"What are 'charismatic' Christadelphians? Does such a group exist, or is it
just a rumor? What do they really believe, and how do they practice those
beliefs? It has to be more than just strumming a guitar occasionally, because
why would anyone be upset by that."
Well... the Greek "charisma" is related to "charis" -- which
is usually translated "grace", but means most literally a "gift". In certain
circles, with which you have become quite familiar through websites and the
like, to be a "charismatic" means -- most generally -- to have received special
"Holy Spirit" "gifts"... or more properly, to be deluded into thinking one has
received such gifts!
But.... (watch out, here comes a "definition" again), it is
quite possible that -- in other contexts (and some Christadelphian circles may
be such)... there is more reliance on the original Scriptural meaning of the
word "charis" (grace, or gift). This could mean that, by their reading of the
passages, anyone (you and I included, we hope!) who has received any "gift" from
God -- such as the knowledge of the truth, and the forgiveness of sins which
comes through faith and baptism, and ongoing providential care and instruction
from God through His Son -- has in fact partaken of the "charis" of God, and is
Or... alternatively, anyone who has received (and/or
developed) a natural gift for public speaking, or private instruction, or just a
warm, friendly, caring personality that naturally draws people to him or her...
may be called "charismatic" -- with no suggestion of speaking in tongues or
raising the dead. In this sense, there are a lot of "charismatic"
Christadelphians! I got complimented on being "charismatic" one Sunday, by a
young sister recently introduced to the Truth after growing up in a black
"Spirit-filled" (non-Christadelphian) church: she said, "Brother George, that
was a great talk -- we need more 'spirit' in our meetings!" (Of course, since
she spoke the words and didn't write them, I don't know if she meant "Spirit" --
upper case -- or "spirit" -- lower case... although I assume she meant "spirit"
as a synonym for "excitement" or "exuberance".) I think what actually happened
was I had too much coffee that morning, and then got all worked up on a
particular "hobby horse" of mine... I never got "accused" of being "charismatic"
again... I'm normally pretty calm and laid-back, as we say down south. As a
matter of fact, I'm said to have a nice, soothing voice (maybe THAT'S why folks
keep dozing off when I'm talking!).
But I do know other Christadelphian speakers and teachers who
might, very reasonably, be called "charismatic" by the above definition (which
you can find in Webster's, by the way)... and (I'm guessing) that MAY be the
source of some references to "charismatic Christadelphians".
I could add this: some may feel, and with some justification,
that we ought to be on our guard against even this rather innocuous kind of
"charisma", because we might tend to believe certain things not because of what
the Bible teaches, but because the speaker propounding such-and-such was very
dynamic and persuasive. Maybe that's why some look askance upon the use of
guitars in ecclesial meetings, or upon anything designed to bring a little more
excitement or spontaneity into the regular proceedings.
"The 'common use' understanding of a word overrides the actual
Okay... but that's my point too. Sometimes people mean
different things even when they use the same words (maybe more often so, when
one is in Australia and another is in America...?...). And sometimes
"charismatic" doesn't mean "possessing the Holy Spirit gift of speaking of
tongues"! Sometimes, it may mean "being filled with the spirit, or
You see, we could have the same discussion at cross-purposes,
more or less, if we ask the question (even of one another): "Do you/we/I have
the Holy Spirit?" Because that's what the "charismatics" are claiming: present
possession of the Holy Spirit. Many (most? nearly all?) believe that such
present possession allows them to work miracles and speak in strange tongues...
but some at least see the "Holy Spirit" as an influence in their lives apart
from any miraculous manifestation.
And what does THAT mean? Even amongst Christadelphians, it
could mean very different things... depending on how we define and limit (or try
to limit) God's Spirit today.
I don't mean to be merely "academic", or "out of touch" with
the real world, in this discussion. But just as Spirit and Holy Spirit can mean
different things to different readers, and in different contexts... then
"charis", "charisma", and "charismatic" (all of which derive from, and refer to,
the New Testament "gift" or "gifts" of the "Holy Spirit") may likewise mean
different things to different people.
"So will someone please answer my question in plain English, based on the
commonly understood definition of a charismatic, is there such a thing as a
Based on YOUR 'commonly understood definition' of a
charismatic, I would have to guess that there are practically no
Christadelphians who qualify. But I could not guarantee that there are none. And
if you are going to make it a requirement, from your point of view, that we as a
worldwide body have not one member who so believes -- before you can teach what
you believe to be true to others... then you are asking for a virtual
impossibility. (And the same holds true, I think, for any other doctrine that we
hold most dear.) Absolute purity of belief, and absolute perfection of practice,
are not to be had in this time... and will not be found until Christ returns and
purges all tares from the wheat!
Neither would we want a system the main function of which is
to assure that we come as near "perfection" as possible in this age, in all
matters of doctrine and practice. Such a system would be very dictatorial, and
probably very hurtful in other ways... not to mention infringing on those
individual freedoms which we have come to cherish.
Christadelphians, as you know, are organized into individual,
and local, ecclesial units -- which are largely autonomous, that is, responsible
for their own beliefs and practices -- even when and if they all subscribe to
statements of faith which are practically identical.
That reminds me of one of Will Rogers' statements. He said
once, "I don't belong to any organized political party... I'm a Democrat!"
So I will paraphrase old Will: "I don't belong to any
organized church... I'm a Christadelphian!"