Healing Line

Healing Line

From Francis

by Francis MacNutt
Jun/Jul 1990

Dear Friends,

A typical response of church leaders today is that charismatic renewal has "peaked" — that it is good for some people and serves a purpose for those Christians who demand a more expressive, emotional brand of religion. Charismatic renewal has now been excepted, by and large, (which is a great step forward compared to 25 years ago) but I don not believe that it's true meaning has been understood by church leaders as a group. I think that charismatic renewal is in danger of being damned by faint praise.

I believe that it will be a tragedy if church leaders write it all off as a special spirituality that is good for a few people and fail to see that the power of the spirit is desperately needed by the church at large: the church cannot carry on its mission without the power of the Spirit who puts people into a living relationship with Jesus Christ and, through the power of the Spirit, expressed by the charisms, enables Christians to lead transformed lives. In the practical order, this means that all Christians, especially clergy, need to pray with wounded people for healing and that every local church needs some way to help free oppressed people from the influence of evil spirits. (The need for renewal in the Spirit is much larger than just reintroducing the healing ministry: this is just one striking example of which I am most familiar.)

This means that entire parishes and congregations — not just individuals — need to be renewed. But there seem to be relatively few churches renewed like this; we keep meeting people everywhere who are dropping out of mainline churches to join groups such as the Vineyard — or wherever else they can find spiritual life. In our city of Jacksonville we are fortunate in having a variety of charismatic Episcopal churches, but in general people who were "baptizes in the Spirit" in the 60's and 70's are struggling for spiritual survival.

In the sacramental churches we need to put together what we have learned with sacramental practice. For example, how does confirmation relate to baptism in the Spirit? I personally believe that what happens when people are baptized in the Spirit should happen when they are confirmed (I know of some instances where it has happened). But how can that take place unless bishops and pastors teach it and prepare these confirmands to expect it?

We have to communicate the in–depth meaning of renewal to the leadership of the churches or churches will continue to empty out. Dr. David Barrett, the leading statistical expert on world religions, shows that, by and large, worldwide, the mainline churches are either holding steady or losing members. While Pentecostal churches are growing at an extraordinary rate. out of 960 million Roman Catholics worldwide some 72,063,000 have been baptized in the Spirit, but only 11, 813,000 are still active charismatics. Only too often people just whither on the vine after getting a glimpse of what Christian life could be. The ideal would be renewed churches understanding and experiencing the power of the spirit — renewed sacramental life, especially confirmation. We need new wine skins or the new wine will be spilt and lost.

Francis & Judith
Rachel & David

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jun/Jul 1990 Issue