OK, I am a Charismatic in the eyes of others. Well, indeed I am, in terms of biblical conviction and in terms of personal experience of the Spirit. However the “culture” of the Charismatic world is not something I am always at ease with as it often runs counter to the biblical revelation of the Sovereign Lord and to my experience of His Spirit. It is a world in which there are successive flavours of the month – well flavours of the month that if marketed well run for a few years. “What God is doing” is in the hands of advertisers with a budget, who expect a profit from those who can afford their product.
I was helped to admit my discomfort with the way things have developed, or I would say regressed, in the current Western charismatic scene by thoughts from Thomas Merton. It sounds patronising in the extreme to say I do not agree with everything Thomas Merton wrote, or thought or taught, but I found this helpful:
“Perhaps if I only realised that I do not admire what everyone else seems to admire I would really begin to live after all… I would be liberated from the painful duty of saying what I really do not think.”
Merton says that when a person begins to sweat or itch under a mask or a role placed upon them by culture, which presumably includes the culture of “church” or a movement within the church, they are beginning to be free. As I read his words today, I began to see what, on reflection, is patently obvious: alienation is not only a societal or economic or political concept, but can be much more personal and spiritual than that. It begins, as Merton says, when a culture divides me from myself.
These thoughts gave me rich pasture to feed on and seemed to have the scent of Kingdom of God revolutionary air about them…. deep was calling to deep.