If The Devil Is In The Details, Then God Save Us All!Oct 15, 2002 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line Read between the lines, and worry.
The influence of secular humanism is still enormous and the cauldron of relativity called postmodernism spreads its tentacles in ever-expanding cultural control. These new realities force our leadership priorities and skills to be critiqued. Can we maintain business as usual and hope to see quantitative growth and the raising of spiritual maturity and effectiveness in our churches? . The Spirit-initiated call, which creates a sense of eternal destiny as a Pentecostal leader, yields the seedbed in which vision for ministry can emerge. This will not be personal vision or wish-dreams, but a Spirit-empowered vision/perspective on the significance of Gods eternal redemptive plan. This divine initiative will come to pass because not even the gates of hell can prevail against its inevitable victory (Matthew 16:18). The call-destiny-vision nexus is crucial for effective Pentecostal leadership in the 21st century.
Byron D. Klaus, President, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
I expected a wake up call of sorts last Sunday. What I got was a bucket of ice water on the head.
My wife and I me an agnostic, she a confirmed atheist grudgingly acceded to her brothers request to attend Sunday morning service at the Pentecostal Assembly of God church he and his wife belong to in their working class community.
By the end of the service I had put aside all the pretense of objectivity and open-mindedness I had professed to before entering the church. I am more convinced than ever now that this country is going to hell in a hand basket, but for reasons diametrically opposed to those the members of this Central Assembly of God use to come to the very same conclusion.
Minute-by-minute over a two-hour period I watched scores of Bible-toting every day Americans young and old, husbands and wives, teens and little ones, Caucasians for the most part, but with a sprinkling of Hispanics and African-Americans shouting out Amen and go on with eyes closed and hands raised to the roof as the pastor proseletyzed a monotheistic dogma that was cloyingly restrictive, insultingly disrespectful of other religions and views, and frighteningly blatant in its call to political as well as religious activism.
I had expected some Holy-rolling. But I didnt expect such a broad brush of disdain for others.
Yes, I had visited the Assemblies of God website in advance, and I had noted the churchs stated evangelical mission of producing more Christians and building better Christians. But I had noted with some relief (and a dose of skepticism later proven accurate) that the churchs website included under its Core Values the line We maintain that unchurched [sic] people and lost people matter to God, therefore, they matter to us.
If the tenor of the service was any indication, thats an outright lie. What I expected to be a passionate call to Gods arms turned out to be a clarion call to battle against a vast horde of enemies lying in wait on every street corner beyond the sanctuary of the church.
To my horror I heard the pastor make a sweeping generalized statement about Arab religions that seek to kill Christians through terrorism, a statement that brought hoots of derision from the congregation. I heard him state unequivocally that there was no God but the God who was Father to Jesus....not a different God, or my God, but NO other God. I heard him praise Republican President George W. Bush by name from the pulpit as my kind of man, a good Christian man, and openly castigate what he called the previous regime, presumably meaning the ungodly Democratic Clinton Administration.
As I looked around at the congregation after the sermon and the witnessing, I tried to imagine horrible people I could hate on sight. Instead, I saw the same type of people I could run into at a supermarket, or at a gas station, or at a movie, or at the mall. They cradled each other in their arms with obvious love and affection, or ran their hands through their kids hair like everybody else. No obviously multi-headed Hydras here despite their passion for their Savior and their political views at the expense of anyone elses. To my mind the most frightening thing about them was how kind and warm and normal they appeared once the fire and brimstone had subsided. I thought of the pod people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
I remember how angry my parents were in the 60s when they perceived the overtly political anti-Vietnam War stance of many clerics from the pulpit as a danger to our countrys well-being. Almost two generations later I think I understand their fear, albeit from a different side.
I spoke with one of my sons by phone the day after the service, and told him how disconcerted I was by what I had seen. He told me of a tee-shirt worn by a student in one of his state college classes that read on the front, Dear God: Why is violence allowed in our public schools? A concerned student. On the back, the shirt read, Dear Concerned Student: Because Im not allowed in our schools. God. If ever I could come up with a real-life argument for the firm enforcement of separation of Church and state, the intent of that tee shirt was it.
I am given to understand that the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements are the fastest-growing religious movements in the country and the world of late. Based on what I heard in church this past Sunday, the innocuous-sounding goal of bringing the masses to Jesus may be this churchs publicly-stated rationale, but what the rest of us need to comprehend is that the devil is in the details.
|Read all comments (28)|Write your own comment|