Dale Coulter– A Charismatic Invasion of Anglicanism?

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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One comment on “Dale Coulter– A Charismatic Invasion of Anglicanism?

  1. New Reformation Advocate says:

    I basically agree with Dale Coulter. There has long been talk, at least among orthodox Anglicans in North America, of the concept of “Three Streams, One River.” That is, that we are witnessing a marvelous converge of three streams of spirituality that are increasingly flowing as tributaries into a common river: i.e., the evangelical, catholic, and charismatic streams (or if you prefer, the Protestant, Catholic, and Pentecostal streams). Now of course, when three streams (or rivers) come together, there is naturally a good deal of turbulence at first, before things settle down (e.g., think of the three rivers that join together in Pittsburgh to form the mighty Ohio River).

    However, I myself prefer to reconceptualize the relationship of the three traditions in terms of three dimensions of reality, or what I like to call “3-D Christianity.” In this model, the three traditions don’t always flow in the same direction or exist on the same plane, nor will the differences between them ever disappear as the convergence progresses. There are obviously important ways in which, on the contrary, a sort of Continental Divide exists within Anglicanism, as within Western Christianity as a whole, a fundamental divide between the Protestant and Catholic worlds, where the rivers in fact flow into different oceans.

    But my point is that I agree with Dale Coulter that the three are actually surprisingly compatible. Indeed, I claim that all three are essentail to being fully biblical, for ultimately, the evangelical, catholic, and charismatic dimensions are all necessary and end up complementing each other, when rightly understood and practiced.

    David Handy+
    3-D Christian