Several readers wrote in after last week's newsletter, "Do non-charismatics 'Do' Holy Spirit Baptism?" to chide me for omitting the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians who have sought and taught the Spirit's empowering work in the Christian's life.
As I thought about filling that gap in this week's newsletter, it occurred to me: Why should I try to say again what has already been well said, and exceptionally well researched, by a scholar who has made the history of Holy Spirit baptism his life's work?
Stanley M. Burgess is a professor of religious studies at Southwest Missouri State University and editor of The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Zondervan, 2002). That indispensable tome displays prominently on its cover an abbreviated timeline of Pentecostal prehistory.
At the Dictionary's back, Burgess presents in an absorbing 8-page chart a much fuller timeline—a highly concentrated summary of his three-volume study, The Holy Spirit: Ancient Christian Traditions, Eastern Christian Traditions; and Medieval Roman Catholic and Reformation Traditions.
What follows is a sampling from that chart. As with the Spirit-seeking Protestants in last week's newsletter, none of these Catholic and Orthodox folks can be called "Pentecostal" or "charismatic"—this would be a misleading anachronism. But the career of each one speaks out for the claim that the Holy Spirit has empowered ordinary Christians through the centuries—with jaw-dropping results:
"Writers of the Didache and the Shepherd of Hermas [two inspirational books used widely in the early church] witness so much charismatic activity they find it necessary to distinguish between true and false prophets. At about the same time, ...