qur’an confusing the two?
The other verse is Sura 66:12
“And Mary the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants).”
Without the brackets (i.e. what is not found in the original text), we read ‘We breathed fihi into (it) of Our spirit.’
Into what? Her ‘chastity’. And if the Holy Spirit is Gabriel, was he breathed into Mary to bear Christ. Or was he the one who breathed into Mary. But he breathed what, since he himself is the Spirit? Unless Muslims also look at this verse from the eyes of the traditional commentators, they cannot say for sure what the Holy Qur’an teaches about who the Spirit is and what he does. He also comes in the form of a man (Ibn Kathir), so how is this version purer?
 Rev. Luke Yang, “Mission Studies: Class Notes”, St. Thomas Theological Seminary, September-December 2016
 Bruce Milne, Know the Truth (Nottingham: England, Inter-varsity Press, 1982), 76-77.
 Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction, 3rd edition (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2001), 340.
 Ibid, 341.