What is Charismatic, Charismatic Movement, Charismatic Leadership, Charismatic Definition and Meaning
Although related to Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement differs in not being denominationally organized and in its refusal to insist upon speaking in tongues as an essential element of authentic Christian experience. Members refer to themselves as charismatic (a term derived from the Greek word for Grace) or as the new Pentecost. The origins of the movement cannot be precisely identified, but it has gained significant membership since the 1960s.
The term “charismatic” was coined by American Lutheran minister Harald Bredesen in 1962 to describe what was happening in Mainline Protestant Denominations. Confronted with the term “neo-Pentecostal”, he preferred to call it “the charismatic renewal in the historic churches.”
Charismatic is an umbrella term used to describe the belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit as described in the Christian New Testament are available to contemporary Christians through the filling with or baptism in the Holy Spirit, with-or-without the laying on of hands. These spiritual gifts are believed to be manifest in the form of signs, miracles, and wonders, including, but not limited to, glossolalia (speaking in tongues/languages), interpretation of tongues, prophecy, healing, and discernment of spirits (see, among others, 1 Corinthians 12-14).
Adherents of these beliefs are often called “charismatics.” They may be found in any denomination of the Church, though some have formed their own independent congregations and ministries, and para-church organizations.
Most historians date the beginning of the charismatic movement and its leadership as April 3, 1960. On this day, Father Dennis Bennett of St. Mark’s Episcopal parish in Van Nuys, California, announced to his congregation that he had received the fullness and power of the “Holy Spirit”, and how this accompanied “speaking in unknown tongues.” After receiving much opposition, Bennett resigned from his position at St. Mark’s and accepted an invitation to become vicar of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Seattle, Washington, which grew to be one of the strongest charismatic churches in the Northwest. For a decade, it was one of the major centers from which speaking in tongues would spread worldwide, especially in the mainline denominations.
The significance of the Charismatic movement resides in the penetration of the Pentecostal tongues practice into mainline denominations. Thousands of people inside mainline denominations were experiencing “speaking in tongues” and other spiritual manifestations. This bred a strong conviction that all of the supernatural “sign gifts” (e.g. tongues, healing, miracles, and in some cases, prophecy) were for today.
Independent charismatics, such as Hagin, Copeland, Charles Capps, and others main emphasis was “faith teaching”, “divine healing”, and financial prosperity.
The most militant movement to rise up alongside of the charismatic movement was the “Manifested Sons of God.” This aberration gleaned many of its doctrinal distinctives from the Latter-Rain Movement and thrived during the 1960s and 1970s. Following the teachings of William Branham, the “Manifested Sons” claimed that denominations were pagan organizations with a Babylonian foundation. Many who broke their denominational ties and joined the “Manifest Sons of God” believed they were entering the only arena where salvation was possible. The more militant “Manifested Sons” spiritualized the second coming by teaching that Jesus and His church would become one in nature and in essence. Being one with Christ would corporately result in a Body of “little Christ’s in the flesh” manifesting Jesus Christ on earth as His ongoing incarnation.
The growth of the Charismatic Movement and the Charismatic leadership and other fringe movements springing up in the 1960s and 1970s placed more emphasis on subjective experience than on Biblical truth, which resulted in creating much evil in the Christian world. The Charismatic movement has been harmful to the Catholic Church by opening many doors to the ever-present influence of experiential and unbiblical ideas. This will become evident upon examining some of the dangerous new trends sweeping through the charismatic community today.
The Charismatic movement is a false movement heavily infected with heretical and Protestant tendencies and ideas. On February 11, 1971, “Barbara Schlemon, a charismatic reputed to have the gift of healing, passed through Birmingham and asked Fr. De Grandis [a Charismatic priest] to take her to meet Mother Angelica [the foundress of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN)]… In the chapel, Schlemon and the priest laid hands on Mother, invoking the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” About a week later “a foreign tongue spilled from Mother Angelica’s mouth inexplicably. When Sister Regina came to deliver a glass of orange juice, Mother tried to say thank you, but ‘something else came out.’” We must emphasize that this very significant fact is admitted in an EWTN and the Charismatic Movement biography about Mother Angelica which was written by one of her biggest supporters: the anchor of her network, Raymond Arroyo.
“On Holy Saturday in 1971, Father De Grandis and Mother prayed over each member of the community. All but one nun experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and everyone received something. Following this experience, Sister Joseph and other nuns believed the Lord began speaking to them. By Easter Sunday, the whole community was ‘speaking in tongues.’”
Speaking in languages not known by the individual who is speaking them, speaking in gibberish, etc., is very often a sign of diabolical possession. This is especially true when it comes as a result of a Charismatic experience in which one has had hands laid on him or her in order to receive “the spirit.” An individual we know from Massachusetts, who was heavily involved in the Charismatic movement years ago, actually told one of us that he felt a demon enter him after a Charismatic had laid his hand on him at a service. He also told us that, at one Charismatic conference, God allowed him to see a small demon enter a room. Amazed, he followed the demon and waited to see if it would come back out of the room; but the only thing which emerged from the room was the Charismatic priest who was about to perform his “healing” service by praying over people. This experience caused this individual to abandon the Charismatic movement.
Here’s another interesting testimony from a person who was heavily involved in the Charismatic movement of the Vatican II church. This testimony is actually quite scary to tell you the truth, but it does show to people how heavily involved the devil is in these new age cults:
Your conversation with the young man from Texas brought back many memories of my own involvement with the charismatic movement in the Vatican II “Catholic” church - but it involves many Protestant churches as well. As long as one is able to “speak in tongues” he is most accepted - with open arms - into this most dangerous and spiritually unsound movement. It places unspiritual emphasis on physical healing… When you join you are “coming under the power” a practice which is performed often on you - which causes you to swoon, faint slump down, and remain unconscious for several seconds or longer. Hypnotic suggestions opens one up to either pretended or demonically energized results which parallel those of the occult. The last meeting I attended finally opened my eyes to how dangerous and totally of the devil this movement is. Was sitting in the back of a room that was rented inside a hotel for this particular meeting. As it got started this women jumped up and started speaking in this most frightening, gibberish language. Then everyone else started to do the same - this endless screaming and chanting - which seemed to go on forever - and then there was dead silence with everyone dropping their heads as in a trace. My friend and I were witnessing this, (and hardly believing what we were seeing), from the back of the room. The coldness in the air cut through us like a knife. We knew we had to get out of there - and fast!! We could hardly make it out of our chairs - our legs felt like lead. We managed to get to the exit door and as I turned my head to look back, ( and to this day I’ll never know why I did ), EVERYONE in that room was staring straight at us. This dead zombie like stare!! Then they started SCREAMING “get thee behind me Satan” over and over and over again. The last thing I remember before darting out the door was a slight cloud of smoke coming up from the floor in the front of that room.
Through the grace of God I was able to break free from this most dangerous cult and then many years later, through your ministry, find the True Catholic Church. The devil prowls around the world like a roaring lion seeking the ruin of souls. He attempts to lay countless traps to ensnare us into the pit of darkness and lukewarmness. What a comfort to know we can rely upon the intercession of Our Most Holy Queen and Mother to help us to resist the wiles of the ancient adversary and his minions, especially by “fleeing from” and withdrawing as far as is possible from a culture that is diabolically demonic. My prayers will be with this young man in hopes that he will “seek and find” the True Catholic Faith.
We believe that God allows the Devil to take people over in these Charismatic services because by partaking in them people are essentially saying that the sacraments of the Catholic Church, the seven instituted by Jesus Christ, are not sufficient. They are professing, therefore, that they need a new set of man-made rites – rites which are outside the sacramental system – in order to really receive “the spirit.” By participation in such “rites,” they are essentially participating in a new religion in order to gain access to “the spirit” outside the means specifically set up by Christ. As a consequence, these Charismatic “rites” become new “sacraments” of a false religion which give access to the evil, not the Holy spirit. It should be emphasized that the laying on of hands is present throughout the New Testament as the matter for the Sacrament of Confirmation (e.g. Acts 8:17; Acts 19:6) – a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ. It’s ironic that in the new “Confirmation” in the Vatican II sect the laying on of hands has been abolished, but Charismatics continue to use the laying on of hands in their own services in order to transmit “the spirit.” Since we know that their laying on of hands in an attempt to transmit the “spirit” is not the Sacrament of Confirmation (for even women and laymen do it), it is actually the Counter Confirmation – a false sacrament which therefore gives access, once again, not to the Holy, but to the evil spirit.
So, as a worthy recipient of the Sacrament of Confirmation receives a deeper endowment of the Holy Ghost, the active participation in such new “rites” or “sacraments” of the false Charismatic religion – by partaking in things such as the laying on of hands – gives these unfortunate individuals a deep endowment of the evil spirit. That’s why at many of these Charismatic meetings the “Catholics” actually find themselves oinking like pigs, barking like dogs, and breaking out into outrageously uncontrollable laughter. These things, especially oinking like pigs and barking like dogs, are clear signs of demonic possession.
We make reference to this individual’s experience because Mother Angelica herself not only spoke repeatedly of her own mystical “experiences,” but she also admitted something striking about her reaction to having hands laid on her by Charismatics. Her reaction dovetails with this gentleman’s experience. Mother Angelica said that her experience, in which words she hadn’t intended to speak spilled out of her mouth after having had hands laid on her by Charismatics, scared her. She recalled: “Words came out, but I didn’t know what they were. It scared me.” Mother Angelica didn’t realize that it was an evil spirit which she had picked up after involvement with the Charismatics. She continued to promote this movement.
On Dec. 2, 1977, Mother Angelica led a Charismatic retreat in Birmingham with 28 leaders in her work, who were called “Guardians.” Standing in the chapel, “Mother laid her hands on each guardian, praying in tongues for their fidelity. Some sang out in holy gibberish, others were ‘slain in the Spirit.’” One of the participants said afterwards that it was “charismania at its height.” After the death of Paul VI, “Mother Angelica laid hands on Matt Scalici, Jr. in her chapel.”
Mother Angelica’s biography claims that after this time she “gradually” pulled out of the Charismatic movement. This is an empty claim, for her network continued to promote the biggest charismatics in the country, such as the figures at Franciscan University and those of their ilk.
It encourages its followers to stay in apostate Protestant churches and other churches outside the true Catholic Church, which (the Charismatic movement) preach and teach a false gospel by asserting that if the supposed “gifts of the Spirit” are present in false religious systems then joining them in evangelism, worship, service, etc., must be an acceptable ministry. The God’s Word through the Catholic Church plainly tells believers that those who preach another gospel are “accursed” (Galatians 1:6, 9) and that those who fellowship with false teachers are partakers of their evil deeds (2 John 10, 11).
It sells and promotes, like the New Evangelical Movement.
It places unscriptural and undue emphasis on physical healing. This stumbles many because it is not always God’s will to heal. Both the Scriptures and experience teach that God may use physical afflictions for refining, correcting, and chastening (Hebrews 12:3-11; Job 23:10). God’s Word teaches that He can heal anyone, anytime, but that He does not heal everyone, every time. Paul learned this truth when God explained why his thrice repeated prayer for personal healing was not granted (2 Corinthians 12:1-10); and, also, when one of Paul’s faithful helpers, Trophimus, was unable to accompany him because of sickness (2 Timothy 4:20). When we pray for healing for ourselves or others, we must never forget that such healing is always God’s prerogative based upon what He knows is best for each of His children, not upon “demanding” or “claiming” such healing as do the Charismatics.
It fosters and encourages a spirit of worldliness in the individual. Instead of striving for true holiness and Godliness in speech, dress, hair, music, entertainment, etc., the Charismatic Movement prides itself in using worldly means to entertain their own and attract the lost. This is also very dangerous. Read 1 John 2:15-17.
It encourages women to forsake their God-given place in the home and in the Church. This results in disorderly homes with women assuming places of leadership etc., in direct violation of the Word of God. It is strange, inconsistent and sad to hear Charismatics using the fourteenth chapter of First Corinthians to justify their speaking in tongues as a gift of the Spirit for our day when that very same chapter says plainly “Let your women keep silence in the churches... ” (1 Corinthians 14:34). To countermand God’s command to women is dangerous -- for women, for the home and for the Church.
It promotes and encourages what is called “coming under the power,” a dangerous practice in which certain leaders “lay hands” on people causing them to “swoon, faint slump down, experience the power,” etc., thereafter remaining unconscious or semi-conscious for several seconds or longer. The Charismatics attempt to use John 18:6 to justify this practice which is another example of how they twist the Scriptures to justify and defend their practices. Hypnotic suggestion and the like desire for such an experience opens one up to either pretended or demonically energized results which parallel those of the occult.
It glories in “miracles” and often uses a “miracle” as the basis for validating a person’s message or practices, even though the message or the practice is uncatholic. This is dangerous since the Scriptures plainly teach that the last days will be days of great deceitfulness (2 Timothy 3:13). God warns that the coming of the Anti-Christ will usher in a time of “all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11). We read in Revelation 13:3 that the deadly wound of the Beast was healed and that the “Second Beast” deceived men by the use of miracles, even having the power to give life to an image (Revelation 13: 18). The validation of a man’s message and methods today is not “miracles” -- it is conformity to Catholic Church’s doctrine. It is dangerous to accept any other basis of judgment. The false notion that miracles must accompany the preaching of the Gospel in order for the lost to be saved today is definitely unbiblical. The one true Gospel of salvation by faith and works in Christ Jesus is still, and will ever be, God’s power “unto salvation to every one who believes” in the bosom of the Catholic Church (Romans 1:16). Undoubtedly multitudes today are trusting in a charismatic “experience” for their salvation due to these false teachings rather than upon the sure promises of God’s Word from the teaching of the Catholic Church (John 1:12; 3:36; 5:24; Romans 10:13-17).
It confuses and misleads souls as to Scriptural teachings concerning prayer. Using Matthew 18:19 (... if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing ...) as a basis for claiming healing, financial blessings or solution of any problem, they ignore what God says in 1 John 5:14,15 ( ... if we ask any thing according to his will. ...) The charismatic teaching that it is never God’s will for any believer to be ill or in trouble of any kind is neither Scriptural nor is it actually true in their own ministries and personal experiences. Yet, over and over again, Charismatic leaders say to people in public meetings or to multitudes over the airwaves, “Let’s agree together that every person listening or watching be healed in Jesus’ name.” Are all such healed then or later? Of course not! By twisting and misapplying the Scriptures, they are deceiving millions.