The Seven Pillars of the Charismatic Movement

image of people worshiping in a church

Seven pillars that any researcher on the Charismatic Movement must take into consideration.

The accelerated growth of the Charismatic movement throughout the world along with its political impact has brought them under more scrutiny within the general public.

Renewalists, that is Charismatics, Pentecostals, and Third Wavers (traditional churches influenced by Pentecostal mysticism) are now the most common expression found in most churches. Renewalism is the fastest growing segment of Christianity in the world. The focus on this article is specifically on the Charismatic movement whose growth is exploding faster than the contemporary Pentecostal one.

Read moreThe Seven Pillars of the Charismatic Movement

Christianity’s Big Split from Judaism

The reasons and impact of Christianity’s separation from its Jewish parent.

Christianity split from Judaism

Christianity first started as a grass-roots Jewish movement that had its origins in the Galilee and Jerusalem regions. In fact, the word Christian was introduced later. This article is an exploration into the events that forced the early followers of Jesus to move away from Judaism and into a different identity.

Read moreChristianity’s Big Split from Judaism

A History of the Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe

The book A History of the Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe (2 vols., 1865) is a seminal piece of literature. This well written work helps to provide valuable insights for the modern reader with the backstory on the conversion of Europe from a mystical to a rational society.

This book was written by William Lecky, an Irish-Anglican historian and politician (1838–1903). He greatly succeeded in studying and narrating the complex and evolving web of rationalism, morals, miracles, the supernatural, Catholicism, and Protestantism into a systematic and comprehensive portrait.

Read moreA History of the Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe

The Struggle for Jewish Identity after the Destruction of the Temple

How the Jewish community adapted their religious system after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.

The loss put Judaism at a crossroads. The destruction meant an end to the sacrificial system – a concept central to Jewish life and faith. This forced the Jewish community to adapt.

The best exposition and solution to this problem is by one of modern Israel’s great scholars–Ephraim E. Urbach. He covered this in his great work, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs.

For those new to the legacy and writings of Mr. Urbach, here is a brief description: he “was a distinguished scholar of Judaism. He is best known for his landmark works on rabbinic thought, The Sages, and for research on the Tosafot. He was an unsuccessful candidate to be President of Israel in 1973.”1

Enclosed is his coverage on how the new Jewish identity had shifted from sacrifice to study and charity.

Here is a portion of Urbach’s explanation:

Ephraim E. Urbach. The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs. Translated from the Hebrew by Israel Abrahams. Jerusalem: Magnes Press. 1979. Vol 1. Pg. 611

. . . R. Isaac taught ‘Whoever occupies himself with the law of the sin-offering, and whoever occupies himself with the study of the Torah is regarded as if he offered up a sin-offering, and whoever occupies himself with the law of the guilt-offering is regarded as though he offered up a guilt-offering.’ Rava came and said ‘Whoever occupies himself with the study of the Torah needs no burnt -offering nor sin-offering, no meal-offering nor guilt offering.’(4) The wording of Rava’s dictum ‘needs no’ etc. is more extreme than the dicta of his predecessors and their like, such as, ‘A Sage who sits and expounds (Torah) in public is accounted by Scripture as though he offered up fat and blood upon the altar,(5) for all these sayings contain the expression ‘as though (if)’. Even in the anonymous homily that states ‘When the Temple is not in existence, how shall you find atonement? Occupy yourselves with the words of the Torah, which are comparable to the sacrifices and they shall make atonement for you. . . ,(6) the study of the Torah serves only as a surrogate and replacement for atonement by the sacrifices. Even this concept is already the result of late development, for when the Temple was destroyed, Rabban Johanan b. Zakkai declared that acts of charity and benevolence were Israel’s atonement,(7) while others again looked upon fasts as substituting for and replacing sacrifices.(8) The supercession of fasting and the practice of benevolence as a means of expiation by the study of the Torah accords with the views of various Sages who chose the way of R. Simeon b. Yohai, rather than that of R. Judah b. Ill’ai.2

——

Footnotes found in the above text.3

  • (4) T. B. Menahot 110a. See Sifre Deut. § 41: ‘ “And to serve Him” — this refers to study of the Torah. You say this refers to study of the Torah, but perhaps it means actual (sacrificial) service! When Scripture declares “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to serve it [לעבדה usually rendered ‘to till it’] and to keep it” (Gen ii 15) – but what service was there in the past, and what keeping was there to do in the past? — thus you learn: “to serve it” means study of the Torah, “and to keep it” means the observance of precepts; and just as the service of the altar is called “service”, even so is the study of the Torah called “service”.’ This exposition is difficult, for it is impossible to tell why ‘to serve it’ should connote study of the Torah and not the service of sacrifice (and thus it is actually interpreted in Gen. Rabba xvi, 5. p. 149: “To serve it and to keep it” refers to the sacrifices’: see ibid n. 2. With regard to the precepts observed by Adam see above, p. 320). The understandable homily that follows emphasizes this difficulty: ‘ “And to serve Him” — this means prayer. . . but perhaps it means non other than service? (Hence Scripture says) “With all your heart”. Is there then service in the heart? . . . just as the altar-service is called “service”, even so prayer is called “service”.’
  • (5) ’Avot de-R. Nathan iv, p. 18; see the notes ibid.
  • (6)Tanḥuma, Aḥare, 10; ed. Buber, ibid., xvi, 35a
  • (7) See my article ‘Megammot Datiyyot we-Ḥevratiyyot be-Torat ha-Sadaqa shel Ḥazal’, Zion, XVI, 1951, pp. 6 ff.
  • (8) See my article ’Asqezis we-Yissurim’, Sefer ha-Yovel le Yitzḥak Baer, pp. 54 – 56

A background to the explanation by Urbach

The quote names a few important Rabbis. The most prominent name in this discussion is Yochanan ben Zakai . The New World Encyclopedia gives an outline of this important leader in Jewish history:

“Yochanan ben Zakai (Hebrew:יוחנן בן זכא , died 80-90 C.E.), also spelled Johanan b. Zakki, was an important rabbinical sage in the final days of the Second Temple era of Judaism and a key figure in the transition from Temple-centered to Rabbinical Judaism.

Read moreThe Struggle for Jewish Identity after the Destruction of the Temple

When the Database Becomes god

A look into the ethics and economics of databases and algorithms. How technology has outpaced the social conscience and society needs to catch-up.

Electronic databases are necessary, and there is no way that we can revert to the days of a pen and paper society, but do we trust databases too much?

Everybody uses a database every day. The question is really how much. The answer is many times more than you think. They control how our lives are structured.

Read moreWhen the Database Becomes god

Emile’s Encounter with Christ

Third Beach
Third Beach, Vancouver. Creative Commons License by Kyle Pearce

The strange case of Emile Lacoste. An unusual man who many people have tried to figure out and help, but with only mixed success.

He is an odd man. No one can define him because his problem lies in the realm of different thoughts, perceptions, and behaviors. All of which have defied a medical, spiritual or psychological solution. A state that some think only God can mend. But then, does he need help at all?

Read moreEmile’s Encounter with Christ

St. Paul’s Final Hurrah

Enrique Simonet, Painter, Decapitation of St. Paul
Enrique Simonet (1866-1927). The Beheading of Saint Paul

Paul was executed in 51 AD under the rule of Nero according to the third-century Christian author, Ammonius of Alexandria, and two other writers.

A deeper look into this text and a translation.

Ammonius was trying to dispel a misunderstanding of the Herod dynasty about the timelines of Christ and Paul. Both are interesting but the history he ascribes to Paul is especially intriguing. By doing so, he gave the above information.

Few know about Ammonius, and less about his writings. Ammonius lived in Alexandria and was a noted Biblical scholar.1 Unfortunately, only remnants of his writings are available today.

An interesting person along with important historical texts. His persona beckons an English translation so that his contribution is more widely known. So, this is what the rest of this article intends to do.

The following translation has a little crossover of John Chrysostom and some influence by the eleventh century writer, Theophylacti of Bulgaria. It appears from a very informal look that most of this is penned by the hand of Ammonius.

Read moreSt. Paul’s Final Hurrah

Charismatics, Headaches and Healings

A woman with an audience behind her hands up praising God

A new framework is required to remedy an overemphasis on staged healing events in churches. A practice that hampers or even destroys the message of the Good News within the public realm.

If you attend almost any Charismatic church meeting, you are sure to hear about supernatural healings. They are usually abstract ones such as headaches banished, a sore back relieved, a short leg lengthened, and many other unusual conditions cured. The majority are scientifically unproven because they are too vague.

There are serious problems with this practice that need clarification. This whole phenomenon almost parallels the excess of Medieval Catholicism; a state which inspired both the Reformation and the Renaissance.

Read moreCharismatics, Headaches and Healings