AMY CONEY BARRETT AND CHARISMATIC CHRISTIANITY

Our Charismatic Moment in America

I don’t know if this is prophetic, but I sensed a sense of rejuvenation for charismatics in America when I read the article AMY CONEY BARRETT AND CHARISMATIC CHRISTIANITY published in First Things by Dale M Coulter. I was really encouraged reading that, all I can say is thank you Lord for Catholics. She is actually part of the People of Praise, which I checked out, they are a multi denominational ecumenical covenant group that wants to practice the gifts of Spirit, long for the presence of God, etc. It’s actually in America, I thought that’s in Asia or Latin America or Africa. I am pumped. I am sensing something is coming to America! Revival! Renewal! Pray folks!

From their website: “Jesus desires unity for all people. We live out this unity the best we can, in spite of the divisions within Christianity. We are Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians and other denominational and nondenominational Christians. Despite our differences, we are bound together by our Christian baptism. Despite our differences, we worship together. While remaining faithful members of our own churches, we have found a way to live our daily lives together.” [1]–Amazingly they are a charismatic group consisting of folks form different churches including Presbyterian church, imagine that? There are charismatic Presbyterians!

Coulter wrote: “The modern charismatic movement began in the 1960s, when the spirituality of Pentecostalism influenced mainline Protestantism and the Catholic Church. Central to this spirituality is a focus on “baptism in the Spirit.” While interpretations of this work of God vary within the global charismatic movement, the common elements of the experience are a strong sense of the personal presence of Christ and empowerment through the Holy Spirit, a deep love for others, the exercise of gifts that the Spirit brings, and spoken utterances that approximate human languages (speaking in tongues).”[2]

I thought this is a real refreshing way of summarizing it in one paragraph, especially in a land of America, where literally Pentecostalism is a scarcity, especially in New York.

  1. A strong sense of the personal presence of Christ

This is a hallelujah! A primal moment in every charismatic renewal Sunday service or any other day. The presence of God is the real deal. Everyone hungers for the presence of God. Psalm 63:1–4 (ESV)
1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.

This is like David longing for God’s presence. For the charismatics, it’s all about the presence of God, the glory of God, the power of God, beholding them all, exactly as in verse 2. It’s absolutely biblical. The presence of God is so edifying, personal, electrifying, surreal, and quintessential of the divine. It’s a moment you will look back, recall, soaking in it. I remember after I preached one of my first serious teachings in a church camp years ago, I felt so good through the session, and after the sessions, I walked out to the open air, for some fresh air by the beach, I felt goose bumps over me, just thinking about the time I had in the preaching. I felt the presence of God in a powerful way, that’s the presence of God. More often it would be the time of worship, you feel the presence of God, and your heart is moved, and sometimes with tears rolling down your cheeks, as I have experienced numerous times. That’s the beautiful presence of God.

  1. Empowerment through the Holy Spirit
    Acts 1:5–9 (ESV)
    5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
    That’s the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit by Jesus right here.
    6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

Just before the ascension of Jesus,, Jesus promised in v8 “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” That’s the last promise of God before his ascension back top heaven. It’s his last words to the disciples. Imagine how important is that! That’s usually the most important words. And that’s the power of the Holy Spirit will come upon us. For the longest time growing up in charismatic churches, that’s the power that comes upon you when you are baptized in the Holy Spirit. I am not fully convinced that’s the case, but nevertheless, it helps. But what’s that power for? It’s for us to be witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, or all over the world. Then he was lifted up to heaven and cloud took him out of sight.
This the empowerment of the Holy Spirit!

Acts 2:17–18 (ESV)
17 “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

That’s what we stand on. The last days, which had already begun, we are awaiting and doing prophecy, seeing visions for the Spirit who moves in us.

  1. A deep love for others

Acts 2:42–47 (ESV)
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

This is the result of the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the folks in Acts when they met together regularly with many signs and wonders and they had all things in common, meeting together eating food with glad and generous hearts, praising God. They loved one another.  This is the beginning of the Pentecostalism worldwide, it started in Acts 2, how early church is that?

  1. The exercise of gifts that the Spirit brings
    1 Corinthians 12:4–11
    4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

It’s all in the Bible: v6 God empowers them. V7 manifestation of the Spirit ; v8 Word of Wisdom; Word of Knowledge; v9 Faith; gift of healing; v10 Working of Miracles; Prophecy; Discerning of the spirits, divers kinds of tongues; interpretation of tongues. All these can’t just be applied to the apostles only. Why would God just give speaking in tongues to the apostles only?? Don’t make sense. If it’s the revelation of the inspired word of God, the canon has closed, I agree. But the gift of healing goes on! It doesn’t stop with the apostles! Miracles etc.

  1. Spoken utterances that approximate human languages (speaking in tongues)

Acts 2:1–8 (ESV)
2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

That’s the beginning of speaking in tongues as the Spirit filled them.

Acts 10:44–48 (ESV)
44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

There is no laying on of hands, merely Peter teaching the word of God. Right in the midst of it, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word, and they started speaking in tongues and extolling God. This is spontaneous. Not organized, not under compulsion, or confusion, or acting up, not coercion. Spontaneous, and organic. This is so spontaneous, leaving no doubt in your mind this is the work of the Holy Spirit, I loved it. Recalling ,I myself being baptized in the Holy Spirit speaking in tongues while I was in Leicester University England in a charismatic church, after being laid hands and prayed for the second time, before I received tongues. There are other specifics of instances of the out-pouring of the Spirit of God elsewhere in the Bible, especially in Acts.

Conclusion

Charismatic Christianity is beautiful, powerful, energetic, filled with the presence of God, longing for more of God and a close knitted community. What has been the negative is the excesses we heard round the world of some bad church leadership, but don’t throw out the whole basket of apples just because of some bad ones. This can all be fixed with proper theology. Also, the other aspect is the theological understanding of the bible has been shallower compared to reformed theology. This can be corrected, and I intend to bridge that. Amen, glory to God.

[1] People of Praise, https://peopleofpraise.org/
[2] Dale Coulter, First Things, https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2020/10/amy-coney-barrett-and-charismatic-christianity?fbclid=IwAR2AFqhcIW8YlyvOndWt4Rw6viMm7RmVU-MLUpeTFwDkgedLwwIvaQcnQIM

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