Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Discerning the Spirits in Ecclesial Ethics: Ignatius of Loyola and the Pneumatological Foundations of Ecclesiology
by Klingenschmitt, Gordon James, Ph.D., Regent University, 2012, 328; 3504882
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines how the spiritual gift of discerning of spirits is a foundational element of ecclesial morality, and pneumatology is interdependent with ecclesial ethics. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), wrote two excerpts on Rules for Discerning of Spirits in his Spiritual Exercises in the early 1500's that explain how the church can receive from God the gift to see otherwise invisible angels, demons, and the Holy Spirit. The moral character of those spirits best reveals their presence, agenda, and dialogue by the moral elements of consolation and desolation, and how they grace or tempt human beings to consent with them to manifest holiness or sin. John Cassian, Jacobus de Voragine, Ludolph of Saxony, and Thomas à Kempis preceded and influenced Ignatius' understanding of the gift. Ignatius' Rules are exegeted, then analyzed for interdependency with ecclesial ethics in dialogue with contemporary scholars Karl Rahner, Hugo Rahner, Piet Penning de Vries, Jules Toner, and Timothy Gallagher, who have each considered how morality interacts with spiritual discernment. Arguments for and against interdependency are evaluated and resolved, showing how discernment in ecclesial ethics depends on proper discernment of the non-human spirits that influence human moral choice, and conversely the practice of good ecclesial ethics synergistically enhances our ability to properly discern the spirits. Spiritual Discernment is then applied to one contemporary example of Ecclesial Ethics, Improvisation by Samuel Wells in the context of dramatic, narrative theology. A four-step Ignatian pneumato-ethical method is developed explaining how non-human spirits are ethically revealed and can be discerned through human morality by consolation/desolation, consent, manifestation, and pneumato-ethics. This four-step method is applied allowing us to ethically discern the spirits behind several fields of ecclesiology: soteriology, missiology/world religions, liturgy, worship, Eucharist, hermeneutics, homiletics, pastoral counseling, church history and politics. This study concludes that ecclesial ethics is interdependent with pneumatology, or in simple terms, if the church cannot discern the Holy Spirit from the devil, neither can the church authoritatively define right from wrong, and vice-versa.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Vondey, Wolfgang
School: Regent University
School Location: United States -- Virginia
Source: DAI-A 73/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Ethics, Theology, Spirituality
Keywords: Discernment, Ecclesiology, Ethics, Ignatius of Loyola, Saint, Pneumatology, Spirits
Publication Number: 3504882
ISBN: 978-1-267-30350-9
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