- Charismatic movement
- During the 1970s, a movement characterized by the appearance of the gifts of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12) - healing, prophecy, discernment, working of miracles, and so forth - swept through Roman Catholicism and the older Protestant churches. While similar to Pentecostalism, including experiences of speaking in tongues, the movement did not necessarily accept the Pentecostal belief that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was always accompanied with speaking in tongues.The new tendency, generally called the Charismatic movement (from charis, Greek for gifts), has been traced to a Spirit outpouring among some Episcopalians in California in 1959 including two Episcopal priests, Frank Maguire and Dennis Bennett (1917-91). On April 3, 1960, Bennett shared what had happened to him to his congregation at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Van Nuys, and shortly thereafter resigned and moved to an Episcopal church in Washington state. Jean Stone, a laywoman in Bennett's parish, then organized the Holy Trinity Society based in Van Nuys, and sent its periodical to ministers across the country.Stone found support from the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International (FGBMFI), led by California layperson Demos Shakarian (1913-93). FGBMFI's primary activity had been holding prayer luncheons to introduce the Pentecostal experience to Christians from a variety of backgrounds. The FGBMFI periodical, Voice, became the major instrument for spreading the emergent Charismatic movement.Through the 1960s, local Charismatic groups appeared within all the major Protestant denominations, gradually creating denominationally oriented national Charismatic fellowships. Simultaneously, Roman Catholics were rapidly discovering the Charismatic experience and reaching out to Protestant Charismatics in the Vatican II ecumenic spirit. With the assistance of Belgian cardinal archbishop Leon-Joseph Suenens (1904-96), the Catholic Charismatic movement quickly spread worldwide.The larger Protestant denominations responded to the new trend with a range of reactions from open hostility to benign neglect, but showed little sign of fully accepting and approving it. Several denominations, beginning with the American Lutheran Church (now part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), officially discouraged its members and ministers from participating. Through the 1970s, many Charismatics left their home churches to form new congregations and denominationlike fellowships. Most of the new denominations avoided centralized forms of governance. They included such groups as the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Charismatic Episcopal Church, and the united Network of Christian Ministers and Churches.Influenced by Roman Catholic Charismatics, many Protestant Charismatics came to accept that the Holy Spirit could empower people to manifest various gifts of the Spirit, not just tongues. Simultaneously, the findings of psychologists concerning speaking in tongues were being integrated into new theological understandings.In the 1980s and 1990s, Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, the leading ministerial training school of Evangelicalism, developed a new openness to Pentecostalism. In 1985, it invited David du Plessis (1905-87) to set up the du Plessis Center for Christian Spirituality there. At the same time, John Wimber (1934-98) began teaching classes at Fuller about the normal status of miraculous activity ("signs and wonders") in evangelism. His classes provided the intellectual basis for his Vineyard movement, which as the Association of Vineyard Churches grew into an international denomination.Fuller was also home to Peter Wagner (b. 1930) who became famous for his studies on church growth. Wagner joined Wimber as the co-teacher of the "signs and wonders" courses and became an enthusiastic supporter of what he termed the third wave of Evangelicalism - Christians who were not Charismatics but who believed that miracles would accompany the proclamation of the Gospel. He also worked to network the various Charismatic groups and fellowships that had emerged from the Latter-Rain Movement of the 1950s, a Pentecostalist outgrowth that preached the five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11).Outside of the United States, the majority of Charismatics appear to have remained in their former churches, but the movement has reached literally millions of believers, and brought a sizable minority into independent Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations. In the United States, more than a hundred new Charismatic denominations have emerged, while the older Pentecostal churches have experienced significant membership growth. The two national Christian cable-television networks have facilitated this growth.In Europe, despite strong opposition from Protestant state churches, the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement has become the largest non-established religious community in Sweden, Norway,Finland, and Italy, while making a strong showing in France, the Netherlands, and Spain.The movement has had its most dramatic impact in Latin America, where new churches have sprung up almost overnight. In Brazil, five different Charismatic denominations, each with more than 2 million members, came to the fore late in the 20th century. One, the Assemblies of God of Brazil, is now the largest Protestant body in the country. In Mexico, the 5-million-member Light of the World Church is reaching out to spanish-speaking communities worldwide. similar dramatic growth has been documented from Guatemala to Argentina.The Charismatic movement is also remaking the complexion of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa (see Africa, sub-Saharan). Africa is now home to literally thousands of independent churches, which exist in the space between the older missionary bodies and the traditional African religions. The majority of these African Initiated Churches incorporated elements of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement. In many countries, Pentecostalism is the dominant religious force, though no individual churches have assumed the same dominant position as in South America.The Charismatic movement launched Pente-costalism on a new worldwide growth phase that continues as the 21st century begins. it is difficult to judge how far it will go in building and changing the Protestant community.Further reading:■ Dennis Bennett, Nine O'Clock in the Morning (Plainfield, N.J.: Bridge, 1970)■ Cecil David Bradfield, Neo-Pentecostalism: A Sociological Assessment (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1979)■ Stanley M. Burgess and Eduard M. Van der Maas, eds., International Dictionary of Pentecostal Charismatic Movements, rev. exp. ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2002)■ Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk, Operation World, 21st Century Edition (Carlisle, Cumbria, U.K.: Paternoster, 2001)■ David Martin, Tongues of Fire: The Explosion of Protestantism in Latin America (Cambridge, Mass.: Basil Blackwell, 1990)■ Vinson Synan, The Century of the Holy Spirit: 100 years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2001).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.