December 21, 2014

September 1, 2008


Slain in the Spirit

I have a confession to make that may set me somewhat apart from my Anglican orthodox bretheren. I do not have a “charismatic” bone in my body. I am not a cessationist although many Calvinists are cessationists and I would certainly do my best to become one if I thought the position had greater biblical merit. At the same time I know and love many charismatics, all rock-solid theologically orthodox believers. And, objectively speaking, I appreciate the spiritual strength and vigor of those who call themselves charismatic. My aversion comes partly from a particularly bad memory from my youth in an Episcopal Church during the heyday of the charismatic movement.

My dad was just beginning to dabble in Christianity. He is an attorney, skilled, honest, honorable, and, personality wise, a very serious and dignified man. His approach to the faith was intellectual: Does this system have any philosophical merit, is it reasonable to be a Christian? My dad would probably not have described himself as a Christian at the time but, even so, he believed that it was important for my sister and me to go to church so he made sure to be there with us every Sunday and even served for a short stint on the vestry.

At around the time that my dad’s interest was growing, one of the various Episcopalian charismatic revivalist movements seems to have passed through town (my memory is somewhat vague at this point since I was young). A “bible study/prayer-group” was formed at my church in the aftermath and they invited my dad to attend. Probably hoping for more of a bible study than prayer group, he did.

It turned out not to be a bible study at all but a “care and share” group. I don’t know the full story but apparently when he walked through the door one of the other men present wrapped my dignified and, at this point, horrified father in a great big bear hug. My dad does not do hugs with other men very well…I don’t either just in case we happen to meet sometime. The meeting went from bad to worse. Speaking in tongues, crying, more hugging etc…and no bible study.

Things at the church got a little weird at that point too. Strange music, tambourines, more hugs. One Sunday morning after church services I’m told that one of the “spirit-filled” parishioners tried to “slay” the genteel, matronly, parish matriarch in the Spirit. Too gracious to offend, the matriarch, embarrassed, played along, fell backwards into her chair and pretended to be slain.

My dad stopped caring about Christianity.

He was still there every Sunday but his heart was not. Worse, he’d decided that Christianity was not worth his intellectual muscle. That is where he remains. He is pleased that I am doing what I am doing and, naturally conservative, he is appalled at the Episcopal Church, but he seems to have dismissed the faith to which I have devoted my life.

And, interestingly, All Saints, the parish of my youth, the place where the charismatic renewal took place has now become one of the most liberal churches in West Texas. Last time I visited, they’d constructed a labyrinth, invited Buddhist drummers to facilitate labyrinth walk meditations, built a small round baptistry-chapel right off the main parish hall with a somewhat “revised” icon of the “Christos Pantokrater” prominently displayed—with symbols of the other major religions surrounding the representation of Jesus, and the rector had idols of Hindu gods and goddesses decorating his office.

The lasting effect of the charismatic movement, at least at All Saints, seems to have been a definitive wresting from traditional moorings and an obsessive focus on and search for mystical experience. The effect on my dad was to turn him away from Christianity altogether.

This is not to say that my dad’s experience with the Charismatic movement or the outcome of that movement at All Saints Corpus Christi is normative or in any way representative of the charismatic movement as a whole. As I noted above, the charismatic Anglicans I know are orthodox to the core.

But there does seem, and this is from the outside looking in, to be something of a discernment problem within charismatic/pentecostal circles. Two recent examples come to mind.

The first is Todd Bentley. If you’ve not heard of Tod Bentley, then you are fortunate. Here is his website. I first heard of Pastor Bentley from an Anglican charismatic who was very excited about the new “movement the Spirit” in Florida; the next great “revival.” One look at this man’s website and a short google search told me that Pastor Bentley was pretty whacked out. But my solid orthodox Anglican friend, a man of some learning, was completely taken with the man.

In early August, Pastor Bentley’s board of directors announced (see the August 12th entry on Bentley’s website linked above) that he and his wife were separating because of some “friction” in their marriage.

It is with considerable sadness then, that we must temper the jubilation we know you all feel with the sobering news that Todd and Shonnah Bentley are presently experiencing significant friction in their relationship and are currently separated.

On August 15th, the ministry released this statement:

We wish to acknowledge, however, that since our last statement from the Fresh Fire Board of Directors, we have discovered new information revealing that Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff. In light of this new information and in consultation with his leaders and advisors, Todd Bentley has agreed to step down from his position on the Board of Directors and to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life.

You might be tempted to think that Pastor Bentley’s days of revival are over. Don’t worry. I’m sure he will be back. I’m willing to bet that before Christmas, “the Spirit” will tell him that it is time for him to return to public ministry.

Perhaps even more disastrous than the fall of Pastor Bentley, is the sad tale of the two lives of pentecostal pastor, Michael Guglielmucci, the now disgraced leader of the Australian “Planetshakers” ministry. Michael Guglielmucci composed and performed the hit Christian song, “healer” about his battle with terminal cancer.

Christians around the world prayed for his healing, sent money to his ministry, listened to his sermons, spent money on his CD.

The problem? He made it all up. There was no cancer. It was all a lie. He apparently devised his cancer diagnosis in order to cover up a growing addiction to pornography.

The people who sent Guglielmucci money and the people who made “pilgrimages” to Florida for Bentley’s new “revival” sincerely believed in the legitimacy of these ministries. Why?

And how can Anglicans, of all people, buy into people like Todd Bentley?

These episodes are not unique. Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggart, Robert Tilton, Jim Baker, make me wonder whether in fact there may be some deeper lesson for Anglicans in the fall of All Saints Corpus Christi. Those who were around during the charismatic revival in the Episcopal Church (from 1961 to around the late 80’s) tell me that the “care and share” groups that formed in many parishes sought solely to “experience God” with only a tangential reference to scripture, to hear God’s voice and feel his presence in a context marked by biblical illiteracy.  Perhaps the renewal that swept through the Episcopal Church, to the extent that it took place apart from a renewed interest in or zeal for the scriptures, moved the Episcopal Church toward her present state of theological vapidity?

Of course there where places where Charismatic renewal was wedded to solid biblical instruction. At Truro, for example, the scriptures obviously retained their central place in the life of the parish.

But the focus of many charismatic/pentecostal revivals and ministries, and I am speaking generally here, seems to be the various “manifestations of the Spirit”—healings, people being “slain in the Spirit”, tongues, “prophesies”, the interpretation of dreams, “gold dust,” barking, “holy laughter” and…well, it gets worse. And all of it comes with a sort of anti-intellectualism that eschews doctrine, biblical exposition, and tradition.

The Episcopalian version of revival was no doubt far more subdued, but it was widespread and so I wonder whether it might have had a similar focus and, perhaps, a similar anti-intellectual/anti-expositional/anti-doctrinal result? This rather sympathetic article written in 2000 by D. William Faupel for Pneuma Magazine seems to confirm that possibility:

The Charismatic Movement in the Episcopal Church is indeed a force that must be recognized. However, it is not sufficient simply to celebrate or to lament this reality. The thoughtful person, whether adherent or critic, must ask such questions as: What does this mean? Is it of God? How can it be used as a constructive force for the advancement of God’s kingdom and the enrichment of Christ’s Church?

From the beginning, the movement has seen itself as having a two-fold focus: first, bringing renewal to individuals, local churches and entire denominations; and second, bringing about the unity of a divided Christendom. The leadership has tended to disclaim any specifically theological purpose. Rather, it claims to be a renewal of experience, not of doctrine, often observing “theology divides, experience unites.”

Faupel goes on to point out that as the movement progressed the leadership became increasingly conscious of the need to ground charismatic experience in traditional Anglican categories. But by that time many parishes across the country had already experienced “renewal”.

It could be that the charismatic movement hit the Episcopal Church at just the wrong time. Perhaps, had it not come during the heyday of Tillich, demythologization, and cultural decadence, a time when “relevance” meant shallow 10 minute story-time sermons about lilies and politics, the charismatic renewal might have forestalled the present ecclesial dissolution. But it started in the sixties and lasted well into the eighties and for that reason, I fear, many parishes that were not already well grounded in scripture might chart their doctrinal decline to the first parish-wide charismatic retreat weekend.

Please don’t get me wrong. There are charismatics in my congregation who speak in tongues (quietly) and exercise, with my blessing, the ministry of healing prayer. I love them. And, of course, this is not to say that the charismatic movement is unique in its partial dysfunction. The so called “three streams” of orthodox Anglicanism: Evangelical, Catholic, and Charismatic are said to compliment one another. Evangelicals can be rigid and judgmental. Catholics can be frozen ritualists. Charismatics can be experience obsessed. Put them together and you have a bunch of rigidly obsessed ritualists.

We need each other I suppose.


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134 comments

We need one another in the sense that we can - if held together by common faith, some semblance of common liturgy (in terms of the right words, not style) and sane discipline - act as checks and balances upon the extremes that Fr. Matt lists in that last paragraph.

This was, in fact, something of the reality until Liberal Protestantism (no core doctrine, rejection of liturgical unity and selective use of discipline (never for heresy) became over-represented among the clergy and in control of the bureaucracy.

[1] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 9-1-2008 at 07:25 PM · [top]

I try to place myself in firmly in all three camps.  I am either an Evangelical Anglo-catholic Charismatic or a Charismatic Evangelical Anglo-catholic or an Anglo-catholic Evnagelical with Charismatic overtones - depending on the day.  I love the Evangelical truth of the Church - the basis in Holy Scripture and the will to follow the Command of our Lord, Jesus, to go and make disciples.  I also love the sacramental life of the Church and the Tradition that comes to us from the Apostles and their followers - the great unbroken line of apostles, prophets, and martyrs who pass the faith on to us and call us to battle in our own day.  I also love the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  While I do not speak in tongues, I know those who do.  I raise my hands in prayer and singing and have laid hands on others for healing.  All three strains of Anglicanism need each other.  We can and should learn from and respect each other.  And, so long as we are not divided on essentials, we should not fight with each other.

To my mind, the different focuses of Evangelical/Anglo-catholic/Charismatic are all different frames which surround the Truth.  They each bring into focus different aspects of the Truth, but the Truth is not changed by them.  Just like different fames will bring out different aspects of a painting.  I can honestly say that I am comfortable with the theology and practice of all three and say that all three are true, so long as they are true to the fundamentals of Christianity. 

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[2] Posted by Philip Snyder on 9-1-2008 at 07:42 PM · [top]

Two of the keys which I think are important are balance between Scripture, liturgy, and the exercise of the gifts, and that all be done decently and in order.  I believe that’s why Truro and other similar congregations have succeeded and thrived, and, I would hope, be more the rule rather than the exception.

[3] Posted by bigjimintx on 9-1-2008 at 07:49 PM · [top]

I grew up in a (non-Anglican) evangelical church and have become sympathetic to Anglo-Catholicism, but I don’t really get Charismatic theology.  Worship style is one thing.  Loud fast music and waving your hands around can be used by people of all sorts of theological backgrounds.  But as for the theology of the charismatics, I tend to be skeptical of modern novelty.

[4] Posted by AndrewA on 9-1-2008 at 07:50 PM · [top]

RE: ” . . . but it was widespread I wonder whether it might have had a similar focus and, perhaps, a similar anti-intellectual/anti-expositional/anti-doctrinal result?”

I don’t know the answer to that one.  But I do know this.

Even many of the doctrinally strong and biblically thoughtful charismatics eschewed and denounced all “politics” in TEC.  Their constant refrain was that if they preached the gospel and the gifts of the Spirit that they would “outgrow” the revisionists and that TEC would “naturally” be reformed without ever having to be smart or wise about vestry elections, delegate voting, bishop searches, and on and on and on.

To this day, orthodox charismatic TECans—and now non-TECans—tell me earnestly that all of that strategery is not of the Spirit and that we just need to focus on prayer and healing and preaching the word.  Many of them are—in my best analysis—pietistic gnostics.

And then . . . many of those who proudly announced that they weren’t going to engage in all of that church politics and weren’t going to research clergy candidates but were instead going to draw lots [and yes—that actually happened . . . and the parish in question got a revisionist priest], then got angry and felt called of the Spirit to leave TEC.

Matt—I hope that your Dad will meet Jesus somehow, perhaps through a good friend.

[5] Posted by Sarah on 9-1-2008 at 08:03 PM · [top]

I don’t know that I would describe myself as a charismatic, in fact likely not so if it involves too much of that happy clappy stuff wink  I’m pretty much an introvert.  But, for whatever reason God decided that I was a good candidate to be involved in the prophetic.  He gave me a choice, and I sought to obey Him.  I never had a prophetic bone in my body before.  My testimony is here, if you are interested:  http://theagetocome.wordpress.com/the-giving-of-a-gift/
I wouldn’t say I was for or against spiritual gifts before, it was mainly outside my realm of experience.

As far as Bently et al goes, that is a sad, sad story.  And I think you are perfectly right about the almost total lack of discernment that can be displayed in the ‘charismatic’ community.  There’s lots of story behind this.  The short short version would be, IMHO, that a spiritual movement birthed in the 90’s (?) has gone off the rails to a greater or lesser degree and what we see now is the fruit of this.  It’s scandalous to the body of Christ, and a really sad affair.

Why?  No simple reason, though one might observe that ‘spiritual’ gifts without Christian maturity, discernment and discipleship is perhaps more prone than other gifting to unhealthy spiritual influence.  I think this is what we are seeing.

However, God has raised up other folks to bless the body of Christ in this area, so all is very far from being lost.  I think it is incumbent upon wise Christian leadership to recognise those in whom these gifts are being birthed, and perhaps disciple them all the more carefully, recognising that they have a great potential to bless, and to damage the body.

[6] Posted by Peter on 9-1-2008 at 08:19 PM · [top]

I’ve always enjoyed charismatic/pentecostal services, and I think that’s the problem. It only feeds one part of me. It feeds the emotional portion of my being without necessarily feeding the spirit or reason. Then there’s the problem of over enthusiasm without being checked by reason, especially, that is alluded to in the main post.

One of the great strengths of Anglicanism in ages past was its refusal to be tied up with one individual.

I serve the God of Truth. Who do you serve?

[7] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 9-1-2008 at 08:20 PM · [top]

Christians of all traditions often fail to require accountability from leaders. That usually manifests itself first in the area of money or sex. Lack of accountability is a common denominator among all of the leaders you mentioned. You can add to that list Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, John Hagee, Richard L. Roberts, Joyce Meyer, Paula White and, increasingly, Joel Osteen.

[8] Posted by Going Home on 9-1-2008 at 08:50 PM · [top]

Many eschewed the political reality of the Church to our misfortune.  I see this as common to anglo-catholics, evangelicals, and charismatics. 

Yes, there are some charismatics who seek only the experiential high….and still need milk like a babe.

The gifts are real but also expected to be in order and in many cases it more a case of charismatic personality rather than God the Holy Spirit.

Even in seminary, some were not critical or discerning.  Having had both negative and positive experiences, I learned the difference as I read scripture seeking to understand.

Yes, we do need each other…if only to balance us….Mark Pearson does a good job of sharing his understanding of the three streams better than I can….

I hope he chimes in…

[9] Posted by Creighton+ on 9-1-2008 at 08:51 PM · [top]

I came to know Christ during the charismatic renewal in 1972.  I had always been an Episcopalian, and continued so.  For those who had gotten lost in the drug culture as I had, the power of “speaking in tongues”, healing, and supernatural experiences in general served as a necessary offset to rock music, drugs, and the focused power of that culture on individual experience.  In other words, it took some spiritual bombastics to get my attention.

Today I worship much differently but still pray in tongues regularly, relying on the scriptural references that talk about it, such as the Spirit praying with groans too deep for words or the admonition to pray in the Spirit to build up our most holy faith.  As I get older, I simply have no words to pray for most situations.
There are words to use, but they seem inadequate.  Having prayed in the Spirit for now over thirty six years I have developed a prayer language that is recognizable to me although I have not the foggiest idea what it says.  I believe that God knows, and my spirit within me prays what the Holy Spirit calls it to pray.  As I say, I have been doing this for thirty six years.

The problem I have with most evangelicals, including myself from time to time, is that they have an intellectual religion, but not a spiritual one.  Their religious experience is based on a wonderful understanding of scripture and historical Christian doctrine, but it gives very little, if any, room for the supernatural.  Suprisingly, in this regard, liberals and conservatives have a lot in common.  They differ in their understandings of scripture, but neither of them give much place to the spiritual, the supernatural, or God acting outside the box they have created for Him.

In fact, Matt, you demonstrate your own understanding when you describe your unpleasant experiences with “Charismaticism”, and infer that it was this experience which shut your Dad down to Christianity.  It is quite obvious that you want to blame this experience with shutting down your Dad’s heart when plenty of folks have come back from far worse, like families being bayoneted and shot in front of their eyes, and embraced the Lord.  I’d say your Dad was looking for a reason not to believe and blamed it on those “Charismaniacs”!

You don’t disqualify the charismatic movement on its own merits, but rather you talk about some anecdotal things that happened after a charimatic outpouring like a church turning liberal or a Dad who might rather play golf than go to church.  And at the beginning of the entry you admit that you don’t have a charismatic bone in your body, which also might serve to disqualify you from being an impartial judge.  In other words, you might have a small bone to pick.

There’s nothing wrong with that.  However, in my experience, folks who are Christian but carry a lot of hurt towards God and his people try to do a lot of talking, writing and studying, as if to “show themselves approved”.  The problem is, the revisionists whom you are trying to change have little interest in your studied approach.  They, like most people, respond to the use of power.

Now about Todd Bentley.  I simply cannot go along with his stuff, but if you are up on what is happening in the culture nowadays, with raves and mosh pits and worse, it may be that this sort of exhibit of power is at least getting folks attention.  I have no way of judging what is in his heart.  You have obviously studied some of what is going on, the gold dust, etc., and must have at least had some passing interest, as have I.  At this point in my life, I don’t need those kinds of manifestations.  But then, I don’t do raves, either. 

Whatever God uses to get the attention of one of his little ones, I am for.

[10] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 9-1-2008 at 09:33 PM · [top]

While I have appreciated Fr. Matt’s SF contributions and dedication to orthodoxy for several years, I am disappointed at what seems to me his broad brush tarring of the Episcopal Renewal (read charismatic) movement of decades past and his parting swipe at the “so called three streams”.  My experience in that movement is counter to his (and his father’s).  As an adult I came to the Lord in one of the hotbeds of renewal in the Episcopal Church - Dennis Bennett’s St. Lukes in Seattle - by the time I got there, Kevin Martin, no theological slouch, was the rector.  I was under Kevin and later Jack Tench that I was schooled in scripture,  the gifts of the Spirit and the “three streams” that Matt treats so dismissively.

I have come to appreciate the three streams as a reflection of the Trinity: Father -Sacramental worship (Catholic); Son-the Word made flesh (Evangelical); Holy Spirit - the Father’s gift of power (Charismatic); and, per usual, find myself in agreement with Phil Snyder as I try to keep one foot (as it were) in each camp; it seems to me that that is how we are fully Trinitarian - and without the Trinity, are we still Christian?

[11] Posted by Cross Mountain on 9-1-2008 at 09:33 PM · [top]

Thanks Cross Mountain. But I think you misread me. I am not dismissive of the three streams concept at all. I think it is what we need. Charismatics need evangelicals. Evangelicals need charismatics…and so on. I and while pointing to a problem I personally perceive within charismatic circles, I acknowledge problems in evangelical circles as well. As I said we’ve all got problems. The “so-called” is to be taken literally not cynically. They are, in fact, “so called”. The second to last sentence was my idea of a joke. But the last sentence was not.

[12] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-1-2008 at 09:39 PM · [top]

Having experienced the Charismatic movement, been a part of it as well as the mainstream frameworks both intellectually and doctrinally, what failed utterly was the ability of the core of most denominations to handle that particular gift adequately. It was probably as was observed above the already-compromised polity of the denominations. It certainly ruptured several parachurch ministries I observed during the process. Any gift from God, be it awakening, charismata, prophetic or simply the polity with which we govern ourselves under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, must first and foremost be brought under the scrutiny of the leaders of the church, period. And those leaders must be theologically sound, scripturally reinforced and healthily servant leaders. The stronger the gift, the greater the opportunity to have it corrupted and made ineffectual, without strong wise leadership. The Pentecostal/Charismatic movement was a large gift, capable in some cases I observed of resurrecting churches to new life and purpose, but in others, shattering and producing corruption. So why then, give the gift? Knowing how broken human nature is, knowing how completely foolish we can be when we are given a source of power and good, why does God do these things?

Well let’s look at polity. How we structure and organize ourselves is a source of power. In TEC for example that power has now gone to those who would use it to liberalize, to strip scripture of its inherent authority, to de-deify Jesus Christ and to make God in a human image. How did we allow this to happen? Why didn’t we prevent this?

You can cast awakenings/revivals, the Charismatic movement, into these same lines. How we experience and exercise the gifts that God gives us is a source of power. In current day terms, the focus for many is on the pyrotechnics of the experience, the speaking in tongues, the laying on of hands - the miraculous healings, the prophecies and so on. Without guidance and leadership the focus stays on the experience and becomes the seed on the rock effect - its springs up - but with no depth of root soon perishes. Power in any form is good only so long as it is made immediately subservient to God and to His Body, the church. 

Several churches I watched during the early days of the Charismatic movement handled it well, the charismatic gifts were sensibly worked into the life of the church in good order and properly used to build up the church. Those churches I saw grow and thrive. Several others imploded, divided or drifted off into apostasy as they were incapable form a leadership perspective to handle the gifts.

One church I woefully watch dissolve before my eyes. The various informal groups drew apart as the charismata were made manifest. The priest was at a loss to explain the manifestations or provide direction, so the groups began in-fighting for control to enable them to drive the other groups out The traditionalists were against the liberals were against the charismatics were against the scriptural-dispensationalists. 

Another the pastor ( a Lutheran congregation) demanded that all those “emotionally uncontrolled blasphemers” leave his church immediately - a knee jerk reaction. To his dismay, most of his key leaders came to him and offered to resign as well as a majority of the congregation leaving. By reacting negatively to a few of the more expressive ones his “all or nothing” approach cost him a thriving church. The remnant were thankful that the “troublemakers” were forced to leave, but appalled that it cost them deeply in the process. They continued on but the dynamism of the congregation and much of its enthusiasm was gone.

Another church “flamed out” -the charismatic experientialists took over, and demanded everyone speak in tongues, that the Spirit was telling them to do things without anyone “testing the spirits”. They rolled downhill into rank apostasy, worshiping the ephemera of the gifts, and soon, having driven the more balanced and level-headed people out of the church, collapsed.

All sources of power granted us by God carry with them the need to correctly handle the power given. Scripture makes this very clear. The devil waits to attack these sources of power, to undermine our service to God, to draw our eyes from God to the power and to corrupt that power and make it impotent, or worse to turn it against us. We know we are broken. We know that for us any power is capable being corrupted by our brokenness. But we dare not eshew power because we fear the potential for corruption. We must be ever-vigilant, solidly grounded in God’s revealed Word, prayerfully wise in our approach to the power God gives us, and give to God the power first, then use it as He directs us, well aware of the dangers. Peter did not heal the beggar at the synagogue because he desired power. He healed to give glory to God. Jesus gave the disciples power to heal and cast out demons as He sent them out, and they came back reporting wonderful things - but only because they stayed focussed on the purpose of the power.

[13] Posted by masternav on 9-1-2008 at 09:41 PM · [top]

Tom:
“You don’t disqualify the charismatic movement on its own merits…” Thank goodness. Because had I done so I would have done Precisely what I said I could not do in the Very First Paragraph, explicitly.

As for my father, I am certain that in some ways you are correct. But his self-expressed reasons for not going further, not my inferences, were the experiences I relay above.

My dad continued to go to church throughout my time living at home rather than play golf despite his unbelief.

[14] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-1-2008 at 09:44 PM · [top]

I am not a cessationist although many Calvinists are cessationists and I would certainly do my best to become one if I thought the position had greater biblical merit.

I hear ya.  As a youngster hopping from denomination to denomination, I saw plenty of abuses in Pentacostalism that made me doubt it.  Presbyterianism (my last digs) seemed comfortable, except for the predominantly historical arguments against the continuation of charismatic gifts. 

Within the last year or so, I’ve reevaluated the cessationist position.  We have friends of our parish, who are charismatic / Reformed types.  Like your dad’s parish, they have defined themselves on the small-group model.  Unlike your dad’s parish, they have a set of competent guidelines for leadership of the groups.  One in particular is a gem:  “I don’t care if your small group stands on their heads and speaks in tongues;  my only stipulation is that everyone has to be on board.”  So, the rate of spiritual growth and the level of spiritual growth, is dictated by the slowest member of the group.  Simple, and brilliant, at the same time. 

RE:  Bentley.  His shenanigans are unfortunate, but I’m not really that surprised.  Theonomy is what sticks to conservatives who have spent too much time under so-called liberal leadership.  I’m afraid that we’re going to see more of it even amongst our own. 

The bad news is, it’s already here. 

Finally, as usual, you’re right:  The three groups need one another.

[15] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-1-2008 at 10:17 PM · [top]

Check out Peterson’s Message paraphrase of Galatians 5.19-21 (“magic show religion”). I think your description, Matt, of what became of your former parish is interesting—it would seem to indicate a dangerous trend that sometimes occurs in Charismatic/Pentecostal circles: emphasis on the thrills that led folks away from the authentic power of the Lord to counterfeit experiences.  In my home diocese we had a similar experience in a parish.

BTW—before becoming an Episcopalian (and, later, a priest) I was an elder in the Assemblies of God.  When it comes to tongues, you might say I’m a “card carrier”[removed]void(0);

[16] Posted by els on 9-1-2008 at 10:27 PM · [top]

Masternav has expressed a lot of what I would have to say about the charismatic experience.  It has its place, is blessed by the Lord, has blessed me and my family, but doesn’t “stand alone” in any part of “the church”.  Scripture must lead, and scripture says the gifts of the Spirit are for “the edification of the body”.  I take that to mean the “Body of Christ”... the church.  Part of the problem with the charismatic renewal movement of the 70-80s was many people involved in it took it as a “new knowledge of God”, and would not subject it to church authority nor to the discipline of the Bible itself, and there was much separating of self as being more able to hear and understand God, or as superior to others IN the Body.  Thus, they tripped over self-aggrandisment, schism, and gnosticism in one swell foop. That was why, although being charismatic myself, I separated myself from many Christians rooted in “charismatic expression”.  I miss a real, all out Prayer and Praise services a lot…. but it’s not the be-all and end-all of Christianity.  There is room for charismatic expression and Anglo-Catholicism and evangelical expression at every level in the church of Jesus Christ…. subject to the guidance and discipline of Scripture and guidance of holy leaders in the church.  An individual is free to say it is “not for me”, but not to close any door on what God has done, how, or what He might do!

[17] Posted by Goughdonna on 9-1-2008 at 10:31 PM · [top]

“De Debil, he don’t never play fair.”  Satan can’t create anything, he just must twist the truth and use counterfeits to do his work.  All born again Christians are charismatic since we at the time of salvation are baptised into Christ’s body by the Spirit.  Now we must be careful to separate the true and false.  To know if a stick is croked, just lay it down by a straight stick.  So much that I see in the Charismatic movement just doesn’t square with what is in the Bible.  I have had supernatural experiences, seen the Holy Spirit work in church and on and own.  Excitement and emotion in our faith is great and always has been present in history.  The “shouting Methodist”, brush arbor Baptist, great Welsh revival are not to be shrugged off.  However, I believe that much of the seeking after the miraculous is due to dead cold orthodoxy, or simply dead religion and churches under the heavy hand of God’s judgment.  If the Groom while away finds out that His Betrothed is being unfaithful, can we be surprised that he stops sending gifts to her?  Seeking after the emotional thrill will not satisfy.  The church needs to get right and repent and turn to the Lord.  Then there will be joy and love and no need to seek thrills and warm fuzzy feelings.Proclimation of the living Word to the Church is what is needed and not frothing at the mouth.  We need to be slain by the Spirit, but not a quivering of the flesh but a falling before the Holy, Sovereign God in repentance.  He will then give us what we crave and it will be real.  IMHO

[18] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 9-1-2008 at 10:40 PM · [top]

Matt, the Schleiermacher-experience centered approach does lead to where TEC and main line Protestantism now is. Scriptural primacy is of the essence, orthodox theology must be the building blocks. Too many clergy from 60-80 were revisionist already.

This ‘63 Asburian had a solid Wesleyan theological foundation in Scriptural Holiness. The East African Revival fueled the Anglican and Methodist explosive growth down to today and also my freshman orientation in ‘59. CMS was key in this movement.

Reading Keith Miller’s, the Taste of New Wine, and then Nine O’Clock in the Morning brought me into the Charismatic Renewal of the 70’s during Asbury’s spontaneous revival of that period. Morning Prayer alone in my Anglo Catholic parish, monstrance et al, was never the same after spontaneously singing in tongues for an hour as a recessional. 

Theological study of the Anglican Wesley’s, of clasical Methodist theologians, especially Dr. Daniel Steele, and the discovery of Roman charismatic theologians assoicated with Christ the King Community whom I worshiped with when they were in South Bend and at Duesquene U, the charismatic Anglican Benedictines at Three Rivers MI and then meeting and learning directly from charismatic clergy like Frs Ralph Haynes, Mike Flynn, Frank Maquire [He taught Dennis Benett what it was all about,] Ron Thomson, Amos Gaum, [A Corpus Cristi boy] and of course Bp Bill Fry. Add the courageous, solid Three Streams clergy of today, bishops, priests and deacons, and there’s a wealth of solid teaching available.

I’m convinced that part of the reaction against African Anglicans is their three stream existence. It’s transforming believers into the image of Christ and transforming is a baaaad word in TEC. Inclusion is the in word.

[19] Posted by Bob Maxwell+ on 9-1-2008 at 11:31 PM · [top]

“Put them together and you have a bunch of rigidly obsessed ritualists.”

Thanks! I needed that. smile

I sympathize with your father, I think his objections were understandable.  No one has the right to invade someone’s spiritual space anymore than their physical space. And I object to the idea you must have “happy/clappy” or “warm/fuzzy” to be charismatic.  I appreciate your reception of those in your flock who approach God a little differently than others.

[20] Posted by Elizabeth on 9-2-2008 at 12:02 AM · [top]

I think that if “Confessing Anglicanism” wishes to be something better that “Anglicanism as we know it” there must be some brutal self-honesty going on about the shortcomings of ALL the branches of Anglicanism.  The problems of Liberal Protestantism, of course, go back before the present troubles to the 19th or even 18th century, as Matt has already show, and Anglo-Catholicism has attracted more then its fair share of eccentrics with little regard for what proper Catholics would call Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition.

[21] Posted by AndrewA on 9-2-2008 at 04:46 AM · [top]

On observing myself and various church leaders, I have this image of Jesus and the leader sitting in the front seat of the car.  Sometimes Jesus has the steering wheel, but other times the leader has grabbed the steering wheeel from Jesus.  When blind spots in a leader’s life become evident, they are in control of the wheel.  I sense this is the case in both leaders who spurn charismatic gifts in the Body of Christ and for themselves and those who misuse them.

[22] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 9-2-2008 at 05:09 AM · [top]

AndrewA,

I assume by “proper Catholics” you are refering to people like St. John of the Cross and such, for surly sainthood is not confered on “eccentrics with little regard for what proper Catholics would call Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition.”

[23] Posted by Elizabeth on 9-2-2008 at 06:44 AM · [top]

Sounds as if your father and I would have a lot in common.  (I don’t hesitate to gently but firmly break an unwanted hug, and refuse to pass the peace except with a child who would not understand my reluctance.)  My own faith trends to what I think of as the intellectual side.  I don’t have a problem with the more emotional side, as it is part of the vast panoply of faith.  I just don’t personally find it helpful.  However, it seems that it has been gaining ascendancy in recent years.  A skeptical friend has made a sincere effort at learning and understanding Christianity, but can’t get by some of the silly things which happen, even in faithful parishes.  In his mind, they are proof that there is nothing there, since if there were, people would not behave that way.

[24] Posted by APB on 9-2-2008 at 07:07 AM · [top]

I do not see Matt dissing the Charimatic stream in Anglicanism…rather I see him concerned, especially when other Anglicans who he sees as theologically wise and discerning embrace forms of charismatic expression that are unhealthy, unbalance, and full of the flesh and not God the Holy Spirit.

Sadly, this is common.  The Toronto blessings was not of God.  Many others are simply charismatic personality that gain a large following and make tons of money off of it.  What usually happens is it goes to their heads and they fall.  I am sure you remember Copeland, Baker, and others.

There is much flesh/fallen humanity in these expressions.  The confusion is that God sometimes shows up even in when people least expect it.

If you want an example watch the Steve Martin movie, “Leap of Faith”.  If you call upon Jesus to come and heal, you should not be surprised when he does so.  Once this happens Martin can no longer continue his con. 

Now, let me give a warning, this is not a Christian movie and has language and adult situation as most movies today…but I like it.  You cannot limit God and even if you do not believe He shows up and when He does it is always powerful.

[25] Posted by Creighton+ on 9-2-2008 at 07:07 AM · [top]

Elizabeth, there is much more I wanted to say but I only had a few minutes to type it out before I had to catch a bus.

If you want to get an idea of what I mean by “proper Catholics” in the context of Anglicanism, contrast, say, Forward in Faith with Affirming Catholcism.  I mean those that regard Scripture as the Word of God and Tradition as the deposit of the Apostolic Faith vs those that think that, say, the General Convention or General Synod can just make up new things as it goes along, and call it doctrinal development. 

The association of relgious eccentrics, diletantes and radicals with Anglo-Catholicsm sadly goes back quite some time.  Such “hanger ons” are attracted to the forms of the religion, but will often take a handful of doctrinal concepts and distort them all out of context.  One particular problem I’ve seen is those that, having tried so hard to convince themselves that the Anglican Communion is a Catholic Church, put excessive faith on the human insitutions of the Anglican Communion, even when they directly contradict the type of appeal to Antiquity and Tradition that Newman and company were trying to achieve. 

Another problem is the lack of a sufficient unifying definition of just what Anglo-Catholicism is.  Reformed Evangelicals can point to the 39 Articles and 1662 BCP.  Anglo-Catholics have…  what exactly?  Was St. Mary Immaculatly Concieved?  Some parishes celebrate the Immaculate Conception using liturgy translated word for word from the Romans.  Some Anglo-Catholics cite it as a reason not to join Rome.  What about liturgy?  The Tractarians argued for the 1662 BCP, but kept appealing to the 1549 BCP.  The Ritualists wrote their own missals, never approved by any councils of the church.  Some see the 1979 BCP as being “More Catholic” because it incorporates more elements from the Anglican Missal and the Romans Missals.  Some see it as a betrayal of all orthodoxy. 

Of course, “Classical” Anglican Protestantism is not without its shortcomings.  For the longest time it was often frigid and rigid in its execution.  It was too closely tied with the “intellectual elite” of England, who were prone to Deism, skepticism, cold intellectualism, anti-supernatural rationalism, etc.  The more enthusiastic Evangelical expression of Anglo-Protestantism spit between Calvanist and Methodist theologies, and was prone to the same accusation of irrational emotionalism directed at charismatics.  Protestantism in general has the problem of defining WHOSE interpetation of the Bible is correct, so that you might have, for example, a Anglican priest that appeals to Calvin for his theology of salvation and Luther for his theology of the sacraments.  Of course, like I already said, Anglo-Catholicsm, divorced from a magesterium or theologically uniform episcopate has a similar problem of authority.  As Matt has already described in past articles, the effect of “modern” Bible scholarship and increasingly liberal theologians seeking to adapt the Church to “modern” understandings of the Bible has been devastating on the mainline Protestants, and started within the Luthern Protestant tradition and was readly adapted by English intellectuals seeking to keep up with the times.  “Social Gospel” theology is also an old problem in Protestantism. As someone already implied, it isn’t just the “children” of the 60’s that are a problem, because they were for the most part raised by parents and priests who were fairly liberal themselves, having grown up under the influence of genrations old “social gospel” works oriented religion and skepticism driven approaches to Biblical scholarship.

[26] Posted by AndrewA on 9-2-2008 at 07:35 AM · [top]

I have never been confortable with the more, shall we say, demonstrative aspects of charismatic worship. I always tolerated it in the same way I tolerated labyrinths-If that’s what you want to do, that’s fine, just don’t try to make me do it.
  For years, people have said that marijuana is a “gateway” drug. It opens the gate for further experimentation and leads to harder drugs. Looking back, it seems to me that labyrinths and charismatism may be “gateways” to revisionism amd liberal belief in TEC and may indeed lead to the “hard stuff”. Almost every one of the charismatic/labyrinth people I knew years ago are now firmly in the revisionist camp.

the snarkster™

[27] Posted by the snarkster on 9-2-2008 at 08:44 AM · [top]

As I recall, it all start here for E. back in the 1970’s or so. Remember the book, “Nine O’Clock in the Morning?”
http://www.emotionallyfree.org/dennis.htm

[28] Posted by ama-anglican on 9-2-2008 at 08:54 AM · [top]

AndrewA,

Let me try this.  While remaining firmly within orthodox Christianity there is a wide continuum of theology and definitions.  You seem to be of the opinion it all needs to be defined, regulated and each put in its place.  Anglo-Catholic must not touch Roman Catholic and Calvin must have his own place in the corner. 

The charismatic movement has matured and thrives throughout Christianity.  Yes, there are some bumps.  Yes, it can be abused.  But it will never be defined or limited—that is a contradiction of terms.

[29] Posted by Elizabeth on 9-2-2008 at 09:01 AM · [top]

Snarkster,

When experience stops being worship focused on God and becomes something enjoyable focused inwardly, then indeed, your observation is very true.

[30] Posted by Elizabeth on 9-2-2008 at 09:07 AM · [top]

Having grown up in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles, I had a chance to see both extremes of genuine Holy Spirit power and crazy stuff where people were “in the flesh.”  I think the loss of biblical moorings evaluation is spot on in many instances.  Consider Carlton Pearson, who was one of the up-and-coming golden boys of Pentecostalism with a 5000 member church in Oklahoma…until he stopped believing in hell.  Last I heard, his remaining flock of 50 had to sell the building and were meeting in, of all places, in an Episcopal church.

[31] Posted by Zoomdaddy on 9-2-2008 at 09:11 AM · [top]

I’ve been to the Todd Bentley revival here in Lakeland twice.  I confess that while I have been to other similar revivals, this one didn’t “move” me.  But I accepted that I am in a different place at this time.  But I did see and know of people of all walks who did go.  And there were a lot of youth, too.  A lot.  There were some who would not have been introduced to Christ otherwise.  And I met in Lakeland on the street and in Walmart several who came from all over the US and England.  They wanted to bring what God was doing back to home.  They are hungry and on fire for the Lord.

I was as I have always been bothered by the dramatics.  There were criticisms that Bentley didn’t preach the Gospel.  The first time I would agree, the second time he did.  I think that people get caught up in the hype and it becomes about them.  The audience/congregation as well.  My other half is a quadriplegic in a wheelchair.  God has used this to reach people.  We had people come up and expect him to jump out of the chair.  While we would have accepted this, it wasn’t God’s time yet.  Something that Bentley himself has said.  My other half is experiencing some small improvement.

But what ended up happening is it became about the people…because there wasn’t a jumping out of the chair the first thing is an accusation of unconfessed sin.  That if there wasn’t a dramatic healing it meant something was wrong with the prayee, or worse, the prayor.

God can work even through this.  A concern is that there is not enough support to handle/mentor the new converts.  But when it becomes about the preacher or the people and less about God…and it will fail.

The question I have is did Bentley fall because was God was working?  We talk about how Satan attacks.  I’ve been told that men of God are more prone to attack in sex, power and money.  But I did notice that as soon as Bentley’s separation was announced, he was piled on.  But where is the Scriptural correction?  Was he approached with loving Christian correction?

We both are charismatic and have enjoyed the most beautiful blend of charismatic anglo-catholic services.  When done in order (as Bigjimintx comments), it is a beautiful, holy worshipful experience. 

I remember being in a penecostal service and was thinking about getting up to leave because it was too loud for me - a traditional Episcopalian.  The pastor, in a congregation of a couple thousand, stopped and looked straight at me and said, “Don’t listen to how I’m saying it, listen to WHAT I’m saying.”  I got to know this man and he was truly a man of God.  Could pin you to pew REAL well!  wink  Yes, I was a double dipper because the Word was not being preached at my “home” TEC church.  It was the first of many times I felt I was a missionary in my own church.

[32] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 9-2-2008 at 09:11 AM · [top]

Matt+,
First, let me say I friends would place me in the charismatic camp. Secondly, your article is oddly timely as I was discussing this much in the same context you outlined above. A classmate of mine comes from a Wesleyan environment, and where the Anglican three legged stool consists of Scripture, tradition and reason, he would say the stool is four-legged, adding experience. Although I do not think Hooker could anticipate the modern and post-modern influences on theology, adding experience as an equal qualifier places our subjectivity on par - perhaps above - the other three. I do think that the experiential aspect of God is a mark of a restored relationship when it is grounded in Scripture. However, as you have pointed out, in the case of the charismatic movement, it is often desired above the Creator and giver and emphasized over Scripture as truth. In much the same way ‘To Set Our Hope on Christ’ defines experience as god’s revelation, I see the experience factor as beginning to penetrate the orthodox circles, and it concerns me that if we are unaware of it, it will produce a wrong focus.

[33] Posted by Festivus on 9-2-2008 at 09:32 AM · [top]

Actually, to add to #33, I think it possibly has, which is one of the reasons I am stepping away from my church for a bit and attending a non-Anglican (and non-Wesleyan) one for a while.

[34] Posted by Festivus on 9-2-2008 at 09:37 AM · [top]

#33 Festivus. we’re back to Schleieremacher again. The epistemological issue is where we always begin.

The Rev Frank Maguire, the priest who explained to the University of Chicago trained broad church Dennis Bennett what his weird parishioners were involved with in Burbank is a very solidly grounded Church of Ireland formed priest. Frank was rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Bonita CA [SD, http://www.followtheshepherd.org/]for thirty six years.

Dennis Bennett, like many clergy that followed, had only the model of the current Assemblies of God clergy to look at for emulation in their day. This was an autocratic congregational model that they attempted to live in an hierarchical system fast becoming a shared leadership environment at the parish level. In the early 70’s a lot of congregations were split in the milieu that was the charismatic renewal of the time. St. Barnabas in the Desert, the parish of Dr. Park who founded the Order of St. Luke out of their healing experience, was split by an internal staff fight when an “alpha male” staff priest fought for the autocratic model and took a large part of the parish with him. They became leaders in the “Shepherding Movement” of the day, a very patriarchal controlling environment.

The U.C. educated Fr. Bennett avoided the extremes. However, St. Luke’s, Ballard, under his leadership when I studied her on site, at that time, was not welcoming to strangers, even one that had visited for six straight Sundays. That time period in the late 70’s might not have been St. Luke’s at its best.

I believe that an epistemology that holds to biblical revelation has room for “three streams: orthodoxy. Oh, [to center on the thread,] totally unexpectedly, the rector I worked with [we were in mufti] and our spouses were “slain in the Spirit” at Capitol Christian in Santa Fe during a visit to a series of meetings led by a charismatic Episcopal priest from FL. He used the term, “resting in the Spirit.” It was very restful.

[35] Posted by Bob Maxwell+ on 9-2-2008 at 11:10 AM · [top]

While remaining firmly within orthodox Christianity there is a wide continuum of theology and definitions

It is exactly the ‘broad church’ argument that has allowed Liberals to be so successful at forcing an ever widening continuum of theology acceptable in TEC.  I think, however, that ultimatly there has to be a tighter limit to orthodoxy than “No gay sex and say the entire Creed”.

[36] Posted by AndrewA on 9-2-2008 at 11:56 AM · [top]

To Fellow Believers and Fellow Man,
Greetings in all things of The Lord Our Saviour.
Let the word go forth this very
day that I am launching a diocesan paranormal investigation series ministry here in the local area. If anyone has any problems that is major or minor involving the supernatural I can be contacted here. But I must remind all that the supernatural is real, and it is very dangerous. If you are a born believer in Jesus Christ and have become a Christian, then you are a prime target on Satan’s hit list. This means each of us are in spiritual warfare on a daily basis 24/7. I strongly encourage all believers to put on the body armour of God according to Ep. 6: 10-20. This we must do because there is no such things as ghosts, but only demons from hell impersonating them to distract man from following God.
Also having experience in the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church in the past one must keep Sacred Scriptures and Holy Trinity at the center.  Must do away with all the feel good feelings.  If the Charismatics do not be rid of these feelings, it deeply opens the door to demonic influence and possession in the lives of the people.
Pax,
+Stonewall

[37] Posted by BishopOfSaintJames on 9-2-2008 at 12:04 PM · [top]

Matt:

One thing I would like to see you discuss further: the tension between being Calvinist-centered theologically yet not a cessationist either. Some of the biggest influences on me theologically have been my Westminster (PCA) trained professors in seminary, but I was frustrated how (especially one in particular) they could so readily write off modern-day manifestations of the spiritual gifts. Intersting sidenote: I still have realtionships with two AG pastors: one is a self-admitted Calvinist, the other “gets it”!!!!!!!
Eddie+

[38] Posted by els on 9-2-2008 at 12:17 PM · [top]

Can we all just agree to get rid of the tambourines?

[39] Posted by Going Home on 9-2-2008 at 01:17 PM · [top]

#39 - tambourines today, prayer shawls tomorrow. Where will it end?

[40] Posted by Festivus on 9-2-2008 at 01:25 PM · [top]

God likes tambourines.

David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.

[41] Posted by Chazaq on 9-2-2008 at 01:41 PM · [top]

In the later 80’s here in my southern town, a strong charismatic element blossomed and one church “spun off” a new parish.  This was closer to my house and I liked the concept of getting into the service a bit more actively, but when we went there were quite a few folks speaking in tongues.  I was fairly ok with this, although a bit taken aback, but one man in particular wasn’t speaking, he was hollering and screaming and sweating and shouting and it scared the willies out of me and we never went back.

Also..OT, but somebody mentioned it, what’s the deal with prayer shawls?  I thought it was ladies knitting and praying for the receiver:  a sick person, infant, etc.  Is there another meaning I am not aware of?  My Anglican parish has every ministry you can think of, but no prayer shawl ministry.  Always wondered about that… was afraid to ask!

[42] Posted by GoodMissMurphy on 9-2-2008 at 01:45 PM · [top]

AndrewA,
I lovingly refer you to Matt’s last paragraph.  I think orthodox Christianity is in good hands, even God’s hand.

Christianity is about the LIVING Christ.  Unchanging and alive.  I see nothing wrong with the creeds and a faithful reading of scripture as a measure of that Truth.  Beyond that are simply the various ways of understanding and response.  Some like tambourines—go figure.

[43] Posted by Elizabeth on 9-2-2008 at 02:13 PM · [top]

I’m at work so skim-read the posts.  I followed the link on “pretty whacked out”.  It is pretty frightening to me. I fact, it seems to be calling for a Christian version of jihad.  Or, if you will, Christo-fascism?
This is not mainstream by any means.  This makes Charismatic Christian faith seem tame, something without impact, which is not the case.
Dumb Sheep.

[44] Posted by dumb sheep on 9-2-2008 at 02:24 PM · [top]

When I was growing up in The Episcopal Church a Captain in the Church Army came to our parish in Point Pleasant, W.Va., and gave a very powerful sermon and later a talk on “spirituality” which I now would call charismatic. His visit was followed by “Faith Alive.” Soon a large portion of the congregation started prayer groups which were really “prayer and share groups.” There was huge tension between the charismatics and the more staid parishioners. It culminated in the loss of the priest, and the splitting of the Church.

[45] Posted by FrVan on 9-2-2008 at 02:28 PM · [top]

FrVan,
And what is your take on this occurance?  Did both groups prosper?  Why was dialog impossible?  Did stubborn replace love or was it a war of personal theologies or simply a power play?

[46] Posted by Elizabeth on 9-2-2008 at 02:33 PM · [top]

Well, I guess if King David and his entourage visit my church, they are welcome play the tambourine. But until then…

The problem is that the tambourine is too much of an “entry-level” instrument. Someone always seems to start banging it just when I am beginning to get into a contemporary service.  Perhaps we should use a prayer shawl to muzzle it.

[47] Posted by Going Home on 9-2-2008 at 02:33 PM · [top]

At one time, I heard that churches were primarily (not exclusively) oriented toward one of the three members of the Trinity.  “Catholic” churches were those oriented toward the Father - structured, disciplined, ordered.  Evangelical churches were oriented toward the Son - Great Commisssion driven.  Pentecostal churches were oriented toward the Holy Spirit - free, mystical, and unconventional.  I think there is something to this but it is merely a generalization.  People like Terry Fulham, Lee Buck, Mike Flynn - are/were all solid evangelicals who embrace(d) the charismatic renewal.  I can get truned off by some of the goings on but by and large, I love the prayer and worship at charismatic services.  It ain’t the hymnal and BCP so I can see why many Episcopalian/Anglicans can be put off by it, but from this non-charismatic, the worship can carry you right up to the Father’s throne of grace.

[48] Posted by DaveG on 9-2-2008 at 02:45 PM · [top]

(#44):

I’m at work so skim-read the posts.  I followed the link on “pretty whacked out”.  It is pretty frightening to me. I fact, it seems to be calling for a Christian version of jihad.

Yes and no.  Most Theonomists I’ve corresponded with, wish to change government while obeying it at the same time;  citing Romans 13.  I think these sorts of Theonomists are tame enough, but there are those who you will want to stay far away from (..don’t even attend a BBQ with ‘em).  I think it’s safe to say that Bentley falls into the latter category. 

OTOH, if you don’t want the hassle at all, just go out and find a group of (orthodox, of course) Christians who find a lot of overlap between the suffering of the Christian and Christian victory.

[49] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-2-2008 at 02:45 PM · [top]

#47 Going Home, most tambourine players were never Salvation Army musicians or taught by them—another skill I learned in jail services with them while at Asbury college. It is an orchestral instrument. I can even jog with mine without making a sound.

I’ve two of them, but my 24 year old green one is my favorite. Come listen and learn some time while I play . . . 

The Schultes Sanctus and the right semitic tempo and a tambourine is the perfect instrument to keep the rhythm. There’s nothing like a Charismatic Solemn High Choral Eucharist with [and if needed, the Blessing of the Oils by the Bishop] Healing.

[50] Posted by Bob Maxwell+ on 9-2-2008 at 03:35 PM · [top]

Elizabeth, I think you are entirely missing the point of my original post.  I’m not talking tamborines vs. organs.  I’m talking about the theological strains within Anglicanism that has combined doctrinal indifferentism, excessivly secular rationalism, excessivly irrational experientialism, and a great deal of “invent your own religion” tendancies that gives birth to the type of lunacy we are seeing in TEC now.  My challenge for those seeking to reform Anglicanism is to not just be satisfied with “Anglicanism as we know it” or “the Anglicanism of our fathers” but to try to figure what about Anglicanism in general and TEC in particular lead to the current mess, in order that the same mistakes not be repeated in the future.

[51] Posted by AndrewA on 9-2-2008 at 03:48 PM · [top]

Dear Elizabeth: My father was in one “camp” the charismatic group, and my mother, a former Presbyterian, was in the more traditional camp. My father went through a stage where he was trying to “convert” everyone, as though what we had was not good enough. This seemed to be a strain throughout the charismatic group in our Church. Everyone who was not speaking in tongues, or experiencing the “spirit” in a dramatic way, was deemed somehow less then—-including the priest.

[52] Posted by FrVan on 9-2-2008 at 03:48 PM · [top]

FrVan:  This is EXACTLY why I stepped away from some people in the charismatic movement!  They were so busy trying to convert already Christian people to the charismatic expressions that they forgot about evangelizing for Jesus Christ!  This is what I meant when I said they would not submit to the discipline of scripture or the church!  It’s like any other tool the Lord gives us for His work.  It’s subject to misuse by fallible flesh!  We get excited about the GIFT and forget the GIVER!  All the lovely expressions are GREAT, can be blessings to everyone, in church and out of it, when one remembers the gifts are for the “edification of the Body”.  How does the Body benefit from the use of any spiritual gift at that time?  A word of knowledge can bless the Body, prayer and praise can bless the Body.  IF the use of that gift at that time points to the Lord!  If it points to self or anything OTHER than the Lord, it needs to be reconsidered.

[53] Posted by Goughdonna on 9-2-2008 at 04:03 PM · [top]

We have a bit of this sort of stuff, prophesy and all.  But it is invariably the usual suspects, generally the [slightly battier] ladies with their pictures of this and that, clouds, waterfalls, mists and whatever engulfing the church, occasionally they see angels.  However I did go for some healing and somewhat to my surprise it worked.  Wonderful really.

I see no reason why miracles should have only been for the apostles and we see ample evidence of the Holy Spirit at work.

[54] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-2-2008 at 04:35 PM · [top]

#32 sounds like you met some of our parish.

[55] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 9-2-2008 at 04:41 PM · [top]

FrVan,

You are right.  When the movement started it seemed to be a division which, if handled with love and compromise, could be overcome.  But too often that was not the case.

I was in a church split between two pastors, one young and revisionist and one older and charasmatic in faith.  Services were standard.  They alternated Sundays for the sermon- one week we got one version and the next week we got the rebuttal.  Talk about brutal!  They both left and the congregation went revisionist.  I believe pride is second only to sex as the devil’s greatest weapon and church fights are his absolute delight.

[56] Posted by Elizabeth on 9-2-2008 at 04:58 PM · [top]

Rev. Maxwell,

Very interesting! Thanks for the tambourine primer.  I have added you to the list, along with King David. 

Now if I could just deal with that lady on the other end of the pew…

[57] Posted by Going Home on 9-2-2008 at 05:08 PM · [top]

AndrewA (51),

I disagree. 

TEC is New Age/Occult, born not of poor theology but the refusal to enforce any boundries on it. Setting more specific boundries will do nothing without the discipline FIRST of the clergy and then the laity.  TEC serves a different master and when I refer to Christianity I do not include it.  Satan was invited in by the CLERGY.  The few faithful remaining have a horrible battle ahead and there will be more of the bitterness FrVan describes.  Lord have mercy.

[58] Posted by Elizabeth on 9-2-2008 at 05:12 PM · [top]

“Miracle in Darien” is a really good book about true church renewal - the story of an Episcopal Church in Darien, Connecticutt and Fr. Terry Fullam.

A true Church and a true Christian will be all three, catholic, evangelical and charismatic (move in the power of the Holy Spirit)

However, the gifts of the Spirit are for service for the common good, are meant to bring glory to God, not to the minister. 

That’s where the big circus showmen of the church go wrong…they are not humble servants operating in the holy fear of God.

[59] Posted by Floridian on 9-2-2008 at 06:06 PM · [top]

TEC is New Age/Occult, born not of poor theology but the refusal to enforce any boundries on it. Setting more specific boundries will do nothing without the discipline FIRST of the clergy and then the laity.

You are still missing the point.  Insitutional change doesn’t happen over night.  The problems of TEC have a deep roots.  There are reasons why some churches (TEC for example) have gone as far as they have and others haven’t.  Poor discipline comes from somewhere.  All the current clergy you complain of were appointed by the clergy that proceded them, that proceded them, that proceded them.  I think there are reasons going back generations as to why TEC is liberal and other churches (Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Southern Baptists, etc etc) are not so liberal.  So what are the roots of the “Anglican Difficulties”?  I think it is a question worth asking, and not one easy to answer.  Matt has done a good job as examining some of them.  I suppose at this point in the conversation someone is going to cop out and say “well all all sinners and all churches have problems” but I don’t think that is a good enough answer.  Why TEC and not RC?  Why TEC and not EO?  Why TEC and not SBC?  Why TEC and not Church of Kenya?  Why TEC and not Southern Cone?

[60] Posted by AndrewA on 9-2-2008 at 06:37 PM · [top]

poor theology but the refusal to enforce any boundries on it.

BTW, that’s the same thing.  Theology without boundaries is poor.

[61] Posted by AndrewA on 9-2-2008 at 06:43 PM · [top]

AndrewA,

My personal opinion- ECUSA was an institution of great pride, lots of money, a heritage of get along at all costs and an overwhelming group of elitists in the pews.  Purple shirts were easily obtained and the quality of the seminary education declined to meet the needs (and faith) of the students.  All that was really required was loyalty to the organization and each other. It was a worthy prize and satan took it. Yes, it took some planning and time, but he has both.  His best tool- pride.  My opinion.

[62] Posted by Elizabeth on 9-2-2008 at 07:32 PM · [top]

About being “slain in the Spirit” - how come everyone always falls backward?  I always keep waiting for someone to fall flat on their face, like the prophets of the O.T. when confronted by God.  I am always suspicious when I see someone cast a quick backward glance to make sure there is a “catcher” behind them before they swoon.

My difficulties with the charismatic movement’s unbridled side began when my pastor attended the Brownsville revival and wandered ever deeper into the thicket of unrestrained charismatic expression.  I was a member of church council and got asked by some concerned parishioners to attend the mid-week healing service.  Things went along O.K. until a young man to my right threw his arms in the air and began screaming at the top of his lungs for 5 minutes and the woman next to me fell down in the aisle and started growling and barking.  Someone then saw a vision of Jesus walking up the center aisle and a group of people began wailing and crying.  This, in my opinion, is very disordered worship and is not within the bounds of what the Holy Spirit desires for us.

I still, however, agree with the posters above and feel I have a foot planted firmly in each of the three streams.

On another point, which I hesitate to bring up for fear of starting a controversy, has anyone else noticed that the most vocal and hysterical manifestations usually seem to be exhibited by women?  I have often wondered if this might have something to do with differing susceptibilities of males and females.

[63] Posted by Daniel on 9-2-2008 at 08:50 PM · [top]

Things went along O.K. until a young man to my right threw his arms in the air and began screaming at the top of his lungs for 5 minutes and the woman next to me fell down in the aisle and started growling and barking.  Someone then saw a vision of Jesus walking up the center aisle and a group of people began wailing and crying.

I must admit that when I hear discriptions like that, the first thing I think of is the Salem witch trials.

[64] Posted by AndrewA on 9-2-2008 at 09:08 PM · [top]

The first time we offered Alpha at our church there was quite a difficulty for a very large portion of the church to accept this program in “their” church…them came “Holy Spirit weekend” and even the alpha participants were ready to flee…for a large number of Episcopalians spirituality is very unfamiliar….

[65] Posted by ewart-touzot on 9-2-2008 at 09:22 PM · [top]

Matt actually is a charismatic. He has the gift of preaching. In that sense, every Christian is a charismatic - we all depend upon some various gifts of the Holy Spirit to do any ministry not in our own power but in the power of the Lord.

As a one-year Christian I, along with my wife, came to St. Luke’s, Akron, from about 40 miles away in 1977 through the prophetic gifts of two women. We had to move for job reasons, and asked that our Bible study pray with us that we would find a church home, after which we would look for a residence home. Within two weeks, two women friends of my wife who did not know of that prayer, independently suggested to my wife that we should consider “St. Luke’s Mission in Bath” (the Akron suburb where St. Luke’s started). Those two comments were the only suggestions we ever received. So - we tried it and went from being 1-year old Mennonite Christians to being in a small (125 ASA at that time) Episcopal church which was at that time national headquarters for Episcopal Charismatic Fellowship (later Episcopal Renewal Ministries, which has morphed at least once). In the nine years there under rector Chuck Irish, we learned solidly about discipleship, about the essentials of Anglican worship, and learned about and experienced numerous charismatic gifts. During our time there the church approximately tripled in ASA. After nine years, again for job reasons, we moved near to Truro in 1986 and have been members there since. We received solid teaching and solid exhortations and encouragement to live as Great Commission people in both parishes, with the gifts accepted and encouraged along with the rest of Christian living.

During this time I have seen people healed (and not healed), spoken in tongues, been involved in one deliverance (which incidentally permanently delivered a man from a spirit that was entrapping him in homosexuality). In my experience, we always were taught to focus on solid Biblical teaching and obedience, with the gifts in their various forms as merely part of that discipleship life. I have seen some excess and distortion, but have seen an overriding continuing dependence upon the outworking of the Holy Spirit through gifts and every other means by which he empowers the church.

I am so glad that the “three streams” can flow in Anglican life.

[66] Posted by Bill Cool on 9-3-2008 at 08:50 AM · [top]

I have to admire Matt for bringing up the subject in the first place.  Many won’t.

Much of the problem with the Charismatic Renewal in TEC and many other places stemmed from a lack of proper leadership, among other things, as I opine here:

http://www.vulcanhammer.org/?p=139

[67] Posted by vulcanhammer on 9-3-2008 at 09:44 AM · [top]

Much of the problem with the Charismatic Renewal in TEC and many other places stemmed from a lack of proper leadership, among other things,

That is a big truth!  Clergy have stayed away in big lumps instead of guiding the charismatic church members in the rest of their spiritual journey!  The same thing happened to many people involved with Cursillo.  They came home all fired up and had no place to go!  Some were told to “get over it”.  In other parishes where the charismatics and Cursillo folk—all “renewal” folk—were welcomed, guided and put to work, guided into study and growth groups by the clergy, the kingdom prospered… take a look at Truro, St. Paul’s Darien, St. Luke’s Akron and many more.  There still is a “whole church” to be considered, of which the renewal folk are a part!

[68] Posted by Goughdonna on 9-3-2008 at 10:28 AM · [top]

#66 - great post
#68 - sorry that has been your Cursillo experience. I had too many offers for small groups and follow-ups!

[69] Posted by Festivus on 9-3-2008 at 04:17 PM · [top]

#69 - That was not “my” Cursillo experience!  I had a great pastor who got me into a Bible study within a week and handed me some service projects, too.  But many of my friends reported back on the other kind.

[70] Posted by Goughdonna on 9-3-2008 at 04:53 PM · [top]

I enjoyed myself at Cursillo in Mississippi. But it was a one time experience for me, I didn’t group with others afterward. Well, that isn’t quite true, my Sr. Warden was on the team when I went through it, so I had to group with he and his wife until he rotated off the vestry. THEN I stopped.I was happy for the people who seemed to have a lasting relationship with Cursillo. In Kentucky where I went through high school, the Church in our little town had a group who went through Cursillo, and they acted like a church within the Church. Secret handshakes, words, etc….It gave me a bad feeling for the movement. Later, in Mississippi it was a good thing for me, and I’m glad I went. In the Central Gulf Coast the Cursillo movement was the conservative, evangelical, force in the diocese.

[71] Posted by FrVan on 9-3-2008 at 05:03 PM · [top]

1. We humans can mess anything up, including gifts of the Spirit, or civil governance, or harnessing of electricity.  Gifts of the Spirit are power and unless kept within proper bounds power (governmental, electrical, spiritual, etc.) wreaks havoc.  But we don’t discontinue reliance on civil governance or electricity because it is sometimes misused.
  2.  Experience of the Holy Spirit IS scriptural, not merely experiential, as long as it is consistent with scripture.  I believe that having spiritual experiences like the early Christians is scriptural.
    3.  From the enlightenment onward, it has been a fairly rational reaction to scoff at the existence of God.  I have always thought the apostle Thomas, even pre-enlightenment, was not unreasonable in his doubts about the resurrection until he experienced first-hand Jesus risen from the dead.  Witnessing God’s supernatural power, which the charismatic movement enabled (but by no means exclusively), has saved people from the chasm of their own intellect. 
  4.  I didn’t like to pass the peace or shake hands or hug people - until my first experience as a 15-year-old at a Charismatic student weekend where people prayed that I be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Immediately thereafter I experienced and understood the New Testament expressions: “love that casts out fear” and “peace that passes all understanding” and I realized that there was really something to all that church stuff.  God wasn’t a fable.  That charismatic experience saved me.
  5.  The charismatics I have known in the last 20 years are grounded in scripture and witnessing and liturgical worship.  They elected to become African Anglicans only when the TEC atheism and heresies, to them, became intolerable. 

Mark Brown
San Angelo, Texas
September 3, 2008

[72] Posted by MarkBrown on 9-3-2008 at 06:52 PM · [top]

It is so easy to point out extremes in order to critisize and tear down your brothers and sisters in Christ, then say, “don’t get me wrong…” not even half heartedly.

Matt, you really can and need to do better than this. It is almost as if you have been fighting the good fight for so long, that now you are just fighting to fight.

Evangelicals like Fred Phelps persuade and caution like this. I didn’t realize Stand Firm was so… evangelical .

[73] Posted by Mana Holman on 9-3-2008 at 09:48 PM · [top]

episcoanglican, I am sorry that you took it that way. That was not the intent of the article and, as you see, that is not how most have understood it. Sorry you missed the point.

[74] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-3-2008 at 10:35 PM · [top]

Matt—thanks for the healthy and helpful critique.

I hope you continue to produce work like this.  We need, as Kendall keeps saying, more self-critique.  Too easy to critique revisionists—like shooting fish in a barrel.  But we need to turn our eyes to our own problems.

Perhaps you can do some other articles taking on other issues that are running rampant through the conservative Anglican and conservative other-Christian groups.

[75] Posted by Sarah on 9-3-2008 at 10:43 PM · [top]

Wait - how can it be “self-criticism” when one isn’t actually charismatic?

bb

[76] Posted by BabyBlue on 9-3-2008 at 10:48 PM · [top]

Matt, I couldn’t have missed your point. It is too obvious to miss. But it appears you have missed mine.

<b>Self<b>-criticism Sarah?

Examples of extreme error within Pentecostalism do not characterize nor define charismatic renewal. And proposing that a church’s decline began with God the Holy Spirit and his gifts being welcomed, sounds well, a little blasphemous. Sadly, we can share the gospel as evangelicals and drive people from the church too. But that does not mean that evangelicalism is bad, even if it was our father whom we love that was driven away.

For a more grace filled caution to extremes you might read The Forgotten Father by Thomas Smail. He writes of evangelicals who never proceed beyond the cross and find themselves in a works based righteousness in spite of their stated theology (a lot of in-their-heads Calvinist evangelicals might identify here.) While he also writes of charismatics caught up in experience and who become unmoored (a lot of charismatic experience seekers will probably be able to identify here).

Then Smail rightly redirects Christians to hold on to both the saving grace of the cross as evangelicals and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit as charismatics while looking up to the Father to become, as we are intended, sons of God. And he continues on with great insight and learning from there.

That is a poor summary. It has been several years since I have read it. Even so, Smail’s book is a good example of “helpful self-criticism” because he clearly understands what it means to be evangelical and what it means to be charismatic and what it means to mess these up.

Smail’s book is an example of helpful caution, and redirection in a positive direction verses one that tarnishes an entire stream of spirituality, but lamely says “don’t get me wrong” I have friends who are charismatic, like the white racist who claims to have friends who are black.

And yes, I am a bit testy. I respect and like Matt but he has missed it on this one.

Besides who needs an essay that cautions us against pursuing a spirituality whose prominent exemplars would lead us to leave off our bibles and bark like a dog? That is, unless there is more to the story. Arrf!

[77] Posted by Mana Holman on 9-4-2008 at 01:41 AM · [top]

oops forgot a / in there after self.

[78] Posted by Mana Holman on 9-4-2008 at 01:51 AM · [top]

episcoanglican.

You obviously did not read carefully:

1. I did not suggest “that a church’s decline began with God the Holy Spirit and his gifts being welcomed.”

I suggested that when the charismatic gifts are welcomed without the necessary biblical/doctrinal literacy and boundaries, there will be problems and one of those problems has been a lack of discernment. I don’t think it possible to look at the history of the charismatic movement in TEC and say that there has not been a discernment problem: When charismatic Anglican leaders say that they are not interested in doctrine because “doctrine divides”, well, sorry, that is a problem. And we should not be surprised that some churches that embraced the charismatic renewal wholeheartedly have fallen into error and disrepute as a result.

2. “Sadly, we can share the gospel as evangelicals and drive people from the church too.”

Absolutely. Sometimes that happens because the gospel is being truly preached and the cross offends. sometimes that happens because we ourselves are offensive. Totally agree with you. 

“But that does not mean that evangelicalism is bad, even if it was our father whom we love that was driven away.”

No it doesn’t. Nor is the “charismatic movement” bad. I never said that. In fact I said the opposite.

3. Finally, I agree with Sarah. It is important to review the mistakes of the past and if you read the essay I linked above about the history of the charismatic movement in TEC, you will see that there have been plenty within the renewal. Moreover, since I know Anglicans, and not uninvolved, unimportant ones, who were quite taken, specifically with Bentley and were seeing his movement as a “fresh move of the spirit” I think the question of discernment among Anglican charismatics is a valid one. It is a problem that plagues Pentecostals as well. There is always a danger, there was in Jesus’ day, of beginning to love the miracles and miss the Miracle Worker.

4. Yes, as I said in my essay, evangelicals can be very bad too. But as a distinct movement within Anglicanism, evangelicalism has not been prominent since the 1870s when a good number left to form the REC (which had its own well documented problems). Evangelicals DEFINITELY have our problems. We are no better. In that we agree.

[79] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-4-2008 at 05:24 AM · [top]

bb, I am an Anglican. It is certainly self-criticism.

[80] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-4-2008 at 05:25 AM · [top]

Can we all just agree to get rid of the tambourines?

LOL!  Those of us from Truro who have wonderful memories of our dear Bishop +Martyn up front with his tambourine might protest! One of the things I most loved about Martyn & Truro! grin

[81] Posted by Karen B. on 9-4-2008 at 06:55 AM · [top]

Good job Matt…valid concerns and addressed fairly and reasonably.

[82] Posted by Creighton+ on 9-4-2008 at 07:18 AM · [top]

Karen #81 - What I’m experiencing in the Indaba of this thread seems to be call for moratoria on:
tambourines
liturgical dance
prayer shawls
But we have been stretched in our understanding of one another and it is not unreasonable to expect good chiropractic care as a result.

[83] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 9-4-2008 at 08:25 AM · [top]

This has been an interesting thread.  We agree with much that has been said.  Especially about balance and good order.  My spiritual formation group discussed this yesterday since most of us had gone to check Bentley out.  We all agreed that there was definitely a move of God in the “audience” and many were seeking a closer relationship with God.  Among my group are some pretty well biblically-educated Episcopalians who are holding or have held major leadership positions in their parishes and prior/current dioceses. 

We both are frustrated that some charismatics try to force the experience on others.  While we do wish everyone would want the experience, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and will not go where not invited, even in this “experience”.  We don’t see others as lesser, but their gifts as different.  We’ve seen and experienced healing through the charismatic expression.  And have seen this done with traditional hymns done with an organ or piano.  Have been in services with and without tamborines!...and some other interesting instruments.

For the person who wants people to fall on their face, the one thing we’ve noticed is that when the resting in the Spirit is done by the Holy Spirit and not forced, no one ever gets hurt - not the restee or the catchers.  My own description is that we aren’t used to feeling the full power of God and for a few moments we are privileged to embrace it if we trust enough to allow the Holy Spirit full control.  Our bodies are overcome by that power.  I have the most blissful peace - beyond understanding.  My spouse has experienced absolulely no pain - something lived with constantly.

We don’t seek the experience for the experience, but for submitting to God and seeking an even closer relationship with Him.  Those who do seek it just for the experience or to seek the miracles (AKA “Firechasers”)as evidence that God exists/works miss the point.  It is the relationship with God that is the motive, not the after effects.  There have been many times we’ve been prayed for where we did not “fall” to the ground.

I have been challenged in my comfort zone frequently through the years.  There are some things I’m not comfortable with, and can live with.  Where’s the fruit - the measure of its value to God.  How about we pray for those who have been touched by Bentley or other revivals - that God will bring each of them, including the revivalists, to where He wants them - and to do the work in them He wants to do.  That the love of God show through each of us to each other. 

Oh, and I won’t ever handle a snake… thannnkkk yooouuuuu!

[84] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 9-4-2008 at 09:55 AM · [top]

RE: “Wait - how can it be “self-criticism” when one isn’t actually charismatic?”

“Wait—how can it be “self-criticism” [of Americans] if one is not actually a long-haired brunette!?”  ; > )

As Kendall points out . . . the self-criticism refers to conservative Anglicans and that was what I was referring to.

I can critique the ABC—even though I’m not the ABC.  I can critique Fed-Cons—even though I’m not a FedCon

Unless . . . you are saying we should only critique revisionists.

Obviously, I disagree.

[85] Posted by Sarah on 9-4-2008 at 02:02 PM · [top]

Okay, I’m slow on the uptake, and given that I have been coming to this site daily forever I’m embarrassed, I still have not picked up on all the name thingys, like FedCom, what is it a mail delivery company?

[86] Posted by FrVan on 9-4-2008 at 02:06 PM · [top]

RE: “Examples of extreme error within Pentecostalism do not characterize nor define charismatic renewal.”

Right—but when they are embraced and lauded by conservative Anglicans, it’s a good idea for another conservative Anglican to critique that.

[87] Posted by Sarah on 9-4-2008 at 02:07 PM · [top]

Matt,
I must admit I share your position—in not being cessationist (due to insufficient scriptural evidence), but wishing in a way I could be…  The thing that I find most frustrating about the charismatics at my Anglican church is their screwy ‘word of faith’ beliefs and frankly, the occultic beliefs that accompany that.  As I’m on the in-service prayer committee, I regularly hear prayers “declaring a word against” this or that (usually illness) instead of folks humbly asking God for strength to get through, or a cure IF HE WILLS IT.

Last week I heard such a prayer against a relative’s inherited diagnosed genetic disease—blaming it on an ancestral demonic curse, which they forcefully “bound in the name of Jesus” (while others were praying in tongues.)  The weird thing is I don’t hear later what happens after such forceful “bindings” but I can’t help but notice they don’t look like the prayers offered in scripture—where “thy will be done” is essential, not a mark of a lack of faith.

[88] Posted by banned4Life on 9-4-2008 at 11:52 PM · [top]

“I have a confession to make …. I do not have a “charismatic” bone in my body.”

“At the same time I know and love many charismatics, … My aversion comes ….

“Please don’t get me wrong. There are charismatics in my congregation who…”

“We need each other I suppose. “

Post 5 by Sarah Hey: “…Many of them [these lot casting charismatics] are—in my best analysis—pietistic gnostics.”

Post 73 by Episcoanglican: It is so easy to point out extremes in order to critisize and tear down your brothers and sisters in Christ, then say, “don’t get me wrong…” not even half heartedly.

Post 75 by Sarah Hey, seemingly in response to post 73: We need, as Kendall keeps saying, more self-critique.  Too easy to critique revisionists—like shooting fish in a barrel.  But we need to turn our eyes to our own problems. [But it appears you are actually speaking of other conservatives not like yourself, which bb rightly calls you on.]

Post 76 by bb: Wait - how can it be “self-criticism” when one isn’t actually charismatic?

—- perhaps if you don’t want to be misunderstood as tearing down those you are careful to distance yourself from “many of them”, then you might try criticizing the group that you identify with. Either that or don’t defend it by calling it self-criticism.

Granted, the aresting logic of this statement: “Wait—how can it be “self-criticism” [of Americans] if one is not actually a long-haired brunette!?” does speak with the clarity of the best revisionist bishop.

[89] Posted by Mana Holman on 9-5-2008 at 12:22 AM · [top]

“No it doesn’t. Nor is the “charismatic movement” bad. I never said that. In fact I said the opposite. “

—well sort of, in a small caveat sort of way. Of the roughly 24 paragraphs you wrote, roughly seven sentences, being generous, offer qualifiers to the otherwise negative remarks you make about charismatic renewal, eight sentences if you include “I suppose we need them.” This,

“And, objectively speaking, I appreciate the spiritual strength and vigor of those who call themselves charismatic.”

Was the only positive statement you made about being charismatic, but then you followed it with, “My aversion…”


As to reviewing mistakes in Christian history, this quickly points out the importantance of testing the Spirit as Paul cautions. The latest sad episode with Paul Bentley appears to be another example of that need. So, I agree, when a move of the Spirit is not grounded in good doctrine it can quickly become like a “clanging gong” and burn out. And many can be hurt and mislead in the process. It has happened over and over again. No argument there. Test the Spirit, be cautious or timid even, but don’t hold an aversion.

But you do make me wonder. You say you don’t have a charismatic bone in your body, yet you advocate the need for discernment (or at least the lack of discernment is the problem). Is that the spiritual gift you are advocating or should evangelicals restrict themselves to the weak, easily duped, natural variety? Just asking.

[90] Posted by Mana Holman on 9-5-2008 at 01:29 AM · [top]

Matt,

I will find your broad brush comments about charismatic excess less troubling when I see you narrow the width of the brush stroke to clearly exclude painting charismatic renewal in general and focus more exclusively on the excesses.

Any church “renewal” or focus that denigrates or ignores some of what the Bible and church tradition call us to be and do is bad for the church. Focus only on the charismatic gifts, on the “health and prosperity ‘gospel’” and its magical use of scripture, on only hearing the word but not living out the word (“Wasn’t that a wonderful sermon?” - but no life-change because of it), on giving greater honor to those who are well off, well dressed, right background, on ignoring the Great Commission in favor of “great” tradition, historical church edifice, etc., all harm the church. If you could write similar narrow-brush comments about these distortions that also harm the body of Christ - and more carefully focus your comments about the excesses of the gifts of the Spirit - I would find your comments about charismatic gifts easier to agree with.

I have seen charismatic excess and its damage. I have also been beside a kneeling woman who asked for prayers to straighten her teeth so her trip to the orthodontist the next day would prove unnecessary. I learned of her request when the reluctant, but obedient, vestry member beside me began praying and the woman began to weep and kept repeating in the midst of her sobs, “They’re moving.” The next day the orthodontist confirmed this, saying that he didn’t know why she was there, since her teeth were perfectly aligned, although, curiously, her gum margins did not seem to align very well with the current position of her teeth. Incidentally, the gums adjusted in the coming days. I also personally know a man who, annoyed by his wife’s continuing requests that he pray for the gift of tongues, decided that he would ask for that at the rail and just do some babbling to quiet his wife’s requests. When he did this, there “just happened” to be a regional Old Testament scholar next to him who turned to him and told him that he was speaking perfect Aramaic. The next issue in his life was to deal with the temptation for pride in “speaking Jesus’ language”. Gifts like those, in the midst of a church that is solidly Great Commission, are part of God’s intention - as scripture makes clear. Gifts like those, held up above the rest of what the body of Christ is supposed to be about, show a need for corrective action - as the entire first letter to the Corinthians so clearly shows.

To the extent that the gifts of the Spirit build up the body of Christ, they are to be seen with wonder and thanksgiving. To the extent that they become an end in themselves, those involved are in need of correction and solid whole-Gospel teaching.

[91] Posted by Bill Cool on 9-5-2008 at 08:38 AM · [top]

A question for those who know more than I do about the history of the development of pneumatological doctrine.

Is the phrase “slain in the spirit” a biblical term?

If not, at what point in history did the phrase “slain in the spirit” come to be used to describe the phenomena with which it is associated?

[92] Posted by Chazaq on 9-5-2008 at 10:06 AM · [top]

I’m with Bill Cool on this.  Maybe some of us have been blessed by the three streams strength here in Northern Virginia.  Never saw a charismatic experience that didn’t lead to a thirst for prayer, scripture study, and a search for good teaching.

As for the links to the demise of TEC, I detect something of a post-hoc ergo propter hoc (after which, therefore because of which) fallacy being put forward.  I hope I misunderstood.

I actually think quite the opposite.  I believe one of the reasons the Holy Spirit came more obviously among us during the Renewal Movement in the Episcopal Church forward from Bennett+ through Fullam+ to the present was to ground and empower the faithful for the heresies espoused for the last 30-40 years from increasingly non-Orthodox errors emerging in the Apostolic leadership of the denomination. 

Here’s some scripture to ponder:
Ephesians 4:11-16
11And it is He who gifted some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, and still others to be pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints, to do the work of ministry, and to build up the body of the Messiah 13until all of us are united in the faith and in the full knowledge of God’s Son, and until we attain mature adulthood and the full standard of development in the Messiah. . . .15[B]y speaking the truth in love, we will grow up completely and become one with the head, that is, one with the Messiah, 16in whom the whole body is united and held together by every ligament with which it is supplied. As each individual part does its job, the body builds itself up in love.

To each of the members of the body -  may the Lord’s blessings be upon you in your building up of the body.  And may you all continue to have the courage to speak ‘truth in love’.

Peace,

[93] Posted by miserable sinner on 9-5-2008 at 05:47 PM · [top]

Episcoanglican:

You write:

“I have a confession to make …. I do not have a “charismatic” bone in my body.”

“At the same time I know and love many charismatics, … My aversion comes ….

“Please don’t get me wrong. There are charismatics in my congregation who…”

“We need each other I suppose. “

Post 5 by Sarah Hey: “…Many of them [these lot casting charismatics] are—in my best analysis—pietistic gnostics.”

I am not sure what you think these quotes demonstrate? I have plainly admitted my personal or “subjective” aversion to or distaste for certain sorts of charismatic displays and given reasons for my personal subjective aversion. At the same time I have also expressed my personal subjective love for charismatics. I love the charismatics I know but clearly I do not love all charismatic expressions. Are you questioning the truth of what I have expressed about my personal subjective feelings? If so, on what basis do you presume to know?

Second: While I have expressed my personal subjective feelings of aversion for certain actions and love for the people who do them, I have stated that “objectively” despite my “subjective” feelings, I do not think that there is any evidence to support the notion that the charismatic gifts are not real or that they are not able to be used in the church by believers within scriptural limits. As proof of that, my “objective” position I have given my support and blessing to those who use some of the gifts in my congregation.

It sounds as though you are questioning the honesty of what I have written and unless you can show some sort of evidence that I have a real true dislike for charismatic people and want to stamp out their movement, I think you should take me at my word.

Post 73 by Episcoanglican: It is so easy to point out extremes in order to critisize and tear down your brothers and sisters in Christ, then say, “don’t get me wrong…” not even half heartedly.

Here again you assign a motive. I wrote the article, in your opinion, “in order” to “criticise and tear down” brothers and sisters.” How do you presume to know the motivations of my heart? I have expressed the exact opposite of what you charge here. Are you calling me a liar?

“—- perhaps if you don’t want to be misunderstood as tearing down those you are careful to distance yourself from “many of them”, then you might try criticizing the group that you identify with. Either that or don’t defend it by calling it self-criticism.”

Actually, no. Your “perception” is not valid simply because you “perceive” it. I should not be understood as “tearing down” because that is precisely what I have said I am not intending to do and, again, unless you have some secret evidence to the contrary, you are making a baseless accusation.

Miserable Sinner:

you write:

As for the links to the demise of TEC, I detect something of a post-hoc ergo propter hoc (after which, therefore because of which) fallacy being put forward.  I hope I misunderstood.

That would be true were my article to say: I therefore conclude that we are in this mess because of the charismatic renewal”

When, in fact, I did not come to a conclusion, I asked a question…I suggesed a hypothesis: Perhaps the charismatic renewal hit at the wrong time, at a time when TEC was already biblically ungrounded, and gave many who experienced it, a taste of the experience of God without the necessary doctrinal and biblical foundations or limits.

I made a clear distinction between places wherein the renewal was grounded in scriptural foundations…like Truro and places where it was not…All Saints.

Now the hypothesis is based on several observations:

1. The anecdotal tale of the fall of All Saints

2. the observation that a lack of discernment and the search for a new “experience” of the Spirit is a danger even Pentecostal and Charismatic leaders warn about.

3. the observation that a false teacher like Todd Bentley, even before he was exposed, was able to gather an enthusiastic that included charismatic Anglicans fairly high in rank and paygrade.

4. The common experience among even orthodox Anglican charismatics of unbiblical practices…ie being slain in the spirit (there is only one example of being slain in the spirit in scripture and it is not a positive one)

5. The fairly practice, even within Anglican circles, of receiving and then publishing or proclaiming a “prophetic word” on the spot in a service of worship or prayer group or online that is untested biblically and often proves to be innaccurate. Anyone seems to be able say anything and then lay it at the Spirit’s feet. Shouldn’t a prophetic word be tested biblically before it is proclaimed publicly?

6. The widespread hunger for “experience” that manifests itself in errant mysticism in many TEC parishes (like All Saints) that have gone through the charismatic renewal and bears an uncanny resemblance to the hunger for experience decried by many orthodox pentecostal pastors.

7. The biblical evidence of the same sort of hunger leading the people astray. In all four gospels, the crowds follow Jesus to see and experience his healings and deliverances but they often desert him at the proclamation of his word (see John 6 for example). The crowds were more interested in his miracles than in him or his message. We would be foolish to assume the same sort of thing does not occur today most especially among communities that specialize in charismatic manifestations.

8. the many churches that have split when the charismatic renewal

9. The words as deeds of the leaders of the charismatic movement within TEC as reported here:
http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=WFaupel-TouchedByTheWind.xml
especially this: “The leadership has tended to disclaim any specifically theological purpose. Rather, it claims to be a renewal of experience, not of doctrine, often observing “theology divides, experience unites.”

...These are not “proofs”. They are observations. Observations that I think warrant and justify the questions I have asked in this article and will continue to ask.

[94] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-6-2008 at 06:36 AM · [top]

Gifted teacher & pastor Fr. Matt:

I hope I misunderstood.

Looks like my hope came true. grin

In the main, I’ll stand by my basic observation. (Again, maybe due to being blessed by being in Northern VA & please at least put Church of the Apostles in the same camp as Truro) I’ve seen mostly a building up of the body of the Church when these gifts have been evidenced. 

Also, I did include the scripture passage for a reason.  I think it helps inform the kind of discernment that should occur as other gifts, besides discernment, are claimed to be of the Spirit. 

As for ad hoc claims of prophetic utterances, same answer. Discernment is required. Tongues, other than prayer language?  Better see some interpretation AND discernment. 

Ephesians 4:16 As each individual part does its job, the body builds itself up in love.

Peace,

[95] Posted by miserable sinner on 9-6-2008 at 09:08 AM · [top]

EpiscoAnglican,

RE: “[But it appears you are actually speaking of other conservatives not like yourself, which bb rightly calls you on.]”

Actually BB *tried* to call us on it—but failed when it was pointed out that we’re critiquing fellow conservative Anglicans of which we are a part.

RE: ” . . .  then you might try criticizing the group that you identify with. Either that or don’t defend it by calling it self-criticism.”

You mean—the sub-sub-sub-sub group of the group of which we are a part.  You know, I should *only* critique Communion Conservative Anglicans who are never charismatic, and also who aren’t Anglo-Catholic and who remain within TEC . . . and why don’t we throw in that they all MUST be long-haired brunette’s while we are at it.  ; > )

But Matt and I have critiqued Anglo-Catholics, evangelicals, and charismatics in the past—and we’ll probably keep on doing that. 

I find it intriguing, though, that it troubles and offends you so very much that this time it was the charismatics.

RE: “Granted, the aresting logic of this statement: “Wait—how can it be “self-criticism” [of Americans] if one is not actually a long-haired brunette!?” does speak with the clarity of the best revisionist bishop.”

Heh—only arresting logic for those who are, you know, not filled with offense over a critique, and who can afford to be rational, yes.

You haven’t *yet* made the argument that all the critiques against revisionist bishops on this blog, though, should *only* occur from people in that category—revisionist bishops.

I can’t imagine why!

[96] Posted by Sarah on 9-6-2008 at 09:34 AM · [top]

[94] Matt Kennedy said :

I suggested a hypothesis: Perhaps the charismatic renewal hit at the wrong time, at a time when TEC was already biblically ungrounded, and gave many who experienced it, a taste of the experience of God without the necessary doctrinal and biblical foundations or limits.

I made a clear distinction between places wherein the renewal was grounded in scriptural foundations…like Truro and places where it was not…All Saints.

My alternative hypothesis:

Perhaps the charismatic renewal hit at exactly the right time, at a time when TEC was already biblically ungrounded and in need of the full Great Commission package that often accompanied charismatic renewal , and gave many who experienced it, a full meal of the whole Gospel of God with the necessary doctrinal and biblical foundations or limits.

Both hypotheses have only anecdotal evidence. My evidence is the group of churches I know that were ready to act when TEC fell off the cliff in 2003: The Ohio 5 parishes (now among the +Ames led CANA churches), most originating or with rectors originating from St. Luke’s, Akron, and Truro and its daughter churches (some of the 11 ADV/CANA churches in Northern Virginia).

The first thing that Chuck Irish did in his struggling moribund St. Luke’s Mission (heavily subsidized by the Firestone family, but not by the rest of the congregation) after he was baptized in the Holy Spirit was to begin evangelizing his congregation one-by-one, and preaching orthodox sermons based on scripture. The congregation plummeted to 8 families, that no longer included the Firestones, but actually met its expenses because new believers had heard what the Bible said about tithing. A few years later, when I and my family arrived, its ASA was about 125 and growing rapidly (this in the economically stationary industrial heartland).

This small congregation was in contact with Terry Fullam in Darien and John Howe in Truro. It was visited by Michael Harper, helped found SOMA, was one of the focal points of Bishop Festo Kivengere’s travel through the US (which helped initiate the Africa contacts needed 30 years later). It housed and counseled the young Geoff and Becca Chapman family after their time at TESM when they were definitely not in the good graces of bishop Burt of Ohio (who had told Geoff to go to VTS). The former rector of St. Luke of the Mountains (formerly diocese of LA, now Uganda) was an associate at St. Luke’s. Kelly Irish (Chuck’s son), rector of St. Anne of the Fields (CANA) followed Geoff Chapman who turned that parish into a bastion for orthodoxy. Truro planted Church of the Apostles (CANA), Church of the Holy Spirit (Uganda/ADV), several other local missions (all now CANA or Uganda), as did The Falls Church, and also saw its associates become rectors in many orthodox churches (many now out of TEC) and saw other clergy play various roles at TESM and Uganda Christian University (Stephen Noll).

One of my stated desires during the height of the charismatic renewal was that it would disappear, not by withering away, but by becoming normative. Thankfully, it has done that in some churches, where congregations strive to live out the whole Gospel, including the “I will send another counselor, gifts given to build up the body” part of that Gospel.

The anecdotal evidence is strong: The whole Gospel, living out everything that it promises, is effective at building up the whole church. The evidence is also strong that focusing on only a portion of what scripture says - and worse yet - distorting that small portion is dangerous and in the long view not effective. Whether ones myopic view sees only the manifestations of the spirit, the magnificence of a building that ought to glorify God, or any other little sliver of what the full Great Commission calls us to, is not by itself the Gospel at all. As I said earlier, 1st Corinthians covers that.

Matt, as I also said before, I would be more willing to hear your cautions about gifts excesses if I saw you also just as willing to comment on other excesses (other than TEC heresy, which I know you do focus on). I as a young college student was completely turned away from the church for nearly 20 years by what I happened to see concerning local extravagance in a building program. Your father was turned away by one type of excess, I by another. Fortunately, I was cornered and laid siege to by God, but that is a different story (although really part of the same Story).

[97] Posted by Bill Cool on 9-6-2008 at 01:24 PM · [top]

“7. The biblical evidence of the same sort of hunger leading the people astray. In all four gospels, the crowds follow Jesus to see and experience his healings and deliverances but they often desert him at the proclamation of his word (see John 6 for example). The crowds were more interested in his miracles than in him or his message. We would be foolish to assume the same sort of thing does not occur today most especially among communities that specialize in charismatic manifestations.”

    Yet, many, many more would have deserted Jesus if they had never seen or received the healing and deliverance.
    Jesus’ acts of healing and deliverance were very important.  They gave his teaching power and credibility, and thus distinguished and elevated his teaching above that of others who displayed no such power.  People logically rely on such a display of power as a means of distinguishing truth from untruth. 
    I think it is very important to note, that what Jesus did, and what the Church should do today, is always complement supernatural events with teaching of the Word.  The supernatural gives the Word authority, and the Word keeps everyone on track. (And, not unimportantly, as an added bonus, many people are often healed physically, or healed from traumatic memories, or set free from demonic spirits, in the process.)
  In John 6, it appears to me that many followers fell away, NOT because they were only interested in supernatural works and Jesus stopped doing supernatural works, but rather because the content of Jesus’ latest teaching began to sound to some like advocating cannibalism.
  I think it is important to note that other followers stayed with Jesus despite the strange doctrine they were hearing. I’m sure their having witnessed Jesus’ supernatural works was a major factor in convincing them that Jesus was the one to follow even if some of his teaching was starting to sound very strange. 
  In my experience, the primary display of and witness to God’s supernatural power occurs because people who could be called “charismatics” (although they might not use that term themselves) ask God for that aspect of His mercy and love. I, and many on this blog, as has already occurred, can describe numerous instances of personal witness to physical healing or deliverance. 

Best wishes,

Mark Brown
San Angelo, Texas
September 6, 2008

[98] Posted by MarkBrown on 9-6-2008 at 01:38 PM · [top]

Mark, the crowds of John 6, as you say, certainly turned away because of his teachings. My point and I believe this is borne out elsewhere is that the reason most were there in the first place was because of his miracles. His hard teachings generally served to weed out those who were there for the signs and wonders.

I do not, as I said above, believe a good case can be made for the cessation of the gifts. At the same time I am not at all sure that all of the manifestations we see today are the gifts described in the NT

[99] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-6-2008 at 01:49 PM · [top]

But for the signs and wonders, Jesus’ hard teachings would have run EVERYBODY off.  I think signs and wonders are essential to the credibility of Christianity.
  But for signs and wonders, would Christianity have survived and spread like wildfire in its first three centuries? 
  But for signs and wonders today, why should a person believe (i) that the Trinity is any more powerful and real than the deities of Islam or Hinduism or pagan religions, or (ii) that the Bible is the inspired word of God? 
  If only a certain oceanographer, other atheistic clergy, GenCon leaders, and TEC seminary professors could experience signs and wonders.  They would fall to their knees and declare:  “My Lord and My God”. It would save the Episcopal Church. 

Best wishes,

Mark Brown
San Angelo, Texas
September 6, 2008

(By the way, Fr. Kennedy, you are one of my heroes.  Thank you for, among other things, your herculean reporting at GenCon06 and Lambeth08.)

[100] Posted by MarkBrown on 9-6-2008 at 04:04 PM · [top]

Mark, wow

“But for signs and wonders today, why should a person believe (i) that the Trinity is any more powerful and real than the deities of Islam or Hinduism or pagan religions, or (ii) that the Bible is the inspired word of God?”

Have you ever seen the sort of stuff pagans can and do do? They are perfectly capable of pulling off most all of the miraculous signs that also mark the charismatic renewal.

There is no more warrant for believing in the Trinity because some guy speaks in tongues or heals than there is for believing in the tree djin in Mali who can do the same.

This is why God tells his people through Moses in Deut 13

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Contemporary signs and wonders have no bearing whatsoever on the truth of the Christian faith because they can just as easily be counterfeited or truly done by the demons who animate false religion (1 Cor 10). If miracles were to cease it would matter not a whit.

The truth of the Christian claim has already been demonstrated once and for all at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is the epistemological grounding of our faith and warrant for what we believe.

[101] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-6-2008 at 04:14 PM · [top]

Thanks Mark, also, for the generous encouragement…our disagreement in this matter has no bearing on our brotherhood in Christ.

[102] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-6-2008 at 04:15 PM · [top]

Matt, I cannot agree with your statement that “There is no more warrant for believing in the Trinity because some guy speaks in tongues or heals than there is for believing in the tree djin in Mali who can do the same…Contemporary signs and wonders have no bearing whatsoever on the truth of the Christian faith because they can just as easily be counterfeited or truly done by the demons who animate false religion (1 Cor 10). If miracles were to cease it would matter not a whit.”

“Men of Israel, listen to what I am saying. Jesus of Nazareth, a man whose mission from God to you was proved by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God showed among you through him, as you know full well…” (Acts 2:22)

There’s no doubt that the Resurrection is the ultimate validation as to who Jesus is and what he has done for us.  But signs and wonders certainly do have an evangelistic purpose as they are also demonstrations as to who Jesus is.  The fact that there are counterfeits doesn’t change that.

I go on at length on this subject at

http://www.vulcanhammer.org/usual/borntobe.php

I think the failure of the Charismatic Renewal was a combination of weak leadership and doctrinal inconsistencies that they never saw fit to resolve.  Had the Charismatics seen themselves as affirmers of the life changing nature of an encounter with Jesus Christ—as opposed to the humanistic determinism common amongst liberals in those days—many of the battles that have dominated TEC and AC the last decade could have been resolved in a favourable manner much sooner.  And that’s a tragedy.

One interesting thing to note is that most Pentecostals and Charismatics automatically link the miraculous with the move of the Spirit in both the original and modern Pentecosts.  But that’s not necessarily the case, as Catholics and Orthodox will attest.

I was amused that you mentioned the “tree djin in Mali.”  A friend in Bamako noted to me that the Iranians were building a dam not far out of town.  If I were you, I’d worry more about the Iranians than the tree djin.

Finally, on a lighter note, I host some music from the Renewal and other sources of the era at

http://www.vulcanhammer.org/?page_id=317

Be blessed!

[103] Posted by vulcanhammer on 9-6-2008 at 08:08 PM · [top]

Bill Cool #97, thanks for your fascinating account of the charismatic background of the churches you knew “that were ready to act when TEC fell off the cliff in 2003.”  I am glad to know of those connections.

[104] Posted by Laura R. on 9-6-2008 at 09:03 PM · [top]

[105] Posted by AndrewA on 9-6-2008 at 09:23 PM · [top]

RE: “If only a certain oceanographer, other atheistic clergy, GenCon leaders, and TEC seminary professors could experience signs and wonders.  They would fall to their knees and declare:  “My Lord and My God”. It would save the Episcopal Church.”

Mark Brown—is that really what you believe?

And do you think other charismatics believe this as well?

If so, it would explain a lot. 

I do not ask those questions rhetorically or lightly.  I am really serious when I ask if you believe that.

[106] Posted by Sarah on 9-6-2008 at 11:52 PM · [top]

“If they would not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they would not listen if one came to them from the dead.”

[107] Posted by Ed the Roman on 9-6-2008 at 11:55 PM · [top]

You beat me to it, Ed.

[108] Posted by vulcanhammer on 9-7-2008 at 12:04 AM · [top]

Good post, Bill Cool #97.

I’ve visited many churches over the 36 years since the Lord snatched me out of my hell-bent journey. This happened in a Pentecostal church, a genuine church. It was awesome.

I have since seen excesses in other places that felt phony to the core, and I ran. For eleven years, I belonged to a church that preached the Gospel, but there was no life in it. And I felt like something inside me died.

Then I walked into Church of Christ Our Lord, in Woodbridge, VA. I sat down in the movie theater seat. As the service began, the tangible sense of God’s presence nearly overwhelmed me, and I began to cry. I had been dying of thirst with no way to get to the Living Water. Suddenly, lifted in the arms of praise of His people fully worshiping Him, I found myself carried to and immersed in that Living Water. I never wanted to leave. I yearned so much to know Him, to be close to Him, that I panicked in between Sundays. What if You’re not there? I fretted.

Attending a place where people truly worshiped and adored the Risen Lord gave new impetus to my “quiet time” in the morning. I had never been able to force myself to be consistent with devotional time, although the Lord had done much in saving me, and I had much I was grateful for. But suddenly—simply because I began to experience His nearness within the context of the body of Christ—I could not wait to wake up again in the morning and spend time with Him. And it has continued on like that for sixteen years, day in, day out.

He works with each of us differently. He knows how to draw us. I have seen repeatedly a difference between bodies of believers who want to walk in the Spirit in a practical way, and those more intellectually inclined. I do not desire to ever go back to a church that isn’t Spirit-filled—that is how the churches identified in this article would label themselves.

Back in ‘92 when I began to panic between Sundays, my pastor, George Beaven laughed and suggested I attend All Saint’s Wednesday night prayer and praise service. He said the rector there, John Guernsey, often quoted someone who said we need to be filled by the Spirit repeatedly (as instructed in Eph 5:17-19) because “we leak.” I do, it seems, and need the help of other believers.

And I do believe that most of the churches here in Virginia that have pulled out of TEC are Spirit-filled, or Charismatic if you prefer that label, although that is not necessarily how we would describe ourselves. Some of these churches are Christ the Redeemer, (see statement about the Holy Spirit and the gifts, Christ the Redeemer) and Church of the Holy Spirit, All Saint’s, Truro, Church of the Apostles, the Falls Church (see a Post article on a healing service there, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/03/AR2007010301952_pf.html), The Potomac Falls Church under Jack Grubbs would be Spirit-filled. Under the O’Driscols, St. Paul’s of Haymarket was strongly Charismatic. St. Margret’s in Woodbridge had a strong Charismatic element, at least in the past. Their associate rector, Fred Godwin, headed up the prayer and healing team that took my daughter Heidi under its wing. And of course there is Christ Our Lord Church.

I don’t know about Church of the Word in Gainesville, but I guess we’ll find out as we are visiting them—I was going to say tomorrow, but should say later this morning.

Anyway, I don’t think it is an accident that these churches identify themselves as Spirit-filled/Charismatic. I think Leanne Payne addresses the issue well in her writings. She says the western Church has fallen into a Cartesian-Kantian split, which is a split between the head and the heart (so to speak)—that we tend to not be integrated. Mostly, we fall into the intellectualized realm, eschewing “emotions” as somehow “less.” These would be those bodies who look down on the Pentecostal/charismatic branch of Christianity.  Or we fall into the more hysterical realm of emotion driven, anti-intellectualism. Such would be the types Matt was upset with, and I ran from.

Both lack.

With Paul I would agree, 1 Corinthians 14:14-16. We need both theology and experience.

The above mentioned churches are trying to live this out.

Blessings,
Pat Kashtock
Take It for What It’s Worth

[109] Posted by Pat Kashtock on 9-7-2008 at 12:25 AM · [top]

[109] Pat Kashtock and posts by others who have experienced God’s power and presence through various gifts demonstrate by example what Paul says in 1 Cor: That the gifts are for building up (“edifying”) the church. Sometimes a gift builds up one or only a few members of the body, sometimes a larger group. But the gifts are always body builders. We may not see the full impact until later, and as with God’s promise to Abraham, we may not see the results in our own lifetime.

We certainly may not be able to reason through the situation and may debate with God whether or not we should obey. We almost certainly do not have God’s full perspective. This was definitely the case with the person I described in [91] who was asked to pray for the young woman’s teeth to be straightened. He told us at vestry the next Monday that only two thoughts were running through his head when she asked him to do this: “Lord, why me?” and “Obey”. “Obey” won out.

My wife had one of those hard to understand gifts once at St. Luke’s, Akron. One morning while driving home, she passed a house and saw a yellow car in the driveway and somehow sensed that this was a sign that she was to stop and knock on the door of the house. I challenge anyone to figure out why the Lord would use such a sign. We have never been able to explain it, except by what transpired since. A woman answered the knock, was wearing a cross around her neck and within minutes was weeping as she talked with my wife. Succeeding interactions with the family at St. Luke’s were long and complex, with rocky husband-wife relations. I and another man went to the house one Sunday to speak to the husband, whom I told, “Someday, you will meet the Lord. I don’t know how, but someday you will.” Within 24 hours he had moved out of the house (not exactly the affirmation I was hoping for), and slid into a pretty heavy bar scene (etc.) for the next 18 months. His wife was cared for and comforted by the church, and advised by some to divorce her errant husband (for reasons that were Biblically sound), but she always said that he was coming back.

One night, about 2:00 AM, he was feeling the almost uncontrollable urge to kill someone in a bar (as an ex-NFL player, he probably had the strength to do it). He ran out of the bar to avoid doing it and, while outside, saw the image of a terrible hate-filled face in front of him. He called out, “Jesus save me” and that image was instantly replaced by a peaceful, quiet image that he knew to be Jesus. He immediately phoned his wife and said that they needed to talk right away. She was more than a bit skeptical, but agreed.—End result: His life completely turned around (including the 20+ years since that moment), they rededicated their marriage, and have been a solid Christian family ever since.

Two comments: 1) the original gift (of knowledge, discernment, or whatever) was not explainable by human logic, 2) it’s impact was to draw this family into the church, first the wife and her three daughters and eventually the father, with its further impact being to build up those of us that saw the Lord act in power to do his work.

I am more than suspicious of those “gifts” that seem to build up principally the faith healer, the TV preacher, etc., but I know from what Paul’s epistles and the Book of Acts say that the Lord does work through spiritual gifts to build up the body.

[110] Posted by Bill Cool on 9-7-2008 at 01:23 PM · [top]

Sarah:

  I’m not sure what in my statements surprises you but I’ll try to respond.  My perception is that many lay people and clergy who politically control TEC do not believe in the supernatural.  (They do not believe the Trinity or the demonic exist. They don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead or ascended into heaven.) They espouse well-endowed, well-dressed humanism and think that is all there is.  “Christ” is a great symbol of humanistic ideals. 

  They do believe in what their senses can detect, though, and in the science of probability.  If they could witness, with their senses, encounters with God, such as an infilling of the Holy Spirit, or healing of body or memories, or deliverance from demonic spirits (especially a spirit that identifies itself as “homosexuality”), most would have to re-evaluate their world view and their understanding of the Word and who is in charge.  I would love to be able to lay hands on them, with their consent, and ask the Lord to fill them with whatever they need.  I think many would be changed.

  I don’t call myself “charismatic” but probably qualify by many people’s definition.  I rarely speak in tongues.  I have been directed into the healing ministry.  It is grounded in my Anglican church and the Order of St. Luke the Physician. 

  I’m a scientific-minded lawyer myself, and the Lord has graciously, in effect, let me see the holes in his side.  He has let me have enough encounters to bring me to the point where I say: “My Lord and my God.” 

(By the way, your analytical prowess and stamina, which I’ve encountered via this website, are astonishing.  Thank you for your Wimbledon-caliber contributions. 

Best wishes,

Mark Brown
San Angelo, Texas
September 7, 2008

[111] Posted by MarkBrown on 9-7-2008 at 06:30 PM · [top]

Some Thoughts on Signs and Wonders

1.  Apparent signs and wonders that are worked by demonic forces demonstrate their reality and supernatural power, just as the loving, grace-filled, and powerful signs and wonders worked by the Holy Trinity demonstrate the reality and power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Both evidence the existence of a supernatural realm.  That a supernatural realm exists would be a life-altering revelation to many.

2.  The Word, which creates mature Christians, allows them to discern between the demonic and its signs and wonders, on the one hand, and the Holy Trinity and His signs and wonders, on the other.  I respectfully submit that mature Christians should not be afraid of exercising the gifts of the Spirit, including healing. 

3.  Since demonic forces can produce effects that appear to be signs and wonders, some probably pose as gods (Baal, Kali, etc.) and support their authenticity as deities with their apparent signs and wonders.  If this is the case, I find it a little easier to understand why cultures get duped and give these deities the time of day.  (I imagine that some of the 450 prophets of Baal, though assembled at Elijah’s behest, had some expectation that their deity would start a fire on the mountainside. 1 Kings 20-40.  Had the Lord God not been present, perhaps the demon Baal could have delivered.)

4. Regarding healing, at least one commentator (Koch) says that “healing” by demons is a shell game in which the sickness is moved to another area, such as a physical ailment being healed but accompanied by a new emotional ailment.  And there are other prices to be paid to demons as well, of course.

5.  The demonic is real, but, thank God, subordinate to our Lord Jesus Christ.  The late Dr. Derek Prince had a revelation when he witnessed in his own congregation that a devout Christian could carry around a demonic spirit that influenced (but didn’t control or possess) them.  He studied and lectured on the subject worldwide for decades and wrote the following deliverance prayer.  When I recited it, something physically left me.  Two devout Christians to whom I suggested the prayer each experienced a physical reaction.  I view the prayer as orthodox and consistent with the Book of Common Prayer:

“Lord Jesus Christ, I believe you died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the dead.  You redeemed me by your blood and I belong to you, and I want to live for you.  I confess all my sins-known and unknown-I’m sorry for them all.  I renounce them all.  I forgive all others as I want you to forgive me.  Forgive me now and cleanse me with your blood.  I thank you for the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses me now from all sin.  And I come to you now as my deliverer.  Your know my special needs-the thing that binds, that torments, that defiles; that evil spirit, that unclean spirit-I claim the promise of your word, “Whosoever that calleth on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.”  I call upon you now.  In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, deliver me and set me free.  Satan, I renounce you and all your works.  I loose myself from you, in the name of Jesus, and I command you to leave me right now, in Jesus’ name.  Amen!”


Best wishes,

Mark Brown
San Angelo, Texas
September 7, 2008

[112] Posted by MarkBrown on 9-7-2008 at 06:51 PM · [top]

My perception is that many lay people and clergy who politically control TEC do not believe in the supernatural.

C.S. Lewis was clear that this very issue—belief in the reality of the supernatural—is an essential one, and illustrated it especially well in The Great Divorce in the story of the liberal bishop.

[113] Posted by Laura R. on 9-7-2008 at 09:06 PM · [top]

Mark Brown, the prayer at the end of your last post seems consistent with the prayers for exorcism in the baptismal rites of the early church.  Christians then certainly had no trouble believing in the reality of the demonic.

[114] Posted by Laura R. on 9-7-2008 at 09:14 PM · [top]

Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, Mark.  I do have a lot of energy!  ; > )

RE: ” I would love to be able to lay hands on them, with their consent, and ask the Lord to fill them with whatever they need.  I think many would be changed.”

Thanks also for answering my question, which was sincerely asked.  What troubles me about this is that these people have all had hands laid on them—at confirmation, and at ordination, and in the case of bishops, at consecration.

So far—no change.

My suspicion is that at least half of them have been to Cursillo and participated in the various rites there, as well.

No change.

So that means that *your hands* and *your prayers* would be somehow different—and effective.

My sense is that there are any number of folks like you who would say the same thing.  And I’m troubled by that. 

I’ll be honest, I think the direct opposite of that.  I think that you could lay hands on the revisionist bishops and clergy till the cows came home, and 99.9% of them would have absolutely nothing happen [other than a few nice emotions over someone caring for them].

There are reasons why I think that.

But that’s not the point of our difference of opinion here.  The point is . . . from my perspective, people believing that the main issue is that these folks haven’t had hands laid on them and the right kinds of praying, is an indication of why so many of them also decried the evils of “church politics”, strategic organizing, gathering of intel, agreeing on how to vote, and so so much more. 

Why should they do that, when all that needed to happen with their worthy opponents was laying on of hands?

Am I hearing you incorrectly, though?  Maybe I have misinterpreted what you have said.

But like I said way way way upstream in this thread, what you appear to believe indicates to me—because of my own theology—one of many many reasons why so much has gone wrong in the Episcopal Church.

Please note that when I say that I could also point to other reasons unrelated to charismatic theology, so—just as Matt did above—I’m not blaming charismatic theology for all problems in TEC.

[115] Posted by Sarah on 9-9-2008 at 07:52 PM · [top]

I have grown to have a lot of respect for charismatic Christians.  I’ve even stumbled on a group that are most likely, the real deal.  That said, I find the “signs and wonders are necessary for belief,” reasoning to be problematic:

i)  We’re told that if one doesn’t believe in Moses and the Prophets, then they won’t believe that someone has risen from the dead, so belief in essentials would have to preceed belief in the truly amazing things;

ii)  Why wouldn’t belief in Moses and the Prophets, in itself be a minor miracle?  Is there anything “realistic” (by secular standards) about essential Christian doctrines, or Scripture’s call for us to turn our back on what feels best to us, that suggests that the unregenerate have it within their own power to believe all, or any of it?

[116] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-10-2008 at 06:49 AM · [top]

[111] Mark Brown said:

I would love to be able to lay hands on them, with their consent, and ask the Lord to fill them with whatever they need.  I think many would be changed.

I would also expect they would be changed by the Holy Spirit’s impact. However, embedded in this comment is a greater mysterious work of the Holy Spirit: “with their consent”.

As Augustine and those who followed have said, without the work of the Holy Spirit, the TEC leaders would not be prepared to either ask or receive. We, following only our own wisdom, are so bent (as C. S. Lewis described it), that we would neither know we are in error nor know or desire that God’s truth and power infuse our being and change us. Layer on top of that any influence of the demonic in their lives, and these TEC leaders are pretty well insulated from change, unless the Holy Spirit begins an awakening process in them.

[117] Posted by Bill Cool on 9-10-2008 at 07:32 PM · [top]

moot, spot on. Our Lord Himself nails it when he says:

Luke 10:19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. <sup>20</sup> However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

So, any theology that ends up overemphasising spiritual manifestations at the expense of the greater wonder of salvation is to be challenged.

[118] Posted by David Ould on 9-10-2008 at 07:44 PM · [top]

Both this article and the dialogue of the posters are a bit fascinating to me. 

Generally, the people here share the same “mutual purpose” (great commission) and have “mutual respect” for each other and each others thoughts.  This allows a great deal of personal safety level to be felt within the dialogues, which encourages folks to add to the overall pool of knowledge shared with each other. 

However, when that safety level feels threatened, then the natural human reaction is to retreat to silence or vigorously defend oneself with (verbal) violence.  These and many tools / problems for communication are discussed in a book called “Critical Conversations”.  The information there makes for some mighty interesting reading and understanding the interaction of folks not only in this thread discussion, but also in everyday life.  There is much there for me to learn, as my personal style once resembled being the bull in the china shop method of communications.

Without shared “mutual purpose” and “mutual respect”, then dialogue is destined to failure.  An example would be the interactions between “bringing you a different gospel” ecusans versus the orthodox Christian believers that still believe in the Holy Scriptures.  As long as the most basic “mutual purpose” is not shared, there is no chance for agreement.  Decades of diplomacy and congeniality neither have solved nor ever will solve that problem.

I respect Matt greatly, and will share my perspective of this article.  Matt has shared in this article a painful area of his life experience, concerning his father backing away from Christianity.  He has also shared some of his concerns with the charismatic movement in a way that has concerned some of the brothers and sisters here.  That is a brave thing to do as it exposes some of his personal feelings and concerns.  That is important dialogue between common brothers and sisters in Christ.  As such, we need to help our brother as best we can, and one way to do that is thru prayer for Matt’s father.  Matt’s father is exercising his free will choice, which currently has been to steer further away from Christianity.  Apparently, the one example of someone trying too hard to do something for Jesus, apparently at the wrong time, in the wrong circumstances or the wrong way had a negative effect on Matt’s father.  I shutter to think about how many times, over the years, I may have said or done something that discouraged another person’s faith. 

Yet, this was only one experience in apparently the many years his father had exposure to the Church and to solid Biblical teachings.  So, brothers and sisters, lets exercise some common “mutual purpose” and “mutual respect” and offer up thousands of prayers around this world to help our brother Matt out with the cry of his heart for his father.

Dear Lord Jesus Christ,
  We lift up the cry of the heart of our brother Matt for his father in our combined prayers.  We pray that his father’s heart would be inclined towards the truth, peace, and wisdom only found in Jesus Christ.  We pray that godly men and women would cross his path and encourage his thoughts and faith towards Jesus.  Lord, we pray for a hunger, a craving to be in Matt’s father’s heart to want only you Jesus and to choose to exercise his free will to invite you into his heart. 

  In the name of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Name and the Blood, we also speak in our combined faith, and tell the mountain to be moved.  Any spiritual deafness, you are bound and broken so the truth can be clearly heard.  Any spiritual blindness, you are bound and broken so the truth can be clearly seen.  Any spiritual hardness of heart, you are bound against allowing the truth of Jesus to fill Matt’s fathers heart.  Any negative spiritual forces that would mislead or hinder away from the Truth, you are bound from negatively affecting any free will decision of Matt’s father concerning Jesus Christ.  In the name of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Name and the Blood, Amen.

(p.s.  After pondering the article and threads and a bit more sleep, I will attempt to answer a question or two discussed therein from my perspective.)

Shalom you all,
truthseeker

[119] Posted by Truthseeker on 9-10-2008 at 09:13 PM · [top]

Sarah:

Your earnestness and pureness of heart bring tears to my eyes. 

1.  I believe the Lord expects us to use our minds and spirit, led by the Holy Spirit, in contending for the Truth, and to act contentiously, following scriptural protocol, when necessary to oppose doctrinal error, sin, and evil.  Jesus and Paul did.  I think you do this.  In that context I think political organizing is the Lord’s work.  My only qualification for myself would be that, before I embark on a major project that will consume a lot of my time or offend a lot of folks, I pray for guidance on whether the Lord wants me to join Him in His work that way.

2.  I know some think contentiousness in any context is unchristian.  I view such an outlook as immature and dangerous.  I would hope such a view wouldn’t be any more prevalent among “charismatics” than anyone else and I would expect it to be less.  My limited experience has been that Episcopalians who lay hands on others for healing tend to be students of the Bible and stand up for biblical truth quite readily and openly.

3.  I am not proposing “signs and wonders” as a strategy for taking back TEC.  Neither I nor any “charismatics” I know have any reason to think there is such a divine plan.  In discussing in this thread the conversion power of “signs and wonders”, I merely used “saving TEC” as an example of what “signs and wonders” could do.

4.  Some people say “God is in charge” and will save TEC.  I don’t agree.  As part of being in charge, God has chosen to allow free will, sin and evil to exist, and despite the valiant efforts of many faithful Episcopalians TEC has been steadily corroding under those influences.

5.  Regarding my willingness to lay hands on people, perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned it.  But if I am going to encourage people to powerfully encounter the Holy Spirit, I think I have to “put up or shut up.” 

6.  You raise an excellent question - why isn’t the laying on of hands in confirmation, ordination or consecration enough?  My basic answer is “time”.  Bishops are far too spare with their apostolic power, and so are most priests and laypersons. In most cases thirty seconds of prayer isn’t long enough for people to receive what the Lord would like to give them.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit, being freed from an evil spirit, healing of the body, healing of traumatic memories, all take time. It is like getting a sufficient dosage of medicine. For physical healing, we usually pray at least 20 minutes, sometimes for over 2 hours. Some call it “soaking prayer”.  Even Jesus had to take extra time when he prayed twice to fully restore a man’s sight.  (Secondarily, when people are prayed for, it also helps if they have been prepared to receive.) 

7. God equips us with many spiritual gifts, praying for healing is only one.  Only if Christians participate in all aspects of the life of the church, including laying-on-of-hands, can they discover their gifts and learn in what areas God has called them to minister.

Thank you for all your ministry.

Best wishes,

Mark Brown
San Angelo, Texas
September 10, 2008

[120] Posted by MarkBrown on 9-10-2008 at 10:09 PM · [top]

[120] Mark Brown responded to Sarah:

6. You raise an excellent question - why isn’t the laying on of hands in confirmation, ordination or consecration enough?

This reminds me of the confirmation of a woman at St. Luke’s, Akron. I imagine she has since gone to be with the Lord - as a young woman she handed out doughnuts to the US troops in Europe in the First World War - so she was among our older parishioners. When the then very liberal Bp Burt laid hands on her for confirmation and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”, she at that moment went down (some would call it “slain in the spirit” - I have never tried to give it a name). The bishop thought we had people standing behind those whom he was confirming as ushers. They were there to maintain good order, but they were catchers, not ushers, in case such an event happened. We did know that it happened sometimes when others prayed for someone, so why not when a bishop performed the act of calling the Holy Spirit into a Christian’s life? Bp Burt explained her response by saying later that it must have been a hot day (which it was not).

The original title of this thread was “Slain in the Spirit”. The incident above is the only time I ever saw such an event actually coupled with the official act of confirmation. Unlike many of the other manifestations of gifts I have seen that quite obviously build up the body, the action of falling under the power of the Holy Spirit is a manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit that has left me somewhat puzzled. If it does build up the body, as Paul says the gifts do, then it builds the body of the church by doing something for the one individual - which is not inconsistent with Paul’s description that gifts should edify the body of the church. Praying by oneself in tongues has a similar individual effect.

If anyone could provide us with a theological foundation for falling when being prayed for, I’d be interested to see it for clarification. However, I suspect that this topic has come pretty near to the end of its thread, so we may not see a good theological explanation.

[121] Posted by Bill Cool on 9-10-2008 at 11:30 PM · [top]

Thanks David**,

The other thing that bothers me is something that a friend of mine raised - that outpourings of the Spirit are often accompanied with a concurrent proliferation of false gifts.  He used the earlier revivals in the Northeastern US as an example, but I think there are Scriptural examples as well. 

..Yet another reason why doctrine ought to have the first and last word, especially in instances when the Spirit is pouring out on the Church. 

**[Someone please help out a newbie Anglican??  Do deacons get that plus-sign thingee at the end of their name, like priests do?]

[122] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-11-2008 at 05:20 AM · [top]

Truthseeker, thank you very much for your kindness and most especially for your prayers.

My dad has read this article and wrote a brief note, asking that I post it here (he tried to register but he cannot seem to get on). In any case, here is his note that might clarify some things:

 

I am Matt’s Dad. At the time of the events Matt was much younger. The basics of his recall and his sense of the truth are accurate but I wanted to add some historical context from my perspective. When Matt was a child my wife and I were very involved. We were a marriage encounter team couple, both my wife and I served on the vestry, I was on a faith alive team, we went to council, we went to cursillo and we were actively involved in bible study. I was perhaps a little more committed than my son remembers as I seriously read and studied. Matt was correct when he said the charismatic movement made me uncomfortable. Culturally, I was a level headed Norwegian and uncomfortable with the physical closeness in some of the activities. However, I did visit some charismatic churches in other cities and although the experience did not appeal to me personally I did not believe it was not authentic or that it was not an appropriate reflection of faith. My problem began when the charismatic movement became faddish my area. People I respected and knew well were “adopting” the gifts, falling all over and suddenly speaking in tongues when we were in small groups. My judgment was that many of these people were reacting to the trend without the true gifts – looked fake to me. They seemed to be pressuring people or reacting to pressure to conform to these practices which made me question the true depth of feeling and the authenticity of the gifts they suddenly received. Soon after the short charismatic trend in the area had subsided, these same people reverted to their old faith – confirming my instincts.  At about the same time the rector and assistant rector that I knew well and who had been my spiritual guides and examples left followed by a series of rectors who were taking the church in a direction that I could not follow – comparative religion studies, the blossoming of icons and a trend away from the tenets of faith that I had believed to be basic. Also, during this time, with the new leadership it seemed that the level of my intelligence and wisdom varied directly proportional to the amount of money I contributed.  – I dropped out. It is valid to question whether this was because of these events or because I was not sufficiently committed and therefore as Hillary Clinton said of Bill I was “a hard dog to keep on the porch”.

  The fact that Matt continued to grow and develop spiritually is a testament to his mom and the strength of his own character and faith. I am very proud of him and believe that had I been consistently exposed to a rector with the same emphasis on the basics of the faith I may not have wandered away.

Dad

I would only add that it is not a testament to “my character” that I became a believer but to God’s grace working through my mom And my dad.

[123] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-11-2008 at 06:14 AM · [top]

Matt—Please send blessings to your Dad for writing. I understand all too well what he means, “They seemed to be pressuring people or reacting to pressure to conform to these practices which made me question the true depth of feeling and the authenticity of the gifts they suddenly received.”

That was exactly the sort of thing I ran from, more than once. It is ugly to it’s center, and a complete perversion of truth.

Thankfully, for the most part I have seen what your Dad described with, “I did not believe it was not authentic” although I suspect I have seen a more robust, or at least positive version. I certainly do understand how for him, growing up in a culture that did not care for demonstrativeness would make him uncomfortable with the Charismatic movement. There has to be room in the various subcultures of the Body of Christ for all the varieties of people the Lord created.

For me—I suspect I will always need to be in an environment that allows some free flowing in the Holy Spirit, where there is a high emphasis put on entering into the Lord’s presence in a knowable way. And I will always run when it is faked.

Blessings,
Pat Kashtock
Take It for What It’s Worth

[124] Posted by Pat Kashtock on 9-11-2008 at 10:11 AM · [top]

Bill Cool:

I praise God for your profound witness on this thread.  Thank you for sharing your eye witness accounts of the Lord’s power:

Healing prayer that straightens teeth. (I know of cavities being filled in, but had not heard of teeth straightening.)

A disciple working with the Lord to save a family. 

Resting in the spirit in reaction to a Bishop’s apostolic power at confirmation. 

Aren’t these all authentic signs and wonders of God’s power and love?  I would consider them so and appreciate your making them known.

On a separate point, Fr. Francis MacNutt (a Roman Catholic priest who has written about Christian healing for 40 years, whom I’m sure you’re very familiar with) wrote a book about the theological and historical aspects of what he, too, calls “resting in the spirit”.  I don’t have it handy, though. 

Best wishes,

Mark Brown
San Angelo, Texas
September 11, 2008

[125] Posted by MarkBrown on 9-11-2008 at 01:50 PM · [top]

Bill Cool posted:  “If anyone could provide us with a theological foundation for falling when being prayed for, I’d be interested to see it for clarification.”
================================================
Hi Bill,
I am not a theologian, just a country boy with a love for my bible and God.  As some have mentioned earlier, the charismatic gifts are real when used to build up the body of Christ, and sometimes can be faked by the evil side to try to lead people away.  In addition, honest caring Christians that are new to their gift(s) can be overzealous in some manner that actually can have a negative affect to some people.  I guess that is just part of human nature and maybe sometimes learning on the path we walk as we try to be a more mature disciple day by day.

One of the wonderful Priests that helped me learn compared the church to a magnificent old fireplace (the church) with a helpful fire (the Holy Spirit) burning on the hearth.  IF an unhelpful fire got loose in the house, then the whole house could be burned.  If the folks tending the fireplace thru water on the flames, then they should not be surprised if the fire sputtered and did not provide much useful help to them. 

So, we are cautioned to test the spirits and our spiritual leaders, to measure everything we come across against the truth of Holy Scriptures.  We are expected to study and know the Holy Scriptures.  Is this something the Lord commands me to do?  Is this something the Lord commands me not to do?  Are there examples in the Bible of _______ actually happening with a good result or a bad result? 

Then there is the big question. 
      If this really is of you Lord, do I really want it?

That question was a real tough one for me, as I was a bit of a control freak and it is very scary for a highly logic trained Mechanical Engineer to not feel in total control.

The charismatic usage of the term “rest / slain in the Spirit” refers to someone being overcome with the presence and the power of God to the extent that standing up is difficult.  Hence, a person can end up on the ground either voluntarily or non-voluntarily.  So, let’s see if there are a few verses (NAS version) that demonstrate men having difficulty standing in the presence or power of the Lord:

2 Chronicles 5:14
So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.

1 Kings 8:11
So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

Matthew 28:3-4
And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.  The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.

Acts 9:4-5
and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,

Revelation 1:17
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man And He placed His right hand on me, saying, ”  Do not be afraid;  I am the first and the last,

My personal story, of my personal experience also confirms this can happen.
I was at a healing service related to the Order of St. Luke in an orthodox Episcopal church many years ago.  My hands and head were anointed with oil, and the Priest / Deacon / Christians prayed for me in the Name of Jesus Christ.  The presence and power of the Spirit came upon me to the point that I started listing to starboard right there at the altar rail.  It seemed like I hung on to the altar rail at about a 45 degree angle for maybe 5 minutes until I could finally straighten up.  I would have fallen to the floor without that rail my arms were wrapped tightly around.  I had not yet ever heard of resting in the Spirit.

The second time it happened, I was at a Christian renewal weekend operating under the authority of an orthodox Bishop widely respected.  I had been diagnosed with a benign brain tumor.  A large pituitary adenoma which threatened my vision and very life due to its size, pressing against the optic nerves and arteries to the extent that it was eroding bone.  I had gotten a bit better over that year while under care with some medication for about a year and with many charismatic friends / Priests praying for me.  Then, there was a healing service that Saturday night that I will never forget.  There was a wonderful elderly petite Prayer Warrior there that evening, a mighty woman of God, who was a bit hard of hearing.  Hence she could talk a bit loudly when there was a lot of background noises as a result of her being a bit hearing challenged. I cautiously went up to her for prayer and explained my problem. 

She loudly asked   What?  You?  A brain tumor??? (Much to my chagrin as others heard her.)

Then she grabbed me by the ears (or was it my cheeks?) and looked me intently in the eyes, and spoke to the mountain.  “You nasty thing, in the Name of Jesus Christ, get out of him!”

I hit the floor like a sack of potatoes.  There was a slight burning feeling inside my head, behind my eyes, but it was not painful.  It actually felt like a combination of being incredibly peaceful coupled with being slightly intoxicated.  My “carpet time” lasted about half an hour, but even then when I got up I needed help to get around for the next hour or so.

My next MRI showed the brain tumor was gone.  There was no small amount of surprise on the face of the Doctor.  There was still a bit of a husk, or scar tissue left in the area according to the brain Doctor, but I had been healed, all thanks to Father God in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Some of my friends chuckled, and asked me if I had been drinking down at Joel’s place.  When questioned, they referred me to:
Joel 2:28-29
It will come about after this
      That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
      And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
      Your old men will dream dreams,
      Your young men will see visions.
“Even on the male and female servants
      I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
Ephesians 5:18
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

There have been other times, during prayer, when I have felt the presence and the power in a mighty way but could have locked my knees and remained standing if I had to.  Yet, I can choose to cease aggressively resisting and let that peace and power wash over and thru me and refresh me.

In my humble opinion, the “resting in the Spirit time” can result in emotional, spiritual, and physical healings with great power being manifested.  It must also withstand the Biblical testing of the spirits as needed and result in good fruit when done in the name of Jesus Christ.

Shalom you all,
Truthseekr

[126] Posted by Truthseeker on 9-11-2008 at 06:33 PM · [top]

One critical aspect of the spiritual gifts is remembering that God is sovereign and not subject to our perspectives.

I’ll mention one example. When my wife and I first arrived at St. Luke’s, Akron, one of the most amazingly joyful people we met was a woman named Miriam, who almost seemed to glow with smiles and joy that spilled out to all around her. Both her legs were in braces and useless. She got around using crutches. Early one winter, I was in a Bible study with Miriam, and as we left she said, “Bill, I know my healing is near - I’m starting to feel tingling in my legs.”

Not long after, at a parish-wide New Year’s eve party and dance (a way to evangelize those looking for a good party), our rector failed to show up until late in the evening. When he finally arrived, he said, “Miriam has been healed. She is with the Lord.” In fact her car had been smashed at a foggy intersection. We were, of course stunned and began praying as a group. In the midst of our prayers, a teenage girl spoke out that she had a vision of Miriam who was dancing with the Lord. I still get choked up when I remember her saying that.

Miriam was responsible for at least one witness after her death. The day following the accident, a member of the parish went to the scene of the accident and found someone clearing debris and sweeping the mess off the road. As they began to talk, the parishioner explained who Miriam was and something of her strong faith. The man sent to clean up the road said that who Miriam was explained what he had sensed when he came to the site. He said that generally when cleaning up such a site he felt a strong sense of destruction and chaos, but at this accident site he had felt an overwhelming sense of peace, which he had not understood until it was explained to him something about Miriam.

One last comment. I am a scientist with a PhD in the biological sciences. I know the principles of scientific evidence. What I have described here and in my previous comments requires a different kind of evidence. As Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:8,  “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” We don’t “see” wind, but we see and hear its results. And what I have described cannot be explained as merely a sort of focusing or speed-up of natural phenomena. Someone in a much earlier thread wondered if the Holy Spirit orthodontist work I witnessed (and described above) could have been merely an acceleration of natural actions. Since mineral metabolism was my area of expertise for my doctorate, I can give a pretty emphatic negative to that possibility. To focus that much metabolic energy into the space of a few seconds would have cooked the tissues and blood vessels in the jaw bones. At least in this instance, when the creator of the universe chose to straighten the young woman’s teeth in response to prayer, he chose to do it in a way that is beyond our understanding of how the world generally functions.

[127] Posted by Bill Cool on 9-12-2008 at 12:41 AM · [top]

Kennedy:

I don’t agree with you on a lot of things…particularly the whole Calvinist ordeal (as you well know from our meetings), but must thank you for this post.  Very much needed and very much appreciated…especially coming from you.

Daley out.

[128] Posted by Michael Daley on 9-12-2008 at 08:45 AM · [top]

Bill (#127),

Someone in a much earlier thread wondered if the Holy Spirit orthodontist work I witnessed (and described above) could have been merely an acceleration of natural actions. Since mineral metabolism was my area of expertise for my doctorate, I can give a pretty emphatic negative to that possibility. To focus that much metabolic energy into the space of a few seconds would have cooked the tissues and blood vessels in the jaw bones. At least in this instance, when the creator of the universe chose to straighten the young woman’s teeth in response to prayer, he chose to do it in a way that is beyond our understanding of how the world generally functions.

That was my point, too.  Only, I used Bernoulli’s Equation to show that the pressure differential for the process of growing grapes (not the fermenting thereof) would be much greater for an accelerated natural process.  You’d need stronger vines… and tweaking properties of the vines means that the process is no longer natural, anyhow. 

So.. even the “acceleration of natural processes” require miracles beyond our comprehension. 

Poor Augustine.  He’s an early theologian commenting on things beyond his expertise, and his hypothesis is set in stone while 20th Century scientists are cut slack for not having their ducks in a row.

[129] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-12-2008 at 11:09 AM · [top]

Bill Cool (121) and Mark Brown (125):  The book mentioned by Mark Brown is: Overcome by the Spirit, by Francis MacNutt.  Fr. MacNutt also wrote on the subject in his earlier book The Power to Heal.  It has been awhile since I have read either, but as I recall, Fr. MacNutt writes mostly out of his own experience and adds a good many instances of “resting in the Spirit” [his preferred term for the phenomenon] from various times in Christian history.  Both books are available from Christian Healing Ministries (http://www.christianhealingmin.org).

[130] Posted by Laura R. on 9-12-2008 at 04:12 PM · [top]

Bill Cool:

Your story is absolutely breathtaking in its beauty.

M

[131] Posted by Michael Daley on 9-12-2008 at 05:57 PM · [top]

I realize I’m a might late to the party but I wanted to share an experience with you.  I was raised as one of the frozen chosen and thoughts of slaying and tongue speaking were far removed from us.  Of course, as I made my way in the world, I made my share of charismatic friends.  I loved them and never doubted their faith but held myself from the fray.  About 5 years ago I met a charismatic priest with the gift of healing.  I attended a healing service and along with my spouse determined to put this healing stuff to the test.  I went forward with 2 specific requests.  One was granted instantly.  My spouse went forward without giving a specific request with the thought that if God wanted to grant the healing, He was more than aware of the problem.  His problem was one which was progressing and doctors had been unable to help.  It was threatening his ability to continue working.  He was instantly healed and what a wonderful testimony that doubting Thomas became.  Talk about for the Glory of God.  My healing left after a day or so but I can’t tell you how wonderful those 24 hours were.  I was given a most precious gift but I never believed it was mine to keep.  Maybe that’s why I lost it or maybe it was an insight given by a Gracious God.  The other problem - healing came in a way.  I became firmly convinced that it was not something for God to take away but for me to give up.  There were no stars, no fainting, no slaying or shouting - but in that room the presence of God was there for those who were able to open their hearts.
I also have a theory on why all the laying on of hands Sarah discussed above did not bring about healing.  In order for power to be transferred, the one doing the laying on of hands must be connected to the power source.  For all too long many of the TEC clergy have only sought a connection to NY.

[132] Posted by Sweets on 9-12-2008 at 06:53 PM · [top]

Yea, Phil!(2) Glad to hear it.  The two most enduring influences in my life have been my spiritual formation at Nashotah House and my 4 years at Church of the Redeemer, Houston, during the Renewal years.  Even back then we realized that because an apple was once misused by Eve, not every apple tree we run across should be cut down as something evil!  Yes, great abuses are possible where there is great spiritual energy. Conversely, as long as nothing is happening, no abuses will occur and no lives changed either! I do take offense that some assume one must be ignorant, uneducated, and a bit “off” to get involved with spirtual gifts.  Hmmm. Wonder where that insidious suggestion came from??? Something at the foot of the apple tree??  Ron+

[133] Posted by Lejos on 9-15-2008 at 09:59 PM · [top]

Hi Lakeland Two,

It looks like we are just going to have to agree to disagree.

If I were teaching discernment, then yes, I would need to show what discernment looks like.

In this case, however, I was not out to “teach” anyone anything. I was out to demonstrate the failure of discernment in charismatic circles. I think the point is indisputable just by pointing to the popularity of a guy like Bentley.

[134] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 3-14-2011 at 06:20 PM · [top]

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