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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: Are Pentecostals Evangelical?
Gracie
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On this thread , Gordon Cheng has suggested that Pentecostals are not Evangelical and also that they are probably not even Christian, and invites someone to start a thread here in Purgatory to discuss the theology of Pentecostalism.

I am not Pentecostal and do not subscribe to Pentecostal theology, but reading the exchanges on the other thread has provoked me to start this one, as it is not the first time that I have heard claims similar to those made by Gordon.

Gordon appears to define Evangelicalism by its cross-centeredness if I have understood him correctly. Personally I don’t think that cross-centeredness alone is sufficient to classify theology as being Evangelical. I would add, at the very least, the resurrection, the ascension, and Jesus as the only mediator between God and man.

Anyway, my question is : Is it true to say that Pentecostals do not preach the cross. I have always thought that Pentecostals do preach the cross, even if they preach some other things as well that other Evangelicals don’t.

An element of this is a phrase I have heard, by which they say that “healing is in the atonement”, based on Isaiah 53:5 – “with his stripes we are healed”. I don’t understand how they could preach that without preaching the cross.

[ 21. October 2005, 07:36: Message edited by: Alan Cresswell ]

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Custard
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I think there are some within the Pentecostal movement who are also evangelicals, and some who are not.

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Alan Cresswell

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First, I think we need a broad definition of evangelical. The one that's most commonly used in the UK (for example, it's in Tomlinsons Post Evangelical), and has been given on the Ship several times is a four point definition:

  • Emphasis on the Cross, often (but not exclusively) taking a Penal Substititionary Atonement model.
  • Centrality of Scripture, it's "supreme authority in matters of faith and conduct" (could be inerrancy or infallibility)
  • Importance of conversion, evangelicals believe in a need to make a personal decision to follow Christ.
  • Activism, the Christian faith is something that results in action - primarily evangelism, though also social action.
Certainly, there's no reason why Pentecostals couldn't be Evangelical. Though many Pentecostals and Charismatics wouldn't be (I've known many Charismatic Catholics who would have difficulty with some of the above, primacy of Scripture especially).

The Charismatic emphasis on the Spirit does result in a different perspective, that can sit uneasily with mainstream evangelical belief. So, conversion becomes instead of just a personal decision to accept Christ as Saviour and Lord something that includes an experience of the power of the Spirit. An emphasis on the importance of Pentecost can de-emphasise the Cross.

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The Black Labrador
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I thought that, at least in the UK, Elim and AoG were part of the Evangelical Alliance and subscribed to fairly mainstream evangelical theology albeit with a charismatic emphasis. I've never heard anyone say they weren't evangelicals before.
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Lurker McLurker™

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You could make it look like Pentes weren't evangelical if you took a radical enough definition of two of the four main points of evangelicalism.

  • Emphasis on the Cross
  • Centrality of Scripture
  • Importance of conversion
  • Activism

Now, pentecostals are certainly into activism, and very much into conversion experiences, proably more than most evanglicals. As for the others

Emphasis on the cross. If you define emphasis as "continually talking about the crucifixion" then the likes of Hillsongs are not evangelical. However, they do believe that Jesus'
quote:
died on the cross in our place, and rose again to prove His victory and empower us for life.
So, unless you insist on belief in PSA they would be evangelicals. The Assemblies of God, meanwhile, according to the UK AoG website, do believe in Jesus'
quote:
Substitutionary Atoning Death
.

Centrality of Scripture Now, there is an belief among really hardcore evangelicals that belief in prophesy as a spiritual gift that is still valid today must be incompatible with this. It is associated with the false belief that Charismatics/Pentecostals hold prophetic utterances on a par with scripture, which is not tru for the mainstream Pente/Charismatic churches.

Hillsongs say
quote:
We believe that the Bible is God's Word. It is accurate, authoritative and applicable to our every day lives.
while the UK AoG say
quote:
We believe that the Bible (i.e. the Old and New Testaments excluding the Apocrypha), is the inspired Word of God, the infallible, all sufficient rule for faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:15-16; 2 Peter 1:21).
This all sounds evangelical to me. Not that I'd join hillsongs, but I fail to see why they wouldn't be evangleical, while the AoG seems to be somewhat more conservative than I (a moderate evangelical) am.

[ 14. July 2005, 13:31: Message edited by: Lurker McLurker™ ]

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StJerome
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Of course pentecostals can be evangelicals and most of them are christians BTW.

Usually the people that don't like pentecostals are not huge fans of charismatic christianity either. They also don't get that you don't have to be evangelical to be christian.

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daronmedway
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quote:
Originally posted by Gracie:
Gordon Cheng has suggested that Pentecostals are not Evangelical and also that they are probably not even Christian.

No he didn't: he said - on the basis of my testimony - that Hillsong Church London probably isn't Christian.

[ 14. July 2005, 14:15: Message edited by: m.t_tomb ]

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Matt Black

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I presume we are talking about Pentes other than Oneness Pentecostals who, IMNSVHO, don't pass muster on the Christian stakes, let alone evangelical. If so, all the Trinitarian Pentecostals I've ever come across have also been evangelical.

What's the beef with Hillsongs, exactly?

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Matt Black

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OK, I read the Hell thread. Now I understand. Quite horrible.

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"Protestant and Reformed, according to the Tradition of the ancient Catholic Church" - + John Cosin (1594-1672)

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StJerome
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I don't like Hillsong either BTW just in case people thought I was defending their heretic ways!

Whats gets me about them also is how people love them because they are so successful (since they have so many people that go)

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Frankly, I've never come across any kind of charismatic church (much as I'd like to) whose theology was anything other than evangelical.

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Trini
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A real, live Pentecostal signing in...

My church is affiliated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. My previous church (and my parents' current church) was an 'Open Bible' church - it's almost a brand name since there are several of them but they aren't a denomination of their own. I'm quite sure 'Open Bible' counts as Pentecostal (that's certainly what they call themselves).

I know that it was repeatedly said at OB that we believe we receive salvation through Christ's atoning death on the cross. I think that would cover the first of Alan's bullet points. As for the other three, they go without saying really. At OB, not only is that the official line, but pretty much everyone believes it too.

At my current church however views vary widely and I don't know that everyone would agree with PSA but there is certainly an emphasis on the cross and I'm fairly sure it's the official line.

Given that I squirmed in my padded pew some Sundays ago when the guest speaker (supposedly a Biblical historian) told us about how historically accurate the Bible is and something about jots and tittles, I would say that Biblical supremacy is something that many people go for.

Conversion and activism are both yeses.

Hmm, looking through this, I'm wondering if I'm a non-Pentecostal, non-Evangelical who attends a Pentecostal church - mostly because I don't believe in the need for conversion any more.

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Gracie
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quote:
Originally posted by m.t_tomb:
quote:
Originally posted by Gracie:
Gordon Cheng has suggested that Pentecostals are not Evangelical and also that they are probably not even Christian.

No he didn't: he said - on the basis of my testimony - that Hillsong Church London probably isn't Christian.
m.t_tomb,
In this post in reply to Eutychus about the Australian AOG Gordon said that they're not even close to being Evangelical, then again here that they're probably not even Christian.

Now back to the debate:

quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell
Certainly, there's no reason why Pentecostals couldn't be Evangelical. Though many Pentecostals and Charismatics wouldn't be (I've known many Charismatic Catholics who would have difficulty with some of the above, primacy of Scripture especially).

The Charismatic emphasis on the Spirit does result in a different perspective, that can sit uneasily with mainstream evangelical belief. So, conversion becomes instead of just a personal decision to accept Christ as Saviour and Lord something that includes an experience of the power of the Spirit. An emphasis on the importance of Pentecost can de-emphasise the Cross.

The original comments made by Gordon, were just about Pentecostals. I intentionally did not widen this out to charismatics in my OP, realising that there are plenty of Catholic or Anglican charismatics, who would have no desire to be Evangelical.

As I have understood, in Pentecostal rather than Charismatic doctrine, there is a second experience after conversion called by them "Baptism in the Spirit". Since for them this can only come after the original conversion experience "at the cross" I don't see how that would de-emphasise the cross, although I do agree that it would give a different perspective.

Otherwise, thanks to Lurker and Trini for their contributions.

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When someone is convinced he’s an Old Testament prophet there’s not a lot you can do with him rationally. - Sine

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Gracie:
The original comments made by Gordon, were just about Pentecostals. I intentionally did not widen this out to charismatics in my OP, realising that there are plenty of Catholic or Anglican charismatics, who would have no desire to be Evangelical.

I admit my experience of Pentecostals (ie: members of Pentecostal churches) is limited, whereas I've known many Charismatics in various independant evangelical churches, AOG churches, Baptist and Anglican churches. I'm not too sure on what, if any, significant differences in the doctrine of the Spirit are between Pentecostal and other Charismatic churches. And, certainly if you compare Pentecostal and, say, Charismatic Baptist or AOG then there will be far less differences in belief than between those same churches and someone like the Brethren - even though both would probably be evangelical.

quote:
As I have understood, in Pentecostal rather than Charismatic doctrine, there is a second experience after conversion called by them "Baptism in the Spirit". Since for them this can only come after the original conversion experience "at the cross" I don't see how that would de-emphasise the cross, although I do agree that it would give a different perspective.
The "Baptism of the Spirit" is a Charismatic as well as Pentecostal doctrine. And, I've certainly come across Charismatics who would consider that Baptism in the Spirit is the true conversion event. This can, though certainly doesn't always, make salvation dependant on both the Atonement of Christ and the Baptism of the Spirit in a manner that makes mainstream evangelicals uncomfortable as it can be seen to be saying the Cross was not enough. Though, I'd personally put that down to a weakness of some evangelical theology in failing to recognise that Christ did more than die - for a start he also gave the Spirit.

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babybear
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I went to Pentecostal churches for about 8 years. One of them was a breakaway group that athen proclaimed that it was charismatic, but there was very little difference between the two churches.

They were most definitely evangelical and most definitely Christian. They cared deeply about the saving work of Christ on the cross. They were deeply committed to backing up their words with actions and with their wallets. Conversion was a big thing and it was expected that the churches would have a steady flow of converts. And of course, the Bible held a very central part in every meeting. Those two churches had some excellent preachers and teachers.

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Nicodemia
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Having been a member of an AoG church for 6 years, and fairly recently at that, I can assure you they are very evangelical.

My church at least, and it very much went along with the AoG line, preached the cross far more than the resurrection and was firmly into PSA. And hell, of course. The flames of hell awaited all who were 'lost' (which could include the more liberal branches of Christianity, or even RC's!)

The 'conversion experience' was all-important - many a time I have heard the Pastor say that someone was "so nearly there, but couldn't just make the final step to give all to Jesus". And yes, like Babybear's experience, evangelism was expected to result in many 'converts'. It was a failure if it didn't.

Baptism 'in the Spirit' was stressed, very much so, and if you 'hadn't got it' you were prayed over until you jolly well did!! [Biased]

My particular church was very charismatic, though I have visted Elim and AoG churches that were not so, and viewed the "Toronto Blessing" for example, with scepticism. But then I have been in charismatic Baptist churches that were more charismatic than some Pentecostal churches, and where you were expected to fall over every time you got prayed for!

Personally, I found the emphasis on the 'simplicity' of the Gospel, and the very black and white, fundamentalist, the Bible is inerrant, outlook too much to take, my mind was too full of questions that were deemed unseemly or difficult, and my views on some subjects downright heretical and unbiblical.

But yes, they are Christians. They just like God in their own little box!

Sorry if I've offended anyone, I can only speak of my own experience.

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Gracie
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
The "Baptism of the Spirit" is a Charismatic as well as Pentecostal doctrine. And, I've certainly come across Charismatics who would consider that Baptism in the Spirit is the true conversion event. This can, though certainly doesn't always, make salvation dependant on both the Atonement of Christ and the Baptism of the Spirit in a manner that makes mainstream evangelicals uncomfortable as it can be seen to be saying the Cross was not enough. Though, I'd personally put that down to a weakness of some evangelical theology in failing to recognise that Christ did more than die - for a start he also gave the Spirit.

The difference, as I see it, between Pentecostals and Charismatics, is that Pentecostals say that The Baptism in the Spirit is a second experience, or "second blessing", whereas for Charismatics it is not necessarily a second experience, but part of the conversion "package".

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When someone is convinced he’s an Old Testament prophet there’s not a lot you can do with him rationally. - Sine

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Trini
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quote:
Originally posted by Trini:
At my current church however views vary widely and I don't know that everyone would agree with PSA but there is certainly an emphasis on the cross and I'm fairly sure it's the official line.

I think some clarification may be warranted to ensure I am not overstating my case as far as the 'doubters' in my church. On rethinking, I'm pretty sure that the majority of people believe in PSA and here is the official Statement of Faith from the PAOC.

The cross is certainly central to our teaching and Gracie is spot-on in saying that any other gifts come after the gift of salvation. Salvation through repentance and acknowledgement of Christ and His death for our sins is what 'saves'.

After you receive the gift of salvation, you may or may not receive other gifts including the gift of the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues. These gifts (including the ever-popular tongues) do not affect or improve your salvation. You don't have to be 'baptised in the Spirit' to be saved.

At my parents' church, tongue-speaking is sometimes done when a person is praying from the pulpit. No one randomly jumps up with 'a word' or such but a person who is asked to pray may decide to pray in tongues. The popularity of tongue-speaking in prayer seems to come and go there. I remember a fair bit of it in the 80s, very little in the 90s and now there seems to be a bit of a resurgence. To date, no one at my church has spoken in tongues during a service (that I attended) and I have been there for about 5 years.

I've never spoken in tongues and no one has ever suggested that I 'give it a try'. I wouldn't be surprised if other Pentecostal churches were different thought. In fact, the vast differences that can be found at churches that say 'Pentecostal' on the door, can make finding a new church quite scary. There's hardly any way to tell whether you'll walk in to find everyone slain in the Spirit or if it'll just be a hymn sandwich.

Also, I've noticed that a few churches that are in effect Pentecostal, pass on the use of the term and claim to be non-denominational or just call themselves 'church'.

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daronmedway
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quote:
Originally posted by Trini:
After you receive the gift of salvation, you may or may not receive other gifts including the gift of the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues. These gifts (including the ever-popular tongues) do not affect or improve your salvation. You don't have to be 'baptised in the Spirit' to be saved.

Really? That's odd because as one of those horrible 'conservative evangelicals' I would maintain that salvation and baptism in the Spirit are one and the same thing. To be a Christian is to be baptised in the Spirit; to be baptised in the Spirit is to be a Christian.

[code]

[ 15. July 2005, 06:21: Message edited by: m.t_tomb ]

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Nicodemia
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Ah yes, but to Pentecostals salvation and baptism in the Spirit are two separate things. Baptism in the Spirit is evidenced by the gifts of the Spirit - usually, but not always, tongues, though some Pentecostal churches still insist that tongues is the evidence of Baptism in the Spirit.

That's just the way it goes!

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Jengie jon

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I have been in a charismatic church, albeit in a main stream denomination, which also has very liberal practise and accepts preaching from all colours.

It knew about putting the love of the person first before the theological stance and has on a number of occasions done exactly that.

I am not going to post who but let me say now there is at least one other board member who can testify to this churches existence.

Jengie

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daronmedway
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quote:
Originally posted by Nicodemia:
Ah yes, but to Pentecostals salvation and baptism in the Spirit are two separate things. Baptism in the Spirit is evidenced by the gifts of the Spirit - usually, but not always, tongues, though some Pentecostal churches still insist that tongues is the evidence of Baptism in the Spirit.

That's just the way it goes!

Wouldn't it more accurate to say that pentocostals tend to believe that baptism in the Spirit is some kind of optional 'second blessing' over and above salvation itself? And wouldn't it be more accurate to say that pentecostals have the tendency to believe that this 'baptism' must involve a 'crisis experience' (feelings of ecstacy, love, heat, trembling, utterances, visions etc.)?
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Matt Black

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I have to agree that salvation and Baptism in the Spirit are contemporaneous, part of what James Dunn calls the 'conversion-initiation' process. To argue otherwise - for some kind of two-stage conversion process or two-speed Christianity - to my mind smacks of Valentinianism ( psychics and pneumatics )and that's an extremely old gnostic heresy/ heterodoxy...

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
I have to agree that salvation and Baptism in the Spirit are contemporaneous, part of what James Dunn calls the 'conversion-initiation' process. To argue otherwise - for some kind of two-stage conversion process or two-speed Christianity - to my mind smacks of Valentinianism ( psychics and pneumatics )and that's an extremely old gnostic heresy/ heterodoxy...

Well said Matt. I've been re-reading some of this early Christian history stuff (particularly Irenaeus) and reckon our modern labels get in the way of seeing what is going one. In a word, it is elitsm. Where pentecostalism or charismatic renewal, or evangelicalism (or any other Christian expression) show signs of elitism about what they think they know, where they marginalise or de-christianise others who they see as lacking their elite knowledge or experience, they head away from mainstream faith in the direction of an ancient heresy. (Note for Calvinists and others. "Elitist" belief to be the same as "elect" belief. It is a form of superiority and an issue of pride).

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Nicodemia
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Oh yes, I quite agree with what mt tomb, Matt and Barnabus are saying about baptism in the Spirit and salvation! I'm just saying what I was told when I was in the pentecostal church!

mt tomb said
quote:
Wouldn't it more accurate to say that pentecostals tend to believe that baptism in the Spirit is some kind of optional 'second blessing' over and above salvation itself? And wouldn't it be more accurate to say that pentecostals have the tendency to believe that this 'baptism' must involve a 'crisis experience' (feelings of ecstacy, love, heat, trembling, utterances, visions etc.)?


Yes, you are probably right - I was just saying it in fewer words!! [Biased] Although the 'optional' bit isn't all that optional when you get to the nitty gritty! Like I said earlier, if you haven't had the 'Baptism in the Spirit' and the Pastors and Elders get their hands on you (literally!) you will be prayed over until you jolly well get it!

By 'crisis' - do you mean in their lives, or just a sudden 'spiritual' thing? Personally I feel it is an emotional experience, and I do wonder now, though I didn't then, just how authentic the tongues, visions, words of prophecy or knowledge are at that time. I do believe that gifts of the spirit can be authentic in some situations where they are encouraged.

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Trini
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In Pentecostal circles, I've always heard the terms 'speaking in tongues' and 'baptism of the Holy Spirit' used interchangably; but seemingly distinct from salvation. I mean our water baptisms, for instance, are done in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit but at the same time, people have this very certain idea that being baptised in the Spirit means that you'll jabber on for a bit. Then again, the phrase isn't just 'baptism of the HS', I think that is short for 'baptism of the HS with evidence of speaking in tongues'.

I am not entirely clear if it's possible that some Pentecostals think you can be baptised in the HS without evidence of speaking in tongues. Some time during the late 80s or early 90s when tongues were 'in' at my old church, people began to worry that they didn't 'have' the HS (if they weren't speaking in tongues) and they were consoled that they probably did although you could only be sure if you had the tongues.

It is a problem because the sense was that you needed to somehow earn the HS's interest.

I can't say that I've heard my current ministers use the term baptism of the HS at all. They avoid it like the plague. From my previous church though, I am quite certain that the teaching is: Holy Spirit=tongues.

Personally, I agree with m.t_tomb and Matt Black though.

As I mentioned, in my churches I have never encountered people who think tongue-speaking is imperative. In fact, when I took the membership class at my current church, the minister seemed a bit uncomfortable about the whole tongues thing when someone mentioned it.

[ 15. July 2005, 14:15: Message edited by: Trini ]

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Gracie
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Thank you to everyone who has posted hinting at the dangers of gnosticism in pentecostalism - that is a conclustion I had already drawn myself. However my current question was not so much, are Pentecostals right or wrong, but more can they be considered to be Evangelical.

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Trini
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Black:
I have to agree that salvation and Baptism in the Spirit are contemporaneous, part of what James Dunn calls the 'conversion-initiation' process. To argue otherwise - for some kind of two-stage conversion process or two-speed Christianity - to my mind smacks of Valentinianism ( psychics and pneumatics )and that's an extremely old gnostic heresy/ heterodoxy...

I (personally) agree that salvation and baptism in the Spirit are the same (others in my church would disagree) but even so, I don't think it's fair to say that Pentecostals believe in a two-step conversion. Speaking in tongues is not neccessary for Pentecostals and it has nothing to do with conversion. I am tempted to compare tongues to stigmata. It's a manifestation of something special about you but it's not something that's going to be experienced by everyone.
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Gordon Cheng

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Hi all,

Just checking in to this thread to say I've been away for a few days but appreciate Gracie having started off this discussion.

Because it is so hard to get a good handle on defining either 'Pentecostal' or 'evangelical', I would hesitate to answer the OP question by anything more than a definite 'yes', 'no', and 'maybe', depending a great deal on variables like "who exactly", "where" (terminology floats about from country to country and even city to city on meaning, eg a Melbourne evangelical and a Sydney evangelical are not the same critter) and "when" ('evangelical' in CICCU 1919 looks different from UK evangelical in 2005).

But if you want to check out the Hillsong thread in Hell for background, then the specific claim I would make is that the understanding and teaching of the cross has been thoroughly sidelined within those churches; in particular the Hillsong church at Castle Hill in Sydney. I base this claim on the Hillsong Australia website, which may be found here, and a range of testimonies from various observers who would describe themselves variously as secular, evangelical, charismatic, or pentecostal.

The claim is quite specific and may get us past some of the inevitable confusions of arguing labels and definitions. What's more, it is based on evidence that is in the public domain and easily accessible to SoF members. I would be delighted (really) to discover that I had gotten this completely wrong and will guarantee to retract the claim, on this thread, if this proves to be the case.

At the same time, if this specific claim can be discussed it may throw light on the broader question of the OP in a useful way.

ETA: Some of the posts I made in Hell reflect a broader and more ranty mode appropriate to the board; and I wouldn't want to be held to every specific detail of those posts now that we have crossed over elements of the discussion to Purg. I am not, for example, about to claim that Pentecostals are not Christians!

[ 16. July 2005, 11:06: Message edited by: Gordon Cheng ]

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Nicodemia
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Trini posted

quote:
I don't think it's fair to say that Pentecostals believe in a two-step conversion. Speaking in tongues is not neccessary for Pentecostals and it has nothing to do with conversion.
I think it is quite fair! The AoG (Assemblies of God) Statement of Faith includes this:

quote:
We believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit as an enduement of the believer with power for service, the essential, biblical evidence of which is the speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance (Acts 1:4-5, 8, 2:4, 10:44-46, 11:14-16, 19:6).


Can't get much clearer than that! And, like I said, if you ain't got it, better get prayed for sister, else you ain't a proper Christian! [Devil]
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Raspberry Rabbit

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Practically speaking, I'd say that the answer to the question is certainly yes, meaning that they have more in common with Evangelicals in terms of their ability to tick the same boxes on a questionnaire than they would with liberal protestants or most Roman Catholics.

I don't think the question ends there, however. There's a novelty about Pentecostalism and (via the Full Gospel Business Mens Fellowship International and Dennis Bennett et. al.) Charismatic christianity in general which ought to make us question how easily it sits with Evangelicalism and with the Christian tradition generally.

RR
admitting he's a little obsessed about this point

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Nicodemia
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Gordon, I can't quite see why you 'can't get a handle' on Pentecostalism.

Maybe its different in Oz, but here the Elim and Assemblies of God churches state quite plainly they are Pentecostal churches. Some don't always announce themselves so, but you often find, in small letters down the bottom of things 'we are an accredited church of the Assemblies of God' or some such words.

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Gracie
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quote:
Originally posted by Gordon Cheng:

Because it is so hard to get a good handle on defining either 'Pentecostal' or 'evangelical', I would hesitate to answer the OP question by anything more than a definite 'yes', 'no', and 'maybe', depending a great deal on variables like "who exactly", "where" (terminology floats about from country to country and even city to city on meaning, eg a Melbourne evangelical and a Sydney evangelical are not the same critter) and "when" ('evangelical' in CICCU 1919 looks different from UK evangelical in 2005).

Would you agree, Gordon, that Melbourne and Sydney evangelicals (whatever they might be!) have some things in common, and that CICCU 1919 would have some things in common with UK evangelicals in 2005, and even that all these four sets would have some things in common? If so, could you have a bash at saying what those things are. If you don't think this is the case, can you say what is so different about them?

quote:

But if you want to check out the Hillsong thread in Hell for background, then the specific claim I would make is that the understanding and teaching of the cross has been thoroughly sidelined within those churches; in particular the Hillsong church at Castle Hill in Sydney. I base this claim on the Hillsong Australia website, which may be found here, and a range of testimonies from various observers who would describe themselves variously as secular, evangelical, charismatic, or pentecostal.

Could you say specifically, what it is on the Hillsong website, which makes you say that they are not evangelical?

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When someone is convinced he’s an Old Testament prophet there’s not a lot you can do with him rationally. - Sine

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Nicodemia
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I've had a quick look at the Hillsong web site, and must say I've heard all that stuff preached in evangelical churches!

The only part I would say that some evangelical churches wouldn't go along with, although many Pentecostal churches would, is their take on healing. "God wants you strong and prosperous" seems to be the main theme, bit too much like the Word of Faith to be the ordinary Evangelical line.

And their teaching on depression made me really angry! But that's another thread! [Mad]

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daronmedway
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quote:
Originally posted by Raspberry Rabbit:
There's a novelty about Pentecostalism and (via the Full Gospel Business Mens Fellowship International and Dennis Bennett et al) Charismatic christianity in general which ought to make us question how easily it sits with Evangelicalism and with the Christian tradition generally.

Well, it might interest you to know that I was converted at an FGBMFI dinner, but after only a short period of time realised that much of what they were teaching was dodgy. God works in mysterious ways...
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Gracious rebel

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quote:
Originally posted by m.t_tomb:
Well, it might interest you to know that I was converted at an FGBMFI dinner, but after only a short period of time realised that much of what they were teaching was dodgy. God works in mysterious ways...

That is rather like the way I was converted after seeing the film Thief in the Night....... [Biased]

[ 16. July 2005, 14:28: Message edited by: Gracious rebel ]

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Nightlamp
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The key difference in my in opinion between Pentecostalism and Evangelicism is the role of experience. The early Pentecostal church in America claimed they had an experience of God, which they called Baptism of the Holy Spirit and claimed that it was the same as recorded in Acts.

Pentecostal theology is rooted in experience and they use the Bible to explain their experiences hence ‘orthopathy’ is important to them. Pentecostals use testimony a lot and use the bible in a way that an evangelical would probably blush at. Evangelicals normally claim that an understanding of the Bible is paramount and hence they have a greater focus on orthodox belief and they look in the bible for the correct doctrines to believe in. To persuade an evangelical a theological belief is wrong you have start with a argument taken from the Bible to persuade a Pentecostal you need to start with a testimony. I think of the charismatic movement as the meeting of Pentecostal and evangelicism traditions.

Although both streams of Christianity have much in common they are both quite distinct. Hence I think the question is about as appropriate as asking ‘are Evangelicals Orthodox?’

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I don't know what you are talking about so it couldn't have been that important- Nightlamp

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quote:
Originally posted by Trini:
In fact, the vast differences that can be found at churches that say 'Pentecostal' on the door, can make finding a new church quite scary. There's hardly any way to tell whether you'll walk in to find everyone slain in the Spirit or if it'll just be a hymn sandwich.

I think this is the key. Some pentecostal churches I would not hesitate to categorise as evangelical, others not so much. I grew up in a pentecostal church, and later attended an evangelical anglican one (both in Sydney): my inital reaction to the suggestion (on the hell thread) that pentecostal churches were evangelical was complete disbelief. The church I grew up in (which was and is affiliated with Hillsongs Sydney, although they were both CLCs at the time) did not identify with evangelicalism at all.

On the other hand, I can see that some of the statements of belief of various AoG churches linked to here and in hell could reasonably be considered evangelical. I did start to wonder whether I had just been missing something while I was there (not paying attention due to youthfulness or something), however a perusal of their website tends to suggest that my impressions were accurate. The only things remotely approaching a statement of belief that I can find are this 'core values' thing and perhaps this 'teaching' thing. On the basis of those documents, I think they don't qualify as evangelical on the four points:

1. Emphasis on the cross. No mention anywhere of the cross.
2. Centrality of scripture. Scripture is point 6 of 8 - it's there, but arguably not central.
3. Importance of conversion. Could be implied by the 'soulwinning' thing?
4. Activism. Is there (under 'soulwinning'), but secondary (as a result of the christian faith) to 'living successfully' and 'finding the God-dreams for your life'.

I don't think this particular pentecostal church counts as evangelical, but I can see how Hillsong Sydney could reasonably be considered so. Although theoretically both would have had to sign up to the thing reproduced on the Hillsong website as it is the AoG Australia statement of belief, because there's no particular uniformity in interpretation or emphasis I don't think that's a very reliable indicator. It really depends on the individual church, IMO.

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Eloise:
... but I can see how Hillsong Sydney could reasonably be considered so....

Gordon. I guess Eloise did what I did, which was to look at the link you posted and then find on the website the link she posted above. Remembering it is a summary, its position on the atoning death of Jesus looks pretty solidly evo to me. You're a good analyst- what was it you saw (or didn't see) there that bothered you? Or is it something to do with the way Jesus is preached that bothers you? My own evo views are pretty closely aligned with radicals like Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis, whose views on the so-called prosperity gospel might well set this website on fire - so I'm not defending any "prosperity gospel" aspect of Hillsongs, or any other expression of Pentecostalism if it is indeed to be found there.

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Trini
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quote:
Originally posted by Nicodemia:

The AoG (Assemblies of God) Statement of Faith includes this:

quote:
We believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit as an enduement of the believer with power for service, the essential, biblical evidence of which is the speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance (Acts 1:4-5, 8, 2:4, 10:44-46, 11:14-16, 19:6).


Can't get much clearer than that! And, like I said, if you ain't got it, better get prayed for sister, else you ain't a proper Christian! [Devil]
Hmm, I don't read this as meaning that baptism in the Holy Spirit is required for Pentecostals or is a part of conversion.

To me it says that baptism empowers you to 'service' and the only way to know that you have such baptism ("essential, Biblical evidence") is to have spoken in tongues.

I wonder what service is it that one can only do after speaking in tongues? [Ooh, la-la!] The average pew-potato isn't looking to do much as far as service. Perhaps some charity work which non-tongue speaking people - nay, non-Christians even - can do just as well, obviously without this particular experience. I just don't see this as requiring Holy Spirit baptism for everyone - especially not as a part of salvation.

Would the AoG say that a person is not 'saved' if they have not spoken in tongues? And of course, even if they would, that belief would not apply to all Pentecostals but only to AoG members.

For all I know, my pastors may never have spoken in tongues before. Perhaps, I'll narrow my previous statement to say that my Pentecostal church does not believe in a two-step conversion.

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Nicodemia
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quote:
I just don't see this as requiring Holy Spirit baptism for everyone - especially not as a part of salvation.

The Pastors in the church I am thinking of would not have gone so far as to say that salvation depended on Baptism in the Spirit! But it wasn't an optional extra, either! Their view was that all Christians should be baptised in the Spirit, and if you weren't, then you would be prayed for until you were! I think they were genuinely concerned that a person was missing out on something if they weren't so baptised, and speaking in tongues was, to them, the "proof" that you were so baptised. Lots of people, of course, had other gifts - words from God, words of knowledge, visions etc.

And at one time, if you were prayed for at a "Healing" service (healing emotionally and spiritually, not necessarily physically) then being "slain in the Spirit" was more or less obligatory.

Obviously, from what has been posted on this thread, various Pentecostal churches differ in their understanding of such Baptism in the Spirit. I'm just saying how it was in the three Pentecostal churches I knew.

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Nightlamp
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quote:
Originally posted by m.t_tomb:
Wouldn't it more accurate to say that pentocostals tend to believe that baptism in the Spirit is some kind of optional 'second blessing' over and above salvation itself?

This is quite normal charismatic belief but not strictly speaking Pentecostal.

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I don't know what you are talking about so it couldn't have been that important- Nightlamp

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Barnabas62
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I think these distinctions in recent posts between charismatics and pentecostals are pointing to something real. My perspective of the last 20 years of the charismatic renewal movement in the UK is something like this. The language of "baptism in the Holy Spirit" moved towards "being filled with the Spirit" (present continuous) and a recognition that "we all 'leak'". I'm pretty sure that came about because some of the leaders in the UK charismatic movement responded to justified criticism and recognised the dangers of the "second blessing" language - whether it was regarded as optional or not.

Whether that recognition tied in with the 'gnostic-type' analysis Matt mentioned I'm not so sure. But I'm glad the language has changed significantly and the implied elitism has been replaced by a much sounder, wider understanding that 'renewal' is a normal (Romans 12 v 1-2) part of the Christian life. Participation in charismatic renewal (initially at Spring Harvest and New Wine events) was good for me personally, but I know that not everyone would say the same.

I'm not a pentecostal and my limited knowledge suggests that it is not a homogeneous denomination, so I suspect the real answer to the question in the OP is "depends where you look".

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The Undiscovered Country
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The distictions between pentecostal and charismatic seem to me to be very artificial. As far as I can see, people are using 'pentecostal' to refer to someone who happens to belong to one of the groups of penecostal churches mostly established in the early 20th century and 'charismatic' to refer to people who belong to churches established in the later part of the 20th century (plus a lot of people in traditional denominations!).

Yes, there are both pentecostal and charismatic churches which have become lazy in sufficiently defining their theology on salvation but equally there are plenty of non--charismatic/pentecostal churches that have become equally lazy. No excuse for either set but I don't think its to do with a belief in Baptism in the Spirit per se.

Picking up Gordon's point, having taken a look at the Hillsong site, I would agree that it lacks theological content and 'depth' but it is a big assumption to them jump and say that the teaching of the cross has been sidelined! All one can say is that there isn't a lot about it on their website.

There are plenty of charismatic churches that are very clear on the issue such as here

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ken
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quote:
Originally posted by The Undiscovered Country:
The distictions between pentecostal and charismatic seem to me to be very artificial. As far as I can see, people are using 'pentecostal' to refer to someone who happens to belong to one of the groups of penecostal churches mostly established in the early 20th century and 'charismatic' to refer to people who belong to churches established in the later part of the 20th century (plus a lot of people in traditional denominations!). [/URL]

Exactly that I think. Pentecostal churches came out of the Methodists & the Holiness movements in the first few years of the 20th century (Wales, Ulster, Azusa St, Buffalo - the Holy Spirit did get around a lot in 1905). They have some very specific characteristics - usually independent churches, very non-liturgical in most places they also tended to be adventist, and working class and/or multiracial. But I'd certainly say they were (are?) a sub-group of evangelicals.

But language changes. The original "fundamentalists" in the USA at roughly the same time (& often the same people with different hats n) would have then been regarded as a sub-group of evangelicals. But in the USA now, so I am told, the names tend to be opposed to each other - with "fundamentalist" implying political conservatism, young-earth creationsm, and strong opposition to mainstream denominations & especially Roman Catholics - whereas "evangelical" now implies a softer line on all those things. Or so people have said.


As far as I know "Charismatic" came into widespread us in the 1960s for people expressing the "gifts of the spirit" within mainstream denominations. And it was an ecumenical movement from the start, due to its multiple origins - mainly in the Roman Catholic church, but also amongst evangelical Anglicans (especially those influenced by Africa - there was feedback to the UK from the Rwanda/Burundi/Uganda revivals of a generation earlier), and amongst other Protestant denominations who were begining to have more contact with the Pentecostalists (themselves now getting a little middle-aged and less strident)


And then the word was carried over to the "house church" movement of the 1970s which led to things like the Vineyard and the Restorationist New Churches in Britain. I'm not quite sure why those churches were colectively called "Charismatic" rather then "Pentecostal". I suspect the main reason was fashion - "Pentecostal" sounded old-fashioned and dated by the 1960s. (& also working-class & black, not that that would have been a problem?).

Or it might be that they would have said that "Pentecostal" implies a stress on the gifts of prophecy and especially tongues. And while they thanked God for those gifts, they wanted more - they wanted a rich, rounded, experience of church, seeking all the gifts of the Spirit, and making full use of all the ministries to which the Spirit calls Christians.

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Gracie
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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
... But I'd certainly say they were (are?) a sub-group of evangelicals.

While it appears to me that Pentecostals are a sub-group of evangelicals, the same cannot be said of charismatics, as the latter can be found in various church traditions, and not all would have the same regard for the Bible. Though, of course some charismatics would be Evangelical by the same definition.

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Nightlamp
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quote:
Originally posted by Gracie:
quote:
Originally posted by ken:
... But I'd certainly say they were (are?) a sub-group of evangelicals.

While it appears to me that Pentecostals are a sub-group of evangelicals,
Absolutely not the theological approach to the scripture of both branches of christianity is quite different. Pentecostalim sees the Bible as a book through which we encounter God so the historical distance between us and the events in the Bible is minimalised. Evangelicism think of the bible as a resource for doctrine.
Evangelism and Pentecostalism have much in common but they are different strands of the christian faith.

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I don't know what you are talking about so it couldn't have been that important- Nightlamp

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ken
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quote:
Originally posted by Nightlamp:
Pentecostalim sees the Bible as a book through which we encounter God so the historical distance between us and the events in the Bible is minimalised.

And evangelicals don't? That's news to me.

quote:

Evangelicism think of the bible as a resource for doctrine.

And Pentecostalists don't? So whence all those proofteting arguments about fasting and prophecy?

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Anselm
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In my experience, if I have had concerns with any pentecostal groups it hasn't been so much that they have not affirmed an evangelical article of faith, but what they have then gone on to affirm on top of evangelicalism.

Having said that, I have noted some of the following tends in some pentecostal movements
  • an high emphasis on experiences in shaping theology
  • a semi-deist view of God that 'only' sees the hand of God in the extraordinary, rather than the natural
  • an over-realised eschatology (believe that the promises of heaven are able to be experienced now)
  • low view of the power of sin in the life of the believer
  • share fundamentalism's poor theological contextualism of the OT and its 'apocalyptic' worldview


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Gordon Cheng

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quote:
Originally posted by Gracie:
Would you agree, Gordon, that Melbourne and Sydney evangelicals (whatever they might be!) have some things in common, and that CICCU 1919 would have some things in common with UK evangelicals in 2005, and even that all these four sets would have some things in common?

Sure, they are all a recognizably similar species, and there are plenty of doctrinal bases that are floating around which would give you a definition, some of which have been linked here. I first started thinking this stuff through in my University Christian Union (same Doctrinal Basis as UCCF, pretty much), and there are enough parallel threads running at the moment to get the general sense of strengths and weaknesses of existing definitions.

If I can give an analogy, creating a doctrinal basis for defining evangelicalism (and I am assuming something like the UCCF DB at this point) is a bit like buying a really well-tailored but nonetheless unfashionably styled suit back in the 1930s and watching what happens with it. Over time, if it's a really nice if oddball suit, it moves from being generally laughed at, to being picked up by people with no fashion sense because they see how well-made it is, to being suddenly exploited by the fashionistas in their own designs, and then gradually evolving from there. In time anyone who looks at the old 1930s suit sees something that was good for its time and is now seen as restrictive, in fact the only people who will wear the old suit as originally seen all those years ago are desperate hobos lying in the gutter. Or people who have picked up a classic in an op-shop and wear it because it's comfortable and as an ironic reference to the way things used to be.

So that now if someone asks "what is a classic suit", you can get a range of definitions that are all recognizable (what hobos wear, what they used to wear in the 1930s, what you can find in op-shops if you look hard enough, what I am now wearing which was inspired by the original...) yet when you put those definitions side-by-side, it is hard to see more than a passing overlap.

Now in formulating an illustration like this I've fashioned a noose for my own neck; because as an evangelical, I want to say that the original definition is the best, and that the definition both is and ought to be theological in nature and contemporary in application, and that any definition that fails here fails more generally as well.

So let me say that it's an analogy that seeks to make no profound point about the truth or basic nature of evangelicalism. It seeks only to illustrate why you might, at one and the same time, discover a contemporary similarity between evangelicals (defined in any way and as broadly as you like) and at the same time an extraordinary disparity and discrepancy between them.

quote:

Could you say specifically, what it is on the Hillsong website, which makes you say that they are not evangelical?

Yes, my fundamental objection is that the cross has become almost invisible, both at the most trivial level of scarcely being mentioned, and at the most profound level of not being gloried in as the divine wisdom which overthrows human wisdom, power, and might; nor is there even any evidence that the cross is understood, nor is there any evidence that a theology of the cross has been applied (which is hardly surprising, because how can you apply what you don't understand?).

Here's what Paul says in 1 Corinthians, writing to what I believe might class as a charismatic church:

quote:
1Cor. 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1Cor. 1:19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
1Cor. 1:20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
1Cor. 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
1Cor. 1:22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,
1Cor. 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,
1Cor. 1:24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1Cor. 1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

If you whacked this message onto the Hillsong website somewhere, it would stick out like a bloodied nose. The humiliating message that Paul saw as dead centre to the gospel is light years away from the prosperity doctrine espoused by Hillsong elsewhere on its website.

Sorry, getting a bit preachy here.

[fixed code]

[ 20. July 2005, 14:15: Message edited by: John Holding ]

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