Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Filled with the Spirit

I am hopeful that the church that is emerging will not be divided according to whether people speak in tongues or not. Perhaps the result of a more generous orthodoxy will be that we no longer pigeonhole people.

In looking at the history of the charismatic movement, there is abundant evidence of division along the way. Perhaps some of this was necessary as people changed their beliefs.

As a personal example, I have an aunt and uncle who were the first in our family to leave the family church for a charismatic church. There were mistakes made on both sides. The family wasn't willing to accept their decision to change. However, in their zeal, this aunt and uncle became defensive and arrogant about their beliefs. This created a wall that remains to this day. My parents, who are solid protestant Christians, feel belittled and talked down to by them about anything spiritual.

This is simply an example of an all-too-common wall between charismatic and noncharismatic Christians. People who left mainline denominations to join charismatic churches often became arrogant in their new-found knowledge. They are unaware of their elitism, which is apparent to others.

It might sound like I'm being hard on charismatics, but having lived in this realm for many years, I think I can say from experience, that they(we) are unaware of the exclusivity and elitism they have assumed in their journey.

Reading the history section of the Postcharismatic Project, I learned that the roots of the baptism of the holy spirit are in the wesleyan/holiness protestants, long before speaking in tongues was an issue. Since that time people have splintered according to their beliefs about the event of the baptism of the holy spirit and the issue of tongues.

I believe that the infilling of the Holy Spirit is supposed to be an ongoing empowerment in the life of a believer. I believe that this empowerment gives us the grace (supernatural resource) to live life in the Spirit. I also believe that lives empowered by the Spirit will show evidence of both the fruit and giftings of the Holy Spirit.

I propose that we stop debating the timing and evidence of these events and subsequently creating compartments and labels for one another. Rather than a one-time event, we should continually invite the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and recognize our need to rely on this supernatural grace to live the kingdom life.

One of the reasons I am writing about this today is because of the variety of backgrounds of people in the emerging conversation. I value the evidence of Wisdom and Spirit that I read in the words of people from many different backgrounds. I am grateful that we can appreciate these differences while sharing the commonality of where we find ourselves on this journey.


Tonya said...

I once heard it explained that we need to continually ask for a "refilling of the Spirit" simply because we "leak." Made much sense to me!

eija said...

Few days back I wrote something - about the tongues and the charismatics - that touches this post. You can read it here if you're interested:
After the weekend

You wrote: "I propose that we stop debating the timing and evidence of these events and subsequently creating compartments and labels for one another. Rather than a one-time event, we should continually invite the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and recognize our need to rely on this supernatural grace to live the kingdom life."

Yeah, I think so, too. Debating does no good to anyone. And I've learned - the hard way - not to label anyone according to their gifts - or lack of them! But in my opinion an one-time event doesn't exclude the continuous invitation. The latter is more important, it gives us the strength to live every day with God. The one-time event again... It might happen more than once, but still it's more like a birthday party with a delicious cream cake - an extra special treat from God :D But cream cakes don't nourish you enough to live on them only.


RonMcK said...

I have always said that I would not say I am baptised or full of the Spirit, until I have raised someone from the dead. I am not even close to that yet, so I am still crying out like a hungry child for more of the Holy Spirit. Even Peter was calling out for more a few weeks after Pentecost and healing a lame man.(Acts 4:31), so I think we will all always need more of him.

PS You have posted about some of your troubles with the church you left. You might be interested in a series of posts I am doing on Suffering in First Peter

iggy said...

I have been sort of a closet tonuges person for years. I was involved with the Charismatic movement for a time, though when I found grace, became a bit of an outcast...It was like, what do we do with him? he speaks in tongues yet beleives in eternal security?!!! Heretic!

So, I then dwelt with the non tongue speakers... and in a bible study where I was respected, they began to bash tongue speakers... I came out fo the closet.

They did not know what to do with me either! LOL!

I have never fit the "labels" and found that few can accept that.

So, I speak in private, to my Lord, and when in public I speak so all can understand. (I hope)

There have been only two groups of people i have found full acceptance. People to People, and organization out of Texas who teach grace, though i may not agree with all they teach, I love them dearly, and "emergents". I think it is that respect for the conversation and is held higher than "labels". Beleive me i have been draggng my heals about this becoming a "movement" as I see most movements lose momentum and focus and become a "label".

BTW nice blog, we have many of the same people on our roll, I may be adding you soon!

Pam Hogeweide said...

I identify with your post so much Grace, and with some of the comments. I, too, have been a closet tongue speaker when I was in a cessasionist church. I felt like I had a big secret, but I didn't want to freak anybody out. When on the odd occasion I heard people bashing those crazy charismatics I'd gently defend them, but felt too insecure to identify myself as a closet charismatic. Eventually I felt more free to speak up when it was apppropriate. LIke Iggy people were bit perplexed about gifts and me and didn't know what to do. So it was mostly a happy co-existence, and like Iggy, I was private about praying in the Spirit, not making it a big deal, 'cause it's not.

Then I moved to Charismania Land and became deeply involved with a wonderful church of tongue speaking, prophesying, anoint you with oil and drive out the devil kind of church. I didn't have to cover my mouth anymore to pray in the Spirit; no more secrets. Unfortunately I heard bashing against those uptight conservatives who just don't get it.

What I've learned from being in both camps is that whether you are continually filled with the Holy Spirit or not Jesus is still a ravished Bridegroom over his beloved bride. Paul said in Galations that there is neither jew nor greek nor slave nor free or male or female, we are all one in Christ. I would add, there is neither charistmatic nor non-charismatic, tongue speaker nor non-tongue speaker, we are all the Lord's.

Unity and love are greater manifestations of the Spirit of Jesus than speaking in tongues. I think Paul compared that to a noisy gong of something obnoxious like that. Love, it has been said and I will say it too, is the greatest indicator of a Spirit filled life.

Kelly said...

this was such an interesting read for me.. having been raised is a non-charismatic church, and then being exposed to evidence of signs and wonders as and adult, i have never considered the possibility of speaking in tongues as a dividing line. not that your concern isn't valid, but it's just a non-issue for us. us being my community.

we do fear many things that pose a threat to division, and pray intently against those, but charismatic behavior hasn't been an issue. so it was interesting to read this perspective.

Captain Mom said...

There is just too much to even write down here, but just thank you for bringing these things up, so I know I'm not the only one! There are core issues that led us away, running away, as a matter of fact, from our last church. It was all about the show. The hype. The "feeling". And it was so rarely seen carried over into everyday life. It was scary, really.

grace said...

Hi everyone! Sorry I didn't get back to your comments sooner. My week got kind of crazy after I posted this.

That's a great point tonya, plus when would any of us want to say we have enough of the Spirit.

I still believe in the event also, but I would like to see more focus on the Spirit's ongoing empowerment in our real-life situations. More than demonstrations of gifts in a church service, I'd like to see lives graced with the power of the Spirit. I am praying that your prayers are answered.

I agree with you. I'm hungry for more too. Thanks for sharing the link. It looks interesting.

It's nice to meet you. I'll be sure to stop in at your blog and say hi. It doesn't matter much to me either if emergent is a movement. I'm just excited about a group of people who are rethinking how to be the church.

Preach it sistah!
You always express yourself (and myself) so well.

Your comment was interesting to me also. If we are seeking God and open to His spirit, it really should be a non-issue, as you said.

captain mom,
I hope you're feeling better.
Everyday life is where the rubber meets the road. If the Holy Spirit isn't a part of that, it doesn't matter what we do at church.

Nuno Barreto said...

I think that kind of division comes mostly from unoccupied christians. When people are really involved in spreading the kingdom of God, they don't have time for senseless quarrels

Christine said...

I'm really enjoying your blog!