Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Neo-Charismatic

I have been thinking lately about where my charismatic experience fits in my Christian walk.

Overall, I don't have negative feelings about what we experienced in the charismatic church. Probably my biggest complaint would be the elitism that permeates most charismatics, the division between the haves and the have nots.

When we left that church, I had no intention of denying or limiting the role of the Holy Spirit in my life. I knew that because the spiritual gifts are a part of my life, they would be with me wherever I went. Spiritual gifts can be manifested in ways that don't require a charismatic setting.

I became annoyed with the charismatics around me who insinuated that the community church we were attending was a step backwards from where we had been. I cringed at this attitude that doesn't recognize the value of other churches in the body of Christ.

It had been over two years since I had been in a charismatic corporate worship service when I attended the conference a couple of weeks ago. I was curious about what my reaction to it would be.

It was pleasant. I have always loved being in an atmosphere where worship is spontaneous and free. I love an environment where the gifts of the Spirit are welcome. I am happy in a corporate gathering where the air is heavy with the presence of the Spirit of God.

However, this led to a dilemma for me. I realized that I am unfulfilled attending the local community church. I thought that I could have a supernatural walk with God on a personal level, and that I could simply be a prophetic/charismatic person who attends an evangelical church.

This should work. There shouldn't have to be lines between charismatics and other churches. I don't know why this isn't working for me. There are so many things this church is doing well, so much fruit.

I am hesitant to say, "I want something more." Yet, I can't ignore the yearning inside of me for something different.

Either way will be a season of waiting. There isn't anything in our area yet that expresses what is in my heart.

14 comments:

jul said...

Hi I just stumbled onto your blog by doing a search for 'charismatic'. I always have the thought "If I had to choose..." which is immediately followed by the thought " I REFUSE TO CHOOSE!!!!" By choosing I mean between charismatic experience and solid Biblical teaching in the context of an authentic New Testament church. I want it all and I believe that what I long for not only exists but is going to be given to me because it's what God wants for us too. I believe he will also provide this kind of church for you and your family too. Ask him! You don't have to settle for anything less than what you know God wants for you. You really can have it both ways, though it's not easy to find churches like that. I'll keep you in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

For a good background on one of the forerunners of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement I recommend "The Supernatural Occurrences of John Wesley" published by Sean Multimedia. It offers journal entries from Wesley himself showing how that he experienced miraculous healings, exorcisms, slain in the Spirit, visions, dreams and more. Wesley, of course, is the founder of the Methodist Church.

David Cho said...

Thanks for the post, grace.

Charismatics and fundamentalists - diametrically opposed theologies on certain issues, yet the same attitude of pride and arrogance.

We come from the opposite ends of the spectrum, yet there are so many similarities in our stories. Fascinating...

David Cho said...

Another thing, grace.

When I was in the fundamentalist church, I heard so many horror stories from people who left charismatic churches.

John MacArthur is the author of Charismatic Chaos, which has an extensive section on epidemic abuses going on in charimatic churches, and the stories from the ex-charimatics who fled to his church served to validate MacArthur's unrelecting attacks. Of course when the Jimmy Bakker scandal broke out, he and Tammy were lumped with the whole charismatic movement.

Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire...

Inheritor of Heaven said...

It is very interesting being in the mainline (Lutheran) yet charismatic church we attend. We have had what I believe is as solid a biblical teaching church as I have ever been in. Yet we do embrace the charismata and want to use the gifts to push back the kingdom of darkness and further the kingdom of God. I have never identified myself in the Bakker/Hinn/TBN camp. I think it is my more stoic background that prevents that though there are some in our church who see Benny Hinn every time he comes to town. I thought Graham Cooke was a good teacher and I hear Peter Horrobin is also excellent. I think however on the worship issue I have gone full circle. I used to only go for traditional liturgy and hymns. Then came to love full out hands raised , dancing, praising worship. Now I expect God to show up whenever, where ever and usually he does. I sometimes wonder however if he is revealed to those sitting around me especially in those liturgical services which everyone knows by rote. Sorry about my ramblings but keep searching and you will find Him and he will give you your hearts desire. Might be in someplace unexpected.

Jo said...

Grace, thanks for your post. Rings a lot of bells for me. I'm a methodist by background and current church attendance, but with influences of the charismatic in my life from elsewhere. Know loads of people who've given up on church but not God. I'm hanging in there at the mo, but definately can't stay in our current church for ever, although it's a lovely informal family. Feeling hungry. Not sure where we'd go from here though. I'm asking myself whether in our postmodern, dispersed lifestyle can we ever find any real 'home', spiritually. I'm finding dispersed 'bits' all over though - most recently in the worship of the monastic community where I'm studying theology - not v. methodist(!) and certainly not my spiritual home. We're 'citizens of another country' I guess, but as it seems that so many of us feel unfulfilled, why does it seem so hard to find each other in our local communities?? Am I somehow being too selfish and picky in who I want to dare to be in community with?

Jo

Christine said...

Hello, Jo~
I've been visiting your blog from time to time, and your question,
"it seems that so many of us feel unfulfilled, why does it seem so hard to find each other in our local communities??"
made me wonder if it's possible for anyone to feed this need you're speaking of in a community form of worship. Worship has many aspects of expression to it~ I myself am drawn more towards one-on-one time with God in contemplative prayer, though I have a house church for community worship.
I grew up in traditional Southern Baptist churches, but a few years ago, I began to have a real hunger I couldn't ignore, one that wasn't fed by any church I went to~ traditional, modern, postmodern, you name it. The need wasn't answered until I went into solitude worship/prayer, as well.

Resting in God frequently has been my answer, the missing piece in my spiritual life. I have a weekly house church meeting, a weekly contemplative prayer group, and lots of time set aside to be alone with God (that's turned out to be the most peaceful and yet exciting worship time that I have).

I don't know if it would answer for your own need, but thought I'd run it by you for consideration.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Grace,

I deeply identify with what you are sharing. My charismatic encounters, which happened to me while a teenager at a very conservative, evangelical (non-charismatic) church, were clearly from God. They shaped some of the most formative foundations of my faith. Now, years later, I have not been involved in that context, yet find myself realizing how much I have sacraficed by letting these gifts wither from disuse. And yet, during times where I returned to the charismatic circles, I have not found fulfilment there either.

Perhaps it is because we are living in a time of liminality, where segregation of spirituality is still dominating and weakening the Church. Perhaps we can hope, pray and work towards communities of faith that are as diverse in charisms as they should be in race, gender and worldview. I'll be praying with you through this season.

Peace,
Jamie

grace said...

Thanks jul. My experience has been that those in charismatic circles become very distanced from the lost in their search for the deeper things of God. I do hope that we will find others who care about both. It's nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by.

anonymous,
I recently read some of that history in robbymac's postcharismatic project. It was very interesting. Thanks for the recommendation.

David,
Thankfully I don't really have charismatic horror stories, just church politics horror stories. My experiences in the charismatic realm were mostly positive. I've seen my share of extremes, but as you said, there are extremes in every theology.

I dismiss people like MacArthur when they critique charismatics because, to be honest, they don't know what they are talking about, and they aren't aware of their own bias. It's actually quite similar to Ingrid, Carla, and others who are so biased about the emerging movement that their critiques are invalid.

inheritor,
I appreciate your comments. I have some friends who are charismatic Lutherans. I haven't heard of Peter Horribin. My experience with the charismatic was in the prophetic/apostolic stream, definitely not TBN.

jo,
It sounds like you are also in an "in between" place. I try to remind myself to use this time to allow God to prepare me for whatever is next. Graham Cooke's teachings were really helpful in reminding me that during this season of not knowing what's next, it's important to develop my trust and sensitivity to His Spirit.

christine,
I find myself most at rest in my time alone with God. In fact, for a time, I wondered if that is the only place I would enjoy worship. However, the corporate worship I recently attended was a good experience and reminder of the power of corporate worship too.

jamie,
I loved what you said. I am hopeful too that communities will emerge that are diverse and open to the full expression of the Spirit. I wonder if the segregation will ever end. Thanks for your prayers.

David Cho said...

I agree, grace. It is the typical boogeyman paranoia. MacArthur certainly does not hold up well if he gets lumped up with some heinous figures from the fundamentalist circles either.

Robbymac said...

David,

I was in the Vineyard when Charismatic Chaos was published; I bought a copy and read the whole thing, several times.

Grace says it very succinctly: MacArthur doesn't know what he's talking about, nor does his editor Phil "Pyromaniac" Johnson. He wrotes so many blatant falsehoods about the Vineyard it would take forever to list them all.

I saw some "heresy hunter" websites a few years back that were dedicated to "proving" that MacArthur was a Roman Catholic stooge, compromising with "infidels and apostates", leading people to a One-World New-Age something-or-other. You gotta wonder, where does the paranoia end for these types? Or does it?

Lorna said...

season of waiting is hard. I know. I'm in one.

I really dislike the elitism that creeps into many branches of the church , charismatic included.

I am praying you find the MORE that God has in store for you and the tension between personal and corporate is resolved

be blessed

grace said...

Lorna,
It is curious to me that so many people seem to be in a season of waiting, or perhaps it is just that when people are in a season of waiting, they blog.

You were very succinct in recognizing the tension we are experiencing between personal and corporate. It continues to be an interesting journey.

Muriel said...

I am an ex charismatic Catholic. I left the movement several years ago. I cannot leave my Catholic faith. I recoiled into the safety net of catholic orthodoxy... though the charismatic madness continues around me.