I have no intention, this morning, of laying down the law about something! I wish, instead, to raise a question. And to ask you to regard most of what follows as a question.
They have got me thinking. By "they" I mean the Hypersuperueberpapalists who seem to me to constitute one of the most problematic heretical groupings currently at work in the Church Militant. The keep on about the Holy Spirit; how He desires us to accept constant surprises; how He speaks to us through the very lips of the Roman Pontiff ... particularly the present one. Kai ta loipa.
But, like Edgar Alan Poe's nocturnally silent dog, the Holy Spirit seems absent from places one might expect Him to be. Vatican I tells us that the Holy Spirit does not inspire the Roman Pontiff with new teaching but simply helps him to plug the old stuff. Ecumenical Councils do not routinely suggest that the Spirit is guiding them in their new articulations of doctrine. Anti-Gnostic polemicists such as Irenaeus find guarantees of pure Teaching in the historical succession of orthodox bishops from the time of the Apostles, not in the activity of the Spirit. Pius popes defining Marian doctrines do not claim the inspiration of the Spirit. The "Nicene" Creed refrains from claiming the Holy Spirit as the church's guide; locutus est per prophetas (contra Marcionem) is the role it appears to highlight (I know of no credal document which offers loquitur in Ecclesia). Yet that Symbolum Fidei was promulgated by Fathers who had everything to gain from claiming the Holy Spirit as witness to their own very decisive doctrinal interventions. And if, while on holiday near Pepuza, we find groups getting excited about the Spirit, we are inclined to be very cautious about their orthodoxy.
In S John's Gospel, the Lord says, indeed, that the Holy Spirit will lead his disciples into all truth: but I discern no evidence that this refers to anything beyond the ambit of the Gospel Narratives themselves. When the Council of Jerusalem writes edoxen gar toi Pneumati toi Hagioi kai hemin, they are surely not so much claiming the inevitable concurrence of the Spirit with their own conciliar decision-making as referring to the Outpourings of the Spirit as narrated in the earlier chapters of Acts.
So; I have offered you something of a clearing of the ground done from what you might loosely call an apophatic stance. Now we come on to the more positive exploration: what is the ecclesiological role of the Holy Spirit? Over to you.