The Spread of the Pentecostal spirit. / Lecture Helmut
Haasis 00, 2004-3-13
This article could cause a lot of damage in sincere
Christian circles. / Reply Dr Monika von Sury 00, 2004-12-12
The Berlin Declaration on Pentecostal movement.
The following report is a slightly edited version of a lecture given by Helmut Haasis,
a Bremen educationalist, at the spring conference of the “Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bekennende Gemeinde”
[Confessing Congregation Working Group] in association with the 85th Bünde Conference (12-14 March 2004) in
Bünde-Hüffen. It has been taken from newssheet no. 35/7,2004 of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bekennende Gemeinde,
by the kind permission of the author. (FH)
1. The Significance of Music for the Spread of the
2. The Roots of the Charismatic Movement.
3. The Start of the Charismatic Movement in Germany.
4. The Development of the Movement in the Nineties.
5. An Illustrative Example: the Development of the Movement
6. The Importance of the Evangelische Allianz.
7. The Invitation to “Celebrate Jesus”.
8. The “Celebrate Jesus” Songbook, Volume 1.
9. “Celebrate Jesus” Further Developments.
10. The “Europa-Tag” [“European Day”] in
In many quarters, circles and groups are coming into being which place an emphasis on praising
God through animated singing, and claim that in this way being a Christian can be made to appear more
attractive, so that people become more open to receive God’s Word and the Spirit of God. Praise singing -
this is the style of music that unites all charismatic movements. Seen from the musical side this means pop
and rock rhythms, while the text consists for the most part of short utterances which as a rule will be
frequently repeated. It is all very catchy, and has a strong influence on individuals and on whole
congregations. The idea that people become more open to God and his Word through this kind of praise singing,
however, must be rejected - on biblical evidence. For according to Scripture it is God the Father who draws us
to the Son (Jn 6,44), and the Holy Spirit who opens the Scriptures to us. It therefore does not depend on any
action of ours.
In this connection we also sometimes find it stated that praise singing “awakens” the Holy Spirit. This idea too is unbiblical and in contradiction of Scripture. All the same it is a fact that in our times many congregations and Christian groups have changed under the influence of praise singing. This development is generally accompanied by a greater degree of emotionalism in questions of the faith, an overemphasis on personal stories and faith-related experiences and the ongoing expansion of the repertoire of charismatic songs. At the same time, though, we encounter a heightened sensitivity that shows itself when the Charismatic Movement, one or other of its phenomenal manifestations or its ecumenicity is subjected to questions from the point of view of Scripture.
It is an uncontested fact that the Charismatic Movement forms part of the Pentecostal
Movement. We find clear documentation of this in the Charismatic Movement’s writings. Members of the
Pentecostal Movement are those individuals who feel at home in the classic Pentecostal congregations. These
congregations have come into being through the explosion of the Pentecostal Movement in the years since 1906.
Members of the Charismatic Movement, on the other hand, are those individuals who, having had similar
spiritual experiences, have deliberately remained in the official Protestant (or even in the Catholic) church
in order to live out what they are convinced is the work of the Holy Spirit in them. But this causes us to
raise the question of the identity of the spirit we here have to do with.
Are all the phenomena - visions, appearances, speaking in tongues and prophecy - that occur in the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements really and undoubtedly the effect of the Holy Spirit? The answer must be a resounding No. This is because, in most cases up to the mid-Nineties, it is possible to trace where someone has received a particular extra gift and the spirit that goes with it. Many charismatics say quite openly - and I have experienced this in Bremen - where it was that they, as already believing Christians, received additional gifts (like speaking in tongues or other associated gifts) - namely, through the laying on of hands or personal contact in religious services or in Christian groups that were focused on the achievement of such effects. We plainly have to do here with a spirit that is transmitted. A spirit like this was brought to Kassel in 1907 by two Norwegian ladies, Dagmar Gregersen and Agnes Teile, and subsequently spread in the congregations of the Pentecostal Movement.
Around 1960 this same spirit was once more brought to Germany by Arnold Bittlinger and
other preachers from the USA. The Charismatic Arnold Bittlinger had a decisive influence on the Ökumenisches
Zentrum Craheim [Craheim Ecumenical Center], one of the first charismatic foundations in Germany in the
Sixties. This institution calls itself the “Lebenszentrum für die Einheit der Christen” [“Life Center
for the Unity of Christians”]. From this origin many branches of the Charismatic Movement have radiated into
Germany. Other branches could be demonstrated, but I will refrain from doing so in the context of this status
report. I would refer you to the book by Otto Markmann “Die charismatische Bewegung” [“The
Charismatic Movement”], which you can obtain from the Lutherischer Gemeinschaftsdienst [Lutheran
Community Services] (Hermannstr. 2, D-141 09 Berlin).
In order to cast light on the situation, I would like however just to add a few comments on the subject of the so-called “Toronto Blessing”, because here the nature of the transmission of a false spirit becomes particularly clear. This happened in the mid-Nineties. Under the effect of a spirit that had been falsely described as the Holy Spirit, people in Toronto fell on the floor, rolled about, whinnied like horses and laughed uproariously. Deluded Christians who thought these phenomena were really the effect of the Holy Spirit visited this Toronto congregation, joined in and so became carriers of this alien spirit, which they then carried to their congregations in Germany. But people only received this spirit by going to Toronto, or through contact with individuals or congregations that had been infected with it. We have seen comparable phenomena on repeated occasions since the emergence of the Pentecostal spirit in the Pentecostal Movement (since 1905 or 1906, that is to say), and in the Charismatic Movement as well.
(See also Discourse 33: “Criteria and Information for
assessment of the ‘Toronto Blessing’.”)
Since the mid-Nineties, it often proves to be the case that the transmission links can no
longer be demonstrated so easily, as more and more congregations have now been completely taken over by this
spirit, and in more and more Christian circles such exorbitant practices are regarded as normal. There are
hardly any barriers remaining. And the Pentecostal spirit is now spreading with equal rapidity. A decisive
boost to these developments was given in Germany when the Deutsche Evangelische Allianz (DEA) [German
Protestant Alliance] opened itself up to the Pentecostal Movement in the year 1996, as formulated and set down
in the Kassel Declaration. As many of us are well acquainted with these matters, I would just refer you to Wolfgang
Pöhl’s leaflet “Die Macht der Verführung - ein ,Jahrhundertereignis’” [“The Power of
Seduction - a ‘Centennial Event’”], which you can also obtain from the Lutherischer
Gemeinschaftsdienst, and to the “The Berlin Declaration”.
I would most strongly urge you to study this in its exact wording, and to take it very seriously.
(See also: “Report on the Charismatic Camp.“)
Having shown the background to these events, let us now consider the concrete situation in
Germany in the light of two illustrative examples. I would like first of all to cast light on the development
of the movement by taking the Protestant congregations of Bremen as an example. After that I will have
something to say about the “Celebrate Jesus” slogan.
In the Seventies, Bremen Christians joined in one of the charismatic Jesus Marches - this was
quite early on, by comparison with the movement’s development in Germany overall. Since then the triumphal
march of the Charismatic Movement in Bremen has been unstoppable. Anyone who joins in opens himself to the
Pentecostal spirit. The Evangelische Allianz Bremen [Bremen Protestant Alliance] has long since admitted as
members the radical Pentecostalists of the Bund Freikirchlicher Pfingstgemeinden [Association of Free Church
Pentecostal Congregations]. At the service that marked the close of this year’s Protestant Alliance Week of
Prayer in Bremen, the sermon was given by the minister of the Bund Freikirchlicher Pfingstgemeinden, Ingolf
Ellssel. That is the culmination of developments to date.
No advance warnings had made themselves heard in Bremen. On the contrary - to my horror, the Chairman of the Bremen Protestant Alliance (a pastor with a reputation that goes way further than Bremen), in a sermon as long ago as early July 2000, expressed his satisfaction that the Berlin Declaration of 1909 had been rescinded by the Kassel Declaration of 1996. A sister in the faith attended the closing service of this year’s Protestant Alliance Week of Prayer in Bremen Cathedral (I declined to go myself). She reported two things. First, that it had been a good sermon. The content of the sermon given by Minister Ellssel was in her view basically unobjectionable. He did however say that anyone who did not join in the work of Alliance was hindering the Awakening. How are we to evaluate these two statements about the sermon?
First of all, a preliminary remark: we would not wish to deprive anyone of the honor of having given a good sermon. But there are three observations that must be made:
1) The statement that “Anyone who does not support this Alliance is hindering the
Awakening” is an assertion that must be rejected on scriptural grounds. Such a statement by Minister Ellssel
puts the faithful under compulsion, and this is not in keeping with the spirit of freedom (2Cor3,17).
2) A statement of this nature puts the audience under a psychological pressure to declare
its support for the Protestant Alliance; as a result, brethren who issue warnings against events involving
Pentecostalists will find themselves treated in a spirit of caution and reserve. In this way the Pentecostal
spirit can continue to expand.
3) The fact that an isolated sermon is a clear statement can tell us nothing conclusive
about the spirit that is behind it. Let me briefly refer, in this connection, to the missionary and evangelist
Elias Schrenk, who in 1910 declared: “I spent 11 years in the world of the heathen, and obtained
there many deep insights into the workings of Satan. In the last 30 years, in the course of my evangelical
mission, I have had a great deal to do with witchcraft, and I was often filled with terror when faced with the
power of darkness. I do also believe, in my heart of hearts, in everything that Scripture tells us about that
dark kingdom. But in spite of all this, I never knew that the Father of Lies was able to get people talking
and singing at such length about the blood of Christ as happens in the Tongues Movement - all so as to deceive
the People of God.” (“Tongues Movement” - that is the name by which the Pentecostalist Movement was
earlier known). Now it is important that we should listen to what our teachers tell us. Elias Schrenk did not
think it possible that the devil (who is a liar from the beginning) would be able to get people talking and
singing to such an extent about the blood of Christ - and that means too, about the Cross - so as to deceive
the People of God. We must stay awake, then, if we are to avoid being led astray.
The Deutsche Evangelische Allianz (DEA) [German Protestant Alliance] promotes the coming
together of Pentecostalists and Evangelicals throughout Germany. So we find the DEA supporting the JesusTag
2004 [Jesus Day 2004], an event that will be held on 11 September in Berlin. When we look at the Jesus Day
idea, we find it represents nothing other than the slightly modified idea of the Charismatic and
Pentecostalist Jesus Marches. This is unambiguously plain from the home page of the Jesus Day, where we find
the statement that “In 1992 and 1994 there were marches for Jesus - and then, after a rather long interval,
in the year 2000 we have a ‘Jesus Day’ in which some 50,000 took part.”
The base of support had broadened by this time. This means that the Jesus Day was being made the direct successor of the Jesus Marches. In effect it is the same event, just slightly modified and under a different name. And further on, we find on the same home page: “Here Christians from the Protestant Alliance and Christians from the Charismatic Movement are treading the same path together.”
Be warned - anyone who takes part is in serious danger of coming under the influence of the Pentecostal spirit. The same collaboration of Pentecostalists, Charismatics and the DEA crops up again in the ‘Jesus House’, which is to take place in the following week in Berlin. And there are many places where satellite transmissions are taking place, in the style with which ProChrist has made us familiar.
The overall development of this collaboration has varied from region to region. Taken all in all, however, we can state that there is a steady pull in this one direction. And we have found it to be the case in Bremen that this current has a particularly powerful effect on young people, and the effect is powerfully reinforced by the music. If a congregation does not take this road, young people will go elsewhere: it appears that other groups have more to offer them. And so there are congregations where very extensive youth work is found, and others where youth work is on a minute scale. And congregations have to put up with this, and are expected to make themselves strong in the Lord. They do not, in the circumstances, have any other option.
In this context we would state it as definite that the separation called for by the Berlin Declaration is a separation for which there are good spiritual reasons. The Berlin Declaration still refers to those brothers and sisters who are under the influence of the Pentecostal spirit as brothers and sisters. It is not as if the attempt were being made to deny a person’s faith. But the matter of real importance here is that people should be warned about this false spirit, because this spirit can lead people away from Jesus Christ. That is why the brethren who issued a warning against the Pentecostal Movement in the Berlin Declaration of 1909 wrote as follows: “Do not get involved with this movement.”br>
This declaration was a joint statement at the time, emanating from the leading representatives of the congregations of the German Protestant Alliance and of the Gnadauer Verband [Gnadau Association]. And here we have to emphasize the words “at the time”. The separation called for by the declaration was the result of an intensive testing of the spirits, in what was a desperate struggle to arrive at the truth. This was a painful process, and it is just as painful to have to warn people the whole time against events like the ‘Jesus House’, the ‘Christival’, Jesus Day, the Gemeindeferienfestival Spring [Congregational Spring Holiday Festival] or against cooperating with these brethren in any way at all. Painful at first glance, that is; but when we know what ties might otherwise result, we can accept the consequences. A warning just has to be issued! For this whole development, taken all in all, amounts to seduction: the influence of the Pentecostal spirit does not bring about any kind of spiritual unity in the truth of Jesus Christ. Instead, the individual comes under the influence of a false spirit, a spirit from below, who comes in a guise of piety (vide Mt 4,3-10!) but leads him away from Our Lord Jesus Christ - in other words, the aim is to take him into the darkness. And this can be recognized when we look at the fruits of this spirit.
A brother in the faith told me a few weeks ago that he had observed that the people who have been drawn into these congregations in Bremen for some while back do perhaps adopt an evangelical lifestyle - along with the appropriate praise singing, incidentally - but have not really been converted. In his estimation there are many who get involved in this movement who remain spiritually dead. No real sorrow and penitence is any longer found. People say “Yes” to Jesus, because they are promised so many good things if they do. There is no longer any suggestion of contrition. On the contrary, they are invited to celebrate.
The idea of “celebration” - especially in connection with the praise singing mentioned
earlier - is becoming increasingly prominent. To give a few examples - Jesus Day 2004 stands under the slogan
“Celebrate, pray, act”. Roland Werner, the Chairman of the Youth Congress “Christival 2002”,
issued an invitation in the “Christival-Zeitung” [“Christival Journal”], issue 2, p.1 et passim, in
the following words: “Don’t miss this chance to celebrate Jesus together with thousands of young
At this “Christival”, biblical study came under the general heading of “Bibelfeste” [“Bible Festivals”], and it was presented in the following manner (I quote again from the same Christival journal, p. 6): “On Thursday, Friday and Saturday there will be plenty on offer every morning from 10 am both for the eyes and for the ears. The crucial thing is the mixture: in the center a solid session of biblical study, around it lots of singing, prayer and celebration and a concentrated load of creative ideas.” Point well taken - “The crucial thing is the mixture”! An idea like this is altogether in keeping with the spirit of the times. People no longer want to work, they would rather celebrate, they would rather have an ‘event’. Christival - that is a combination of the words ‘Christ’ and ‘festival’. The object, then, is to have a “celebration”. The first Christival took place in 1976, and since then this “celebratory” impulse has become more and more pronounced. This is reason enough for us to examine the concept of celebration as such.
“Feiert Jesus!” [“Celebrate Jesus!”] - for some ten years there has been a songbook in existence with this title, brought out by a large and reputed Evangelical publishing house. The invitation is already programmatic! It is a matter of “giving glory to God” and “experiencing Jesus”, to use the jargon current in praise singing circles. A good proportion of the songs in “Celebrate Jesus!” are so-called “songs of worship” that come from a Charismatic or Pentecostalist background. If there is any mention of sin and the Cross at all, it is only for the purpose of “giving glory to God”. But this means, when we turn it the other way about, “I am OK, and because I am OK, I can give glory to God.” But here one is inclined to object that God is glorious enough already. Before this glorious and holy God the only proper response is to go on our knees.
A decisive misunderstanding, which in many ways is fundamental to praise singing, is that we can identify with the first idea of a certain ProChrist song - ‘Jesus, I can come to you just as I am’ - while in thought we stay where we are. This saying is true enough, for Jesus does accept sinners. But when Peter returns to Jesus with his miraculous draught of fishes and recognizes him as Lord, he says “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Lk 5,8). Here it becomes clear to him who Jesus is, and who he himself is. And it’s not as if he feels like celebrating. The Lord now calls the man who recognizes sin for what it is to be among his saving followers. And Peter senses that he cannot remain as he is. He must let himself be transformed by Jesus. Scripture says, moreover - and we could take this passage as a point of departure for a biblical study of Peter - “For those whom the Lord loves he disciplines” (Heb 12,6). Peter let himself be transformed by Jesus. Compare too Mt 26,33-35.69-75 with Jn 21,15-23.
With the invitation to praise singing, however, we are pointed to quite different biblical passages, such as Rev 7,9-17, for instance - as if we were now already standing in white garments before the throne of the Lamb. No! We live in faith, not yet in vision. Here and now we are on trial, and one day the Lord will grant us the direct vision of what is now ours in faith. But here we are in a different position. Basically our situation is that for which Psalm 51 was written. At the end of Psalm 51, after sin has been recognized and acknowledge and forgiven by God, the praise of God sounds on the lips of the pardoned sinner. For the writer of Psalm 51 this was most certainly a joyful experience, but it has also been deeply serious, seeing that we have been speaking of sin. This attitude of the heart, this dependence on the Lord Jesus, is different from the one we find in the call to “Celebrate Jesus”.
The range of the first volume of the “Celebrate Jesus” songbook (1995) is extremely broad.
It includes a few hymns from the Kirchengesangbuch [Church Song Book] and hymns by Gerhard Schnitter
(generally acceptable in terms of content), as well as songs emanating from the Charismatic organization “Jugend
mit einer Mission” [“Youth with a Mission”] and even songs by extreme Charismatics like those of
the Vineyard Movement by a certain John Wimber. The translation of the Vineyard Movement texts
from English into German has been undertaken by an association specially set up for the purpose, the FCJG
Lüdenscheid (songs 97, 101 and 119). Anyone who adopts this songbook is likely to experience the following
results in his Christian group:
1) Very many of the songs come across well - both the melody and the content make them very
2) Under the influence of the new songs, the old songs will be pushed out.
3) The group will be opened up to the charismatic spirit. Songs emphasizing reformation
will be pushed into the background in favor of ‘worship’, so-called. A charismatic redirection of the
feelings will be brought about.
4) Through the “Celebrate Jesus” songbook, young people will come into contact with
radically Pentecostalist ideas, such as we find in the Jesus Marches. Songs 36, 44 and 119 are based on the
suggestion that the singers are able through their own actions to liberate whole regions from demons, and so
make room for Jesus. Some circles in the Pentecostalist Movement even take this idea one step further: when
people have struggled to free this space in the name of Jesus, then Jesus can pour out the Spirit. These
teachings are quite unscriptural..
5) These songbooks make young people vulnerable to the false spirit of the Charismatic
Movement, so they also are liable to be drawn to major events like the Christival and ‘Jesus Day’.
About six years after the first volume of ‘Celebrate Jesus’, the second volume appeared in
2001, brought out by that same large and reputed Evangelical publishing house, with a starting edition of
90,000 copies. Just 14 days after the book came out, the entire first edition was out of print. As for the
orientation of these songs, the Foreword this time states the message clearly. The first sentences are: “Here
it is, the second volume of ‘Celebrate Jesus’. We have selected these songs from the wonderful repertoire
of German and international praise singing.”
An even clearer message emerges from the website which we can consult to find out more about the two volumes of ‘Celebrate Jesus’ (www.feiertjesus.de and www.sound7.de). On the latter webpage we find publicity for the 9th CD containing songs from both volumes. Here Albert Frey, who together with Alexander Lucas and representatives of the publishing house selected the songs for this 9th CD, is asked the question, “Why are the ‘Celebrate Jesus’ CDs so cheap?” (And here we must remark that Albert Frey gives the answer in a somewhat indirect manner - this is, however, the complete answer in effect). Albert Frey: “The consequence is that larger product numbers can be achieved, which gives the songs maximum distribution. This helps to spread not just the songs, but also the message they convey - praise singing and worship, that is.”
This answer is unambiguous: the intention is to bring praise singing and worship to Christian congregations. This shifts the congregations in a Charismatic direction. It is even more revealing to see what Mr Frey understands by worship. When asked, “How can one, as a musician and singer, give oneself to praise singing and worship at the very moment of the recording?”, he answers, “I think it is just another kind of worship. Not the conscious form of prayer, but a basic attitude, such as we are always trying to find through prayers or pointers to the substance of faith. I think worship is a much wider area than worship as understood in the classic sense. It can also be worship, for instance, when a musician plays his instrument as well as he possibly can, so as to worship God in this fashion.”
Here the conscious form of prayer is pushed into the background and rejected: it is no longer a matter of my turning completely to God in prayer, instead all that is left, in effect, is my feelings and emotions - my losing myself in the music. This attitude is described by Mr Frey as a “basic attitude”. His statement, however, is quite clearly contradicted by the Bible, where we are told in Col 3,16 for instance: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
According to the Word of God in the above passage, in praising God’s glory the essential thing is the right attitude of the human heart in relation to God. This praise has a definite content. Through the Word of God it presents itself to us clearly. And what counts is the words with their content, not the dynamic effect of the music. According to Col 3,16, we have to do with psalms - and we have the texts of these in written form (unlike the melody).
The passage also refers to hymns and spiritual songs. It doesn’t just say that we should make music to the glory of God. Rather the Word - which serves us for teaching and admonishing - should “richly dwell” within us, in other words it should determine our lives, and so also our music and our ways of praising God. Music should be subordinated in the spirit of service to the scriptural proclamation of the faith, and it should be chosen in such a way that it brings the Word with its doctrine closer to those who hear it. Many extensive passages in the psalms are actually doctrinal in content.
The basic question, surely, is “Why, really, should we celebrate Jesus?” The formulation “Celebrate Jesus”, as such, is completely unscriptural. Nowhere does Scripture tell us that Jesus gave his disciples any such instruction. And yet, Jesus was indeed on one occasion celebrated by a crowd of people - at his entry to Jerusalem, when the multitude cried out “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” But we know that this was like a fire in straw, not a real explosion of the Spirit. For immediately following on these events, all the Jerusalem crowd could say was “Crucify him! Crucify him!” - And Matthew tells us, too, why Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass, a few days before the Crucifixion: “Now this took place that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, Behold your king is coming to you, gentle and mounted on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden’” (Mt 21,4, Zech 9,9). For Jesus, then, the important thing was to act in conformity with the will of God, to be obedient to God - and not to be celebrated by his human followers.
At just one point in the Old Testament Israel undertakes to celebrate God. In order to make that God - who had, after all, brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt - visible to their eyes and celebrate him in a fitting fashion, Israel cast a golden calf and made that the object of celebration - and yet this was no other than a breach of God’s commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them” (Deut 5,8-9). It is just a matter of following God’s commandments, and that means staying close to Scripture - this is how we can honor the God of the Old and New Covenants as God alone, rather than following our own preferences - however understandable they may be in a human sense.
On 8 May “Miteinander für Europa” [“Together for Europe”], known as “European Day”,
will be taking place in Stuttgart. 10,000 visitors are expected to fill the Hanns-Martin Schleyer Hall. 130
Protestant and Catholic organizations from Europe will be represented, among them a great many from Germany.
According to a press release of 30.01.2004, speakers on the Catholic side will be Chiara Lubich, Andrea
Riccardi and Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is President of the Papal Council for Promoting Christian
Unity. On the Orthodox side there will be Heikki Huttunen, and for the Protestants Ulrich Parzany,
Friedrich Aschoff and the Bavarian Bishop Johannes Friedrich. Ulrich Parzany, the General
Secretary of the CVJM-Gesamtverband [Combined Association of the YMCA] in Germany is one of the group that has
promoted European Day under the slogan of “Together for Europe”. The President of the EU Commission,
Romano Prodi, will also speak. The object of the conference is as follows - ‘“Together for Europe”, it
is hoped, will contribute to the process of integration of “one soul”, so that Europe can become a “family”
of united peoples and reconciled nations, who for their part understand their obligations to work for the good
and promote the unity of the entire family of humanity.’
The final outcome here is the “unity of the entire family of humanity”. This, we are told, is something towards which we feel a sense of obligation. And at another point we find it stated (with reference to Christian movements and communities), “Through the growing community amongst them, a network of brotherly relations between different peoples and cultures from all over Europe is being created. Their members include Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Reformed and Anglican Christians.” At www.miteinander-wiesonst.de, the home page of the society sponsoring the event (from which the above quotations have been taken), we also find an overview that explains how the idea of this European Day originated.
In brief, what happened to pave the way for European Day was this: a Protestant initiator and a Catholic initiator came together. The Protestant initiator had existed since 1965 under the vague title of “Treffen von Verantwortlichen” (TvV) [“Circle of Responsible Persons”]; this group became active in connection with this same European Day in 1999. The Catholic initiator was the Pope, who at Pentecost 1998 called a great many Catholic movements together on St. Peter’s Square and spoke to them about the Holy Spirit. Addressing an audience of 500,000, Pope John Paul II said, “Do not forget that every charism is given for the benefit of the whole church... I would like to call on all men and women to open themselves to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Accept thankfully the charisms that the Holy Spirit continually bestows on you... Such movements are the response of the Holy Spirit to the dramatic challenge of our times” (sc. of secularization). So much for the Pope’s words. So where did it go from here?
The Trägerkreis des Europa-Tages [European Day Sponsorship Group] gives us the following report: “At the TvV in March 1999, a video report of this Pentecostal event in Rome (‘Birth Pangs of the Spirit’) was shown. This made an impression, not least because of the significance that the Pope attributed to these movements. Taking an ecclesiological distinction formulated by the Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar as his point of departure, John Paul II counts these movements as belonging to the charismatic dimension of the church, which according to the Pope is just as important to the church as is its institutional dimension.” To spell this out plainly, the initiator is the Pope, and because he has laid an emphasis on the gifts of grace or charisms as an element alongside the institutional church, the Protestants of the TvV are collaborating with him. The factor that unites them is the charismatic element. This is made very clear in a number of articles by Helmut Nicklas (e.g. in “Neue Stadt” [“New City”], volume 1/2004).
H. Nicklas was Secretary and Director of the Munich CVJM [YMCA] from 1971 to 2002, and along with Ulrich Parzany he belongs to the group sponsoring European Day. Is it really possible that Protestant Christians of the Charismatic Movement are working hand in glove with the Catholic Church, when Pastor Hamel has shown in the first part of his status report (see above) how so many of its features are repugnant to the Gospel? The answer is Yes - and this is because the spirit that determines the course taken by the Charismatic Movement is an ecumenical spirit - not the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth.
It is false to assert - as stated not long ago on the website of the “Lebenszentrum für die Einheit der Christen” [“Life Center for the Unity of Christians”] (Craheim) - that “The Holy Spirit... is an ‘ecumenical’ Spirit.” Here and now we must declare that it is the spirit behind the Charismatic Movement that is an ecumenical spirit. This is a spirit that finds itself able to collaborate with the church of the Papacy that leads people astray. This ecumenical spirit cannot ever on any account be the Spirit to which the Scriptures testify as the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit opens the Scriptures to us, and on this basis brings Christians together into genuine unity in Christ - but most assuredly not into this unbiblical ecumenism with the Pope. H.H.
(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)
I can understand the fearful concern of this author, as among those who call themselves
Pentecostalists there are indeed groups that are dangerous. But all the same, to lump together charismatic
music, songbooks and preachers under the one heading of ‘ecumenism’ does not seem to me a convincing
argument. Even in the Old Testament we find praise singing all over the place - just think of the Psalms! And
in the New Testament too there are plenty of passages that invite us to worship and to sing the praises of
God. As long as Jesus remains the center of our worship and praise singing, there surely cannot be anything
wrong with this?
How would the author have assessed the early Christian church, as it is presented to us in Acts? What would he have made of David, when he leaped and danced before the Ark - would he have despised him as Michal did? Or what would he think of me, for that matter? In our congregation I am one of those who lead the praise singing, I play the piano and sing, and in doing so enjoy the freedom that Jesus gives us, the freedom of worshiping him with the whole of our being. Right from the beginning I have been part of a multicultural congregation, with as many as forty different nationalities represented. You couldn’t possibly measure them all with the same yardstick. Of course you have to distinguish between real worship and a circus. In South America and in other places I have attended marvelous large-scale events where modern technology - for which thanks be to God - made it possible for people to hear the Gospel right down to the end of the street. Those participating must surely have included many Christians who absolutely had not lost their reverence for God. Singing at the top of one’s voice, dancing for joy when we have been healed or have had our sins forgiven - these are forms of behavior that are wholly acceptable to Jesus, as we are shown by plenty of examples in the Bible. What counts is whether our praise and thanksgiving comes from a sincere heart - and in the last resort, only God can be the judge of that. Doesn’t Scripture tell us - that same Scripture to which the author professes himself so devoted - that our hearts should overflow with gladness, that we should praise God for his greatness and goodness with everything that has breath?
Those who have given a negative verdict may actually have taken part in imitative movements, and have been baptized in a spirit of shallow enthusiasm. We know, of course, that Satan is an imitator. More and more ornaments are made of fake gold, and the imitation is effective enough to deceive people and persuade them that it is genuine. But this doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as the GENUINE article - and there are plenty of goldsmiths around who take a great deal of trouble to use only the finest precious stones and metals. In the wrong hands, this article could cause a lot of damage in sincere Christian circles, and deter people who are genuinely searching for God from finding Jesus in all his fullness.
And finally, the Bible states very definitely that the congregation of the Last Days will not be a popular congregation - on the contrary! So why all this fuss about separating the sheep and the goats? Jesus himself will be perfectly capable of doing that on his Second Coming. The shepherd knows his sheep. We are called now - as we always have been - not to be Pentecostalists, Charismatics, Protestants or Evangelicals, but to be purely and simply CHRISTIANS.
Dr Monika von Sury - Royal Line firstname.lastname@example.org / http://www.royalline.ch/d/traduction.asp