Invasion of the Pentecostal SnatchersPosted: May 7, 2013
More and more, I feel like I am in a remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” only this time, all the Pentecostals are being surreptitiously replaced by Calvinists, formalists, Sacramentalists, and Mystics. None of these alternate spiritualities are compatible with New Testament Pentecostalism.
Reply to Defenders of Sacramentalism, Mysticism, etc.
[Being asked, upon what statistics I base my assertions,] I do not think the A/G itself has any statistics on how many of its ministers endorse or practice Sacramentalism, Mystical Union, elements of Reformed theology, etc. In many cases, it is a matter of degree rather than mere influence. For example, Pentecostal worship is in a very broad sense mystical — as mystics note — but teaching that one can achieve Mystical Union with Christ through contemplative prayer, fasting, etc., is contradictory to a Pentecostal theology, and extreme.
In my experience, people who believe in Mystical Union begin to distance themselves from Scripture, the need for scriptural authority, and in fact begin to see themselves as “above” Scripture, having achieved some kind of higher association with Christ.
Then there are the Sacramentalists — as was the late Dr. Howard M. Ervin, of ORU. Now Dr. Ervin made a brilliant exegetical defense of Spirit Baptism versus James Dunn and Conversion-Initiation, which I quoted [recently]. Yet at the same time he supported Sacramental Realism, which is an alternate form of spiritual efficacy, again, contradictory to Spirit Baptism and gifts. Sacramentalism is also the darling of many Social Gospel advocates, though they, like John A. T. Robinson and especially Gustavo Gutierrez, redefine what sacrament means.
Not even Ervin attempted to prove Sacramentalism exegetically, which indeed cannot be done. Instead, he reverted to a logico-philosophical argument, and set up the false dichotomy — standard among Sacramentalists — that one believes in a spiritual reality and therefore Sacramental Realism, or absolute material/spiritual dualism and therefore “propositional truth” alone.
I am finding that more and more erstwhile Pentecostals, novice Pentecostals, and pseudo-Pentecostals are accepting these and other alternate spiritualities, and abandoning or misunderstanding Pentecostalism, both historic and NT-based, apparently not discerning the differences.
Pentecostalism is the doctrine of Christ and the Apostles, clearly taught and exemplified in Scripture, being the empowerment that Christ intended and promised for his Church till Christ removes the Church. This is Pentecostal doctrine.
About This Poster
The parody poster which I created is a composite of images and themes used in the various movie posters for the original 1956 motion picture, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” The image for the main characters in the palm of the handprint has been replaced by a vintage photograph of my own grandmother, holding up a Bible, in front of the first Assembly of God that she and my grandfather founded.
Note: the Supreme Court held in 1988 that parody constitutes First Amendment-protected speech in (ironically) Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46.
©2013 Paul A. Hughes