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Is White a Color?


That was the question coming from 8 year olds at Vacation Bible School last week. I was never good at science in school, and am not good with color now. My eye can’t detect the hint of blue in a paint that makes it more green than khaki. Navy and black are synonymous in my closet. It’s not until I’m in direct sunlight that I can tell that I’ve put on the wrong color of slacks or socks.

Is white a color? Or is white merely the absence of color?

The logic I applied to arrive at my answer was simple. Yes, white is a color, because it is discernible as such. The absence of color is not white, I reasoned. The absence of color would be clear or invisible. That was my unscientific and probably faulted logic, anyway.

After sharing this story in worship on Sunday I was approached by two of our many artists. Both of them enthusiastically shared with me some helpful information about color theory and how color works. One artist explained that all color is black in the paint tube. It’s not a color until it is exposed to the light. Another gifted professional in central Iowa later added more insight about light refraction and how color interacts with light. I think both were glad that I didn’t call them to the platform to provide a spur of the moment art lesson!

The reason I drilled into this was to attempt to illustrate the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament original language of Hebrew and the New Testament language of Greek, the word for Spirit can also be translated as “breath” or “wind.” You can’t see breath or wind, but you can discern it by its movement. The Spirit is not tangible in the sense that the incarnate Christ was tangible, but the Spirit is real, just as breath and wind is real. And like color, the movement of the Spirit is always in concert with the Light of the world.

Categories : Holy Spirit

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