LETTER: Why Charismatics are dangerous

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From The Rev Francis A. C. S. Bown

Sir: The alarming allegations surrounding the Nine O'Clock Service in Sheffield serve to highlight the real danger now posed by the Charismatic Movement, not only to the Church of England but to most of the mainstream churches. In a time of declining support and numbers, it is understandable that those in authority should look favourably on congregations that attract large crowds of young people. But where such "success" is based on charismatic services, there is the potential for much harm.

Charismatic services now often use every modern device available - pop music, videos, dry-ice, flashing lights - to produce an atmosphere of intense emotion. Together with the calls for immediate personal commitment and the yearning for healing miracles, this produces a kind of quick-fix religion that can easily become addictive and unhealthy.

Charismatic cults are thus developing within the churches. The charismatic emphasis on so-called baptism of the spirit, the intense stress on individual salvation and the talk of the terrors awaiting those "outside" should alert all orthodox Christians that something is seriously amiss. Young people are being drawn into situations where they can suffer profound spiritual and psychological damage.

The leaders of all our churches need to expunge this Charismatic folly before more lives are wrecked.

Yours, In Dno,

Francis A. C. S. Bown

Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorkshire

24 August