Theology Lecture by Mark Tanner

On Saturday September 12th Mark Tanner led our Theology morning on the theme of ‘Charismatic Christianity’ at St Mark’s Church. Before he began we sang ‘Our God reigns’ and ‘Be still’, when Tim Hurren, the minister in charge of St Peter’s Church during the interregnum led the prayers and introduction and welcome of Mark Tanner. The Rev. Cannon Mark Tanner is now a lecturer at Cranmer College at St John’s College Durham, where Anglican ministers are trained. Mark Tanner was previously the vicar of Holy Trinity Church Ripon. Mark explained that there was no particular theology for Charismatic Christianity; they have the mainstream theology of creation, atonement, eschatology, ecclesiology, and sacramental theology. Mark asked whether we saw God in what was being done in New Wine. How do we really know if God is really at work? The book of Acts is charismatic. In Acts 8 Philip speaks to the Ethiopian Eunuch, who was a proselyte, a devout adherent to the Hebrew faith, and was quick to be baptised in the name of Jesus. By Acts 10 there was a massive systemic change when Cornelius, a Roman centurion, a God fearer received the Holy Spirit, just as Peter and the other disciples had on the day of Pentecost, which meant that Peter could not deny them baptism. The mark of orthodoxy was receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. The church expanded through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Mark explained that theological orthodoxy usually had three pillars: Reason; Tradition; Scripture. Do we also need experience? Theology included experience following John Wesley’s heart feeling strangely warmed at Aldersgate Street. Mark had made a grid of theology from early Christianity which was based more on Scripture and Tradition; later writers focussed more on Reason and Experience. He explained that the Greek word ‘charis’ meant grace so that charismatic really meant ‘gracings’ i.e. gifts. Gifts are only given by the grace of God; they are not self earned gifts. John Wimber’s teaching was charismatic, as was the Fountain Trust in the Anglican Church in the early 70’s, when my mother was involved in the movement and subsequent movements of the Vineyard Church and the New Wine movement.
Mark explained how he saw where the leaders of the Pentecostal movement differed from the charismatic movement; the former has more rules which must be kept. Gifts were received as owned, so they took authority over illness. In charismatic renewal we do not have the authority but are like ambassadors, as we pray in Christ’s name. We can pray for people to be healed but have no authority ourselves, as we are instruments of God. In classic Pentecostal renewal the believers speak in tongues when they are baptised. For most non Pentecostal renewal some speak in tongues but it is not a universal gift; those blessed by the renewal of the Holy Spirit receive the gift God chooses to give to them. The Spirit of God gives gifts for the building up of the church. In the early 1900s the Pentecostal revival was born as people were given the gift of speaking in tongues. However Mark said that such massive creativity and enthusiasm was experienced from the 1500s in times of revival. Being seen as an enthusiastic believer full of the joys of the spirit often drew insults from others over the centuries.
Jesus came to proclaim the Kingdom of God. He had two priorities to seek and save the lost. He called us to follow him and do the same. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom and drove out demons. Jesus was charismatic. Some people argue that miracles stopped after the time of the apostles. No the church evolved in Acts. Timothy was influenced by the Apostles. A Jew Apollos in Acts 18 came to Ephesus. Apollos was an intelligent, educated man who was strongly versed in the Jewish scriptures. He taught the way of the Lord Jesus accurately but he only knew the baptism of John. Priscilla and Aquila explained more accurately the faith of the early church founded on the baptism of the Holy Spirit which had come at Pentecost. Apollos had been based in Corinth, whereas Paul was at Ephesus. The group of disciples at Corinth were asked if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. They said they had not but had received John’s baptism. The believers were then baptised in the name of Jesus and when Paul laid his hands on them they received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. Baptism by water signified entry into the Christian Church. The laying on of hands by the Bishop was the earliest sign of confirmation into the church. The Bishop was seen as the representative of the Apostolic Authorities. It was more than just repentance that was needed; the Holy Spirit was also needed as an authentic part of the Christian experience.

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