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The Pentecostal Movement A THREAT TO THE FAITH R. Saverino CO” NSD Come Holy Ghost fill all hearts! The Pentecostal Movement A Threat to the Faith Prontecostaiia is a new heresy which has infiltrated the Church in order to destroy it from within. It is the companion and supporter of Modernism. The two movements go hand in hand and assist each other in the work of demolition. Modernism is undermining the Church at the level of doctrine. Pentecostalism at the level of wor- ship. Both are well covered with the sheep’s skin. They have enough of Catholic terminology; pious phrases and external de- meanor to deceive even most cau- tious people. It is therefore neces- Sary to tear the skin off their bodies in order to expose the ravenous wolves within. Pentecostalism is a subversive movement, controlled and adroitly guided by hidden ene- mies of the Church in order to un- dermine it in view of its total de- struction. ITS CLAIMS Pentecostalism promises its adher- ents the same plenitude and expe- rience of the Holy Spirit which the Apostles had on Pentecost Day, along with at least some of the ex- ternal gifts they then received, principal among them, the gifts of tongues, healing and prophesy. This extraordinary experience is brought about by the “Baptism of the Spirit”, which they claim through the imposition of hands. The adjectives “Pentecostal” and “Charismatic” perfectly describe its claims. “Pentecostal” refers to the plenitude of the Holy Spirit received on the first Pentecost sunday while “Charismatic” refers to charisms or extraordinary sup, natural gifts which accompanied the reception of the Holy Spirit on that day. Many people are deceived here. They think the movement wants merely to offer special prayers and intensify devotion to the Third Per- son of the Blessed Trinity. It is not so. Its claims are much greater and | its effects, if true, by far surpass any of the effects produced by the other seven Sacraments institu by Christ. The contention here is that the Charismatic Movement and the Catholic Church cannot go to- gether. if the Church is true, then Pentecostalism is false, and vice versa, if Pentecostalism is true, the Catholic Church is false. But since the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic” and Roman Church cannot be false, it follows that Pentecostalism is false and must be rejected. { W. shall look at the movement from various angles. In so doing it will not be possible to avoid a cer- tain amount of repetition, which however will help the reader to form as complete a picture as possible of a movement which touches the very roots of Christian piety. 1. BASED ON SHIFTING SANDS Doctrinally the movement is based on shifting sands. Anyone, in fact, who would attempt to analyze it in the light of the infallible teaching of the Church and its authentic tradi. tion is faced with something that eludes his grasp. The Movement claims to be based on personal J experience and direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, two things which no one can check. It is, they say, bub- bling with life that it is incapable of being defined and circumscribed within the boundaries of set doc- trinal formulas. As a result, the Charismatic Movement has no firm body of doctrine, but only elusive affirmations, flimsy references to the New Testament, tentative and provisional formulations. It is an evanescent shadow! a leaders themselves admit this: “Theological and Pastoral Orientations on the Catholic Char- ismatic Renewal” is one of the most important documents of the Move- ment. It was prepared at Malines (Belgium), May 21-26, 1974, by a few international “experts” under the guidance of Cardinal Leo Sue- nens of Malines, who, the docu- ment informs us, “took an active part in the discussion and formula- tion of the text”. (Preface v). We are told that the document “is not exhaustive and that further studies are required. The present state- ment represents one of the main streams of thought. The text is of- fered as a tentative answer to the main problems raised by the Char- ismatic Renewal.” (Pref. V). In other words, the authors do not know what they are about, “the blind leading the blind”! When we turn to the text itself, we meet with a mass of elusive state- ments and semi-statements, tenta- tive answers and opinions. Hardly any distinctions are ever made. Yet distinctions are the very web and fabric of any theological argument. Without them it is impossible to sift truth from falsehood, opinion or hypothesis from firm doctrine. Take for instance this passage on page 21 entitled, Religious Experi- ence Belongs to the New Testament Witness — “The experience of The Holy Spirit was a mark of a Chris- tian by which the early Christians in part defined themselves in relation to others who were not Christians. They thought of themselves as rep- resentatives not of a new teaching, but of a new reality, the Holy Spirit. This Spirit was a living, experi- enced fact which they could not deny without denying that they were Christians. The Spirit was poured out on them and was expe- rienced by them individually and communally as a oo reality. Re- ligious experience, " it must be ad- mitted, belongs to the New Testa- ment witness; if one simply re- moved from the life of the Church its dimension, one has to that de- gree impoverished the Church”. It would be difficult to compress within one paragraph so much truth, untruth and half-truth. The reading is smooth, it sounds pious, and, to the unwary, also convinc- ing, but it is actually false! It is false to say that “the early Christians thought of themselves as representatives not of a new teaching, but of a new reality, the Holy Spirit”. The fact is that Christ ordered the Apostles to go and teach all nations. Now to teach is first, foremost and above all, to ac- cept and impart a body of doctrine, not to “experience” it, a thing which is very subjective and therefore very much liable to self-deception. “The Experience and Faith Thesis” is the thesis of Luther, not of Christ, who came to “give witness to the Truth and taught us a very definite body of doctrine with re- gard to the Father, Himself, the Holy Spirit, His Church, the Sacra- ments, etc. He exacted that his teaching should be accepted with blind faith and not “experienced”. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not be- lieve will be condemned”. (Mk. 16:16.) St. Paul wrote some very hard things to the Galatians be- cause, they had lapsed from his first teaching and told them that even if he himself or an angel were to preach to them a doctrine differ- ent from what he had preached to them at the beginning, he should be considered anathema. The Apos- tles and the first Christians were very much concerned with doctrine, and very little with feeling and ex- perience. Ts rest of the paragraph, and indeed the whole chapter dealing with “Faith and Experience”, is a masterpiece of confusion. Take this, for instance, “The Spirit was poured out on them and was expe- rienced by them individually and communally as a new reality”. This would imply, but the authors are very careful not to expose them- selves with a categorical statement, that all the Christians of the Apos- tolic Age received the effusion of the Holy Spirit and experienced Him in the same way and with the same mystical and miraculous phenom- ena of the Apostles on Pentecost Day. But this is false. There is nothing in the New Testament, in the writings of the Fathers, or any- where in the official teaching of the Church, that this was the case. The New Testament indeed mentions ‘some cases when the Holy Spirit did come down in a marvelous manner on the new Christians, but these were few and isolated cases. Even on the very first day, when 3000 people were baptized and be- came the Church’s first converts, there is no mention of any miracu- lous manifestation of the Holy Spirit in them. aR. the words quoted above ‘mix up two different things, on the one the intimate peace and joy which is the happy fortune of every true Christian, peace and joy which surpasses every sense and human understanding and which no one can take away from him; and on the other, the extraordinary mystical experience and some other wonder- ful charisms granted to the Apos- tles on Pentecost Day —and to cer- tain privileged souls down the cen- turies God does occasionally be- stow such divine things to the chil- dren of men, but they are in no way due to man, they have not been promised to every Christian and they are not necessary for one’s sanctification. 2. FORERUNNERS OF PENTECOSTALISM Today the Church is being riddled with what people think to be “new” insights and “new” doctrines. Ac- tually they are not new, but merely old errors dressed in new clothes, new only to those people, and they are legion, who have forgotten or have never known what the past was like. The inspired Wise Man affirms that “There is nothing new under the sun". No, not even Pen- tecostalism! It would be interesting to trace the origin, development and character of heresies, but that would take us too far. However, there is one thing common to them all. Their found. ers gnd their followers claimed

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