Item 1540b - A critical analysis

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Reference code

CA ON00389 1-9-1-1540b

Title

A critical analysis

Date(s)

  • June 3, 1967 (Creation)

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4 p. of textual records

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(1932-1996)

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This item consists of a 4 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled ‘A Critical Analysis’ published in Ave Maria National Catholic Weekly, 3 June 1967, p. 11-13, 30. Nouwen discusses the rise and popularity of the Pentecostal movement at Notre Dame University in Indiana and states that the article ‘is an attempt to clarify certain issues and to be of some help in an honest evaluation’. Nouwen looks at the phenomenon from three perspectives: 1) A Historical Perspective: He writes of the past and current religious atmosphere at Notre Dame. Here he credits an article by Killian McDonnell. O.S.B. (The Ecumenical Significance of the Pentecostal Movement) where there is a discussion of the ‘sobriety’ and ‘objectivity’ of Roman Catholic liturgy in contrast to the more emotional freedom and sense of belonging in the Pentecostal services. Nouwen suggests that this latter may answer a need in the new more ambitious and competitive atmosphere at the university. 2) A Psychological Perspective. Here Nouwen asks how we can evaluate this new movement by asking several questions: Does it heal or hurt? He suggests that evidence leads to a conclusion that while there may be a short term benefit ‘it is very doubtful that it will cure deep mental suffering’. He also asks ‘Can it be dangerous’? He states that ‘for those who are not prepared every inducement of a strong emotion can break and do serious harm. He also suggests that for those who do not receive the ‘gifts’ such as tongues or joy there then may be the question ‘what is wrong with me’. This leads to the need for direction, guidance and care. Finally he asks: Does it create community? Nouwen suggests that the powerful emotions of belonging and sharing, may risk creating a community that is inward and elitist. ‘the Pentecostal movement creates a situation of oneness and togetherness, which makes the community highly self-centered and hinders the development of the autonomous Christian…’. 3) A Theological Perspective: here Nouwen is asking if the Pentecostal movement is reflecting the theological developments of Vatican II and suggests that it may not meet the new stress on incarnational theology. He concludes the article by stating: ‘the new wave of Pentecostalism at Notre Dame University obviously answers a burning need in many students. It worries many who are concerned about the effects on the mental health of some…It places heavy responsibility on the leaders of the movement, and it disturbs many theologians’ but it also offers a chance to come to a new realization of the crucial importance of the valid religious experience – as an authentic part of the Christian life’.

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Published in Ave Maria National Catholic Weekly, 3 June 1967, p. 11-13, 30.
The article was published in Intimacy : pastoral psychological essays / Henri J. M. Nouwen. Imprint Notre Dame, Ind. : Fides Publishers, c1969 as Chapter 5, 'Pentecostalism on campus'

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2000 01

Location

Box 294

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