Apparently the C of E is taking a page from Churchillian Americans — they can be counted upon to do the right thing, after all other options have been exhausted.
Tempus destruendi et tempus aedificandi.
Translated: a time to tear down, and a time to build
Excellently noted. Enthusiasm is not always pretty to watch, but it has always been how Christianity re-forms itself (and meets its “competition”).
I was wondering why I found this so odd. I then remembered a chapter title in Vance Packard’s “The Status Seekers”: “Religion: the long road from Pentecostalism to Episcopalianism”. The idea was that Pentecostalism was the lowest-class religion in the US, and Episcopalianism was the highest-class religion in the US. It wasn’t so long before I was born that Pentecostals were derided as “holy rollers”.
The prospect of pentecostal infiltration of the Church of England raises some interesting questions. Pentecostal churches are very non-hierarchical and anti-bureaucratic. Many have women ministers. The modern day founder of Pentecostalism was a Black minister in a small church in Los Angeles. Anybody heard of Amy Simple Mcpherson? Pentecostalists have no discernible skin color barriers. How would the often staid, ultra-liberal hierarchy of the Church of England, which espouses equality of race and gender in the abstract deal with the real life Pentecostal personification of equality of women and so-called minorities? Mind you, Pentecostalists don’t give a hoot about “equality” in the same sense that, say, liberal church clerics do. I doubt the church hierarchy could co-opt Pentecostalists into the Social Gospel the church often embraces.
This leaves me, like Berger, thinking of what would happen if many those straw men and women Pentecostalists migrated from the Southern Hemisphere into dormant Christian churches in Europe (not just religious Muslim immigrants to Europe). “A straw in the wind?” Don’t light a match with all those straw Pentecostal people around. It might cause a wildfire.
Imagine if the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands had been invaded by 25% to 50% Charismatic Christians from Africa or South America instead of the 25% of Turkish Muslims that are gradually becoming a numerical majority in that city? This is what sociologist Max Weber originally wrote his trilogy of books about Chinese, Indian, and Protestant Christian religion about. To Weber, the Oriental and Buddhist “personality” lacked the traits necessary for Capitalism. The Puritans, the Methodists, and the Baptists did. Anyone interested should read sociologist Sara R. Farris’s skeleton key to Max Weber’s theories titled “Max Weber’s Theory of Personality: Individuation, Politics and Orientalism in the Sociology of Religion” (2013).
Berger is on to something incipiently big here. It deserves watching.
Amy SEMPLE McPherson, please. Lily-white, in fact a Canadian. Perhaps not the best example of everything religious enthusiasm has to offer.
Yes. And her Four Square Church was more like a cult of personality.
Ah, the wonders of spell check that over writes Semple as Simple. Thanks for catching this.
“HIV-infected Kenyans are being told that by a group of Pentecostal preachers that their anti-retroviral medication is useless, and that only the power of prayer will deliver them from the virus.
Worse, affected people are being asked to pay for their “healing” ceremonies.
According to this report,the ceremonies begin with a “miracle blessing” of the HIV-infected person. Afterwards, the pastor burns the person’s anti-retroviral medications and declares them “cured”. Then the church charges the person a fee and sends them on their way.”
Coming soon to a Church near you.
“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…”
I think the ‘inspiration of the Holy Spirit’ – to borrow a line from the Anglo Catholic liturgy lies at the core of religious experience. But I think that experience of the Holy Ghost varies widely and is by no means limited to the conventional enthusiasms such as practiced by Evangelicals. In a purely Christian context the singing of the hymn Amazing Grace always makes me realize that the emotional core of my religious experience is remarkably like that of John Newton – the author of those words who it turns out was Evangelical in his own time and would probably so considered today. But I tend to prefer privacy for most of my spiritual exercises, although I do participate in a Taize based service once a week as well as two Masses. But I also do a lot of ‘body prayer’ in the form of Tai Chi and other meditational exercises. I personally find I need quiet and solitude for this kind of practice. Still if I lived in London I would make contact with Chemin Neuf to see if there was common ground. I am excited by ecumenical movements where people of different faith traditions work together in a non judgmental way. A friend of mine, Barbara Flaherty, founded the Fourth Order of Francis and Clare out of a similar post denominational ecumenical vision. I think that organizations that cut across the established divisions and categories of thought are the way we search out the future shape and scope of the institutions that we need to develop to cope with the future. Just as the London of the early industrial revolution had no idea how to cope with the large numbers of people driven off the land and into the city. There were no civic institutions like public libraries, or technical schools, and precious little in the way of responsible municipal government services. Such a group as Chemin Neuf breaks the boundaries of traditional orders and allows people with previously separate callings to God to work for common goals.
The charismatic renewal invaded the Church of England in the 1960s, if not the 1950s, and this isd fairly well documented. It also appeared in other parts of the Anglican communion, reached a peak in the 1970s, and declined somewhat in the 1980s, but never disappeared, and is now enjoying something of a second revival among Anglicans in Southern Africa.