10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About the New Charismatics

A grassroots Christian movement is renewing charismatic faith for the twenty-first century.

For New Charismatics, gone are the days of an eschatological worldview where a bloodthirsty God requires militant pro-Israel support and violent American nationalism. Even as the 2016 GOP primary race heats up, we are more determined than ever to leave this behind for a God who looks like Jesus, that preacher of peace who taught forgiveness, equality, and nonviolence before he submitted to his own death on the empire’s cross….

 

There is a groundswell taking place, a grassroots Christian movement if you will, that centers on renewing charismatic and Pentecostal faith for the twenty-first century. And I think this movement just might be the most exciting area of emergence in the American church today.

While this groundswell is diverse, there are some common threads that I want to identify and celebrate. Some of us who are a part of this growing trend have taken to calling ourselves “New Charismatics” — by no means a formal label or category, just one way to describe what we find ourselves caught up in.

So, here are 10 things I want you to know about us:

1. We are spiritual . . . AND religious.

While the infamous “nones” are known for avoiding organized religion in favor of an independent spiritual path, New Charismatics are seeking a both-and way. On the one hand, we understand our faith primarily as spiritual experience, or rather,Spiritual experience. On the other, we are passionate about rooting our faith in the Great Tradition of the church, so it is both historically connected and futuristically sustainable.

You can find some of us New Charismatics inhabiting liturgical or traditional churches and denominations, and you can find others of us bringing liturgical rhythms to our evangelical churches, seeker churches, or charismatic churches.

2. We are Eucharistic holy rollers.

While we resonate with the passionate worship styles that charismatics have largely innovated, we are seeking a deeper, contemplative center in the regular practice of the Eucharist. We meet and receive from Jesus uniquely in this quiet but intense moment — a moment that grounds the charismatic tendency to seek a shallow or contrived spiritual high.

3. We’re not impressed by big and powerful, and we’re kind of obsessed with small and ordinary.

Older charismatics saw God’s favor and blessing in the big things — big worship services, big churches, big conferences, big spiritual manifestations, big leadership lifestyles. The result was a highly consumeristic brand of religion and, sometimes, a grotesque and oppressive “prosperity gospel.”

But New Charismatics love to see God powerfully at work in the small things. The ordinary things. The quiet manifestations of the Spirit, the routine traditional prayers and liturgies, the enjoyment of nature and recreation, the pleasure of relationships, the everyday opportunities to serve and love neighbors.

We envision a simple lifestyle as the ideal, and we see the Kingdom as a whole new economy that prizes equality. All that to say, it’s the little things — and all of it is spiritual.

4. We believe in theology, intellect, and the Spirit-led mind.

Some of us grew up in an environment that pitted the mind against the Spirit, based on an unfortunate reading of some passages written by Paul. But we believe that the only way to be truly Spirit-filled and Spirit-led is to engage with God in the fullness of our humanity: spirit, mind, and body.

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