Worlds Collide


My Mexico trip brought the past and current worlds of Fr. Neo together. It was surreal. As I said below, I grew up in a billingual Pentecostal Church. In Guadalajara I met Anglican believers who were lively and mildly Charismatic in their worship. So, there I was, faced with the Spanish language and Pentecostalesque worship in an Anglican liturgy.

I’ll admit that part of me has turned my back on my peeps over the last several years. I was moved to repent for abandoning my people and my heritage. Indeed God knows where he will take me from here.

23 thoughts on “Worlds Collide

  1. This says to me that your role is to serve as a bridge: one foot where you are and one foot bridging the gap to “your peeps”.

  2. this is very intriguing, fatherneo, for i would have never guessed you had been raised charismatic. what drew you to the Anglican tradition? and what particularly turned you off about pentecostalism, or does it still have a draw for you?

  3. I love the liturgy and the focus on the Eucharist in Anglicanism. I also think in its best form, Anglicanism has a great deal to offer because it is open to all of what Christendom has to offer, both ancient and Protestant.

    I don’t think the Sacramental life is opposed to the Pentecostal emphasis of the Holy Spirit. In fact I believe that the life in the Sacraments and the ancient Faith actually is extremely Pentecostal!

  4. Padre,

    You commented, “…the Pentecostal emphasis of the Holy Spirit.”

    This emphasis is what gives me pause. I once heard an exceedingly intelligent Pastor (Calvinist to boot) say that many modern/contemporary Christians engaged in “Jesusolatry.” Basically, that the idea of a Triune God was largely absent and at best for many an abstract proposition. I harbor a similar suspicion regarding the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement. It’s pretty much a one Person show so to speak. Expressive emotionalism doesn’t always equate to “experiential.”

    I had a brief conversation with my wife tonight regarding what are to her the dreading repetitious prayers that I’m teaching our girls. She reminded me that I needed to work with my oldest on the “Glory Be.” I asked her what she thought of this prayer and she said with noticeable disregard, “it’s just one of those memorized prayers.” So I asked her if she’d prefer “Shine Jesus Shine.” Let’s just say that didn’t go over too well. Grin.

    Question: Are you aware of any Orthodox Communions that engage in Charismatic practices as would be typically associated with such a movement?

  5. I agree with you C. That is what drove me away from Pentecostalism. ‘They’ve swallowed the dove and all,’ so said Luther. What I do like about the Pentecostal ‘expression’ is their emphasis on yieldedness and the belief that God might actually show up in one of our meetings we call ‘church.’ If the liturgical churches actually put some stock in what we were saying and had a holy expectation that God might actually come to dwell in our midst, well, you never know. What I think is perhaps the weakness of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement is the over-emphasis, not on the Holy Spirit, but upon speaking in tongues. I’m not dissing folks who use that gift, but Paul is pretty clear it is a minor gift (see I Cor 12-14) compared with saying the ‘right words at the right time for the right reason’ (as Aristotle put it).

    Interestingly, the history of Orthodoxy is filled with unusual experiences of the Holy Spirit. I know there was an ‘outbreak’ of sorts in Orthodoxy some years ago, but I don’t know what came of it.

  6. He does dwell in our midst. It just happens to be in the very plain-Jane, ordinary, and mundane elements of bread and wine. He shows up too in the motley crowd faces that adorn the pews and pulpits and alters. The sure and unsure alike I suspect.

    I understand what you’re saying though about a vibrant faith and yielding to God’s “leading.” I’m sure glad for my sake there’s a Purgatory. Grin. It’s about living the Gethsemane example. Of course, God (as in the Father) didn’t show up then either. It’s just that I observe His seeming absence or at best veiled presence almost exclusively. I watch the news at night and much of it tears my heart asunder. I’d like for Him to show up in a way that matters—e.g. the rescue of the abducted child from a stalking predator, etc.

    I’ve read the book of Job and frankly side with the man from Ur in his spirit of questioning.

    Just being honest bro. I also appreciate your candor and willingness to risk for God’s sake. I appreciate your steadfast faith.

  7. constantine, fatherneo, your comments are well made. I spent a year or two (memory is somewhat foggy on the timeline) in a very charismatic church and was very angered and put off at the end about my encounters there. It wasn’t uncommon to have people speaking in tongues without translations or to have many being slain in the spirit and passing out in the aisles. When we (my mother and I) finally left this church due to certain circumstances I was shocked at how consumed that congregation was with the apperance of spirituality rather than the expression of love. I have grown to again allow myself a certain amount of emotional response in worship, but I am still very disgusted when I see people who are so gung-ho about spirit-dwelling and love nothing except themselves and the “spiritual” image they promote.
    Constantine, I was intrigued by your comment about wanting God to show up in places that matter. It is frustrating to see the devastation in third world countries where millions of children die each day, or when war-torn countries kill their own people in the name of their cause. Where is God in all of this? why doesn’t he show up and save these children from their pain? the problem I have when these questions arise are I feel inadequate to question why or how God chooses to reveal himself. I am forced to beg for forgiveness in my questioning of him. I am weak before my God, nevertheless the questions still come.

  8. I currently attend a very charismatic, pentecostal, A/G church. One of the things that the pastors emphasize is seeking God, not the manifestations of God (or what you think the manifestations of God are). It is energetic, even frenetic at times, but always orderly. Having said that, I come from a Roman Catholic/Orthodox background (depending on what country you’re in). I graduated from a Jesuit run university. I miss the reverence. I also miss the ability to find a chapel open at any time of the day or night. That’s my hodgepodge of thought.

  9. WIGIAT,

    You said, “the problem I have when these questions arise are I feel inadequate to question why or how God chooses to reveal himself.”

    Me too. But I do it anyway. Let’s say I pretend to ignore the 800 lb Silverback Gorilla in the room. Let’s say I repress those questions. What then? Does that mean the questions really go away? Of course, we all the know answer to that question.

  10. Wigat said –
    “I was shocked at how consumed that congregation was with the apperance of spirituality rather than the expression of love. I have grown to again allow myself a certain amount of emotional response in worship, but I am still very disgusted when I see people who are so gung-ho about spirit-dwelling and love nothing except themselves and the “spiritual” image they promote.”

    I am what I guess would be called a Charismatic Catholic. I agree whole heartedly with this statement. It, I feel is a huge problem in “pentecostal” circles. Unfortunately we do not seem to be in any danger of having an over abundance of humility.
    But regardless of our failings, and they are many, as I have said before, I wouldn’t give up my Pentecostal ways for anything.

  11. another pentecostal gone Anglican here…my wifey thinks i’m psycho..maybe i am…but i’m starting to find an incredible place where the streams of the sacramental, evangelical, and Spirit…all converge into one…

  12. Tell me more about your story Fatherparadox. I live in the same world you do. My wife also thinks I’m crazy. Patristic, sacramental, Scripture-squawkin’, Etc. what to make of us fellow confused Anglican?

  13. well…i was raised in a classical pentecostal church and took my first staff position at that church. i left the church staff because i what i felt was an overemphasis on the Holy Spirit…i went to the united methodist church. i fell in love with the liturgy (even though it was liturgy-lite). i then went back into a pentecostal church because i received a call to be an associate pastor…so i had to be ordained into that denomination. i left for the same reasons that i left the first time (is that the definition of insanity?). i next started a new church that was just simply a contemporary congregation. after a while i began to feel like i was on a carbohydrate diet…all sugar…i wanted some protein. i had this insatiable desire for a connection to the past. i was also tired of the preaching-centered church that made me feel as if i had to perform. i craved eucharist (at least) weekly. i tried talking to our leadership and no one understood. the church was growing and doing well…why change anything?

    i left the church because i was totally confused. my closest friends were the leaders…and i couldn’t talk with them…they didn’t get it. so…being out of community increased my anxiety. i felt like i was in an ocean…bobbing up and down…as if my very breath was in jeopardy. yet, i felt a peace knowing that this strong current was taking me to a place of safety…to a place where i was created to dwell.

    i also had a real need for a bishop. starting a church without a spiritual leader taught me that i needed a pastor. and i needed a bishop that loved me and accepted me (psycho and all).

    because of my tenure in the united methodist church i started on the Anglican path. eventually, i found my way into an Anglican communion. while watching me serve eucharist at my (re-)ordination as an Anglican priest my bishop made the comment that i was doing what i was born to do. i finally felt at home. when i prostrated myself on the floor before the altar prior to the laying on of hands…i knew. i knew…i was home. as the oil was placed on my palms i wept as i never have before.

    now, i’m in the process of starting a new parish. my spiritual gifting is primarily apostolic in nature. i believe that i am wired to be a catalyst for new parishes.

    ok, so father neo…are we 2 crazy priests? (or am i the craziest of us all????)

    sorry to pull this conversation away from the topic…but you asked!

    fr. paradox

  14. i’m in the planning stage. a time of searching. i have a launch team of 8-12 that are waiting for me to move to the area.

    here’s what i see:

    a group of people that are connecting with God, each other, and our world

    here’s how i break this down:

    1. connecting with God
    anglican liturgy helps our worship to be God-centered…not “me” centered (as if i have to convince you, fr neo!). this would, of course, be the ancient part. at the same time, there are contemporary forms of communication that can aid in the worship of God. many times, however, these become a god unto themselves (ie video, multimedia, art, drama, etc.) i want to incorporate contemporary forms of communication with ancient liturgy. while the pinnacle is eucharist…i desire to create a variety of tools that lead us to that pinnacle. i plan to use chant, hymns, and contemporary songs. expect to worship God through gregorian chant…and later rock to kutless. and…what if we really expected God to show up…what if we were open to the leading of the Holy Spirit…what if through the Sacrament of Unction…people were changed…what if we walked in for corporate worship totally desiring God and Him only…what if we worshipped the Almighty with this mindset:

    blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…and blessed be his kingdom now and foever!

    2. connecting with each other…
    we were created for community(after all, aren’t we blogging as a means of finding connection?). the life of the parish should be to help us connect with each other…not get so busy doing things that we don’t have time for each other. i really believe that i will also put priority on house churches. these organic groups will focus on growing in our faith (catechesis)…and growing in authentic relationships with each other…in a loving, accepting environment.

    3. and finally connecting with our world…

    what are we as a church if we are not affecting our world? i have a strong heart for the poor and needy. i’m currently working with our local rescue mission to plan Christmas mass. i also work overseas. at the same time…i try to focus on the people that are in my path every single day. i believe that we can create a parish that maintains a focus outside of ourselves…as Wesley said…the world is my parish.

    these are just my simple thoughts…

    fr. neo, i want to know how you allow your 2 worlds to collide in your local parish…

    wikipedia says:
    A paradox is an apparently true statement or group of statements that seems to lead to a contradiction or to a situation that defies intuition. Typically, either the statements in question do not really imply the contradiction; or the puzzling result is not really a contradiction; or the premises themselves are not all really true (or, cannot all be true together). …

    anglican and pentecostal…that’s a paradox for sure!

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