Saturday, 17 January 2015

On Labels: What Charismatic does not mean

The term 'Charismatic', in church circles, has become synonymous with a whole lot of things that go on, some of them harmless but nevertheless unrelated to the filling and gifts of the Spirit, some distasteful inappropriate embarrassing or unwise, some just wrong.  This is why I need to do a list of things that charismatic does not mean.

Here goes.  'Charismatic' does not mean...
  • A particular style or volume level of worship, lighting level or amount of electronic gadgetry
  • A particular set of weird noises, manifestations, physical twitches or the habit of falling over in meetings
  • Large numbers of people speaking in other languages in unison after a song accompanied by a musical instrument with no attempt at explanation or translation
  • Teaching on an apparently random topic week after week based on 'what I think God wants to say to us'
  • A larger than usual amount of hugging, ranging from slight side hugs to passionate bear hugs with no thought given to how well I know the person,cultural sensitivities, personal space or possible sexual attraction
  • A more informal style of teaching with more than the usual daft jokes and self-indulgent anecdotes
  • Allowing absolutely anyone to teach or 'share' from the front without any consideration of the person's character, commitment or background
  • Because the worship is going so well, doing more songs and scrapping the teaching session, then treating it as a kind of triumph
  • Regular prophecies of imminent revival or 'outpourings of the Holy Spirit' in the town or city the meeting is in without any reference to repentance, commitment, obedience or even competence
  • Going around prophesying over people blessings without any reference to repentance, commitment or obedience
  • Inviting prophets or healers to take meetings/missions/weekend schools without adequately checking their lifestyle, reputation, financial probity, track record or theological stance
  • Basing major decisions on leadership or other personnel based on 'what God told me/us' and on various signs and co-incidences without reference to the person's character, biblical qualifications or suitability
  • Using 'God told me...' as the last word on any decisions that have been taken
  • Doing things because one 'feels led' and not checking things with other more mature people
That is why I can define myself a a 'Charismatic Evangelical' Christian.  A church like the Living Springs Victory Fellowship (see my next post!) would wholeheartedly call itself charismatic.  But it needs to look carefully at what that does and doesn't actually mean.  I have seen all of the above (and more) in churches and meetings that would call themselves charismatic.  But it doesn't actually mean they are.

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