Charismatic Movement Fails to Measure Up
IN RECENT times the “Charismatic” movement, sometimes labeled “neo-Pentecostal,” has attracted a good many churchgoers. This has been particularly noticeable in the Catholic Church, where some reports estimate the movement as having anywhere from 50,000 up to 400,000 followers. There have been upsets also in the Baptist Church.
The Charismatics (from the Greek word meaning ‘a gift of divine favor’) stress the importance of “spiritual gifts,” including divine healing, speaking in tongues (foreign to the hearer), discernment of spirits and prophecy. What appears to have disturbed the Catholic Church is the practice some Charismatics have called “discipling,” wherein the believers are grouped into units of about ten persons under the direction of a “shepherd,” who teaches and guides them. The disciples are committed to obey their shepherd. It especially bothers the Church that sometimes this shepherd is someone other than the disciples’ own minister. Clergymen, including those of other religions, fear that divisions in the church might thereby come about. Some charismatic leaders, however, oppose the practice of discipling. These say that, for the most part, they have taught members to remain within their denominations.
A further cause of concern to many persons is the fact that the charismatic “healers” claim, when their healing efforts are ineffective, that the failure is due to “lack of faith” on the part of the ailing person. This produces a guilt complex in the sick person, which, incidentally, complicates the job of any medical doctor treating the individual.
Of course, when Jesus and the apostles healed the sick, their healing was not dependent on the degree of faith of the healed person. Of Jesus, it is recorded: “All those who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. By laying his hands upon each one of them he would cure them.”—Luke 4:40; compare Luke 6:19; 9:6, 11.
The charismatic movement is doubtless a result of the churches’ failure to fill the need of church members for spiritual food. But while it has attracted many, particularly young persons, it has failed to measure up to the Bible’s standard for true Christianity. The Bible strongly counsels Christians not to follow human leaders, thereby having divided allegiances, but to follow Christ. The Bible therefore also commands: “Get out of her [Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, with its multitude of sects], my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Rev. 18:4.