Eastern Orthodox Charismatic movement?

Has the Eastern Orthodox Church experienced a “charismatic movement” or anything similiar that the Catholic Church has seen? From my observation, it seems like they have not - but, not being an active Eastern Orthodox, I would not know off hand and am curious.

Thanks!

There have been attempts in the USA, most notably led by Fr. Eusebius Stephanou.

However, I’ve noticed that charismatic activity tends to pop up only in Orthodox parishes where there is a very low level of sacramental and liturgical life.

Draw your own conclusions.

I’ve noticed that too. It seems to rest solely on individual Orthodox Christians, rather than entire sections of the Church, even metropolises.

At my last church I met people who were mad about people like Jack van Impe or Ernest Angley and the like - it was quite scary, especially since I was a new convert at the time. When I pointed out teachings from the Church Fathers that contradicted what those people taught, it made them upset - which was even more scary to me.

:thumbsup:

I’m extremely thankful and blessed that the mission I attend has a very rich liturgical and sacramental life. In my opinion, let’s leave all of the 60s-70s “charismatic” stuff to the Protestants.

In Christ,
Andrew

:thumbsup:

At my last church I met people who were mad about people like Jack van Impe or Ernest Angley and the like - it was quite scary, especially since I was a new convert at the time. When I pointed out teachings from the Church Fathers that contradicted what those people taught, it made them upset - which was even more scary to me.

I understand why this happens. People are looking for piety and instruction, and if they don’t get fed, they will feast on junk food, which will look like a banquet to them.

While I am not Eastern Orthodox, I absolutely agree with you. I honestly was not aware of “charismatic” Catholic movements before I started posting here, because my home parish does not cater to such nonesense, and I must say…I do not like it at all.

I’ve always been perplexed by the “Catholic-Charismatic” movement in the USA as well. I once came across a book on the subject, and from reading it came to the conclusion that, as bpbasilphx said, spiritually hungry people went looking for something to eat, and did so outside their Church and its original beliefs and traditions.

As a low church Christian, I’m sure my conclusions are different than yours.

The liturgies, in my perspective, are meant to protect and lift up the life-giving sacraments, as well as to draw hearts to Christ through the beauty and order of the liturgy. There is also something comforting about returning to the familiar words and rites.

The early Church, however, as described in Acts seemed rooted in a more flexible worship life. It was in this time of simple worship: fasting, praying, etc. that the Holy Spirit came in power, and that the world was turned “upside down” by the Gospel. I am concerned that the structures which we have used to uphold and protect our faith have actually begun to hold-in our faith, rather than leaving room for God to move by His Spirit in surprising ways.

I believe it will be an interesting and powerful day when the Church learns to be both sacramental and open to God’s moving.

Nonsense…such as:
the nonsense of anointing with oil and praying for healing?
the nonsense of speaking in tongues, prophecy, and all the gifts of the Spirit?

When these cease to be modeled in Scripture, I will agree with you. Until then, I will view charismatic faith as that which should be normative to Christianity. No doubt, there are aspects of this movement which we would probably both be uncomfortable with; but we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bath.

Actually, the early Church was very liturgical - Saint Paul, for example, describes the Eucharist and “feast days” in 1 Corinthians. Early Church Fathers such as Polycarp, Saint Ignatius, Saint Irenaeus, and Justin Martyr all talk about the Eucharist, liturgy, bishops, and other elements of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

The movement of the Holy Spirit and the “movement” of the Holy Spirit today are two entirely different actions, and serve two entirely different purposes. The practice of speaking in tongues at Pentecost was not in a strange, possessed language but one that was able to be understood by all. No one ever rolled around on the floor, threw up, or laughed uncontrollably. Furthermore, no one ever spoke of “Holy Ghost machine guns” nor “Holy Ghost enemas.” The only people who did all these things were early heretics such as the Montanists, who acted like they were possessed by the Holy Spirit - in fact, such ideas were common only in Pagan faiths. The worship of Christians was controlled, and as the ante-Nicene Fathers show us even the disciples of the apostles believed in a reserved but strong-willed faith.

The nonsense of the modern ‘charismatic’ way of approaching these things, yes. Please see Byzantine_Wolf’s excellent post above for the difference between these gifts at Pentecost and the caricature of those gifts in the modern era. They are absolutely not the same thing, and I see nothing “normative” about acting like a madman. Are you St. Xenia of St. Petersburg? If not, then knock it off.

[quote=Byzantine_Wolf;5
]Actually, the early Church was very liturgical - Saint Paul, for example, describes the Eucharist and “feast days” in 1 Corinthians. Early Church Fathers such as Polycarp, Saint Ignatius, Saint Irenaeus, and Justin Martyr all talk about the Eucharist, liturgy, bishops, and other elements of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

The movement of the Holy Spirit and the “movement” of the Holy Spirit today are two entirely different actions, and serve two entirely different purposes. The practice of speaking in tongues at Pentecost was not in a strange, possessed language but one that was able to be understood by all. No one ever rolled around on the floor, threw up, or laughed uncontrollably. Furthermore, no one ever spoke of “Holy Ghost machine guns” nor “Holy Ghost enemas.” The only people who did all these things were early heretics such as the Montanists, who acted like they were possessed by the Holy Spirit - in fact, such ideas were common only in Pagan faiths. The worship of Christians was controlled, and as the ante-Nicene Fathers show us even the disciples of the apostles believed in a reserved but strong-willed faith.
[/quote]

Actually, the Early Church was sacramental, liturgical and … charismatic. If you read the Didache, part II, there are instructions for fasting, baptism, the eucharist and Sunday worship. But the largest section refers to how one should treat itinerant prophets who speak words of knowledge through the Spirit.

I agree with a previous poster that ever more stringent liturgical standards may have choked out the Spirit in the Church over the centuries, in contrary to Scripture.

So please don’t be smug: any church that rejects the practice of the charismatic gifts is rejecting the authentic faith of the New Testament church and the Early Church Fathers.
There are excesses in the practice of many spiritual gifts; such should not lead us to reject spiritual gifts, but rather the un scriptural use of those gifts.

The Roman Catholic Church has been wise to welcome the charismatic movement.

Fasting, baptism, the Eucharist and Sunday worship are all parts of Orthodox and Roman Catholic worship - they were not invented (let alone rediscovered) with the Charismatic movement. Also, to say that “stringent liturgical standards” have “choked out the Spirit in the Church over the centuries” is both irroneous and heretical: it first ignores the Orthodox teaching of the Holy Mysteries, in which God’s Grace works from the Church Triumphant (ie Jesus and the saints) to the Church Militant (ie you and I); also, to suggest that the Church lost the Holy Spirit or “choked it out” suggests God is a victim of fatalism when He promised to with His Church even onto the end of the age (Matt 28:20), and suggests that it is possible for human beings to reject God’s grace and control.

It’s also dangerously close to the heretical beliefs of Mormons and Muslims, who believe after a certain period of time the Church lost the grace of God and went astray. Again, is God a victim of fatalism?

No one is being smug, merely quoting history. I also think the early Church Fathers would greatly disagree with you - if Saint Irenaeus were alive today, he’d write a second Against Heresies, most of which would probably involve modern Charismatic churches. :slight_smile: Likewise, if Saint Athanasius were alive today, he’d feel much more at home in a Roman Catholic or Orthodox service than a Charismatic revival.

One could possibly argue that the Church is “charismatic,” but the way the early Church would define it and the way modern Charismatics define the word are two entirely different things.

[quote=Byzantine_Wolf;
]Fasting, baptism, the Eucharist and Sunday worship are all parts of Orthodox and Roman Catholic worship - they were not invented (let alone rediscovered) with the Charismatic movement. Also, to say that “stringent liturgical standards” have “choked out the Spirit in the Church over the centuries” is both irroneous and heretical: it first ignores the Orthodox teaching of the Holy Mysteries, in which God’s Grace works from the Church Triumphant (ie Jesus and the saints) to the Church Militant (ie you and I); also, to suggest that the Church lost the Holy Spirit or “choked it out” suggests God is a victim of fatalism when He promised to with His Church even onto the end of the age (Matt 28:20), and suggests that it is possible for human beings to reject God’s grace and control.

It’s also dangerously close to the heretical beliefs of Mormons and Muslims, who believe after a certain period of time the Church lost the grace of God and went astray. Again, is God a victim of fatalism?

No one is being smug, merely quoting history. I also think the early Church Fathers would greatly disagree with you - if Saint Irenaeus were alive today, he’d write a second Against Heresies, most of which would probably involve modern Charismatic churches. :slight_smile: Likewise, if Saint Athanasius were alive today, he’d feel much more at home in a Roman Catholic or Orthodox service than a Charismatic revival.

One could possibly argue that the Church is “charismatic,” but the way the early Church would define it and the way modern Charismatics define the word are two entirely different things.
[/quote]

If St. Athanasius, the author of works such as “On The Holy Spirit” were alive today, not only would he be very old, but would also be somewhat frustrated. He writes favourably about the presence of charismatic gifts during his time. So whilst he would recognise many elements in Orthodox worship, he would lament the cessation of the practice of spiritual gifts, which he viewed as evidence of God’s grace.

You argue a straw man; I don’t need to defend all modern practices of the charismatic gifts to maintain their legitimacy. Do abuses by televangelists mean that the gift of evangelism is also no longer legitimate?

Please give the direct quotation to confirm this. Much of Saint Athanasius’ writings regarding the Holy Spirit were against those heretics who did not believe the Holy Spirit was divine, and therefore not a part of the Trinity.

Furthermore, as I said, he would understand the Orthodox concept of Holy Mysteries, which speak of God’s grace working through His Church to us. His teaching regarding it is consistent with what Saint John Damascene wrote in the eighth century. Athanasius would also, most likely, recognize many Charismatic practices as being similar to the previously mentioned Montanists, whom he would have known about.

EDIT: Additionally, I might add that we do not believe the Holy Spirit (let alone angels) to be absent from an Orthodox liturgy, and I’m sure Roman Catholics would feel the same way about the mass. One part, during the preparation of the Eucharist, is believed to involve the Holy Spirit descending and turning the wine and bread into the body and blood of Christ. A priest I once spoke to mentioned how, when he was being ordained, as he held the bread of life he felt as if it were burning his hand, which some might call a working of the Holy Spirit. What I’m trying to point out is that the Holy Spirit is neither absent nor “being choked out” out of the liturgy, as it is very much present. The apostolic churches simply refuse to acknowledge certain extreme practices that seem to draw a vague line between what we know as the Holy Spirit and what could be demonic deception.

I never argued that at all, and apologies if it came across as such. Nevertheless, one can argue that most Roman Catholic and Orthodox beliefs are upheld by the early Church Fathers and their writings. This was not the source of inspiration in the earliest days of the Charismatic movement, which was based more on the distorted concept of sola scriptura that is known by many as solo scriptura.

Byzantine Wolf,

The Early Church, both East and West, was both charismatic and liturgical and this is reflected in the writings of many of the ECFs. See a summary of this by Catholic Charismatic writer Ralph Martin here:

209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:A8d7pU3iF4sJ:www.renewalministries.net/pdfs/Charisms%2520OSV_June%252013_07.pdf+Charismatic+gifts+early+church+fathers&cd=39&hl=en&ct=clnk&ie=UTF-8&client=ms-rim

Even by the 5th century, gifts of healing, tongues and prophecy were still present in Syria according to St. John Chrysostom, and he laments that they are not as prevelent throughout the Church as in the apostolic age. Would that the 21st century Orthodox Church were to share St. Chrysostom’s lament!

I think there are two plausible reasons for the decline over time in the use of the charismatic gifts. First, Montanism, whose New Prophecy movement placed prophecy over Holy Scripture, showed the danger of abuse of the charismatic gifts and may have led to their decline. Second, ever more homogenized liturgies, used to preserve orthodoxy in the face of heresy, did indeed leave little room for the spontaneous use of charismatic gifts such as prophecy.

Don’t lump the Roman Catholic Church’s approach to the modern charismatic movement in the same category as the Orthodox Church. The RCC has accepted the movement as a blessing to the Church (notwithstanding some criticism). There are millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of charismatic RCs in the world and certainly more charismatic Roman Catholics in the US than all American Orthodox believers put together.

Nice argumentum ad populum there, JesusforMadrid. Too bad that everyone and their mother doing it wouldn’t make it a sound practice.

This is true; I was speaking mainly of the Church as described in Acts. We all crave and need structure, so I don’t have a problem with liturgical aspects of worship. However, I believe we have programmed God out to some degree. I believe that on the whole, most low churches and most high churches are missing something due to the extreme, unbalanced nature of their worship.

The movement of the Holy Spirit and the “movement” of the Holy Spirit today are two entirely different actions, and serve two entirely different purposes. The practice of speaking in tongues at Pentecost was not in a strange, possessed language but one that was able to be understood by all.

Yes and no. There are two forms of speaking in tongues in the NT. One is a miraculous sign proclaiming the Gospel without borders in known tongues at Pentecost, another is described by Paul as more of an unknown prayer language. And unlike at Pentecost, Paul didn’t want people speaking in tongues (the second form described) in front of unbelievers as they wouldn’t understand it (it needed to be interpreted into their language). The gift of (unknown) tongues is a valid gift of the Spirit used in the Church today.

And as for a strange, possessed language - speaking in heavenly/unknown tongues may sound strange - but heaven is strange to us as well. Those speaking in tongues at Pentecost (even though they were speaking in known tongues) were accused of being drunk. Our obedience to God may be misunderstood by others.

No one ever rolled around on the floor, threw up, or laughed uncontrollably. Furthermore, no one ever spoke of “Holy Ghost machine guns” nor “Holy Ghost enemas.”

I don’t know of any charismatics who talk like that. There are always people who takes things to unhealthy extremes.

The worship of Christians was controlled, and as the ante-Nicene Fathers show us even the disciples of the apostles believed in a reserved but strong-willed faith.

Do you see controlled worship or free worship in Acts? What is it about “controlled” worship that so appeals to you?

If you only know the caricature of charismatic faith, then you don’t know much about it. I could also come to you with caricatures of Catholics and assume that there are no real or good Catholics. But I won’t do that.

Also, there are some Catholic priests and monks through the ages who have had some pretty charismatic experiences. It was quite shocking to me, but they give “charismatics” a run for their money.

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