Many of you will probably wonder what I am thinking—after all the Reformation happened over 500 years ago with Luther nailing 95 theses on a cathedral door. Actually, it is my contention that the Reformation was a move of God that is still with us in some degree or another—the effects of the move changed Christianity forever. It wasn’t just the beginning of Protestantism but also brought major changes to the Roman church also.
Regardless of how you view the history of the Reformation that continued for several hundred years, Catholics view it different than protestants, nevertheless God was bringing something lost and something new to the church through this move and all Christianity has been changed for the better because of it.
Any of you who have ever read a history of this move can readily admit and agree that not everything that happened was from God—particularly the major wars that plagued all of Europe for centuries.
Now What About the Charismatic Move?
I started thinking about this issue after reading J. Lee Grady’s latest editorial: The Charismatic Movement: Dead or Alive?
The initial wave of the Charismatic movement is over but the effects continue on. And here’s where the confusion lies—no one would ever say that Pentecostalism is dead even though the original move that kicked it off happen in 1906. The same can be said of the Charismatic move that started in 1967. Though the original wave is over, the effects are still with us and it continues on.
What exactly did the Charismatic Move do anyway? What was the original function. So many today, 40 years after the beginning, look at a bunch of weird independent churches that call themselves ‘Charismatic’ and wonder if it was a real move of God after all. Believe me it was.
The real function of this move of God was not to found a new bunch of independent churches and associations/denominations, but to bring the gifts of the spirit and Pentecostalism into the mainstream. That is exactly what the move did—it broke down denominational walls and differences and spilled over into every denomination including the Catholics and Episcopalians.
This is another one of those—“I remember when” messages that I write every once in a while having lived through the whole thing! You see, I remember when all the Pentecostal churches were crummy little churches on the other side of the track in the worst parts of town and it definitely wasn’t socially advisable to admit that you were a ‘holy roller’. Not so today.
I can remember when I went to church with one of my buddies in 1965—it was a Southern Baptist Church. The moment I stepped into the vestibule I was greeted by a huge rack of tracts—with nearly half of them putting down Pentecostalism and particularly the gifts—did not make me feel all that welcome. Wow have times changed, last year I read an article in the Baptist Press that proclaimed that 50% of Southern Baptist Pastors believed in tongues. What happened—for better or worse–I think for better, the Charismatic move.
Today the vast majority of Christians are Pentecostal or Charismatic in their perspective and beliefs no matter what the denominational sign says on the church that they attend. This is particularly true in missional areas like Africa and Asia. This was not the way it was when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s.
Even those fundamentalist Christians that like to claim that the gifts ceased in the Apostolic period have been affected by the move. Most of those folks believe that God still answers prayer, still heals, and even still speaks to them through the Holy Spirit and through the Word. Read some of John MacArthur’s books, particularly on Jesus and see if you’re not surprised by the Holy Spirit gracing the work and blessing you in the process.
The initial ‘Charismatic’ move may be over but the church continues to build upon the foundation that God brought to us through it. Just like we continue to build upon the Reformation and Pentecostal moves. The real point and the best part of Grady’s article is this—God is not done with us and we need to be open to the next wave that he sends to his church. He closes with this thought:
“It really doesn’t matter what we label the next movement. What’s important is His renewing presence. Rather than worshiping God around a monument to the past, let’s find out where He’s going and follow the glory cloud.”