Doing the (charismatic) stuff.

by Elias Blum

When I first became a Christian I fell deeply and immediately, without much thinking, into charismatic stuff. I just thought it was normal. I was introduced to it through the Alpha Course ‘Holy Spirit’ weekend. For several years, I regularly attended charismatic services. ‘Doing the stuff’ of charismatic Christianity, like healing and prophecy, was part of my usual Sunday routine. ‘Praying in tongues’ was as natural and easy as praying in English.

By my late twenties, however, I had become quite skeptical of all this. I was jaded by the way in which I saw, in some churches and ministries, charismatic claims being abused – for manipulation, for ego-trips, for money-grubbing, and for covering intellectual laziness. I decided that most pretenses to ‘prophecy’ or ‘words of knowledge’ were a product of delusion and imagination (or, worse, a product of a desire to manipulate and dominate) rather than a gift of the Spirit.

In recent years, I’ve again become less skeptical with regard to certain charismatic claims and practices. Perhaps I see them as a bit rarer and more exceptional than I did in my youth (and there’s definitely a need for critical discernment, discretion and a healthy detachment) but I’ve seen enough and experienced enough of the Holy Spirit that I just cannot bring myself to completely deny it. In fact, the Holy Spirit is the attribute or name of God that I find it least difficult to truly believe in.

Has anyone else had a similar journey: from uncritical embrace, through critical rejection, to critical embrace?