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Charismatic Christianity

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Charismatic Christianity

Charismatic Christianity (also known as Spirit-filled Christianity) is a form of Christianity that emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and modern-day miracles. Practitioners are often called Charismatic Christians or renewalists. Although there is considerable overlap, Charismatic Christianity is often categorized into three separate groups: Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement, and neocharismatic movements. In 2011, Pentecostals and Charismatic Christians numbered over 500 million, a quarter of the world's 2 billion Christians.[1]


The term charismatic derives from the Greek word χάρισμα ("gift", itself derived from χάρις, "grace" or "favor"). This is the same origin for the word charismata, another term for spiritual gifts.


Charismatic Christianity is diverse, and it is not defined by acceptance of any particular doctrines, practices, or denominational structures. Rather, renewalists share a spirituality characterized by a worldview where miracles, signs and wonders, and other supernatural occurrences are expected to be present in the lives of believers.[2] This includes the presence of spiritual gifts, such as prophecy and healing. While similar in many respects, renewalists do differ in important ways. These differences have led to Charismatic Christianity being categorized into three main groups: Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement, and neo-charismatic movements.[3]


Pentecostals are those Christians who identify with the beliefs and practices of classical Pentecostal denominations, such as the Assemblies of God or the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee). Classical Pentecostalism grew out of the holiness movement and developed a distinct identity at the start of the 20th century. At a time when most denominations affirmed cessationism (the belief that spiritual gifts had ceased), Pentecostals held that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were being restored to the Christian church.[4] The distinctive doctrine of Pentecostalism is that there is a second work of grace after conversion, which Pentecostals call the baptism in the Holy Spirit, that is evidenced by glossolalia ("speaking in tongues").[5]

Charismatic Movement

While early Pentecostals were often marginalized within the larger Christian community, Pentecostal beliefs began penetrating the mainline Protestant denominations from 1960 onward and the Catholic Church from 1967.[6] This adoption of Pentecostal beliefs by those in the historic churches became known as the charismatic movement. Charismatics are defined as Christians who share with Pentecostals an emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit but who remain a part of a mainline church. Also, charismatics are more likely than Pentecostals to believe that glossolalia is not a necessary evidence of Spirit baptism.[5]


New churches and denominations emerged alongside the Charismatic Movement from the late 1950s onwards that are termed neo-charismatic. Being neither Pentecostal nor part of the charismatic movement, they share with these groups a common emphasis on the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, miracles, and Pentecostal experiences.[7] The Vineyard Movement and the British New Church Movement are examples of such groups.


In 2011, there were an estimated 584 million Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians worldwide. They made up 8.5 percent of the world's population and 27 percent of all Christians. There were 279 million Pentecostals and over 300 million Charismatics (the figures for Charismatics include both the Charismatic Movement in the historic churches as well as the neocharismatic movement).[1] Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity is second in size only to the Roman Catholic Church (Note that the figures for Charismatics includes 120 million Catholic Charismatics who would also be counted as part of Roman Catholicism).[8]

See also


  1. ^ a b Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (December 19, 2011,), Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population, p. 67. See also The New International Dictionary, "Part II Global Statistics: A Massive Worldwide Phenomenon".
  2. ^ Margaret M. Poloma and John C. Green, The Assemblies of God: Godly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism (New York: New York University Press, 2010), 64-65.
  3. ^ Stanley M. Burgess and Eduard M. van der Mass, eds., The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), Kindle edition, "Introduction".
  4. ^ The New International Dictionary, "Introduction: Classical Pentecostals".
  5. ^ a b The New International Dictionary, "Introduction: Pentecostal-Charismatic Differences".
  6. ^ The New International Dictionary, "Introduction: The Charismatic Movement".
  7. ^ The New International Dictionary, "Introduction: Neocharismatics".
  8. ^ David Barrett, "Christian World Communions: Five Overviews of Global Christianity, AD 1800-2025," International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Volume 33, No. 1, January 2009, 31.

Further reading



  • Deere, Jack. Surprised by the Power of the Spirit
  • Grudem, Wayne. The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today
  • Maria Stethatos. The Voice of a Priest Crying in the Wilderness


  • Braun, Mark E., What can we learn from the Charismatic Movement?, Forward in Christ, Volume 83, Number 10, October 1996
  • MacArthur, John. Charismatic Chaos
  • Hanegraaff, Hank. Counterfeit Revival
  • Gardiner, George E. Corinthian Catastrophe
  • Warfield, B. B. Counterfeit Miracles
  • Gaffin, Richard B. Perspectives on Pentecost
  • O. Palmer Robertson Final Word A response to Wayne Grudem
  • Michael De Semlyen All Roads Lead To Rome Dorchester House Publications (March 1993)
  • Davis, R., True to His Ways: Purity & Safety in Christian Spiritual Practice (ACW Press, Ozark, AL, 2006), ISBN 1-932124-61-6.


  • Grudem, Wayne (editor). Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?


External links

Academic study:

  • The European Research Network on Global Pentecostalism (GloPent) is an initiative by three leading European Universities in Pentecostal studies networking academic research on Pentecostal and Charismatic movements.
  • PentecoStudies: Online Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements published under the auspices of GloPent
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