4.11.09

Charismatic Spirituality with Nick Ladd





Today, we are in 'Exploring groups' which will continue over the course of the next three Wednesdays investigating some aspect of spirituality: Benedictine, Ignatian, Celtic, the Jesus prayer, Charismatic.

Deciding that despite what Rob MacAlpine teaches, I am called to be charismatic before I am post-charimatic, considering also that I do not have experience of the abuses that some post-charismatics have experienced and I am still in a place where I feel I have a lot to learn from the Watsons and the Wimbers, even the Virgos, I have opted to explore charismatic spirituality.

I introduced you to Nick Ladd in the context of an earlier post where we had been exploring best practice for prayer ministry. You will recall I was very grateful that we have such a prayerful Dean who will lead us as a community to truly waut on the Holy Spirit and be expectant.

Nick Ladd led this session of charismatic spirituality.

He stated from the beginning it would end with a time of prayer and waiting on the Lord. Wonderful!

He began with a quotation which has redeemed for me somewhat my rather overly-emphatic statement the other day to Christina Baxter, which I wish I had tempered a little which was about how i think that some of the ways in which we deliver the Anglican liturgy as ministers quenches the Holy Spirit. I don't think I quite meant it so definitely and what I was trying to communicate is that in our overwordiness we sometimes forget to wait and listen.

Anyway, the quote Nick shared puts it much better:

The church has generally failed to teach Christ's presence with us today, in the NOW of the present moment...The Church's liturgy, whether high or low, formal or informal, must provide the space for the needed steps and opportunities of praise, worship, and thanksgiving, for the repentance, for the teaching of the Word, the experience of the Word in the Eucharist, and last but not least, in the invocation of the Presence of Christ in such a way that the healing gifts are part of our worship.

Leanne Payne, The Healing Presence pp40-1

Nick Ladd's conversion in 1974 came through the laying on of hands and the Spirit's presence is a part of daily life.

We share some of our experiences and wonder about how we do theology in terms of second blessing? How do we interpret experience? Does experience dominate our theology or are we coming to experience God through theology?
How do we articulate the work of the Spirit?

Context Charismatic Spiritual renewal
The early nineteenth century was a time of upheaval and the French Revolution and the rise of industrialism, there was a return to the New Testament Church (Restorationism - as we call it today).

Gatherings of the forerunners to the Brethran and the forerunners to the Catholic Apostolics were meeting and Edward Irving's theology began to develop. Calvin had thought the miraculous powers of Christ were located in his divinity and so he could not understand that they could be apparent in us. I blogged the other day about Kelsey's 'Tongue-speaking' and how Calvin didn't have a strong grasp on inspiration. It doesn't seem a coincidence that when I was most uncomfortable about sharing my experience of the gifts of the Spirit, I was studying the Bible in a context heavily Calvinistic in its affinities. 


Nick Ladd tells us how Tom Smail in 'Reflective Glory' speaks about how this thinking can be redeemed. However, Smail stepped back from this book because he felt it focused on human experience of Jesus at the expense of other things. It's all about balance.

Derby the Dispensationalist became suspicious of Irving and had a more docetist theology, separating out too much the divinity of Christ. Perhaps Derby was more like Calvin.

The Brethran emphasize the ministry of all believers and the local gathering of born again beievers. Terry Virgo of New Frontiers has this kind of theology.

Irving influenced an openess to the power of the spirit and expectation of the 5 fold ministry of Ephesians and even set up 12 leaders so very 'apostolic'. He wanted to have a renewing impact and was very influential.

John Wimber talked about pentecostal revival and the Asuza street mission and it has its antecedents in the Holiness Movement where there was conversion and sanctification - a 'there must be more than this' - yearning for perfection but became rather legalistic. Rob MacAlpine covers this in 'Post-Charismatic', if you want to read about some of the down-sides to the movement.

The outpouring in the streets in Asuza helped to create this language of second blessing.

Here we had the birth of the Apostolic church in Wales and many modern charismatic practices have been influenced by the aforementioned outpourings.

The difference between modern day Assemblies of God and Elim is that filling with the Holy Spirit should always be evidenced by tongues at AOG. Elim pentecostalism doesn't require this visible sign of an inward reality.

Charismatic renewal is the second wave John Wimber referred to and it birthed new churches. Nick Ladd was converted into this expression of church -more middle class than Pentecostalism. I guess we can think here about Vineyard and Holy Trinity Brompton. Nick was affected by charismatic renewal and wondered  what would happen to the church where these impacted people went. Some members of the church split and needed to go where the Spirit was already evident. Many led the church that was left to come to renewal, they stayed where they were to bring the church to this fullness.

Terry Virgo gives a good testimony as to his experiences of this.

Charismatic spirituality is about a renewed relationship with God and the intimacy with the Abba Father of Ephesians and Romans. With evangelicals, it came after a grounded biblical knowledge. It's about being in love with God and knowing that God loves you. This is the heart of charismatic spirituality. We must not lose this sense of the animation.

So the third wave with John Wimber happened in the 80s and the 90s. Newly bereaved Nick Ladd was in inner city Birmingham serving, feeling he had lost touch with the relationship between intellect and heart. He went to hear John Wimber in London. He experienced a 'paradigm shift'. Wimber talked about the kingdom of God and the conflicts between the light and the dark. John Wimber's was a preaching, teaching and modelling ministry whereby we expound the scriptures and then wait on God. Corporate worship was an encounter with the person of God. We share this filling with the Spirit with one another, it happens on a corporate level and is accompanied with healing, prophesy etc for the whole body of Christ - for the equipping of the Saints.

David Pytches and David Watson were foundational. Risk and boldness from David and this ability to take a congregation to go places with courage with God (Chorleywood).

In York, David Watson talked about God's love letter to the world and he brought this sense of God wanting to love people. He opened up people to the love of God. He was an amazing Bible teacher and it was all shot through with passion and love. He embodied this. People who have come out of this movement like David Grey (mission-centred church) was to be Watson's successor. This movement bred a certain kind of minister.


The strengths and weaknesses of charismatic movement.

It's about being overcome by the presence of God. But does the honeymoon last? Evangelicalism needed this opening up to the Spirit and softening. But it needs to be accompanied by the intellect. We love the Lord our God with all our hearts but this doesn't mean that we leave our brains at the door because the heart actually is all about the thinking parts of us if we look at it in its Biblical sense.

Wimber's over-realised eschatology meant that there wasn't any theology of suffering and lament. There was a clash. He reacted in a particular way to the death of Watson, thinking it was a victory won by Satan. It can't be this black and white. We are just fallible humans who will get sick.

(Thinking on
Lament and Joy - is this also a cultural propensity?)

Theologically, what happened with the Charismatic movement is that they had to decide whether therey could legitimately use language of second blessing? It was about language. This term was not favourable. To be biblical, we talk instead about being continually filled with the Spirit but do we lose our ability to be quiet too. We can't have a crisis moment every Sunday!

As the session comes to an end we prepare for prayer by singing. We look at Luke 11. 'How much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!' Jesus wants us to be bold - ask, search, knock. As we surrender, we place ourselves in a place where God can meet us - ASK!

....and it all went a bit hazy after that....as you can imagine ;-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting! You would undoubtedly enjoy going to blogsearch.google.com and typing in "Edward Irving is Unnerving." That is, if you appreciate historical nuggets. Thanks for your blog. Vanessa

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