LETTER : The impact of Charismatics' radical approach

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The Independent Online
From The Rev Mark A. S.


Sir: I find the Rev Francis Bown's attitude to Charismatics both ignorant and alarming in his desire to rid our churches of any Charismatic expression (Letters, 25 August). Such views are not uncommon. What he expresses in his letter is a caricature of what exists. I do not want to defend what has happened in Sheffield but, as I understand the situation, it was less about being Charismatic and more about a radical and cultural attempt to communicate the message of the Gospel in the late 20th century.

The Charismatic Movement has made mistakes but it does not have a monopoly on bad practice. Even in "middle-of-the-road" churches there are those who exercise power in an abusive way, be they clergy or laity.

The Church has to move to understand the culture it lives within. It doesn't work to offer people, of any age, 500-year-old liturgy and 100- year-old hymns and tell them it is "timeless". It is meaningless to them.

Within parishes all over the British Isles there are people who would call themselves Charismatic. They are people who believe in the power of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit.

They are what you would call quiet Charismatics. It is verging on a state of paranoia to suggest that these people, both young and old, of every class and distinction and every church tradition, are part of an insidious cultic movement. There are those who emphasise baptism in the Spirit and there are those who do not. Charismatics stress the need for salvation of individuals and society as a whole. As a someone who has been involved in Charismatic matters for years, I am unrepentently Anglican and boringly orthodox.

The Church needs to understand the notion and impact of power in all relationships, especially within the Church. This, it seems, is where it all went wrong in Sheffield.

Yours sincerely,

M. A. S. Goodman

Dalkeith, Midlothian

28 August