The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Charismatic Movement


I came across this article on my web travels. As readers of this blog may know, I was raised in the charismatic movement within the Catholic Church, and most of my family is still active in it. If anything, my life to this point can be considered a rebellion against this upbringing. (I still think speaking in tongues is really creepy, especially when you do it in front of children.)


I suppose anything goes these days, and charismatics are in general good and honest people who are very sincere about their faith. Most of them are quite orthodox when it comes to many things. Still, it all gives me pause, since working yourself into such commotion could just become a very dubious manifestation of a natural, quasi-hypnotic state. (I am just going by childhood memories here.) The Holy Ghost, in my experience at least, is always in the still, small voice; He is often not in the drum-set or the bass guitar.

8 Comments:

At 9:58 PM, Blogger UltraCrepidarian said...

Amen. You have confirmed my pre-existing bias against this, so you must be correct. Please accept my sincerest Kudos.

W

 
At 6:44 AM, Anonymous Rev. Christopher Hall said...

1 Corinthians 14:32-33: "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion (akatastasia), but of peace,"

St. Paul clearly was addressing uncontrolled behavior within the Church, but the Cult of Dionysius and other ecstatic cults which worked the worshipers into a frenzy could very well have been in the background of this apostolic exhortation.

Always enjoy reading!

 
At 7:00 AM, Blogger Pseudo-Iamblichus said...

Please don't get me wrong. I love my family, but I just don't understand how they worship anymore. I am just glad that in some things, like praying the rosary, we can still worship God together. Otherwise, who am I to judge?

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger AG said...

"Who are you to judge," indeed, right after thrilling us with your acumen on charismatic Catholics. Thank goodness we have someone as smart as yourself to make such judgments for us. Indeed, how dare anyone use instruments as crude as a drum-set or bass guitar to worship the Lord! They should have read Psalms more carefully for approved instruments: the lute, the cymbal....

Of course spiritual ecstasy and "visions" are probably the result of seizure activity in the temporal lobe of the brain, the stigmata are probably the result of changes in physiology following focused mental concentration on the functioning of the body during the Passion, and all those saints who consumed nothing more (or less) than the Eucharist had eating disorders, which combined with intense pain due to self-mutilation probably left them more vulnerable to hallucinations that they perceived as 'spiritual experiences.' But who am I to judge?

 
At 9:11 AM, Blogger AG said...

BTW, I'm not 'defending' the charismatic movement in Catholicism, if it needs defending. But one should be really careful about placing stumbling blocks for others. Who is to say that someone reading your blog didn't have a profound spiritual experience during a charismatic worship service - are you prepared to judge that they didn't receive the grace of God and it was purely physical and/or demonic? What do YOU get out of having sincere Catholics question elements of their faith and experience of God in their lives? Is such proper care of one's brothers and sisters in Christ, and if so, are insulting statements the best way to initiate that discussion?

 
At 1:19 PM, Blogger The young fogey said...

Until now I didn't know you grew up charismatic.

My take on the movement.

 
At 5:37 AM, Blogger Ben Johnson said...

You're right; much of the charismatic movement exists to get its membership "excited" (in a human way). There are also those in the Orthodox world, including those on Mt. Athos, who have had incidents of speaking in tongues. But I've also had die-hard charismatics tell me about hearing "a lot of fake tongues"...

From an historical perspective, Christians weren't meant to make the exceptional, rare, and (according to St. Paul) lower spiritual gift of tongues the all-important focus of worship, at the expense of that Christ instructed us to do "in remembrance of Me."

It seems many have realized this: Many Charismatic Episcopalians are joining Orthodoxy.

God bless,
Ben

 
At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just dropping by to say hello

 

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