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Forgiven…Loved…..Transformed!

Unity or Heresy, Part 5: AoG, DoC, and Quaker

Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

By now, if you are still reading this blog, you have decided that either God is bringing information out that needs to be brought out or you are someone who is a ranking official in the churches I am discussing and you are plotting about my mysterious disappearance and subsequent cement shoes that you will be placing me in and throwing me to the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay.  So you know, this blog is not only being posted.  I am emailing it weekly to the headquarters of each church that I discuss so that they can contact me back if they wish to do.  I will be completely transparent here.  I am not perfect and I do tend to err…a lot.  So if I have mistakenly put something in here that does not belong, please inform me and I will spend an entire blog post apologizing as well as posting it to my Twitter account  The purpose of this series is not to create anger among believers, but to inform Christians of heresy and cultic activity inside of denominations/sects.

Last week, I started going down the rabbit hole of the Protestant denominations.  Surprisingly, churches that are fairly influential, as we witnessed last week, have some grave errors in Biblical translation.  As we continue to progress through the upcoming weeks, I am hoping that we will find together that, while heresy exists in most places, we as Christians have the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit to bring about positive change inside the denominations.

Please note, NONE of these denominations deserve to be written off!

Colossians 3:14-16 – And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

They all have the ability to grow and mature in the power of the Holy Spirit into churches that will not confuse the Word of the Lord with the word of the world.  Look at Corinth.  Hands down the most corrupt church in the New Testament, yet Paul STILL called them “saint.”

Assembly of God

The AoG denomination finds its roots in the Pentecostal Church.  It was founded in 1914 by a coalition of Pentecostal ministers who desired to work together to grow the missionary field and place accountabilities in place in the church.  Eudorus Bell was the first chairman of the coalition.  Eventually his title changed to General Superintendent.  Quickly they started realizing some disputes among their council.  Some desired Oneness Theology (that there is no Trinity) and some desired a Trinitarian view.  The council elected a Trinitarian view and moved forward, building as a denomination from there.  There are plenty of high profile AoG ministers.  Some of the more well known are Benny Hinn, Morris Cerrulo, Jimmy Swaggert and Tammy & Jim Bakker.  But don’t use big name stars to polarize you to or away from AoG.

Looking at the church doctrinally, we find that they align fairly well with Biblical teaching except in a few areas.  First, the AoG believe that you can lose your faith.  Now this is a debate for another day.  I truly believe that one cannot lose their faith once they have placed faith in Christ.  But they TRULY need to have done so.  Many of the conversions we hear about that happen quickly and in the heat of the moment may not be true conversions if the person’s heart is not given completely over to God.  But the AoG church believes that you can lose your faith.  This statement comes from their website and in the area of their “positional papers.”  You can find it at this link:

http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/pp_4178_security.pdf

The other piece that I find interesting is that the AoG fully embrace that speaking in tongues is a necessary part of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.  That comes from page 10 of their position paper on baptism in the Holy Spirit, found here:

http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/PP_Baptism_In_the_Holy_Spirit.pdf

While I do not dismiss the use of tongues in worship, I do not believe they are a necessary evidence of the coming on of the Holy Spirit.  Paul is very clear in 1 Corinthians 12.  Paul claims that God has given each unique gifts, and tongues is listed in those unique gifts.  There are several verses in the New Testament that tell us that people were “filled with the Holy Spirit” but without any mention of tongues.  Acts 4:31 also claims that the apostles were meeting when they were filled with the Holy Spirit.  The earth shook, but tongues are not mentioned.  Other notable areas that don’t mention tongues but do show a filling of the Holy Spirit come in Acts 8:14-17, 8:38, 9:17-18, and 13:8-11.  The book of Acts explains what happened during the time of the 1st century, but the book of Acts does not contain promises or commands.

While the major implications of Christianity are believed in the AoG church, the two points listed above show that heresy can creep in and has.  Please keep this denomination in prayer so the heresies will come out of the church and they can continue to grow in unity with the body of Christ.

John 10:26-30 – “You do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

Disciples of Christ

The Disciples of Christ, also known as the Christian Church, started as the work of two pastors almost simultaneously in the early 1800s in both PA and KY.  They both sought to challenge the harsh denominationalism of the times.  The Campbells in PA challenged the idea of the Lord’s Supper requiring a strict denominational affiliation while in KY, Barton Stone challenged the use of creed as fellowship tests.  In 1832 both Campbell and Stone unified.  Strangely, even though they fought to keep strict denominationalism out of the church, they found that as they grew, schisms started happening in their own denomination.  The Church of Christ movement was born out of the Christian Church (DoC) in 1906.  Even as recent as the 1960s, some 3,000 churches left the DoC umbrella.  The goal of the DoC denomination has been, and continues to be one, of ecumenism.  Through their CCT (Christian Churches Together) program, they bring Catholic, Evangelical, Protestant, Orthodox, and Pentecostal together.

There are a couple of things that I wonder about this denomination.  First, going back to the 1800’s, Stone, in his pamphlet on baptism, claimed “Remission of sins cannot be enjoyed by any person before immersion.”  While Stone may have believed that, the DoC do not publish that on their website.  They feel that water immersion is an important symbol to show God’s redemptive act in process, but not that there is a legalistic tie to the process.

Revelation 3:14-18 – These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

On the other hand, the one major point that baffles me about the DoC is the lack of doctrine on its website.  I looked for discussions on the Trinity and only found a single section in which the Holy Spirit was even mentioned.  From what I could find in their website and all of their resources, they seem to be a church that sits on the fence.  The first thought that crossed my mind was the Church of Laodicea in Revelation.  Could this be a modern day Laodicea?

I will say that the predominant message on the DoC website is that they will be a church against racism.  They have pages dedicated to it.  While a noble endeavor, without the power of the Holy Spirit, will racism ever truly be eradicated?  Most likely not.  Their very first priority is to become an “anti-racist church.”  Following this is forming 1,000 new congregations by 2020, transforming 1,000 congregations by 2020, and developing leaders to lead the charge in these congregations.  The entire webpage dedicated to their 4 Priorities have no Scriptural foundation.  There is not one ounce of Scripture stated on that page.  If you would like to see for yourself, the link is here:

http://www.disciples.org/Home/WhoWeAre/TheFourPrioritiesoftheChurch/tabid/1124/Default.aspx

While I cannot discern through study the confirmed doctrines of the DoC to label them a cult or a sect, as a denomination I can tell you that I am concerned.  As I read their website and their writings the Holy Spirit kept prompting me of Revelation 3 and the Church of Laodicea.  To all of my DoC friends out there, IT IS TIME TO GET OFF THE FENCE.  Make a commitment to understanding Scripture.  Don’t simply call yourself a copy of the first century church without understanding the roots of what makes the church a viable and living organism.  The power of the Holy Spirit is necessary for revival in all of our churches.  Seek that power.

Romans 3:10 – As it is written, there no one righteous, not even one.

Quaker

The history of the Religious Society of Friends, or the Quakers, is one filled with persecution.  George Fox, in the mid-1600’s, became disillusioned with orthodox Christianity.  He became an itinerant preacher who went against the services at the time.  There was no music, no creeds, no rituals.  It involved a lot of silent mediation.  This was a denomination built out of rebellion against the state more than any doctrinal reasons.  Not trusting in the government at the time, they refused to pay tithes at state churches, would not take oaths in court, and refused to serve in combat.  They also challenged authority to end slavery and provide more humane treatment of prisoners, both of which were very unpopular stances at the time.  Quakers were persecuted across England and many died in prison.

George Fox was once brought before a judge.  Fox said, “tremble before the Word of the Lord.”  the judge, mocking Fox, called him a Quaker and the name has since stuck.

Many came to America, seeking religious tolerance that was not provided by England.  Unfortunately, the main Christian denominations at the time considered Quakers heretics and banned them from worshiping with them.  Even worse, many were hanged for witchcraft.  Eventually, over time, the Quakers had multiple schisms that led to some being more liberal and others maintaining orthodoxy to Quakerism.

As for their beliefs, they interpret the Bible very differently in many ways.  First, baptism is not a required outward act.  Therefore it is not a physical sacrament.  Baptism, to Quakers, is an inward act, not an outward observance.  The Bible is fully inspired by the Holy Spirit.  While individual revelation is stressed, that revelation needs to stand up to Biblical truth.  Heaven and hell are interpreted very differently depending on the congregation.  Some do not believe in the literal places of heaven and hell while others do.

Romans 1:32 – Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

The three areas that concern me with Quakerism revolves around equality, sin, and the role of Jesus in salvation.  First, with regard to equality, because they are a denomination based around tolerance, they are adopting a more lenient stance on gay marriage.  On their UK site, beginning on March 29, 2014, Quakers will welcome the new Marriage Act that Britain adopted.  The reason they post is, Quakers see God in everyone and that leads us to say that all committed loving relationships are of equal worth and so Quakers in Britain wish to celebrate them in the same way.”  Another piece that came from that is that Quakers have been celebrating same-sex marriages since 2009 and Britain is “finally catching up.”  Here is the link to the site:

https://www.quaker.org.uk/samesexbriefing

The next point I want to make is that Quakers have a significant difference when it comes to sin.  Quakers see everyone as inherently good, not sinful.  While sin exists, even the lost are children of God and He is working in their lives to bring back their light.

Finally, they have a legalistic view of salvation through the life of Jesus Christ.  The believe God is revealed through Jesus Christ and they must emulate Him.  Emulating Jesus and obeying His commands is more important than the theology of salvation.

It is because of these three points that I need to say that Quakerism is a cult.  Man is not inherently good.  We are fallen.  It is only through the death on the cross that Jesus provides the sacrifice necessary to save us from our sin.  While emulating Christ and living a life like His is, indeed, worthy of respect, that alone is not going to get you into heaven.  The theology of salvation MUST be preached and learned and internalized by each individual believer.  And finally, embracing the worldly view of gay marriage is a stance that clearly goes against Biblical teaching.

2 Peter 2:1 – But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Next week I will look at Foursquare Gospel, The Salvation Army, Christian Reform and Full Gospel groups.

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