Friday, October 17, 2014

Ratzinger on the Abuse of Ecclesiastical Power

"Those who talk nowadays of the abuse of power connected with doctrinal discipline in the Church generally have in mind only the misuse of authority on the part of the Church’s ministerial office, which doubtless can occur. But it is entirely forgotten that there is also a misemployment of the authority conferred by one’s mission: the exploitation of the readiness to listen and to trust, which even today men still manifest toward the pronouncements of the Church, for a purely private utterance. Ecclesiastical authority actively serves this misappropriation of power when, by giving it free reign, it makes its own prestige available where it has absolutely no right to do so. The solicitude for the faith of the little ones must be more important in its eyes than the opposition of the great."

--Joseph Ratzinger, The Nature and Mission of Theology: Essays to Orient Theology in Today’s Debates (trans. Adrian Walker; San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), 62–63, 64.


Susan Moore said...

The Academic Dean for the Seminary of my protestant undergraduate school, Indiana Wesleyan University, posted this on his August 14 blog “Grudem Miracles” (I think it was the 14th) (his blog post
“In general, Wesleyans should be aware that thinkers like Norman Geisler, D. A. Carson, B. B. Warfield, Tom Schreiner, and John MacArthur--all of whom are cessationists (believe the gifts were just for the apostolic age) do not come at theology the way Wesleyans and perhaps even most Christians do. Put them on a theological watch list. They have a particular theological ax to grind against ongoing spiritual gifts.”

At this link:
is a blog that reports cessationism was started and supported by (then quotes them), John Chrysostom, Augustine, Theodoret of Cyrus and Aquinas.

Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, is a ring-leader of this lie. They have spread, among other places, to Toledo/Sandusky OH, Cleveland/Akron OH (my home), New Castle/Meadville PA…Next stop Pittsburg? They have an affiliate radio station in Steubenville 88.9FM. This is what they believe, and students have to sign an agreement on this lie in order to graduate (sign gifts, as was explained to me by them, are the tongues, miracles and wonders of God). Although the following states they have no beef with spiritual gifts, spiritual gifts do not includes His expression through us in the works of tongues, miracles or wonders, including miraculous healing:
“Sign Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Moody maintains that there is one baptism of the Holy Spirit that occurs at the time a person is born again,1placing that one into the body of Christ.2 Moody also distinguishes between spiritual gifts distributed to believers to equip them for ministry3 and the "sign gifts" which are understood to have been manifestations of the Holy Spirit to authenticate the messenger and the gospel message during the foundational period of the church.4
Therefore, Moody holds that "sign gifts" are not normative for the church today.5 While this institutional position is not and must not be a test of fellowship with those whose traditions differ, members of this community will not practice or propagate practices at variance with Moody's position.
1 Acts 2:38; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13
2 Romans 12:4–5; 1 Corinthians 12:12
3 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:7–13; 1 Peter 4:10–11
4 1 Corinthians 13:8–10; 14:20–22
5 1 Corinthians 1:22; 13:8–10”

It is normative for each denomination to slice and dice the Bible and take what they want to twist in meaning, such as the above Bible verses that they twist to support their cessationistic beliefs.
“Did God really say that?” (Gen. 3:1).

I was miraculously healed by God. There was no place for me to go in my Diocese. My priest sent me here.

Susan Moore said...

I had been miraculously healed in KY. Then Jesus brought me back to Ohio where I grew up. I took a nursing job, but quickly became disillusioned as I realized that secular hospital nurses nowadays are not permitted to treat a patient holistically –body, mind, and soul- they can only treat the patient’s body. With rare exceptions, only in faith-based hospitals are nurses permitted to address the patient’s spirituality. Probably prior to being miraculously healed I would not have noticed that change, but now I cannot ignore it (for very long!).

So, I quit. Jesus downsized me, He moved me into an efficiency apartment in the city. I relinquished my truck and began riding the bus, and walking and biking. But, even though by then I realized I was a member of a cessationistic church, I loved the people. On Saturdays I would take two buses for a total of one hour to get to a point where I could walk 4 miles to my church. Because the bus schedules had changed by the time church let out, I had to walk 6 miles back to the nearest bus. It was an 8hr round trip to go to church.

In the meantime Jesus began having me do street ministry in my city. I walked around meeting and speaking with people, and if they were open to spiritual things I told them about my healing. Some people believed and worshiped Him. Some people were healed.

This widened the chasm between my church’s beliefs, and mine. I told the leadership everything, becoming desperate for their souls. In my last conversation with church leadership I point blank asked them, “So what you are telling me is if I am leaving my seat after the church service one Saturday, and I feel an urge to go talk to someone, and in the process of speaking with them God miraculously heals that person –that would be in violation of what this church believes?” He said, “Yes.” I reiterated and simplified it for perfect clarification, “You would not want me to do that.” He said, “We would not want you to do that.”

So, as I had kept asking them; if Jesus took His power back to heaven with Him, what good is the indwelled Spirit?
Their answer; to make us more like Him (in morality).
My response; but His morality is based on a loving nature that saves and heals.
Their answer; he saves us, but no longer works through signs, wonders and miracles.
My response; but what do you make of my miraculous healing?
Their answer; we appreciate God may have helped you a whole lot, but he no longer works through signs wonders and miracles. We’re sure there is a natural explanation for what happened to you.
My response; There isn’t.
Their answer; you are not listening.

I would ask; If God created the universe and life, but Jesus took His power back to heaven with Him, what is sustaining life on Earth, right now?
Their answer; God is, through the natural order of things.

So, what is in the Eucharist? The natural order of things: flour and water.

It is not enough for the Church to be passively present, they are charismatic. The Church must officially speak out against this lie and help protect, strengthen and heal Her servants. Ebola is no threat: “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:26-28).

For us, Satan is simply a created being that God uses to refine our faith, that’s all. We have nothing to fear but fear itself: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of Hades will not prevail against it.”

However, in order to not collapse from the pressure of Hades, the Church must intentionally push back against it. Doing nothing, the Adam response, is why this problem can even exist in the first place, yes?

Susan Moore said...

How is it that the universe, and the space that it occupies, does not act like a box full of boomerangs? What, this day, keeps the Earth twirling, the Earth and moon circling, the sun moving within the Milky Way Galaxy, and our own Galaxy within its own tract in a universe studded with moving galaxies? Why is it that we are not fighting cessationism in, like, a box full of boomerangs? Where is He, if not right here, right now, miraculously and wonderfully holding all things together?

For a God of that power, how difficult can healing a human be?

Susan Moore said...

Ah-ha!! The Nicene Creed tells us about the God of before, and the God of later, but does not tell us about the God of today. It states a belief in a church –a church that does what? The Creed does not specify the works or purpose of the church, although it’s clear on the works and purposes of the God of before (creation) and the God of later (judgment). There is nothing mentioned about the indwelled Spirit, or His works or purpose, therefore there is no way for the world to know that God is here right now –where is Her light?

The only moral order is the one set up at the time of creation. Apparently, according to the Creed, since God is not here right now, anyone is free to interpret that moral order. The church leaves that interpretation to the hierarchy. Therefore, since there is no mention that God is right here right now in the Spirit, there is nothing to stop a human priest or teacher from propagating the Satanic myths of evolution or cessationism: it is not possible to break a rule that does not exist.

I learned in my undergraduate school that all Christians believe in the Apostles/Nicene Creed, some even recite it (as, ‘we believe in one church’) –Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants. I’ve kept asking myself, “how can that be?” Now I know we all can believe it because it seems the majority of our differences stem from differences in beliefs about the God of now, and the Creed does not address the God of now.

Ok, well, at least now I see where the church is right now in time; she is in the in between place –in between heaven and hell. It will take prayer and acts of intention to get her out. Oh, and miracles.

Daniel said...

Hi Dr. Barber I was wondering if you might be able to provide a practical example of this. What Ratzinger is able to say in one paragraph, takes most people five...I'm simply not seeing this one.

Daniel said...

Never mind, I think figured it out. Feel free to correct me if Im still misunderstanding this. Here is my interpretation of the words: Cardinal Ratzinger is stating that the the clergy are overstepping their authority not simply due to power with doctrinal discipline, but because the layity themselves are choosing not to trust. The lack of trust for the clergy or "Ministerial office (of which the clergy greatly compromises) is in itself part of what motivating the clergy to take a more defensive action on doctrinal discipline. It is in essence a call to the Church to trust authority.

Daniel said...

But I guess then, my question,... if this assumption is correct, is how do we know we can trust church authority if not every priest says the same thing?...I mean, even in confession, one priest will say that we can still receive holy communion if we have committed a serious sin but have amendment to go to confession shortly thereafter, and are truly sorry for it. In other words, some priests would suggest is easier to attain true contrition then others. I am of the opinion that God is more pleased with a spiritual communion, but still there is a differentiation of opinion. I admit this example could all be irrelivent if my interpretation its wrong.

De Maria said...

As I read it, I think he is saying that too many laypeople are misusing their ecclesiastical ministry by promoting their personal understanding of the Church's pronouncements. And, that the Church is not correcting them.

An example might be of a Catechist who refuses to teach that contraception is wrong.

Daniel said...

I suppose it would depend on what way "Ones Mission" is read. If "ones mission" is seen in the sense of trusting the authoritative teaching of the church (one of the laity's principle mission in this life to attain the ultimate mission), than I would think that the word ministry is more directly in relation to clergy. If, on the other hand, one's mission is a call to an individual vocation, thus empowering the layity to ministry, than I think you have a point.

Though, I am still inclined to state that ones mission is in relation to our vocation in obedience to the Church as trust and listening in themselves require a certain subjection to authority.