Letniční a charismatici: podobnosti a rozdíly
This work is a look at the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement “at a glance”. This work is aimed at – based on English literature – positive but critical evaluation of the history and theology of The Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement and summarize the most important events esp. in the USA.
PART ONE – HISTORY
1. “Charismatics“ in Church Fathers Time
Cessationism teaches about disappearing of spiritual gifts with apostolic times. Western father AUGUSTIN firstly formulated this idea. Augustin taught that miracles are not necessary for contemporary church. The same doctrine is hold by popular fundamentalist, American Protestant pastor, John F. McArthur Jr. He is known as the author of books “Charismatic” and “Charismatic Chaos”. (First book was even translated into Czech). However, the most known historian of the old church, Eusebius, doesn’t confirm McArthur’s words. According to him the miracles were seen from apostolic time to the time of church fathers in the 3rd century. For example apologetics – Tertullian and Ireneus recorded miracles as tongues speaking and miraculous healing in the second century. Tertullian was even a follower of controversial prophet Montanus, who generated a spiritual revival of spiritual gifts and who was refuted by church orthodoxy at that time.
Some conservative Evangelicals and Fundamentalists in USA rose up teaching about disappearing of spiritual gifts by canonization of books included in New Testament. But this contention is not without problems, too. For example orthodox historians recorded that monastery founder in the fourth century Pachomius was gifted by ability of tongue speaking. Opposed to these apologists, writers and historians, JOHN CHRISOSTOMOS testified the finalization of miraculous gifts with post apostolic age.
2. “Charismatics” in Middle Ages
Church historians write about 14th century hermits VINCENT FERRIER and DOMINIC, who proclaimed their ability to speak in tongues. Jesuit missionary FRANCIS XAVIER shared the same experience in the 16th century. Tongues were seen among Christian movements and sects, among true Christians like Huguenots or Waldenses or among unorthodox Shakers and Quakers. Many Christian mystics shared their experiences about revelations, dreams, tongues etc. According to Souers history even MARTIN LUTHER had allegedly the ability of prophecy and prayer in tongues.
3. Modern Precursors of Charismatics in USA
Charismatic historians derived their origin from Pentecostal Movement that had roots in Holiness Movement – which was directly derived from Methodism.
The father of Methodism JOHN WESLEY (1703–1791) was strongly influenced by Moravian Movement, which originated in Pietism. Moravian Church was lifted up by experience “Holy Spirit baptism” (derived from 2 Acts in Bible), during their “praying night” on the estate of German Count Zinzendorf. Zinzendorf, pietistic writers and preachers, spoke about New Pentecost. This experience united many Christians, protestant exultant from Catholic countries, who had different doctrinal background and those who were assembled on his estate. Zinzendorf spoke about God’s miraculous answer to their bidding prayers.
John Wesley met Moravians during his evangelization trip and during an ocean storm he was strongly moved by their patience and strong belief. Later on, Moravians – although they themselves had had experience with charismatic gifts, refused Wesley’s teaching about “second blessing”. Although this teaching was mostly rejected in European circles, over the Atlantic it was admitted by puritans’ successors and it was for this reason that Holiness Movement started.
The most prominent person, sharing Wesley’s “second blessing” teaching, was CHARLES G. FINNEY (1792–1825). Finney was the first person in modern history to call “second blessing” as experience of “Holy Spirit baptism”. Finney was a preacher at Ewans Mill but later started to teach as a professor of Systematic and Practical Theology in Oberlin.
Finny’s coeval DWIGHT MOODY (1837–1899) spread doctrine about Holy Ghost baptism across the USA. In 1899 MOODY founded The Biblical Institute in Chicago. Moody is the most prominent evangelist in 19th century who is regarded by American Pentecostals, Evangelicals and even Fundamentalists. Several hundred thousand people become Christians thanks to his crusades. Moody’s follower R. A. TORREY (1856–1928) started to teach about necessity of Holy Spirit baptism for all Christians.
Teaching about Holy Spirit baptism swept the USA. In 1854 V. P. SIMONS promoted teaching about tongues interpretation and his presbyters F. G. MATHEWSON and E. BURNHAM supported him. In 1875 R. B. SWAN in Providence and in 1879 W. J. WALTHALL in Arkansas confess their experiences without influence of Holiness Movement.
In these times many unorthodox persons started “First Healing Revival”. Among them were ALEXANDER DOWIE and MARIA ETTER, for example. Moody was strongly and openly against their ministry.
In the beginning of the 20th century, Presbyterian preacher EDWARD IRVING from London allowed in his parish the use of spiritual gifts (like prophecy or tongues) during his worship. Immediately his denominational authorities suspended him. After his death in 1834 his followers (Irvingates) established “Apostolic and Catholic Church”, which become a sect. Later on, his Movement turned to the USA.
4. Pentecostal Movement
The Pentecostal Movement is considered to be a true predecessor of Charismatic Movement. Its beginning is dates back to 1st January 1901. Elder of Biblical School in Topeka, C.F. PARHAM, laid his hand to head of AGNES OZMAN, a student of his school, and prayed for gift of Holy Spirit. After that Ozman started to speak in tongues. This experience became the base of teaching of early Pentecostals who said that speaking in tongues is true evidence of Holy Spirit baptism.
The second important event is “Azusa Street Revival” in 1906. Parham’s disciple, Afro-American W. J. SEYMOUR, was invited to preach in „Negro Holiness Church.“ In his sermon Seymour said that if the members had no spiritual gifts, they were not baptized in Spirit. For this declamation Seymour was expelled from church and accused of heresy. For this reason Seymour rented an old Methodist church building in 312 Azusa Street, invited some members of Negro Holiness Church and started a series of preaching about “how to receive spiritual gifting”. After that a many Pentecostals churches started not only in the USA but also round the world. The mixture of enthusiastic preaching, black gospel music and the breaking of race barriers started one of the largest Christian revivals in the 20th century.
Many unorthodox practices appeared in Azusa, for example jerking, spasms, unconsciousness etc. When Parham visited Azusa street, he was dismayed by the „awful fits and spasms“ of the „holy rollers and hypnotists.“ He described the Azusa tongues as chattering, jabbering and sputtering, speaking no language at all.
Some Pentecostal circles have remained flamboyant till contemporary times but Pentecostal mainstream belongs to classical evangelical family of churches. Billy Graham for example uses the encouragement of Pentecostal churches on his crusades around the world.
5. Pentecostal Admission
In 1936, an American Pentecostal preacher and faith healer S. WIGGLESWORTH prophesied about Holy Spirit outpouring among traditional churches. He marked a man who will serve according to his vision and who will spread the Pentecostal message between Christian mainstream churches. This man was an evangelist and ecumenist D. DU PLESSIS, so called “Mr. Pentecost”. After the second word war, at an opportune moment, Du Plessis started creating connections with protestant and even catholic churches. Later on he was surprisingly a guest of Second Vatican Council.
In 1943 National Evangelical Alliance offered membership to some Pentecostal churches and Du Plessis created connections with WCC and was even invited to its general meeting in Evanston (1954).
6. Charismatic Movement
The first modern charismatic person connected with contemporary Charismatic movement was DEMOS SHAKARIAN. In 1950 his wife received a revelation to found Full Gospel Business Men's International Fellowship. For supporting of heresy – as Branhamism and Prosperity Gospel, this movement started to be controversial. However, this movement is the first historical Charismatic Movements, which laid the most important charismatic doctrine: assembling believers from different denominations and teaching them charismatic doctrines about renewal of spiritual gifts.
Many controversies between para-church charismatic leaders and denominational leaders emerged. The parishioners had now two authorities – a denominational authority which is voted and which has responsibility to members of the church, and a charismatic, non-voted authority, without responsibility to denominational institutions.
There is then the most important difference between Pentecostal and Charismatic movement. Pentecostal churches are denominational and Charismatic Movement is an interdenominational movement. Members of their churches vote Pentecostal leaders, charismatic leaders are non-voted and they lead many members of different churches. A Pentecostal Christian is a member of the Pentecostal church but a Charismatic Christian may by a member of whichever church. The Charismatics are not connected by doctrine but rather through experiences.
7. Charismatic Admission
Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements have never been united and there have been many theological and practical differences. According to Jacob Prasch, Pentecostal leader, there are two further aspects of commonality between Pentecostals and Charismatics: Both began as bona fide moves of God’s Spirit, and both almost immediately degenerated into experiential theology, an eclipse of both reason and spirituality by emotion and mysticism, unbiblical doctrines, and extremism, and counterfeit manifestations. Here, however, the similarity ends.
Mistrust of many Christians was broken by book of Pentecostal servant DAVID WILKERSON “Cross and Switchblade”. Wilkerson, as a very young preacher, came to New York from Pennsylvania and served to young drug addicts, murderers and prostitutes without any encouragement or experience, only with his Bible and an old car for sleeping. Truly Christian revival appeared between junkies as a result of his service. Even the US government started to seek information about it. Finally, the largest international Christian Ministry for drug addicts was based on this experience.
Only from that time on the classical Christians have started to take the Pentecostals in account.
PART TWO – THEOLOGY
8. Short introduction specifics of Pentecostal Theology The basis of Pentecostal theology is derived from historic development of protestant dogma (from Lutheranism and Baptism to Methodism). According to leading Pentecostal theologians, the basis of contemporary Pentecostal theology is created from four parts that show nature a service of Jesus Christ.
o Christ Savior
o Christ Santificator
o Christ Healer
o Christ Coming King
In the beginning of Movement the Pentecostals adopted statements “Fundamental Truths” (1920) about Virgin birth, Scripture inerrancy, Christ deity, eternal punishment etc. that defended historical orthodoxy against liberalism that was born in Germany. To this time these doctrines are reflected in “16. Fundamental Truths of Assemblies of God” and – according to Pentecostals – developed from “Four steps Gospel” (Full Gospel):
The Scriptures are inspired by God. There is only one true God–revealed in three persons. Lord Jesus has divine nature (deity of Jesus Christ). As God's son Jesus was both human and divine though originally good. Man willingly fell to sin –ushering evil and death, both physical and spiritual, into the world. Every person can have restored fellowship with God through ‚salvation‘ and practice two ordinances — (1) water baptism by Immersion after repenting of one's sins and receiving Christ's gift of salvation, and (2) holy communion (the Lord's Supper) as a symbolic remembrance of Christ's suffering and death for our salvation.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a special experience following salvation that empowers believers for witnessing and effective service, just as it did in New Testament times. The initial physical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is ‘speaking in tongues,’ as experienced on the day of Pentecost and referenced throughout Acts and the Epistles. Sanctification initially occurs at salvation and is not only a declaration that a believer is holy, but also a progressive lifelong process of separating from evil as believers continually draw closer to God and become more Christlike.
The church has a mission to seek and save all who are lost in sin. Pentecostals believe ‚the church‘ is the body of Christ and consists of the people who, throughout time, have accepted God's offer of redemption (regardless of religious denomination) through the sacrificial death of His son Jesus Christ. A divinely called and scripturally ordained leadership ministry serves the church. According to them the Bible teaches that each of us under leadership must commit ourselves to reach others for Christ, to worship Him with other believers, and to build up or edify the body of believers–the church. Divine healing of the sick is a privilege for Christians today and is provided for in Christ's atonement.
Christ Coming King
The blessed hope — when Jesus raptures His church prior to His return to earth (the second coming). At this future moment in time all believers who have died will rise from their graves and will meet the Lord in the air, and Christians who are alive will be caught up with them, to be with the Lord forever. The millennial reign of Christ when Jesus returns with His saints at His second coming and begins His benevolent rule over earth for 1,000 years. At that time many in the nation of Israel will recognize and accept Him as the Messiah, the Savior who died for them and all mankind. A final judgment will take place for those who have rejected Christ. They will be judged for their sin and consigned to eternal punishment in a punishing lake of fire. Saint looking forward to the perfect new heavens and a new earth that Christ is preparing for all people, of all time, who have accepted Him. We will live and dwell with Him there forever following His millennial reign on Earth. ‚And so shall we forever be with the Lord!‘
According to basics terms of systematic theology it is evident, that Pentecostals are Arminians and Premillenialists respectively Dispensationalists and refuse infant baptism.
9. Short introduction specifics of Charismatic Theology
Although Pentecostal theology is clearly defined through doctrinal statements of the largest Pentecostal denomination Assemblies of God in USA, the charismatic theology is not clear. Even in many Evangelical minds, the expressions, „Pentecostal theology“ and „charismatic theology“ are not intimately associated. In my experience these differences have two roots.
- Charismatics are not specific Christian doctrinal movement but interdenominational movement. For example: Pentecostal Christian is a member of specific church e.g. Assemblies of God, Church of God, Church of Nazarene etc. Pentecostal Christian can’t be Baptist or Presbyterian or Catholic. But Charismatic is not member of specific church and Charismatic may be member of Baptist or Presbyterian or Catholic Church. This is reason why the Charismatics are connected by their spirituality rather than by their doctrines. Most important common experience of all charismatic is doctrine of “Holy Spirit Baptism". For majority Charismatics in the USA and in the World doctrine about “infant baptism” or “Scripture inerrancy” is not important. Charismatics are united by experience of Holy Ghost Baptism and participation on spiritual gifts came out from this.
- Second point is very important, too. Since Charismatics have no legal authorities in their denominations, interdenominational authorities guide them. These authorities became “under-denominational apostles”. Charismatic frequently follows their revelations and there is not any possibility how to correct these “messages” because apostles are not involved in church structures. Apostles are subordinated to no one, but their own authority is often uncontrolled. So that doctrinal errors are occurred in these circles. Revelations have in this way the same authority like as Bible because is practically no possibility how to adjudicate.
These points mentioned above: 1) doctrinal mixture of many traditions (which are sometimes incompatible) and 2) strong personal authorities of apostles and prophets and their unexamined revelations are for Charismatic on the world determined. These points have caused disagreement between Classical Pentecostals and Modern Charismatic during more than 50 years existence of Charismatic Movement.
Charismatic Movement often follows new revelations of interdenominational apostles and prophets. And Charismatic Christians assembled around these persons sharing the new spiritual experiences according their visions. There exist similarity between middle age mystics and Charismatics. Because of it the Charismatic consider mystics as their predecessors.
10. Pentecostal – Charismatic controversies
Pentecostals – according to their apologists – had to face up to many Charismatic waves. For example Latter Rain Movement, Shepherding Discipleship Movement, Faith Movement, Vineyard Movement or Toronto Blessing. Pentecostal theologians prepared many doctrinal statement, where refused these waves which – in time their widespread – literally swept evangelical circles in USA.
Although Pentecostals sometimes are marked as flamboyant believers, they often criticize four aspects of Charismatic theology:
- Overgrown and uncontrolled authority of charismatic Apostles and Prophets and the erroneous teaching that the church is built on the foundation of present-day apostles and prophets.
- Unbiblical enthusiasm and lack of orthopraxy in Charismatic circles.
- Unorthodox pneumatology esp. praxis of spiritual gifts shared through hands laying and personal prophecy.
- “Kingdom now” theology esp. teaching that Christians may take over dominion under World.
These points General Council of Assemblies of God adopted in 1949 against Letter Rain Movement that was predecessor of Charismatic Movement. General Presbytery was written that Pentecostals refuse: 1) The overemphasis on identifying, bestowing, or imparting spiritual gifts by the laying on of hands and naming, supposedly by prophecy, specific gifts. 2) The problematic teaching that present-day offices of apostles and prophets should govern church ministry at all levels. 3) The practice of imparting or imposing personal leadings by means of gifts of utterance. 4) Wresting and distorting Scripture through interpretations that are in opposition to the primary meaning of biblical passages.
These points were once more time restored, on August 13, 2000, and worked out according to contemporary Charismatic doctrines and movements, which endangered integrity of Pentecostal Movement. There is written:
„The Executive Presbytery has taken action to authorize the Committee on Doctrinal Purity to prepare a position paper dealing with current emphases, teachings, or practices which mark departure from our scriptural understanding of local church government and ministry; and a variety of issues or excesses surfacing in charismatic/Pentecostal churches today, which can impact various of our churches and ministries; and, such a position paper when prepared, and approved, and published will provide guidance and help to all our churches and ministers--including many who are not able to attend a General Council.”
In the statement Charismatic doctrines and errors are enumaratively mentioned: Kingdom Now or Dominion theology, Manifest Sons of God and Joel’s Army, The Prosperity Gospel, Excessive Fascination With Physical „Manifestations.“ etc.
Despite these things Pentecostals believe, that Charismatic Movements has origin in Holy Spirit Movement although admits differences rooted in their orthodoxy:
“We believe that God's Spirit never goes where His Word does not. . . . We have been lambasted by elements of the electronic church and charismatic renewal as being backslidden and non-Spirit led when we have not jumped on popular bandwagons of the day loaded with the meringue of personality and spiritual excess rather than the plain meat of God's Word. So be it! If criticism is the price we must pay for asking the question: „What saith the Lord in His written Word?“ – then let us wear that criticism gladly as a sign of fidelity to Christ.
In this work I tried to describe common history and contemporary of Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement. I have found interesting reality: although many theologians and historians – at a glance – classify both movements as one Christian tradition, there are many fundamental differences. There are totally different views about ecclesiology, pneumatology or eschatology. Most researchers are (positively or negatively) impressed by similarities esp. tongue speaking, prophecy, aggressive exorcism or missionary work emphasis. But many researchers are surprised by differences already in understanding of Gospel.
Both movements these dissimilarities accepted and collaborated in many fields of Christian work. There are many common projects and many Charismatics graduated on Pentecostal Universities; identically, many Pentecostals graduated on Charismatic Universities (most known are Oral Roberts Universities or Regent University). However, in my opinion, it is essential that theologians know about these differences because Pentecostal Movement is now most quick growing Movement in the World. Many religionists now distinguish four streams of world Christianity: 1) Catholics 2) Eastern Orthodoxy 3) Protestants and 4) Pentecostal and Charismatics. The latter have about four hundred million followers and contemporarily it is the fourth stream of fast growing Christian tradition in the world.
 Endtime Revival: Spirit-Led and Spirit-Controlled A Response to Resolution, http://ag.org/…_revival.cfm
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