The Charismatic Movement


“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;” Mark 16:17

In the last three or four years, hundreds of ministers and thousands of laymen in nearly every Protestant denomination in the United States have been taking part in a rapidly growing movement called the Charismatic Renewal, from the word “charism”, meaning “a special divine or spiritual gift…conferred upon a believer as an evidence of…divine grace.”

The persons who take part in this movement claim to have experienced a variety of supernatural phenomena, ranging from prophetic visions to miraculous cures for the sick. But the most extreme of such phenomena is the sudden outpouring of prayer in unknown languages. This is known as “glossolalia”, or the speaking in tongues.

A Presbyterian minister, for example, claims to have received a divine revelation from God of just three words. Later he claims he was able to break forth into a whole new language. It was nothing he had done, he states, God gave him a divine revelation.

This Charismatic Movement began on a small scale in 1956. Soon it spread rapidly to California and since 1960, has been gathering velocity, establishing itself in every state and even appearing in England and on the European Continent. College students have been caught up in the advance of this movement. Students at the Theological Seminaries of Yale, Dartmouth and Princeton are now praying in unknown tongues.

The speaking of tongues is not really a new phenomenon. The advocates of those praying in tongues, years ago were expelled from certain churches, whereupon the Pentecostal churches were established. One of the aspects of the current revival, however, is the way the glossolalia movement has entered into the Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Congregational, as well as many of the so called Reformed Churches. It now includes more than 40 separate denominations.

The adherents of the Charismatic Movement support their beliefs by the Bible—specifically in the second chapter of the Book of Acts: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh and you sons and your daughters shall prophesy.”

The linguists of today are puzzled by this tongue speaking phenomenon. Often when a charismatic person is called upon to speak in a tongue, another member of the group will interpret the message. However, the more skeptical members of the group have grave difficulty in making sense out of the glossolalia. Research for a report on the movement reproduced tape recordings among which was a Baptist minister’s prayer in an unknown tongue: “Sala ka taiyestsa. Sai chung tung chave dieva zandali…” Conclusions to the study of certain recordings were that these guttural sounds were highly improbable of being a human language.

The charismatics claim that since the central theme of Christianity is that Jesus Christ is alive and is all-powerful, the church must proclaim Him. The leaders of this movement claim in the time of the apostles, the ability to speak in tongues on Pentecost was sent because the early church needed supernatural gifts for the emergency of the Apostolic generation. So, now too, they claim is a time precarious for Christianity. Because they believe the ending of an era is come, all possible effort must be made to bring down the powerful pagan movements and proclaim Jesus Christ.

Surely in the early history of the church the apostles and disciples of Christ received the ability to speak in tongues. “And they were filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4. We also know that all things are possible with God and what happened in the times of the early church can also happen again. However, we as Christian young people have one calling. And that one calling is to glorify God. And, antithetically, we thereby are called to reject all that which is repugnant to the glory of our God in regard to this present matter of speaking in tongues, and in regard to all things contrary to God’s glory.

In I John 4:1 and 3 we read, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world…And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already it is in the world.” And in Matthew 24:23-24, we find: “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or, there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

One who claims to have received the power from heaven to speak unto men with tongues, but who on the other hand speaks of the glory of man and not of God, has not the Spirit of God. For, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophesy…and have not love, I am nothing.” I Corinthians 13:1, 2.

To seek the love of God, the cause of His kingdom and the glory of His name is our calling. And God, who has chosen us as His elect people, keeps us in His care. He has put into our hearts the desire that His name may be glorified, and the desire to pray for strength to discern the way of His truth. He has sent Christ His Son for our salvation and His glory.

Only then through His grace and spirit do we as young people thank God for His love and spirit of guidance. And only through His Spirit can we know our calling: “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer.” I Peter 4:7.

Editor’ Note: This article marks the first contribution of Miss Hilda G. Meelker to Beacon Lights. Miss Meelker will be co-editor with Miss Agatha Lubbers of the column “Critique”. We welcome her to our staff and pray that God will use her contributions to our edification and blessing so that His may be the glory. Miss Meelker is a member of the Hope Prot. Ref. Church of Redland, California. R.D.D.