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Response to Professor Diekmann—I

Catholic Theological Society of America
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  • Communication
  • Religious Science


RESPONSE TO PROFESSOR DIEKMANN—I There are two aspects of Professor Diekmann's presentation which strike me as particularly noteworthy and fruitful. The first is the pneu- matological focus of the paper, the emphasis on the Holy Spirit as the fundamental gift in every sacramental act. It has been my conviction for some years that the absence of a consciously functioning theology of the Holy Spirit has been a serious debilitating factor in theology. Hans Rung has remedied this lack in his brilliant study The Church. But this dimension still needs to be stressed in Christology and in the theol- ogy of sacraments. I have offered a sketch for this kind of concrete and humanizing theology in Spirit and Sacrament, but it still needs a serious broader development. The second aspect which I find noteworthy in Professor Diekmann's paper is his emphasis on the fact that the spirit which is given as gift in the imposition of hands is the Spirit which dwells and is operative in the community. This ecclesial emphasis on the significance and power of sacramental life furnishes us with an opportunity for the kind of reflection on the meaning of the Church which moves away from the hierarchology which so much ecclesiology has become and concentrate on the sacramentality of the Christian community as a whole. I would like to complement Professor Diekmann's remarks with a reflection drawn from a fundamental theological perspective. Theology has always been faced with the task of critical reflection on and mean- ingful re-articulation of the experience of Christian faith in a constantly changing and developing historical context. The symbols which are created in one cultural experience do not necessarily have the same power for communication in a different cultural context. Language, laws, social structures, ritual which are meaningful and effective at one period of time easily lose their power to integrate in a meaningful way a cultural experience which no longer exists. The social

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