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Essay on the Orthodox Church's view of the similarities between the Early Church and Charismatic Movement


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#1 H. Smith

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Posted 13 November 2015 - 03:49 AM

Attached is my essay on the unique similarities between the early Church and the modern Charismatic movement. The essay presents both the Orthodox Church's view of those shared features, as well as a Rationalist criticism of them.

 

The basic elements that I found to be uniquely shared between the Charismatic movement and the early Church are:

1. Expectations of the End Times to occur within the believers lifetimes
2. Speaking in Tongues
3. Occasional Informal Worship
4. Widespread gifts of the Spirit
 

These features do not necessarily apply to all early Christian groups or Charismatics. For example, speaking in tongues is rarely discussed in the New Testament, although it's in Mark 16, acts 2, and Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. I did not explicitly take a position in the essay, but I gave the Church the last word. When I try to think about it completely objectively and critically, then it seems to me that the "Rationalist" position on those questions would tend to be correct.

 

I welcome your thoughts and comments!

Attached Files


Edited by H. Smith, 13 November 2015 - 03:55 AM.


#2 Phoebe K.

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Posted 13 November 2015 - 05:59 PM

Although you make some valid points about the simalrites in eschatology between what we know of the early Church and the beliefs of some parts of the charismatic movement.  However I would dissagree with you over the understanding of early Church letergical practices as a detailed analyses of the textual and archaeological evidence suggests letergical worship from the earliest communities.  There has been an extensive reserch on early liturgy over the last twenty years or so which has changed the dominant scholarly view on what was done, I would sugest that the following books are a good place to start in looking at this area:

 

Paul Bradshaw, Early Christian worship, a basic introduction to ideas and practices

Paul Bradshaw, Reconstructing Early Christian Worship

Paul Bradshaw, The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship, sources and Methods for the study of early liturgy

Mike Aquillina, The Mass of the Early Christians

Margarer Barker, Temple Themes in Christian Worship

John D. Zizioulas, Eucharist Bishop Church

 

There are other texts out on early liturgy by these authors as well and more books and aticals coming out both from Orthodox scholars and other academics.

 

I hope this helps

 

Phoebe



#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 13 November 2015 - 07:28 PM

I echo what Phoebe says: the early Church was liturgical in its worship even though the liturgical form took about 300 years to reach its full form. We know from the NT that the orders of Bishop, Priest and Deacon existed from the earliest times.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 13 November 2015 - 07:29 PM.


#4 H. Smith

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Posted 13 November 2015 - 08:41 PM

Phoebe and Reader Andreas,

 

i agree with you that early Christian worship was liturgical and structured. The Anglican theologian John Drane claims that it was informal and only later became structured, but I disputed that in my essay.

 

The similarity to the charismatics though appears to be that the early Christian worship also used improvisational, informal worship along with its structured worship, because St. Paul recommended to the Corinthians about them using individual prophesying and glossolalia in their regular assemblies. meanwhile, the Charismatics today frequently integrate their "improv" and their liturgy.

 

However, as I said in the essay, I don't know how this kind of improvised worship was integrated into the early Christian liturgy, or if the informal and the structures services were two totally separate services, eg. on different days of the week.


Edited by H. Smith, 13 November 2015 - 08:42 PM.


#5 Anna Stickles

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Posted 18 November 2015 - 08:31 PM

Phoebe and Reader Andreas,

 

However, as I said in the essay, I don't know how this kind of improvised worship was integrated into the early Christian liturgy, or if the informal and the structures services were two totally separate services, eg. on different days of the week.

 

As Phoebe notes there are many good resources for finding out about this. One of the primary sources is the Didache. The structure for the Liturgy in the Didache parallels pretty much exactly that given in Luke.  After the Eucharistic meal and after everyone partook of the final cup of Christ's Blood, then the prophets would be invited to come and speak. This is similar to the practice in some Orthodox parishes to have the sermon after the service, instead of after the Gospel reading. There are strict guidelines given for how to judge and regulate the non-ordained prophets and teachers.  Here is a link to the Didache  see ch 10-13.  It was not "impromptu" at all. It is exactly the tendency to become impromptu that St Paul is rebuking the Corinthians for and trying to correct.

 

Here is a link to a post I made earlier where you can see the parallel between Luke and the Didache, it makes pretty clear exactly what the structure of the service was. It is interesting to note that at this time the actual meal was sacramental - only the baptized could partake of that meal. A variant that we see come into practice later is that the meal is at the end.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 18 November 2015 - 08:46 PM.


#6 H. Smith

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Posted 19 November 2015 - 05:41 AM

As Phoebe notes there are many good resources for finding out about this. One of the primary sources is the Didache. The structure for the Liturgy in the Didache parallels pretty much exactly that given in Luke.  After the Eucharistic meal and after everyone partook of the final cup of Christ's Blood, then the prophets would be invited to come and speak. This is similar to the practice in some Orthodox parishes to have the sermon after the service, instead of after the Gospel reading. There are strict guidelines given for how to judge and regulate the non-ordained prophets and teachers.  Here is a link to the Didache  see ch 10-13. 

Anna, thank you for the reference.

 

 

It was not "impromptu" at all. It is exactly the tendency to become impromptu that St Paul is rebuking the Corinthians for and trying to correct.

 

What do you mean that these speeches of the prophets were not "impromptu"?

"Impromptu" means that something is unplanned, improvised or unrehearsed.

In this case, the Didache plans for the prophet's speech to be at the end of the service, and requires that the speech follows certain rules. For example, a traveling prophet is not supposed to just stay as a wanderer for more than 3 days and ask for a table to be made for him.

The fact that the moment for the speech is planned and that the speech must follow certain rules does not prevent this from being an improvised or impromptu speech, however. The prophet can still, unrehearsed, improvise and privately invent his content, so long as it doesn't contradict the Church.

 

This in the Didache by the way does not sound so different from what a priest does in his sermons. The difference I suppose is that the priest gives a talk to teach, but the prophet gives "prophecy", and in Corinth the lay people brought their own private psalms, visions, "tongues", etc., which is more individualistic.

 

 

Here is a link to a post I made earlier where you can see the parallel between Luke and the Didache, it makes pretty clear exactly what the structure of the service was. It is interesting to note that at this time the actual meal was sacramental - only the baptized could partake of that meal. A variant that we see come into practice later is that the meal is at the end.

 

Sure, as you said, the meal was sacramental. Sacraments and rites were part of the early Church and there was a structure and plan to it. It was not all informal and improvisational as some Charismatics claim.



#7 Ben Johnson

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Posted 19 November 2015 - 10:50 PM

Thank you for sharing the article.  It gives me a better idea of what charismatics think.






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