21 August 2011

Ralph Martin on the 'Baptism in the Spirit'

The current issue of the Journal Logos, out of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, has an article on the so-called 'Baptism in the Holy Spirit' by our friend (and one of my former professors) Ralph Martin, which is also available online:

Ralph Martin, "A New Pentecost? Catholic Theology and 'Baptism in the Spirit'," Logos 14.3 (2011): 17-43.

I am afraid that he disagrees with the interpretation of the experience which I argued for in my undergraduate thesis, or rather I suppose I should say that I disagree with him; but I mention it because he does me the honor of mentioning my humble little work in the pages of his article.

At first I get a mention in an endnote (n. 15, p. 41):

[Yours Truly] also very ably argues in support of Sullivan's position in his article, "The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal: Theological Interpretation of the Experience," in Antiphon 9, no. 2 (2005): 141–65.
Later he gives me an nice block quote (pp. 33-34):

One of the strongest advocates of Sullivan's interpretation admits as much:

"There is also a second possible answer to the question whether the pentecostal experience is essentially a sacramental grace: a highly qualified "yes." If the essence of the pentecostal experience is restricted to a general growth in sanctifying grace, which is always rooted to some extent in baptism then there is no difficulty. The charisms, then, would be non-essential manifestations of the growth, or renewal, of baptismal grace. The pentecostal experience as a whole may legitimately be interpreted as a sacramental grace only if the charisms are clearly distinguished as accidental to the experience." ("Outpouring of the Holy Spirit," 154.)

8 comments:

big daddy said...

Well, there you go! I guess you academics know you have arrived when you starting quoting each other in your published works.

Somebody Calls Me Nana said...

I was already impressed with you. But woo-hoo! To be quoted by Ralph Martin - he obviously respects your work.

Mara Joy said...

congrats, you're famous!
I must say, I *tried* to read your piece, and I got all the way through, but I admit most of it was a bit past my understanding... but I do wish I could appreciate it more than I do, but for that it was quite excellent!

Craig said...

You know I read the article that Ralph references here (and I think you and I discussed it, in its developmental stages, during several drives back-and-forth), and of course, the proper understanding of what, exactly, Baptism in the Holy Spirit IS, has been churned over for more than four decades (which, it must be admitted, is pretty much a blink of the eye in the context of Church History). Mostly, it makes my head hurt; and ultimately, I end up at a mostly 'empirical' place - I know what my own experience has been, and the fruit it has borne in my life (and the strikingly similar effect it has had in the lives of others who have had a similar experience). So I'm mostly willing to leave the theological details to God.

Unsatisfying as I know that is to a theologian like yourself, for whom the 'theological details' are the interesting and important part. I'm well aware of the limitations of 'experiential' accounts. . .

I'm not sure how much of a 'heavyweight' Ralph Martin is; altho he is certainly a very prominent name, and it is no doubt very flattering to have him jousting with your ideas. Congratulations on that account.

But John - 'so-called'? and scare quotes? Really?

John said...

"But John - 'so-called'? and scare quotes? Really?"

I'm glad you noticed! As you may recall, one of the points I leaned on in my paper is the inexactitude of that name for the experience.

I don't doubt your (or others') experience of the phenomenon as a grace-filled and sometimes life-changing event.

But I argued that the name commonly applied to it can (and in my own experience often does) lead to misunderstandings with respect to other important aspects of the Catholic faith, such as the sacraments of baptism and confirmation in particular.

Hence the 'so-called'

Craig said...

Well, now. . .

(*harrumph*)

(entirely good-natured, you can be sure. . .)

I wouldn't mind it being called 'the spiritual phenomenon which is often called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit', or somesuch (even as I wince at the excessive, and clumsy, verbiage). . .

but 'so-called' often carries implications of falsehood, or unreality. . .

And I'll stop with that, before it becomes something like a 'useless quarrel'. . .

;)

John said...

Fair enough!

I'll settle for a phrase such as:

...the experience of an fresh outpouring of grace, which in the charismatic movement is often referred to as a 'Baptism in the Holy Spirit'...

Prayers for your Dad, by the way. RIP.

Craig said...

That works.

And thank you for your prayers. Having my dad as an active participant in my life, deep into my 50s, has been a blessing of the highest order. . .