November 4, 2004
vol 15, no. 179

Musings on the Charismatic Movement

The background and origins of the Charismatic Renewal in the conciliar church stem not from Catholic teaching

    by Kevin M. Tierney

        Editor's Note: While Kevin has been bringing you this series most Sundays in comparing the Propers of the Mass of the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo, the title of this feature "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi" also extends to ways in which one prays determining how one believes. The charismatic movement, which John Paul II is on record as boasting as the "greatest movement in Church history" is, like the rest of the conciliar church, heading for oblivion. Kevin points out in his multi-part essay why this is and why the charismatic movement is dangerous.

      "St. Paul's admonition applies even more so when we see how the Charismatic movement came about in Catholic circles. It is without a doubt a fact that the first people to seek the "Pentecostal Experience" as Catholics did so from Protestant ministers. Such a move stands the Catholic view of the priesthood on its head. It also raises the question of why the Catholic would go outside the confines of the Church, to seek the Holy Spirit from those who, in the Churches eyes, are heretics. It is the Catholic priesthood that God uses to give His grace to the people."

    My previous thoughts on the charismatic movement drew responses which were sad, yet predictable. Those who were not Charismatic viewed it a very balanced musing, while those who were in the Charismatic movement automatically became defensive, many times using the same lines of thought that I had interacted with in the musing. Yet I shall continue to give further insight into the "Charismatic renewal" which traditionalists and many other Catholics are very suspicious of.

    First, a little background. My foray into apologetics as a Protestant began when I wrote several articles on the Word-Faith movement, and the Pentecostal movement within Protestantism. My position has changed very little since then, being very skeptical that most of what comes out of the Charismatic movement is not the work of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity - the Holy Ghost or, as charismatics are wont to say "Holy Spirit," but rather a serious corruption Christianity faces today. Even in those unenlightened days when I advocated the Protestant maxim of Sola Scriptura, the evidence came decidedly against the Pentecostal movement. Those views have only been strengthened as a Catholic. Upon conversion, a great influence upon me had been the late Fr. John Hardon, S.J., one of the most well known catechists in America. He had written several books explaining the Catechism, and in Detroit, was known as the lion of Orthodox Catholicism. He was also fiercely critical of the charismatic movement among other things. So when I am writing, that bias will show, and I make no apology for it. While my influences will shine, I still attempt to make an objective an observation as possible.

    "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, saith Anathema to Jesus. And no man can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost." So St. Paul tells us in his First Epistle to the Corinthians. If Charismatic are to be honest with themselves, they must concede that their Fathers in the "Pentecostal experience" flagrantly violated this command. The movement began in Protestantism. Now while we cannot read the subjective intentions of Protestants, it is safe to say that objectively, Protestantism is in heresy, for denying divine revelation. To deny one teaching of Jesus Christ is to deny all of them. Indeed, to pick and choose which parts of divine revelation to accept is the exact nature of what heresy is. The Charismatic movement traces its roots not to Traditional Catholic piety and spirituality, but the "Holiness movements" of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Protestant sects. These were the ones who now postulated that speaking in tongues was a sure sign of the Holy Spirit's activity, and viewed a "baptism in the Spirit" as something distinct from the original encounter with Christ in initial justification, that being baptism. (Or for the Protestants, when they "accepted Jesus into their hearts.")

    St. Paul's admonition applies even more so when we see how the Charismatic movement came about in Catholic circles. It is without a doubt a fact that the first people to seek the "Pentecostal Experience" as Catholics did so from Protestant ministers. Such a move stands the Catholic view of the priesthood on its head. It also raises the question of why the Catholic would go outside the confines of the Church, to seek the Holy Spirit from those who, in the Churches eyes, are heretics. It is the Catholic priesthood that God uses to give His grace to the people.

    While the Charismatic movement started from Catholics seeking the spirit from those which were heretics, the true "roots" of the Charismatic movement came shortly before from the "Duquesne weekend" at Duquesne University. A fitting description is in order, from one of the people who experienced it, Patti Gallagher.

    "I wasn't going to pray - just tell any students there to come down to the party. But as I entered into the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I was filled with a sense of awe…As I knelt there, my body literally trembled…I felt really scared and said to myself, 'Get out of here quick, because something is going to happen if you stay in the presence of God'…" In the next few moments, Patti found herself prostrate, flat on her face before the tabernacle. No one had touched her, but her shoes had come off…Within half an hour, 24 students were in the chapel…They stayed singing and praying from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following morning…Some felt God's love so deeply that they couldn't do anything but weep….Some…felt a tremendous burning in their hands, or going through their arms like fire. Others experienced a clicking in their throats, or a tingling in their tongues. She continued, "You have to remember, we didn't know about the gifts of the Holy Spirit,""

    Now a few questions are in order. If they admitted to not knowing much about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, how did they know that this was indeed an outpouring of the Holy Spirit? It's a known fact that the devil disguises himself as an Angel of Light, and in the book of Apocalypse(Revelation) sends a false prophet to call fire from Heaven, to mimic Elijah’s calling to vindicate he was indeed from God. (Now whether or not this actually happens nobody knows, but scholars on all sides of the issue agree that the purpose of this text is to demonstrate that Satan will use signs and wonders that appear from God, and will deceive many.)

    Such actions that are described are also completely without precedent in Catholic spiritual history, such as the tongue clicking. Furthermore, to learn of the "Gifts of the Spirit" these students turned not to their local Bishop or any Doctors of the Church, not to Catholic spiritual writers or even Church teaching, but a militant Anti-Catholic by the name of David Wilkerson, who wrote the book, "The Cross and the Switch Blade." The following author, in one of his "charismatic revelations" stated the following in August 1973:

    "He (Wilkerson) predicted that the warm reception Catholic Charismatic are receiving in the Catholic Church will not continue and that both Catholic and Protestant charismatics will be forced to leave their churches and form (John H. Fichter, S.J., The Catholic Cult of the Paraclete, with a foreward by Donald Gelpi, Sheed and Ward, Inc. New York, NY, pg. 125-126)

    The fact that these confused Catholics consulted this man is definitely worth noting. If this were truly the work of the Spirit, why did these Catholics not seek wisdom from the great and brilliant minds of the Church? While at times we always use those we disagree with to make a point, our entire philosophy is not built upon those who militantly disagree with us and whose goal is to lure people away from our position. The Catholic Charismatic at that weekend chose as the person to learn from somebody who viewed it a good thing Catholics would leave the ark of salvation, to found a Church in the Spirit with at least material heretics.

    Furthermore, many of their leaders, and indeed, their most prominent backer, have not been for promoting the Church, but bucking their authority at every chance they got. One such example was Cardinal Leo Suenens, a leading player of progressive forces at Vatican II, and author of the book "A New Pentecost" which many felt was one of the most important books in the Charismatic movement, as now an important cardinal was officially embracing their cause. When not leading the Charismatic movement, he took time to lead resistance to Paul VI on the issue of Humanae Vitae, saying that nobody had to follow its teachings. So for a proposed movement of the Holy Spirit, indeed a great renewal of the role of the Spirit in Catholic life, we find people who learned of the "role of the Holy Spirit" from heretics, and who were led and protected by a notorious dissenter of Catholic doctrine.

    Now I am certain many Charismatic who see this will say "But the church has endorsed the Charismatic movement, which means it is okay." Though John Paul II has expressed that it is the "greatest movement in the history of the Church," the Church herself has not given a de facto endorsement of the movement, as it can only be approved if it is faithful to the Magisterium. By glancing into the background of the movement, one can doubt the fidelity of many leaders of the movement, while also acknowledging the fidelity of individual Charismatic. I have met many Charismatic, and there are some things that are good. Their zeal is commendable; their love for Eucharistic Adoration is also good. Yet with all Church movements, human as we are, there will be some problems. What vexes so many Catholics is that the Charismatic either deny these problems exist, or take an indifferent attitude of "so what?"

    In closing, there are a few questions Charismatic must seriously consider. I am not saying that such a movement in the future could not be an authentic tool of renewal if truly governed by the Holy Ghost; I myself wish it to be the case. Yet such questions, until that day comes, must be considered.

    1.) Why did the Holy Spirit start a movement within His Church that not only took a different outlook on spirituality, but as I hope to demonstrate in future installments, flatly contradicts Catholic spirituality?

    2.) Why did the Holy Spirit, in launching a new movement based on His role in the Church, start with Catholics seeking Him outside of the Church?

    3.) Why did the Holy Spirit, in choosing to start a renewal of His roll in the Church, choose a movement that has existed for over a century in those sects which deny Divine truth? In what way can we tell the authentic movement of the Spirit within Catholic charismatics, versus the inauthentic activity of the Spirit in heretical sects?

    4.) Why did the Holy spirit have one of the primary proponents of the Charismatic renewal be a staunch opponent of the Vicar of Christ, on his most important writing?

    There are also scriptural and considerations within tradition to consider about why many Catholics are not positive about the "Charismatic renewal." I hope to cover them in future installments.

Kevin Tierney

    November 4, 2004
    vol 15, no. 179
    Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi