Purpose of this Session
The Pentecostal movement was viewed as the early or former rains of God’s end-time restoration, the Latter Rain movement as the latter rains of God’s restoration, and the Charismatic Renewal both the former and latter rains together.
“Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.” Joel 2:23
A Dramatic Renewal
Whereas the former movements throughout the history of the church had touched only certain groups of people in certain countries; the Latter Rain movement was primarily among the Pentecostals; the Pentecostal movement affected mainly Holiness churches; and the holiness movement affected mostly Protestants; the Protestant reformation affected only former Catholics; the Charismatic Renewal took all of the truths restored since the period of the Great Reformation under Luther, and propagated them throughout the entire Body of Christ. Not one denomination remained untouched. From Pentecostal to eastern Orthodox, Catholic to Baptist. All were touched; rich and poor, every sector of society from the highest to the lowest. Truly Joel’s prophecy that the Spirit would be poured out upon all flesh was realised during this time.
One of the primary launch pads for the Charismatic movement was the establishment of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI) by successful California Dairyman, Demos Shakarian. From its humble beginnings of 21 business men meeting in Clifton’s Cafeteria in Los Angeles, in 1951, FGBMFI has expanded to every continent of the world, with meetings been held in almost every major city.
FGBMFI challenged prevailing prejudices among historic Protestants and fundamentalists, who associated Pentecostals with the lower class, uneducated, poor elements of society. The successful and prestigious members of the FGBMFI chapters, unashamed to testify of their Pentecostal experiences and speaking in tongues, helped to shift this perception.
Ministers such as Oral Roberts and David J. du Plessis, who was instrumental in bringing the Pentecostal message and experience to historic denominations including the catholic church, also prepared the way for the Charismatic move that was ready to sweep through Christendom.
Beginning of the Charismatic movement
The event that is widely recognised as the fountainhead of the Charismatic Renewal into the wide Body of Christendom on a massive scale was the publication of an Episcopalian (Anglican) minister’s personal testimony of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues in 1960. Father Dennis Bennett was forced to resign his position as pastor of the thriving St Marks Episcopal church in Van Nuys, California in April 1960, following his testimony of Pentecostal baptism. The story was carried by national newspapers, Time magazine and Newsweek, bringing worldwide attention to the event. Historic denominations became interested in Father Bennett’s testimony and soon the charismatic message was being published far and wide.
The reception of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues among historic Protestants came as a surprise to Latter Rain and Pentecostals, but even more so was the Catholic renewal that followed. For centuries the Catholic church had been viewed with suspicion by the Protestant church. Now God was filling them with His Spirit, and bringing present truth manifestation into their meetings.
No move had ever before been so far reaching.
In the 1970’s Charismatic churches were the fastest growing Christian communities in the world. Charismatic and Pentecostal churches saw swift advances in South America, Argentina, Columbia, Brazil and Chile. All of these nations have experienced powerful charismatic revivals, attended by massive growth and miraculous manifestations of God’s power. Many of these revivals continue today three to four decades later.
From 1940 to 1980 the percentage of the world population that was estimated to be Bible-believing Christians doubled. During the 1960’s great growth came to the independent churches in Africa. From 1965 to 1970 Indonesia experienced a massive revival. The 70’s saw phenomenal growth in Latin America, particularly in Brazil. After 1980 churches in Asia experienced similar growth. South Korea saw supernatural numerical growth, with several of the world’s largest congregations being located in Seoul. China above all experienced numerical growth on a scale beyond anything seen anywhere else. Despite intense persecution, it is estimated that there are over 100 million believers in China today.
Restored during the Charismatic Renewal
The Charismatic move was instrumental in bringing all the previously restored truths to the mass of Christendom. There was also a need for revelation of discipleship and church structures capable for accommodating great numerical growth as seen in Korea and South America. The idea of Theocratic government with proper chain of command, of home groups, mutual submission to one another within the Body of Christ, and the balance of home, family and ministry were all propagated during this time.
Ministers such as Oral Roberts, Robert Schueller, Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland were also responsible for bringing the message of faith and prosperity to the church Body during this time. Derek Price was instrumental in teaching during this period, particularly concerning the reality of demonic activity.
The ecumenical movement and working together of the Body of Christ across broad denominational lines was also a fruit of the Charismatic Renewal. Similar to Peter, who witnessed the same Holy Spirit poured out upon the gentiles as well as the Jews, in the same way the unprejudiced grace of God pouring out His Spirit across vastly diverse denominational lines, served to bring down long-standing walls of distrust, opening a new era of co-operation throughout the Body of Christ.
The use of television and printed magazines
Just as the printing press facilitated the Great Reformation, television was a primary force that God used to multiply the message of the Charismatic movement. Many Christian TV channels were established during this period, potentially bringing the message of the gospel to more people in one broadcast than many could have done in a whole lifetime in previous generations. With every move of God, new technology has helped facilitate the spread and extension of the message issuing from heaven.
In our present day, computer, satellite and cell phone technology, easily accessible air travel, and the Internet, has opened unequalled opportunity to reach every tribe and tongue with a fire baptised Word from Heaven. We live in days of unequalled expansion and opportunity as Christ prepares His Bride for His glorious return.
Entire movements such as the Vineyard (John Wimber) and New Frontiers, as well as Christian Outreach Centre and others were founded during this charismatic period of church history.