On neopentecostalism

From a posting on The Anglican Continuum:


On neo-pentecostalism, my own views [ACC Archbishop Haverland] on the subject were shaped early by an unforgettable lecture that I heard in about 1980 by Carmelite Father William McNamara. One of McNamara’s basic ideas was that the neo-pentecostalist movement has to be judged in the context of the Church in which it arises. When a religious body is dead or dying, neo-pentecostalism may be a sign of relative health or possible hope. When the Catholic faith is alive and well, however, neo-pentecostalism tends to be at best unnecessary and at worst divisive.

So, for instance, in the context of the post-1976 Episcopal Church, a body in which Catholic faith and order were either dead or under attack at almost every level, the neo-pentecostlist movement could be a sign of hope. As Bishop Mote of blessed memory used to say after doing jail time with pro-life ‘Charistmatics’: ‘They believe in the reality of God, the power of God, and the goodness of God.’ Those are three very important beliefs.

However, the premium that neo-pentecostists tend to put on personal religious experience tends in turn to lead to division, whether in 1st century Corinth or among the ancient Montanists or in 21st century America. While the defenders of neo-pentecostalism writing to the Continuum are well-aware of this fact, perhaps they underestimate how very often the danger seems to arise. The tendency may not be inevitable or even intrinsically connected to the experiences in question. However, the tendency is common enough to give any bishop or pastor pause. . . .

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