|The Public Record
Dr. Albert Outler, one of the leading
Methodist theologians joined in with many of his colleagues when he
said: "This [charismatic movement] isn't my bag, … but I think I
know some of the gifts and fruits of the Spirit when I see them and I am
convinced that much of what I have seen is for real and just may be a
portent of something very much more…. It just might be that these
odd-ball Catholics with their evangelical concerns for conversion, with
their charismatic baptisms and tongues and with their courageous
commitments to reform in both church and society, may turn to have been
the vanguards in the third great awakening this country has seen."—Quoted
in New Covenant, Sept. 1971, p. 17. That his opinion was
practically a spiritual echo of the feelings that captivated other
scholars is evident when placed side by side with their comments.
Erwin Prange, a Lutheran minister and
tongues enthusiast, wrote in Voice: "I have been having
dialogues with Catholics and with Pentecostals, and it has been a
wonderful blessing. In Brooklyn we have two dialogue groups now,
composed of Lutheran ministers of all flavors and young Roman Catholic
priests. We meet and study the Scriptures together, pray together, talk
about community problems, and discuss mutual involvement of our
"Recently I attended a Roman
Catholic, Episcopalian, and Lutheran retreat. The Holy Spirit is moving
in the Roman Catholic Church. I am convinced that the basic meaning of
the Charismatic Renewal is the reunion of the churches. Not a reunion of
compromise, of the creation of the super-church, but a renovation as to
what the unity of the Spirit means."—"A New Ministry,"
Voice, April, 1965.
As recently as December, 1972, I had a
chance to sit down and talk with Dr. Charles Conn, president of Lee
College of the Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee. An old time
Pentecostal minister, Dr. Conn had reached the same conclusion as the
more recent converts of Pentecostalism.
"The outpouring of the Holy
Spirit," he said, "is similar to what was happening at
Pentecost. It was genuine. Today it has grown and has gained a place of
influence in this generation.
"It is growing and spreading and
is bringing about a spiritual union. I have met and discussed these
matters with certain dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church. I have
had them in my services. … I have been to the Vatican and have
discussed them there. … I have discussed them with the Episcopalians,
the Lutherans, and there is a unity that is growing! It is
a spiritual unity of churches, not an organizational unity. I don't
think a total unification of the churches is in the making at this time.
But there is a feeling of a spiritual unity that will begin to
spread to all the main-line churches.
"One church leader talked to me
some time ago and said, 'In the early days we regarded the Pentecostal
people as crackpots, and we shut our eyes and hoped they would go away.
But when we opened our eyes again, you not only had not gone away, but
you had grown so large that we could no longer ignore you. Will you come
and take us by the hand and show us the way?'
"The charismatic movement will not
cease. This is only the beginning. It will grow until at the time of the
Lord's coming it will be very widespread."
I might just as well quote the comments
made to me while I talked about this to Father O'Connor of Notre Dame
University. He is one of the seven scholars who, as a committee,
regulate the Catholic involvement in the charismatic movement.
"Where is all this leading to, you
wonder?" he asked, repeating my question. "There is a very
good chance that this will lead to a spiritual unification of all
churches. I think the renewal of the churches is the main thing, not
the tongues. That is just one of the signs. I think the real thing is
that the Holy Spirit is renewing the church, and I believe that this
will bring them all together in complete unity. The gift of tongues, as
we know it, may well be one of the signs of the end and of the coming of
Jesus." This conviction is shared by Bishop Joseph McKinney of
Grand Rapids, the Catholic chairman of the Committee of Seven.
It is highly significant that many of
the leading theologians of all the Sunday keeping churches support the
gift of tongues. But—and somehow this seems almost more weighty—every
leading psychic, medium, and astrologer interviewed endorses it!
God was not secretive when it came to
voicing His disapproval and outright condemnation of these practitioners
of the occult:
"There shalt not be found among
you any one … that useth divination [fortune-telling], or an
observer of times [astrologer], or an enchanter [magician],
or a witch … or a consulter with familiar spirits [a medium
possessed with a spirit or a guide], or a wizard [clairvoyant or
psychic], or a necromancer [medium who consults the dead].
For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord."
God condemns them because of the
Satanic nature of their work, yet it is this same group of agents who
wholeheartedly approve of the gift of tongues.