On June 30, 2009, no less an authority than J. Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma Magazine, declared that “the Charismatic Movement is dead.”
I came across his editorial after I wrote my blog on “New Wine and Old Skins“, and thought it was too good to ignore. It seems that Grady and I see eye to eye. (As an historical side note, I was the editor of a magazine called New Life Journal that merged with Charisma back in the early 1980s after I decided to change direction and began focusing on Christian political engagement. But that’s another story!)
As a “charismatic” who believes that the full gifts of the Spirit are available to the Church today, I nonetheless must agree with Grady. Although we should keep what’s good and what transcends the traditions that have grown up within this former move of God, we nonetheless must acknowledge some of its wacky aspects and bear witness against its many dysfunctional “leaders”.
We also must bravely admit that much of the culture and methodologies that define “Charismatic” churches are simply the latest incarnation of man-made, but futile, efforts to make it seem as though the “anointing” is still present.
But it isn’t.
Oh, I know . . . we try to poke at our “Charismatic” ways so they seem to jerk back to life, reach into our “Charismatic” bag of tricks to provoke excitement Sunday after Sunday, and try to hold onto our vain anti-tradition traditions as badges of honor and smug affirmations of God’s continuing favor. But that’s not what God favors anymore (if he ever did!). We may find comfort and have affinity for the familiar, but is that really God?
The cloud has moved on, and so must we.
As Grady puts it:
I am not a coroner. But I do believe the historic period we call the American charismatic movement ended a while ago. By making that pronouncement I was NOT saying that (1) the Holy Spirit isn’t moving today; (2) the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit aren’t available to us any more; or (3) people who are associated with this movement are all washed up.
On the contrary, we could be on the cusp of one of the most dynamic spiritual awakenings in history, and it will most certainly be accompanied by the supernatural work of the Spirit. Yet if we want to shift with Him into the next season we must lay aside old mindsets and worn-out religious paradigms that we picked up during the past 40 years. When God comes to do “a new thing,” as Isaiah promised He would (Isa. 43:19, NASB), we must embrace new priorities, recalibrate our spiritual values and set aside the baggage of the past.
New wine requires new wineskins. New growth only comes after pruning. Change is often painful.
He goes on to say:
When I say the charismatic movement is dead I am issuing an obvious challenge. It is time for us to lay aside the past so we can embrace the future. We are in a season when church leaders should be asking the hard questions:
- Are we locked into the past in an unhealthy way?
- Are we using language, methods or ministry styles that are stale, dated and ineffective?
- Are we training younger people to lead the next generation?
- Are we willing to slaughter any sacred cows and pet doctrines that hinder outreach and church growth?
Old Testament laws forbid people from touching anything dead (see Lev. 21:1,11). That’s because corpses spread disease. Dead things stink and defile.
This is certainly true of dead religion. It can make a church barren and lifeless, even if it is hidden under a superficial coating of trendy songs and casual clothes. It’s not enough to update your music and take off your tie. We need the new life of the Spirit.
My response? WOW and AMEN!
While I deeply honor those who labored faithfully in that prior move of God (and bear vocal witness against so many of its leaders who manipulated that move to serve their own pride and self interests), I nonetheless join in declaring — as one who has deep roots in it — that the Charismatic Movement is dead.
Let’s stop touching that which is dead and seek the new life of God’s new anointing for a new generation.
(c) Copyright 2009, Fulcrum Ministries. All Rights Reserved.
To read Grady’s full editorial, go to http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/fire-in-my-bones/22455-the-charismatic-movement-dead-or-alive.