The Charismatic Renewal?

Whatever happened to the Charismatic Renewal? It began within Catholicism (!) and rapidly spread. This was a major spiritual experience for many Christians in the 1960’s to the 1990’s. It spanned the spectrum from the Catholic Churches through much of hippo_-_cartoonProtestantism to Anglican and Orthodoxy. Even Pentecostalism was reenergized. Many embraced  it to varying degrees. A small group of churches have proclaimed in their confessions that such “miracles” ceased when the Bible was accepted in its present form. They declared this movement a false spirituality. Other Christians simply paid it no attention. Fr. Ernesto has given a fascinating look at what has happened within Orthodoxy. It is also, I believe, what has happened within Anglicanism and other churches.

“There was much discussion in Eastern Orthodoxy about the Charismatic Movement that began in the USA. Now, I must admit that the term Charismatic Movement is no longer accurate, but it was a once-used term. But, what about Eastern Orthodoxy and Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Movement?hardy0040

Well, the charismatic movement never had a big influence in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Part of the reason was that the Orthodox had never given up on the presence of the Holy Spirit as an active agent in the Church. Part of it was that Pentecostals were descended from the Nazarenes who were descended from the Methodists who were encouraged by John Wesley to read the Eastern Church Fathers. As a result, to some extent charismatics partially reflected Orthodox views about the active work of the Holy Spirit.

An Orthodox website makes the comment:

Our Fathers raised the dead. They cured the ill. They ascended into the Heavenly Realm and conversed with angels. They went to speak to those who spoke another tongue and found that, without having learned that tongue, they could preach to the people. (This evangelical gift, which allowed the Apostles to spread the message of Christianity, was present in the Early Church. St. Paul even warns those who have it not to cause confusion, but, in order to be consistent with the purpose of the gift—that of witnessing to the Faith—, to use the gift only if interpretation is available.) Our Fathers were so united with the power of things spiritual, that often their flesh was infused with the Spirit, their bodies failing to corrupt after death. YET, never once did the Fathers babble senselessly in tongues, let alone in the midst of the liturgy. Never did they conduct themselves in the manner of the modern charismatics.

You see, for the Orthodox, what are called the “charismatic gifts” by the Pentecostals never ceased. At the same time, we are convinced that the deposit that we have received from the Fathers includes the idea of a liturgy that is a reflection of both synagogue and Last Supper. The supposed charismatic gifts are not a contradiction, but they are not to take over the worship. In fact, we see St. Paul as warning the Corinthians about their mistaken notions about the Lord’s Supper (liturgy) and the “charismatic gifts.”

Orthodoxy has a long and continuing history of the Holy Spirit working in visible ways among us. Miracles, holy relics, healings, missions, icons that stream holy and miraculous oil, and, finally and most importantly, the Lord’s Supper, from which we derive sustenance and life. We do not deny the charismatic gifts, we simply refuse to classify them as somehow different and special from the rest of the life of the Church. In one sense, the charismatics were correct. The whole Church is charismatic. In one sense they were wrong. Their emphases were in the wrong place, though their heart was in the right place.”

via OrthoCuban.ernesto


About Fr. Orthohippo

The blog of a retired Anglican priest (MSJ), his musings, journey, humor, wonderment, and comments on today's scene.
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5 Responses to The Charismatic Renewal?

  1. I agree with your assessment. As someone who came through charasmatic circles I saw a lot of misinformation and abuse.
    I’ve heard the analogy that the gifts are like desert after a great meal. If you eat nothing but desert you don’t have much nourishment. It’s even O.k. to ask for a certain “desert”. But if you’re willing to wait and let God pick the perfect “treat”, everyone will be edified. Maybe not perfect but it works on a cetain level.
    I think of the gifts in regards to liturgy as a fire in a fireplace. If you have a fire in your living room floor, your house burns down. On the other hand, if it’s in a nice stone fireplace, it warms, heals and brings great blessing.
    My Pentecostal friends would say I’m trying to box up the Spirit. I say it can’t be done. The Holy Spirit will work where He will. The early Church used liturgy but Fr Ernesto recounted many of the great works and wonders that were done.
    God is not so stingy as to give out gifts to one part of the church and then take them back. They’re all here today and alive and well.

  2. Steve says:

    At the moment I’m working on a research project to try to discover where the charismatic renewal went to, at least in southern Africa, so I found your post quite interesting. Incidentally, I believe it started among Anglicans in Zululand, in 1944!

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