Charisma: A Distinctive Understanding
Charismatic Christian Beliefs
The Charismatic Christian conviction is founded on the belief that the spiritual gifts (Greek charismata χάρισμα, from charis χάρις, grace) of the Holy Spirit, as depicted in the New Testament, are accessible through the infilling or baptism of the Holy Spirit. This may happen with or without the laying on of hands.
These spiritual gifts manifest themselves in the forms of signs, miracles, and wonders, including but not limited to speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, healing, and discernment of spirits. While Pentecostals and Charismatics adhere to these beliefs, distinctions are present.
Differences Between Pentecostals and Charismatics
Many within the charismatic movement have intentionally distanced themselves from Pentecostalism for cultural and theological reasons. Key among these reasons is the tendency of many Pentecostals to assert that speaking in tongues is consistently the initial physical evidence of receiving Spirit baptism.
While specific doctrines may differ among groups, Charismatics usually assert that the baptism with the Holy Spirit takes place at the new birth, referring to subsequent encounters with the Holy Spirit with alternative terminology, such as "being filled." Unlike Pentecostals, Charismatics are inclined to recognize one or all of the supernatural experiences, like prophecy, miracles, healing, or other physical manifestations, as indicators of having been baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit.
Pentecostals are distinguished from the charismatic movement not only in belief but also in style, with a strong emphasis on evangelization and missionary work. Charismatics, conversely, view their movement as a catalyst for revitalization, renewal, and spiritual growth within their existing church traditions.
Personal Insights on the Neo-Charismatic Movement
Within the neo-Charismatic movement, I maintain the perspective that a person receives the Holy Spirit at the precise moment they are born anew in Christ. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, or in other words, the outpouring of grace gifts on one's life, may or may not follow immediately upon this conversion.
1 Corinthians 2:12 (AMP) eloquently states, “Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God.”
These spiritual gifts must not be confused with the gift of the Spirit. While the gift of the Spirit is bestowed upon all believers, and each member should appropriate this gift, the gifts of the Spirit are dispensed as He determines to each person. It's vital to note that these gifts do not necessarily involve the gift of glossolalia (Speaking in Tongues). The Spirit of God grants freely, to meet each need, ability, and understanding.
1 Corinthians 12:10-11 (AMP) confirms, “To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues. All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses.”
In sum, Charismatic belief represents a multifaceted and nuanced understanding of the Holy Spirit's work, celebrating the diversity of spiritual gifts while recognizing the uniqueness of individual experiences and interpretations. It invites both unity and diversity within the broader Christian tradition.