Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Spiritual gift

In Christian theology, the spiritual gifts, or charismata are gifts that were supposed to have been supernaturally bestowed on the early Christians, each having his own proper gift or gifts for the edification of the Church. The gifts were given by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, as described in the Bible in Acts of the Apostles. The gifts include speaking in tongues, casting out demons, healing, and so forth, and were often transmitted by the laying on hands.

According to some Protestant dispensationalist sects, the spiritual gifts were enjoyed only for a short time. They were suited to the Church's infancy, not to modern (or even medieval) times. Pentecostalism takes an opposing view, believing that the spiritual gifts are still given by the Holy Spirit today, and Pentecostal meetings often involve ordinary parishioners displaying the use of these gifts. Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and many other Protestant sects also continue to believe in and allegedly make use of spiritual gifts, though typically in a much less sensationalist manner than Pentecostals.

This article, or an earlier version, is based on material from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897).