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Wat is een charisma?
Definitie van Jan van Beeck ofm

Iuvenescit Ecclesia

paus Franciscus
Over charisma's

Congregatie voor de Geloofsleer over charisma in het Nieuwe Testament

Uit Iuvenescit Ecclesia, 2016

(van deze tekst is een Nederlandse vertaling beschikbaar op

I. The Charisms according to the New Testament

Grace and charism

4. “Charism” is the transcription of the Greek word chárisma, which, found frequently in the Pauline letters, also appears in the first letter of Peter. This term has a general sense of “generous gift” and, in the New Testament, is used only in reference to the divine gifts. In some passages, the context offers a more precise meaning (cf. Rm 12:6; 1 Cor 12:4-31; 1 Pt 4:10), whose fundamental trait is the differentiated distribution of gifts.[12] In modern languages this is also the prevailing sense of words derived from this Greek term. Unlike the fundamental graces such as sanctifying grace, or the gifts of faith, of hope, and of charity, that are indispensable for every Christian, an individual charism need not be a gift given to all (cf. 1 Cor 12:30). The charisms are particular gifts that the Spirit distributes “as He wishes” (1 Cor 12:11). In order to give an account of the necessary presence of the diverse charisms in the Church, the two most explicit texts (Rm 12:4-8; 1 Cor 12:12-30) make use of a comparison with the human body: “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them” (Rm 12:4-6). Between the members of the body, this diversity does not constitute an anomaly to avoid, on the contrary, it is both necessary and productive. It makes possible the fulfilment of diverse life-giving functions. “If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is there are many parts but one body” (1 Cor 12:19-20). A close relationship between the particular charisms (charísmata) and the grace of God is affirmed by Paul in Rm 12:6 and by Peter in 1 Pt 4:10.[13] The charisms are recognized as a manifestation of the “multiform grace of God” (1 Pt 4:10). They are not, therefore, simply human capacities. Their divine origin is expressed in different ways: according to some texts they come from God (cf. Rm 12:3; 1 Cor 12:28; 2 Tm 1:6; 1 Pt 4:10); according to Eph 4:7, they come from Christ; according to 1 Cor 12:4-11, from the Spirit. As this last passage is the most insistent (it mentions the Spirit seven times), the charisms are usually presented as “manifestations of the Spirit” (1 Cor 12:7). It is clear, nonetheless, that this attribution is not exclusive and does not contradict the preceding two. The gifts of God always imply the entire Trinitarian horizon, as theology has affirmed from its beginning, both in the West and in the East.[14]

Gifts given “for the good of all” and the primacy of charity

5. In 1 Cor 12:7 Paul declares that “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is givenfor some benefit”. Many translations add “for the benefit of all” because the majority of charisms mentioned by the Apostle, even if not all, are directly for the benefit of all. This orientation toward the edification of all has been well understood, for example, by St. Basil the Great, when he says: “These gifts are received by each one more for others than for themselves […]. In the common life it is necessary that the power of the Holy Spirit, given to one, be transmitted to all. The one who lives for oneself, may have a charism, but it remains useless, hidden away inactive, because it remains buried within the self”.[15] Paul, nevertheless, does not deny that a charism may be useful solely for the person who has received it. Such is the case with speaking in tongues, which, in this respect, is different from the gift of prophecy.[16] The charisms that have a common usefulness, be they charisms of the word (of wisdom, of knowledge, of prophecy, of exhortation) or of action (of powers, of ministry, of governance); they also have a personal usefulness, because their service of the common good favors the growth of charity in those who possess them. Paul observes, regarding this, that, if one lacks charity, even the highest charisms do not help their recipient (cf. 1 Cor 13:1-3). A stern passage from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 7:22-23) expresses the same reality: the exercise of the more visible charisms (prophecy, exorcisms, miracles) can unfortunately coexist with the absence of an authentic relationship with the Savior. Consequently, Peter as much as Paul insists on the necessity of directing all of the charisms towards charity. Peter offers a general rule: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pt 4:10). Paul is concerned in particular about the use of the charisms in gatherings of the Christian community and says: “Everything should be done for building up” (1 Cor 14:26).

The variety of charisms

6. In some texts we find a list of charisms, sometimes summarized (cf. 1 Pt 4:10), other times more detailed (cf. 1 Cor 12:8-10, 28-30; Rm 12:6-8). Among those listed there are exceptional gifts (of healing, of mighty deeds, of variety of tongues) and ordinary gifts (of teaching, of service, of beneficence), ministries for the guidance of the community (cf. Eph 4:11) and gifts given through the imposition of the hands (cf. 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6). It is not always clear that these gifts are considered “charisms” in the strict sense of the term. The exceptional gifts mentioned repeatedly in 1 Cor 12-14, disappear from the latter texts: the list of Rm 12:6-8 presents only the less visible charisms, that have an ongoing usefulness for the life of the Christian community. None of these lists claims to be exhaustive. Elsewhere, for example, Paul suggests that the choice of celibacy for the love of Christ should be understood as the fruit of a charism, as should that of matrimony (cf. 1 Cor 7:7 in the context of the whole chapter). The examples he gives depend on the level of development reached in the Churches of the time and are susceptible, therefore, to further additions. The Church, in fact, always grows over time thanks to the vivifying action of the Spirit.

The proper exercise of the charisms in the ecclesial community

7. From the above observations, it emerges that the Scriptural texts do not present an opposition between the diverse charisms; rather they see a harmonic connection and complimentarity between them. The antithesis between an institutional Church of the Judeo-Christian type and a charismatic Church of the Pauline type, affirmed by certain reductive ecclesial interpretations, in reality lacks a foundation in the texts of the New Testament. Far from situating the charisms on one side and the institutional entity on the other, opposing a Church “of charity” and a Church “of the institution,” Paul gathers in one list the recipients of the charisms of authority and teaching, of charisms that are useful to the ordinary life of the community, and of the more striking charisms.[17] Paul himself describes his ministry as an Apostle as a ministry “of the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:8). He feels invested with authority (exousía), given him by the Lord (cf. 2 Cor 10:8; 13:10), an authority that extends also towards charismatics. Both he and Peter give the charismatics instructions on the way to exercise their charisms. Their attitude is, above all, one of favorable welcoming; they are convinced of the divine origin of the charisms; they do not, however, consider these gifts as authorizing one to withdraw the obedience owed towards the ecclesial hierarchy, or as bestowing the right to an autonomous ministry. Paul shows himself to be aware of the drawbacks that a disordered exercise of the charisms can provoke in the Christian community.[18] The Apostle, therefore, intervenes, with authority, to establish precise rules for the exercise of charisms “in the Church” (1 Cor 14:19-28), that is, in the gatherings of the community (cf. 1 Cor 14:23-26). He limits, for example, the exercise of glossolalia.[19] Similar rules are also given for the gift of prophecy (cf. 1 Cor14:29-31).[20]

Hierarchical and charismatic gifts

8. In summary, from an examination of the biblical texts regarding the charisms, it emerges that the New Testament, while not offering a complete systematic teaching, presents affirmations of great importance that orientate ecclesial reflection and practice. One must also recognize that we do not find a univocal use of the term “charism”; rather a variety of meanings are observable, which theological reflection and the Magisterium help us to understand in the context of the complete vision of the mystery of the Church. In the present document the attention is placed on the binomial highlighted in paragraph 4 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium which speaks of “hierarchical gifts and charismatic gifts”. The relationship between them appears close and well-articulated. They have the same origin and the same purpose. They are gifts of God, of the Holy Spirit, of Christ, given to contribute, in diverse ways, to the edification of the Church. He who has received the gift to lead in the Church has also the responsibility of keeping watch over the good exercise of the other charisms, in such a manner that all contribute to the good of the Church and to its evangelizing mission, knowing well that the Holy Spirit distributes the charismatic gifts to whomever he desires (cf. 1 Cor 12:11). The same Spirit gives to the hierarchy of the Church the capacity to discern the authenticity of the charisms, to welcome them with joy and gratitude, to promote them generously, and to accompany them with vigilant paternity. History itself testifies to the multiform action of the Spirit, through which the Church, “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the capstone” (Eph 2:20), lives her mission in the world.


Aansluitend op deze tekst behandeld het document de kerkelijke leer over charisma's, beginnende met de constatering dat een systematische reflectie op charisma's van vrij recente datum is. De congregatie schrijft (Nederlandse vertaling op 28-10-2016): 'Het ontstaan van de verschillende charisma’s is nooit minder geworden in de loop van de eeuwenoude geschiedenis van de Kerk en toch heeft zich recent een systematische reflectie hierover ontwikkeld. Wat dit betreft, is er een veelbetekenende ruimte voor de leer over de charisma’s te vinden in de leer, zoals dat door Pius XII tot uitdrukking wordt gebracht in de encycliek Mystici Corporis Christi terwijl een definitieve stap in het juiste begrip van de relatie tussen hiërarchische en charismatische gaven wordt gezet met het onderricht van het Tweede Vaticaans Concilie. (Although there has never been a shortage of different charisms arising in the temporal course of ecclesial history, nonetheless, only in recent times has a systematic reflection on them been developed.)' 

Hier hele document in het Engels en hier in het Nederlands.

Zie voor andere talen de website van het Vaticaan.


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