Charismatic is an umbrella term used to describe those Christians who believe that the manifestations of the
Holy Spirit seen in the first century Christian Church, such as healing, miracles and "speaking in tongues," are available to contemporary Christians and ought to be experienced and practiced today.
The word charismatic is derived from the Greek word
charisma (meaning a grace or a gift) which is the term used in the Bible to describe a wide range of supernatural experiences (especially in 1 Corinthians 12-14).
Often confused with
Pentecostalism (by which it was inspired), Charismatic Christianity tends to differ in key aspects: most Charismatics reject the preeminence given by Pentecostalism to "speaking in tongues," reject what they consider
legalism sometimes associated with Pentecostalism, and often stay in their existing denominations such as Roman Catholic Charismatics.
Because of the continual cross-over between Pentecostalism and the modern Charismatic movement, it is increasingly difficult to speak of Charismatics and Pentecostals as being part of separate movements. Yet because neither movement is monolithic, it
is also unfair to speak of them as being one movement either. The difference is primarily one of origins. Beliefs of the two groups are very similar; each movement, however, is unique in its historical beginnings. Having been conceived in unique contexts,
the difference may secondarily be described in terms of contrasting church cultures evidenced through each movement's manners and customs (i.e., worship styles, preaching styles, altar ministry methods). Until a more acceptable broad nomenclature
is used, it needs to be understood that both movements share a great deal in common, and yet can sometimes be clearly differentiated.
While it is difficult to locate the place and time that Charismatic Christianity began to influence the mainstream churches, Dennis Bennett, an American Episcopalian, is often cited as the movement's seminal influence. Bennett was the Rector at St
Mark's Episcopal Church in Van Nuys California when he announced to the congregation in 1960 that he had received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Soon after this he was ministering in Vancouver where he ran many workshops and seminars about
the work of the Holy Spirit.
 This influenced tens of thousands of Anglicans world-wide and also began a renewal movement within the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
In the 1960s and 1970s there was a renewed interest in the supernatural gifts of the Spirit in mainstream churches such as the Episcopal, Lutheran and Catholic churches. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal was focused in individuals like Kevin Ranaghan and
his group of followers at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Dennis Bennett was Ranaghan's counterpart in the Episcopal Church.
The Charismatic Renewal movement in the Eastern Orthodox Church never exerted the influence that it did in other mainstream churches. Individual priests, such as Fr. Eusebius Stephanouof the Greek Orthodox Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, founder
of the Brotherhood of St. Symeon the New Theologian, Fr. Athanasius Emmert of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Fr. Boris Zabrodsky of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America, founder of the Orthodox Spiritual Renewal Services and editor
Theosis" journal, were the more prominent leaders of the Charismatic renewal in Orthodoxy.
On an international level, David du Plessis along with a host of others (including Lutheran and even Southern Baptist ministers) promoted the movement. The latter did not last long with their denominations, either volunteering to leave or being asked
to do so. But in the Episcopal and Catholic churches priest and ministers were permitted to continue on in their parishes, provided they did not allow these concerns to create major divisions within their congregations.
While there are many charismatics within established denominations, many have left or have been forced out and have joined either more progressive Pentecostal churches or formed their own churches or denominations. The house church movement in the UK
Vineyard Movement in the USA are examples of a formal Charismatic structure. The Hillsong Church in Australia is an example of a Pentecostal church that has embraced Charismatic belief and practices, which has, in turn,
influenced the Australian
Assemblies of God denomination. In New Zealand, the pre-eminent Pentecostal movement has been the New Life Churches, although other local and international Pentecostal denominations are also well established.
Since the mid 1980s, the Charismatic movement has made some notable changes in its theology and emphases. This process has been termed
The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit and has been typified by the ministry of C. Peter Wagner,
Word of Faith Theology and the Toronto blessing phenomenon. Some opponents of the Charismatic movement have noted that these recent trends have been influenced heavily by the
Latter Rain Movement of the 1950s within the Pentecostal churches — a movement that was officially declared heresy by The Assemblies of God at the time.
There appears to be a great deal of evidence which shows that, since 1975, the Charismatic movement has been influenced by the Latter Rain Movement and its influential teachers (such as William M. Branham). ^[
citation\ needed]^ This can be explained by the desire of Charismatic Christians to enter into fellowship with those within the church who
have experienced similar forms of Religious ecstasy. As a result of this, Charismatics came into contact with both mainstream Pentecostalism as well as the Latter Rain Movement. It appears that modern-day Charismatics and Pentecostals are far more united
in experience and theology because both movements have adopted elements of Latter Rain teachings.
Because the Charismatic movement is not monolithic, it cannot easily be examined or judged as one entity. As a result, vast theological differences can be found in the movement, with some parts appearing to have quite orthodox beliefs while others seem
to embrace more heterodox ideas. Some charismatic groups such as newfrontiers lead by Terry Virgo are Reformed in their theology.
Virtually all Charismatic Christians believe that the presence of God can be experienced in a supernatural way by believers, usually during times of intense spiritual reflection (such as during a worship service, a small group meeting or personal prayer).
The singing of praise songs is an important element in this belief.
Nevertheless, there are two primary beliefs which define the charismatic movement. The first is the belief that the "charismatic gifts" of the Holy Spirit, such as tongues, prophecy, and miraculous healing, are still
in effect today. Charismatics also hold that sometimes Bible passages are misinterpreted in order to declare that charismatic gifts are not valid for today's believers.
The second is the belief that the
Baptism of the Holy Spirit is separate from both salvation and water
baptism. Both of these primary beliefs are characteristic of the Pentecostal movement as well, but are less dogmatically held by Charismatics. Many Charismatics, while they may experience "speaking in tongues," may not
view this as being the Pentecostal phenomenon of Spirit Baptism.
Some Charismatic groups are more
Fundamentalist, while some are less so. These churches, movements and groups all have in common that they believe and promote the supernatural manifestations of the Spirit in their meetings and lives.