Friday, February 08, 2008

On Charismatism: Delineating the various subjects involved

When one discusses Charismatism, it must be realized that Charismatism as a movement is very broad and has various aspects to it. Historically of course, Charismatism is a spiritual movement within Christianity that arose similarly to but independently of the original Pentecostal movement of 1906 (the Azusa Street Revival). Doctrinally, the Charismatic movement is very diverse, as adherents were united more by a common experience than common doctrine, and the movement crossed denominational and even Christian/non-Christian lines (ie the Roman Catholic Renewal Movement etc.).

As such, the Charismatic movement can only be applied when talking about people, but it is not a useful term when discussing the doctrinal distinctives of the movement. That said, there are a few doctrinal distinctives of Charismatism — that of the continuation of all the gifts of the Spirit (which is termed Continualism) and the rejection of the doctrine of separation (as distinct from historic Pentecostalism). The rise of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) has been linked with Charismatism also, though such a link is more temporal rather than causative. Also, the Third-Wave (generically speaking) has came up with a unique variety of doctrines to tackle, with a renenwed emphasis on the gift of healing being one of them (Vineyard), or the restoration of the five-fold ministry (pastors, teacher, evangelists, prophets, apostles) in the New Apostolic movement, which are more deserving of the label 'Third-Wave'. The New Apostolic movement also promotes doctrines such as Spiritual warfare (C. Peter Wagner) and Dominionism (the Church physically exercising dominion over the governments of the World to usher in the post-millenial reign of Christ).

This being said, the historic distinction between Pentecostalism, Charismatism and the New Apostolic movement is being blurred in this age of ecumenism. This is especially so in Singapore, whereby there is nearly no distinction between the mainline Pentecostal and Charismatic wings, with both of them lapping up the doctrines of the New Apostolic Movement. Therefore, while acknowledging the differences historically, doctrinally it is oftentimes hard to acknowledge any difference at all, with an Assemblies of God churches having a resident 'apostle' in Naomi Dowdy.

Looking at all the variety in beliefs, it is imperative that the issue under contention are therefore to be addressed one by one. And with this, let us start.

[to be continued]


Anonymous said...

Great post and definitions. I agree with you very much that the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements are very much mixed up in Singapore, so much so that I can't tell one apart from the other.

Can't wait for the next part! :)


vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Daniel,

This would be an interesting series!

Happy Chinese New Year! I am still mugging ... found a few minutes to post on my blog, but that was it. I would like to catch up with you, but this is my "lecture" month, so it's difficult to find time to meet up as yet. (Ah ... got to work and attend lectures). Things would be better after early July 08.

I will be looking forward to your posts on this issue. I like your "cessationism would cease" quote ;)

Pun intended?

Daniel C said...


yeah, they are indeed mixed up. Perhaps this is due to the small size of Singapore also...


sorry to hear that you are still very busy, and hope to meet up with you soon too. Eh... the quote was found on a prophetic website I have since forgotten where, but I have remembered the quote due to its catchiness. :P