Charismatic renewal turns 50!

Rev Dennis BennettI read Dennis Bennett’s bestseller, “Nine O’Clock in the Morning” in the late 1970’s and enjoyed the story of the Episcopalian priest and how he encountered the Holy Spirit’s power in his conservative parish and got thrown out. He was one of the few men of faith instrumental in spreading the message of the baptism of the Holy Spirit to the mainline denominations, giving impetus to the growth of the charismatic renewal.

The beginning of the charismatic movement is thus appropriately and meaningfully dated as 3rd April 1960, the date when this Episcopalian(Anglican) priest announced to his church that he had experienced a “personal Pentecost” and spoke in other tongues. It took courage to do that, and as a result he lost his job, and the message spread beyond one congregation. His story even got into the newspapers, Newsweek and Times magazine. The charismatic renewal went across America, and around the globe:

Charismatic renewal has since swept the globe, though Pentecostal scholars say its growth has slowed in the U.S. “The movement began to wane in America by the mid-1990s, but it continued to grow all over the world tremendously, especially Africa, Asia and South America,” said Pentecostal historian Vinson Synan, dean emeritus of the Regent University School of Divinity. “Today there are 640 million Pentecostals and charismatics. It’s still the fastest-growing part of Christianity.”

Stanley M. Burgess, a professor of Christian history at Regent University and editor of The Encyclopedia of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, says one-third of the world’s 2 billion Christians are charismatic or Pentecostal. “The greatest explosion is now occurring in China,” Burgess said. “It’s a combination of Pentecostal and charismatic. Within 10 years, we expect that China will be the most Christian nation on Earth, and that’s just stunning.”