Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The charismatic movement within the Church of England is a firmly established fixture. Several of the largest CoE churches are charismatic. The most well-known is Holy Trinity Brompton out of which the Alpha Course came and currently under the leadership of Nicky Gumbel. One of the newest theological colleges in London is St. Mellitus, which was formed by the bishop of London Richard Chartes, but also houses St. Paul’s Theological Centre from Holy Trinity Brompton. What is exciting about St. Mellitus is its combination of charismatic and Anglo-Catholic worship in a non-residential theological college. At St. Mellitus one will find highly liturgical services with incense and evangelical-charismatic services in which students raise hands and sing worship choruses. St. Mellitus tries to combine all the various emphases within Anglicanism rather than emphasizing one tradition over another. In a recent article for the Daily Telegraph, Charles Moore suggested that St. Mellitus may be the way forward for the Church of England, no small praise.

In light of this recent history, Archbishop Justin Welby’s invitation to Chemin Neuf to be part of Lambeth Palace feels like a natural development, not an eruption. This move brings together Welby’s charismatic background, his interest in monastic spirituality and prayer, and his desire to foster ecumenical relations. Chemin Neuf is not only a Catholic Charismatic community, it has an ecumenical vocation and thus has many Protestant members, some of whom are part of the team at Lambeth. Thus it is a natural bridge between the charismatic, the Anglo-Catholic, and the ecumenical impulses within the CoE. In fact, as Graham Tomlin, the dean of St. Mellitus recently told me, one of the members of Chemin Neuf living at Lambeth is also a student at St. Mellitus.

If Pentecostalism is a form of Christian mysticism, then there is a natural affinity between it and Anglo-Catholicism, which has been the bearer of mysticism within the CoE. It also suggests that the Anglican charismatic movement could become a bridge between the Anglo-Catholic and evangelical sides of Anglicanism.

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