Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
February 4th, 2016 by Joel Watts

Fr Farley on the false dichotomy between charismata and institution

Symeon the New Theologian

Symeon the New Theologian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought this was interesting… You ever notice that those who are deeply charismatic (we can define that properly later) are anti-institutional while those who are pro-institution are anti-charismatic?

Sure, that is a disastrous generalization, but I wonder how many exceptions to the rule there are?

Anyway, Fr. Farley is an Orthodox priest. When I want to know about proper liturgy, I turn to the Orthodox.

This is what he writes,

It is illegitimate therefore to oppose the charismatic to the institutional. In the “institution” of the Church, all gifts are “charismatic,” and there is no dichotomy between them. For “all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from You, the Father of lights” (from the Prayer before the Ambo). All that we have comes from Him.’1. Lawrence R. Farley, The Epistle to the Romans: A Gospel for All (The Orthodox Bible Study Companion; Chesterton, IN: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2002), 160.]

There is this notion that Montanists were fighting against an episcopacy that prevented the Charismatic gifts of “old.” I’m not sure I completely buy that given St Irenaeus still spoke of “spiritual” Christians…not to mention Clement of Alexandria has his gnostics/mystics that sought a deeper connection to God.

In other place, an author declares that the Apostolic Succession is a charismatic gift. I would support that idea, wholly.

In other words, there is no need to separate the exuberant worship (I maintain that liturgy always contains worship, but worship is not always contained in the liturgy) and belief in an ongoing and active presence of God with the Church if the Church is now an institution, is there?


Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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