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"By the Working of the Holy Spirit": The Crisis of Authority in the Christian Churches

Nicholas M. Healy

Disagreement on what constitutes the supreme authority within the Christian church is an obvious obstacle to unity. Analysis of the claims made about authority by the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the Windsor Report reveals some of the logical and pastoral problems that have contributed to the present crisis of authority in both churches. Thomas Aquinas has a firmer grasp of the need to ground all talk about the church upon an account of the working of the Spirit of Christ. This enables him to appeal to multiple authorities without asserting a single supreme authority other than Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, his theological method clearly displays his reliance upon the Spirit's working. Aquinas's faith in the present governance of the church by its Lord suggests some possibilities for reconceiving authority and addressing the present crisis.

 
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