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Catholic Charismatic Renewal is the most conspicuously successful dimension (more than two million participants world-wide) of Neo-Pentecostalism, the Spirit-centered form of Christian living that is sweeping through the more traditional Christian confessions. Laurentin, a French theologian and religious journalist, approaches the movement as a ""participating observer"" and is fully conversant not only with the French ""Spiritual Renewal"" but with the groups and literature in Britain, Canada, and especially the US, the movement's originating center. For him the Charismatic Renewal is the most important force in the post-Vatican II era: it has intensified participation in the whole life of the Church and has been warmly received by the hierarchy, including Pope Paul. The heart of this account is a careful investigation of the interior transformation (""Baptism in the Spirit"") and external gifts (""charisms"") that are the substance of the pentecostal experience and instill some of the intensity of early Christianity. Though Laurentin does dwell on the spectacular gifts of tongue-speaking and healing, he also emphasizes other gifts (prophecy, teaching, discernment, works of charity) and their common root in an ongoing spiritual rebirth. He thinks that some aspects of the movement can be explained psychologically and that it is subject to perversions (fundamentalism, emotionalism) but that it is substantially an authentic outpouring of the Spirit in response to the crisis of aridity and uncertainty in modern Christianity. A rounded, sympathetic, and probing assessment.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1977
Publisher: Doubleday