by Mike Spreng
This comes to us from the excellent blog, Classical Christianity: Eastern Orthodoxy for Today, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites.
There are a number of reasons why Charismatics should become eastern Orthodox; reasons such as apostolic succession, liturgical renewal and a general expansion of theology. But there are a few things about Eastern Orthodoxy that are extremely “charismatic” that charismatics surprisingly have not yet embraced.
Here is how Theopedia describes the term Charismatic.
Charismatic is an umbrella term used to describe those Christians who believe that the manifestations of the Holy Spirit seen in the first century Christian Church, such as healing, miracles and “speaking in tongues,” are available to contemporary Christians and ought to be experienced and practiced today.
The word charismatic is derived from the Greek word charisma (meaning a grace or a gift) which is the term used in the Bible to describe a wide range of supernatural experiences (especially in 1 Corinthians 12-14).
Did you notice that there is something missing? What’s missing is the Charismatic believing in spiritual manifestation of Christ’s body and blood within the Eucharistic meal. Of all miraculous events of the Holy Spirit that the Charismatics believe in, I find it very interesting that they do not believe in this! We know that it is found in the Gospel (most of the 6th Chapter of John) and we know that it is found in St. Paul’s letters, as well as the book of Acts. Do they think that all of these miracles were not accompanied by the Eucharist, the very residual effect of Christ’s body and blood? This is what the Holy Spirit does, He transpires Himself through the avenues that Christ has given us. He works through His Church! He is not independent, He is connected to the Father and the Son. To speak of Him out of the context of the Father and the Son is to speak as an Arian (anti-trinitarian). And to speak of the Trinity is to speak of His Covenanted people, the Church.
In Hebrews 13 we see the word “altar” and how those that are not of the Covenant are not welcome to eat from this altar. Now, some may say that all altars are abolished due to the nature of the New Covenant, but this altar is not an altar like that of the Old Covenant. This altar that we Orthodox have is an altar of prayer! You will see no knives on the altar. There is no sacrifice taking place but rather there is what is called an invocation of the Holy Spirit (epiclesis) upon the altar. The earliest documents of Christianity describe the Church’s worship in this way. Ignatius of Antioch as well as Justin Martyr speak of the Eucharist being central in the worship, being prayed over (epiclesis) and being an avenue of grace through the Holy Spirit. These guys were successors of the apostles. Who would dare challenge these teachings?
It just makes complete sense for a Charismatic to embrace what Orthodoxy has to offer. The Charismatic will indeed become more charismatic if they embrace the Eucharist! There is power from the Holy Spirit within this sacred act that cannot be replicated any other way.
I am of the firm opinion that worldwide revival will happen before Christ returns for us and that the true worship that Christ prophesied will happen (and has begun to happen upon His arrival, as stated in the passage) in John 4:23-24 involves the ancient worship that is inclusive to the Eucharist.
This ancient practice will indeed become the future of all Christendom!