Before I get started, let me make one thing clear: I believe in the trinity. I believe that you are saved by faith in Christ alone. I don’t really care if you were baptized in the trinity or in Jesus name. (I do see the model in Acts, btw)
With that said, I love worshipping with the brothers at the United Pentecostal Church and the random “Apostolic churches” across the south. We may not agree on doctrine (and some pretty major ones) but they are people of Pentecost. I love it when we are not just Pentecostal people but people of Pentecost.
I also have to admit that I enjoy listening to Charity Gayle worship, I respect the modesty they have in dress, and I value their passion for the presence of God. A lot of people I agree with theologically have no passion, no zeal and no hunger for the Holy Spirit to come and meet with them at the altar. This is not true of the United Pentecostals.
Some people will have a problem with me that I stand next to someone I disagree with doctrinally and say “Come, Holy Spirit, Come.” I have been in meetings with Baptists, Methodists and even Reformed people. All of them have wacky doctrine too.
United Pentecostals and “the new issue”
It all started with R.E. McAlister at Arroyo Seco (close to Monterey), California. He preached a message the Apostles baptized in the name of Jesus, not the trinity. Many of the people present felt the need to be re-baptized in the name of Jesus as that was what they saw in the Book of Acts.
Out of this grew some people believing that there was no trinity but only Jesus. Today, we know them as “Jesus Only” groups. The United Pentecostal Church is the largest of them.
A very heavy emphasis on placed on Acts 2:38. It their doctrine developed; they believed that repentance, baptism by water and be filled with the Holy Spirit was required for salvation.
When the Assemblies of God was just two years old, this was the first challenge to the movement. It became known as “the new issue.” They gathered in St. Louis to address it and in the end, those who believe in Jesus only were asked to not part of the movement. They formed many groups such as the United Pentecostals.
The line in the sand had been drawn. People lined up on both sides of the debate and there was hard feelings toward the other group. It did not stop in St. Louis. It remains alive today. An Assembly of God and a United Pentecostal Church can be on the corner and they will attack the other. It is a sad affair.
This is nothing new. The Assemblies grew up after this and the United Pentecostals started small churches that struggled for most part. (They do not have rather larges churches now) A century later, the disagreements are still there and so are some hard feelings.
Was that really wrong?
I have spend the last 20+ years researching the Book of Acts. I have studied it in depth. I can see where and why they believed that baptism should be in the name of Jesus. In fact, I believe we should do it as well. I am an Assemblies guy saying they had that right. Biblically speaking.
The doctrine of the Godhead or what we call the trinity is complex. There is no way around that. The systematic theology book that I read in bible college has 154 pages about the Godhead. Just the trinity alone was over 30 of those pages. In order words, it is not that simple.
As far as the the need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit with the initial physical evidence of praying in unknown tongues; I just don’t see it but I understand how this view came about in the 1920’s. On a side note, I will take a little extreme over dead religion anyday.
As I worship with them, I realize that we disagree on Soteriology and our theology of the Godhead is different but I love them still. As I said before, I have worshipped with Baptists that I have just as strong of differences on Soteriology.
I will also note that as a tongue talking, demon casting, hand laying Pentecostal that believes in the trinity; I have never seen one of the United Pentecostals question my call, anointing and especially my conversion.
Hypocrisy among Pentecostals
I find it completely unacceptable that we hold the United Pentecostals, that we disagree with to one standard but the Baptists to another. Rick Warren has spoke at the General Council of the Assemblies of God even though he preached the “Once saved always saved” heresy. We have had people in our pulpits that do not even believe in the spiritual gifts. However, we stand in condemnation of the United Pentecostals on doctrinal grounds.
I am all for taking the doctrinal high ground but if we do, we better do it in all cases. We can not have open arms to people preaching unlimited eternal security, Calvinism and partial preterism. The truth is we do. Mark Driscoll was just at a big meeting in Springfield. Just one example of our hypocrisy.
I am wondering if we have, as a movement, taken a harder position about the United Pentecostals than we should have. While there is major disagreement on doctrine, we seem to have two sets of rules that we apply.
Here is some more Charity Gayle.