The Born Again/ Charismatic Movement
brief explanation of the Movement
and its relevance
to modern Christianity.
CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE
I believe that the much-used term “Born
Christian” is misunderstood by many people. It
to the spiritual rebirth that Jesus referred to in Chapter 3 of the Gospel of John, with
the key phrase being, “I tell you the
truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
Jesus went on to
explain that this process included being born of water and Spirit. It is understood that the
first step refers to physical
baptism – that is,
being dunked in water to symbolically cleanse away sins of the past.
The second step is normally accepted to mean baptism through the Holy Spirit.
Although Jesus’ statements on being born again, including the process of baptism, may mean
Christian denominations, it has become a critical focus for some Pentecostal ‘Born
Charismatic movement is one of the fastest growing areas of the greater
Christian Church. And there is a very good reason. I was a
myself for many years. I am a thinker, not a dreamer, and I can say
that it did take a lot of convincing for me to change my mind. I
eventually came to having very solid belief in God’s existence. And my
experiences within ‘the movement’ played a role in me coming
to that position. I am not exaggerating when I write that I witnessed,
indeed experienced, ‘awesome’ stuff during that time. Some of these events are documented in the article “God within the Church” (begin reading at Heading 4).
This particular article provides a summary of theological views of what it takes to be born again, and some understanding of the Born Again/ Charismatic movement itself. It also discusses the belief building events that do occur in this area of the Christian Church.
If you just want to get to the ‘nitty gritty’ of the movement itself just start reading at Heading 4 within this article.
If you have limited
knowledge of Christianity, but want to understand this article within that context, it may be best to first read the
Lead Article of the website’s final
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BORN AGAIN
quotes above in the intro, relating to being born again, refer to baptism with water
and Spirit. Whilst baptism is accepted as a requirement for being born
again, there is more to be considered.
within that same chapter in the Gospel of
John mentioned above, we are further told, “For God so loved the world
that he gave his
one and only Son, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
Here we are also introduced to the need to believe in Jesus’ existence so as
to gain eternal life.
The Gospel of John, more than any other gospel, explains how Jesus was and still is God, i.e. the divine creator who wants a personal relationship with each and everyone
of us. Indeed it begins by highlighting that God and Jesus are one and the same. So we are actually being asked in ‘John’ to believe in a God who lived amongst us as a human being. (You may like to read the brief article, “The Holy Trinity” where I have tried to explain how Jesus, the person, actually relates to God’s being.)
To gain a deeper understanding of these key elements of Christian faith, we can
turn to Paul’s epistles (letters) at the back of the Bible for clarity
on what these passages, from John, mean in a theological sense.
reinforces John’s gospel by stating in Romans 10:9 that “Jesus is Lord”
and if you believe that in your heart then, “you will be saved.” In
1Coronthians 15:3, Paul highlights that “Christ died for our sins”. And
in Colossians 1:15-20, Paul made it clear again that Jesus was the Lord God
himself. Referring to Jesus, he stated: “For by him all things were created” and “He is before all
things, and in him all things hold together” and “For God was pleased
to have all his fullness dwell in him”.
Again, Paul explained how
God in the form of Jesus
made peace for us “through his blood, shed on the cross.”
was our saviour (saved us from eternal death); he died to pay for our wrongdoings/ sins. Even though
we all fall short of perfection due to sin and thereby have no place in Heaven, Jesus has ‘cleaned the slate’
for us through his painful physical death, thereby clearing the way for our eternal life.
expectation of preparation for being born again, that needs to be
stated, is repentance: changing our lives by turning away from sin
(wrongdoing) in life. it is clear in fact that we have been asked in
the Bible to try very hard to live good sin free lives. As St Peter put
it in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The fundamental Christian belief though, that we need to hold above all others, is that “Jesus is our Lord and saviour”.
3. HOW CAN WE ACTUALLY BE BORN AGAIN?
While many requirements for being born again are agreed upon through the greater Christian Church, others are not.
all Christian denominations, and this includes
traditional/ mainline Protestants, evangelical Protestants, Catholics
and Pentecostals, consider that the prime need to be born again – thereby being saved from death (gaining
entry to heaven after physical death) – is to accept Jesus as our Lord and
Saviour. That critical
requirement is ‘done and dusted’
as far as this article is concerned. It has to be met, within Christianity, if one
wishes to be saved. The Bible is pretty clear on that!
Secondly, during the born again process, we commit to ‘turning our backs’ on our old sinful ways (wrongdoing).
Next, we look to the act of baptism as raised in that verse (from the Gospel of John), mentioned in the introduction. The Bible indicates that it is also an important step.
Indeed, almost all Christians accept that the dual
baptism of water and
Spirit is required, as well as making that primary commitment (Jesus as
Lord and Saviour) of course.
And, by and large, all Christian denominations agree about what water baptism entails ... well
kind of. But when it comes to Spirit baptism there is some
disagreement on how it should (or must) happen.
Unfortunately, the Bible does not clearly explain what is actually meant by “Spirit”
baptism in that verse from the Gospel of John. I can say that the background to Jesus’ words in the gospel
(he is actually talking to a Judaic religious leader who is more interested
in rules than spiritual relationships) does give a hint. But anyway,
there are two major interpretations of Spirit baptism.
Traditional/ mainline Protestant and
Catholic churches have long considered that Spiritual baptism occurs, through God’s grace, at the time of baptism with
water. In many of these churches, water baptism is available to the individual from early childhood. Spiritual growth
of the baptised individual, then gradually occurs through: learning
from the Bible about God’s love for us, what is expected of us, what we are offered; applying that knowledge to everyday life. Eventually, as a result, the individual comes to commit to Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. They are considered at that stage to be born again.
and this applies to many evangelical Protestant churches, only permit
adolescents and adults to be baptised after they
have turned away from known wrongdoing (sin) and are actually ready to
Jesus as Lord and Saviour. At that point, they are born again.
Individuals often declare that a sense of heightened emotions are
experienced during the experience.
But still other Christians, particularly from the Pentecostal churches consider that baptism in the Spirit
only comes through a strongly felt ‘conversion’
with water in these churches is again reserved
for adolescents and adults ready to repent of their old sins in life
and completely commit to the Lord. After water baptism, and often within the
same ceremony, they are baptised in the Spirit, literally. A deep
religious experience, provided by the Spirit, normally follows for those baptised in this way.
It is at that point they are considered to have been born again and, as
a result, saved.
Therefore, many people within the original Born Again movement associate the term, “Born
Again” with a
significant experience which they believe is a genuine encounter with
the Holy Spirit (often abbreviated to the ‘Spirit’).
the big difference between traditional churches and those
Pentecostal churches is in that area of Spirit baptism. The
religious experience at the heart of Pentecostalism (i.e. as in the
Spiritual baptism described above) is the
result of what is commonly termed an “infilling” or “anointing” .
BEING FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
Before going on further, let us look at what the actual experience of infilling or anointing; being ‘touched’ by the Holy Spirit, is all about.
Almost all those within the movement
those in so called Charismatic groups within evangelical Protestant, traditional/ mainline Protestant and Catholic churches)
dramatically experience the Holy Spirit through this experience of infilling or anointing,
i.e. being filled with the Spirit, at
least once if not regularly.
The term “infilling” is
in a sense because
that is actually what the
feels like. Often, the Holy Spirit is requested to spiritually engage
with those in fellowship in church services. In other churches, someone who
has already been previously
filled with the Spirit themself, lays their hand on others who desire
to be filled. In either case, the Spirit
then floods the bodies of the people ready and expecting the
experience. Often, but certainly not always, recipients fall to the
floor during the ecstatic experience. The term for this is, “slain
my experience, infilling can provide a
massive sensation – something that will never
be forgotten! However, I consider that what each of us experiences
relates to our individual personalities. Because I am normally ready and open ‘to the max’, I often receive full-blown experiences that can ‘bowl me over’.
I have friends and acquaintances, who are more cautious by nature, who
merely feel a sense of profound peace at the time. This is true of my
the experience occurs in the moment – it just happens right
there, in the church
service or gathering. As I have alluded, there are two necessary elements: the recipient must be ready
and open to the experience; the Holy Spirit must initiate it. It can,
as I have
already written, occur
again and again to the same individuals, i.e. if they regularly offer
to it and the Spirit is willing.
the bit that is really hard to understand and accept for non-believers,
is that the Spirit often passes ‘spiritual gifts’
to people as they
experience these infillings/ anointings; are ‘touched’ by the Spirit. The gifts are more fully
explained later in this article. It is the manifestation of these
gifts, in particular speaking in tongues, that demonstrates that the
Spirit has blessed someone in this way. And some Pentecostal
churches only accept that a person has been ‘baptised’ in the Spirit appropriately and
thereby have been saved if ... and only if ... they can speak in
is a very strong view based on the odd verse, when so many
related to the subject (notably 1 Corinthians 12 mentioned above) do
not indicate this significance. Thankfully, to my mind, this old Pentecostal church view is gradually fading out.
even occur during subsequent private prayer long after the Spirit’s blessing was requested in church. It can even
happen the next day after invocation, or
even on the way home afterwards. Sometimes
infilling regularly occurs spontaneously with so called Born Agains/ Charismatics, e.g. in
regular deep and
now after explaining a bit about the experience of being Spirit filled,
anointed or touched, (and the differences between the theology of
various churches on the subject) let us see how the Pentecostal/
Charismatic movement evolved.
HISTORY OF THE BORN AGAIN/ CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT
when did all this Born Again stuff begin? There had been Holy Spirit based
revivals in Europe during earlier centuries, but the current movement
had its foundations laid during the late 1800s within Great Britain and
There is no one person credited
with the creation of the movement however. It first became a global
focal point during 1906 at what is known as the Holy Spirit revival at
Azusa Street, Los Angeles. A black, visually impaired preacher, William
Seymour, who was the son of slaves, attracted attention to the movement
that was to impact the world. This was to be the commencement of the
Pentecostal church which now includes a quarter of all worldwide
the time, local Press reported the fervour of events occurring there
and people were drawn to it from all over the world. I understand that
services were held on a daily basis for some three years. Race, gender
or nationality had no bearing on participants and new groups started
and spread through the USA and obviously out into the rest of the world.
was not until the 1960s though, as mentioned above, that the
Pentecostal churches really took off internationally. It was not long
before the traditional/ mainline Protestant, evangelical Protestant and Catholic churches
began to embrace the phenomenon with similar services within what is termed “Charismatic” congregations.
Take note that only a minority of these churches, at this time,
offer these services. But if we look, then we can certainly find them!
because the Protestant and Catholic churches had a differing
theological view of the experience of infilling/ anointing within the Pentecostal churches, they looked
to that term, Charismatic. Like myself, these denominations do not
accept that only
people who have had an anointing (infilling) will be saved from eternal
death. Nor do they accept that only those Christians who have spoken in
tongues will be saved!
So, why call the experience “Charismatic”? Well ... firstly the Bible’s New Testament (the Jesus bits) was written in Greek. The Greek word on which it is based, "charismata" roughly translates to “grace gift”.
In effect, the title Charismatic used by Protestants and Catholics
basically relates to spiritual gifts that are given to Christians
during infilling/ anointing / touching by the Holy Spirit.
GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE
As already explained, those people within the Born Again/ Charismatic movement, are often given specific spiritual ‘gifts’
by the Holy Spirit during Spirit baptism/ infilling/ anointing/ touching. These are
of the Spirit’ referred to in St Paul’s
first letter to the
Corinthians [1 Corinthians 12]. The receipt of gifts, and their intended use
community, are explained within that verse. And it is the use, or
of these spiritual gifts that offers us the chance to actually
witness God at
work in a tangible way. (And I do not use the word “tangible” lightly.)
Spiritual gifts can include the ability
to heal the sick, sometimes miraculously, pass on prophesies and other types of advice
and guidance directly from God to other people, and to ‘speak in tongues’.
The history of tongues dates back to the day
of Pentecost itself, when Jesus’
disciples were miraculously given the ability, by the Holy Spirit, to
speak in the foreign languages of those strangers who had gathered there. I
cannot say I have seen it myself, but I have heard of instances where modern day Christians who were
witnessing for Jesus, without knowledge of languages other than their
own, also spoke fluently to strangers in their own foreign
tongues. But another type of tongues (glossolalia)
more common in the movement.
Glossolalia is a manner of speaking in utterances that
are unintelligible to the average person.
mentioned only the most
witnessed gifts here but there are many others. I have provided
examples of the manifestation of gifts that I have experienced and
witnessed in the
article “God within the Church”. I am an analytical kind of dude, as I have already explained, and these events really did ‘spin me out’
when I was first exposed to them. Even when cautiously and
thoughtfully examined, I believe they still point to a spiritual cause
rather than anything physical or even emotional. Anyway, please have a look at the contents under Heading 4 “Experiencing the Holy Spirit’s Presence” in the article mentioned above.
You may not see, let us say, powerful miracles
service you attend in a church within the movement. The prevalence of these extreme events tends to run
cycles within individual churches and countries for that matter. But
attendance should at least give
regular exposure to events, which are not logically explainable –
supernatural events that
were treated as matter of fact in the early Christian Church. These events, when genuine, greatly assist in
building or maintaining belief and faith. And again that is what this website is all about!
article may sound like a sales pitch for
the Born Again/ Charismatic movement to some readers, but I started out on my path
faith in a traditional Protestant church and have
spent my last fifteen years
of worship almost exclusively in that area of the greater Church. So, I
have no vested interests at all. Despite having experienced a number of
infillings/ anointings; the touch of the Spirit, I personally don’t
believe that I am any more a born again than other Christians
have been baptised/ christened and committed themselves to Jesus as Lord
and Saviour, i.e.
whether they have received an infilling/ anointing or not; spoken in
or not. It is just that I think some time
spent in the Born Again/ Charismatic movement, although not mandatory, is worthwhile in
journey of faith.
As previously stated and repeated, demonstrations of God’s
presence within the Born
Again/ Charismatic movement are covered more fully in the
article, “God within the Church” in
this section of the website.
The movement is also discussed within the context of the greater
Christian Church in that article.
article also offers advice on how
to select a church that is appropriate to our individual personalities
and for our stages of
Christian development, e.g. beginners as contrasted to more experienced
Christians. It also provides an alert about contrived
(i.e. faking it) that may be witnessed occasionally in some Born Again
congregations. This, none-the-less, does not
detract from my positive view on the value of the Born Again/
Charismatic movement within modern Christianity. Most of these churches
faking, trust me!
I certainly hope that this website can
also answer many more questions that
you may have on the Christian religion. The site has three major sections.
This section provides guidance on how we can prove for ourselves that God does exist
by learning how to recognise his presence within our everyday lives as
well as the Church of course. Another section presents God as a believable concept,
and it includes a broad, religiously
presentation on God’s being that is titled, “So, what is God?.” The final
section of the website explains the
simple basis of Christianity.