I realize I’m stepping on some toes with this post. I’m not trying to be mean or antagonistic, just stating my views according to my understanding of Scripture.
As By a New Pentecost: The Dramatic Beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal
By Patti Gallagher Mansfield
Proclaim Publications, 1992, 119 pp.
I don’t usually make an issue of it in this blog, but I’m a “cessationist,” meaning I believe the apostolic sign gifts (languages, prophecy, healing, raising from the dead, recovering from deadly poison) ceased after the apostolic era. The originators of Pentecostalism claimed these gifts were restored, beginning in Topeka, Kansas in 1900* and continuing to the Azusa Street Revival in 1906 and beyond. Pentecostalism grew, but took a backseat within “mainstream” evangelicalism. However, in 1960, Dennis J. Bennett, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Van Nuys, California claimed he received the gift of tongues/glossolalia and the Pentecostal gifts swiftly seeped into mainline Protestant denominations under the label of “Charismatic.”
A small number of Catholics at Notre Dame University (South Bend, Indiana) and Duquesne University (Pittsburgh) were intrigued with Pentecostalism/Charismaticism and sought mentoring from Protestant continuationists. David Wilkerson’s “The Cross and the Switchblade” (1962) and John Sherrill’s “They Speak With Other Tongues” (1964) were their training manuals. A group of 25 Duquesne University Catholic students went to the nearby Ark and Dove Retreat House on the weekend of February 17-19, 1967, eagerly hoping to manifest the Pentecostal gifts and many predictably did. Since then, the number of Catholics who claim membership in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) has grown to 160 million worldwide, including tens of thousands of priests and nuns. Patti Gallagher Mansfield was one of the 25 students who participated in the “Duquesne Weekend” and recounts the origins of the CCR in this book.
Protestant Pentecostals and Charismatics have a dilemma. Mansfield and the other CCR Catholics continue to uphold the RCC’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. In fact, they generally demonstrate a greater zeal for the un-Biblical sacrifice of the mass and the worship of Mary than prior to receiving the gifts. They are unsaved religious zealots. So, how can people receive the Pentecostal gifts of the Spirit when they have not genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone? Does not compute. This incongruity raises additional questions regarding the experiential Topeka/Azusa gifts. I submit that CCR has inclined Protestant Pentecostals and Charismatics to overlook RC-ism’s false doctrines because, well, CCR-ites manifest the requisite experiential gifts, so that’s “good enough.”
Mansfield and other CCR-ites present Catholic Charismaticism as the ultimate in Catholic spirituality, yet, not one single pope has ever manifested these sign gifts. Why isn’t the “Vicar of Christ” a charismatic if it’s the ultimate in Catholic spirituality? Pope Francis has confessed that he dismissed CCR-ites as deluded fanatics when he was a young cleric (see here), but has pragmatically come to embrace the movement as a useful tool in the quest for RCC-led ecumenism.
Because unregenerated CCR-ites manifest these Topeka/Azusa gifts and pope Francis endorses the movement, I’m less-than-skeptical of the whole business. It is not my desire to “attack” genuine Christians who hold to Pentecostal/Charismatic practices, which is why I don’t generally “soap box” my cessationist views, however, this CCR movement raises questions that cannot be ignored. As a former French-major student, Gallagher-Mansfield claims in this book that she witnessed two Catholic Charismatics speaking perfect French who had no previous knowledge of the language. I know of no documented evidence of a Pentecostal or Charismatic speaking fluently in an actual foreign language unknown to them. Most Pentecostals and Charismatics claim their unintelligible gift of tongues/glossolalia is angelic language (1 Corinthians 13:1) rather than an actual foreign language. I have seen video clips of newbie Pentecostal supplicants being instructed on how to speak in tongues. Indoctrination does not strike me as being a divine gift. Acts 2:1-13 records the apostles being granted the gift of speaking actual foreign languages for the purpose of evangelization.
Humans tend to view truth subjectively and myopically, i.e., “I experienced it, so I know it’s true.” However, speaking in ecstatic utterances is a common practice in many, many pagan religions. A number of Pentecostal groups use speaking in tongues as a litmus test of salvation, i.e., a genuinely born-again person will necessarily manifest this gift, however CCR Catholics do not hold that non-charismatic Catholics are not Catholic.
This 1-star book was valuable only in that it shed some light on the historical “Duquesne Weekend” origins of the CCR.
Postscript: Catholic traditionalists generally dismiss the CCR with its Pentecostalism/Charismaticism sign gifts as a misguided step-child of heretical Protestant novelties. Although anecdotal, unsubstantiated claims are often made, I know of no medically documented cases of a dead person being brought back to life by a Pentecostal or Charismatic healer.
*The roots of Pentecostalism go back further to the ecstatic swoonings often manifested at 19th-century Wesleyan-holiness tent revivals and even during the First Great Awakening of the 18th-century.