a monthly publication for former Pentecostals and Charismatics!
Volume 1, Issue 7 November 1, 2002
This Week . . .
- Pentecostals in the News
- Final Thought
As always, we would like to welcome our new subscribers! As you know, we are now a "monthly" publication, with each issue now going out to a record 157 subscribers! We hope this free newsletter is a tool in your spiritual journey, and if you find it helpful -- feel free to share it with others, either by printing and handing it out, or by forwarding it to friends who might find it helpful or interesting. We hope you enjoy this issue's stories; feel free to drop us a line for suggestions or comments. ~ The Association of Former Pentecostals, Editor
PENTECOSTALS IN THE NEWS*
Copyright © 2001-2002. The Association of Former Pentecostals All Rights Reserved.
In a story in last month's issue, we reported about a young Assembly of God adherent's foray into reality TV's "Big Brother 3" on CBS. In September, we find out that this man had ministerial company in the most popular reality program of them all: this fall's "Survivor: Thailand."
Pastor John Raymond of World Harvest Church (AG, 2,700 mem.) in Slidell, Lousiana was interviewed by "Christianity Today" to find out why he participated in the show, and to perhaps shine some light on why he was the first person to be booted off of this year's installment. He stated that he had no problems with being part of this secular show, and that it gave him an opportunity to highlight his church and Christianity at large. He claimed that he had been disappointed in a previous "Christian's" performance on the show, stating that her example "cheapened" Calvary, though she eventually went on to win the contest. He alluded that he felt his early eviction from his Asian vacation was largely due to jealousy of others over his natural survival instincts and leadership.
Sixteen-year-old Chris Haines got more than he bargained for after attending a youth function at an Assembly of God church in Minatare, Nebraska, according to Charisma News Service, and "The (Scottsbluff) Star-Herald." When the youth wanted to leave, he was surrounded by members of the church who began praying for him and speaking in tongues -- physically preventing him from leaving. Charges were filed, and the pastor and his wife were found guilty of false imprisonment, and were fined $100 each. Apparently, religious participation is still voluntary -- at least to this wise court.
SUED BY THE SLAIN
Loraine Daly of Australia is suing Sydney Christian Life Centre for damages up to $750,000 (AD) due to alleged injuries created after being "slain in the Spirit" at a church service, according to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald. Ms. Daly's case revolves around her allegation that after the pastor prayed for her, there was no behind her to catch her, nor was that area padded to diminish the impact as she fell backwards "under the Spirit."
Ms. Daly alleges that her symptoms since the fall include permanent brain damage, cognitive impairments, and nausea. The court heard arguments that she also had such symptoms after two earlier car accidents, but a psychiatrist that reviewed the case believes her ailments are more related to depression and anxiety.
Fresh from the Federal Pen, divorced from his famous cosmetically-challenged wife, and excised from the millions he plucked from the faithful, Jim Bakker feels the calling of God once more. The calling this time is not to feed the poor, or spread the gospel to Amazonians, or to lead a life devoid of wordly pleasures; for Jim, this is a familiar call -- to go back on TV.
The place: Branson, Missouri. The "set:" a new ministry-based restaurant (go figure!) called "Studio City Cafe" that will not only serve food and entertainment to the faithful, but will also serve up a little Jim now and then, especially when the camera is in house. Many former supporters are surprisingly happy that Jim is returning to television ministry, feeling that this has always been his calling. These people have been a bit reluctant -- however -- to state whether or not they'll be blessing his new ministry financially.
"SAMSON" LOSES HIS . . . EVERYTHING
Modern-day "Samson" John Jacobs has made his ministerial career by lifting weights "for Jesus." Nationwide crusades and numerous TBN appearances catapulted this muscle man into a Christian Samson, delivering to his audience bench-pressing feats and martial arts stunts. After an hour or so of sweat and sermonizing, he would invite sinners to the altar.
Ministry may be a thing of the past for poor Rev. John. After two failed marriages and September 11, his organization has had to seek relief from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the form of Chapter 11, according to Charisma News Service. Though he claims the work that he and his "Power Team" are charged to do is not finished, he admits that he will have to sell cars, houses and adjust his lifestyle to continue this work for the Lord.
OUT WITH THE OLD
A new report out by the Catholic Church confirms what others have stated for some time: that Christians in America are leaving their traditional houses of worship for more conservative and evangelical churches, according to several news sources. Entitled "Religious Congregations and Membership: 2000," this report illustrates the massive growth that such churches as the Assemblies of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have experienced over the last decade, with the AG experiencing an 18.5% increase helping it pass up the Episcopal Church in total membership (which lost 5.3% over that period).
Many of the news stories illustrated how many mainstream and liberal churches were trying to reverse this outward hemorrhage of members. The only way some were able to do so, or to increase their numbers in the last decade was to become more conservative or "charismatic" themselves.
The only orthodox church to escape this trend was the ancient Mother church herself, which increased her numbers in the United States, mostly from immigration from the Americas and other third-world countries.
Despite the flight of church-going Christians to more conservative, evangelical churches, many American Christians have ideas on spirituality that are . . . less than typical for Christianity. According to a story by Charisma News Service, a study by Barna Research Group shows that many of these beliefs cross Catholic and Protestant lines and have prompted the group's president to state that these beliefs are from "other sources" (other than Christianity).
Among the beliefs that would make many pulpit practitioners' blood curl, the study found that most Christians reject such ideas as "original sin, the existence of Satan, and salvation" by grace. Although Catholics have a tradition of praying to dead saints, this study found that about 41% of Protestants do as well, and about 35% of them believe you can communicate with the dead. 44% believe that the "Bible, Koran, and Book of Mormon are all expressions of the same spiritual truths."
This editor ("Delivered!") believes that the evidence shown in this study and the one in the previous article suggests that Christianity itself is in a decline, and that those that hold its core doctrines as moral truths are finding solace in the more conservative and "emotional" churches of today.
INQUIRY INTO THE INCLUSIVIST
As reported before, Bishop Carlton Pearson has experienced many troubles since going public with his "gospel of inclusion" -- which basically states that everyone is saved, whether they know it or not. Since then, he has been shunned by fellow Charismatics, Pentecostals and evangelical ministers, booted out of conferences and off of church and institutional boards.
In an effort to reverse this trend and perhaps do a little PR, the kindly bishop has decided to place himself before peer review -- which proved to be a little odd since the Bishop and his church are part of no formal religious organization. He was scheduled to appear before the World Bishops Council last month to answer questions concerning his "universalist" message, according to Charisma News Service. This group is comprised of traditional and "self-styled" bishops from Orthodoxy, and all sorts of Protestant and Pentecostal faiths.
Bishop Pearson is not a member of this group himself, and the group admits they have no jurisdiction over him or his church, but one minister in the group stated they could declare his office "invalid."
Azusa Street Survivors
You may or may not know, but on the fourteenth of this month, our original forum that started this all will have it's first year anniversary. On November 14th, 2001, this forum began with mostly former Apostolic Pentecostals in mind (then called "Ex-Apostolics"), but later expanded it's focus to become the forum we know today.
If you've left this support and discussion group in the past, or simply haven't posted in awhile, or have never joined and are interested: please consider joining today! Drop by and tell us how things have been going, or about your Pentecostal/Charismatic experience (if you've never visited/posted before). We'd LOVE to hear from ALL of you!
To commemorate this important anniversary, we will have our first "official" chat session from the group site (hopefully around that date -- plus or minus a day or two) for a couple of hours. You will have to have a FREE Yahoo!ID, and may be prompted to download a Yahoo! chat program if you haven't done so before. If participating, please be sure to do this before that date. To participate, simply go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/azusastreetsurvivors and select the "chat" command on the left side of the screen on the appointed date and time. Please stay "tuned" to the Azusa Street group for more details about the date and time. For the technologically advanced, Yahoo!Chat does support "voice chat," so the inclined may have their mikes ready.
To join this group (you must be a member to participate in "chat"), simply click the above link to the group, or send a blank email to email@example.com.
No major changes are in store for the newsletter, but we do have a couple of announcements. First, this issue will be the last issue of the year; we will not publish a December issue in respect for religious and family traditions. We will be back on January 3rd with an all new issue, and a special 1 year anniversary edition of the newsletter on February 1st. Anyone wishing to make literary contributions to the Anniversary edition are encouraged to do so EARLY: we would especially like to hear stories about how your life has changed since leaving Pentecostalism, or how our services have helped you in your spiritual journey. Please make a notation if you wish for your story to be included in this special issue.
Secondly, since this newsletter is the "official" newsletter of ex-pentecostals.org, it will be used to make announcements of changes, similar to what our independent "mailing list" was used for at an earlier time. Because of this, one final "mailing list" memorandum will be mailed out announcing this, with an invitation given to join this newsletter. A few current subscribers may receive an "invitation." Every effort will be made to avoid this, but some duplication may occur. If you receive such an invitation, simply ignore it and delete it. The newsletter's official "announcement" role will be assumed in the January edition (although it's been serving in that capacity for some time now by default).
Azusa & Debate Forums
For those that participate in the Azusa Street Survivors support and discussion forum, or the Pentecostal Debate forum, I would like to make one request. When "quoting" other posts for your reply, please only quote the portion of the text you are responding to, and not the entire post (or thread of posts). Reason being, Yahoo!Groups is a free service, and likewise limits the space we can use to archive message storage. This is not so much a problem with the Azusa group where we have only exhausted 20% of the storage capacity as it is with the Debate forum where nearly 65% of the storage space is used up. When they reach capacity, the earlier messages will be deleted to make room for the newer ones.
I don't know about you, but I treasure many of the messages I've read, especially on the Azusa group, so let's all do our part in eliminating redundancy while posting by only "quoting" the essential parts of what we wish to reply to. But, don't let this discourage you from posting; au contraire! Post your hearts out!!!
In the spirit of conservation, I've also eliminated the ability to send "attachments" in the Debate forum; but this is only part of the problem in that group since many will quote mile-long essays posted by someone else and respond with a simple "good post!", or "I agree!" As time allows, I will also try to cull out posts from that forum with extra large attachments.
As we close out our inaugaral year with ex-pentecostals.org, we would like to take this moment once again to thank all that have participated in our services. We hope that each of you have a special holiday with your families, and hope that each of you take time during this period of thanks and contemplation to remember what we've all come out of . . . and give our thanks and gratitude to the One would led us out!
God Bless, and Happy Holidays!
The Association of Former Pentecostals
Delivered! is a FREE monthly newsletter for former Pentecostals/Charismatics everywhere, distributed by e-mail only. It is affiliated with ex-pentecostals.org. The next publication date of the general newsletter is January 3, 2003. For more information concerning services and forums offered, check out ex-pentecostals.org. To subscribe, simply send a blank e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.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 using "fair use" rules without intentionally infringing on their copyrights.
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 permission from this editor. To request permission for reproducing original materials contained within this newsletter, please e-mail The Association of Former Pentecostals at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.