I’ve been trying to decipher this one for a day or two now, but it just doesn’t add up. A certain blogger has made the claim that UCG is becoming “charismatic”.
Whenever I hear “charisma” or “charismatic”, I usually think of the Pentecostals. And, indeed, Wikipedia bears this out.
According to Wikipedia article on Charismatic Movement:
Charismatic movement describes an ongoing international, cross-denominational/non-denominational Christian movement in which individual, historically mainstream congregations adopt beliefs and practices similar to Pentecostals. Foundational to the movement is the belief that Christians may be “filled with” or “baptized in” the Holy Spirit as a second experience subsequent to salvation and that it will be evidenced by manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
And, under Charisma:
The term charisma was introduced in scholarly usage by German sociologist Max Weber. He defined charismatic authority to be one of three forms of authority, the other two being traditional (feudal) authority and legal or rational authority. According to Weber, charisma is defined thus:
…a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which one is "set apart" from ordinary people and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These as such are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as divine in origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader.
So, we see a rough outline of what "charismatic" looks like (which may vary in degrees between different groups, obviously):
- An emphasis on the “person” of the Holy Spirit. Typical Protestantism focuses almost exclusively upon Jesus while often ignoring the Father, but Pentecostals treat the Holy Spirit in this manner rather than Jesus.
- An emphasis upon emotionalism over logic. In fact, charismatic churches can oftentimes outright defy logic.
- An emphasis upon “gifts” of the Spirit, some which may be legitimately viewed as gifts while others are questionable.
- A de-emphasis upon Bible Study, prophecy and systematic theology.
- An emphasis upon “signs” such as talking in tongues, healings, uncontrollable movements, etc.
It is important to point out that any movement in just one of these does not necessarily make a group charismatic, although some are more important than others.
We need to speak the truth in love. For whatever criticisms you may have about UCG, I don’t see applying the label of “charismatic” as being accurate.