The Holy Spirit in pre-conciliar ecclesiology: The beginnings of a rediscovery?

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    Abstract

    It is said that the Second Vatican Council rediscovered the role of Holy Spirit in the Church. In this article I want to explore how the Holy Spirit was conceived before the Council, in order to know how that rediscovery can be said to have started before the Council. I will explore the different understandings of the Holy Spirit’s role in the Church in the period 1900 and 1960; explore their historical-theological background; and venture a theological appreciation of those views. We will see that, around 1900, the Holy Spirit was viewed as the guarantee of the truthfulness of magisterial teaching. From the 1930s, He was understood as the soul of the mystical body. His role remained hierarchical, but grew larger, and included the bestowing of grace as well as truth. Thirdly, in the 1950s, the Holy Spirit was considered to work through charisms. As charisms do not exclusively belong to the hierarchy, they implicitly challenged earlier hierarchy focused pneumatology. I will conclude that the Holy Spirit was rediscovered indeed, yet, that his rediscovery made a modest start only. For on the one hand ecclesiology became more theological, and theology more trinitarian, but on the other hand, ecclesiology continued to be rather hierarchy focused, and the dominance of Christocentrism continued to be a serious problem for any appreciation of the Holy Spirit’s role in the Church.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)240-254
    Number of pages15
    JournalInternational Journal of Philosophy and Theology
    Volume74
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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