But by my spirit: A history of the charismatic renewal in Christchurch 1960-1985
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Charismatic renewal was a world-wide religious phenomenon affecting the historic churches from the early 1960s onwards. It was separate, but related to antecedents in evangelicalism, revivalism and pentecostalism. This study is a history of charismatic renewal as it appeared and evolved in the South Island city of Christchurch, New Zealand, between 1960 and 1985. The central argument is that the Christchurch renewal reached the zenith of its organisational cohesion in the mid-1970s but the momentum ebbed thereafter. What happened in the city across these years to build the impetus is perhaps unique within New Zealand. The thesis traces these developments and considers how such a significant religious phenomenon was grafted into and affected established ecclesiological constituencies. This is believed to be the first study of its type to place the renewal within a fully historical, inter-denominational and regional context. It is a study of how renewal found expression in one city; of how and why it grew and of its fragmentation and relative decline. This focus on the local context reveals the finely textured and nuanced nature of the phenomenon. It concludes that the charismatic renewal in Christchurch stimulated qualitative growth within various churches and denominations and greatly invigorated the Christian message. It did not, however, arrest wider societal trends towards secularism, religious pluralism, and declining attendance in the historic churches. The enthusiasm and energy of the Christchurch renewal waned in the face of pervasive social, economic and political change in the mid-1980s.