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Spiritual Authority

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wisdom Lineage Summary

Spiritual Authority
Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How do we know what we think we know? How and why do I, Richard Rohr, say the things I say with any kind of authority or confidence? Why should you trust these writings? How do you know these are not just my ideas or merely one biased opinion? These meditations are certainly expressed in my limited culture, understanding, and vocabulary. How could they not be? You have no basis for trusting these words unless I am living within and drawing from the entire Force Field of the Holy Spirit, which many Christians might call “the communion of saints,” C. G. Jung would call “the collective unconscious,” or Buddhists might call consciousness itself.

I usually try to first offer a deep “Yes” to that Force Field; but I also normally add an “And!” This is not to disagree with mainline orthodoxy at all, but simply add what every generation must and will add anyway “to bind you together in love and to stir your minds, so that your understanding may come to full development, until you really know God’s secret in which all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden” (Colossians 2:2-3). There are many such passages in the Pauline corpus which seem to imply an expected evolution in thinking. It amazes me that we should have to prove the obvious to so many Christians, who for some sad reason prefer a static universe, which they presume they fully understand.

I have to risk writing, as every spiritual writer does, and I must be willing to be judged wrong by others more intelligent, wiser, later, and holier than I. But this is the leap that I and all others must also make in order to communicate that bit of the Great Truth of the Gospel to which we each have our own limited access. Paul also reassures me when he said that this Body of Christ is “groaning forward in one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22). Should we call it evolutionary Christianity? There is no other kind possible if the Holy Spirit is active and involved.

I am, of course, trusting and hoping that what is contained here is much more than a bit of truth, precisely because I have found some serious validation in the Judeo-Christian scriptures, along with a clear consistency in the Great Tradition: two thousand years of Jewish interpretation and two thousand years of Christian interpretation, mystics, saints, Church councils, friends of God, theologians and philosophers of the ecumenical Body of Christ—and also the clear dots offered by all other religions, which Vatican II gave us permission to recognize and enjoy. [1] This is the force field of the Holy Spirit that you and I continue to be a part of whenever we are living, writing, and praying in loving union with God and God’s work in the world.

I pray and hope that all I say and teach in these meditations comes from this place of loving union. There is nothing to be gained by rebellion, oppositional thinking, or any notion of superiority. To paraphrase St. Joan of Arc, I also pray: “If I am in your truth, God, keep me there. If I am not, God, put me there.”

Gateway to Silence:
Keep me in Your truth.

[1] Nostra Aetate: Declaration on Non-Christian Religions (Vatican Council II: 1966), 1-2.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Yes, And . . .: Daily Meditations (Franciscan Media: 2013), 3-4.

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