Maybe you’ve heard of “charismatics,” but have you heard of “charismaniacs”?
Jesus prayed (in John 17) that the church would be “one.” Sadly, that unity is strained in the area of charismatic gifts, also known as spiritual gifts.
You have people on one side arguing that certain dramatic spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, miraculous healing, and prophecies were only permitted by God in the first century as a means of getting the church off to a strong start and also for validating which books were supposed to be in the Bible.
On the other side, you have today’s Pentecostals, charismatics, and people who engage in “prophetic” worship and ministry who all argue that such spiritual gifts are still being actively and appropriately practiced today. They say that the same Holy Spirit who enabled Christians to practice those spiritual gifts in the first century is still enabling Christians to practice them now.
Some of the non-charismatics respond by making fun of the charismatics by calling them “charismaniacs” or “charisma-ticks” and by accusing them of slipping into “charismania.”
Some of the charismatics respond unkindly by labeling non-charismatics as “charisphobics” or even the frozen chosen (see sense 3 of the definition)—both of which are terms for people who are unwilling to even experiment with some of the dramatic spiritual gifts.
It’s heart-breaking to see so much strife and division.
One of the unexpected uses of a dictionary such as the Dictionary of Christianese is to learn what topics are important to a given group of people. The words that are used in Christianese strikingly reveal the topics that are important to Christians. The fact that words such as “charismania” and “charisphobic” even exist in the Christianese vocabulary shows that division over the use of spiritual gifts is a serious issue.
Charismania and charismaniac were both coined in early 1970s and were used by both Protestants and Roman Catholics. At that time many Christians were talking about the “Charismatic movement” that was occurring in the mainline denominations, in which many Christians were getting back in touch with spiritual gifts that are described in the Acts of the Apostles. Charisma-tick and charisphobic came a little later, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These four “charisma–” terms aren’t used quite so often now, but they point to a time in the recent past of an intense interest and debate in the spiritual gifts.
charismania n. [charismatic + mania ‘an obsession’] An excessive enthusiasm for the practice of certain spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, miraculous healing, and prophecies; a sensationalizing of the practice of such gifts.
The term charismania was most likely coined by Edward D. O’Connor (see citations for 1971a, 1971b, 1978), though credit for coining the term is sometimes given to Kenneth C. Kinghorn (see citations for 1974b, 1975; also see 1982 citation at *charisphobia).
See also *charismaniac; *charismatic chaos; *charisma-tick; *charisphobia; *charisphobic; *hothouse spirituality.
O’Connor The Pentecostal Movement in the Catholic Church
226 : “Charismania” consists in attributing excessive importance to the charisms. 1971 Triumph
VI. 38 [review of book in 1971 citation] : Others fall victim to what he [=O’Connor] wittily names charismania
, the attachment of undue importance to charisms. 1974
Walsh A Key to Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church
I. 77 : What is the difference between “openness to the gifts” and “charismania”? Being “open to the gifts” means that the person sees charismatic gifts as normal activities of the Holy Spirit, to which he yields in a childlike way. 1974 United Methodists Today
I. 8 : Kenneth Kinghorn, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Ky., has coined two words to characterize the unfortunate responses. His words are charisphobia
…. Dr. Kinghorn suggests [that] persons suffering from charismania have “an obsession with the gifts [of the Spirit]” and often look upon others who have not received any of the gifts as second-class Christians. 1975
Kinghorn Fresh Wind of the Spirit
111,112 : In describing what I mean, I want to coin two words: charisphobia
and charismania. Charis
is a Greek noun which means “favor, gift, or grace.” From this Greek word we get a currently popular word, “charismatic.” … Other Christians have charismania. These Christians seem obsessed with the gifts of the Spirit, especially some of the more spectacular ones such as speaking with tongues. 1978
Hummel Fire in the Fireplace: Contemporary Charismatic Renewal
174 : O’Connor describes two major errors of what he terms “charismania.” The first is the mentality which views the charismatic as the principal, if not the sole, criterion of spiritual excellence. It identifies spiritual growth with abundant exercise of the charisms, especially the most spectacular. 1981
Grossman Stewards of God’s Grace
148 : The American critics of the charismatic renewal movement have coined a word for it: “charismania.” Here too it is a matter of finding the golden mean. Paul challenges us to strive for the gifts of grace. At the same time he brings before our vision the whole range of charisms, including both the miracle gifts and the gifts of administration, the gifts of the word but the gifts of action as well. 1981
Towns, Vaughan, Seifert The Complete Book of Church Growth
200 : Hamilton uses the word “charismania” to describe the fixation of those who are preoccipied with the gifts and develop a consuming desire for feeling
He adds that Paul faced “charismania” in Corinth. 1982
Poloma The Charismatic Movement: Is There a New Pentecost?
208 : One minister expressed a concern about “charismania,” but he appeared equally concerned about “charisphobia.” 1983
Smith Charisma vs. Charismania
Harding, Mohney Vision 2000: Planning for Ministry into the Next Century
40 : By “charismania” we mean an unbalanced focus upon the more unusual gifts of the Spirit (tongues, interpretation, healing, miracles) and a blindness to the central role of “agape” love (1 Corinthians 13). 1994 Third Way
(Sep.) 7 : Reports of “charismania” and revival sweeping through British churches have to be put into context. 1997 Charisma and Christian Life
XXII. iss. 6–11 62 : If you have been burnt by “charismania” and long to see God’s character in the body of Christ, this book is for you. If you have struggled to bring unity to the body of Christ without sacrificing the importance of spiritual gifts, this book is for you. 1997
Howard Charismania: When Christian Fundamentalism Goes Wrong
Packer Keep in Step with the Spirit:
2/e 156 : “Charismania.” This is Edward D. O’Connor’s word for the habit of mind that measures spiritual health, growth, and maturity by the number and impressiveness of people’s gifts, and spiritual power by public charismatic manifestations. 2006
Keller, Ruether Encyc. of Women and Religion in North America
467 : As a typical example, witness Robert Liichow, a former charismatic minister who now refers to the charismatic movement as “charismania” and, as an evangelical zealous to purge the wheat from the chaff, is one of its most public and and vehement critics. 2007
Duhart Acceptable to God
187 : They are the “kings” of Charismania, working crowds into an excited frenzy, and shamelessly begging for donations while trying to convince us they are men and women of faith. 2007
13 : My favorite prayer book of all time is the Psalter, King David’s outrageously honest compilation of worship, intercession, grumbling and gratitude…. Groups that do permit a little messy questioning and occasional moaning often seem embarrassed by [King] David’s terminal “charismania”—his irrepressible eruptions of jubilation, his moments of religious imperialism, his naked dancing in the street. 2008
Bentley The Journey into the Miraculous
000 : The Holy Spirit taught me that I didn’t need to do all the talking, praying, and the “charismania” acts or the praying in tongues, devotions, and intense prayer to make Him come down. He wanted to be with me more than I wanted to be with Him. 2008
Mangis Signature Sins: Taming Our Wayward Hearts
203 : While some Christian streams feel like home, others feel foreign and even frightening. Take my resistance to the charismatic tradition. Although I wish it were not true, I am uncomfortable with charismatic worship. In my memory I still hear all those sermons about the danger of getting caught up in the emotionalism of charismania.
charismaniac n. [charismatic + maniac ‘someone who is obsessed’] A person who attaches excessive importance to the practice of certain spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, miraculous healing, and prophecies.
See also *charismania; *charisma-tick.
Wead Catholic Charismatics: Are They for Real?
90 : The exhibitionist getting this kind of attention may become a martyr in the eyes of other “charismaniacs” who interpret criticism of him as an affront against “the moving of the Spirit.” 1974
Hill, Harrell How to Live Like a King’s Kid
143 : Our little group of charismaniacs prayed that prayer seven nights a week for four years, and then the miracle happened. Pastor Frank Downing of Belvedere Baptist Church began acting in a most peculiar manner, conducting a healing service every Thursday morning right in the church, and people were getting healed all over the place. We got just what we asked for—a pastor with all nine gifts of the Holy Spirit in evidence in his ministry. 1975
Esses The Next Visitor to Planet Earth
139 : You should be able to tell Jesus freaks, charismaniacs, two miles away. They walk around happy all the time, never saying just plain, “Good morning,” or “Good afternoon,” or “Good night,” but saying, “Praise the Lord!” or “Thank You, Jesus!” 1976
Hill, Harrell How to Be a Winner
160 : Three of us kooky charismaniacs went to the board of deacons and brought up an idea we had gotten out of the Bible. We wanted to pray for God to make the space available to us. “Oh, we’ve prayed already,” the deacons assured us. 1982
Sweet New Life in the Spirit
86 : Charismaniacs, on the other hand, are those people who so lust after religious experiences, seeking one spinal eruption of goosebumps after another. 1987
Walker Enemy Territory: The Christian Struggle for the Modern World
32 : There are many people in classical Pentecostal churches and the renewal movement who are worried about an over-emphasis on exorcisms. As David Tomlinson put it, “We want to be charismatics not charismaniacs.” 1994
McIntosh Keep the Flame Burning: Igniting the People of God for the Next Move of the Spirit
74 : This verse [=Matthew 16:19] is usually left in the hands of a few “Charismaniacs” who go around binding anything that is not nailed down. 1999
Hart Truth Aflame: A Balanced Theology for Evangelicals and Charismatics
41 : Evangelical rationalists, on the one hand, seek to substitute the Word for the Spirit. “Charismaniacs,” on the other, credit the Spirit for bizarre teachings that have no relation to Scripture. 2005
Rosen My Fundamentalist Education: A Memoir of a Divine Girlhood
151 : Every few years she’d disavow the Pentecostals entirely and declare herself a “Charismatic” Christian—an offshoot of Pentecostalism that places more emphasis on praise and less on speaking in tongues. (“Charismaniacs,” we called them, behind her back.) 2008
Baudhuin Hidden Manna, Hidden Light: Secret Strategies for Living
69 : My wife has now become a “charismaniac,” as my former church had labeled charismatics. 2010
Mossa Already There: Letting God Find You
46 : I became involved in the Catholic charismatic movement, a movement within the church itself that, like Pentecostal churches, placed a lot of emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit. It was dynamic and exciting, filled with boisterous prayer, praise, and singing about God and life in the Spirit. Its practitioners even jokingly referred to themselves as “charismaniacs.” 2012
Toledo Children and the Supernatural
73 : I know some of you reading this may feel uncomfortable, alarmed, or skeptical about some of these stories. I can totally understand. I am passionate about what is authentic and pure, and in fear of looking like a crazy “charismaniac,” I had to come to terms with my own discomfort with the way God moves sometimes. 2012
Johnson The Shift: Moving from Religion to Relationship
84 : I am a charismatic Christian. I am not
a charismaniac. So what’s the difference? … The charismaniac is generally self-centered and not Jesus-centered when it comes to ministry. The charismaniac will usually seek the experience of the gifts but not seek worship of the One who is the gift giver. You can see plenty of that on television, and it gives true charismatic Christians a bad rap. A charismaniac will not be solidly grounded in the Word nor generally accountable to anyone other than himself and Jesus.
charisphobia n. Also charisma-phobia. [charismatic + phobia ‘a fear’] A critical attitude toward the practice of certain spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, miraculous healing, and prophecies; a sensationalizing of such gifts; a fearful attitude toward the practice of such gifts.
See also *charismania; *charisphobic.
• 1974 United Methodists Today I. 8 : Kenneth Kinghorn, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Ky., has coined two words to characterize the unfortunate responses. His words are charisphobia and charismania…. Dr. Kinghorn suggests [that] persons suffering from charismania have “an obsession with the gifts [of the Spirit]” and often look upon others who have not received any of the gifts as second-class Christians. 1975 Kinghorn Fresh Wind of the Spirit 111,112 : In describing what I mean, I want to coin two words: charisphobia and charismania. Charis is a Greek noun which means “favor, gift, or grace.” From this Greek word we get a currently popular word, “charismatic.” … Other Christians have charismania. These Christians seem obsessed with the gifts of the Spirit, especially some of the more spectacular ones such as speaking with tongues. 1982 Poloma The Charismatic Movement: Is There a New Pentecost? 208 : One minister expressed a concern about “charismania,” but he appeared equally concerned about “charisphobia.” 1982 Sweet New Life in the Spirit 86 : A sober assessment of the neo-Pentecostal phenomenon is only possible if we steer clear of the two ailments coined by Kenneth Cain Kinghorn, “charisphobia” and “charismania.” 1990 Murphree Serving in Faith: The Road to SIFAT 106 : At the very time the charismatic movement was uniting diversified groups in Puerto Rico, it was splitting churches in Alabama. Christians were polarized, strongly for or strongly against. Most reacted against “charismania” with “charisphobia.” 1991 Harding, Mohney Vision 2000: Planning for Ministry into the Next Century 40 : Visionary congregations welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. These dynamic congregations recognize the dangers of “charisphobia” and “charismania.” By “charisphobia,” we mean an unbiblical, unwarranted fear of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. This may be present because of unfounded fears that the gifts of the Spirit will divide the church or will have a negative effect upon certain persons. Some charisphobia is the result of abrasive relationships between persons who identify themselves as “charismatic” Christians and those who might call themselves “traditional” Christians. 1995 Witherington Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians 263 : I suspect that Paul would tell us that just as “charismania,” an overemphasis on prophecy or tongues, is not healthy, neither is “charisphobia,” the anathematizing of all such gifts. We are not called to act in the chaotic and selfish fashion the Corinthians did, but we are also not called on to quench the Spirit and arrange Christian worship so that there is no room for the spontaneous Word from above to be shared. 1998 Herald of Holiness LXXXVII. 58 : Perhaps an epidemic of “charisma-phobia” has caused us to change our style of worship to the high church model, wherein any expression of emotion or spontaneity is looked upon with disdain. 2007 Schroeder Walking in Your Anointing: Knowing That You Are Filled with the Holy Spirit viii : David steers a biblically balanced and sensitive course between charismania and charismaphobia—no easy task!
charisphobic n. [see *charisphobia] A person who strongly believes that certain spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, miraculous healing, and prophecies are no longer possible; a person who is critical or fearful of the practice of such spiritual gifts by other Christians.
See also *charismania; *charismaniac; *charisphobia.
• 1982 Sweet New Life in the Spirit 86 : Charisphobics are those people with such an irrational fear of charismatic activities that they have an eleventh command: “Thou shalt not commit a Pentecost.” Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, for example, has posted in its men’s and women’s dormitories a set of “Emergency Instructions” for use in disasters like fire, tornado, air raid, bomb threat, suicide, and “charismatic activity.” 1986 Bryant Rediscovering the Charismata: Building Up the Body of Christ Through Spiritual Gifts 46 : Consequently, two camps have formed: the “charisphobics” and the “charismanics,” both hurling accusations at each other, misunderstanding one another, and confusing the silent majority in between. 1991 Allen Congregations in Conflict 104 : The charisphobic has his or her own set of problems and prejudices. Though he or she may claim otherwise, this person often lacks a genuine openness to all that God may have for him or her. The charisphobic can be guilty of limiting the Lord, and is at risk of missing the full measure of spiritual blessing intended for him or her. This person’s fear of the charismaniac and charismatic issues has the potential to keep him or her away from achieving genuine spiritual depth. 2002 Huddleston Spiritual Jetstreams 37 : I want to suggest a new word be added to our vocabulary. The word is “Charisphobic.” That is, the fear of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I believe that we are living in what has come to be known as the “post-Christian era” due to the total neglect of the Holy Spirit and his place in our lives. 2011 Jaggard Developing Spiritual Success: The Journey of Discipleship, the Path of Spiritual and Relational Vitality, and the Future of the Church 82 : Today there are some charisphobics who forbid speaking in tongues by declaring through sermons (ironically utilizing the spiritual gift of preaching) that the age of spiritual giftedness ended in 100 ad with the death of the last original apostle, John.
charisma-tick n. \’kaer-is-ma-’tik\ [charismatic + tick ‘an annoying person’; possibly formed by analogy with poli-tick ‘an insufferable politician’] A person with an excessive, annoying enthusiasm for the practice of certain spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, miraculous healing, and prophecies.
See also *charismaniac.
• 1976 Gardner The Mouse That Glowed 189 : Then in the hospital, I read the Bible as never before, because the words just seemed to jump out and come alive. It’s like having twenty-twenty vision times two: X-ray eyes! I had to tell somebody about it, so I told the nurses, the doctors, the orderlies. You know what, some of them already had it! The others called me a “charisma-tick,” and I just laughed.