Owen, Philip Clifford (2007)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
The coming of charismatic renewal in the 1960s brought Pentecostal experience into the historic denominations of the church. From its beginning, there were those who perceived in the charismatic movement an ecumenical quality. Its ability to root across a wide spectrum of traditions, suggested that it might have a significant contribution to make towards the search for the visible unity of the Christian church. This thesis sets out to explore more precisely the ecumenical dimension of the charismatic movement. It largely focuses on the English Ecumenical scene, where there have been significant ecumenical developments in the last twenty years; but account is also taken of the broader canvas of the World Council of Churches and Koinonia ecclesiology. A special focus is made of the Roman Catholic Charismatic Renewal, to see how the movement impacted that church, and was critiqued by its own theologians in the early years of the 1970s. The study looks in some detail at baptism and episcopacy, to see how these traditional ecumenical sticking points could be resolved, when looked at through a charismatic lens. It then moves on to analyse a sample of leaders, who have both experienced charismatic renewal and engaged with it theologically, showing that the personal theological changes are quite significant. Finally the study takes account of where the Charismatic and Ecumenical Movements have reached in their contemporary trajectories; and suggests how the charismatic movement can still make a serious contribution to the search for visible Christian Unity. To do this, attention is still needed in the area of sacramental theology, but in particular to the nature of truth and its revelation through the Spirit. In that connection the thesis includes some samples of fresh biblical exegesis on familiar ecumenically relevant biblical passages. The study concludes that there is indeed an ecumenical dimension of charismatic renewal. However, before that dimension can forward the visible unity of the whole church, something of a largely lost earlier vision needs to be re-captured. When that has been done, there is hope that both the charismatic and ecumenical movements may discover their natural complimentarity and creative engagement.
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