Pentecostal Sin

Pentecostal Sin

Over on my post, “Charismatic Heresy,” inspired by the egregious charismatic excess highlighted by Charisma editor J. Lee Grady, reader Lynn asked some questions that deserve more attention than a comment reply merits.

Lynn writes:

I go to an A/G church, but have very Reformed views. It has been a struggle for years.

Here’s one question I have: Why, if Charismatic/Pentecostals have the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” do they tend to have MORE sin/problems in life than other more mainline denominations? It seems to be a doctrine that this second blessing is supposed to give power to live a godly life. I just don’t see it! My Presbyterian and Baptist friends seem to have a better handle on living the Christian life.

What about “prayer language”? Is this phenomena really in the Bible? I see the gift of tongues, but not a prayer language solely for the individual? If it is really supposed to build up the believer, why does it produce such flakiness?

Thanks for your contribution to the blog, Lynn, I appreciate it. Like you, I have attended the A/G for years, and I don’t understand why our churchgoers struggle with sin. Shucks. I don’t understand why I struggle with sin. Don’t you? I mean, don’t you also struggle with sin? Aren’t you also tempted?

No, don’t answer that, <grin> I suspect I already know the answer.

I appreciate your question, because it’s an honest one, and it deserves an answer because spiritual transformation really should be occurring in all the lives of those who follow Jesus—Pentecostal, Charismatic, Arminian, Calvinist, or whatever. It’s also a question I keep returning to in many of my blog posts here—especially when our pastors and ministers sin so flagrantly. Really, I am inadequate to answer your question. I wish I had an answer beyond shrugging and blaming it on our failure to disciple and coach new believers. I can only speculate. And whether that’s the answer, or not, it’s not a very satisfying one. “Just do better” always sounds like a call to return to legalism. Trying harder probably isn’t the answer. I suspect there’s something else … something more fundamental is required.

However, I see a couple assumptions in your question I’d like to address. First is the statement that those who have received the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” have greater sin/problems than other believers, and that believers from other denominations have a better handle on living the Christian life.

Is that true? Really? How would one go about establishing this as a verifiable trend? And if it is true, what does it mean? I am reminded of the debate between Mac, Unix, and PC users. They say PCs are more vulnerable to computer viruses than Unix systems or Macintosh systems. But I’ve always thought that PCs are simply a much larger and juicier target for virus writers than these other, less visible, less widespread systems. If the Mac had the widespread install base–especially consumer base–that the PC enjoys, I suspect there’d be a lot more attention paid to ferreting out its vulnerabilities than the lowly PC. By analogy, I wonder if this is a possibility for the visible sins and excess of the Pentecostal/Charismatic world of believers. Simply put, there are more of us than most other denominations–especially worldwide.

So, let’s test that. There are more Baptists in North America than Pentecostals. So, if Baptists sin less than Pentecostals we would expect a Google news search on Baptists and law-breaking occurring less frequently than that of pastors, right? Here’s what I found:

17 hits: Baptist minister arrested
7 hits: Pentecostal minister arrested

80 hits: Baptist pastor arrested
8 hits: Pentecostal pastor arrested

(Search conducted at 2:37 AM on 05/26/2006)

But maybe this is a fluke. After all, a Baptist minister is more likely to be quoted in a story than your average A/G pastor. This is, really, inconclusive. But it is interesting.

On the other hand, what if Baptist church culture isn’t as transparent as Pentecostal culture? Maybe Pentecostals are so happy to find sin in other’s lives that we trot it out for public consumption whenever it happens? Or maybe our other non Spirit-filled brethren sweep their sins under the carpets? But does this matter?

After all, public knowledge of private sins doesn’t mean the people caught sinning are any less guilty than those who are successful at keeping things private. After all, Jesus commended the Pharisees for following the law, keeping the tithe, and being publicly holy. But he called them whitewashed sepulchres.

Now, please note, I am not claiming that Pentecostals are more sinless than any other Christian group out there. All I’m saying is that public knowledge of sins doesn’t mean that any one group is necessarily more sinful. I suspect we all commit similar sins in similar ways at similar rates. I’d be pretty surprised if it turns out that Methodists are any worse at sinning than, say, Quakers.

But then, to throw a wrench in the works, what if there’s a “Screwtape phenomenon” at play here? Suppose Spirit-filled believers–in search of a deeper spiritual life, in search of greater intimacy, seeking to follow Christ’s imperative to wait and be filled–suppose these believers are actually succeeding in their quest? The Devil surely wouldn’t want that, would he? It would seem logical that if Satan is active in this world today, he would focus as much of his dark arts on the most active believers possible. What’s that old saw, if you haven’t met the Devil once today, you’re on the wrong side of the road?

Just some possibilities to chew on in light of your question.

In terms of the big picture, though, why any sin at all in any of our orthodox, Bible believing denominations?

As I have concluded elsewhere, I suspect that there is simply not nearly enough focus on spiritual transformation in our churches. Not nearly enough real discipleship. Not enough mentoring, coaching, and partnering. There’s no real “buddy system,” hooking up new believers with seasoned saints to help coach them through their growth in Christ. It works for AA. It works for trail guides. It works for lifeguards. Why doesn’t it work for Christians? I suspect it does, and I suspect that where it happens, success follows. Paul was discipled. And he discipled others. Who discipled you? Who have you discipled? Who have I discipled? (I mean these as rhetorical questions, not pointed ones. I’m not accusing you of negligence–I really don’t know you.)

Finally, the other assumption I see here is about the role of the Holy Spirit and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In John 14 Christ told the disciples he was sending the Paraclete to stand in his stead after his ascent into Heaven. The Holy Spirit is called alongside us just as Christ walked alongside his disciples, not leaving them as orphans. The Holy Spirit, Christ said, would remind his disciples of what he taught and what he did. In our case, without the advantage of having physically walked with Christ, it is incumbent upon us to provide the foundation for the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives by being informed of all that God wants us to know so that the Holy Spirit can help keep these things in our minds eye. We must be steeped in the Bible. Paul says in Romans 12 that spiritual transformation is based on a renewing of the mind and I believe that happens as we read, study, memorize, and reflect on the Bible.

(I don’t do that nearly as well as I ought, myself, and I consider this to be a key area of personal growth.)

And in Acts we see that another primary role of the Baptism of the Spirit is for empowerment for ministry. The disciples were to go out into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world, but to accomplish that they had to wait for the Baptism so they would receive power. This is power for service, not power for holiness, per se. One would hope that service and holiness would go hand in hand, but this is not necessarily the case. Peter was Spirit-filled, but he was still sinfully wrong, and Paul confronted him on it.

Hope that helps.

You also asked:

What about “prayer language”? Is this phenomena really in the Bible? I see the gift of tongues, but not a prayer language solely for the individual? If it is really supposed to build up the believer, why does it produce such flakiness?

I see Romans 8:26 addressing this, as well as 1 Corinthians 12-14. I do see it as a Biblical phenomenon. As to why it may have so little effect on some Pentecostal / Charismatic believer’s lives? I cannot answer that except to say that perhaps not everyone who babbles is speaking in tongues. It is a behavior that can be learned.

Chilling, isn’t it?

I wish I had time to write more, but I’m leaving for New Mexico in about 10 minutes. So I’m wrapping this up. Please feel free to leave comments, I’ll try to address them when I return, in about a week,.



[tags]BlogRodent, pentecostal, charismatic, tongues, Baptism-of-the-Spirit, sin, heresy[/tags]

55 thoughts on “Pentecostal Sin

  1. Amy

    Thanks Rich. Good Stuff. I look forward to reading your next post.

    One question.

    Have you or your readers ever been in an A/G church or with a group of believers who attend an A/G church and got the feeling that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tounges was a taboo topic not to be discussed? I’ve seen church members who acted as if this were our awkward little secret… One of the Assemblies of God’s ‘fundamental truths’ that they’d rather do without or at least not mention in public.

  2. carl

    When I got baptised in the Holy Ghost and received my prayer language I immediately got free of some sins that I had dealt with my entire life. It was instantaneous. Other sins I am still dealing with.

    I think that it is possible that some charismatics are more open about their struggles because they actually believe that victory is possible. I am always amused by my friends that are former baptists when they recall years of prayer meetings filled with “unspoken prayer requests.” Maybe the holiness tradition is more in the fight so to speak.

    On another note, I think that the reason for lack of discipleship is that there is not much need for it. You spoke of buddy teams in other circumstances because in those instances every person is needed to pull his/her own load. If you just come to church and listen to a message than your load (other than the offering of course) is very light.

    Now, if we expected every believer to be a leader of some sort in say, 3-5 years, than the whole way we do church would change. I am not a proponent of throwing out the Sunday morning service with preaching, but I would like to see its domination of a believers walk diminished.

    I would also ask Lynn to ask God about tongues and tell us what He told her.

    And Rich, they have internet connection in New Mexico.

  3. Mike

    Great post.

    I really appreciate the wisdom with which you answered these important questions. I more or less grew up in a Holiness- Pentecostal church and now minister in one. I have often felt similar about our relationship to sin. Perhaps we are just more open about it. Perhaps the highs are higher and the lows are lower.

  4. DLE

    A few comments:

    Having been in a number of churches over the years, including both Reformed/Presbyterian and Pentecostal/Charismatic, I’ll echo the statement that a false dichotomy is going on here.

    It’s not that one group or other is sinning more or less, it’s just that in the Pentecostal camp, people are more open to talking about their own struggles with sin and their willingness to be rid of it. In some of the Reformed/Presbyterian churches, which tend to have more money and social status, particularly nasty sins are sometimes kept hidden so as not to threaten status. This is not true of all people in all those churches, but I have seen it and watched the consequences when the pillar of the church is caught in a particularly nasty sin issue that was kept under wraps for a long time.

    I find far more extroverts in Pentecostal/Charismatic churches and those folks are more likely to talk by nature. The opposite is often true in the Reformed/Presbyterian camp. I know more introverts in those churches than in the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches I’ve watched. I think one of the reasons that the Godblogosphere has such a presence of Reformed folks is that they had things to say but were less likely to speak up in church. Blogging gives them a semi-anonymous outlet for their ideas.

    All of this is by my own experience and no scientific study. I firmly believe that such a study would bear out my observations, though.

    As to the prayer language issue, I’ve heard genuine speaking in tongues and I’ve heard babbling. The difference is that one has the presence of the Spirit infused in it and the other does not. If you know the Spirit is present, you can discern the difference. We Charismatics do a terrible job discerning the difference. Watchman Nee has pointed out (in his book, The Latent Power of the Soul)that bogus “Gifts of the Spirit” can look just like the real thing, but their source is Man’s soul and not the Spirit. Discerning the difference can be tough, but we’re commanded to do it nonetheless.

    Hope this helps.

  5. Marc V

    I agree with what DLE said, since I also went from a Presbyterian to a Pentecostal environment. A few years back I visited my old Prebyterian church, and when it came to time to “exchange peace” and greet each other, I bounded out of my seat into the aisle to shake a few hands. I noticed I was the only one in the “no-man’s land” and quickly scooted back. It seemed as if an invisble force field trapped the people in the pews.

    My second thought to Lynn’s question was that Pentecostals might have more sin issues with certain things than mainliners. Example: is it sinful to skip your daily Bible reading? You’d probably get more Pentecostals to agree with that.

    Finally, as a Pentecostal, you have accepted the Holy Spirit in your life as an active participant with you in your faith walk, regardless of being baptized in the Holy Spirit (though it is good and proper to pray for that blessing). As you rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance, you accept the consequences of straying off-course by having Him remind you about it.

    You also should become more sensitive to grieving the Holy Spirit. I may sin 20% less than the average Christian, but I may appear to have more of a sin problem as it negatively affects my walk with the Holy Spirit and my goal of righteous living.

    Thank God for His guidance — please forgive me when I stumble. Lord have mercy on me, a poor sinner!

  6. Chris Meyer

    I think I know where she is coming from. I am AG and work with others who aren’t — including a deacon from another religion. He is a friendly and joyful person who seems not be be bothered with sin. His language is not good at times and enjoys off-color jokes. He respects me, however.

    I believe he and others like him feel there are less things sinful than Pentecostals do. And therein lies the crux of the matter. Having been saved for about 30 years — most of my Christian life has been under a cloud of guilt — of not being good enough. I firmly believe that we have done a disservice to growing Christians that the Holy Spirit’s baptism is like waving a wand over us and then we are perfect from then on. I think the devil tries to put on more guilt until we get our eyes off of the keeping power of Christ through the HOly Spirit and focus on why we can’t seem to be perfect — laying tons of guilt on us.

    The baptism is not an END, but a beginning. It doesn’t make us card-carrying “SUPER-CHRISTIAN!” I believe if only implied, we are being given the message that after we receive the baptism, we have everything needed, so “Go out there & live an overcoming life!” The Holy Spirit is to walk along side, teach us, & produce fruit. We must cooperate with Him learning to hear His voice and walk in Him.

    I don’t believe in “once saved always saved,” but it does have a freeing aspect to it. The other denominations realize it’s the “grace of God” that accomplishes salvation and they “don’t sweat the small stuff.” However, that’s presumptious of them. But, we as Pentecostals have failed to emphasize what the grace of God accomplishes in its “keeping” power.

    Some people focus so much on their “prayer language” than the actual prayer, it has become something to make them look super spiritual, I believe. However, if we focus on Christ, in prayer, seek His face, the Spirit will use our voice when we don’t know how we should pray.

  7. Lynn

    Dear Rich,

    Thank you so much for responding so thoughtfully to my question. I suppose I phrased it incorrectly. When I re-read it, it seems as if I was frustrated at the moment.

    I certainly don’t think Pentecostals sin MORE than others…and I definitely know that we are all utterly depraved. Without Jesus’ sacrifice, there is no hope for any of us.

    Here’s the problem that I see…again, this is only from my own limited experience, but it’s been through quite a few years (I’m pushing 50 and have been a Christian since 18!). I hear so often that the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is absolutely necessary for the believer to live a holy life. This includes, in A/G circles, the evidence of tongues. The A/G believes: “The Baptism is the entry experience introducing the believer to the beauty and power of the Spirit-filled life.”

    “We recognize the baptism in the Holy Spirit will make one’s life and ministry even more effective.”

    What I don’t see is this “more effective” life in the Pentecostal. They have the same struggle with sin that we all do. However, there is a prideful attitude in many that the mainline denominations are not as spirit filled and therefore not as spiritual as the Pentecostal. Countless times I have been asked if a friend from a Baptist or Presbyterian church is “Spririt filled” when I’ve mentioned them to a fellow church goer. What of Romans 8:9?

    “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

    I’ve even heard poeple say they will not listen to Chuck Swindoll (Charles Stanley etc) because they are not “Spirit-filled”. This view sets me off and I admit I get very frustrated. Many dear, “non-spirit filled” friends of mine are humble and loving and dependent upon the Lord without this judging of their brothers. You’re right, maybe these others have more hidden and private sins (don’t we all!), but at least they are not putting themselves up on a pedestal with regards to others.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned becoming “steeped in the Bible”. I think often in the Charismatic churches (not always, but often) there is a focus on the supernatural events and not the day to day avenues for growth. I was at a women’s retreat just a few weeks ago. We were asked to stand and pray in our prayer language. Then items were called out (such as shame, sexual abuse, immorality, addictions). We were told to “Bind Satan” in these areas and people would be freed. It’s not that I don’t believe people can be freed from these bondages. I just have seen this kind of thing so often and within a few weeks, the sin is back with a vengence. I felt like perhaps more guidance needed to be given about cultivating the fruit of the Spirit as well. Things like reading the Word and having accountablilty to other believers. Am I wrong? It would not be the first time. I kept thinking that maybe it was not a positive thing to have these women believe that this event (as emotional as it got!) could free them forever from these chains.

    I apologize if I seemed like I was saying I didn’t sin or thought others should be perfect. I don’t mean that at all. I’m really trying to understand the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” and the truth about it as a second blessing. The Holy Spirit enters all believers at conversion and I see no difference in His power for one than another. I DID Have a second experience with tongues, but I don’t see this as a necessity for every believer.

    Any wisdom you have is appreciated.

    Thank you.

  8. Glen Davis

    Excellent post. I especially liked the google query — I would not have thought to do that. It may be weak data, but it is intriguing.

    Three quick thoughts:

    1. I find it interesting that the church at Corinth focused on the supernatural gifts and also wrestled with pretty scandalous sin. Paul didn’t tell them to stop being charismatic — he said become more charismatic (“earnestly desire the greater gifts, especially that you may prophesy”).
    2. Many Reformed denominations are wrestling with sin at a national and institutional level (I speak of the ongoing debates over the authority of scripture to speak on matters of sexuality). I do not conclude that being Reformed leads one to disbelieve the Bible — I merely conclude that some Reformed people are off their rockers. The truth or falsity of Reformed theology must be established on other grounds. Likewise for Pentecostal theology.
    3. Many Pentecostal denominations/organizations/fellowships really don’t screen their ministers. There are virtually no educational requirements and little mandatory spiritual formation. Someone who might get bounced out of seminary or an internship after two years in another setting will be bounced out of youth ministry or an associate pastorate in our setting. This is one of our great weaknesses and one of our great strengths.
  9. Jim

    Enjoyed both the post and the dialogue, but put my thoughts out there over on my site rather than occupy too much space here. Thanks for another interesting meal, Rich. Peace………….

    [Editor’s note: see Jim’s post: “Basics…“–Rich]

  10. Edith

    No one has really addressed the real problem. We live in the flesh, the flesh (human nature) is sinful. There is a warring in the Holy Ghost filled person between the flesh and the spirit.

    Romans 7:15-25: For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

    We are born into this world sinners. Rom 5: 19 The Holy Ghost is given to us to help us overcome sin. It is by the Power of the Lord alone that we are able to overcome. We receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon us! Acts 1:8 Thank you Jesus! Thank the Lord for Grace and Mercy!

    Anyone who has a repentant heart can receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the “evidence” of speaking in other tongues. It’s just that … “evidence” of receiving the Holy Ghost, it’s the initial sign that you have received it as described in Acts 2:4; Acts 2:33; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:6. It is quite different than the divers kinds of tongues as outlined in I Corinthians.

    This “prayer language” you all speak of is foreign to me. It is not scriptural at all. It is not “us” who prays but the spirit maketh intercession for us. Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

    Romans 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

    It is our spirit that prays, the Holy Ghost within us, it is communion with God.

    Without the Holy Ghost it is almost impossible to keep from sinning for very long. Those who are not spirit-filled have trouble. They do not belong to Jesus Christ, but they have a relationship with him in as much as they are hungry for truth. If they hunger after truth, he will lead them into full truth.

    We are to allow the Holy Ghost to change us. Receiving the Holy Ghost is just the beginning of a wonderfull relationship that can grow, and deepen in the Lord. It’s up to us. It has been said that we can receive the Holy Ghost but not everyone will allow the Holy Ghost to get ahold of them, to be changed, to be molded, to be purified, to be put in the fire!!!! It’s painful. Just think about that clay in the potter’s hand. But, it’s worth it.

    We are sinners. This is what the Bible teaches us. Without God we are nothing. Jesus told us … without me you can do nothing.

    Lord Bless you today.


  11. Edith

    I just noticed that when I put scripture references it’s linked to an NIV translation on this site. I do not, and will not use that in my posts. I will in the future post the KJV myself.


  12. Common Swift

    As a very young child I witnessed fanaticism and vulgar displays of the flesh (shaking in the isles, everyone speaking in tongues at once, rolling on the floor, etc.) In the independent Pentecostal churches my Aunt took me to, I was terrified. Many years later I came to the understanding that this was not how the person of the Holy Spirit acted, but by then the damage was already done. That’s why I thank God for the Assembly of God Church that keeps everything in an orderly manner. We need to keep the gift of tongues in perspective; it’s to help the individual and to edify the Body Of Christ. It’s not a litmus test to see who’s “holier”, better at overcoming sin, or an indicator of a persons walk of faith.

    Too many people are content with their prayer-language and getting their next spiritual battery charged every Sunday morning and / or Wednesday night to talk to their gay neighbor, pray for a stranger you notice on your commute, making peace between warring family members or asking a co-worker for forgiveness. We make the mistake in thinking God can only speak in the miraculous, not the mundane, and we see the gifts without looking to give the charity; too busy hearing the language of the angels to hear the cries of souls.

    Speaking in tongues should be one the most personal and private (except with the expressed purpose of interpretation in fellowship) expressions in our life and not a means to show boat in front of those who don’t have the gift or something to throw in the face of those in other denominations.


    Rich, I was a AOG Royal Ranger so I’m above reproach 0~ ; )

  13. Edith

    What you experienced as a child was a sweep in of the Holy Ghost like on the day of Pentecost when they ALL spoke with tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance.

    Just because you were frightened does not mean it was wrong.

    The gift of Divers Kinds of tongues is one of the 9 gifts of the Spirit which is regulated in Church Services by the overseer. (Pastor)

    Receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost is for everyone today. This experience is a must OR as Jesus Christ said you are none of his without the Spirit of God within you. It is power to overcome this world. It is power to witness to lost souls. We can do nothing in and of ourselves.

    When people received the Holy Ghost throughout the Book of Acts people (heard) them speak with tongues. This is how we know someone has the Holy Ghost along with the fruit of the spirit which should follow them as they mature.

    When the Holy Ghost takes over a service there is no need of preaching. When it is done in an Holy Atmosphere it is beautiful.

    What you experienced could have been out of line but to say that this is the way it is in all services is not scriptural.

    Not much of what you said has any scriptural basis.


    Lord Bless your day!

  14. DLE

    God is not a God of chaos, but of order. People running amok in our meetings is not something God ordains. Paul spoke against such shows.

    In truth, I would question ANY charismatic/Pentecostal church that fails to keep things orderly. If chaos reigns, then one must ask if the Spirit of God is present at all!

    We charismatics have done extraordinary harm to real manifestations of the Spirit’s power by so easily embracing all “manifestations” as of the Lord. The Bible says that not all are real, therefore we should practice discernment, something amazingly lacking in too many charismatic/Pentecostal churches today.

    False gifts damage people–the people who manifest them and the people who receive them. I’ve lost track of the bogus words of knowledge spoken over me by immature believers who should have been cut-off by church leadership and never allowed to speak one public word until they had a track record of private words given accurately. This is NOT quenching the Spirit. This is making room for the Spirit of God to operate on His timetable, His way, and with His genuine power.

    The quickest way to error and apostasy is to fail to test the spirits to see if they are of God. Too many of us charismatics and Pentecostals are guilty of that sin.

    May God forgive us.

    I’ve written more on this subject, if anyone is interested:
    How Not to Be a Charismatic Headcase
    Charismatic Churches and the Cult of the New

  15. Lynn

    To Common Swift,

    I can totally relate to what you were saying however, if you read Edith’s e mail after yours, you see that not everyone sees “vulgar displays of the flesh” as you and I might. I’d be curious to know if she is from the Assemblies of God?

    I think everything you said was “scriptural” and I was especially moved by your comment “We make the mistake in thinking God can only speak in the miraculous, not the mundane, and we see the gifts without looking to give the charity; too busy hearing the language of the angels to hear the cries of souls.” Very well said!

    Edith’s views depict the very thing that makes me want to leave a pentecostal church. It’s almost as if she showed up to make my point come alive! Her statement, “When people received the Holy Ghost throughout the Book of Acts people (heard) them speak with tongues. This is how we know someone has the Holy Ghost along with the fruit of the spirit which should follow them as they mature.”

    If this is the case, then is Billy Graham without the Holy Spirit? Chuck Swindoll? James Dobson?

    Also, what’s the big deal that the translation was given in the NIV?

    Also, regarding the A/G church. I’m not sure where you live, but up in the Northeast here, the A/G churches were pretty involved in the Toronto Blessing a few years ago and then, of course, Brownsville got the Assemblies on board with that movement in a big way. I saw people groan on the floor giving “birth” to new ministries, growl like wild animals laugh hysterically and fall down and twitch. It was a wild time, but unfortunatly, many of those most involved fell into heavy sin afterwards. There were also a couple of church splits. Is this an anomaly within the A/G or is my experience pretty common?

    Again….my question….could it be that all Christians are filled with the Spirit at conversion? Perhaps the only thing I agree with Edith about….”We can do nothing in and of ourselves.” We need to depend on Him for any and every positive thing we do, but you are so right, let’s talk to that gay neighbor or ask forgivnesss of that co-worker. The results are God’s, but we can be led by Him.

    Thank you for your feedback.

  16. Edith

    I do not believe that “vulgar” and indecent displays of the flesh are the manifestation of the Holy Ghost. Forgive me if my e-mail sounded that way. I do know that true moves of the Holy Ghost can frighten a child and that was my focus in answering the post. I re-read what he originally said and I do not agree with vulgar, sexual, and indecent body movements. That is demonic and fleshly.

    Instead of asking me to explain myself you decided to talk down to me. Be careful how you treat a child of God.

    I agree that “Charasmatics” have given true moves of the Holy Ghost a bad name. I do not believe the Toronto Blessing and the Brownville shows were of God. Satan has a counterfeit of everything God has for his people.

    The Bible teaches us that the Spirit is given with the evidence of speaking in other tongues with the fruit of the spirit following. We shall know them by their fruit. If Billy, Chuck, and James have not spoken in tongues they do not have the Holy Ghost according to scripture. People can repent and be forgiven of their sins, have a heart conversion but until they speak with tongues they do not have the Holy Ghost within them. People can have a walk with the Lord without being filled with the Holy Ghost but they are not his until he fills them with his Spirit.

    “Edith’s views depict the very thing that makes me want to leave a pentecostal church. It’s almost as if she showed up to make my point come alive! Her statement, “When people received the Holy Ghost throughout the Book of Acts people (heard) them speak with tongues. This is how we know someone has the Holy Ghost along with the fruit of the spirit which should follow them as they mature.” ”

    My statement IS Biblical. It is sound doctrine.

    I am not Charasmatic nor am I Assemblies of God. I am an Apostolic Pentecostal.

    Maybe if you were to experience a true move of the Holy Ghost you would not be so confused about it. Confusion is of the devil not of God. God is not the author of confusion!! That’s Bible.

    The NIV is a perverted version of scripture. many, many verses have been removed. This is already proven with a little study.

    Lord Bless your day!


  17. Lynn

    Dear Edith,

    I am sorry if you feel that I talked down to you, but you seem very close minded and see only your own interpretation of scripture.

    I am really seeking honest answers so I’d like to wait for Rich to respond.

    I don’t feel the need to prove my relationship with God to you or list the true moves of the Holy Spirit that I’ve experienced.


  18. Edith

    That’s funny Lynn! I don’t “feel” you spoke down to me……you did speak down to me.

    Closed minded? I gave you pure scripture………how much more honest do you ant? Maybe you should search the scriptures yourself to prove what I am saying is truth.

    I must be closed minded to “persoanl” interpretations because the scripture tells me that the scripture is of no private interpretation.

    I bless your search for truth In Jesus name.


  19. Common Swift


    You criticize Lynn for talking down to you yet you just did the same to me. You don’t speak out of love with the aim of correction, you seem to speak from a place not in God, and you state a threat.

    What I witnessed as a child was far from a sweeping of the Holy Spirit; it was obnoxious fanaticism. I should know, I was there. I also want to clarify the fact that nothing was sexual about those services.

    Where did I say that what I witnessed as a child is present in all services? Every gift of the spirit is for today.

    Where in my posting did I say otherwise? Well, are you sure it’s my posting your responding too?

    What floored me, and I know this has to be some kind of mistake, is that you seem to be saying that unless you speak in tongues you are not saved. You cannot possibly be saying that. Are you?

    You say I am not biblical. Re-read my post and than read 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 1 Corinthians 12:30; 1 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Corinthians 14:6; 1 Corinthians 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 14:23; 1 Corinthians 14:27-28; 1 Corinthians 14:33; 1 Corinthians 14:39. Then tell me I’m not scriptural. Obedience to the Word of God is first and foremost; above any personal feelings or revelations. I love you as my brethren in Christ, Edith. But please know of what you speak.

    Warm regards to you,


    Lynn, I live in southern California and the AOG here never got involved with that nonsense as far as I know. Maybe it was a regional thing.

  20. Edith

    Sorry Common Swift. I may have addressed several different posts at once. I did not address it to you did I? I write to all who read unless I address it to someone.

    Also vulgar displays of the flesh can only mean one thing…lustful, sexual, and unappropriate in Church.

    Yes I am saying that if you don’t have the Holy Ghost your not saved. Speaking in tongues as the Spirit of God gives the utterance is the evidence that people have indeed received the Holy Ghost. It’s quite clear in scripture. Can you show me where I am wrong in this? Everyone recorded as receiving the Holy Ghost spoke with tongues in Act’s. If we don’t have it we don’t have the power within us to overcome this wicked world. No staying power, no power to truly walk in the spirit as the scriptures tell us.

    God has a plan of salvation, one way, his way which is recorded throughout the Holy Scriptures…. not man’s way which is the way of Cain.

    We must be born “again” of the water, and of the Spirit In the Name of Jesus Christ. We must repent, we must live a holy seperated life unto the Lord. It is he who does the work, not us.

    Lord Bless your day!


  21. Common Swift

    Vulgar dislays of the flesh can only have a sexual meaning?
    Read your King James Version of Galatians.5:19-21.

    At what time did our Lord speak in an unknown tongue at his Water/Holy Spirit baptism? or anyone in the Gospels for that matter?


  22. Edith

    Vulgar means lewd and obscene, and this is the definition I speak of.

    As for your apparent misunderstandings of scripture I am going to attempt to explain that Jesus Christ did not receive the Holy Ghost when he was baptized. I know, I know I’m messing with men’s interpretations of scripture. But, The dove which lighted upon Jesus was a sign from God to John the Baptist that Jesus Christ was indeed the Christ, the Son of God. It was for his eyes and ears only! The Holy Ghost decending like a dove and spoke to John.

    Matthew 3:13-17: Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

    Now the explanation of what just happened.

    John 1:26-34: John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

    God was manifest in the flesh. Jesus had the Spirit of God in him when he was born. Jesus is God.

    1 Timothy 3:16: And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

    The New Testement is the New Covenant in Jesus’s blood. The new Covenant did not go into effect until Jesus Christ died.

    Hebrews 9:16: For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

    Hebrews 9:17: For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

    The Holy Ghost was not yet given until Jesus Christ said he would send it on the Day of Pentecost. He told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for it.

    John 14:26: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

    John 15:26-27: But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

    John 16:7-11: Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

    Luke 24:45-52: Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:

    Two weeks later:

    Acts 1:2-5: Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

    Acts 1:8-9: But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

    The Church was born on the Day of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. It is recorded through-out the Book of Acts that all who believed the Gospel, and repented of their sins would receive the Holy Ghost.

    The scriptures say is was like a might rushing wind. A mighty rushing wind you can not see accept for the sound of it. When the Holy Ghost comes upon us and we receive it there will be a sound!

    John 3:8: The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

    Be Blessed today.


  23. Edith

    To Common Swift.

    You were harsh? When?

    I’m contending for The Faith that was once delivered to the saints. I do not believe that the Word of God is harsh. I have not considered you harsh at all.

    I’m not of the spirit today which says we can not contend for the faith, or say that there is only one absoulute truth. The scripture says what it means and it means what it says.

    1 John 4:6: “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”

    So many are in the spirit of error today.


  24. Common Swift


    Answer me, did Jesus speak in tongues at his baptism as recorded by the witnesses? give me a straight answer.

    You give tons of scripture that does everything but answer my question, and why do I think the first posting was not from you?

  25. Edith

    No Jesus did not speak in tongues, he didn’t have to. The Holy Ghost was in him. God Almighty was manifest in the flesh.

    The Holy Ghost was not poured out upon mankind yet. Jesus was God, he had not yet been glorified. He said he would send us the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God..

    What makes you think I didn’t write that post? I did it in the Holy Ghost. I gave you more scripture to answer your question than you can handle. It is strong meat.

    Be Blessed,


  26. Edith

    Yes! May the Lord have mercy upon us. I agree with DLE 100 %. God is a God of order not chaos. I do not believe that what is going on today in most charasmatic churches is of God. Not the barking, not the growling, not the utter exposing of body parts, nor the dancing in the flesh, not any of it. What is real, is when the Holy Ghost really comes into a Church is worship in the Spirit. Some people on their faces crying out to God in repentance, some people crying for joy but all are praying to some degree.

    I said this from the beginning. Brownsville, and Toronto are not manifestations of the Holy Ghost. I do not believe in this third wave garbage. We are not having a “revival” according to scripture we are in the great falling away from the faith. So many are deceived because they received not the love of the Truth.

    The only revival I see is an occult revival with the likes of Rick Warren and his mystical interpretations Bible “The Message” That is new age thinking. Witchcraft has entered the churches.

    Lord Bless you,


  27. Common Swift


    I discern from you a Spirit of pride and disruption and I will not be addressing you further. I leave you to the Spirit you claim.

  28. Edith

    That’s ok Common Swift your response to me is normal because you nor anyone else can refute what the scripture say’s in plain English. You resort to name calling and belittling, and trying to tear down my character.

    It’s the truth nevertheless. I pray you receive it In Jesus Name!

    Lord Bles you,


  29. Lynn

    Just so everyone knows, I Googled “Apostolic Pentecostal” and it is listed as a Oneness Pentecostal group and considered unorthodox and cultish by many.


  30. Edith

    Lynn most pentecostals are considered cults.

    Just so you know. Orthodox churches are unbiblical. Like Paul says in Acts 24:14:

    But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:

    The United Pentecostal Church came out of Assemblies of God over doctrinal issues years ago. We are still divided over it but the eccumenical crowd would like us to compromise.

    Be Blessed,


  31. Amy

    Wow. What a conversation to watch unfold. Interesting and heartbreaking all in one.

    Rich, shouldn’t you be home soon?

  32. David Lacy

    Hi all. I found the beginning of this discussion interesting, but it seems to have taken a nasty tone. Sad.

    Anyway, my two bits is as follows:

    In Acts 8 (the section the includes Simon the Sorcerer) beginning with verse 12.

    “But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” (Acts 8:12)

    I do believe Philip was quite capable of discerning whether someone had truly repented before he allowed them to be baptized. It is inconceivable that an apostle would baptize someone who had not accepted Christ.

    Verse 14ff “When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:14-17)

    This scripture quite plainly points out that salvation and baptism in the Holy Spirit are two separate things. I am quite orthodox in that I believe that all ppl who call on the name of the Lord are saved and recieve a measure, or seal, of the Holy Spirit at that time. But I also believe that the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”, as taught by the AG (or at least the AG church I attend) is a second, distinct, and totally separate occurrence.

    Just as an FYI … I was in a conservative Baptist church until the age of 12 (a “tongues is of the Devil” Baptist church) … an independent Pentecostal church from 12-17 … no church from 17-23 … and then AG since then. I do not speak in tongues. Not that any of that has much to do with my post, but it is nice to know a little more about ppl when they post things.

    Anyway, thanks for reading my two bits.


    P.S. Hi Rich…long time no see.

  33. Common Swift

    Good point David, I forgot about that. After re-reading the back-and-forth between Edith and me, I’m sorry it turned out the way it did too. I don’t doubt her sincerity but her casual dismissal of my experiences, in addition to her condescending retorts to Lynn just got the better (or worse) of me. I was wrong in feeding into an argument that was put out in a public blog for all unbelievers who are curious about the AOG, or who stumble on this site, to see. For that, I am truly sorry.


  34. Mark La Roi

    Since the Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation, the proof that one is saved, how could He possibly enter a person any later than the moment they are saved? (Romans 8:9, Ephesians 1:13-14, 1 Corithians 12:13)

    Does that mean a person isn’t saved when they believe, but at some indeterminate later point?

    Also, since not all will receive the gift of tongues (which is not some unknowable prayer language, but a known language; that’s why the observers at Pentecost could understand the speakers.), doesn’t it put an unfair burden upon people to tell them to expect to have that gift?

    Spiritual Gift Use & Abuse

  35. link

    I grew up in the South where Baptists churches are really strong. It seemed to me that a lot of the kids in school and college who went out and got drunk on Friday night, partied, fornicated, etc. if you asked them what church they went to, a lot of them would say Baptist. Baptist was one of the big religions, like Methodists. It seemed like Pentecostals were more serious about spiritual things growing up. Maybe that was because I got my impression of Baptists from kids at school and my impression of Pentecostals from people in church.

    In some churches, half of the people have never spoken in tongues. It would be interesting to survey people in Pentecostal churches who say they have been baptized with the Holy Ghost and survey people on how often they fall into certain sins and see the correlation.

    Gifts and character are two different issues. Balaam and Caiaphas prophesied. Neither or good examples when it comes to character. As another poster pointed out. the Corinthians had problems with immorality, and they also had a lot of spiritual gifts.

    I, too, am concerned with what has become of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement. The stereotypical Charismatic preacher is flashy, believes whatever new doctrine that comes around as long as it gets more attention, begs for money, etc. It seems like new doctrines get created every month in the Charismatic movement. Some of the more conservative types who hold to false doctrine hold to long-proven false doctrines that have been around for 100 years, not the newest ones to come along.

    I read some statistics this weekthat Evangelicals in general are just about as likely to get divorced, shack up, etc. as the rest of the population. I don’t know that Pentecostals are more susceptable to this sort of thing than the rest of evangelicals.

  36. Dina

    The gift of the holy spirit does not mean you are going straight to heaven. It is a spiritual helper and guider.

    It does not mean people with the holy spirit are perfect or any better than any other Christian. Reading this whole blog reminded me why lots of non-belivers don’t even want to hear about our faiths. We are too consumed with been religious and showing off in front of people how much Bible we know we forget to show people to God through our actions. As one spends more time with God, praying and reading the Word, God answers your questions so you don’t have to rely on a person to tell you how to live your life because EVEN humans are not perfect.

  37. Pingback: Cry Freedom

  38. Rich Post author


    I’m not totally sure I understand what you mean. I’m not intending to cast aspersions on non-Pentecostals and I don’t claim that Pentecostals are more “holy” or less “flaky” than non-Pentecostals. However, since we are generally outnumbered by non-Pentecostals, your claim might be true in a loose sense.

    But, on the whole, I do find that Pentecostal sin gets sensationalized by the media more frequently. But that’s just an impression, not one I can easily back up with data. (It may be that I’m simply more sensitive to these reports because I am Pentecostal myself.)

    At any rate, the dialog here isn’t actually furthered by making ourselves look good by making others look bad. Could you expand on your thoughts more in that regard?



  39. Rich Post author

    Wow, I finally read the whole comment thread here. I am short on time, so I have only a few things to say. Dan, Dave, Lynn, Common Swift, and others, thanks for your contributions, I really appreciate it, especially since I wasn’t paying attention to this post during my hiatus.

    Edith, cut it out.

    This is a Pentecostal blog. Plus, this is a blog where I intend irenic dialog to carry on. I appreciate that you come from a nominally Pentecostal background, but the Oneness/UPC tradition teaches unorthodox doctrine, and I don’t abide it here. Discussing the merits of your doctrine is one thing, but using it to pummel my guests is something I won’t allow.

    I’m letting the current posts, as they stand, remain. I’m not interested in rebutting your theology, Edith, I simply don’t have the energy for it right now, and it won’t change your point of view. But this is not a forum for you to proseletyze your point of view. And as for browbeating my readers: again … cut it out.

    I’ll try to get around to reviewing the questions and comments here later and posting a compendium of observations. Thanks, everybody, for your patience.



  40. Rich Post author

    For those of you still following this nearly defunct thread (I do intend to respond more, later), I stumbled on a great quote at A/G pastor Nate Elarton’s weblog related to this:

    One of the hardest things for church people to understand is that our negative resume is where our greatest strength lies. It is not the things that I have not done that give me power, but rather the things I have overcome or recovered from.

    Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that we should not be pure and obedient. But sometimes our purity may be due to the absence of opportunity, and sometimes our obedience may not be from the heart.

    A good case could be made that the essence of American Christianity is concealment. We encourage people to go underground with their sin. We pastors do it when continually tell our success stories from the pulpit, or when we preach an idealized version of the spiritual life that no one really lives. People in the church do it when they judge others. The message people get is “hide your sins if you do not want to be judged.”

    I find that people are encouraged when I share my failures publicly. Your story is very powerful, especially the part where you have gotten back up from a stumble, where you have recovered from a serious mistake. Your story is powerful because it is real.

    We need more real people in the church today and fewer religious people.

    —Jack Deere


  41. James Imperial

    I was raised in a Pentecostal Holiness Church and one of the elders owned a homosexual club in NYC. I think “Spirit Filled” people can conceal sin quite well when they have to. I now attend a Reformed congregation where adultery and abandonement has taken place. Sin is everywhere. Thank God for His mercy and grace.

  42. Mike

    I do not believe in an evolutionary salvation. You can not have willful sin in your life and be saved; Christ doesn’t wait for you to work it out. He came to seek and to save those that are lost. We are saved by God’s grace through the finished work on Calvary (Christ’s death burial and resurrection). Baptism in the Holy Ghost does not save you, as one brother saved the night before asked the question “is that (the Holy Ghost) better than what I got last night?” The preacher said “no but it will make what you got last night better”. The Holy Ghost will not prevent you from sinning, but He will convict you and you will know what you are doing is wrong. If you have sin in your life you are not born again and you do not have the Holy Ghost.

  43. cheesewhiz

    One of the previous posters nailed something important – Pentecostal churches are composed mostly of extroverts. There is clinical research that has found the same thing.

    I find that extroverts engage in “speaking-in-tongues” like behavior quite often, regardless of whether or not they’re saved. It only takes a little rhythmic music, some whipping up the crowd, and within seconds extroverts are screaming “Wooo! Wooo! Ya ha! Yes! Wa-HA!” You can see this at any rock concert, sporting event, or even at parties.

    This behavior is merely a way that extroverts bypass the linguistic functions of their brains and let their emotions vent unhindered by logic or reflective awareness. People with extroverted personalities find these types of experiences congenial, and seek them out. I’ve found that Pentecostals very quickly devolve into rank heresy (oneness, New Apostolic Reformation, health-and-wealth gospel, etc.), which suggests that speaking in tongues is completely independent of, and empty of, truth content.

    I find no reason to think that speaking in tongues is anything supernatural. If the emotions one is venting have to do with God, then I suppose it seems like a spiritual experience to the extrovert. But it’s a function of the extrovert’s nature, nothing more.

    Studies have found that people can speak in tongues after listening to as little as 60 seconds of others doing so. Speaking in tongues is nothing more than learned behavior that builds on extroverts’ innate ability to turn off their logic minds and babble as a way of venting emotions and altering their mood.

    Since these kinds of behaviors seem so innate to extroverts, who make up 2/3s of humanity, I suppose we have to find a place for them. But is it really a miracle? Doubt it.

  44. Rich Post author

    Cheezewhiz, would that be because everybody knows that your rank and file Baptist, Anglican, or Lutheran would never descend into rank heresy, right?

    If you believe the Bible is the Word of God, what do you do with the passages on the charismata?

    If you don’t believe in God or the Bible as his Word, then okay, I can see where you’re coming from. Studies have also shown that prayer is ineffective, as well. But naturalistic studies are remarkably ineffective at observing the ineffable and non-natural. So, I remain unconvinced by your claims of imitation as the source of the phenomenon.



  45. cheesewhiz

    Those are good questions, Rich. I hope you don’t take my earlier post as an all-out cessationist attack on Pentecostals. Quite the contrary, I don’t see any evidence in the Bible that the gifts would cease after the age of the Apostles passed.

    But I spent more than a year of my life traveling around Pentecostal churches. I never saw one instance of any gift that wasn’t obviously the result of group dynamics and the person’s own subconscious mind. It took a deliberate act of misplaced faith to take these “gifts” as anything else. There were no physical healings, no raisings from the dead, etc. Sometimes someone thought they were healed – for example, a woman with breast cancer thought that she was healed. For a few weeks, she felt better. A few months later, she was dead.

    So what do we make of speaking in tongues? Was speaking in tongues in the Bible “xenoglossia,” where the Apostles spoke miraculously in foreign languages? Or has it always been nothing more than an ecstatic utterance, which the passage in 1 Cor. can be read as suggesting, and were the reports of “xenoglossia” merely a one-time miracle in Acts 2? If we’re skeptics, we can argue that what happened in Acts 2 was merely glossolalia, like modern tongues, and like the early Pentecostals, the early Christians mistook it for xenoglossia and some gullible souls who wanted very much to believe cited a few random syllables that sounded like Latin or Greek as evidence of xenoglossia, when it fact it was never anything but babble.

    Personally, I think that whatever speaking in tongues was in the Bible, what is today called “speaking in tongues” results from the structure of the human brain. Those who practice it may associate it with their feelings about God. But it is not a miracle. Those with the right temperaments may find it a blessing, but for those with introverted temperaments, being pressured to do something contrary to your nature is likely to result in mental problems.

    Pentecostalism is most successful in societies like the United States where the bulk of the population has extroverted personalities and where extroversion is a valued trait. Traditional Christianity was forged in Europe, during a time when introversion was much more the norm, and spirituality tended to be introspective (e.g., contemplative disciplines like the Jesus Prayer) and theological. It’s predictable that societies with different psychological temperaments would craft a form of religion that values emotions, group-bonding, and the freedom of the physical body, in sharp reaction to the more cerebral religion of their introverted ancestors.

    The excesses of introverted spirituality led to an over-valuing of reason and logic that allowed theologians to devalue the plain teachings of the Bible using logical schemes that were based on incomplete human knowledge – e.g., theological liberalism. It also can lead to a detached, paralyzing “mysticism” that degenerates into navel gazing at the expense of taking an active role in the world. That much is history.

    Unfortunately, we’re still seeing the excesses of extroverted spirituality emerge. The Health-and-Wealth Gospel, the New Apostolic Reformation, Toronto Blessing, Todd Bentley, etc. are only some examples. Depending on how successful some of these groups become, we might find ourselves living under the “authority” of some of these groups (aided by President Palin, perhaps?), and that’s not a prospect I relish. In my experience, Pentecostal groups that try to keep things level with the Bible are in the stark minority. Most have no controls whatsoever other than the personal charisma of their leaders. That’s not an attack on your tradition. That’s just a frank assessment based on what I’ve observed. In the end analysis, the danger of extroverted spirituality is that it can lead people to mistake their own emotions for the Holy Spirit – and the person who can manipulate your emotions can make you think their agenda is from God.

    True spirituality, in whatever form it takes, should enable a person who put aside their pride and ego and see the truth about their lives, enabling them to grow in the image of Christ. For extroverts, this may well be a form of spirituality in which they are allowed to openly, verbally proclaim their feelings, and express them bodily. For introverts, this may be time spent alone with God in quiet observation and reflection. Neither one necessarily has a right to demand that everyone adhere to their paradigm. But each should also be aware of the dangers that might come from their style’s excess.

  46. cheesewhiz

    I tried to post a long response, but I seem to have messed it up. So here’s attempt #2.

    I spent more than a year traveling around Pentecostal churches when I was young, and I never saw one instance of speaking in tongues that seemed supernatural. Anyone can shout “Glock slock milock ooup tang” while kids on stage are beating a drum and folks are dancing in the aisle. In fact, it seems that people who are very extroverted will do this quite spontaneously in any excited group situation. Every single prophet I ever heard was also very hit-or-miss in what they said and predicted; certainly nothing approaching the “100 %” demanded by the Bible.

    The Bible teaches that speaking in tongues in Acts 2 was either the apostles speaking in other languages, or God miraculously allowing the hearers to understand what the apostles said. Later, in 1 Cor., there is mention of tongues that no one understands, and there is a fleeting reference in Romans to some form of non-verbal spirituality (sighs that words cannot express). The descriptions here are too sparse for us to say what exactly they mean. A skeptic will say that the apostles never spoke in other languages, and that it was just a legend, perhaps based on glossolalia that was mistaken for xenoglossia, much like the mistaken beliefs of early Pentecostals about tongues.

    The U.S. has one of the highest percentages of extroverts of any country on earth, and it’s predictable that they’d want a form of religion that encourages the open expression of emotion, freedom of physical movement, and group-bonding experiences, and places less burden on the worshiper’s attention span. I have no doubt that the emotions that many Pentecostals feel when speaking in tongues is related to their feelings about God. If modern practice is, in fact, Biblical speaking in tongues, then it’s quite disappointing to those who hoped for something miraculous. Perhaps we’ve reached a point where we recognize that certain things we once thought were miracles aren’t miracles at all. Perhaps prophecy is nothing more than realizing the truth – for people in earlier ages, that lightning bolt of epiphany about something probably seemed divine, and an insightful person was so rare that they seemed to be anointed by God. But perhaps all these things are nothing more than our natural abilities, and they’re “of God” in the sense that these abilities are given to us as part of his plan and providence. If that’s the true, then the gifts haven’t “ceased,” we’ve merely come to know them more intimately. Of course, this explanation is deeply unsatisfying for those who insist that the spiritual gifts are indeed miracles that transcend normal human experience.

  47. cheesewhiz

    Sorry about double-posting, but my first attempt to post crashed, and I didn’t get everything in.

    You said that historic Protestants also lapse into heresy. That’s true, but it’s interesting to note that the types of heresies they fall into are markedly different than the types Pentecostals succumb to. I assume you’re referring to Liberal Theology when you say that historic Protestants are heretics. This line of thinking came about because people dedicated to reason and inclined to write long, densely-worded books – i.e., introverts – thought long and hard about how the Bible might relate to science, and proceeded from some faulty premises about the nature of miracles and the laws of the physical world (all Newton, no Einstein or Plank). This was an intellectual error, full of premises, hypotheses, and conclusions.

    What of the Pentecostal errors? They arise out of experiences people have. Oh, after they have the vision or receive the prophecy, they might look for reasons in the Bible – “Hey, look, it says the church is built on the foundation of apostles and prophets! God told me I’m an apostle!” – but it usually starts in the emotions of the person making the claims. Pentecostals have no problems with miracles or direct revelation from God – the problem is when they can’t distinguish these things from their own emotions.

    I’ve asked Pentecostals whether we should inquire whether someone’s spiritual experience comes from God or their own emotions. I usually get the answer that we should not do so, as long as the person’s experience doesn’t contradict the Bible. This seems to presume a world view in which every part of our consciousness is infused by God or the Devil and nothing ever happens that is just “Bob” or “Gretchen.” While this sounds like a highly spiritual, almost pantheistic, view of the world, I’m not sure it squares with the Bible. Ez. 13:3 makes it clear that is possible to have false experiences by your own spirit. I worry that many Christians are being trained to accept their own emotions as a source of truth without being aware of the possibility of self-deception. The results of such self-deception could be profound for all of us – for example, there is a strong chance that an adherent of such a congregation may become president by John McCain’s early death, and then we’ll be in a situation where a person who lacks the ability to question her own inclinations and even thinks her notions are from God will be making decisions that shape society for decades to come. I am not hopeful that such a person’s decisions will be wise or informed by thoughtful analysis of known facts.

  48. Lynn

    Wow! I was the one who asked the question way back in 2006 and I’m enjoying these new thoughts. I’m just not sure about the “extrovert” theory for Pentecostals. I’ve known many that are not. I certainly can relate to cheezewhiz’ observations though. Many Pentecostals will openly state that whatever God told them that morning is just as much “truth” as the Bible. I’m happy to say that I’m attending a non-Penecostal church now and feel so much more at peace. I still don’t believe that the gifts have totally ceased for today. Where do you come to that conclusion?

  49. Jeff

    Hi in regards to this stuff, I some how stumbled across, I believe Paul speaks on the sin nature of man in Romans 7 it starts in verse 14. “AMPLIFIED” Original Greek before the king James.

    14 We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am a creature of the flesh [carnal, unspiritual], having been sold into slavery under [the control of] sin.

    15 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns].

    16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it.

    17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me.

    18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

    19 For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing.

    20 Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it [it is not myself that acts], but the sin [principle] which dwells within me [fixed and operating in my soul].

    21 So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands.

    22 For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature].(D)

    23 But I discern in my bodily members [[d]in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh] a different law (rule of action) at war against the law of my mind (my reason) and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs [[e]in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh].

    24 O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death?

    25 O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord! So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

    So you see Paul was a very Spiritual man full of the Holy Spirit and still had problems and it’s still the same today!! Paul was a great Apostle of faith and did great things for God in His time of being on this earth … Things haven’t changed my friend, if any thing its gotten worse!!!! The devil knows his time is short so he’s running rampid!!

    As far as tongues goes, I believe it’s still for today, but that’s my opinion! I have been baptized in the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues for about 4 years and I love it, it has empowered me in ways I can’t explain but I know its real! You know the church of God and Assemblies of God started out on fire for God in the early part of the 1900’s and in the middle got set ablaze turning this world upside down, the only thing that’s happened is Satan has realized he’s in trouble so He’s worked over time on the believer! It’s ashamed that people have hurt God in the things they’ve done and made the Lord look bad, but we serve a big God who knows what He’s doing … Amen!!! Every one is different and not all will want to partake in the blessings of the gifts and get as I would like to say undignified!! God causes the foolish things to confound the wise and it does appear to be foolishness to them that parish so maybe we need to get foolish to get the point across if you’ve never felt foolish for God try it it’s great, get beat up and jump up shouting and praising God for his name sake the early church did. We are so blessed to have freedom of religion here in the US, I never said that God did that’s “WORD” our standard of truth … Amen!!!

    Tongues, well it is the spirit of man not his mind will or emotions, the Holy Spirit prays through Paul says in1 Corinthians 2:11:

    “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God.”

    1 Corinthians 15:14,15:

    “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”

    It didn’t say I will pray in the “GIFT” of tongues it simply said he would pray … Amen

    It is the Spirit of God interceding for man. Man prays (forms the words, etc.), but utterance is given by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26,27:

    “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

    We build our self up Spiritually and charge our Spirit man according to 1 Corinthians 14:4:

    “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.”

    So right there it tells you there is a tongue for your self, in the other verses it says the gift of tongues which is for the church so , yes we do have a ” Prayer Language” … Amen

    Jude 20 tells us to do this so it’s a command it says:

    “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost  …”

    Please understand I never wrote this to mock or to come against you, but to reveal some of the “truth” of God’s word to you, which we as “Pentecostals” are to live by and yes if your attending an A/G church your Pentecostal, something has kept you there and it’s not the Pastor , it’s the precious Holy Spirit our comforter and friend!!! I wrote all this in love and pray I don’t get any nasty comments back. I pray I have helped you and you will see this a lil differently now …

    Seek the Holy Ghost diligently and Jesus will baptize in His fire, you’ll never be the same again I promise … In Love God Bless …

    Brother Jeff

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