Spiritual Authority A Christian Perspective Karl Baier University of Vienna, Austria One could define spiritual authority as the power to support the opening of the entire universe --and especially of the life of human beings--toward union with the redeeming ultimate reality. Christian tradition knows several holders of this power: God, Jesus Christ, the angels, the saints and priests, spiritual guides, and last but not least each and every Christian and person of goodwill. They all are spiritual authorities and together create a field of liberating power with many interdependent centers. One can conceive of spiritual authority in Christianity as a complex interplay between these various forces. The manifestation of spiritual power through them does not take place for its own sake, or to celebrate the holder of spiritual authority, but to empower other centers. Thus, spiritual power is not private property. It is only real insofar as it is passed on to others. In the field of human spiritual authority, tensions and struggles arise if the flow of authority is blocked by a particular center attempting to monopolize spiritual power for the establishment of an illusionary self-identity. Rather than going into an analysis of the entire field, I
Buddhist-Christian Studies – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Sep 30, 2010
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