With all due respect for my fellow blogger and fellow priest, Fr. Matthew Kirby, I cannot see in the comments of Fr. Laurence Wells some evidence of "objective mortal sin." I believe my somewhat advanced age and decades of experience entitle me to lay my opinion before the readers as exactly that, simply my opinion. But, mine is an educated opinion. I welcome "robust if polite" debate; and when it comes to debate about Scripture I am on my native ground, and am accustomed to being the winner. Bible wrestling among gentlemen is a wholesome sport , and should end like the fight in The Quiet Man, when afterward John Wayne and Victor McLaughlin walk home singing together as the best of friends, and sit down to dinner and beer (even though the ladies may find this impossible to understand ).
I do not know what the Charismatic movement among Anglicans has been like in Australia, but as a self-confessed current tongue-speaking alumnus of the Charismatic movement American style, I know without being told exactly why Fr. Wells has spoken in disparaging terms about the movement. Whereas I disagree openly and strongly with any Cessationist view, and whereas "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all," I know why Fr. Wells has expressed his views colorfully (in keeping with his personality of honesty to a fault). It is not "objective mortal sin." Indeed, when I met Fr. Wells one thing was obvious above all: The observable fact of charity engraven on his very features, the kind no one could acquire by pretence or theatrics.
He is free to write and correct my assumption; but it would surprise me a great deal. Here is a priest who was pastor to a congregation for decades, and who has been forced to clean up problems created by the most radioactive kind of Charismatics: Those who promised miracles and healing as if they could manufacture them; those who divided churches by demanding that everybody must have the same gifts, or implied that those who cannot speak in tongues are somehow deficient in faith; those who proclaimed boldly that anyone who is yet sick or disabled lacks faith.
Yes, I believe there has been much good that has come from the Charismatic outpouring, and I ascribe to God the great evangelistic explosion that it produced, as well as the awakening to faith it created among many nominal Christians including myself back in 1973.
But, honesty compels me to say that there was also a great deal of foolishness, heresy and pride exhibited by the kind of individual St. Paul describes in the words, "intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind..." (Col. 2:18). It is no mark of sanctity or spirituality that one has any gift, even the gift to work miracles. Otherwise the Lord would have said in vain: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. " (Matt. 7:22,23) Even a gift to work miracles is no evidence of sanctity, any more than it was evidence of true virtue that Balaam's donkey could speak. And, indeed, even a man who may have the power to heal by God's grace, is an ass when he exercises his jawbone to condemn as faithless, a disabled or sick believer who has not been healed in body. God's power and gifts are not at our command.
With all due respect for Fr. Kirby, I believe that the frankness of Fr. Wells was no sign of "objective mortal sin," but the seeming fierceness of a pastor who loves intensely.