February /March 2017 - Vol. 90
Living Wasters
All who thirst draw water from the river of life
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, `Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was  not yet glorified.
–  John 7:37-39

In this issue
This year, 2017, marks two significant anniversaries: the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation and the spiritual renewal movements its spawned, and the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church which in turn gave rise to a new and vital ecumenical work among Pentecostals, Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox engaged in charismatic renewal.

Charismatic renewal of the whole Body of Christ
Dr. Vinson Synan, author of The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century, is an eminent historian who has studied the origin and development of the charismatic movements (the Pentecostals, Neo-Pentecostals, Catholic charismatic renewal, etc.) which began in the United States and then spread rapidly around the world. His articles in this issue of Living Bulwark (
Century of the Holy Spirit, and Building Charismatic Bridges) can give you a good understanding of the origins of these movements and why they have a key role in building bridges across the Christian traditions.

Steve Clark, in his article on Ecumenism and Charismatic Renewal, reminds us that "the Lord is at work through the charismatic renewal not simply in individual lives but in the corporate life of the church." The Second Vatican Council stated clearly that genuine renewal of the Catholic Church in the 20th century must address itself to the question of Christian unity. "Ecumenism is part of church renewal. In fact, those working for the full range of church renewal sooner or later must become concerned with ecumenism if they are to be authentically Catholic."

The goal is not simply to have a charismatic movement but to have a complete renewal of Christian life in the power of the Spirit. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not captive to any particular camp or individual movement. The baptism in the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts are for the whole body of Christ and for the normal life of the church.

Unity in the Holy Spirit
All the charismatic movements have been ecumenical from their beginnings. This should not surprise us because the Holy Spirit unites rather than divides, builds up rather than tears down, and restores what has been broken and lost. What unites us is greater than what divides us. The real source and power that unites us is the Holy Spirit. There can be real unity in the Spirit, even where divisions and disagreements exist, because true unity is rooted in the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit who renews, reforms, and transforms God's people into the image and likeness of the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

Rediscovering roots that refresh and bring spiritual life
There have been many renewal movements throughout the course of Christian history because the Lord constantly calls his church, the body of Christ, to deeper conversion and holiness of life. At times these movements have led to unintended divisions. This fact contradicts what Jesus asks the Father in John 17:23: “that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” That is why ongoing renewal must begin with repentance and reconciliation - confessing our sins and praying for forgiveness and healing for the wounds which have resulted from our divisions. As we name these sins we recognize how they have become a wall which divides us.

Commemoration of the 500th Reformation Anniversary
The commemoration this year of the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, is an opportunity for Christians of all traditions to first of all rejoice in what unites us - the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Gift and work of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Scriptures, Baptism, Apostles Creed, etc. - and to build bridges so we can grow in deeper relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ across the various church traditions. And to pray and seek the Lord together in fervent intercession and humble reconciliation for renewal and restoration of the broken body of Christ.

May we all drink deeply from the streams of living waters which the Lord Jesus provides for all who thirst for him. May we thirst for deeper holiness, greater purity, deeper knowledge of his truth and goodness, and a more fervent love and greater measure of expectant faith for what the Lord intends for each of us individually and together as his redeemed people, the body of Christ.

Sincerely in Christ,
Don Schwager
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