After an all-too-long gap, I’m finally sharing a bit more about my ongoing research into the ways in which North American Anabaptist (such as Mennonites and Brethren in Christ) participated in the charismatic renewal movement.
Here’s a taste from my post over at the Anabaptist Historians blog:
. . . while some Anabaptists cut loose their denominational ties as a result of their encounters with the Spirit, other Mennonites and Brethren in Christ attempted to forge a distinctively Anabaptist variety of charismatic renewal. At the cutting edge of this endeavor was Mennonite Renewal Services, a grassroots denominational agency that formed in the mid-1970s by two Mennonite leaders sympathetic to charismatic expressions. The organization planned conferences and published a magazine, Empowered, in order to promote charismatic renewal within local congregations while simultaneously attempting to stop charismatic Mennonites from seeking fellowship with and guidance from non-Mennonite charismatics.
But perhaps their most enduring contribution emerged in their efforts to promote a distinctively Mennonite “brand” of charismatic renewal. For instance, in the inaugural issue of Empowered in 1983, one writer opined that the baptism of the Spirit was important, but that there were many signs or sets of signs—not just one singular sign—that could confirm it. He wrote that “difficulty, severe testing or spiritual challenge may be a more typical consequence of the baptism” than signs such as glossolalia or prophecy. The writer’s appeal to suffering and “spiritual challenge” spoke directly to the longstanding Anabaptist conviction that hardship and adversity are expected outcomes of Christian discipleship, beliefs that reflect a living memory even among twentieth-century Anabaptists of their ancestors’ sixteenth-century persecution.
Click here for the full post.