THE CHARISMATICS are a kindly lot, In all the correspondence published and in letters written directly to me. the note has been sorrow rather than anger. I feel I owe it to those who have worked so hard and so wordily to Offer some response.
I think that two quite separable elements in the charismatic movement have become confused.
The first is a move within the Church towards a conscious acceptance of radical commitment to Christ through the work of the Spirit, Not unnaturally, for it is the Christian way. people want to express this eontraitrient in communal prayer and mutual support.
Now, fur from being against this, I think it to be of such importance that every possible step must be taken to ensure that the movement remains in good repute and thus accessible to all — mainstream in the Church and not eccentric.
The second element is the need felt by some people to have their commitment validated by some sign which can be recognised as divine acceptance.
This is dangerous for a number of reasons.
First. it is very difficult to distinguish true signs from the hysterical — this problem has plagued pentecostal movements throughout the history of the Christian Churches.
Second, for certain persons the signs become the lure. rather than the commitment.
Third, the news value of signs is such that they obscure the importance of the eommitment so that the world outside mistakes the shadow for the substance.
. In this context I focused on speaking in tongues. That it is disproportionately newsworthy is evidenced by the reactions of your correspondents.
It is particularly difficult to distinguish from the hysterical (unlike the ability to pick up snakes or drink deatils poisons unscathed, which St — and which does not seem to have achieved widespread popularity among cMhuarrkismnaletilioans
And it happens to be a gift which St Paul singles out for its relative lack of value, Accordingly I would think it prudent to follow his advice and ban it from public meetings: it would do no harm and a great deal of good.
Those who wish to pursue it in that. tteoohave his encouragement for h Ia.omanwasrpeeathkaintgPaouult d as a Paul's on women refiBeechtiiondn omfy th• oericguinsatolmr-esZfrhkislutnirikeed the idea that not every word of' his Epistle can be taken as gospel. 111. We are to ensure that everything is done with proprieta and in order, as he exhorts, we must use our own judge
merit as to what is prudent in terms of the needs of our own time. Quentin de In Bedoyere London SW19 PETER HEATH July 10 seems to equate the gift of tongues, as presently used by members of the Charismatic Renewal, with acquired contemplation and an advanced state of prayer.
Although a mystic, who at . the transforming union (spiritual marriage of the soul with God) was made one with St Paul, I have never spoken in tongues.
Where exactly this gift lies on the spiritual plane I am not sure but I do know it is not essential for the salvation of Christian believers unless it be the intelligible sort as used, for example, by Padre Pal for others.
While it may he a part of acquired contemplation, in my experience this latter consists of ming to live in the presence of God all day every day. which is something everyone can do and should.
If a conscious attempt to live with God in this manner is made over a period of years (it presupposes one is trying to live the virtues and love God and one's neighbour in every possible way) then perhaps God may take over and we then experience infused contemolatiom
In itself acquired contemplation is quite low down in the spiritual life. Nonetheless persons in this state are very pure. humble and simple and the last thing they would think of doing would be talking about their prayer life.
They jos to be thinking of God. waiting on Him in peace and quiet. even if their lives are busy and crowded.
For technical purposes it might be useful to place tongues somewhere. St Paul places them at the lowest rung of the spiritual ladder. He places charity on the highest. .
When reading his letters it is a good idea to view them as a whole and in the context in which they were written.
Mary C. Hypher Slough.
Regarding M. 011erenshaw, July 10, during our prayer meeting on June 17 somebody was praying in tongues and the nun sitting next to this person recognised and translated the language as her own Portuguese Goan dialect.
I had read of known languages such as Hebrew. Aramaic and even Chinese dialects being recognised in such a manner, but never anticipated. being able to confirm such evidence. Laurence Kennedy Beckenham