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Charismatic Revival As a Sign of the Times

Note. Fr. Seraphim Rose (1934-1982), was an Orthodox monk in the ancient tradition who dedicated his life to reawakening modern Western man to forgotten spiritual truths. From his remote cabin in the mountains of northern California, he produced writings which have been circulated throughout the world in millions of copies. Today he is Russiašs best-loved spiritual writer. His books Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future and The Soul After Death have changed countless lives with their uncompromising and sobering truth. Since he wrote this piece, the Charismatic movement has progressed even beyond what was happening in the 70's, (the point in time which these chapters were written) with great speed with such things as the Toronto Blessing ("Holy laughter movement"). This article is about the movement itself and not a condemnation of people.

"COSTA DEIR TOOK THE MIKE and told us how his heart was burdened for the Greek Orthodox Church. He asked Episcopalian Father Driscoll to pray that the Holy Spirit would sweep that Church as He was sweeping the Catholic Church. While Father Driscoll prayed, Costa Deir wept into the mike. Following the prayer was a long message in tongues and an equally long interpretation saying that the prayers had been heard and the Holy Spirit would blow through and awaken the Greek Orthodox Church. By this time there was so much weeping and calling out that I backed away from it all emotionally... Yet I heard myself saying a surprising thing, 'Some day when we read how the Spirit is moving in the Greek Orthodox Church, let us remember that we were here the moment that it began'" [1].

Six months after the event here described occurred at an interdenominational "charismatic" meeting in Seattle, Orthodox Christians did indeed begin to hear that the "charismatic spirit"was moving in the Greek Orthodox Church. Beginning in January, 1972, Fr. Eusebius Stephanou's Logos began to report on this movement, which had begun earlier in several Greek and Syrian parishes in America and now has spread to a number of others, being actively promoted by Fr. Eusebius. After the reader has read the description of this "spirit" from the words of its leading representatives in the pages that follow, he should not find it difficult to believe that in very fact it was evoked and instilled into the Orthodox world by just such urgent entreaties of "interdenominational Christians." For if one conclusion emerges from this description, it must certainly be that the spectacular present-day "charismatic revival" is not merely a phenomenon of hyper-emotionalism and Protestant revivalism-although these elements are also strongly present-but is actually the work of a "spirit" who can be invoked and who works "miracles."

The question we shall attempt to answer in these pages is: what or who is this spirit? As Orthodox Christians we know that it is not only God Who works miracles; the devil has his own "miracles," and in fact he can and does imitate virtually every genuine miracle of God. We shall therefore attempt in these pages to be careful to "try the spirits, whether they are of God" (1 John 4:1). We shall begin with a brief historical background, since no one can deny that the "charismatic revival" has come to the Orthodox world from the Protestant and Catholic denominations, which in turn received it from the Pentecostal sects.

Published with the kind permission of Bishop Alexander Mileant

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