Hands down please we're British


I just wrote this piece for the new Azusa Remixed blog, that I have been asked to contribute to.

You can read it here, in advance of it appearing there. It's based around the loss of the charismatic in the UK churches.

Christianity magazine in the UK, ran an article in March 2008, titled, ‘Hands Down’. It provided a comprehensive review and analysis of how charismatic, charismatic churches in the UK are now. In true blog style, here is a summary of their findings with my paraphrase from interviewing people:

1. Less: Whilst black and Pentecostal churches overtly practice spiritual gifts, most charismatic movement Christians are moving away from the charismatic in its usual forms, especially in public meetings.

2. Bad Experiences: Many are doing so due to previous hype and bad experiences with the charismania of charismatics

3. Mundane Charisma: Yet many are deepening their experience of the charismatic, into quieter, less dramatic and expressive/emotional displays

4. Problems with Establishment: Large sections of the charismatic church moved from homes to established churches and denominations, and the focus on growth and structure, and seeker issues, enervate the charismatic experience.

5. Lack of training: Some think that church leaders are not training people anymore in the use and practice of spiritual gifts.

I think there is a reaction to the abuses and power plays of leaders and groups within the charismatic. There is move to a broader and healthier understanding of the Spirit, and there is a lack of churches teaching, and engaging in the practice of spiritual gifts, with the charismatic needing to be renewed for our emerging culture.

From my theological research and my experience of being involved in a denomination from a charismatic background, I do think that under the surface of these corrections and adjustments (many of them good) something is also being lost, due to:

1. Extending Immanence: In modernity a role reversal took place, and we became the subject, and God our object, who is there to support our autopoiesis (self creation). If our charismatic experience was about the personal experience I had of God, to get the identity and life I wanted, we have extended to its logical conclusion. The collapse of worship into private aesthetics, and my inner experience are the fruit of the project of immanence in charismatic experience, and the trajectory of the charismatic into the post-charismatic.

2. Privatisation: Consumerism and secularism have demanded that religion be private, away from others, and in support of our private aspirations. The therapeutic direction of many churches, and the private God spaces of the post-church movement are far more in keeping with this sensibility. The church is the public of the Holy Spirit yet we live at a time when in secular Europe, practicing faith in public with others is suspect, inconvenient and seen as outmoded. The post-church combines with post-charismatic, for self-constructed God spaces.