Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Charismatic Tradition – 3 of 6

This tradition is about the evidence of God’s Spirit upon the earth. It’s about power, growth and joy in the Spirit.

In the strictest sense, there are no non-Charismatic Christians.[1] Examples of spiritual charisms or gifts are wisdom, discernment and miracles--the ability to astonish. It is characteristic for the charismata within the Christian to greatly exceed human ability, hence the demonstration of the Spirit’s power.

The threefold function of charisms of the Spirit are: leadership, ecstatic empowerment, and community-building, and these function in ways that are mutually exclusive with each other. They’re not to be limited.

Paul spoke in expansive terms about the gifts of the Spirit in his letters, particularly 1 Corinthians (12-14), Romans 12, Galatians 5 and Ephesians 4. These gifts were also evidenced throughout Acts where the common-place refrain “full of the Holy Spirit” followed individual performances of Spiritual power and certain characters of the first thirty years of the Church i.e. the first deacons.

No passage of Acts is any more relevant or defining to this tradition than the outpouring of the Spirit’s power at Pentecost.

William J. Seymour, a black-rights leader in the early 1900s, engineered modern Pentecostalism writing in 1906/07, “Pentecost means to live right in the 13th chapter of First Corinthians, which is the standard.”[2]

The charismatic tradition is about a “life immersed in, empowered by, and under the direction of the Spirit of God.” It’s important because “through it we are empowered by God to do his work and to evidence his life upon this earth.”[3]
[1] Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith (London, England: HarperCollinsReligious, 1998), p. 125.
[2] Foster, Ibid, p. 120. Cited from Nelson, For Such a Time as This, p. 205.
[3] Foster, Ibid, p. 132.

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