Ethos Education

Hanna: What do Christians believe about the identity and work of the Holy Spirit?

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Learning Objectives:

  • Awareness of key Bible passages relating to the Holy Spirit.
  • Understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in biblical events.
  • Understanding different views about the work of the Holy Spirit today.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Reflect upon the different things that help to equip people for particular tasks.
  • Analyse a film clip to determine the relationship between trainee and trainer in the development of skills.
  • Analyse Bible passages to determine what Christians believe about the Holy Spirit’s role in equipping Christians for God’s service.
  • Reflect upon the different needs and circumstances of Christians in different parts of the world today as well as the similarities and differences those Christians have with the situation of Christians in the first century AD.
  • Synthesise learning by writing a memo from God to the Holy Spirit, giving him the task of equipping the church throughout history.


Tell the class to imagine that they have been chosen for a difficult, James Bond-like mission. They are to break in to a top military installation, find some files on a computer (one that isn’t linked in any way to the internet, so can only be retrieved from one specific computer) copy them and escape undetected. Once you have set the scene, ask the class what they feel that they would need in order to accomplish it.

The important thing to bring out is that they would need to be equipped for the task they had been given. In the example above this might include training to perform particular tasks, as well as being given specialist equipment to enable them to complete their mission. Explain to the class that this lesson is about what Christians believe about the Holy Spirit, and in particular his role in equipping them for the tasks they have been given.


Now introduce the clip from the film Hanna (Universal, 2011, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Explain that Hanna lives with her father in a remote snow-bound cabin. Immediately prior to this scene, we have seen her tracking and killing a stag. Ask the students to pay particular attention to the regime that Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is being put through, and to consider what the purpose of such training might be.

  • Start time: 0.02.02 (in chapter 1 of the DVD)
  • End time: 0.07.53
  • Clip length: 5 minutes 51 seconds

The clip starts with Hanna gutting the stag she has successfully hunted. The first line is her father (Eric Bana) saying, ‘You’re dead, right now. I’ve killed you.’ The last line is Hanna saying, ‘I also have a dog called Trudy.’ Please note that the clip includes shots of the stag’s intestines spilling out of its body, which some students may find disturbing.

Ask the students what they think Hanna was being trained for? How would they characterise her father’s manner with her? What reasons do they think might account for this? After they have drawn what conclusions they can, inform them that her father was an American Intelligence operative who went rogue. He knows that the security forces will want to kill Hanna if they ever find her, and he wants to prepare her to defend herself when that happens.

Ask the students what part Hanna’s father plays in her training (he directs it and tells Hanna what she has to do; he reminds her of the reasons for continuing to develop her various skills). Ask them what part Hanna plays in her training (she has to work hard at the tasks her father sets her, putting in the practice in order to master the skills she is being trained in).

Draw out the fact that Hanna would not be able to train herself alone, without the expertise that her father imparts to her, and that he would not be able to train her if she didn’t submit herself to his teaching and put in the hard work to develop her skills and abilities.

Explain that Christians believe that part of the function of the Holy Spirit is to train them for God’s service, much like Hanna’s father was committed to training her for the tests that he knew lay ahead of her. You might want to point out that one significant difference between the two training programmes is that the Holy Spirit’s is a lot less focused on violence!

Ask the students to look up some or all of the following Bible passages. Working in pairs or small groups, ask the students to make notes for each passage, summarising what it tells them about Christian belief about the Holy Spirit and his role in equipping Christians.

Acts 1:1-8; Acts 2:1-4; Luke 11:9-13; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Mark 13: 9-11, Hebrews 2:1-4, Galatians 5: 16-26; Matthew 28:16-20 (this last passage is more about the task that Christians need equipping for, rather than the Holy Spirit’s work of equipping, but it may be a useful one for students to be aware of when they tackle the final exercise of the lesson).

Let the class feedback their answers.

Ask the students what they think a Christian at the time these passages were written (the first century AD) might have said they needed in order to be equipped to do God’s work. How might a modern-day Christian answer that question? What parts of the answer would be the same? What parts would be different? What difference would it make whether the modern-day Christian was living in the UK (or another Western developed country) or living in the developing world?


Write a memo from God to the Holy Spirit, giving him the task of equipping Christians. The memo should summarise the main learning from the lesson, and should make reference to the Holy Spirit’s role both in equipping the members of the early church and also Christians today. You might like to point out that this task suggests a rather simplistic view of how the Trinity works, implying a more simplistically clear-cut division between God the Father and God the Holy Spirit than Christians believe to be the case.


  • A copy of Hanna and the means to play it.
  • Bibles.

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