Friday, January 27, 2012

The Charismatic Renewal

Fr. Dale Matson

          Probably the last place one would expect a fresh infilling of God the Holy Spirit was the liturgical churches yet, the Anglican/Episcopal, Lutheran and later, the Roman Catholic Churches were some of the first churches to experience a contemporary renewal. This Neo-Pentecostal renewal began in the early 1960’s and remains evident in those same churches today. The Charismatic renewal has had less impact on the reformed churches and I believe this is possibly related to their dispensational approach to Scripture.
            I was a Missouri Lutheran in the mid 1980’s and was struck with the wording of a lesser known creed accepted by those churches. The Creed of St. Athanasius (Quicunque Vult) was recited only once a year in our congregation on Trinity Sunday. The following passage in particular resonated with me and I read it over several times. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or less than another; But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. I had been thinking a lot lately about God the Holy Spirit and why Jesus seemed to be the only focus of my brothers and sisters in our congregation.
I heard that Pastor Erwin Prange (he passed on less than a year ago) from Minnesota would be preaching at Pastor Ferd Barr’s church near Milwaukee. Pastor Barr was the lone Missouri Synod pastor who boldly dared to be Charismatic in the heart of the LCMS.  He spoke on Baptism of the Holy Spirit and his experiences as a Charismatic pastor and with a deliverance ministry as a consultant to a local psychiatric hospital. I also read one of his books, A Time To Grow. I was seeking this experience within my faith tradition guided by Scripture and trustworthy leaders yet there was some apprehension. A local Baptist pastor told me, “Speaking in tongues is of Satan.”  
I had a cautious yet irresistible desire for this “second blessing” and privately studied Scripture with many examples of both water and Holy Spirit baptism. I wanted a deeper relationship with God the Holy Spirit and knew in my heart that it would not be a false path. After all, the LCMS was not a dispensational church and didn’t God give good gifts to those that asked? (Luke 11:13, Matt. 7:11).
As a member of a home bible study mostly populated by Roman Catholics, I asked to be prayed over for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I trusted those around me and stepped out in faith that God would provide. Following the prayer, I simply said two words. I did not know what the words meant but repeated them in my head phonetically. I had a Young’s Analytical Concordance at home and looked them up. I had said “Zebina (acquired) Shekinah (God’s glorious presence). I had spoken in faith the words Zebina Shekinah and did not know at the time that they meant that I had acquired God’s glorious presence. It was the beginning of a private prayer tongue that I have used for over 25 years. I was involved in the Charismatic renewal for over 15 years and attended the Conference on the Holy Spirit in Minneapolis. I remember Lutheran pastor Larry Christenson as an excellent author/speaker there. I can also remember being moved by the Holy Spirit to tears as thousands of souls sang Amazing Grace. I looked around and everyone was in tears. There were many workshops and lots to learn. It was an ecumenical experience to be there and my friend Morton Kelsey once told me that ecumenism was the heart of the Charismatic experience.
I must end on a note that is an unfortunate reality for Charismatics. There was a great deal of misunderstanding and divisiveness associated with the Charismatic renewal. The Charismatic movement was ecumenical since the Holy Spirit is a God of Unity but the human side of it was divisive and literally split congregations in two. I primarily blame the Charismatics for giving the appearance that they were a special class of Christians. If only, the fruits of the Holy Spirit had also been manifested. We should have memorized 1 Cor. 13 before we preached 1 Cor. 12.
Finally, I am also sad to report that the home bible study, where there was such openness, honesty, trust and love, no longer exists. Some have moved, some died and most no longer even attend church. It is truly tragic that what appeared to be good soil for so many turned into rocks and thorny ground. I pray that someday they would again turn to Christ.       


Anonymous said...

This is a very good article. I found your website through a hyperlink at SF a few minutes ago. I didn't want to be the first post at SF in response to the inflammatory and very misguided Keynote by John Macarthur at the Strange Fire Conference, so I checked back to see if there had been any. Hoping that someone among us who support that Third Stream would stand up and be counted. Why is Matt so terribly demeaning to those of us who know and love this reality?

I was baptized in the Holy Spirit by laying on of hands of Rita Bennett in Grand Rapids MI in 1975.
She and Dennis were keynote at a HUGE conference of about 8000. The Holy Spirit & You is one of my favorite renewal books. Have been to nearly 30 conferences over the years and hope to continue (I'm 76) for many more.

Our little prayer group (largely RC) is still going from the early 70's, although we are about 1/3 the size we were then. In the 90's Pastor Don Matzat (LCMS) used to come and teach/minister to us once a month. We loved him. Know he was a keynoter for the annual August Lutheran conferences in MN many times, so you probably know him. In doing a GOOGLE awhile back, what I read made me think that he has also drifted away from the movement.

Well, I may post something in rebuttal at SF, but will have to pray about it. BTW, I looked up Rob Eaton+ in the SF list and see that he hasn't visited SF since Feb or 2012. Always appreciated his good sense, too. Believe he was from CA but further north. I do hope that he is O.K. If you know, please share that with me.

My husband and I are active in a small ACNA mission fellowship here in W MI that I helped establish.

Appreciate your posts there at SF. Meanwhile, please know that I'm asking God's blessing upon you and yours.

Merlena Cushing

Dale Matson said...

Thanks for the affirming and thoughtful post. Matt+ is a Calvinist and so is John Macarthur. My experience with Calvinists is that Calvinists have an ironclad certainty about their own salvation but question the salvation of those outside of those beliefs. Those attracted to Calvinism tend to be into precision. For Macarthur, Roman Catholics, Billy Graham and probably Anglo Catholics embrace false doctrine. I have criticized Paul Washer who is also in that camp.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Dale,
Appreciate your response to my note. I had decided that I should not comment on the SF "Strange Fire" thread and was glad to see it just fade away. This new one- Questioning Charismaticism - however, I probably will engage inasmuch as I can make time to do so, given that I am behind in getting my business newsletters out and a myriad other things.

I have filed away my other past comments on the subject and can probably make a few good points. It occurred to me that I might quote Ted Jungkuntz on "Optional Exras" (pasted below)...a few of his points. What do you think? Thanks, Merlena

A Biblical Look At “Optional Extras” by Dr. Theodore Jungkuntz (November 2000)

...[Or] are the gifts of the Spirit optional –something we are free to pray for or to disregard if we are so inclined (1 Cor. 12:27-31; 14:1-5)? In no way does Paul suggest that they are optional extras for an elite cadre of Christians only.

The mission which the Lord Jesus has given to his body (the Church) is a mission which calls for “varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit” and “varieties of service, but the same Lord,” and “varieties of working, but...the same God” (1 Cor. 12:4-6). We should not try to crowd God off his throne by dictating which gifts we will find acceptable and which we find stupid and unacceptable, given our “natural” capabilities (1 Cor. 12:7-11). Perhaps there is a sense in which we can say that these gifts are not necessary for salvation, if by salvation we mean that which is begun in us through justification by faith alone. But faith, though it alone receives and effects such salvation, never remains alone, but it is always busy expressing itself in obedience to its Lord; and its Lord says, “Ask, and it will be given much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him”(Lk. 11:9-13).

How could “faith” at this point refuse to ask or how could “faith” take matters into its own hands and say, “I’ll gladly take those gifts which match my intelligence and my sense of proper decorum, but I will never ask for anything so inappropriate to my personality, nor so useless to the “body” as a whole, as the so-called “gift of tongues.” What kind of a “faith” would speak thus to the Lord who alone calls faith into being?

What is at stake when “faith” claims such “options” for itself is nothing less than the lordship of Jesus Christ. Whether or not we receive the gift of tongues or any other gift is an option lying not with us but with the Lord. Yet “faith” will discover its Lord’s options not by passively waiting for the Lord to thrust a gift upon it, but by asking, seeking, knocking, and earnestly desiring “the spiritual gifts” (Lk. 11:9-13; 1 Cor. 12:31; 14;1). Not to yield that option specifically to our Lord by asking as he has commanded us to ask is to claim options for ourselves which our Lord has never granted to us.

“Options and the Bible.” – The option which the Bible offers us is either a blessed submission to him who is already our Lord or a disastrous rebellion against him. The option does not include the possibility of only partial submission, but only full submission (which requires repentance and forgiveness) or denial. Ignorance, of course, is not denial, but how much longer will our Lord allow us to plead ignorance? To choose to remain ignorant is not an option our Lord gives us - not when through his holy apostle he with great insistence says: “NOW CONCERNING SPIRITUAL GIFTS, BRETHREN, I DO NOT WANT YOU TO BE UNINFORMED” (1 Cor. 12:10).

This is no mere “optional extra.”

Dr. Theodore Jungkuntz

Dale Matson said...

Go for it! I heard Ted Jungkuntz speak. Maybe it was the conference on the Holy Spirit in Minn.

Anonymous said...

Well, I may do that or have some very good excerpts from Dr. Francis MacNutt and some powerful examples of supernatural happenings (to me and to others) that I could share. Will have to be in deep prayer about the whole thing. Have SO much I could say in reply to Matt, but need to keep it short and to the point.

It just occurred to me that you might like this link to the last RIM NEWSLETTER of Sept 2005 which is still available online @

I downloaded it a couple years ago for my files and that is where I got the article today by Dr. Ted J.
He wrote many things that I treasure, as did Dr. Art Vincent who also did a wonderful audio called Showers of Blessing giving the account of God healing his wife from advanced cancer because they were obedient to the Lord's instructions to praise him (in the Spirit and in regular words as I recall) and pray/sing for three days solid. It was always on my dresser, but right now I am unable to find it, so I may write Pastor Del Rossin to see if I can obtain a new one.

When my Gary and I were leaving TEC in 2007, we considered LCMS (I taught in the local el school for a few years and we are good friends with the former pastor and his wife.) Only problem I have with LCMS is the "unionism" stance.

Blessings, Merlena