I don't know how it is on your end of the screen, but this Lent 2014 has been flying by. It seems only yesterday that ashes were being imposed at All Saint's. Now, Passion week is here and Easter will be upon us in only a few more days.
I'd like to continue the thoughts centered around reconsidering what many in the Anglican world refer to as the "Three Streams" which have influenced our Church and its expression of Christian worship. Specifically, I want to now begin to consider the "Charismatic Stream". This stream is the one, in my estimation, which has generated more controversy and agita than the other two streams combined. But perhaps a re-imagination may take us a long distance in not only understanding, but also in gaining a new appreciation of this stream.
Let me make two bold statements. If a church is to be healthy, vibrant and in compliance with the mandate of the Great Commission, the charismatic stream will be present. The term "Charismatic" has been misappropriated and misused. I'll defend the latter first.
To be charismatic simply infers that one is operating in and under the power and gifting of the Holy Spirit.
Today, there exists a subset of churches which are marked by exuberant worship, ecstatic prophetic utterances, a rigorous legalism and a hyper-arminian theology. The personal relationship with the divine is emphasized over the corporate to the point that Christianity has become almost an "individual sport". Many of these bodies would proudly self-identify as Pentecostal or Charismatic. These churches have silted up the meaning of "charismatic" through extra-biblical excesses and errors to the point that many believers (let alone Anglican believers) bristle at the thought of the term having any application with their church. So, let's take them out of our discussion and look at the term in and of itself.
As Anglicans today, we have been influenced and move within the waters of the charismatic stream. We are recipients of that "Other Comforter" promised by Christ to his disciples on his last night before the cross. We have "received the power" promised by Christ before his ascension to the heavenly realm. These gifts have empowered us to carry out the Gospel mandates of taking the good news to the ends of earth (and beyond). These charisms are in operation on any given sunday where Bishop's, Priest's or Deacon's are proclaiming God's word faithfully and authoritatively.
The evidence exists elsewhere too in parishes. Vestries and finance committees whose members are gifted with gifts of administration are faithfully and effectively hearing from heaven and leading their parishes. Others who've been granted the gifts of intercession are tirelessly battering the gates of hell on their knees. And we overlook the "Gift of Helps" at our own peril. This is the quiet gift; you'll see it in the the folk who always seem to be there to stack chairs, dust pews, serve on Altar Gilds or as Acolytes, and change dirty diapers in the nursery.
For the one who would dismiss the idea of a charismatic stream within the Anglican expression, I'd invite you to try to consider the church without out the aforementioned gifts be extant in your parish? Clearly, this stream is flowing within your parish.
Part Three -- The Evangelical Stream
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