By What Authority?: A Primer on Scripture, the Magisterium, and the Sense of the Faithful
Publisher: Liturgical Press, 2003
Paperback: 168 pages
By What Authority? offers a helpful introduction to the forms of church authority that are concerned with authentic Christian belief. It explains in clear and non-technical language what it means to say that the Bible is inspired, how Scripture and tradition are related to one another, the role of the pope and bishops in preserving the Christian faith, the levels of church teaching authority, how to deal with disagreements with church teaching, the distinctive role of theologians, and the contribution of all the baptized in the formation of church teaching.
Respected Catholic theologian Richard Gaillardetz takes up important topics that are too often neglected in modern biblical studies and theology. Drawing on the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the full spectrum of Catholic tradition, he provides the lay reader with clear explanations of such issues as revelation, biblical inspiration and inerrancy, the authority of the biblical canon, the relationship of Scripture and tradition, the authority of the magsterium and other levels of Church teaching, the role of dissent, and the sensum fidelium. Just to name this list of contents is to signal the importance of a solid and reliable exposition such as this.
—The Bible Today
Anyone who wants a teachable, balanced, lucid, yet comprehensive text on authority in the church need look no further.
Richard Gaillardetz has earned a reputation as a leading authority on the theology of the magisterium. Taking his point of departure from Vatican II’s teaching on divine revelation, he shows how revelation is mediated symbolically through the stories and traditions of God’s people. His book guides the reader skillfully through difficult questions such as the nature of biblical inspiration, the gradual emergence of the canon, the relation between Scripture and tradition, the authority of the Church’s teaching office as well as that of the believing community. A chapter asking if there is a place for ‘disagreement’ in the Catholic Church is particularly wise. Written with an admirable clarity and simplicity, his book is honest, timely, and deeply Catholic.
—Thomas P. Rausch, SJ, T. Marie Chilton Professor of Catholic Theology, Loyola Marymount University
Gaillardetz sets himself the task of synthesizing and presenting in an accessible manner the theological work on revelation and church teaching authority appearing since Vatican II. He succeeds in a remarkably clear and engaging way.
Gaillardetz’s book is written as an honest and charitable presentation of the current teaching of the hierarchical magisterium, with a respectful treatment of the authority of sovereign conscience for each and all believers. . . . This book will whet your appetite to re-read these sacred texts with renewed interest.
Gaillardetz has emerged as one of the few true authorities on the authority of the Catholic Church. By some miracle he has managed to balance not only tradition and development, but also first-rate theology with wide accessibility. I will use this as a text in my course on the Church.
—Dennis M. Doyle, Religious Studies, University of Dayton
Will Rogers said, ‘We’re all educated, only its about different things.’ This sage observation came to mind as I read By What Authority? Many well educated, even professional, Catholics retain a somewhat elementary knowledge of Catholic belief and teaching. This book is a lucid, balanced guide for the interested inquirer on such complex questions as the sense of the faithful, the role of theologians and church authority, and the various levels of church teaching. A great contribution, this book should be widely read.
—Most Rev. John R. Quinn, Archbishop Emeritus of San Francisco
This work is a great resource for those interested in understanding the several sources and practical uses of authority within contemporary Catholicism.
—Catholic Books Review