Charismatic Movement

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The term Charismatic refers to

Persons, churches, movements, etc., affirming the belief that speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit that may and should be manifested in the church today. These persons, churches, and movements are generally part of institutions and denominations that did not originate out of the original Pentecostal movement.
– Source: Definition from: A Biblical Guide To Orthodoxy And Heresy Part One: The Case For Doctrinal Discernment, by Robert M. Bowman.

According to Wikipedia

The term charismatic movement is used in varying senses to describe 20th century developments in various Christian denominations. It 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. Among Protestants, the movement began around 1960. Among Roman Catholics, it originated around 1967.

The term sometimes also more widely encompasses the Pentecostal movement from earlier in the 20th century and more recent claimed manifestations of the Holy Spirit among Christians.
– Source: Charismatic Movementoffsite Wikipedia. Last accessed Wednesday, December 28, 2011 – 9:23 AM CET

In its December, 2011 report on Global Christianity, the Pew Research Center says

Charismatics are members of non-pentecostal denominations — including Catholic, Orthodox and some Protestant denominations — who hold at least some pentecostal beliefs and engage in at least some spiritual practices associated with pentecostalism, including divine healing, prophecy and speaking in tongues. The charismatic movement, sometimes known as the charismatic renewal, began among mainline Protestants in the U.S. in 1960 and had spread to parts of the U.S. Catholic Church by 1967. The charismatic movement also finds expression in independent congregations that have formed their own networks of affiliated churches, similar to denominations. These church networks, such as the Vineyard Christian Fellowship based in California, are distinct from historically pentecostal denominations.
– Source: Defining Christian Movementsoffsite, Pew Research Center, Dec. 2011


Many — though certainly not all — charismatic churches, movements and proponents are controversial because of

Many of those involved in the Charismatic Movement have bought into the claims and practices of the controversial renewal and revival movements.

Secular Meaning

In a secular sense, the term charismatic refers to a person’s charm or appeal, as in his or her ability (gift) to promote loyalty or enthusiasm (e.g. “a charismatic leader.”). This is true even in a religious context. For example, a pastor can be a charismatic leader even if he is a cessationist — someone who believes the gifts of the Spirit are no longer in operation today.


  • Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movementsoffsite by Stanley M. Burgess (Editor), Gary B. McGee (Editor), Patrick H. Alexander. Avoids apologetics and polemical approaches, and focuses mostly on North America. Dated (published in November 1988) but still useful for research. The back cover text says

    Here, for the first time in one volume, is an overview of the important, fascinating, and often (especially to “outsiders”) confusing mosaic of movements, people, and theological perspectives that can be grouped together under the heading “Pentecostal and charismatic.”

    The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements covers the spectrum of Pentecostal and charismatic movements, focusing primarily on North America but also covering to some extent the European scene.

    The more than 800 articles range from biblical and theological topics to black Pentecostalism, Hispanic Pentecostalism, denominational histories, charismatic renewal movements, the role of women, faith healing, biographies of key leaders, music, sociology, foreign missions, and the church growth.
    The sixty-five contributors represent a variety of denominational affiliations. Among the contributors are Charles W. Conn, Gordon D. Fee, Josephine Massynbaerde Ford, Peter D. Hocken, Stanley M. Horton, Charles Edwin Jones, Leonard Lovett, Russell P. Spittler, Vinson Synan, Grant Wacker, C. Peter Wagner, and J. Rodman Wiiliams.

    An introductory article distinguishes between the Pentecostal and charismatic movements, briefly traces their historical roots and their development in the twentieth century, and discusses the tensions between the two.

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This post was last updated: Dec. 28, 2011