Ask a Franciscan

Stifling the Holy Spirit’s Work? 

St. Paul told believers in Corinth, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit” (1 Cor 12:7). He then identified gifts that the Spirit gives each believer, such as the ability to give wise advice, studying and teaching the word of God, special faith, the power to heal the sick, the power to perform miracles, the power to prophesy, the power of discernment, the ability to speak in tongues, and the power of interpretation (12:8–10).   

In the next verse, Paul states, “But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.” If these gifts are intended to build up the Church, why are they not utilized in the traditional Church? Are we stifling the work of the Holy Spirit within the Church today?  

Unfortunately, some people do not connect passages such as the ones you cite with St. Paul’s affirmation that all the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to build up the Church, the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27 and Eph 4:11–12). 

Because of today’s very anti-institutional bias, some Christians are tempted to believe that their every idea comes straight from the Holy Spirit and is being ignored by a hopelessly institutional Church. Would those people say the same if they used the term incarnational Church? I doubt it. 

Genuine gifts become obvious when they are tested. No true gift of the Holy Spirit can be ignored forever. 

Ask a Franciscan


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