Weighing Charismatic Experiences

one of the good things in the charismatic movement is that folks are open to these gifts so that people can experience the gifts of the spirit in their lives and families.

 You’re from a charismatic background. How much weight should we give charismatic experiences as we discern the truth? I’ve had a few, but the intellectual slash the reasonable discernment has been lacking.

Great question. I recommend that you, all of us, if you’re interested in the charismatic movement, 1968, of course.

This was in the wake of the Notre Dame experience, where the charismatic movement was born, if you will, in the Catholic Church, it was Pope St. Paul VI, who wrote his famous letter to the charismatics. It’s an excellent letter and there’s a lot in there that praises the movement.

And I encourage folks, look, there are lots of movements in the church. I don’t consider myself a charismatic Catholic, but I love the charismatic movement because I believe just being open to the Holy Spirit is something that really breathed the breath of fresh air into the church, being open to the gifts of the spirit, which The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us. Now not all fathers of the church Agreed on this point, even in the patristic era but the church certainly is teaching that the gifts including tongues and prophecy are applicable to this day.

Now there’s a wide variety of what that exactly means. The church does not have a definitive position on the nature of tongues and prophecy, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and the other gifts. But, to be open to gifts of the Holy Spirit, absolutely. After reading Paul VI’s letter to the Charismatics, I recommend St. Paul’s letter to the Charismatics. It’s called 1 Corinthians, but especially chapter 14. When he has this beautiful and pretty lengthy discussion about gifts of the spirit, including tongues and prophecy, which were the really the focal point of a lot of the problems in the movement in the early church, but he says, I think it’s down to verses 37 and 38 there where St. Paul says, if any man think himself to be spiritual or a prophet, let him heed the things we are saying, for they are a commandment of the Lord. And if anyone does not recognize this, he is not to be recognized, right? That’s an absolute key for all charismatics, and that is that the prophet must be subject to the apostle and the apostolic gift, which is the apostolic succession in the bishops.

We must submit and, we have examples from St. Paul there. Everything must be done decently and in order. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. In other words, if you have some gift and you just can’t help it, you just blurt it out in mass . . . guess what? That’s not of God, right?

Because you have Paul, who tells you, no, not in the liturgy, not in the public assembly, apart from straight, certain guidelines and whatnot. Now, of course we have different guidelines today, but the point is that we must be humble and understand that the gifts are subject to the person who is operating in the gifts.

There’s no such thing as these, out of control sort of meetings where people are foaming at the mouth and the, some of the stuff that, that you see, of course, that is out of bounds, but if we function in the context of submission to the church, oh my goodness. There’s all sorts of things, including here miracles and healings and such that I believe the Lord, I believe the Lord wants to do more than we allow him to do.

And that’s one of the good things in the charismatic movement is that folks are open to these gifts so that people can experience the gifts of the spirit in their lives and families.

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