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The Charismatic Renewal

By the mid 1960’s the example of the charismatic renewal in the Episcopal Church had helped rally the closet charismatics in other denominations to form alliances and organizations within their own denominations. Larry Christenson led the Lutherans, Tommy Tyson the Methodists, Harold Brown the Presbyterians. Even some Baptists, generally the most strongly cessationist of Protestants, began coming into the renewal.[11]

 

Surprised By the Spirit

The Pentecostals were genuinely surprised by the outpouring of the Spirit on the mainline churches. Pentecostal leaders had long written off these churches as hopelessly mired in liberal theology and apostasy. They considered them beyond the reach of God’s redemptive grace and renewal. That the renewal began among Episcopalians was especially shocking, as the Episcopal Church was notorious for its theologians who pioneered the trendy, Sadducean, and utterly faithless “death of God” theology of the times.[12] Further, the Episcopal Church, with its vestments, liturgy and strongly sacramental theology, was very close to the Roman Catholic Church – and any Pentecostal preacher would tell you, that church was the “whore of Babylon” and “Church of the anti-Christ.”[13]

There was another element of surprise, perhaps chagrin, among Pentecostals at the charismatic renewal. This dealt with the fact that the Pentecostal movement had originated and grown mostly among churches that were descended from, and subscribed to the old Holiness moral and dress codes. Good Pentecostals did not smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, go to movies, or do anything “worldly.” Pentecostal women wore no makeup and dressed with great modesty. They assumed their lifestyle was necessary for one to be a sincere Christian and to receive and maintain empowering presence of the Spirit.[14]

The Holiness code of how a Christian should behave, look like and dress was ignored by these new charismatics, especially the Episcopalians. They still liked their martinis or cup of wine, and worse, the Holy Spirit did not seem to mind! Their women wore lipstick and makeup, and wore fashionable dresses or pantsuits, yet they spoke in tongues and seemed to love the Lord! In other words, the Holiness behavior codes looked more and more like an unnecessary legalism. Pentecostals began to notice, especially their women and teens.[15]

 

Catholic Pentecostalism

For the Pentecostals another and bigger shock was yet to come. The Catholics started to get the Spirit too, and in huge numbers!

It began in 1967 among college students and their professors at two Catholic universities, Duquesne and Notre Dame.[16] Two lay Catholic theology instructors at Duquesne University, Ralf Keifer and Patrick Bourgeois, had read David Wilkerson’s The Cross and the Switchblade[17] and John Sherrill’s They Speak With Other Tongues,[18] two books which were best sellers at the time. Wanting to have the experiences of the Spirit described in these books, the two professors sought out a charismatic home group led by a Presbyterian laywoman and attended by others from a variety of Protestant churches. On the next meeting both received the Baptism of the Spirit. They began sharing their experience with their Catholic friends and students.

In February of 1967, Keifer and Bourgeois organized a prayer weekend for Catholic students at Duquesne, many of whom had also read The Cross and the Switchblade. They were determined to seek God’s will and meditate on first chapters of the book of Acts. By the time the weekend was over practically all of them had received the Baptism of the Siprit and had spoken in tongues. This group continued to meet, and visitors from Notre Dame came and were also baptized in the Holy Spirit.

A major milestone at Notre Dame happened on March 13th at the home of Ray Ballard. Ballard was the president of the South Bend chapter of the FGBMFI as well as a deacon of a local Assemblies of God church. He also hosted a mid-week pray meeting in the basement of his home. He was used to hosting persons from every Protestant denomination, but the telephone call asking permission for a group of Catholic students and faculty to visit was a bit intimidating. Ballard called several Pentecostal ministers to attend in order to answer any theological questions the Catholic visitors might have.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2016

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include, Quenching the Spirit (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He and his wife Carolyn continue in their healing, teaching and writing ministries. He is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook AnglicalPentecostal.blogspot.com

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