DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Charismata, Culture and Church.

Written by: on January 17, 2019

­David Bebbington in his work, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain, while covering a historical board period, provides rich insights into the rise and spread of this movement throughout Britain. In order to track the movement Bebbington’s central thesis is that Evangelicalism can be identified on the basis of four core characteristics: conversionism, activism, biblicism, and crucicentrism.[1] Szabados points out that this work shines the light on the adaptability of the Evangelical movement but also warns that Bebbington’s definition of the movement seems to lack a fifth characteristic of assurance that Bebbington emphasizes as a key role in the birth of the of Evangelicalism in Britain.[2] Szabados contends that clarity is needed on this topic from Bebbington in order to justify Evangelicalism of the 18th century as a new phenomenon rather than a different type of Evangelicalism.[3]

 

As mentioned above, Bebbington shows throughout the work how Evangelicalism rose and spread throughout Britain. One of the most interesting things was the connection between this movement and the Charismatic renewal and culture. Bebbington writes, “the traditional, the institutional, the bureaucratic were rejected for the sake of individual self-expression and idealized community”[4]. He continues and says, “the official report on The Charismatic Movement in the Church of England (1981) pointed out that the rise of the counter-culture and the charismatic movement were simultaneous. It diagnosed the movement as ‘a form of Christianized existentialism’”.[5] In Chasing The Dragon, Pullinger wrote of her Charismatic experience, and it was not one based on a sophisticated system in which to follow in order to see desired outcomes. Her Spirit-led walk, which included speaking in tongues and all the gifts[6] was all the complexity she needed. In her cultural context, the expression of the charismata led to people coming to know Jesus. One way to look at the relationship between culture and church is to do as some did which is to dismiss these experiences as not of God.[7] On the contrary, as leaders, we could embrace the new experiences as from God and live in the mystery while maintaining biblical rootedness.

 

 

 

 

 

As I continued to research relational-based Spirit-led leadership that engages the current and future culture, it will be essential to continue to embrace the charismata but also the critical component of Evangelicalism Bebbington notes as activism. We must ask the question how in this current culture can we communicate the gospel to those we need to hear it. A key component in our modern times is social/digital media. Recent research shows that embracing the digital arena can have an impact on one’s faith.[8] While I do not advocate replacing face to face interaction as leaders, we must be willing to take advantage of the cultural context in which we are trying to spread the good news. The millennial and z generations are seemingly born “online” which itself is a counter-culture arena, and therefore the church should seek to not only have a presence there but an effective counter-culture there as well.

 

 

 

 

 

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[1] David W. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s, (London: Routledge, 2005), 19.

[2] SZABADOS, ÁDÁM. “DAVID BEBBINGTON EVANGELICALISM IN MODERN BRITAIN: A HISTORY FROM THE 1730s TO THE 1980s BOOK REVIEW BY ÁDÁM SZABADOS ,” n.d. Accessed on January 17, 2019. http://szabadosadam.hu/divinity/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/BEBBINGTON.pdf. 1

[3] Ibid., 3.

[4] Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s, 422.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Pullinger, Chasing the Dragon: One Woman’s Struggle Against the Darkness of Hong Kong’s Drug Dens, 226.

[7] Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s, 418.

[8] See graph 1. https://www.barna.com/research/evangelism-in-a-digital-age-an-infographic/

About the Author

Mario Hood

Most importantly, I am married to the love of my life, Misty Hood, and I'm kept on my toes all day every day, by my son Dalen and daughter Cola Hood. I also serve as the Next Generation Pastor at Church On The Living Edge in Orlando, Florida, under the leadership of Senior Pastor, Dr. Mark Chironna as well as being a Youth and Family Life coach.

10 responses to “Charismata, Culture and Church.”

  1. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Hi Mario. I was interested in Sabados’ review of Bebbington after i saw your mention of it. My reading of Szabados’ critique is that he seemed wilfully miss the point of Bebbingtons intention: not to get stuck into specific debates about certain aspects of specfic internal theological distinctions and debates of the time, but to offer a precise yet concise historical overview.
    Also, are you making a connection between the Anglican report that called the Charismatic movement “Christianised existentialism” and Jackie Pullinger’s ministry based on Holy Spirit driven rehabilitation through experiencial transformation?
    Also, how do you see activism as an agent in communicating the Gospel?

    • Mario Hood says:

      Hi Digby, I would agree on your take of Szabados review, while at the same time understanding that the point of a new phenomenon could be seen as a dramatic shift as well.

      I was not making the connection of the Anglican report and Jackie’s ministry in that sense but to point to the fact that Charismatic expression tends to break through ‘cultural boundaries’ as it relates to the resist of Jesus. I acknowledge this point could have been made more clearly.

      Finally, I think activism is a key component in communicating the Gospel. In saying that I do think (in American Church theology) we tend to lean on making converts rather than making disciples. Meaning as long as a hand goes up – put them through a couple of classes – then we are done. Rather than inviting people into a life long journey of conversion and transformation. The Pentecostal/Charismatic church maybe even worse as much of the time the emphasis is only in having a “good Sunday service” and nothing else.

  2. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Thanks, Mario. One of the main emphases of the pentecostal experience is the empowerment to be a witness. How much do you hear that in your stream of Charismatic church? How is it described? Is it more on the transformation of the person, the power gifts, or courage to evangelize? This language, passion and approach have morphed in my 50 years in the pentecostal church and I wonder if it isn’t a further example of the morphing of evangelicalism as Bebbington described.

    • Mario Hood says:

      I think as a whole the emphasis is on “the power gifts”. There was just a conference held here in Orlando in which the name speaks of Jesus but none of the messages focus on him. It’s all about the supernatural gifts that touch us and not about touching others. As you said, the early Pentecostals went out after the experience of the Holy and not keep it to themselves, so maybe it’s time for another shift.

  3. mm Mary Mims says:

    Great post Mario. I think you bring out two powerful points on making the gospel accessible. The first is the power of the Holy Spirit. Today more than ever, I believe this is the only way we are going to overcome the evils of the day. Christians seem powerless and do not realize the power the Holy Spirit has to transform us after conversion and break the power of sin. The second point you make is the use of the tools of the digital age, which I feel is the most efficient way to spread the gospel in today’s culture. It is essential that Evangelicals change their methods to adapt to today’s society in order to remain relevant in today’s world.

    • Mario Hood says:

      I agree. I also think we have to understand power in different terms. Jesus had all power and lived with the people not “on top” of the people like many who want power aspire for today. This is where being in tune with culture changes the game for the Church. We don’t need to be consumed by culture but learn how to, with the Spirit hover over the chaos to transform it.

  4. mm Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Hello Mario,

    Great post. Thank you for reminding us about the importance of the web. So crucial!

    You mention the importance of charismata and activism. Do you have any examples of faith communities that blend those well?

    • Mario Hood says:

      As part of my research, I will take a deep dive into some churches that I think are doing it well and see. Looking at my own church we are trying to build a culture where these go hand and hand but changing years of a culture in which is more about “getting feed” then being the church is hard to overcome.

  5. mm John Muhanji says:

    Thank you Mario for bringing in the new generation and how digital communication is sweeping across the globe and Christianity is not exceptional. digital evangelism is taking the whole world by a storm quietly without shouting loud. What I do not know is how far it will go and when person to person relationships is disappearing and digital taking charge of communication even in families. Thank you for sharing Mario. We must be aware and be ready to face the challenge already hear with us in our churches. Social media churches on increase.

  6. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Mario,
    Thanks so much for showing how this source ties into your research striving to combine activism and charismata. Like Tammi, I am always interested how these two are expressed and lived out together. That is the power of the Spirit and the impact on reaching out to others who need to experience this power. Thanks again for such a well thought out post.

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