Anglican Catholicism and the Charismata
The Charismatic reality of the Church
Being Filled with the Spirit
A subsequent post quoting Bishop Brian Iverach's email to me sent in support of the above articles created some controversy. At least some of this controversy seemed to be due to ascribing views to the Bishop (such as denigrating medical science) which could only be extracted from the letter by ignoring the actual words and illegitimately attempting to read between the lines. There was even a reference to the completely irrelevant heresy of Christian Science, as if to prove guilt by a non-existent association.
In order that the record be set straight, here are some further thoughts from Bp Iverach, written by him to me after I asked him to look at the thread and its comments:
The plus in the discussion is that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit have been in focus, with mention of the wide spread application of such gifts. In the case of the miraculous healing of Lana's eye, this did not lead her into Christian Science. It lead her into the healing ministry in the Body of Christ, the Church, ... The full impact that her ministry has had on others is known unto God. Most recently we praised God for the healing she received at the hands of a highly qualified surgeon and in nursing care during many weeks in hospital.
The down side of the discussion has been the distracting focus on the exercise of the gift of glossolalia, especially in public, and the shame of some disparaging remarks about healing miracles. As Anglicans we have the discipline to apply all the gifts as mentioned by the blessed Apostle, such discipline not prevalent in the practice of some of our Pentecostal brothers and sisters. Should the excesses of modern day Corinthians preclude ministry in the Gifts of the Spirit? No. Are any gifts (apart from those specifically related to leadership such as Apostleship or Pastoral ministry) excluded from the laity? No, assuming they have been Baptized, Confirmed and are living in the love of Christ and neighbour. Is it necessary to have the gift of tongues? No. Are you inferior if you do not speak tongues? No. Are we to exercise Spiritual Gifts in general? Yes. Can we do better to educate the saints concerning the Gifts of the Spirit and then go into the world to serve Christ? Yes.
I speak from experience; of what I have personally seen in an Anglican congregation when the Spirit of God moved upon the people. All was in good order. The occasional prophesies were given during the offertory preparations or during the ablutions after communion. There was no grandstanding whatsoever. Nothing was forced. Worship was not disrupted. The prophetic blessings were applied in the life of the parish. The congregation grew in numbers exponentially and also in love and service of the Lord, in ministry outreach into the local community, and into the barrios of Mexico. The youth went over the boarder to help build housing and schools for the poor, shipments of beans were regularly delivered, and all the time the parish contributed the largest tithe to the diocese. We speak of the fruits of the Spirit. All glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
It is also appropriate here to thank my Metropolitan for his kind, eirenic words in this post. I would like to make two observations, however, about elements of what was said therein.
To begin at the end, so to speak, the Archbishop finished with the following paragraph:
"I am not a 'cessationist'. I believe in miracles and do not doubt that God can infuse knowledge of unknown tongues or prophecy. I do not presume to judge any man's personal religious experience, except by the proper standards of charity, of consistency with the known and authorized teaching of the universal Church, and of the spiritual fruit of Christian living. But I also believe that where the faith is truly taught and the sacraments are rightly administered, personal religious experience is mainly of private significance."
While the last sentence makes perfect sense if referring to the gift of tongues uninterpreted, which was the subject of much of the previous discussion, it cannot be said to apply to other gifts such as the gifts of prophecy or tongues as interpreted. Why not? Because St Paul makes abundantly clear that such gifts are provided by God specifically to edify the Church as a whole. They are not meant to be limited to personal edification (1 Co. 14.3-5). And it would be wrong of us to pretend that any gift God truly gives is an optional extra that we don't need because we have the sacraments and orthodox teaching!
Which brings me to my next qualifying point. Archbishop Haverland also said: "When the Catholic faith is alive and well, however, neo-pentecostalism tends to be at best unnecessary and at worst divisive." If neo-pentecostalism refers to the belief (common among Pentecostals) that all must speak in tongues or demonstrate some other outwardly miraculous gift, or they cannot be filled with the Spirit, that is one thing. And that belief has not been defended here. However, if neo-pentecostalism was taken to refer simply to the resurgence and use of all the charisms, including among the laity, the statement above would suffer the same problem I mentioned at the end of the previous paragraph. In the latter connotation, "neo-pentecostalism" is perfectly in accord with the Catholic faith and any division caused should not be assumed to be the fault of those simply wanting to exercise or experience the benefit of, in decency and order, true gifts of the Holy Spirit designed to edify the Church.