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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Friday, December 20 2002 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster Godly and ungodly charisma

My first exposure to anything resembling "theology" in the academic sense was also my first good impression of the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition. The husband of a close friend of my mother was dying of a rare disease, and he had gone to Oral Roberts at a mass meeting for healing, had repented his previous indifference to spiritual things, and seemed a true and devout believer...but he wasn't getting better. Why did Oral Roberts' prayers and charismatic gift of healing work for some and not others? Or were these claims and seeming miracles all a sham? Those were the first complicated theological questions of my life, and in our search for answers someone gave Mother a booklet put out by a minister who was a member of the Covenanter (Reformed Presbyterian) sect that has a seminary in Pittsburgh and owns and operates the highly respected Geneva College in Beaver Falls. Reformed Presbyterians are to the better known and much larger body of Presbyterians as the Amish are to other* Mennonites; more conservative both in doctrine and practices.

Though the Presbyterian tract on healing and other charismatic gifts tried not to impugn anyone's motives, and it allowed that prayers are sometimes answered by healings and other direct interventions by God, it concluded that all claims of ongoing charismas by individuals like Roberts or Kathryn Kuhlman are bogus. They propounded a doctrine of many theologians (but by no means the preponderance) over Christian history, that all such miraculous gifts ceased once the church was "established," whenever that was, perhaps the time of the death of the last of the Apostles who was directly taught by Jesus in the flesh, around 100 A.D. It was the first step toward accepting that doctrine on my part; later, in seminary, it was reinforced and I became convinced. But when I converted to Orthodoxy I had to turn back away from this "Calvinistic" or in part "Augustinian" doctrine. Like the contemporary charismatic churches like Assemblies of God and many others, Orthodoxy has lots of everyday miracles that still attest, their theologians assert, God's continued activity in their midst.

Orthodoxy doesn't use the word "charismatic" for its wonderworkers, but as a generic term it can be applied to them. Though the gifts are similar to those claimed by Protestant charismatics, they believe their acquisition takes a much different path. Orthodox holy men and women typically spend most of their lives becoming purified or becoming holy, and only after victory over the "passions," like self-deception, pride, envy, anger, rage, and carnal strife are such gifts given to manifest God's love and power in and through the church. However, it would be antithetical to Orthodox practice to label the easier route to charisma claimed by many Protestants bogus or lacking grace. They do say, however, that their experience doesn't allow them to expect quick and easy results in the attainment of wonderworking energies . ~

Our next "meeting" here will be on Christmas eve, so I'll suspend this topic at least until after Christmas. Comments and questions are, as always, welcome.

*Technically, religiously, the Amish are known as "Old-Order Mennonites"

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Santa Claus, pro or con?

Do you "believe in" Santa Claus? Should your children or grandchildren be told the legends, or are they in some way harmful? Alternate: Do you have a favorite Santa Claus anecdote?

 History as seen by sixth graders

Insight into the minds of sixth graders: The following were answers provided by sixth graders during a history test. Watch the spelling! Some of the best humor is in the misspelling.

1. Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that all the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

2. Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

3. Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.

4. The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn't have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth.

5. Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.

—Sent by Sallie Covolo

Thought for today

When giving treats to friends or children, give them what they like, emphatically not what is good for them.

—G. K. Chesterton

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