The Other Side of
"The Other Pentecostals"

by MW Bassett
Pastor, Life Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church of Milford, CT



In June issue of Charisma magazine, an article by J. Lee Grady was republished entitled "The Other Pentecostals". Due to a mix of misunderstanding and misinformation dealt the readership, quite a lot of speculation and even confusion was planted in the religious world. (Thanks to Charisma's web effort, the article can presently be seen by clicking here ).

As a minister licensed with the United Pentecostal Church, and perhaps because I have been favored with some reach on the internet, I received some of these inquiries. I believe the article calls for a response. Mr. Grady should look into the matters which he wrote of much more carefully.

As posted on their web page, the article concludes with the statement "J. Lee Grady is executive editor of Charisma. He welcomes feedback on how the Oneness issue can be resolved." It is always sad to see people bypass the truths of God's word, attempting to resolve them, or in other words, to work compromise. Many people who come close to a transforming experience with divine revelation, attempt to fit that revelation into a practical and religiously acceptable package, . Biblical examples include Saul, Pilate, Judas, Caiphas, and Saphira, interpretting the move of God in their lives without allowing God to breach their definitions, as did David, Zechariah, Mary and Peter. Oneness is not an "issue", it is simply the definition of God's nature, which his Apostles faithfully taught, in harmony with the prophets.


To Larry,

Good Day!

Your inquiry is included for convenient reference at the end of this response.

I have been able to acquire and read a copy of the article entitled "The Other Pentecostals" by Mr J. Lee Grady and can address your questions somewhat. First, I want to help you to broaden your perspective on what you are asking.

Let's turn to Mike Williams' statement: "We are not a monolithic movement". Let us start there, and keep that in mind. Before speaking to the issues you are interested in, consider the source of the article and the chosen quotes. Notice also omissions which speak loudly.

The author relates to individuals such as William's, suggesting that they are progressive while specifically calling out "offences" such as holiness standards, which are left to be identified with the "old guard". Is the author implying that Williams and others have left holiness standards behind? It would seem that way. However, few who know these men personally or professionally would make such an accusation. When the reality of their lives and preaching is compared with the implications of the article, it appear that the author has a hidden motive. I hesitate to say that it is to sow discord, yet I can find no alternative. If this is so, there was undoubtably a collaboration to accomplish this purpose. A number of the men who were named will be troubled as a result of the implications made, and will probably consider their best response to be silence. However, silence should not lead anyone to believe that Grady presented a reliable view of the church.

Williams, Cunningham, Tenney and Mangun believe, teach and preach holiness, yet have made efforts to adapt their approach to evangelism so as to be successful in communicating the gospel in a day when many offend with their strangeness before ever bringing a message of hope to the sinner. They are not alone. Others have made efforts to accommodate changes in the society and a declining knowledge of Bible issues. Grady refers to "younger leaders" who are unhappy about being ostracized, but names no one. These discontent are not the men who he has named, though they are cited as progressives. In fact, the author seems to imply that Such men as Jabo Green speak for a large number of people who are presently in the fellowship. To convey this notion is plainly deceitful. Jabo Green left the fellowship honestly when it was required that he affirm the articles of faith that bind the UPC ministry together with common experience and doctrine. What he and others have done since then is not relevant to the UPC.

His article portrays a large group on the verge of change, yet the reality is that there is a spirit of slander in very small factions of the church, as there always has been. Secular media, such as the Charisma publication need not remain ignorant of the true disposition of the people who live, work and lead in the Apostolic church, but it seems to enjoy the propagation of these ideas. Our changes will be in the area of more effective communication of the gospel, at the expense of personalities, but we will not become nominal drifters from the fiery experience of Pentecost, and the holiness of life that impacted on all believers who received something from God.

Initially, I would warn you that much of the article is misrepresentation: not only in the areas of your questions but in other areas.

Because of the basic truth of Mike William's observation, I cannot ever consider myself a spokesman for the United Pentecostal Church. This will not surprise anyone since I am literally an unknown. However, notice that it is equally true that even the General Superintendent will not always be a satisfactory source from which to find out what is really going on in the church. The church is a dynamic body. It is well able to distinguish between its spiritual life and its elected administrative leadership. The spiritual life of the body does not derive from the leadership, though the body respects its headship and ministry of government.

The UPC has matured in recent years, as was implied, however, it has not become doctrinally weaker. I believe the article was clear overall in making this statement: If Christendom has an awkward time with us, it is largely because of adherence to doctrine and not specifically because of a uniform nasty attitude. Grady was fair in saying that we get as much as we give, if not more in terms of verbal and systematic abuse. Furthermore, it properly compared the attitudes of the UPCI with those of the A/G. It is the UPCI which has repeatedly made efforts to reach out to the rest of the Christian world, with or without the efforts of Rev. Anthony Mangun. Brother Mangun simply expresses the heart of a Christian and desires to overcome prejudice to reach the world for Jesus Christ. It is no secret that much of that reachable world is a "churched" society.

It is ironic that Grady hurtfully quoted John Maxwell as saying that he finds "UPC leaders to be more open and hungry for God all the time". When John Maxwell is contacted, will he confess that his evaluation of the UPC is that they are a people in need of developing a true relationship with God as Grady has led us to believe Maxwell thinks. we should consider the fact that John Maxwell is invited to come and teach at Anthony Mangun's risk, who already receives criticism for allowing his pulpit presence to communicate that Maxwell's non-Apostolic salvation doctrine (though never mentioned) is now accepted. Most who know Pastor Anthony Mangun do not believe that he is implying this by breaking with protocol and inviting Maxwell, but rather that we have the power to communicate the wonderful truth of God's word, and His power and will not be hindered by appearances and traditions. Anthony Mangun treads on thin ice in such bold outreach, like that of his relationship with President Clinton. He risks much criticism. I hope that John Maxwell has not taken the occasion for a "sucker punch". Either Grady or Maxwell is duplicitous, but not Anthony Mangun. Charge him with over-reaching perhaps, but not with doctrinal compromise. Such charges have come from his detractors, but not from evidence presented in his teaching.

Maxwell would concur that the reachable world includes many who have a profession of Christianity, and so would the A/G. If we can reach for Maxwell, he can reach for us, but we were not aware that he joined the masses who assert that a adherence to Apostolic doctrine in spite of the popular tradition would actually remove our membership in the Kingdom of God. If this is true, John Maxwell should publically say this, so as to help Anthony Mangun to discuss this matter with his brethren, however. I fear that some enjoy the possibility of division within the UPC. I for one, will have nothing to do with such a spirit.

Grady referred to Jabo Green and a number of unnamed men. I do not believe that the attitudes of these men are properly represented in the article. In fact, quite often men DO have stones to throw at the United Pentecostal Church. Conferences of which they partake seem at times to be little more than UPC bashing sessions. Also, there are a number whose attitudes and behavior have manifest in threatening and even actually bringing the church into secular court. In any case, the attitudes of men who were once in the UPC, or are even now unhappy with their commitment to the Articles of Faith are nothing new, nor are they related to your inquiry. With careful study, one notices that these attitudes are present throughout the history of the movement. People leave the A/G, they leave the Episcopal church and the Mormons.. When they leave the UPC, their passion for their direction is no less profound, and their direction is no more accurate by rule.

It is interesting to notice Grady's closing comments. How will the situation be resolved? The UPC will sign a covenant that departs from a clear statement of Apostolic doctrine, while the A/G will sign the same document which is utterly consistent with their own established articles. Given understanding, Grady is saying nothing more than, "The UPC will cause itself to disappear". Grady says that calling Trinitarians "Christians" will clear the way to removing the offence, presuming that Trinitarians will do the same for oneness believers.

We wonder where the impetus for this derives from. It certainly does not come from the Spirit of God or from scripture. The Apostles warned against liquidators of doctrine, while compelling men such as Mangun and Williams to become all things to all men in reaching them with truth. We cannot compromise the saving faith, but we can remove the offence that we bring to a relationship in and of ourselves, removing the fleshly will and dying to self for the sake of our head, the Lord Jesus Christ. I view the conflicts that Grady helps to bring to the church as testing and opportunity for God to extract a powerful and committed church for His glory. Jesus asked his disciple "Do you love me ?" The result of that answer was linked inextricably to the destiny of feeding His sheep. Love of Jesus Christ is expressed in the practical by obeying His commandments, and honoring and loving the brethren. Efforts by Satan to divide the church cannot succeed, but as we grow stronger, controversies and persecutions will provide opportunities for some who are not committed to the purpose of feeding HIS sheep, to leave. As one man has said, "the spirit of the hornet is loosed and we shall possess the land".

Concerning the quote of Jack Cunningham's statement:

1. It is probably a misquote, or is somehow devoid of context.

2. There is a truth in it which we will share. We do not believe that the UPC alone has access to salvation. Obviously those who embrace the gospel do so by the hand of God in an eternal program and by design far more profound than that of a movement 70+ years old. The Gospel does not change, but the possibility of its sole possession by a single human group is as absurd as the notion that salvation is singularly administrated by the Roman Pontiff. We do not believe that the roman Catholics could contain salvation, and neither do we believe any other could. But we do believe the church is uniform and has a common salvation. It is the obedience to doctrine that determines salvation (Romans 6:16-17), not those who profess salvation who determine what doctrine will be regarded.

3. What Irving Cunningham means by a "fingernail" is subject to question. He will probably be challenged to answer for who he is calling a zealot. It is very rare to find anyone who will state that we are the only people saved. Very few are that dumb.

In answer to your question: "Does this mean that the UPC now recognizes the salvation of other Pentecostals who have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."....

The UPC has not and will not re-explain the Apostle's doctrine. Those who are more concerned with what someone thinks about their non-biblical views and right to them, than they are about the Word of God itself will always find reason for unhappiness. There will always be someone to criticize and leave one short of the satisfaction that only God's spirit can provide, whether the critic be a teacher sent of God, or mearly a contrary nag.

The basis of the problem in fellowship is that we do indeed believe very different things regarding the word of God. The problem is not the varying beliefs alone. If it was merely an intellectual or philosophical matter, peace would be preferred to principle. However the scripture specifically details the nature of God, the doctrine of the new birth and the essentials of Christian life, and that WHAT we believe EXACTLY EFFECTS what we do, and WHAT WE DO exactly effects our relationship with God (that is, unless one believes that behavior and faith and understanding is not a factor in salvation - and some evidently have dismissed ALL of this for the sake of a malformed notion of grace), and our relationship with God and the principles exercised in that relationship determine our destiny. Because of this, we will not compromise understanding. It is not to oppose others. It is to be true to God and allow others to do so in their own conscience. You can properly deduce that we believe others will come to the same understanding we have, given grace and experience.

We do not find it necessary to explain the destiny of ever infant baptized or unbaptized, or the fate of the "godly grandmother" who died without obedience to the gospel, whether or not nattering questions are brought day and night by critics. God did not appoint us to explain these matters any more than a modern theologians claim ability to explain the "mystery of the trinity". He sufficiently gave us understanding needed to be saved by precious revelation of scripture .. by means of Jesus incarnation and death, the faith and blood of martyrs, and the virtue of Apostolic generations past. This is not something that is traded for a convenient seating arrangement in modern Christendom.

1. Can a person be born again without baptism in Jesus name?

The New Birth is a birth of water and spirit. Baptism is for the remission of sins, and is clearly a part of the great commission and of the gospel, being the representation and experience of the burial of Jesus Christ. The name of Jesus Christ is the only name which carries authority and spiritual power. Only the personal name of the God in Christ is taught by the Apostles as having access to the spiritual power of the blood.

2. Can a person be born again without being baptized with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues?

The New Birth imparts life through the birth of the Spirit. If a person has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Though inconvenient for opponents, we cannot find another alternate method of impartation of that spirit other than the baptism of the Holy Ghost. No, we do not recognize another means other than the experience of Pentecost, and no Biblical authority suggests that the sign recognized by the Apostles need ever be absent from the in-filling of the Spirit of God. I can hope that there is an in-filling without speaking in tongues, but am satisfied that anyone and everyone can receive this experience exactly according to the Biblical pattern and therefore should, without exception and in spite of emotional, religious and traditional hindrances.

3. Can anyone become a child of God without baptism in water and baptism with the Holy Ghost?

Can one become a child of God without the New Birth of John 3:5, clearly seen in practice in Acts 8,10 and 19 ? Furthermore, why would one WANT to bypass these scriptural experiences?

If they were mere ritual, we could imagine so, but these are dynamic, power filled spiritual experiences. I cannot understand the desire to bypass and neglect the divine revelation and gates of salvation, unless it is simply a contrary spirit, and rebellion.

"If the answer to the above questions is "no", would not that mean that all non oneness Pentecostals are still unregenerate and children of the devil?"

No.. As there were Biblical examples seeking, and coming closer and desiring to be bound to the Lord Jesus Christ (as for example Apollos, and Cornelius), so each one of us has had the experience of having to come a closer as the Lord bids us come. Had Saul of Tarsus confronted the voice that spoke to him with a demand for justification, rather than repentance, we would know no Apostle by the name of Paul today. Every experience with God is entered into with humility. Acts 2:38's invitation is "repent ...". God knows that the hungry heart will not resist truth forever.

If we ask the question "what of those who died without knowing this truth?" we are not being honest unless we also ask, "what of those heathen who died without a witness of the gospel"? " These questions are deeply intertwined and do not supply man with a convenient escape from responsibility.

"When I have asked these questions in the past I have not been given straight answers. They have hedged and dodged by saying, 'We don't judge any man.' "

You may have noticed in the article that even the most negative man (pg 64, column 3), said "No one else came out and said everyone else was going to hell...". I want you to consider just how far away from the usual slander this really is. This is a man who would like to reach for a recollection of people saying the very things that most detractors say are routinely spoken. He has been in situations where it most certainly would have been heard, even if through undisciplined lips, yet this man hasn't heard it from authority. Don't bypass that. but consider the significance. we don't talk like that. However, I would like you to hear how many times I have been rejected from "Christian " conferences and discussion groups and how many people we have lost because someone has told them that we are not Christians. Why are we not Christians? Because we believe that in having the Son, we also unquestionably have the Father, and because we believe that faith manifest in obedience to the authoritative word of God through the Apostles and prophets.

"If someone asked me if they could be saved without repenting I could tell them definitely not because Jesus said, 'except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.' "

I appreciate your candor, and faithfulness. We will also tell someone what Jesus says, and what His apostles teach. We, like you, teach that repentance is essential. We also teach that the gospel is ONE gospel, and clearly outline it as taught by the Apostles. The consequences of NOT OBEYING the gospel ARE IMPLICIT, and are NOT the churches or ministries responsibility UNLESS the ministry fails to preach the whole gospel, or to teach "whatsoever I have commanded you". Thus we ideally preach the gospel, and warn of the consequences of neglecting so great a salvation, yet we do not destroy the individual with condemnation. The negative reaction that unbelievers have is called conviction in most Christian circles, not condemnation. That is, their own conscience has provided much of the negative reaction that is experienced by people who "complain about the UPC". Down the street will be a church that will give a shoulder to the complainer, and explain that his own comfort is preferable to obedience. The same voices will then blaspheme us as heretics. Again, the fact that we generally do not typically respond against that kind of hindrance in preaching the gospel should be noted to our credit, and not be presumed to communicate "unclearness". In fact, progressives within the movement rebuke the sharp of tongue who would call fire out of heaven to deal with the detractors.

"I think the church world needs a clear answer on whether or not the UPC believes anybody can be born again without baptism according to your view."

I think the world, which ostensibly will include the religious church world, needs an clear answer concerning what the Lord's program of salvation is. This is my concern, and I am glad that it is yours also. Lets abide in peace as much as possible while delivering the saving truth of God's word.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

MW Bassett

Pastor, Life Tabernacle UPC, Milford CT



----------

From: Larry@aol.com

Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 1997 06:35 AM

To: mbasset@optonline.net

Subject: Article in Charisma Magazine

Recently I read the article entitled, "The Other Pentecostals", in Charisma and was pleasantly surprised by the apparent change in attitude and doctrine of the United Pentecostal Church. Then I began to wonder if perhaps some had been misquoted or at least misunderstood. I certainly know that is possible in journalism. I would appreciate very much if you can enlighten me on whether or not there has been a change in the way the UPC now views other Pentecostals.

There is a quote from Jack Cunningham which says, "There are some zealots in our church, but our leaders do not think they are the only people who are saved. We are just a fingernail on the little finger of the body of Christ." Does that mean that the UPC now recognizes the salvation of other Pentecostals who have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

It has been my understanding that in the past the position of the UPC was that one is not born again until he has been baptized in water in the name of Jesus and been baptized in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Is that the true position of the church and has it changed.

If that is the teaching of the UPC, that of course would mean than anyone having not been baptized according to your view is not born again and therefore not a part of the body of Christ.

I would appreciate seeing a clear, concise statement from the UPC of their position on this subject. Perhaps it would be helpful if you could answer the following questions.

1. Can a person be born again without baptism in Jesus name?

2. Can a person be born again without being baptized with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues?

3. Can anyone become a child of God without baptism in water and baptism with the Holy Ghost?

If the answer to the above questions is "no", would not that mean that all non oneness Pentecostals are still unregenerate and children of the devil?

When I have asked these questions in the past I have not been given straight answers. They have hedged and dodged by saying, "We don't judge any man." If someone asked me if they could be saved without repenting I could tell them definitely not because Jesus said, "except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish." I think the church world needs a clear answer on whether or not the UPC believes anybody can be born again without baptism according to your view.



I will sincerely appreciate an answer.

Larry

Links updated 4/14/2004