In my last post I mentioned the more obvious mystical stream in the Evangelical church, based on the contemplative tradition. Much less recognised, however, and one of the primary motivations for my explorations, is the clear mystical content of the Charismatic Movement. This movement, following on after the original Pentecostal Movement of the early 20th Century, introduced the direct, tangible experience of God into the lives of many otherwise conservative, evangelical believers, who would probably neither have, nor desire, contact with anything they thought of as mystical.
Evangelicals have long had a suspicion, even a fear, of mystics and mysticism, seeing their teachings and practices as closer to Eastern religions than true Christianity. Some of the old mystics appearing to engage with the occult did not help either. The modern equivalent is seen in the New Age Movement. Yet, when we look at the goals of many mystics and those of many charismatics, they are identical – only the point of origin of their journey differs.
Consider my own story. I was raised in a Fundamentalist break-away from a conservative Baptist church. Eventually I migrated back to that Baptist church, and finally my wife and I became its pastors. Before we met we independently found the baptism of the Holy Spirit, largely due to a total dissatisfaction with the absence of real spiritual experience in our earlier training. Then together we embarked on learning, then practicing, and then teaching healing prayer ministry (which was earlier called prayer counselling), intercession and spiritual warfare, and operating in prophetic gifts. Of course, along the way we had to learn how to hear and recognise the voice of God (and other spirits), and had many experiences of hearing, seeing and feeling God’s presence in ourselves and on behalf of others. For us, the Vineyard Conferences in Melbourne, the Toronto Blessing of the 1990s, Intercessors for Melbourne, Tom Marshall seminars, and the prayer ministry courses of Elijah House, Ellel Ministries, Charles Kraft’s Deep Healing Ministries, and Wholeness through Christ were part of God’s great training ground.
While many people appear to see this charismatic movement as a new thing, I have long considered that there is an unbroken stream, which runs right through church history, of people with similar experiences of the power of the presence of God in the believer. It is usually manifested in small groups of people held suspect, or even ostracised by the rest of the church. Some of what they did was indeed heretical, but this is possibly inevitable among pioneers of unpopular views who are willing to risk reputation, and even life, in the pursuit of some reality.
I am sure we will take a closer look at some of these groups in our further explorations of being a reasonable mystic.
A few of the books related to this post:
- John Wimber, Power Evangelism. Trafalgar Square Publishing, 2000.
- John Wimber, Power Healing. HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.
- Guy Chevreau, Catch the Fire: The Toronto Blessing an Experience of Renewal and Revival. London: Marshall Pickering, 1995.
- Dave Roberts, The Toronto Blessing. Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications,1994.
- Tom Marshall, Living in the Freedom of the Spirit: Becoming the Person God Intended You to Be. Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 2002. [Was Free Indeed!, Sovereign World, 1983.]
- John and Paula Sandford, Elijah Among Us: Understanding and Responding to God’s Prophets Today. Grand rapids, MI: Chosen Books , 2002.
- John and Paula Sandford, The Elijah Task. Tulsa, OK: Victory House, 1979.
- John and Paula Sandford, Healing the Wounded Spirit. Tulsa, OK: Victory House, 1985.
- John and Paula Sandford, Prophets, Healers and the Emerging Church. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2003.
- John and Paula Sandford, The Transformation of the Inner Man. Tulsa, OK: Victory House, 1982.
- R. Loren Sandford, Wounded Warriors: Surviving Seasons of Stress. Tulsa, OK: Victory House, 1987. (This is now out of print but the material has been incorporated into the following book)
- R. Loren Sandford, Burnout : Renewal in the Wilderness. Concrete, Washington: Exanimo Corporation, 1998.
- Peter Horrobin, Healing Through Deliverance, Vol 1: The Biblical Basis. Chosen Books, 2003.
- Peter Horrobin, Healing Through Deliverance, Vol 2: The Practical Ministry. Chosen Books, 2003.
- Charles H. Kraft, Christianity with Power: Your Worldview and Your Experience of the Supernatural. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1989.
- Charles H. Kraft, Confronting Powerless Christianity: Evangelicals and the Missing Dimension. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2002.
- Charles H. Kraft, Deep Wounds, Deep Healing: Discovering the Vital Link Between Spiritual Warfare and Inner Healing. Vine Books, 2004.
- Charles H. Kraft, Defeating Dark Angels: Breaking Demonic Oppression in the Believer’s Life. Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 1993.
- Charles H. Kraft, The Rules of Engagement: Understanding the Principles That Govern the Spiritual Battles in Our Lives. Wipf & Stock, 2005.
- Cindy Jacobs, Possessing the Gates of the Enemy, Third Edition, Revised with Study Guide: A Training Manual for Militant Intercession. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 1991.
More books later.