Intro

The Charismatic Movement is an expression used to refer to a movement within historic churches that began in the 1950s. In the earlier stages the movement was often termed “neo Pentecostal”; in more recent years it has frequently been referred to as the “Charismatic renewal” or the “Charismatic renewal movement.” Therefore, participants are usually described as “Charismatics.”

History and Development

On the American scene it is possible to date significant Charismatic beginnings to the year 1960 with the national publicity given to certain events connected with the ministry of Dennis Bennett, at that time Episcopal rector in Van Nuys, California. Since then there has been a continuing growth of the movement within many of the established churches: first, such Protestant churches as Episcopal, Lutheran, and Presbyterian (early 1960s); second, the Roman Catholic (beginning in 1967); and third, the Greek Orthodox (about 1971).

The Charismatic movement has affected almost every historic church and has spread to many churches and countries beyond the United States. This continuing growth has resulted in a multiplicity of national, regional, and local conferences, the production of a wide range of literature, and increasing attention to doctrinal and theological questions both within and outside the movement. The challenge to the churches may be seen in the fact that since 1960 well over one hundred official denominational documents, regional, national, continental, and international, on the Charismatic movement have been produced.

The significance of the Charismatic Movement resides in the penetration of the Pentecostal tongues practice into mainline denominations. This created a new openness to the full range of “spiritual gifts” listed in I Corinthians 12:8-10 which are wisdom; knowledge; faith; healing; miracles; prophecy; discerning of spirits; tongues; and interpretation of tongues. Certainly not all established churches supported this new movement, but thousands of people inside them were claiming to have experienced “speaking in tongues” and other spiritual manifestations. This bred a strong conviction that all of the supernatural “sign gifts” e.g. tongues, healing, miracles, and in some cases, prophecy were meant for today’s church.

Although Charismatic outpourings continued to spread through established churches, many denominational leaders left traditional churches to start independent churches. Before long, these developing churches came under the influence of Word-Faith/Positive Confession teaching propagated by independent Charismatics, such as Hagin, Copeland, Charles Capps, and others. Their main emphasis was faith teaching, divine healing, and financial prosperity. They taught that believers who consistently made a positive confession about their physical and spiritual situation and demonstrated great faith would receive abundant blessings from God.

The Charismatic movement, while related historically and doctrinally to classical Pentecostalism, has largely stayed within the historic church bodies or has spilled over into interdenominational church fellowships. In neither case has there been any significant movement toward the classical Pentecostal churches. Hence today the Charismatic movement, despite its “classical” parentage, exists almost totally outside official Pentecostal denominations.

Doctrine

Charismatics hold the following beliefs:

• Baptism with the Holy Spirit - There is common recognition of baptism with the Holy Spirit as a distinctive Christian experience. This leads to the emphasis of Charismatics on such matters as prayer, commitment, and expectancy as the context for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

• Speaking in tongues - In the Charismatic movement speaking in tongues, glossolalia, occupies a significant place. Speaking in tongues is generally understood to be communication with God in language that is other than one known to the speaker.

• Spiritual gifts - By definition the Charismatic movement is concerned with charismata, the Greek term for “gifts of grace.” Everywhere throughout the Charismatic movement there is the claim that all the charismata, or charisms, mentioned in Scripture are, or should be, operational in the Christian community.

Charismatics Today

There are around 500 million members of this religion today.

 

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