Lucy Peppiatt, principal at Westminster Theological Centre, has written an excellent piece on why all Christians should be charismatic and why the risk of “charismania” shouldn’t put us off from seeking the gifts of the Spirit. One of the reasons she gives relates strongly to what I call charismactivism, the fact that Spiritual gifts ought to promote peace, justice and a better world:
I think that most of us feel overwhelmed by the world’s problems. It’s enough to deal with our own and our family’s problems let alone terrorism, unemployment, war, addiction, crime, disease, homelessness, abuse, etc. etc. I’m always astonished and deeply moved by how resilient human beings are in the face of horror, and this seems regardless of whether they have a faith or not. Sometimes humans are just extraordinarily strong. All Christians should carry a hope that good will triumph over evil in the end, because that is the promise of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection.
But charismatics share stories all the time about change here and now, about how when God gets involved, people locked in conflict are able to forgive each other, bodies are healed of life-threatening or debilitating conditions, families are reconciled. Hope stirs. Charismatics expect God to change things around them and through them for the better. Sometimes this takes much longer and is more painful that you would know from what we teach or would wish, but I love the hope of concrete and visible newness that characterizes a charismatic worldview. Hope for restoration, new life, and healing infuses the New Testament and I couldn’t imagine a church that didn’t expect God to be willing and able to change the worst of situations.
This is similar to what I found when I did my thesis on Iris Global’s charismatic aid work in South Africa – they were able to provide much more hope to poor people than secular or even non-charismatic Christian organizations. Since they know that – and experience how – God is doing miracles, their support to people in need isn’t limited to human means or promises about the afterlife.
A clear Biblical example of this is the lame man in Acts 3. He expected Peter and John to merely give him money, which was all human power could do for him to ease his suffering. But since the power of God is limitless, the charismatic ministry of the apostles was able to totally cure him from both disability and poverty.
Obviously, the primary reason we should be charismatics is that charismatic theology is true – God is indeed working miracles today. But as a secondary argument for why charismaticism should be embraced, I think this fact that people who are going through difficulties are greatly relieved by it, is a strong one.
Micael Grenholm is editor-in-chief of PCPJ.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!