Delivered! EXTRA
~a newsletter for former Pentecostals/Charismatics everywhere~
ex-pentecostals.org
Copyright © 2002.  The Association of Former Pentecostals  All Rights Reserved.
 

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Volume 1, Issue 4
July 15, 2002
Table of Contents
 

1.      Welcome
2.      Pentecostals In the News
3.      A Pentecostal Experience
4.      Editorial

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Editor:  The Association of Former Pentecostals                                                                                        contact@expentecostals.org
 

Contributors for this edition include: Robin Arnaud, and Brian Herrington
 

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~Welcome~
 

Welcome to the special EXTRA edition of Delivered! newsletter!  Due to the increase in material and contributions for last months newsletter, many articles had to be edited out for space.  This edition presents those articles, plus the continuation of Robin Arnaud's powerful essay, "A Dominion Experiment," and one "breaking news" story. The articles in this letter were not edited out due to inferior quality, but simply because there was not enough space.  We hope you enjoy it, and continue to tell friends about this newsletter! ~Anon Editor
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***BREAKING NEWS***
 


UPCI DENIES JOINT CHURCH PLANTING EFFORT

The UPCI is not part of any ecumenical evanglestic efforts with its trinitarian Pentecostal and Charismatic cousins, according to a report on June 17, 2002, by ninetyandnine.com, a Oneness information group.  An earlier report by Charisma News Service had reported that UPC officials had taken part in a secret meeting hosted by Robert Fisher of the Center for Spiritual Renewal with other Pentecostal leaders, and plans for joint church planting efforts were discussed in this historic meeting.

Reverend Kenneth Haney, General Superintendent of the UPCI, told ninetyandnine.com that this suggestion was false as he strongly rebuked the Charisma report.  He stated that they only attended the meeting as visitors, and made no agreements concerning church building with trinitarians.  He stated that all such efforts by the UPCI will be done in accordance with their beliefs and doctrines, and that the UPCI has no intention of joining or merging with any trinitarian group for any such efforts.
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A/G COUNCIL APPEALS, ALLEGEDLY BRIBES

The South Texas District Council of the Assemblies of God is caught between alleged sexual abuse by one of its ministers and the alleged victims -- and by its actions, it is unclear which side of the fence they are on.

According to reports by the Houston Chronicle (6/4/02) and the Beaumont Enterprise (6/6/02), the Council has just received a civil judgement of $82 million against them for the sexual assault of a minor boy and his sister in 1997 and 1999 by the youth minister of Kountze Little Rock Assembly of God in Kountze, Texas, an offense the minister pleaded guilty to in 2001.  They are appealing this amount, stating they had stripped his ministerial credentials in 1994 for similar offenses -- though he was serving as such when the offenses took place.

In the Beaumont article, the attorney for the plaintiffs filed a motion for sanctions against the district council and their attorney, alleging that they asked the plaintiffs to change their testimony -- apparently in an effort to receive a more favorable outcome in court.
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WILL THE UPC CHANGE?

The United Pentecostal Church stands out among all of the Pentecostal faiths; not only in appearance, but in doctrine as well.  Women are required to adhere to a neo-Victorian appearance, while men are supposed to remain modest as well.  In matters of faith, this faith requires baptism "in the Name of Jesus" rather than the traditional method, and believes that God can be understood as a singular understandable entity and that the rest of Christianity could be judged for their belief in the historic doctrine of Trinity.  These beliefs and behavioral codes have long isolated these "Apostolic" Pentecostals from the rest of Christianity -- but could this change?

A recent article in Charisma & Christian Living (June 2002, page 18) suggests that such change could be on the horizon.  They point out that the UPC has moved away from its history of sexism and racial bigotry, and now ordains women and has growing Hispanic and black evangelistic associations.  They also point to their participation in the Society for Pentecostal Studies which hopes to improve dialogue between the Oneness and Trinitarian camps.  They also quote a few current pastors within the organization that seem to infer that the new generation of ministers may not "pastor" the same way, pointing to a day when the group may relax some of their rigid dress and lifestyle codes.

Whether this is true of the group as a whole or if it is simply the wishes of a few liberal leaders in the group remains to be seen.  An article in the same magazine exactly five years ago ("The Other Pentecostals, " June 1997) suggests these changes would happen as the older leaders in the group and in the churches step down.  Recently, Kenneth Haney assumed control of the group in his election as General Superintendent -- a move that many younger ministers in a positive light.  Change in this faith would be welcomed by many, but many also wonder how this faith that is not unfamiliar with the Christian and social isolation it has endured nearly ninety years would be motivated to make such sweeping changes -- especially at the local church level.
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~A Pentecostal Experience~
 

A Dominion Experiment: (Part 2)**
The Shepherding/Discipleship Movement
A Personal Account and Analysis
Copyright © 2002. By Robin Arnaud.  Used by Permission.
(Part 1 appeared in the June edition of Delivered! newsletter)

To this day, if you look carefully, you might still find some of the Lord's sheep limping back to their old feeding grounds in Fort Lauderdale Florida, gingerly peeking all around them before taking a step, and asking one another: "Is it safe? Can we come out now?"

You will also find the church in Fort Lauderdale more sharply divided now than in most other communities, and only a few dying remnants of the old "glory days" of the great experiment. New Wine magazine is nowhere to be found. Memorial Baptist church has closed it's doors, and the once-grand Governor's Club hotel no longer hosts crowds of itchy-eared Charismatics. Charismatics in Fort Lauderdale, as a matter of fact, are scattered into several "independent" churches. Many have found themselves mending in the spiritual care of orthodox churches, thank God. But many have ended up like my brother: Severely damaged by the failure of the church to define the Kingdom of God for what it is - the spiritual reign of Christ in His people. It is not a carnal, physical imposition of righteousness from without. The Kingdom of God is within us. It is not imposed from outside. It is not physical nor temporal nor political. Citizenship is not earned through the obedience of the people to earthly "shepherds," but through the obedience of the One (Romans 5:19) who has qualified us for citizenship in His kingdom.

May God grant that the Church will never forget the tragic lessons of ill-considered but well-intentioned attempts to "bring in" the Kingdom of God, to unify and perfect it so as to hasten Christ's return. But only the Holy Spirit can create and perfect such unity and power in the Church. The nature of the Kingdom is spiritual! Human attempts to make it "real" by imposing man-made inventions have always resulted in abuse and tragedy. This Shepherding/Discipleship experiment is just one recent example of it.

But there are others, emerging and growing even now. One has even found a home and a following among traditionally Reformed folk. Again the lines that Scripture draws between the earthly and the spiritual - between the temporal and the eternal - are being blurred by the same seductive appeal of "Kingdom Now" dominion teaching. Theonomy is just a new application of this same dominion theology that birthed the destructive Shepherding / Discipleship movement. Theonomy seeks to "bring in" the Kingdom, to "make it real in the here and now" and to hasten the return of Christ (it is dependent upon a post-millennial eschatology) by ushering in a physical, earthly, temporal, political expression of the Kingdom of God.

Their method is different from the Shepherding movement, but their goal is the same. While the Shepherding movement sought to "bring in the kingdom" through the discipleship of individuals under a canopy of submission to earthly "shepherds," theonomy seeks to "bring in the Kingdom" by applying the Law of God to society. But again, the distinctions between God's moral law, His decreative law, and even the civil laws of ancient Israel (history's only true theonomic government) are blurred or eliminated when applied to people and to society.

On the surface, "Reformed" theonomy seems less threatening than previous dominion-driven experiments have been. But looking back through history since the first century AD, one can see very clearly that all such attempts to "bring in the Kingdom" - to make it somehow "real"and earthly - have resulted in untold suffering imposed on whole nations and even groups of nations, until they collapsed from within because the "kingdom" was imposed from without. From Charlamagne's reign over "the Holy Roman Empire" to the smaller, lesser-known but just as destructive Shepherding/Discipleship movement, history is replete with examples of this folly. Every attempt at it in history has failed. And yet the idea continually resurfaces and finds adherents. But it is based on a false premise.

It appeals so seductively to by our own inner groanings and eagerness for the revealing of the children of God! Paul describes it:

         "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the    creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our body (Rom 8:19-23, NASB)."

We don't want to wait for God to accomplish this in His own time and in His own way. We can hardly resist the temptation to hurry this up, to relieve our groanings and longings for the liberation of all creation from the curse of sin. If we are not careful, we will lose hope in God's providence (Romans 8:28-30) and take matters into our own hands. Yet any visible outward glory we can create can't compare with the glory that God is preparing. And besides, hope that is seen is not hope at all, but unseen hope produces perseverance (Rom 8:24-25).

It's easy to see why dominion theology is so appealing. It's easy to see why so many people, inwardly groaning for the revelation of the children of God, lose patience (Rom 8:25) and assign themselves the task of "bringing in the Kingdom." But any attempt to do so is not only unbiblical, but also harmful, damaging, and ultimately doomed to failure. Whatever new forms this error takes, they must be avoided! And Christians must be warned to stay clear of any such teachings.
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~Poem~
 

Utterances**
A poem compiled and edited by Brian Herrington, compiled from various experiences submitted by participants in the "Ex-Apostolics" forum.  First published on that site on May 2, 2002. Used by permission.

Well,
the first time—
Well,
when it happened to me—

Anyway,
I don't know how long
it took,
but they told me
I got it.

When it happened to me
I got sick,
sick with praying
and wailing
and crying.

The preacher
whipped the crowd
into a frenzy—
so much confusion,
writhing, dancing,
surrounded by women
putting hands on me,
screaming in my ear.

I was terrified
of dying
and going to hell.

So I pretended
to speak in tongues—
stammering lips,
it just sort of came out.
It never felt real.
I felt sick and somehow guilty;
felt drained, exhausted.
Yes, emotionally
exhausted.

I pretended.
I convinced myself.

Then I ran to find my pastor.
Thank God he believed me.

But

Jesus isn't fooled.
for more information on "Ex-Apostolics," check out the link.
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~Editorial~
 

Converting the Chosen
Copyright © 2002.  The Association of Former Pentecostals  All Rights Reserved.

Reading any sort of religious news, it would seem that those of us who have left Pentecostal or Charismatic churches are a distinct minority.  With the expansion of non-denominational mega-churches, the explosion of "signs and wonders" and gift-based ministries, and the giant sucking sound of members flocking to these new churches and faiths from traditional houses of worship, it would seem that all of Christianity would someday speak in tongues -- if not the whole world.

Though this may seem the current direction of religious reality, there are other things happening as well.  Pentecostals are leaving their faith and converting to other belief systems -- sometimes en masse!  This is not just happening to a few individuals who get written off as "backsliders," or "blasphemers," but to whole groups of people who are re-evaluating their spirituality.  For our growing group, I thought it would be helpful to list a few examples of a few things that have made the news over the past few years.

After a brief search on the internet, I came across a couple of articles rather quickly.  One story was about a woman who as a Pentecostal preacher had really not found God in her faith, and upon discovering the Jewish lineage of her mother, researched this faith extensively and eventually converted to the faith of her ancestors.

Another interesting article popped up as well.  According to ChristiansUnite.com which was copying an earlier story by the Seattle Times, the pentecostal pastor of Maranatha Christian Church in Detroit started researching the early church, and found his own faith lacking in Christ's teachings of Christian charity.  He discovered that many ministries of the Catholic church have always helped the poor, and became interested in many practices of the faith.  Many in his then-200 member church were not impressed, and when he introduced the Eucharist into services, many left.  Of the 60 or so that remained, they began Catholic studies, and eventually the remaining congregation left their Pentecostalism and joined the local Catholic church.  At last report, the former pastor was working towards Catholic ordination as a deacon.

What does all this mean?  It simply means that we are not alone in our search for truth, that we can question what we were taught and research faith, religion and the Bible for the direction God wants us to take.  We don't have to accept the labels our former churches may want to place on us, and we can still lead full, spiritual lives without having to subscribe to the odd, often unbiblical matters of faith and doctrine such churches would have us to believe.
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About Delivered!
Delivered! is a FREE quarterly newsletter for former Pentecostals/Charismatics everywhere, distributed by e-mail only.  It is affiliated with www.ex-pentecostals.org.  The next publication date of the general newsletter is August 15, 2002.
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Comments? Submissions? Letters to the Editor?
Check out ex-pentecostals.org/newsletter.html for more information, or e-mail: contact@expentecostals.org
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*information compiled from several independent media sources are considered "public knowledge," and sources are not identified.  Articles compiled from one source, the source was identified, and a story written extracting the news without intentionally infringing on copyright laws.
**contributions and experiences by former Pentecostals do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editor of this newsletter.  Contributions many be edited for grammar, punctuation, or length.
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Copyright © 2001-2002 by The Association of Former Pentecostals All rights reserved.  All stories, opinions, and other text in this newsletter, Delivered!, are the personal copyrighted property of The Association of Former Pentecostals, unless otherwise noted. No portion of this newsletter may be reproduced by any means without the expressed permission of the author(s).  To request permission for reproducing original materials contained within this newsletter, please e-mail The Association of Former Pentecostals at contact@expentecostals.org for more information.
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