So, I recently returned from an Anglican Missions conference called New Wineskins, hosted by the New Wineskins Missionary Network. This was part of my seminary requirements for my M.Div, so I was a little more than roped into it. Overall, a great experience and a number of things to reflect on pastorally and missionally. But….I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. It had been rumored that a number of the influences in the New Wineskins “world” was the charismatic renewal in the Anglican/Episcopal churches. So, I was interested in seeing how people had integrated a conviction for the active ministry of the Holy Spirit with Anglican worship. I didn’t really get a good picture of that.
Remember, overall, my experience was positive overall…but there were some things that bothered me (and is not a reflection on the leaders, but on participants):
- A careless attitude towards the liturgy. Almost every part of the liturgy was dismissible, unimportant, and replaceable with something newer that someone else could come up with at any time.
- A marked irreverence for the Ministry of Word and Sacrament This is when the things someone was concerned with meant skipping out on, walking away from, or interrupting the heart of Christian worship. There was even a guy who just randomly ran around the auditorium, briskly past the table with no regard for those worshipping together.
- Several dismissive remarks about prayer book worship, the Thirty-Nine Articles, and the authority of ordained leadership.
And this is what’s begun to bother me about some (not all!) of the charismatic Anglicans I’ve met. They don’t struck me as particularly Anglican. Charismatic, sure. But I’m not sure what they want besides a Vineyard church that baptizes babies and has communion more frequently. I’m not theoretically opposed to such a Vineyard church, but I would have a problem if they claimed to be Anglican.
I love the active, present ministry of the Holy Spirit. I believe there are many opportunities in the liturgy for prophetic, intercessory, and healing gifts to be at work.
There are places for the Gospel to be demonstrated in the power of the God.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t ask us to dismiss the liturgy. He was part of forming it through the ages.
Pentecostal worship at its best builds up the entire congregation as one body, not a bunch of happy Jesus people doing their own thing. Spirit-empowered gifts always submit to Spirit-appointed leadership.
In other words: I want to be Pentecostal. I want to be Anglican. Not one at the cost of the other. They are not mutually exclusive, and if we act like they are, we’re going to have a problem, folks.