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From the standpoint of anthropological theory, in recent years it has become clear that the standard paradigm for understanding social and religious "movements" faces problems in at least three respects: its conception of movements as discrete entities rather. We will return to these issues in the next chapter, but to sustain that discussion we must first survey the diversity among manifestations of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal first in its country of origin, the United States, then globally.

The year commonly accepted as the beginning of the movement is During a retreat at Duquesne University the "Duquesne Weekend" , a group of students and young faculty members experienced the spiritual awakening of Baptism in the Holy Spirit through the influence of Protestant Pentecostals. They soon shared their experience with like-minded students at Notre Dame and Michigan State universities.

Although on occasion one can hear individuals claim that they individually or with a small prayer group prayed in tongues before or independently of this point, the narrative of origin among this relatively young, well-educated, and all-male group is standard. It has consistently been recounted as a kind of just-so story in greater or lesser detail by virtually all social science authors who have addressed the movement Fichter ; Mawn ; K.

McGuire ; M. McGuire ; Neitz ; Bord and Faulkner ; Poloma , while for some among the movement's adherents it has attained the status of an origin myth. The new "Catholic Pentecostals" claimed to offer a unique spiritual experience to individuals and promised a dramatic renewal of Church life based on a born-again spirituality of "personal relationship" with Jesus and direct access to divine power and inspiration through a variety of "spiritual gifts," or "charisms. Since its inception it has spread throughout the world wherever there are Catholics.

In the United States, development of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal can be roughly divided into stages:. Protestant Pentecostals and nondenominational neo-Pentecostals remained a strong influence. Prayer groups and covenant communities were often composed of both Catholic and Protestant members, though the leadership was predominantly Catholic. Many covenant communities saw their form of life as essential for coping with the coming trials, and a split occurred in the leadership between those who held that the prayer group is a separate type of Charismatic organization with its own role and those who held that it was an initial stage in a necessary development toward a full-scale covenant community.

They also saw an increasingly clear divergence between Charismatics gathered into tightly structured intentional communities who wanted to preserve the earlier sense of apocalyptic mission and those who remained active in less overtly communitarian parochial prayer groups. A second split occurred, this time among covenant communities themselves, over issues of government and authority, as well as over relations to the larger movement and the Church as a whole. By the mids both streams of the movement had initiated evangelization efforts directed as much at their less committed or.

Among the parochially oriented stream, Catholic identity became heightened as fewer groups cultivated combined Protestant and Catholic "ecumenical" memberships and as the Church took a more active supervisory role. Meanwhile, boundaries between Charismatics and conventional Catholics became more ambiguous, as many who no longer attended regular prayer meetings remained active in their parishes and as many Catholics with no other Charismatic involvement became attracted to large public healing services conducted by Charismatics. From its earliest days the movement began to develop a sophisticated organizational structure to coordinate activities such as regional, national, and international gatherings and to publish books, magazines, and cassette tapes of devotional and instructional material.

The twelve-member National Service Committee has coordinated activities in the United States since , based at first in South Bend under the sponsorship of the People of Praise covenant community, then moving in to a new "Chariscenter" headquarters near Washington, D. The International Communications Office began in at Ann Arbor under the sponsorship of The Word of God covenant community, moving eventually to Brussels and then to Rome as the movement sought to establish its presence at the center of the Catholic world.

Most American Catholic dioceses have appointed an individual, almost always a Charismatic, to serve as liaison to the local bishop, and the liaisons themselves meet periodically. The institution of diocesan liaison is instrumental in preserving cordial relations between the movement and the Church hierarchy, wherein there are perhaps only twenty bishops who affiliate with the movement. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops also has an ad hoc committee on the Charismatic Renewal, with one of its members serving as liaison to the movement. Official joint statements by the bishops comprising the national hierarchies.

Such statements typically adopt a cautiously supportive tone, urging participants to continue "renewing" Church life while warning them against theological and behavioral "excess. From the early s the most influential and highest-ranking cleric openly affiliated with the Renewal was the conservative Belgian cardinal Leon Joseph Suenens, who following an incognito reconnaissance visit established relations with The Word of God community and subsequently became Rome's episcopal adviser to the movement. At the center, Pope Paul VI took note of the movement's existence as early as and publicly addressed its international conference in Rome.

Pope John Paul II has continued to be generally supportive, apparently tolerating the movement's relatively radical theology for the sake of encouraging its markedly conservative politics, its militant activism for "traditional" values and against women's rights to contraception and abortion, and its encouragement of individual spirituality and contribution to parish activities and finances. The division into covenant communities and parochial prayer groups has been the most evident feature of internal diversity among American Charismatics. By far the majority of active participants are involved in prayer groups whose members assemble weekly for collective prayer but do not maintain intensive commitments to their group and sometimes participate in several groups simultaneously or serially.

At the opposite pole are the intensely committed and hierarchically structured intentional communities organized around the provisions of a solemn written agreement, or "covenant. Several dimensions of variation in group organization are related to this primary one between prayer group and covenant community. The smallest prayer groups may have only a few adult members, whereas until the largest among covenant communities numbered 1, adults and another 1, children. An intermediate-size prayer group from about 40 to will likely include a "core group" of members who want both greater commitment and a greater sense of intimacy and common purpose with others.

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Such a group is typically led by a "pastoral team" of several members. It also exhibits a division of ritual labor into "ministries" with functions such as leadership, teaching, music,. Leadership in some groups is primarily in the hands of lay people; in others it is deferred to priests and nuns and may be open to both men and women or restricted based on the fundamentalist principle of "male headship.

Charismatic groups may be based at a parish though they often attract transparochial participation , a school, or a private home. Group membership may be either predominantly Catholic or "ecumenical," drawn from a variety of mainstream Protestant denominations. Although in general over time the proportion of Protestants appears to have declined somewhat, the degree of ecumenical participation also appears to vary by region, with Charismatics in the Northeast from the beginning having tended to form predominantly Catholic groups and those in the Midwest inclined toward ecumenical participation.

Nevertheless, the movement as a whole has consistently been in contact with Protestant Pentecostals e. Some groups are more charismatic in the sense of the frequency with which participants exercise "spiritual gifts" such as glossolalia, healing, or prophecy, whereas others never incorporate these characteristic features of ritual life. While all Catholic Charismatics share the communitarian ideal, it has been a point of debate within the movement whether everyone can or even should belong to a full-scale community.

In such communities, each member must go through an initiation and indoctrination process lasting as long as two years. This "underway" process culminates in a ceremony of formal commitment to the provisions of the covenant. These provisions vary from one community to another and give it greater or lesser claim over the time and resources of the member. The particular focus here on covenant communities is warranted both because they have most fully elaborated the ritual life of the movement and because even among them there is an identifiable range of cultural di-.

We begin with brief characterizations of four exemplary communities. All four originated in the movement's early years, —, and not only represent alternative communitarian models but reflect the regional diversity of North American Catholic culture as well. The first two are independent freestanding communities and will be treated only briefly.

The next two are the centers of translocal communities or networks of allied communities, and their story is critical to understanding the central role of covenant communities within the movement as a whole. The community's influence is quite broad, since in addition to sponsoring popular on-site retreats, it operates one of two Catholic Charismatic publishing houses, Dove Publications.

Although permanent membership is only about forty, structure as a conventional religious order allows virtually full-time participation in religious activities. Community structure and discipline are determined by Benedictine principles, except for the innovation of organizing as a "double community" that includes both men and women. The latter influence is prominent in defining the Pecos community in relation to other Catholic Charismatic communities in at least two ways. It defines relations between men and women as a "balancing and heightening of masculine-feminine consciousness" in an approach explicitly derived from Carl Jung.

This is in sharp contrast to those covenant communities that promulgate "male headship," the ultimate authority of men over women based on a fundamentalist interpretation of Christian Scripture. The Pecos community also broadens the practice of ritual healing to include a range of elements of eclectic and holistic psychotherapies. This places its style of ritual healing at the "psychological" end of a continuum whose other pole is a "faith" orientation that purports to rely on the direct intervention of divine power. Saint Patrick's in Providence, Rhode Island, began like many other Charismatic parish prayer groups, but under the founding leadership of Catholic priests John Randall and Raymond Kelley it had by transformed its base of operations into a "Charismatic parish.

The principal. Community members explicitly chose the parish model on the example and under the guidance of the Episcopalian Charismatic Church of the Redeemer in Houston, in contrast to the model of lay leadership, multidenominational membership, and independence of parish structure contemporaneously being developed by midwestern Catholic covenant communities. Due in part to the effort of maintaining a parish the membership of which never truly coincided with that of the community itself, as well as to the proportions of the task that included revitalizing a neighborhood and parish already in serious decline, this community had by the middle s declined in vitality and visibility within the movement, though a core of original members maintains an active Charismatic community presence.

The two leading communities of the Midwest developed side by side, and for some time considered themselves to be closely allied sister communities. All were among the group from Duquesne and Notre Dame that initiated the synthesis of Catholicism and Pentecostalism. All took the opportunity to turn the newly discovered experience and ritual forms into tools for the building of "community.

The South Bend community remains the headquarters of the Charismatic Renewal Services and publishes the Charismatic magazine New Heaven , New Earth , until was the headquarters of the National Service Committee and its National Advisory Committee, and has been the force behind the movement's annual national conferences. The Ann Arbor community remains instrumental in publishing the movement magazine New Covenant and in operating the influential Servant Publications for books, founded the movement's International Communications Office, and for years was the leading force in training for national and international movement leaders.

The history of relations between these communities is essential to an understanding of the communitarian ideal among Charismatics. Movement participation in the United States was estimated at , in and , by World Christian Encyclopedia , and in the same period the membership of The Word of God community grew from to 1, A symbolic event of critical import to the movement's future course occurred with a decision in to hold the annual Charismatic conference, until then hosted by the People of Praise on the campus of Notre Dame University, at the center of the Catholic world in Rome.

During the conference the pope formally addressed the movement.

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Charismatic liturgy including prayer in tongues was conducted in Saint Peter's Basilica, and in this symbolically charged setting, "prophecy" was uttered. We will examine prophecy as a performative genre of ritual language in chapters 6 and 7. In the present context, I am concerned with the impact of the prophecies delivered at Saint Peter's, which were uttered principally by prophets from The Word of God community.

Which Apologetic Approach is Correct?

Understood as messages from the deity spoken through a divinely granted charism, they warned of impending times of difficulty and trials for the Church. They stated that God's church and people would be different and that "buildings that are now standing will not be standing. Supports that are there for my people now will not be there.

The immediacy of their plight lent a sense of urgency to continued prophecies in the late s. This sense of urgency was maintained in the s by the affiliation to The Word of God of a community of conservative Nicaraguan Charismatics troubled by Sandinista attempts to create a new society in that country. Until the Rome conference, prophecy had been understood by Charismatics as utterance intended for the edification of their own groups, or of individuals within the groups.

Now for the first time, reinforced by the powerful symbolic setting of their utterance, these words were deemed to be a direct message from God to the public at large. Charismatics began to see fulfillment of the prophecies in the fuel shortages of the late s, in disastrous mud slides in California, and in the blizzards of and in the Northeast. Beyond the signs included in natural disasters and in the perceived moral decline of American society, however, the prophecies were construed to indicate that the Catholic church was in peril.

There was not only the long-observed decline in religious vocations, and the perceived retreat of Catholicism before Protestantism in the third world, but also a compromise with secular values and a consequent decline in moral authority that made the Church ill equipped for the coming "hard times.

While some movement leaders had from the outset in the late s expressed the goal of renewing the entire Church, and thus eventually becoming indistinguishable from the Church itself, the logic of the prophecies appeared to be that the role of the Charismatic Renewal was actually to protect the Church.

Thus it was an ideal not only for Catholics to become Charismatic but also for Charismatics to band together into covenant communities and covenant communities into larger networks, for these were thought to be structures in which the faithful could best gird themselves for the impending battle with the forces of darkness. To be sure, not all Charismatics and not all covenant communities adhered to this philosophy, and a formal split between moderates and radical communitarians occurred at the movement's national conference in Kansas City.

The difference was summarized polemically by a female Catholic theologian who was a disaffected early participant in the community at Notre Dame. Shortly after the Rome prophecies she published a book critically distinguishing "Type I" world-renouncing, authoritarian, and patriarchal and "Type II" accommodating, liberal, and egalitarian charismatics Ford Meanwhile, in distinction to the radical vision offered in publications and teaching disseminated by the People of Praise and The Word of God, a more moderated "Type II" voice appeared with the introduction in of the periodical Catholic Charismatic , based at the freestanding Children of Joy covenant community founded by Fr.

Joseph Lange, O. Without the compelling centripetal impulse of the prophetic vision, however, both the new publication and the community that supported it were short-lived. In contrast, the most dramatic instance of. In this charged atmosphere, the radical formulation of the Rome prophecies marked the years between and as a phase that was the closest the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has been to a position of apocalyptic millennialism.

Even prior to these developments, however, The Word of God and the People of Praise had for some time taken the lead in plans to formalize ties among covenant communities. The principle was that, just as in a single community each member is thought to be granted a spiritual gift or charism that contributes to the collective life of the community as a "body" or a "people," so each community had a particular gift or mission. Taken together, they could thus form a "community of communities," a divinely constituted "people" ultimately combining to build the Kingdom of God. The Rome prophecies increased the urgency of this plan, and in the Association of Communities was formed.

By —, however, the two leading communities themselves acknowledged irreconcilable differences. A three-way split occurred in the network, with some communities following The Word of God, some following the People of Praise, and yet others following the Community of God's Delight from Dallas and their close allies in Emmanuel Covenant Community of Brisbane, Australia. The original association had included seven communities at the "council" or oversight level, and another thirty were involved to lesser degrees.

By the Sword of the Spirit included forty-five branches and associated communities, twenty-two of which were in the United States. In the ecumenical brotherhood was succeeded by the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships, with three founding communities from the United States, six from Australia and New Zealand, and four from.

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In , four more communities were advanced from underway to full membership in the fraternity. For the most part the three networks parted ways and remained essentially out of contact throughout the s. Crudely speaking, the Sword of the Spirit went increasingly its own way, the People of Praise consolidated its links to the larger Charismatic Renewal, and the brotherhood communities consolidated their relationships with their local bishops. Given the political organization of the Church, this would have required either that the local branches of the community be under more direct control of local bishops or that Steven Clark, the community's paramount leader, be granted a status similar to the head of a religious order, equivalent to a bishop.

The application was not approved. Now in the wake of the split among communities, the Vatican apparently decided to take a more active role in supervising the movement. The pope assigned Bishop Cordes, the episcopal adviser to the movement who replaced The Word of God's now retired ally Cardinal Suenens, to visit and assess the range of groups, communities, and structures within the Charismatic Renewal.

After visits in two consecutive years in the mids, he invited the brotherhood communities to apply for canonical recognition. Reorganized as a fraternity excluding Protestant communities and individuals who had been members of the brotherhood, this network was granted status by the pope as a "private association of the Christian faithful of pontifical right.

Let us dwell for a moment on the differences among these communities with respect to structure, "vision" or goals, and practice. This will serve the purpose of summarizing the nuances of covenant community values, as well as the kind of issues that led to the historical split among the groups. In thus setting the stage for the later extended discussion of The Word of God, we will also guard against representing that one community as in all ways typical of the movement as a whole.

We will do well to begin by noting a demographic difference among the communities. That The Word of God was centered around the public University of Michigan reinforced its tendency toward an ecumeni-. In comparison to both, the Community of God's Delight was not closely affiliated with a university. From the beginning its members were somewhat older than those in the two leading communities—indeed, one of the personal dramas of the movement is that Bobbie Cavnar, head coordinator of the Dallas community, is the father of James Cavnar, one of the four founders of The Word of God—and its membership remained relatively stable from the early s.

While the Community of God's Delight also originally cultivated multidenominational membership a community leader estimated that originally Catholics comprised 50 to 70 percent of the membership , with its increasing push toward a Catholic identity many Protestants moved away from the covenant community and back to local congregations. Much of the difference that led to the split, however, has to do with the exercise of authority a among related communities, b in relation to the Church, c among individuals within communities, and d by means of prophecy.

The Word of God's idea was that the association would be a single supercommunity under a single translocal government. This became the case in the Sword of the Spirit, where, for example, community leaders can be assigned to move from one branch to another to oversee or train members. The People of Praise preferred a confederation of semiautonomous communities, though as noted their constituent groups have come to regard themselves also as a single community.

The Community of God's Delight and its brotherhood rejected any translocal authority, emphasizing that each member community "submit to the authority of" or "be in communion with" its local Catholic bishop. These differences in turn directly affect relations with the Catholic church. Indeed, that the Sword of the Spirit has a translocal government and that in principle this government is multidenominational rather than strictly Catholic has been one source of tension between it and the Church. The leading covenant communities are all hierarchically structured under elders, or "coordinators.

In the model originated by The Word of God and the People of Praise, the general membership traditionally had input by solicitation from the coordinators in a "community consultation" about a specific major issue, but coordinators were not obliged to take these opinions into account. Coordinators were appointed by other coordinators, with the founders of each community remaining in authority insofar as they were the original coordinators.

In the period following their divergence, the People of Praise instituted a modified form of election for its coordinators, described as midway between the community consultation and simple election. Nominations are solicited from full or "covenanted" members within each community subdivision. These members pick three people, from whom one is selected by the overall coordinator. The Word of God retained the older system of coordinator self-selection, adhering to the commonly heard dictum that "the Kingdom of God is not a democracy," or in the words attributed to Overall Coordinator Steven Clark, "Democracy is not a scriptural concept.

In the Community of God's Delight, by contrast, coordinators have jobs outside the community, which itself maintains only two full-time employees. The exercise of prophecy is another key difference in the organization of authority among the communities. While all Charismatics recognize prophecy as one of the spiritual gifts or charisms, there is a significant difference both in the formal recognition of gifted individuals and in prophecy's authoritative role as directly inspired divine utterance.

For some people, prophecy is an occasional and momentary gift; others are individually recognized as being gifted on a regular basis; some communities have an organized "word gifts" group composed of confirmed prophets who together "listen to the Lord" in order to "discern his word for the group. He oversees not only a word gifts group within the community but also a translocal "prophet's guild" that originated in the early s.

The People of Praise has a word gifts group but no formal office of community prophet. The Community of God's Delight has no organized word gifts group, and the community elder who oversees this aspect of ritual life is charged not with prophesying but with "discerning" the prophecies of others who wish to share them in group settings. All of the communities take prophecy quite seriously in that their leaders consider the meaning of prophetic messages in their deliberations concerning group life and publish certain of them in community newsletters.

The structural differences, however, highlight the different degrees to which prophecy penetrates the various aspects of collective life as a medium of charismatic authority. Whether prophecies can be prepared in advance or are required to be spontaneous, whether there is a regular flow of prophetic inspiration from members to coordinators, whether prophecy is a feature of interpersonal as well as collective discourse, are related differences in practice deeply embedded in the habitus of each community.

Again, we can here only point to these differences in preparation for a more thorough examination of one community, and again note that the institutionalization of prophecy as direct and authoritative communication from the deity is another dimension of tension between the Sword of the Spirit and those covenant communities intent on demonstrating their submission to the sole authority of the Catholic church. I will briefly touch on four more specific differences in the organization of authority among the leading communities, including denominational structure, education of children, pastoral supervision of adults, and gender role prescriptions.

First, The Word of God in created four "fellowships" internal to the community, partially collapsing denominational distinctions while maintaining differentiation among Roman Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran, and Free Church members. Second, all three communities have schools for their children, with differences reflecting the degree of world renunciation cultivated in community life.

In both The Word of God and the People of Praise, classes are segregated by sex; during the s students at The Word of God school were also required to walk on opposite sides of a yellow line that extended the length of the corridors. Both are oriented toward Charismatic Christian education, though they differ in the importance they place on inculcation of Charismatic values at an early age: The Word of God school includes grades 4 through 9 while the People of Praise teach grades 7 through In addition, The Word of God school restricts enrollment to children of community members, whereas the People of Praise school is also open to noncommunity children.

Likewise, The Word of God curriculum was relatively more "scripture oriented," whereas. The Community of God's Delight's preschool adopted the Montessori method, and its classes through grade 12 are run by a Catholic religious order, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity. Third, all three communities formalized the practice of headship or pastoral leadership, in which individual members are supervised in their daily lives by a person regarded as more "spiritually mature.

I will discuss headship at greater length in a subsequent chapter, and here note only that the People of Praise have appeared interested in portraying themselves as somewhat less authoritarian in this regard than their counterparts in The Word of God. Yet the difference between the two communities appears exceedingly subtle and was indeed described by them as similar to the difference between regional accents by speakers of the same language. Concluding that authority over community activities should be distinct from authority over personal lives, a second coordinator was appointed for each geographic district within the community.

One has responsibility for community activities such as "sharing groups," "service ministries," and collective gatherings; the other is devoted to pastoral care, with a reformulation of headship using the teachings of the Church on Catholic "spiritual direction. Fourth, in all three communities the highest office that can be held by a woman is "handmaid," the responsibilities of which are to "teach women on womanly affairs, give advice, help in troubled situations," and lead specialized women's activities.

The chief handmaid was always under the authority of a male coordinator in The Word of God; in the Community of God's Delight the handmaids meet with the group of coordinators once a month. Practices defining "men's and women's roles" in "scriptural" terms were of concern to both The Word of God and the People of Praise, though the latter regarded themselves as taking a more "flexible" position.

Domestic division of labor along culturally "traditional" lines was explicitly. Again, both The Word of God and the People of Praise prescribed gender-appropriate dress, prohibiting "androgyny" in clothing. Within The Word of God this principle led, for example, to public disapproval of community handmaids wearing slacks instead of dresses. Leaders of the People of Praise, on hearing of this practice in the mids, decided that their former partners were being overly rigid.

Finally, the People of Praise claimed to encourage female higher education and employment, whereas The Word of God remained some-what ambivalent about these issues. Although many of these differences among communities appear quite nuanced and even trivial, they are precise inscriptions in practice of what I will describe below as a rhetorical involution that determines the incremental radicalization of charisma and ritualization of life. The qualitative dimension of their differences in "vision" and "mission" can be summarized as a greater pessimism on the part of The Word of God about developments in the contemporary world, the Catholic church, and the Charismatic Renewal.

The Word of God saw the Charismatic Renewal as ideally evolving into a tightly knit network of communities that could protect the weakened Church against impending hard times, basing their approach directly on Christian Scripture and literal interpretation of prophecies such as the Rome prophecies. On opting out of this vision, the People of Praise reformulated its approach to the surrounding world as a "Christian humanism" grounded in the Second Vatican Council's "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

By the late s, many adherents of the Rome prophecies in the Charismatic Renewal regarded most of its elements as already fulfilled, save for an impending "wave of evangelism such as the world has never known. This retrenched position was not only less dramatic but also offered a wide range of potential explanations should the predicted wave of evangelism fail to materialize. For many it also made reintegration into Catholicism easier. Meanwhile, The Word of God and the Sword of the Spirit network of communities itself underwent schism, moving increasingly away from the center of the movement and, according to some critics, increasingly distant from the Catholic church.

We will take up the story of this third split in the movement in Part Two. Ethnographic and social science literature on the international expansion of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is sparse. In general, the literature on the movement in North America see the preface above tends to emphasize issues of community and personal religious experience, that on the movement in Latin America is slanted toward its role as a conservative political force in opposition to liberation theology, and that on Europe, Africa, and Asia highlights practices of ritual healing within the movement.

What follows is a tour of those locales for which some documentation on the movement is available, beginning with distinct national and ethnic communities within the United States. Semiautonomous service committees had also been created for Hispanic and Haitian Charismatics. Hispanic leaders in the United States met for the first time in In the movement's National Service Committee added a Hispanic member and allocated funds to support Missiones Hispanas, an arm of The Word of God community active both in Latin America and among domestic Hispanic groups. In Hispanic Charismatics from the United States were officially represented for the first time at the eleventh conference of Catholic Charismatic leaders from through-.

One intent of my interviews was to elicit leaders' perceptions of differences between Puerto Rican and Anglo-American Charismatics with respect to healing see Csordas a. Two issues emerged. First, Charismatic leaders suggested that healing was more "liberating" for Puerto Ricans. This was in part because they reportedly experienced "deeper hurts" with respect to poor self-image as a result of colonial exploitation. They were also prone to exaggerated guilt and remordamiento remorse arising from intense moralism and to harboring emotional pain that turns to hatred when it is left unexpressed out of respect for parents.

Finally, they were felt to bear an ingrained fear of the dark, of curses, and of spirits. Second, Puerto Rican Charismatics appeared to place greater emphasis on family and interpersonal relations. This was said to be evident in the practice of home visits by the healing team, in which neighbors and relatives were expressly included. It was also evident in the practice of "deliverance" from evil spirits insofar as the common afflicting spirits appeared to reflect cultural differences for Anglos, spirits with an ego locus such as Depression, Bitterness, Resentment, Fear, Self-Destruction; for Puerto Ricans, spirits with an interpersonal locus such as Hatred, Disobedience, Envy, Respect, Slander, Criticism, Robbery, Violence, Rejection of God, Impurities, Masturbation, and Homosexuality.

The latter difference may be accounted for by the fact that for Puerto Rican Charismatics the most prominent source of evil spirits is the competing religious practice of Espiritismo see Garrison ; Harwood ; Koss-Chioino When Hispanic Charismatics say that the Renewal is "very effective against spirits," they tend to have in mind the spirits of the deceased encountered in spiritism, African spirits, curses,.

Similarly, Haitian Charismatics often reinterpret the deities of voudou as demonic spirits. My interviews suggested two general points: 1 Espiritismo is condemned as demonic deception insofar as an evil spirit is thought to be imitating the voice of a dead person, in that spiritist writings use Christian Scripture but admix folk belief and pagan ritual, and in that the devil has the power to heal as part of his repertoire of deceptive tactics; 2 Espiritismo is said to be characterized by negativity and is "not liberating" because it deals only with hate and revenge while also deceiving people and taking their money.

The movement has also in a limited way penetrated indigenous peoples such as the Navajo, where it began in the early s in the Fort Defiance area and in the s spread to the community of Tohatchi. One Charismatic healer, a Navajo nun, exemplifes the heteroglossia that renders notions such as syncretism obsolete in the postmodern condition of culture see chapter 2 below.

She regards herself as equally at home in traditional Navajo ritual, the practices of the Native American Church with its sacramental peyote, and in Christianity. Indeed, she planned to use the honorarium she received from our project to help finance a traditional Blessingway ceremony for herself, since her limited stipend as a religious sister made it difficult for her to afford the services of a medicine man. She identified fundamentalist Christian, Charismatic Christian, and New Age spiritualities as among those she could relate to.

She was formally trained as a Catholic spiritual director at Loyola University and underwent a nine-month course in San Francisco related to the recovery movement and healing the inner child. She refers to traditional and Native American Church observance as part of her "prayer life," a term common among Charismatics. She also uses the same term, "prayer meetings," for both Native American Church and Charismatic services and defines the former as a spiritual way of life instead of as a church, so that like her Charismatic participation it does not conflict with her membership in the Catholic church.

Her account of becoming a healer is virtually identical to that of other Charismatics I have heard, with one symbolic and one ethnopsychological twist. She says that at a Charismatic conference three people asked her for healing prayer, which she politely obliged but which made her uncomfortable, so that she "disappeared.

Then at another event she asked for a blessing from a Catholic Indian known for presenting an eagle feather to the pope. At the next summer's conference she prayed for people who came steadily from ten o'clock in the evening until two o'clock in the morning. She now feels challenged to live a life of purification. Briefly, the ethnopsychological twist is the description of demurral from the calling as "disappearing," evocative of the Navajo tendency to self-effacement in certain social situations. The symbolic twist is the eagle feather as emblem of a Charismatic healing ministry.

For this healer, the idea of "picking up the feather" leads to analogy between priest or healer and those traditional ceremonial clowns who in their capacity as protectors of ritual dancers must have a familiarity with evil, which she notes extends among the neighboring Pueblos to the point of acting out the perversities of the people. Three studies document the movement in Quebec based on material from the s Reny and Rouleau ; Chagnon ; Zylberberg and Montminy They agree in dating the movement's advent to , when one Father Regimbal returned from a Charismatic experience in Arizona to stage a retreat in the provincial town of Granby.

Paul Reny and Jean Paul Rouleau — observe a rapid growth from its inception to fifty prayer groups in , four hundred by , and seven hundred with an estimated membership of 60, by cf. Participants were predominantly middle-class women of "mature age," but notably in comparison with the United States nearly 25 percent of members were men and women in religious orders, especially nuns; Jacques Zylberberg and Jean-Paul Montminy concur that there are two "hard-core" elements of adherents, one composed of lower-middle-class, middle-aged provincial women and another composed of clerics shifting from a sacerdotal to a prophetic mode of attaining ecclesiastical prestige.

Zylberberg and Montminy attempt to place the movement in macrosocial context in relation to the dynamic of state, capital, and religion in Quebec. In a society historically characterized by clerical domination and a provincial state, they identify the movement as an ostensibly apolitical attempt to break the stalemate between future-oriented Catholic social activists and tradition-oriented Catholic conservatives. While 70 percent of Charismatics voted in elections, only The authors interpret the nationalists as representing a state nationalism and organizational modernism that are not merely rejected but are symbolically opaque for Charismatics, with an emphasis on French monolingualism symbolically contradicted by the universal spiritual language of speaking in tongues.

This is the case even though within the movement itself certain frustrations experienced by francophone participants in a bilingual Canadian Charismatic conference in led them to stage a separate francophone conference the following year Reny and Rouleau Support for the Liberal political party is by default and habit, resulting in adherence to the status quo. These conditions include the erosion of the traditional view of life with its emphasis on religion and the clergy, rural life, and the importance of a simple communitarian life, all said to have resulted in a crisis of identity for many individuals.

Following Charles Glock and Rodney Stark , Chagnon distinguishes among religious experience that is confirmative of the existence of God, that which is correlative insofar as it is a reciprocal sense of divine presence and divine attention to the person, that which is ecstatic and combines the preceding two types with enhanced intensity, and that which is revelational or mystical insofar as the deity makes the person a confidant in an atmosphere of emotional serenity. Sixteen of twenty cases Chagnon documents are of the correlative type, none is confirmative, one is ecstatic, and three are mystical, and he concludes that what is characteristic of Charismatic experience is an "affective encounter with God" 82 , a displacement of the sacred from the figure of a severe and distant God to that of a "God of love" 84 , and in contrast to an emphasis on world transformation a distinct penchant "to remake the self, to reconstitute it in profundity" The other commentators draw the consequences of this kind of spirituality: given both an experiential interior and a social interior constituted by the.

All three accounts take pains to account for the movement's significance with the sociopolitical and culture historical specificity of Catholicism in Quebec, warning against too close homology with the movement in the United States. It may be that the role of the clergy and of middle-aged women more likely only the former has been greater in Quebec, and that the movement in Quebec was co-opted by the hierarchy and declining in rate of growth somewhat sooner than in the United States. Nevertheless, Reny and Rouleau's comparison of the Charismatics with Catholic left-wing social activists "les socio-politiques" corresponds closely with McGuire's similar comparison in the United States.

The apolitical orientation and the cultivation of an interiority that presumes social transformation will occur as a consequence of self-transformation are also similar to those observed in the United States Fichter ; McGuire ; Neitz Catholic Charismatics in France acknowledge borrowing the movement from the United States. By the third such event in there were two hundred Catholics alongside two hundred Protestants, and after that Catholics became dominant, with a movement and momentum of their own. The diversity among French covenant communities parallels that in the United States, and I will mention only two of the most prominent.

Emmanuel community began in among a group associated with a Catholic school of oratory in Paris, when a young couple just returned from the United States gave a powerful testimony about their experience with the Charismatic Renewal. In a year the group had grown from.

In thirty members visited covenant communities in the United States and in , formally became a covenant community themselves. In Emmanuel had three thousand members distributed throughout Paris and the provinces, six other European countries, and four African countries. The orienting theme of community activities is evangelization: at the core of their organization is the Fraternity of Jesus, a missionary group comprising both lay and religious, and to which one must be initiated in order to take a leadership position in the community.

Their outreach extends to multiple segments of the population, and like The Word of God in the United States they are a media force, publishing the periodicals Il Est Vivant and Psychologie et Foi and operating a book and tape distribution service. As a conservative force favored by the Church hierarchy Emmanuel was recognized in as a Private Association of the Faithful by the French Cardinal Lustiger.

The Lion of Judah and Sacrificial Lamb was founded at the tourist town of Cordes-sur-Ciel and exemplifies the postmodern melding of cultural genres. It is based at a monastery but in a tourist town, its members pursue professional careers but adopt a contemplative Carmelite spirituality, it emphasizes chastity while including married couples and their children, and it was founded by Protestants but is now thoroughly Catholic—with the addition of Hebrew Sabbath observances. Like the French Emmanuel community and the American Sword of the Spirit, it has spread its branches well beyond its origin, into twenty-five French dioceses and seventeen foreign countries.

In the community changed its name to Community of the Beatitudes on the grounds that the Lion of Judah was an unacceptable symbol in some of the countries in which its members have moved. Their yearly gatherings held since produce videotapes of notable healings, and in the community organized a widely popular pilgrimage to Lourdes. The core of healing practice is "psychospiritual accompaniment," in effect two weeks of around-the-clock attention that allows, claim its practitioners, such innovations as decreasing a patient's dosage of neuroleptic medication to a minimum.

Giordana Charuty has produced a vivid description of Charismatic healing in France and Italy that conforms in most respects to its practice in the United States see Csordas , , b, a; McGuire , , She identifies the "healing of memories" as the guarantor of transformation in psychospiritual accompaniment. Community healers and therapists for whom Carl Rogers and Carl Jung are de rigueur also practice the revelatory charisms of prophecy, discernment, and word of knowledge, all the while condemning practices such as yoga and transcendental meditation as demonic.

Charuty quite rightly identifies the therapeutic of a triple anamnesis: psychological through review of biographical memory, initiative through recovery of the emotional fundamentals of early religious experiences, and mythic through directing the person into the imaginal realm of early Christianity. In language directly relevant to what I will refer to below as religions of the self, she points to the centrality of"symbolic manipulations put in place to produce an acculturation to Christianity anchored in exaltation and the socialization of individual unhappiness" The Charismatic Renewal was introduced to Italy by foreigners in Here as in France, growth of the movement was reported to be dramatic following its first international conference in Rome in By the time of the first national leaders' conference in , the movement had an estimated active membership of seven thousand throughout the country.

The second national conference was held in at Rimini, as a challenge to present "Christian witness in an almost entirely Marxist environment" ICO Newsletter , May—June The pope addressed gatherings of an estimated fifteen thousand Italian Charismatics in and again in , and by the eleventh national conference at Rimini drew an estimated forty thousand participants. Pace describes the movement in the region of Veneto as having two distinct manifestations: the Rinnovamento nello Spirito, or Spiritual Renewal, affiliated with the international Charismatic Renewal, which was initiated locally at Padua in and which is composed of both prayer groups and communities; and the Charismatic movement founded in Italy in by Franca Cornado, which was introduced into Veneto in the s and whose adherents are primarily conservative elderly and middle-aged persons oriented toward the experience and documentation of manifestations of spiritual charisms.

The latter is more explicitly politically conservative and pre-Vatican in its Catholic orientation; the former distinguishes itself from the political sphere by emphasizing the spiritual values of quotidian life, personal relations, and community, rejecting the close link between the "personal" and the "political" favored by left-leaning social activists.

Discussion of the movement in Europe would not be complete without reference to what was perhaps the most prominent religious event of the last two decades, the apparition in of the Virgin Mary to several children in the Croatian village of Medjugorje. Quickly approaching the stature of Fatima, Lourdes, and Guadalupe, Medjugorje attracted an estimated ten million Catholic pilgrims by Bax Instead, the Holy Spirit is also a gentle dove, a Spirit of humility, patience and meekness, love joy and peace Anderson , As Anderson observes, "Overemphasising the power of the Spirit often leads to bitter disappointment and disillusionment when that power is not evidently and immediately manifested.

Pentecostal pneumatology must not only provide power when there is a lack of it, but must also be able to sustain people through life's tragedies and failures, especially when there is no visible outward success. As Bernd Oberdorfer adds, "The Spirit does not form a community of triumph without scars, but rather a community of transformation, of forgiveness, of the healing of memories - yet without these narratives of transformation falling into oblivion, leaving space only for the enthusiasm of present experiences of being saved or of being safe.

In response to such ecumenical concerns, Pentecostals may argue that they are more sensitive to the material and spiritual needs of those who are not predominantly of European descent. In the African context there is a constant drive and a legitimate longing for power outside of oneself to overcome evil when faced with sickness, oppression, poverty, injustice, evil spirits, witchcraft and so forth see Anderson Secular critics would say that Pentecostalism tends to thrive where modernity and some form of capitalism are embraced amongst a rapidly urbanising population in non-Western contexts.

This is evident in the use of audiovisual technology, Western dress codes, and consumerist lifestyles for a critical discussion of the impact of the use of media on Pentecostalism in Africa, see Kalu If so, the ecumenical movement represents "old" money, while the Pentecostal movement represents "new" money, so that the one would tend to envy the other. There may remain real differences on the scope of mission see Kark-kainen , on social ethics over the benefits of socialism and of capitalism and on personal ethics over homosexuality and abortion.

However, such differences would then become relativized. Either way, there remains a common need to test whether claims to discern the movement of the Spirit are indeed referring to the Spirit of the crucified Christ - and not to Protestant or Pentecostal support for the spirit of capitalism for a discussion see Meyer f. This suggests that further conversation is needed on the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The issue is whether the Spirit is being subordinated to Christ.

The sensitivities in this regard would suggest that the filioque controversy not only divides Western Christianity from Eastern Christianity but also the ecumenical movement from the Pentecostal movement. Of course this is oversimplified. Many ecumenical theologians have called for deleting the filioque from Western versions of the Nicene Creed, while probably all Pentecostals would acknowledge the intimate relationship between Christ and the Spirit see e. Anderson on spirit-type churches in Africa. Indeed, Pentecostalism entails an experience of the work of the Spirit that is informed by an appreciation of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Evangelical phrases such as being "born-again" and "Jesus saves" are typical of Pentecostal churches Anderson Karkkainen , even claims that Christology the full gospel , not pneumatology, represents the centre of Pentecostal spirituality. The gateway to the experience of the Spirit is the work of Christ. He adds that "Pentecostalisms, no less than other Christian movements, are not free from the temptation to domesticate the Spirit" Moreover, Pentecostal Christian generally have a very high regard for the authority of Scripture the Word , presumably also over contemporary revelations the Spirit.

Yet the tensions are undeniable so that this at least sets the agenda for further conversation.


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Pentecostal Pneumatology: The Spirit commissioned by the Father? In my view Trinitarian categories may help us to relect on another dimension of the tension between the ecumenical movement and the Pentecostal movement. According to the Nicene Creed, the Spirit "proceeds" from the Father. In other words: the Spirit is commissioned by the Father. How, then, is the relationship between the work of the Father and of the Spirit to be understood? In a discussion of reasons why Pentecostalism lourished over the past years Grant Wacker mentions the escapist?

He observes that the genius of the Pentecostal movement lies in its ability to hold two seemingly incompatible impulses in tension, namely to balance the most "eye-popping features of the supernatural" with the most "chest-thumping features of the natural" and to do so without overtly admitting that Wacker , It provides a synthesis of otherworldly spirituality and this-worldly pragmatism.

Indeed, it holds together a premodern notion of miracles, the modern use of technology and a postmodern sense of mysticism. Allan Anderson concurs that the growth of Pentecostalism is related to its ability to adapt to and address people's spiritual and material needs. This is characterised by "A belief in a divine encounter and the involvement or breaking through of the sacred into the mundane, including healing from sickness, deliverance from hostile evil forces, and perhaps above all, a heady and spontaneous spirituality that refuses to separate 'spiritual' from 'physical' or 'sacred' from 'secular'" Anderson xiii.

There can be little doubt that this emphasis on the miraculous, on the extraordinary, on the sublime, on the "supernatural", on the transformative power of the Holy Spirit, stands in opposition to cultures where scientific reductionism has become dominant. The emphasis on the inexplicable counters a rationality where the need for explicability is taken for granted see Anderson Pentecostal-ism is a resistance movement against such reductionism through a recognition that everything cannot be brought under one's locus of control see Yong Where a verbal rationality becomes overpowering, speaking in tongues serves as an ecstatic reminder that religion does not fall within one's locus of control.

Mac-chia sees ecumenical significance in speaking in tongues that "calls into question the adequacy of human speech to capture the divine mystery and lodges an implicit protest against any effort to make one language or cultural expression determinative of how the gospel is understood. The world of science and technology has brought immense benefits to large sectors of the population in different parts of the world.

It has lifted many out of a life of misery. This is clearly embraced in the Pentecostal affirmation of an upward social mobility. Nevertheless, the secular soteriologies based on education and health services do not and cannot address the material, psychological and spiritual needs of many. This is addressed in two forms of ministry that are widely emphasised in the Pentecostal movement, namely miraculous healing and deliverance exorcism from demonic possession see especially Onyinah The attraction of Pente-costalism is clearly related to these ministries since they address real needs quite directly, namely around sickness and death and the elusive but pervasive influence of evil forces.

Religion is thus a source of power that must be effective in solving life's debilitating problems. Of course, both these ministries have parallels in the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, but tend to be underplayed in the ecumenical movement, except in the secularised form of "development" and a critique of ideology. The question that should be raised from within the wider ecumenical movement is how this emphasis on the "supernatural" is related to the "natural".

How can both reductionist and dualist construals of the world be avoided see Yong ? Yong argues that the Pentecostal emphasis on the supernatural rightly contests the naturalistic paradigm of modernity. However, in doing so Pentecostals appeal to the apostolic witnesses where the emphasis on the miraculous was not aimed at revealing God as more powerful than the laws of nature but to highlight God's power over the magic of pagan deities. If the work of the triune Creator includes the establishment of the laws of nature, is the Spirit not acting against the providential care of the Father in temporarily suspending such laws in order to bring about quick miracles of healing and deliverance?

Is the Spirit supplementing the inadequacies of the work of the Father? Moreover, are the laws of nature not good, reliable and beneficial? Given that such laws cannot be fathomed by the best of science, is there not enough room within such laws to allow for the amazing, the extraordinary, the sublime, if not the miraculous?

Scientific reductionism is in any case countered from within disciplines such as quantum theory, chaos theory and evolutionary biology so that far more room may be found for contingency, chance, complexity and freedom. Are these laws not more like the laws of grammar that allow for, indeed enable an incredible and inexhaustible variety of languages and forms of writing that fill whole libraries, even for speaking in tongues in a way that can be interpreted? Is it not possible for the Spirit to play within the rules of the game that the Father outlined? If so, is the emphasis on the supernatural not short-sighted and playing off the work of the Spirit against that of the Father and indeed also of the logic of the Logos?

What is meant by the frequent references to an "interventionist" soteriology in the writing of Pentecostal authors see Asamoah-Gyadu ? Does that require some insertion of energy that cannot be accounted for scientifically? It seems that the rather modernist assumption in Pentecostal discourse on miracles is that the laws of nature operate according to a deterministic logic so that the only room for God's action is to intervene in such laws - which then constitutes a "miracle" see Yong Indeed, if the laws of nature are not transgressed when free agents bring about events, why would such violations occur when God acts Yong ?

Instead, miracles may be understood as basic divine acts that operate within the regulatory framework that God established in the first place Yong The distortion of the relationship between the work of the Father and of the Spirit is best seen in the notion of "transactional giving' where the giver "sows" seed money by tithing and voluntary gifts in expectation of reaping a rich harvest. As Asamoah-Gyadu observes, this undermines the sovereignty of God by treating the Father like a customer service point.

God is treated as a business partner who has no choice but to acquiesce to the demands of those who have fulfilled their side of the bargain by paying their tithes This in fact represents a return to pagan religion the Baal cult where the favour of a rather fickle and capricious deity has to be secured through gifts bribes , if not indulgences. The Spirit is invoked to ensure the blessings of the Father. The reason why such distortions are able to enter is precisely because the blessings of the Spirit are secured through a quasi-magical formula that may be invoked through Pentecostal rituals.

Tithing, more specifically, becomes a magical key for unlocking God's material wealth Asamoah-Gyadu The expected blessings lie outside of one's locus of control and must therefore be secured through miraculous means. However, the deeper reason why such blessings have to be secured and why misfortunates have to be avoided is that the will of the Father seems so arbitrary so that benefits and burdens are randomly distributed.

The Spirit does not proceed from the Father; the Father's hand is turned by the Spirit. Does this not stand in contrast with the exorbitant praise to the Father in Pentecostal worship? My sense is that African Pentecostalism adopted vocabulary derived from American Pentecostalism where the distinction between the natural and the supernatural is employed to resist modernist reductionism.

This is superimposed on the distinction between the visible and the invisible that is common to an African primal worldview, Hebraic thinking and patristic theology alike. Accordingly, the visible and the invisible realms are interwoven so that there is a strong sense of the moral and spiritual moorings of life. There is an underlying need for a cosmic sense balance - that is disturbed by pervasive evil forces. This requires some spiritual warfare - a need that is recognised in Pentecostal ministries of healing and deliverance from evil spirits see Kalu , also Yong In my view this does require further reflection on the relationship between the material and the spiritual but this may be understood in terms of the distinction between the visible and the invisible rather than the natural and the supernatural.

The latter distinction is cosmologically problematic while the former one is entirely legitimate to resist reductionism. In proverbial terms: there may be a need for Western medicine to combat malaria if one is bitten by a mosquito. However, this does not address the deeper question, namely why one was bitten by the mosquito. This requires moral and indeed spiritual relection on what is invisible to modern medicine. In other words, spirit is not opposed to or unrelated to matter but requires a discernment of the direction in which matter moves.

If so, "a" spirit is not a quasi-material if invisible, ghost-like force, but the description of a movement, a sense of direction, a state of affairs, a moral climate. The resolution of this unnecessary conflict surely lies in the direction of a more resolutely Trinitarian theology, one in which God's transcendence is acknowledged, in which transformation is based on the power of the cross and not financial, miraculous or audio-visual power , and where the continuity between the Spirit hovering over the waters in Genesis and the Spirit of Pentecost is explored.

As Lyle Dabney recognises, what is needed is a Pentecostal theology of creation through Word and Spirit. The Spirit is not foreign to the created order. The cosmic dimensions of the Spirit's work need to be recognised see Karkkainen The problem is the distortion of sin, not nature itself.

Protestants would say that there is no need to "elevate" nature towards the supernatural but there is indeed a need to address and overcome the distortions resulting from sin - as Pentecostals would remind all other Christians in a rather dramatic way. Some concluding comments. To conclude this essay, I wish to offer three further comments and questions that should be included on the agenda of a conversation between the ecumenical movement and the Pentecostal movement on pneumatology.

I suggest that such an agenda may also be helpful in the South African context given the deep divides between various forms of Christianity as sketched in the introduction above. Firstly, further reflection is needed on overcoming evil which is traditionally understood as the work of the Spirit. The larger Christian tradition has developed a rich vocabulary in speaking about human sin as pride, greed, violence, missing one's target hamartia and alienation from God.

In each case this incurs a sense of guilt and shame that can only be restored through God's forgiveness. However, human wrongdoing also becomes embedded in human society so that sin is also a power in which humanity is collectively trapped. This is also recognised in the secular equivalent of structural violence, i.

One may identify a tendency in the ecumenical movement to shy away from sin as guilt and to adopt secular categories to speak about sin as power. In the Pentecostal movement there is a similar tendency to emphasise demonic power more than guilt. One may hypothesise that the focus is here on the sustained physical, psychological and spiritual harm that some experience as a result of an unequal distribution of power but also due to the complicity and acquiescence of those who benefit from that.

They become victimised by powers that may well be described and named as demonic.

Christian Doctrines Of A Christian Life

This begs further questions about the relationship between sin and evil. Does accumulated sin lead to evil or is evil the root cause of sin the Augustinian approach? If the former, only God's forgiveness would resolve the matter. If the latter, only deliverance from such demonic powers would do.

A related question concerns the possibility of overcoming evil. There is a clear need for victory over evil through the power of the Spirit. The Pentecostal movement may be regarded as a protest movement against submission to evil forces, a call to resist evil and a retrieval of a spirituality of victorious Christian living Asamoah-Gyadu , The message is that the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit secures deliverance from evil and ensures survival in a hostile world see Anderson However, evil cannot be completely eradicated in this dispensation.

Instant solutions to life's vicissitudes are not always readily available either Anderson Understood theologically, this is a not a sign of failure but of God's patience. After all, if evil is to be eradicated, that would mean that all of us in whom evil still lurks would need to be eradicated as well - unless the possibility of moral perfection is not only claimed but demanded.

Moreover, as history amply illustrates, the instruments used to eradicate evil may well exacerbate such evil. If so, the slow and persuasive power of the cross is preferable over the quick and demonstrable power of instant miracles. Secondly, if the Holy Spirit is a power at work in the world to overcome evil, this begs further questions about how the term "spirit" is understood.

What kind of thing is a spirit?


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  8. The answer is of course that a spirit is not a thing that can be described in terms of matter and energy. Yet, the categories that are employed in the ecumenical and Pentecostal movements alike indicate some slippage so that notions of "spirit" are hypostasised in an anthropomorphic, quasi-material and quasi-literal way. Such a spirit often becomes a ghost-like invisible force. There is no need to deny the existential significance of a spirit world, certainly not in African contexts, especially since many but not all spirits are feared as a constant threat.

    The only resolution for being possessed by an evil spirit is exorcism. However, if the Holy Spirit is understood crudely as such a hypostasised force, one may still hold that this spirit is more powerful than any others, but God is then reduced to one force amongst others operating in the world. The Christian confession holds that God works in and through things in the world the incarnation of Christ and the inhabitation of the Spirit.

    The temptation is to speak of the Holy Spirit as a particular force emanating from God who intervenes in the world from the outside. If so, this would beg questions about matter and energy and how these are causally directed by the Spirit. At worst as is sometimes the case in Pentecostal discourse , the Spirit becomes a ghost-like thing in the world that intervenes in the laws of nature to perform "supernatural" miracles. If so, the work of the Spirit is at odds with the laws of nature presumably established by the Father.

    Then, as I suggested above, the Spirit no longer proceeds from the Father, but from an altogether human spirit. One needs to admit that there is no ecumenical clarity on how the term "spirit" may best be used. There is consensus, perhaps, that a term such as spirituality signals resistance against reductionism, but how "spirit" relates to brain and mind, if not "soul" or personality is not at all clear. In my view "spirit" is best related to quality, information, patterning, description and direction.

    Spirit may be powerful without being a power. Such power would apply to personality, charisma, mind, lofty ideals, the spirit of a team, an institution or a nation, or to the Holy Spirit's mission in the world alike. Discernment is about the direction of the movement and not merely about the power of the mover. It is the qualitative content that makes the difference. The Spirit of love employs the same matter and energy as a spirit of hatred but has a vastly different impact.

    The same applies to a spirit of consumerism and one of generosity. Thirdly and finally, this underscores the need for spiritual discernment. This is recognised in the ecumenical movement and the Pentecostal movement alike. Asamoah-Gyadu poses a set of five standards or benchmarks to gauge the presence of God's Spirit in the church, i. The first of these speaks about the relatedness of Christ and the Spirit while all the others focus on the transformative impact of the Spirit's presence. In each case Spirit possession requires discernment since being possessed by the Spirit evidenced by speaking in tongues may degenerate into possessing the Spirit as an impersonal power at one's disposal see Anderson f.

    If these are to be further developed through conversation between the Pentecostal movement and the ecumenical movements, I suggest that more deeply Trinitarian categories may well be helpful. Amanze, James N. Journal of Theology for Southern Africa , Anderson, Allan Moya: the Holy Spirit in an African context. Pretoria: Unisa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. In Anderson et al eds. Anderson, Allan et al eds. Studying Global Pentecostalism: Theories andMethods.

    Berkeley: University of California Press. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Asamoah-Gyadu, J. Kwabena Contemporary Pentecostal Christianity: Interpretations from an African context. Oxford: Regnum Books.


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    Eldoret: Zapf Chancery. Conradie, Ernst M. Stellenbosch: SUN Press. The Questfor Identity in so-called Mainline Churches. Dabney, Lyle In Welker ed. Dunn, James D. Herbert, Brian University of the Western Cape. Kalu, Ogbu