We cannot overlook the fact that any talk of the Holy Spirit is so unintelligible to many today that it cannot even be regarded as controversial. But there can also be no doubt that the blame for this situation may be laid to a large extent on the way in which the concept of the Holy Spirit has been misused in modern times both by the official Church and by pious individuals.
When holders of high office in the Church did not know how to justify their own claim to infallibility, they pointed to the Holy Spirit. When theologians did not know how to justify a particular doctrine, a dogma or a biblical term, they appealed to the Holy Spirit. When mild or wild fanatics did not know how to justify their subjectivist whims, they invoked the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was called in to justify absolute power of teaching and ruling, to justify statements of faith without convincing content, to justify pious fanaticism and false security in faith. The Holy Spirit was made a substitute for cogency, authorization, plausibility, intrinsic credibility, objective discussion. It was not so in the early church or even in the medieval. This simplification of the role of the Holy Spirit is a typically modern development, emerging on the one hand from Reformation fanaticism and on the other hand from the defensive attitude of the great Churches, seeking to immunize themselves from rational criticism.
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