C H A R I S M A T I C C Y C L E
Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:
and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.
A charismatic cycle is the promise of Matthew 7:26 and 27 fulfilled in the traditional charismatic quarter of the body of Christ. Jesus promised those who exchange the way of the Word for another way will, in time, come to ruin. There is always a storm to test the foundation on which we build.
Charismatic cycle is my expression for the path taken by most charismatic christians. The journey begins at the time of rebirth when the beautiful ‘house’ suddenly comes into being and ends with the fall of that same house. The final collapse is a decision to replace the lordship of Christ for another lord. Said another way, the spiritual fall of the born-again charismatic is consummated at a decision to exchange the Word for another word.
The cycle starts off so beautiful. I suppose a comparative might be the beginning life of Adam and Eve. What didn’t they have? Like this first couple, the born-again traditionalist was to experience an eternity of uninterrupted fellowship with the Son, His Father and His most Holy Spirit. Like Adam, the only requirement to preserving this relationship is faithfulness to God’s Word.
Sheri, like Terry and like all, started well. Fresh, clean, enamored with Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit. No one taught her to call the Father Father, she just did. Never heard a discourse on the infallibility of the Bible, just knew the book was God’s word to her. Joy amplified with every wednesday night meeting. Those were precious times as Jesus responded to their songs of worship with His magnified presence. The praises of those innocent babes in Christ were indeed pure – a sweet, sweet fragrance unto the Lord. Certainly all was well.
When husband became her brother in Christ her elation swelled further. Sheri had ached for Terry’s salvation, knowing the biblical warning to those who rejected her Jesus. All was bliss, at least the closest to bliss she had ever known. But…. there is always a storm.
Christian, there is a time to run. To flee. To get the h*** out of there! Sheri heard the warning. No, it wasn’t audible, just a tugging of the heart by the gentle Spirit. He sufficiently warned, and anything beyond sufficient is coercion. However the tugging to get out was offset by the tugging of friends. Her Friend said flee, her friends said please stay. Sheri is at a crossroad. There she stands, quivering, undecided, in real turmoil.
Sheri had always dreamed of the day her twins would be married in her church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, hopefully by Father Jerry if Jerry is still around in fifteen years. St. Mary’s is where Terry and Sheri were wed (by Jerry), where their twins were baptized (by Jerry), where they attended countless masses. And it’s the place where the People of Charity gathered every wednesday evening. To leave would be tearing.
But to stay would be a betrayal to the Christ who just recently gave Sheri and Terry a brand new life. Or would it? Televangelist Gerry doesn’t think so, nor prayer leader Harry, nor Father Jerry who is on the core group of People of Charity. So Sheri takes her dilemma to a friend, Carrie.
Carrie is Barry’s wife. Carrie and Barry attend the Full Gospel Businessmen’s monthly (often with Terry and Sheri), read the same books, watch the same televangelists, including Gerry. Since Carrie thinks like Barry, her advice to Sheri is the same as Barry’s advice to Terry. Stay. Be a light shining in the darkness of catholicism. Poor Sheri is still hesitant, undecided.
Sheri knew if she asked Terry to remove the family from catholicism Terry would oblige, such the power a wife has over the husband in spiritual matters. But she didn’t. Sheri didn’t choose yes to leave or yes to stay. She just let the days go by, quivering in indecision.
So distraught is our Sheri that she went to see her doctor, Doctor Perry. Perhaps tranquilizers or something is what she needs.
Dr. Perry also attends St. Mary’s – once in a while. He distanced himself from religion when pursuing his career as general practitioner, and probably would have discarded it altogether if not for his very devout wife. Perry considers this all beneath him. Doesn’t need the crutch of religion. Only reality is that which can be seen and touched. Not to say Perry doesn’t empathize for the less enlightened in his church; once being where they now are, he certainly does.
Dr. Perry knew Sheri’s solution right off. Sheri is not the only one from People of Charity who came to see Perry. “Sheri”, says Dr. Perry, “You and Terry have to make a final and firm decision to either leave the catholic church or stay. Your indecisiveness is causing your grief.” “Dr. Perry”, replied Sheri anxiously, “Couldn’t Terry and I leave the church and remain in the People of Charity prayer group?” “Don’t do that, Sheri!” replied Perry emphatically. “That would accentuate your problem. Your prayer group will reject you and Terry if you reject catholicism. Believe me, rejection is something you and Terry don’t need.”
Sheri takes Perry’s pills, samples he had been given by pharmaceuticals, but not Perry’s advice. The days continue to roll by.
And then another upset. Sheri’s twins are in catechism class learning all about catholicism. Sheri and Terry are in denial and don’t pay much attention. Until the twins each bring home a rosary, excited to show Dad and Mom the new trick they had learned. Good thing Sheri’s got Perry’s pills or she would have been in trouble big time. What to do? What to do?
To forbid the teacher to teach their kids the rosary would mean a confrontation, and Sheri wasn’t up for a confrontation. And Father Jerry would soon find out and an unhappy Father Jerry wasn’t good. Jerry had power, lots of it, both in the church and in the People of Charity prayer group. Terry’s and Sheri’s involvement in the group would be seriously jeopardized. Harry would certainly disapprove, and Harry’s disapproval would translate into more quivering for Sheri. There would be no chance of some day being invited to join the core group of People of Charity, which both Sheri and Terry wanted bad, some close friends having already advanced to that position.
Maybe praying the rosary isn’t so bad, thinks Sheri. I mean, she’s the mother of Jesus, right? Sometimes you just got to compromise for the higher cause.
The decision to appease man, catholic man and charismatic man, is crossing the line. In Sheri’s heart a change of lordship occurred, a conclusion finalized. Man is now accepted master, Jesus is out, dethroned. And that brings us to the completion of Sheri’s charismatic cycle. The house has fallen.
And great was its fall.
It was Harry who pointed Jerry to Gerry. Father Jerry, prayer group leader Harry sensed, unlike the other priests, wasn’t resentful toward the People of Charity group gathering wednesday evenings in the basement of St. Mary’s. Harry told Father Jerry about the priests who were regular guests on Gerry’s morning television program. So Jerry, not only curious but hungry for…. something, got brave and went for it. Sure enough there was Gerry on the boob chattering with a priest and a nun about Jesus. Jerry was fascinated. Repeated the sinner’s prayer. Received Christ. Got saved and born-again.
Jerry knew something happened, inside I mean. It was like a light went on. He entered a spiritual realm he never knew existed. Gushes of joy never experienced shook his heart and soul. Nothing like this ever occurred before, not when officiating mass, not when receiving holy communion, not even when ordained.
After that, Jerry was engrossed with the Bible. Couldn’t put it down. Resented the phone and the door bell and appointments. Started at John, like televangelist Gerry and prayer leader Harry suggested. And then got into Paul’s letters. Jerry liked Paul, loved Paul’s love for his newfound Jesus, so appreciated how Paul gladly suffered all kinds of persecution, even willing to lay down his life. Jerry moved to the book of Acts and found the stories fascinating, the good guys versus the bad guys. And then to Matthew and Mark and Luke. Couldn’t get much out of Revelation, kind of scary, so he skipped it and went to the psalms and proverbs.
You think priests read the Bible? They don’t, not much. Jerry was surprised and disappointed he couldn’t find the mass in there. Couldn’t find the confessional or the sacraments or bishops or popes. Couldn’t even find catholics. Found some priests in the New Testament, but they were the guys who had Jesus crucified. Only good priest was Jesus, our High Priest.
Officiating mass became hard, I mean real hard. He had thought and taught when one received the bread (wafer) one was actually receiving Christ, the catholic’s version of salvation. Mass was all about changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus. Now he thought a woeful thought – maybe the bread was still bread and the wine still wine. Maybe the vestment Jerry wore, the prayers Jerry prayed, the ritual Jerry performed didn’t change nothing.
Why am I doing this mass thing? Father Jerry asked Father Jerry.
Because you’re a priest, Father Jerry answered Father Jerry.
Can a priest really change bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus?
Well yeah! Priests all over the world do it all the time.
But how? How do they – uh, we – do it?
They just do it. It’s a mystery.
Yeah, you know, something you can’t understand?
Yeah. Can you understand how Jesus did it?
But that was Jesus.
And you’re His representative. You got the power.
How did I get this power?
How did you get it? Our beloved catholic church gave it to you.
Where did they get it?
Jesus gave it to them. You know the story about Peter, our first pope.
But how do I know it’s true?
You accept it by faith. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Faith.
Like the Jehovah’s witnesses and mormons accept their religion by faith?
Well yeah. But they’re wrong and we’re right. Our religion is really old, ancient.
Being ancient is being right?
Look, we outnumber those guys, we got more tradition than both put together.
Big means we can change bread into Christ? Wine into His blood?
So many can’t be wrong. If we were wrong we would have folded centuries ago.
But suppose we are wrong? We would be leading millions astray.
Don’t go there! We just couldn’t be wrong! And we’re not! Period.
But the Bible says…
That’s your real problem, pal. Just stop reading the Bible and your worries are over.
Arguments went round and round poor Father Jerry’s head. Yes, blame it on The Book.
Jerry didn’t know before reading the Bible that Peter, the first pope, had a wife. A pope? A pope had a wife and I can’t have one? thinks our beleaguered Jerry. Jerry didn’t know the sacrifice of Calvary was to be the final sacrifice for all eternity, sufficient for all generations to be saved and healed completely, making the “sacrifice of the mass” pointless and deceiving. Jerry didn’t know catholics do not require a priest to receive forgiveness. (Catholic priests were not around for centuries after the resurrection of Christ.) Jerry didn’t know that Joseph and Mary…. how do I say this?…. ‘got together’ after Jesus was born. So much for the blessed ‘virgin’ Mary, thinks Jerry. Didn’t know Jesus had brothers and sisters. Didn’t know Jesus was immersed in water and not sprinkled. Didn’t know the early saints didn’t pray to dead saints. Didn’t know there was no purgatory. No indulgences. No holy water. No holy days. No vestments. No mass. No confessional. No….
If you’re thinking Jerry is going to pack his bags and scoot, you’re wrong. There are many priests who discovered Christ during the days of (what has been termed) the catholic charismatic movement. Few left. That’s life, that’s fallen man, that’s reality. There really are few heroes of the faith.
Jerry took his dilemma to Harry because it was Harry who pointed Jerry to televangelist Gerry who, in turn, pointed Jerry to Christ. Now Harry was by this time a practiced Negotiator and Compromiser, having long ago turned back.
But Father Jerry, you can’t just leave! Think of the division that would cause! People look up to you! They would be shattered if you left. Probably the bishop would shut us down. Where would the people go to learn about Jesus? Remember that priest and nun on Gerry’s program, how much love they have for Jesus? They never left our church. They have learned to blend their new life in Christ with the old ways. It takes real love to stay with the people who look to you for guidance. And you know how Jesus commands us to love one another. I know it’s hard, but you will get use to it, you know, a little compromise for the higher cause. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
And there are other considerations. Jerry has been a dependent of the church for many years. The pay wasn’t great – enough for cigarettes and gas for the car and maybe a bottle of scotch once in a while – but everything was free – accommodations, groceries, utilities. And usually there was someone to cook the meals and clean up after him. Do I really want to become a car salesman? thinks Jerry. Could I really handle having a wife? Probably get stuck with someone with a half dozen kids. People respected Jerry. Being called Father was real nice, setting him far above the crowd. Every Sunday and other days throughout the week he had an audience. People heard him. He mattered. Not many jobs offer that.
Like Terry, like Sheri, like Harry, Jerry would pass through the charismatic cycle. Time: less than a year. Cost: the freshness of Christ, the fullness of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, maybe in time his very salvation. Reward: the approval of many.
Jerry will join the vast league of Negotiators and Compromisers, Adders and Subtracters
PEOPLE OF CHARITY
People of Charity is one of thousands of catholic charismatic prayer groups having sprung up in the 70’s and early 80’s in North America. What has been termed the catholic charismatic movement is way beyond beautiful, far surpassing amazing, certainly awe-inspiring. Call it a major visitation. Or a Holy Ghost outpouring. Or a wind of the Spirit. Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes.” It’s like the Holy Spirit swept over dead and boring parishes – roman catholic, anglican and others – in search for the hungry, and when He found a yearning heart He wooed. Yes, He had always entreated, but now the drawing was much magnified.
One day the Holy Spirit showed up at St. Mary’s. No one expected Him, He just came. Bam! and He was here, just like that. It was sudden, it was shocking, it was beautiful. God did at St. Mary’s what only God can do. He came in a torrent of unbridled love and favor and generosity. He poured out “charisms” – spiritual gifts – in abundance. Terry was given visions, Sheri the gift of discerning of spirits, Harry could prophesy, and Father Jerry was given the gift of knowledge. Everyone who experienced a genuine conversion experience, it seems, was given a gift.
Sadly, most at St. Mary’s were not hungry. Most were resistant and suspicious and anti. But dozens were open, hungry, desperate. Jesus, like any good shepherd, responded to that yearning. Soon you had tongue-talking catholics. Demons, lots and lots of them, were cast out. Catholics were prophesying, catholics were seeing visions, catholics healing the sick, catholics laying motionless on the floor after being slain in the Spirit. It was fun! It was awesome!
And more. Hearts were softened, emotional scars healed, there was a love flow. The name of Jesus was uplifted. People giggled and sparkled and talked excitedly.
But that was all at the starting phase of the charismatic cycle. Like Terry and Sheri and Harry and Jerry, the People of Charity prayer group itself was, too, passing through the cycle. The next phase is confusion, hardships, bad choices and spiritual anguish. At the end of the cycle is a fallen house. Soon People of Charity would be no more.
Another Why, oh why?? question: Why, oh why, does man have to organize the Holy Spirit out of His rightful place as lord and governor? Why a need to fix what is working?
Always after the Wind come the winds. Various winds of doctrine follow every move of the Spirit. It happened in Paul’s day and it has happened ever since. Some Appeasers and Controllers from far away were gifted book writers, and People of Charity people, as millions of charismatics of traditional background, drank deeply from their human reasonings. The sayings of Christ were overlooked, the sayings of these skillful Negotiators embraced. People of Charity found solace and security in being attached to something bigger than they, so they held conferences and invited distant Adders and Subtracters to instruct them. Core group leaders passed on the Appeaser’s teachings, teachings such as….
Headship. Submit to those above. Everybody under somebody. If it breathes obey it. The group before the individual. Submit, obey, cooperate. It is assumed, of course, that those above know what they’re doing, and at the very top is God. And then there’s….
Accountability. Nobody stands alone, every person must be accountable to someone. No personal walks with Jesus. Everything done by permission only. That way nobody gets out of line, everything is controlled and safe. And then there’s….
Blossom where planted. We are together and nobody leaves. No sunday evening service at some evangelical church. Interdenominational gatherings are okay if they are not held in a church, and only if they encourage our people not to go astray, to blossom where they have been planted. And also….
Group discernment. Whereas the individual may make a mistake, there is safety in numbers. The group’s ability to discern is trustworthy and should be leaned upon. Independent dependence on Jesus is frowned upon, even important family matters. And then there’s….
Church renewal. This mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not about reaching lost and condemned catholics. Oh no. It’s all about church renewal. The Lord is about the business of restoring the church, His one and only true catholic church, to former glory. The Adders and Subtracters encourage renewed dedication to the mass and sacraments, and obedience to church hierarchy. And also….
Claim your baptism. Don’t get baptized in water. That would definitely upset the priests, bishops and pope, the keepers of catholicism. Instead claim the legitimacy of your infant sprinkling. Accept that child baptism as a declaration of your renewed faith in Jesus Christ (and the one true church).
The prayer meetings became more structured as wednesdays rolled by. Prophecies were to be given by a select group, and anyone outside this bunch having a word from the Lord was to pass it to them for group discernment. In the beginning all were free to lead the prayer group into a song, but that freedom was long gone. Prayer ministry, after the prayer meeting, was limited to core group persons only. Teachings – there was a twenty minute teaching during the meeting – were likewise delivered by this small group within the group.
A spokesperson did not go into The Book to determine a message, or seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He drew from one of the book writers and presented his perspective. Father Jerry, immediately urged into the core group after his encounter with Christ, was invited to give many of the twenty minute teachings. Since this priest is so influential, let us now consider him further.
Though obvious to all Jerry had a radical change of behavior and personality, no one suggested this to be a born-again experience. Evangelicals are born-again; catholics are renewed. Conviviality had taken root in People of Charity soon after start-up, so Jerry’s born-again experience was referred to as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. No one dared suggest that Father Jerry had just become a christian.
However, in the eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ, “the head of the church”, Jerry is simply his newborn child. Not a priest, not a catholic, not a charismatic. At some future time Jerry may be called to minister to others. Meantime he must go through the same growth patterns as everyone. He must feed on the “pure milk of the word” and sit under Ephesians 4:11 ministry until Christ is formed in him.
He certainly ought not play the role of pastor or teacher. No leadership position whatsoever. He is not capable of giving spiritual direction and counsel. Only the naive would suggest that fervent prayer would cause Jesus to join them in their compromise and zap Jerry from on high with special powers that would exempt him from normal, time-consuming maturity. That’s not faith, that’s presumption.
But a priest adds believability to the group and makes the nervous bishop, now able to give input through his underling, less nervous. So Jerry is given a place of prominence and, next to Harry, he is the chief spokesman. But what can Jerry teach? He certainly can’t be expected to teach of spiritual matters not yet learned. He is, however, expert on the subject of catholicism. Thus People of Charity will be steeped in an unsavory blend of Bible and catholic tradition. Jerry will point them right back to where they come from – the sacraments, the confessional, the etceteras.
The core group works diligently to appease the bishop. You see, the bishop, not the priests, is the man. It is he who allows People of Charity to meet in the basement of St. Mary’s and he can put a stop to it whenever. His compliance is paid for with more and more concessions. The core group appoints his boy, Jerry, as an intermediary between them and him.
So now we are coming to the end of the cycle. Jesus is ignored and the words of others obeyed. The Holy Spirit is grieved, His welcome evaporated. And now the in-fighting begins. Christians minus the Holy Spirit will turn on each other. Contentions, competitiveness, secret agendas. The core group becomes divided, the conflict spreads throughout People of Charity, some up and leave the church, the bishop is alarmed and shuts it down.
And great was its fall.