The Church of God (Cleveland, Tn) is a very interesting group of people. They are a Pentecostal movement that came around the same time as the Azusa Street Revival but they were not part of that outpouring. They had their own movement going on and later received greatly from what became known as the “Azusa of the East Coast” under the ministry of G.B. Cashwell. Continue reading…
Tagged in: Church of God (Cleveland)
Many years ago, I was raised in Pentecostal church but the focus was soul winning, praying in tongues and making sure the world knew their sin would lead them to hell. Jesus came to save and baptize us with power from on high. No one in the Assemblies of God would deny the power of God to heal the sick but there sure was not much focus on divine healing in Missouri. Continue reading…
Azusa Street Revival is a name that we hear alot and we hear that the revival just magically ended one evening. No one seems to know what happened. The reasons for this is really 1) history only gives the highlights 2) the internet didn’t exist and 3) people have different stories. Continue reading…
After leading behind the teaching of Methodism, William moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and at some point met Martin Wells Knapp that preached entire Sanctification.
What is not known is the reason for the move. It could have been a falling out with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, it could have been struggles with much freer Northern United States or more probable lack of jobs for an African American.
For whatever reason it was, we know that did end up in Cincinnati and he did met Knapp and spend some time about a group called “The Evening Light Saints.” The things that led up to this are unknown.
One of the challenges of Church history has always been to piece together many things with more time than not, many blanks where little is known. William Seymour’s life has more of those than some.
However, to be fair, we have many blanks in the life of Paul as well. We know he went to Iconium and stayed there “a long time.” What we do not know why he stayed or what exactly he was doing there.
History is the highlights on the News so to speak.
What is entire sanctification?
Many hold that the heart of the regenerate (born again) Christian may attain a state of holiness in which believers are made free from original sin, or depravity, and where there is a total love for God and others wrought by the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
We are not sure how radical that Martin Wells Knapp was on the issue but many around this time was teaching that “holiness” was a requirement for salvation. It seems from my studies that believe that coming to Christ was a process and putting faith in Him as Savior was only the first step. (Latter Rains completely rejects this position)
One thing we do know is William Seymour would struggle with believing in the finished Work of the Cross for decades because of his time under Knapp. Much of the legalistic bondages that Seymour wrestled with was due to the teaching that he received in Ohio.
There was a major division in the Church around sanctification too. Some of the movement believes that holiness was needed for salvation. In other words, salvation came as a process. Others hold that it was after salvation but you have to have come to a experience of sanctification. Most teachers believe this.
In the 1800’s, this teaching was very popular because people live very conservatives lives in general. Besides racism, the biggest sin for most American was drunkenness. Most people lived pretty conservative lives. You can know there was no controversy over gay marriage back then.
I am not sure many believe it today, many in the Church of God (Cleveland, Tn) reject it, some in the Church of God of Prophecy reject it, and it seems that even the Nazarene Church is starting to change their views on the issue.
Personal Holiness is important but it is not a salvation issue.
Evening Light Saints and Seymour
Beside learning what teachers of the entire sanctification camp was teaching; he attended the Reformation Church of God.
The Church of God Evening Light believes the following about salvation,
While all have sinned, Jesus Christ died on the cross that the power of sin might be broken in the hearts and lives of mankind. There is power through redemption to enable sin-free living on a daily basis. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). To live acceptably before God and to make Heaven, one must live without sin. There is a definite experience of salvation that all can have when they believe in Christ, repent of committed sin, and walk in newness of life.
It can an assumed that they had this position at least in part in 1900 when William Seymour was a member. It also worked out very well with his growing subscription to entire sanctification.
It would seem that they believed in entire legalism as well. Even today, they hold that holiness can be known by “attitudes, meditations, motivations, actions, where one goes, how one dresses.” It would have only been stronger in 1900.
Another thing that Seymour learned about from the Church of God Evening Light was revival. It was the Evening Light Saints that first told him about a mighty revival at the end of the Church age that would only end with the Rapture of the Church. This is why they became known as the Evening Light Saints.
What this did was create a longing, a desire, a passion in William to see revival sweep the earth and he wanted to see revival first hand. He wanted to be part of it. He wanted a revival of holiness, not a revival of Pentecost at this point. He could only believe for what he understood.
What can we learn from sanctification thinking?
As a rule, Azusa Report hold a Finished Work view of the issue. When Jesus said it is Finished, He meant it is finished. Everything you need, you have at salvation. You are holy by the blood of Christ at salvation.
Alot of the holiness theology leads people into dead works of trying to please God that will get them nowhere. There is nothing more you can do to get God to love you anymore than He does. God is a good mood and He smiles over you. Nothing will change that.
The great end-time harvest is coming but it is not going to be a revival of wearing skirts to the ankles, throwing away televisions, preaching KJV only, quitting the local basketball team and believing the local doctor is a witch doctor from satan himself.
The Great Harvest will come from faith for what the Holy Spirit will do, not returning to legalism from 200 years ago. Legalism is bondage and Jesus came to set us free. Whom the Son has set free is free indeed. When the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!
I was on Facebook and a friend asked me “Are United Pentecostals christian or are they a cult?” This is an honest question that many have actually.
You may or may not know that Tommy Tenney, the God Chaser guy, is a member of the United Pentecostal Church International. His father just recently retired as the leader of UPC churches in the state of Louisiana.
As far as Tommy Tenney, I know there is an ongoing discussion just how much of the theology of the United Pentecostal still has. Well, I am not sure it matters. What you will not read in this article is throwing stones at them or calling them a cult.
David K. Bernard is the current President that is back in Hazelwood, Missouri. He doesn’t seem like a dumb guy from what I can tell. He preaches what he believes well and is pretty educated. Graduate of Rice University and Doctorate from University of Texas.
I have been to many services at a few United Pentecostals churches. I loved the passion of the believers at The Pentecostals of Saint Joseph in Missouri. Really sad that they lost their facility that was overlooking I-29 out by Brian Zahnd’s Word of Life Church.
United Pentecostals do believe different
They do hold a winner takes all view of salvation. They believed that you are either baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues or you are not saved at all. They take the passage where Jesus talked about being baptized with water and spirit literal.
Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. – Jesus
One issue that I see first out the gate is they confuse being born again and the Kingdom of God. The government of God and Soteriology is no quite the same. That is a common mistake among alot of churches though.
In United Pentecostal theology, you have make a confession of Lordship, be baptized in water and be baptized in the Holy Spirit in order to be saved.
One other way that they differ is you have to be baptized in the name of Jesus only. No Father, Son, and Holy Spirit baptism.
The other passage that is used alot in their Soteriology is Acts 2:38,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
I have heard some of the leaders in the Church say this is the gospel, not the Romans Road. I disagree but I still love them as brothers of the faith.
The position that is hold officially by United Pentecostals on a prayer language or praying in tongues is not all that different besides one thing: they believe it is a salvation issue. Most other Pentecostals do not and see it as a second grace from the Lord.
The things that really divide Pentecostals
Now the two areas that make them very different that modern Pentecostals in the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland) and the Charismatic movement. One of them is quite silly but a major divider among the Pentecostal movement; the one is only serious about of the damage it does to the people involved.
Back in 1914, the Assemblies of God was formed and only two years later, it was under attack. You have most people believing in the Trinity but you also had a minority that demanded that there was only Jesus, no Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It became such as issue that at the General Council of the Assemblies of God in 1916, also a third of the assemblies were kicked out and they formed what became knows as the 16 Fundamental Truths with right off the top being the Trinity.
As a result, they formed the General Assembly of Apostolic Assemblies that later became the United Pentecostal Church International.
Isn’t the United Pentecostal pretty legalistic?
The other issue is their holiness ideals. It goes way past anything the the Bible even remotely teaches. Things like how to wear your hair, how long a dress should be, what type of suit to wear, television were not allowing in your home, no jewelry or makeup for the women to name a few.
Legalism is a real bondage that still is alive today in the United Pentecostal Church. It destroys lives, family and ministries. There is nothing positive that comes out of legalism.
The other thing about it is when someone does come out of the bondage, they go to the extreme and live in complete sin. I have seen women leave the United Pentecostal movement and just become a nymphomaniac. They do not know how to handle freedom after so much legalistic bondage.
So why don’t I call them a cult?
This is where I struggle. I see all the problem with the United Pentecostal movement and even the biblical areas that they have departed; I also see a pure desire to love Jesus and move in the Spirit in them.
Outside of the Trinity issue, they do believe in the gospel. They have all of that right. They only add things that are not there and misunderstand the place of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.
I do receive them as brothers in the faith with some theological reservation. They have serious error but I receive the Baptist, Church of God (Cleveland) and the Calvary Chapel that all have some theological issues as well.
One thing I do know is a group of United Pentecost people can pray and they can get the devil of people. They do know how to tarry and war in the Spirit. They don’t mind praying all night for someone to get set free from bondage.
Call a prayer meeting, the UPC people will be there until you lock the door; the Assemblies people will give you about trinity minutes than they will be out back playing basketball for the next three hours.
I have always liked Perry Stone from Cleveland, Tennessee. The guy is a very well studied student of the Bible and history. He really impressed me with his knowledge. This is especially odd in Classic Pentecostalism.
The reason for that is that we in the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland) and Foursquare tend to think that being hard headed and dogmatic is more anointed that using reasoning and logic. Continue reading…