St. Paul: A Demonstration of the Unity of Charismatic and Hierarchical Gifts Joel Phelps and Preston Rinne
Pre-Script: Vocab Quiz to have been completed before class apostles--one who is sent, as the Son was sent by the Father, who also choose, appointed, and sent the Twelve as witnesses of his Resurrection and the foundation on which the Church is built charisms--a specific gift or grace of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefits the Church charismatic gifts--gifts of the Holy Spirit for the outer development of the Church, which include but not limited to healing, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, or working of miracles charity--the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God grace--free and undeserved gift that God gives us to respond to our vocation to become his adopted children, of which charisms are a special kind that help us live out our Christian vocation hierarchy--the Apostles and their successors, the college of bishops, to whom Christ gave the authority to teach, sanctify, and rule the Church in his name. Priests are coworkers with the bishops and deacons their assistants institutional church--pertaining to the hierarchical leadership of the Church and its structure ministry--the service or work of sanctification performed by the preaching of the word and the celebration of the sacraments
Explanation of the Problem Many people believe that Paul was a rebel against the "institutional" Church of the apostles. They assert that he followed the Spirit on his own, often even in opposition to the original Twelve. However, this position is not biblical. As the following slides will show, Paul's special call and graces worked in cooperation with those of the Twelve. They were the ones to confirm and validate the work of the Spirit. Following are four Scriptural examples to prove this point.
1. Vision of Jesus confirmed by baptism "On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" He said, "Who are you, sir?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do." [Acts 9:3-6] "So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, "Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit." Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized." [Acts 9: 17-18]
2. Call and early preaching confirmed by the Church in Jerusalem "But when God, who from my mother's womb had set me apart and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; rather, I went into Arabia and then returned to Damascus. Then, after three years I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas [Peter] and remained with him for fifteen days." [Gal 1: 15-18]
3. Mission of Paul confirmed by laying on of hands "After Barnabas and Saul completed their relief mission, they returned to Jerusalem, taking with them John, who is called Mark. Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off." [Acts 12:25-13:3]
4. Paul passes on the message that he first received from the Church "For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the Twelve." [1 Cor 15:3-5]
A Possible Difficulty: Does Paul Oppose Peter's Teaching? Many use Galatians 2:11 to prove that Paul was opposed to the teaching of the "institutional" Church: "And when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong." However, as the footnote in the New American Bible states, "he clearly was wrong" is reflexive, meaning that Peter himself recognized he was wrong. In other words, Paul is pointing out something Peter already knows: what he is doing does not agree with his teaching. This is not a case of error on the part of Peter or disagreement with teaching on the part of Paul, but rather a case of personal sin. The Church does not teach that the pope cannot sin, but that his teaching will not be in error.
Is "living by the Spirit" (that is, according to charismatic gifts) opposed to "living by the Law" (that is, according to institutional rules)? Some think so. Here is a quote from a Pentecostal protestant that believes this, as well as a quote from the Bible that seems to agree: "Brother Seymour was recognized as the nominal leader in charge. But we had no pope or hierarchy. We were "brethren." We had no human programme. The Lord Himself was leading. We had no priest class, nor priest craft. These things have come in later, with the apostatizing of the movement." [Bartleman, Frank. How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles. Los Angeles: Privately Printed, 1925, p. 58.] "But now we are released from the law, dead to what held us captive, so that we may serve in the newness of the spirit and not under the obsolete letter" [Rom 7:6]
This interpretation, however, is mistaken. When we examine Church teaching we can clearly see that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not opposed to the working of the hierarchy, or "institutional Church." On the contrary, it is necessary for the two to work together. Following are some key quotes from a number of Church documents that address this very topic.
Lumen Gentium The Holy Spirit is the source of both the charismatic and hierarchical gifts. Thus there should be no contradiction between the two: "The Church, which the Spirit guides in way of all truth and which He unified in communion and in works of ministry, He both equips and directs with hierarchical and charismatic gifts and adorns with His fruits. (LG 4)"
Lumen Gentium continued Both hierarchical and charismatic gifts are useful for the Church and should cooperate with one another: "These charisms, whether they be the more outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation for they are perfectly suited to and useful for the needs of the Church (LG 12)" "On the contrary [pastors of the Church] understand that it is their noble duty to shepherd the faithful and to recognize their ministries and charisms, so that all according to their proper roles may cooperate in this common undertaking with one mind. (LG 30)"
The members of the hierarchy have the special gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and govern His charismatic gifts: "What has a special place among these gifts is the grace of the apostles to whose authority the Spirit Himself subjected even those who were endowed with charisms. (LG 7)" Lumen Gentium continued
Pope John Paul II-- Christifideles Laici There are a diversity of gifts, but each person should should see himself in relationship to the whole Church: "Ecclesial communion is more precisely likened to an "organic" communion, analogous to that of a living and functioning body. In fact, at one and the same time it is characterized by a diversity and a complementarity of vocations and states in life, of ministries, of charisms and responsibilities. Because of this diversity and complementarity every member of the lay faithful is seen in relation to the whole body and offers a totally unique contribution on behalf of the whole body.(CL 20)"
All charisms have a usefulness for building up the Church and helping the needs of humanity: "Whether they be exceptional and great or simple and ordinary, the charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit that have, directly or indirectly, a usefulness for the ecclesial community, ordered as they are to the building up of the Church, to the well-being of humanity and to the needs of the world. (CL 24)." Christifideles Laici continued
Having a charism does not allow a person to disregard the pastors of the Church. On the contrary, pastors have the duty to judge charisms in order to put them to the best use for the common good of the Church: "For this reason no charism dispenses a person from reference and submission to the Pastors of the Church. The Council clearly states: "Judgment as to their (charisms) genuineness and proper use belongs to those who preside over the Church, and to whose special competence it belongs, not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good (cf. 1 Thess 5:12 and 19-21)", so that all the charisms might work together, in their diversity and complementarity, for the common good. (CL 24)." Christifideles Laici continued
Catechism of the Catholic Church Authentic charisms conform to charity: "Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms. (CCC 800)."
Discernment of charisms is always necessary by the hierarchy. "It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church's shepherds. (CCC 801)." CCC continued
Jesus established the hierarchy by appointing the Twelve Apostles, and the Holy Spirit has the same goal as Jesus. Because of this, the gifts of the Holy Spirit work with the institutional Church, not work against it. "The apostles were... the beginning of the sacred hierarchy." [AG 5] "Christ sent the Holy Spirit from the Father to exercise inwardly his saving influence, and to promote the spread of the Church.... Before freely laying down his life for the world, the Lord Jesus organized the apostolic ministry and promised to send the Holy Spirit... Throughout the ages the Holy Spirit makes the entire Church 'one in communion and ministry; and provides her with different hierarchical and charismatic gifts,' giving life to ecclesiastical structures, being as it were their soul, and inspiring in the hearts of the faithful that same spirit of mission which impelled Christ himself." [AG 4] Ad Gentes
Paul himself recognized his special gifts were for the Church, not himself. "Because of this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles--if, as I suppose, you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely that the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly earlier." [Ephesians 3: 1-3]
Everything in Unison Pentecost leads to preaching, which leads to baptism, which leads to the Eucharist. The Spirit leads to the hierarchy and to Jesus. "When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled... there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.... Peter said... "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit. "They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread [Eucharist] and to the prayers.... Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread [Eucharist] in their homes." [Acts 2:1-47, extra parts omitted]
In conclusion, the charismatic gifts and hierarchical gifts work together for the building up of the Church. Because both types of gifts have the same source (the Trinity) they have the same goal. It would make no sense for the work of the Holy Spirit to oppose the hierarchy founded by Jesus. Instead, the two Persons work together to achieve the goal of the Father. For this reason, Paul is certainly not opposed to Peter or the other members of the Twelve Apostles. They both follow the same Lord for the same goal. Paul, then, provides us with a great example of how the work of the Holy Spirit contributes to and strengthens the building up of the Church.
Post-Script: End of Class Quiz True/False--If False, explain why it is false. 1. T/F Jesus Christ instituted the hierarchy of the Church and promised to remain with it. T 2. T/F The Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts (charisms) on certain members of the Church T 3. T/F The hierarchy of the Church is opposed to charismatic gifts. F [work together] 4. T/F Peter and Paul were in opposition to each other. F [work together] 5. T/F Because Jesus gives each of us the gift of the Spirit we can disregard the rules made by the bishops. F [the same Spirit guides the bishops in their teaching] 6. T/F The Spirit gives us the power to fulfill the law of the Gospel. T 7. T/F Charismatic gifts are most effective when in cooperation with the institutional gifts. T Short Answer 1. Paul received many special gifts throughout his ministry. However, what is the evidence that he also paid special respect to the institutional aspects of the Church? [was baptized, sought approval of apostles, tradition] 2. In what sense do the members of the hierarchy receive a special gift? [gift to fulfill specific task--for bishops=teaching, sanctifying, and governing] 3. What is the foundation for the cooperation of the hierarchy and charismatic gifts? [the united action and goal of the Trinity]