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Well, woe is me.

Or maybe not.

Apparently, I don’t belong within any traditional church denominational-organizational-thing anymore. What’s a bit weird is that, looking back, I never did.

I just didn’t know it.

I was raised a Pentecostal. But, brothers and sisters, you’ve gotten too weird for me. Some of you are word of faith people. Some of you are prosperity people. Some of you are bring-the-kingdom-of-God-by-your-own-efforts people, taking dominion over the media, retail, banks, entertainment, and so forth. Some of you believe, somehow, that glory sprinkles, gold, and feathers falling on your meetings are biblical. Some of you go about declaring this and that into the air and pronouncing that you are thereby taking control of the spiritual atmosphere. Some of you think that causing people to fall down is a legitimate ministry.

None of this is biblical, brothers and sisters.

And evangelicals with the growth, seeker-sensitive movement, with following dynamic and gifted speakers. With those speakers quoting Scripture passages out of context. With top-down, hierarchical leadership. With enormous need for money. With denial in your fellowship of the use of gifts, given by God Himself, for “the common good” of believers, which only weakens believers and results in astonishing biblical illiteracy:

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:4–11).1

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:4–8).

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:18–21).

The reality of these passages, tragically, mean nothing to evangelical leaders.

I think I know your response already. “We don’t do that here. You should look elsewhere.”

And those such as I are criticized with the same, lame accusation, repeatedly:

“If you’re looking for a perfect church, it won’t be perfect the moment you step through the door.”

No, I’m looking for a group of believers, elders, and pastors who do not deny that those three passages above should exist in church reality.

And for the rest of the traditional churches who don’t believe there are some of the gifts anymore, except the ones you choose, which will likely be leading, teaching, and pastoring—oh, and service and generosity, of course—no. Who don’t believe that God speaks to people anymore except through the Bible. Those that believe that those gifts died when “that which is perfect” came, which, to your way of thinking was the Bible, no.

And, sorry Catholics. I will not pray to Mary, a dead woman, although, yes, she was the mother of Jesus, finally became a believer and, yes, should be respected. And I do not and will not accept the pope as the leader of the Church on earth, the spiritual descendant of Peter.

So, where does that leave me? I know, I know. Some of you are just itching to tell me that the Bible tells us that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Well, it’s not like I haven’t tried. In fact, I’m trying now, in a little Pentecostal church, the leader of which has not bought into the “I-gotta-be-a-great-leader-in-a-big-church,” so we can fulfill our visions-and-dreams-and-thereby-change-the-world nonsense. Before we go to this gathering, my wife and I meet over coffee to discuss biblical passages. I must tell you that such little meetings throughout the years have offered more depth and insight than ten times as many meetings where one guy alone usually talks, quoting Scripture out of context.

What shall I leave the reader with here? I know you’re going to stay in your church, regardless of what I write. One thing, then. The next time your pastor refers to a few verses in his message, open your Bible and read those verses in context. If you do that, you’ll possibly be taking the first steps toward understanding how much you have been duped. Second, consider the scripture passages above and ask, “Why doesn’t my church do these things?” The answers to that question will be topsy-turvy enlightening, I guarantee you.

 

1The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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