I watched 20th Century Fox's "Anastasia" again the other day. You know, the one where Rasputin is a bloodthirsty maniac who becomes a magical ghoul. As I understand it, Rasputin was a Christian mystic possessed of a supernatural endurance, and had the ability to calm the hemmorhaging infirmity of the Czar's son when he was around. When his political enemies tried to have him assassinated, he survived being poisoned, shot, and stabbed, before finally succumbing to drowning in an icy river.
There seems to be as much myth as fact surrounding stories of Rasputin. I can't say for certain if the stories of his miraculous power are exaggerated, nor the stories of wanton hedonism. But I want to use him as a jumping board to talk about his feats of Christian mysticism in light of what we now call Pentecostalism. Pentecost, called "The Feast of Weeks" or "Feast of Firstfruits" is the second holiest Jewish holiday, and literally means "50 days". It occurred 50 days after the resurrection of Christ, and was the onset of the Holy Spirit upon the earth (as chronicled in Acts 2:1-11), the promised "Comforter", and the "Power" that Jesus warned his disciples to not leave Jerusalem without.
Today, Pentecostalism refers to the class of Christian denominations which embrace the "ecstatic gifts", the "moves of the spirit", "manifestations", as described in I Corinthians 12:8-10. We believe the gifts did not cease after the first century--a common belief held my non-Pentecostal denominations. The most common of the gifts is glossolalia--praying in tongues (which is a personal gift; the cousin of this, "speaking" in tongues, is a corporate gift in that it, when followed by the interpretation (which is a different gift), serves the same purpose as a prophecy (yet another gift): a message from God to the assembly).
Needless to say, this phenomenon is misunderstood, even feared by many. If Rasputin truly excerised these gifts, he was surely feared by those who couldn't understand how he could do what he did. Nevertheless, all the gifts are manifested for our good... either ourselves, or those around us. Granted, the employer of a gift may have idiosyncrasies and shortcomings (which in Rasputin's case may be a serious understatement), but the gift *itself* is pure, as it comes from God. That must not be understood. God continuously works out for what is best for us, even when it's not what we "want".
Although I enjoyed the movie, it still galls me that it paints Rasputin as such a diabolical villain. If being a Christian mystic makes one a villain, then watch out... my church is loaded with them!