Charismatic

Charismatic: (adj) relating to the charismatic movement in the Christian Church.

Even in the midst of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenburg Church, symbolizing the beginning of the Reformation Movement and the Protestant rendition of the faith, my mind prefers to go back less than fifty years–when
those boundaries existing between Catholics and Protestants were melted away by a simple sweet spirit.

I had just begun traveling the country–a young man full of dreams and plagued by empty pockets–when suddenly the walls that had once stood strong between the denominations of the followers of Jesus began to tumble by a movement of the Holy Spirit.

Matter of fact, many of my first opportunities to sing and share ended up being in front of Catholic Charismatic meetings, where those who honored a Pope and offered wine and cheese for snacks, suddenly joined hands in prayer with their Protestant counterparts.

It was beautiful. It was childlike. It was awe-inspiriring and sometimes a bit clumsy.

One night at a McDonald’s, one of my Catholic brothers, in an attempt to validate his newfound freedom and faith, proclaimed to the entire table of hamburger-munchers that “Jesus wiped with the same hand we do.” Everybody graciously said a quiet “amen,” our Big Macs suddenly shrinking in appeal.

What were the ingredients that made this movement so successful?

  1. They didn’t take too much time discussing theology.
  2. Everyone became known as a “Charismatic” instead of identifying by their denominational nametag.
  3. Love and hugging were just as important as Bible study and prayer.
  4. The music was like children’s hymns, sung with tears.
  5. It unified.

The Charismatic Movement didn’t last very long. False teachers, televangelists and those who wanted to make a dime off of a penny’s worth of thoughts soon came in and ravaged the faithful.

But it truly was charismatic.

Charismatic in the sense of being totally charming.

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Baptist

Baptist: (n) a member of a Protestant Christian denomination advocating baptism only of adult believers by total immersion.Dictionary B

Baptists believe a lot of other things, too, besides dunking people in water.

If their only stance was immersion, then the endearing notion of being born again by the action of bathing in righteousness would be beautiful.

But Baptists often find themselves in the position of defending ideas which congeal the Old Testament and the New Testament in an uncomfortable and unfortunate gelatin of purposes.

Christianity becomes so much easier when you stop being Jewish.

If you insist on being a good Jew who follows the testament of Moses, and a dear Christian who pursues the philosophy of Jesus, you will often find yourself personally confused and incomprehensible to others.

On the other hand, simply to view Baptists as spiritual Neanderthals and socially retarded is to miss the blessing of simplicity that these folks often bring to an overly complex world.

For I will tell you, it is amazing what many Southern Baptists can achieve with a few moments of prayer and a platter of chicken.

So what am I saying?

I am saying that if you’re going to be a Christian, you must be willing to abandon Judaism while still loving the Jew.

For I do not believe in the Koran, nor Scientology, or even the teachings of Olympus … but still happen to love Arabs, Hollywood stars and Greek folk.

 

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Ave Maria

Ave Maria (n): a prayer to the Virgin Mary used in Catholic worship. The first line is adapted from Luke 1:28. dictionary with letter A

Everyone pretty much insists that they are not bound to be politically correct, even as they correctly utter everything politically.

I understand political correctness. Having a sensitivity for other people’s feelings, ideas, talent and faith is always a noble adventure. And actually, there are very few times when we should make a stand over some issue or terminology simply to prove our point.

I am not Catholic.

Yet when I sat down to write a novel on the life of Jesus, where he shares his own story, and I was compelled to fill in the missing years which are not normally spoken of in historical or scriptural writings, I ran headlong into the character of Mary of Nazareth.

You have billions of people in the world who believe that she was not only the mother of Jesus but also divine herself.

So rather than playing it safe, keeping a Catholic approach to her character, or disregarding those traditions in favor of a Protestant approach, I decided to research it as a writer.

What do we really know about the life of this woman?

My study opened up a vista of possibilities.

  1. She was probably a girl in her early teens, living in abstract poverty, when she found herself pregnant, believing deep in her heart that it was due to the bidding of an angel of the Lord.
  2. In sharing her story, she risked being stoned.
  3. She had the faith that her betrothed, Joseph, would come around and love her and protect her instead of becoming her primary accuser.
  4. She birthed her child in what might be considered some of the worst possible circumstances.
  5. Within two years she was forced into exile in Egypt to avoid having her son murdered.
  6. She returned to her home town, where the rumors of her pregnancy were still circling about.
  7. By my count, she had a total of seven children, counting the names of the ones listed in the Gospels. (Now, I know the Catholics believe these to be cousins, but to each his own.)
  8. She had to deal with her oldest son deciding to leave home, walking away from the family business.
  9. She mistakenly thought he may have turned crazy, and sent her other children out to get him, only to have him turn his back on the whole family to pursue his mission.
  10. She found herself in front of a cross, staring up into the bleeding and dying countenance of her beloved first-born.
  11. She was there to witness the resurrection.
  12. And she was present for the founding of the church that bore the name of her son of promise.

My research unveiled the character of a woman who was powerful, enduring, confused, pondering and finally, faithful.

Honestly, when I got finished, all I could say was … “Ave Maria.”

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Anglican

dictionary with letter A

Anglican: (adj) relating to or denoting the Church of England or any Church in communion with it.

If my only job were to teach and promote atheism, I would choose, as a platform for my presentation, to just share pieces of church history.

In no time at all, the most ardent believer, based upon the information I shared, would shake his or her head, turn his or her back and walk away from the “stinky pew.”

Why? Because faith is meant to be a leap, not a step.

When men like Martin Luther, John Knox and John Wesley decided to depart from the Catholic Church, they eventually got around to holding committee meetings about who they would become, and ended up keeping much of the religious ceremony, traditions and superstitions of the Mother Church from which they allegedly wanted to orphan themselves from.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Anglican Church, which, when it came to America by boat, became the Episcopals. With its founder, Henry VIII (an unlikely theologian) it continued to take on the heavy burdens and abstract practices of the Church of Rome, while loosening the belt on the underbelly of less important issues.

It is the problem with the religious system–at least in the Christian faith.

Even though we have a movement which dubs itself Protestant, there really isn’t a lot of protesting going on. What actually occurred in the Reformation was a reaction instead of a revolution.

Rather than returning to the teachings of Jesus, which would have expanded the vision of the Christian movement to include all cultures and all people, the Protestants basically embraced the teachings of the Apostle Paul, while sprinkling in portions of Catholicism.

Therefore, Christianity is the most “choiceless” option of spirituality available. This is why many of our young people end up dashing among Buddhism, Muslim, Judaism and agnosticism. Even the denominations that are much more relaxed in their approach, like the Pentecostals, still maintain the seeds of the Vatican, with communion, offerings, trappings and ritual.

The Anglicans essentially left the church of Rome because their King, at the time, wanted a divorce. There’s nothing spiritual about it, and until we actually have a soulful awakening, returning us to the tenets of our founder from Nazareth, the church will continue to be a jumbled mishmash of ingredients, thrown together in a dark kitchen, baked in the oven … with the aspiration that it will end up to everyone’s taste.

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