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The Spirit Still Speaks

Sunday, January 8, 2017


The Spirit Still Speaks
Sunday, January 8, 2017

I want to bind you all together in love, to stir your minds so that your understanding may come to full development, until you really know the mystery of God, in whom all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. —Colossians 2:2-3 [1]

When we were first envisioning our Living School for Action and Contemplation, I was asked to distill my teaching into its basic themes. This is the first of the seven, which became a foundational methodology we now use in the school:

Scripture as validated by experience and experience as validated by Tradition are good scales for one’s spiritual worldview. [2]

We had to create a clear and consistent basis for how we know what we think we know. This is what philosophers call epistemology, or the science of knowing.  How and why do I, Richard Rohr, say the things I say with any kind of authority or confidence? Why should you trust these Daily Meditations? How do you know that these are not just my ideas, or merely one biased opinion? They are certainly expressed in my limited culture, understanding, and vocabulary. How could they not be? You really have no basis for trusting these words unless I am living within and drawing from the entire force field of the Holy Spirit, present at creation itself (Genesis 1:1-2).

If it is “true,” it must always have been true. Each era and culture is discovering truth through its own lens, vocabulary, and symbols. Consciousness is never a mere personal possession, but as the Latin root (con-scire: to know with) indicates, it is first and foremost a shared experience, and it is the Holy Spirit who is the Sharer! “My” private truth is never big enough to be finally helpful. This is the foundational mistake of Western secular society today.

So we teach our students to offer a deep Yes to the entire Perennial Tradition, to the recurring wisdom found in both Tradition (with a big T) and the Sacred Scriptures that have stood the test of time. After the Yes, we also say And. This is not to contradict the mainline orthodoxy, but to simply add what every generation of the Judeo-Christian Tradition has added, whether it admits it or not. We all constantly draw wisdom from the ongoing evolution of consciousness, just as Christians first added the New Testament to the only Scriptures that Jesus loved and honored, the so-called Old Testament. Thus, we have a pattern of development encoded in the very Bible itself!

It is disingenuous to pretend that any of us still think exclusively inside the biblical categories, but we still must use them as the touchstone of both Jewish and Christian orthodoxy. They set the trajectory. This is where the Protestant Reformation was essential and valuable, even though none of our Christian groups have used that Bible very skillfully up to now—which is exactly why we must still evolve. God is very patient.

I have to risk teaching and writing what I must trust as the universal wisdom of God, and not just my own ideas. I have no other choice. In doing so I must be willing to be judged wrong by others more intelligent, wise, and holy than I. This is the leap of faith and trust that I and others must make in order to communicate even a bit of the Great Truth to which we each have our own limited access. Paul also reassures me when he says that the Body of Christ, this creation, is “groaning in one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22).

Should we call it evolutionary Christianity? There is no other kind if the Spirit is still alive and speaking and if the word of God is primarily a person—an “active” and “living” word (see Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23).

Gateway to Silence:
Your word is a light for my path. —Psalms 119:105

[1] Richard Rohr paraphrase.
[2] See all of the seven Living School themes at

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Yes, And . . . : Daily Meditations (Franciscan Media: 2013), 1, 3.s

Image credit: Antico triciclo per bambino (detail), May 2005.
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