Pentecostals/Girls Without Pentecostal
QUESTION: I have been an ordained member as a Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal in the UPCI, and I struggled with the standards of holiness or legalism per se. Here's the story:
Apostolic Pentecostal senior pastors, unfortunately, are known for preaching about “standards” of holiness, what to wear, and what not to wear. Senior pastors along with other leaders would scrutinize, judge, and even make fun of Methodist members and pastors because of their faith in Christ, their belief of conversion at the moment of calling on the name of the Lord, holiness of heart and life, and attending public worship without the dress code. I was guilty, was very harsh, and judgmental towards some in the Methodist church. At the same time, I was scared and afraid to go into the Methodist church because I did not want to see any of the girls without the standards/rules. The Methodist Pastor invited our choral from Apostolic Gospel Church to sing in their worship service. I had the choice to either go deal with it, or I would skip meaning I had to answer to my Apostolic senior pastor. The Apostolic Pentecostals honestly believe that holiness is a skirt worn all the way to the ankles. And, if you were a girl that came to church without hose by being bare-legged, you were going to hell.
Nevertheless, a very powerful interaction occurred between a Methodist minister and myself. We were both talking about the mission of the church. Later, someone came up with a girl from the Methodist church. That Methodist girl was wearing a denim miniskirt about at mid-thigh, and she came to worship bare-legged without wearing hose. I felt very anxious during the interaction because I did not want to even look at an outsider without the Apostolic standards. What I noticed was the other Methodist minister was calm around the girl. And yet, the Methodist minister looked down and thought for awhile. He said, “you look very pretty.” Even though I aggressively judged and conveyed our Apostolic distinctive doctrines at that juncture, and yet, I have to admit and be honest. I looked down three times. I thought about those legs that looked very pretty, in that miniskirt. I thought that Methodist girl looked very pretty.
I have questioned 'standards of holiness' (legalism) because of this. I believe in conversion but without standards. I am thinking about changing from UPCI to being Methodist. Now, is it a sin to think a girl looks pretty? This is how I cam to realize my weakness and my need of God's grace :)
ANSWER: I am a committed believer in Apostolic Pentecostal truth although I have what I think is a better presentation of it than what one often hears. I am also not a legalist. External standards don't save us. Nor are they a good measure of one's relationship with Christ.
If you still believe Apostolic doctrine, how could you become Methodist? You can be Apostolic and believe as I do that conversion starts at faith and that legalistic external standards aren't required for salvation. You don't have to throw the baby out with the bath water!
I highly recommend broad fellowship with those outside Apostolic circles but I don't recommend compromising essential truths. I recommend higher education, especially intense historical and Biblical studies. One thing is for sure, do NOT make rash decisions at this stage until your mind settles upon a more solid foundation of understanding on these issues. There are Apostolic groups that aren't stuck on standards from decades past. I suggest you counsel with them.
Yours for Acts 2:38,
Robert L. Morgan
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hey, people can have truth and not be Apostolic per se. There is Apostolic in name-brand, and there is Apostolic. I believe people outside the Apostolic brand-name church can be saved.
Hey Bro. Gregory,
I couldn't agree more. One does not have to be UPCI or any other "Apostolic" denomination to be saved. It starts at faith, not joining a denomination! Faith leads to repentance. Repentance leads one to baptism (hopefully in the apostolic pattern of being administered in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Baptism in water should lead one to the infilling (Baptism in/of) the Holy Ghost as was the pattern in the New Testament.
God isn't looking for reasons to keep people out of Heaven. That, however, does not undermine His expectation that the New Testament pattern of salvation be today as it was when He birthed the church on the Day of Pentecost.