Before continuing my topic (Re-Defining ‘Church’), I think I should give some further clarity to my church background affiliations (somewhat for personal reasons) in my attempt to offend no one. I realize that I sometimes pick on certain groups, generally this is because I have some degree of background experience with these groups, however, and am not attempting to be malicious (of course, most of those who read this blog have no way of knowing that unless I say so), but feel a certain amount of familial affections wherein I feel I can tease on certain traits.
I grew up in a traditional Pentecostal denomination (one of the early ones founded shortly after the Asuza street revival (circa 1910s)). While the denomination I came from is large, and has a fairly good sized range of variable degrees of freedom in the Spirit, I found that the local body I grew up in was what I would refer to as: ‘theologically Pentecostal.’ That is, they believed in the Holy Ghost Baptism, and the gifts, but they generally weren’t walking in the power of these things (at least not as a whole). (And, again, I hope no one takes offense at my calling it like I see it, these were good people but in my growth, and rigor for the Lord, I wasn’t seeing the greater fullness that I knew is for the people of God. I realize now that what I was looking for was a community that could fully model the church in the book of Acts – high standards, I know, but I just felt [feel] we should live daily in the highest possible standing of God’s call.).
While involved with the traditional Pentecostal denomination I explored several other groups, denominations, and affiliates (I was generally pretty open, though I chronicled blowing one such opportunity in this post.) I worked for an inter-denominational Christian Camp for a while, where I got exposed to a team from a group from what is now considered the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). I was immediately taken by two things with this group 1) the small team I was exposed to seemed to be modelling greater fullness in the Holy Spirit power than any group I had previously been personally exposed to, and 2) they seemed to have an excessive emphasis on spiritual ecstasy.
I was pleasantly surprised, albeit a little perplexed at the apparent excesses, to have met with these. To make a longer story short, I initially felt that I was finally finding what I had been looking for – a church that operated in the same power and manifestation as in the book of Acts. Honestly, to this day – I don’t know of another group that does so more fully, and so when I tease on the NAR, I ended up joining a missions team with the group/denomination/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. I tease on the ‘Apostolics,’ or the ‘NAR’ sometimes in the same familial way that I sometimes tease on classic Pentecostals. I suppose that I consider myself ‘one of them,’ but I don’t think that the church/group/whatever-you-want-to-call-it has discovered all Truth, and I think sometimes there is a tendency to go into excesses without a willingness to receive any form of correction on it (it sometimes seems that anyone who would attempt to make any form of correction – unless they are a recognized ‘Apostle’ or ‘Prophet’ within the group – is labelled ‘religious’ and ignored).
I honestly received some excellent ministerial training from this group, and made some really great friends (and frankly I’ve been experiencing for some time a ‘dark night of the soul’ season… (yes, I’ve found there to be Truth in it – perhaps not for all, but surely for some..) in which I sincerely apologize if I have alienated or offended any). Yet, as Jesus would commit Himself to no man (John 2:24) – in the same way, I see the danger in congealing with any set of man’s ideas or perspectives; and the danger is, namely, this: any systematic ideology, or lifestyle that we take on constricts us to itself. I will sign total agreement to no statement of faith besides the bible – no matter how much I may think I agree with it in the moment, I’ve found the second I whole-heartedly agree to any deduction made of scripture is the moment that the Lord corrects that deduction in me, and I am convicted of Truth. The second that I harden into a conformity with any earthly organization, or to any man’s perspective is the second that a place in my heart has become hardened into the image of man, and obstinate to the Spirit of God.
Let me give an example of what I mean – I believe that God is three in one (1 John 5:7 KJV (I emphasize ‘KJV’ because this verse is excluded from other mainline English translations – which is a whole other story)); in the traditional church the Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is taught as the doctrine of the ‘Trinity’ – which is not a biblical term, but I generally take no issue with it. The doctrine of the ‘Trinity’ divides God into three different PERSONS. This is an issue because it implies three different PERSONALITIES; the bible does not teach God as three different persons, but in man’s theological attempt to explain the Godhead it formulated this phrase (the term ‘God in THREE PERSONS’ came into general use shortly before the time of Augustine circa, 250 A.D. The church council came up with the term in an attempt to unify those who believed that God was three-in-one with those perpetuating the cultic view that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were three separate gods. The usage of the term ‘God in three persons,’ pacified (most) on both sides of the argument – this may seem unifying from the earthly standpoint, but I think it was one of Christianity’s first major compromises on Truth. The term was generally accepted, and has been used to describe the three-in-one nature of God ever since.) According to scripture, however, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all have the same personality – each has a different function, or role, but are one-in-the-same (Deut. 6:4).
The reason that I find this to be a problem is that as soon as we congeal on a manmade (rather than strictly scriptural) concept, it becomes solidified in our hearts, and minds as an absolute Gospel Truth. Then, if God attempts to correct our thinking on the issue by some revelation from the Holy Spirit – we will find ourselves in doubt of what God is trying to reveal to us. We have taken for doctrines the traditions of men (Matt 15:9) – this was so prevalent in the days that Jesus walked the earth, that those who followed the religious organization actually murdered the God who gave them their scriptures! I believe that a little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6-8), so even things like the ‘Trinity,’ which I believe are *BASICALLY* true, I won’t congeal on a rigid perspective of. I strive to go just as far as the scripture teaches, and not teach AS DOCTRINES conclusions beyond it (however logical they may seem) (For a fuller discussion on my view of the ‘trinity,’ see: ‘Trinity’, or ‘Godhead’…?).
Thus, what I agree with in any group: Plain statement of scripture; revelation of the Holy Ghost. No adding to (even by degree), no taking away from (even by degree).
I believe that through this realization, I have become Truly non-denominational if not more (actually) apostolic, catholic (universal church), and ecumenical. I hope some of this is self-explanatory when one peruses my writings here, as it would doubtless be difficult to read very much of my blog and keep it down for those opposed to the Pentecostal, and Apostolic leanings – yet I also wanted to make a plain statement that I hope not to offend any but be at peace with all – particularly those of my Father’s house (that is: all Christians everywhere).
1 Thess. 5:21
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
God, let in not be critical of one another, but alert; and to assess, weigh, evaluate all things – for the last time is at hand. Amen.