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Another Ecumenical Bridge

Commentary by Roger Oakland
www.understandthetimes.org

Stephen Strang is the founder and publisher of Charisma. This magazine concentrates on the news and views of the charismatic movement. I monitor Charisma from month to month to keep in touch with the latest news from the charismatic front. 

The front cover of the June 2005 issue of Charisma magazine caught my attention. There in living color, was a full page photo of Pope John Paul II with a dove over his head. The main heading read: “Vicar of the Spirit”. [1]

 

Now to set the record straight, I believe “gifts of the Spirit” as mentioned in the Bible, are biblical. However, through the years I’ve been a Christian I have discovered there are many experiences that are embraced by Christians “as gifts of the Holy Spirit” when there is no basis for support in the Bible. In fact, I have wondered if it is possible that the Holy Spirit could be counterfeited in the last days in order to provide a bridge to serious deception without genuine Bible-believing Christians knowing it.

A full page article written by editor Strang titled “Holy Spirit, Renew Us” appeared near the end of the magazine. Quoting from the article:

One of the most surprising bridges between denominations was built when charismatic renewal erupted in the Roman Catholic Church. Before 1962 Vatican II reforms, Catholics believed anyone outside their church was lost. But after Pope John XXIII called for a “New Pentecost,” they began viewing Protestants as “separated brethren.” [2]

Further, Strang explained that five years later, in 1967, the modern day Catholic Charismatic renewal broke out at Duquesne University in Pittsburg and then later spread to Notre Dame. As Strang stated: “The renewal in the Catholic Church has now touched an estimated 60 million Catholics worldwide.” [3]

On the surface, this would appear to be exciting news. First, Protestants are reclassified from heretics to the “separated brethren.” Second, Roman Catholics are experiencing “Pentecostal experiences”. Third, if Protestant charismatics and Catholic charismatics are experiencing the same things, wouldn’t this mean the “separated brethren” and the Roman Catholic Church have common ground.

All of this sounds logical and even biblical. However, we need to know the facts before we can draw conclusions. There are other statements from Stephen Strang’s article that provide reason for concern:

I believe we need to heed the words of Pope John Paul II, who said these words in 2004, less than a year before he died. “Whenever the Spirit intervenes, he leaves people astonished; He brings about events of amazing newness; he radically changes persons and history.” [4]

Stephen Strang takes the words of Pope John Paul II (now deceased) as a great encouragement. I don’t. The Roman Catholic Church is calling for a “New Pentecost” that promotes ideas that are completely extrabiblical.

The “New Pentecost”

The cover story in the June issue of Charisma is titled “Keeper of the Flame.” In bold red print and outlined by a prominent inset, the following is stated: “When the Holy Spirit ignited the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II poured fuel on the fire. Today we celebrate his legacy.” [5]

The article, written by Stephen Mansfield, endorsed Pope John Paul II as “vicar” of the “Holy Spirit.” The article concluded with an additional section written by Al and Patti Mansfield titled “Welcoming ‘A New Pentecost’.” [6]

Patti Mansfield is the author of As by a New Pentecost. [7] I quoted from her book quite extensively when I wrote New Wine and the Babylonian Vine. Patti was part of the Duquesne Weekend, which has been called the beginning of the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church that started in Pittsburgh in 1967. In her book, Patti explained that “Mary” was present with them at the Duquesne retreat.

This Marian connection with a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit is called "the Second Pentecost." This idea was not entirely new to me. A number of other sources that I had been reading indicated the Marian Apparition Movement, the Catholic Charismatic Movement and the Protestant Charismatic Movement all have common ground in the “unity movement.” (For more information, please read New Wine and the Babylonian Vine).

In her book As by a New Pentecost, Mansfield called for a “second Pentecost.” She and others believe there will be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit through “Mary”. In Mansfield’s own words:

To whatever measure I have been faithful to the Lord, it has been thanks to her example and to her prayer. I believe that an important element in preparing a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit is our relationship with Mary as Mother. [8]

The Spirit and the Bride Say “Come!”
Mary’s Role in the New Pentecost

I do not know whether Charisma, (a Protestant charismatic magazine) is aware of Patti Mansfield’s view on the role “Mary” will play in the “second Pentecost.” Perhaps they do know and they agree; perhaps they don’t and they would not. Whatever the case, Charisma published Mansfield’s article titled “Welcoming ‘A New Pentecost.’” In this article she wrote:

As leaders in the Catholic charismatic renewal for many years, we are of hope that this “Pentecostal hour” will grow stronger under the papacy of Benedict XVI. May the New Testament vision be fulfilled when all believers will be united in the Holy Spirit, proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. [9]

It would seem to me that the “Holy Spirit” can be used as an ecumenical tool. The promise of a coming revival associated with the outpouring of the “Holy Spirit” (if it is a spirit that is poured out by “Mary”), is not the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Bible. In fact it would be described as “another spirit” that leads to “another Jesus” and “another gospel”.

The Next Wave of the Spirit

J. Lee Grady writes articles for Charisma magazine. In an article titled “Do it Again, Lord” posted in the June 2005 issue, Grady wrote about a “vivid dream” he had in which he found himself inside the Vatican. As he peered out a window he saw a giant wave headed towards the headquarters of the Catholic Church in Rome. [10]

Here’s how Grady described what he saw in his dream:

The tsunami dwarfed the entire city of Rome. I lost my footing when the wave crashed into the building. Immediately the floor began to move and I realized the room was tilting. Although no water was coming through the arched windows, the building began turning on its side. I held on tightly to a marble column while furniture, books, statues and light fixtures crashed around me. The gradual movement did not cease until I was standing on the ceiling. [11]

Now, that’s a pretty dramatic dream. However there is more. Quoting again from Grady’s article:

When I walked out of the room I met a group of priests and nuns who were singing choruses and praying loudly in tongues as they raised their hands in the air. Before the dream ended I was praying with them. [12]

When Grady woke up from his “prophetic vision,” he knew God was speaking to him in a strikingly visual way. Here’s his interpretation:

After I prayed about it, I felt the Lord speak to me in no uncertain terms: Pray for the Catholics. I desire to send another wave of My Spirit. And this time it will turn the church upside down. [13]

Grady has anticipated there would be those who would be skeptical of his prophetic vision. He wrote in his article: “The Lord knows there are plenty of Protestants eager to argue about Catholic doctrines. But I would much rather focus on what the Lord asked me to do – which is to pray for another wave.” [14]

Grady concludes his article this way:

When the next wave of the Spirit hits, let’s pray that it will crash into all denominations, not just the Catholic Church. And let’s pray that He will cut through the shackles of man-made tradition and topple outdated religious structures and restore in us genuine radical New Testament faith. [15]

Sounds good doesn’t it. Wouldn’t it be incredible if all denominations including Roman Catholics would be truly touched by the Holy Spirit and proclaim the pure unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ based on the finished work of the cross. But based on what I read in my Bible, that will never happen.

I agree with J. Lee Grady. There is a spiritual tsunami coming. However, it will not be the Holy Spirit. The wave that is coming will sweep all denominations and eventually all religions. This wave will be “another spirit” accompanied by strong delusion. The only way to avoid not be swept away, will be to know what God has said in His Word.

 


[1] Charisma, Volume 30, Number 11, Strang Communications, front cover.
[2]  Ibid.  “Holy Spirit Renew Us”, Stephen Strang, p. 90.
[3]  Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5]  Ibid., “Keeper of the Flame,” Stephen Mansfield, p.41.
[6]  Ibid., “Welcoming ‘A New Pentecost’”, Al and Patti Mansfield, p. 44.
[7] Patti Gallagher Mansfield, As By A New Pentecost: The Dramatic Beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Franciscan University Press, Steubenville, OH, 1992.
[8]  Ibid., p. 171.
[9] Charisma, “Welcoming ‘A New Pentecost’”, Al and Patti Mansfield, p. 44.[10] Charisma, “Do It Again, Lord,” J. Lee Grady, p. 6.
[11]  Ibid.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid. emphasis in original
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid.

 

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