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Tag: Pentecostal

Why Pentecostals Speak in Tongues and Baptists Don’t

tongues
Graphic from A Beer for the Shower

There is no such thing as “Christianity” — as in a singular group encompassing all Christians. The Bible says that there is ONE Lord, ONE faith, and ONE baptism, yet Christians have spent the last two thousand years trying to prove that their peculiar beliefs are the one, and only one, TRUE CHRISTIANITY®. Every Evangelical sect, every Evangelical pastor, every Evangelical church member thinks their beliefs are right. This kind of thinking is fueled by believing that the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, infallible book, written through human instrumentality by God himself. It should come as no surprise that many Evangelicals, believing that they hold in their hands the very words of God, are cock-sure that what they believe is exactly what God meant when he had holy men of old write the this or that passage of Scripture. Armed with certainty, Evangelicals have no place for doubt. Doubt is of the devil! preachers say. I’m standing on the promises of God. Praise Jesus! Just remember, it was SATAN who said to Adam and Eve, yea hath God said (yes, he spoke in King James English). God has spoken, end of story.

If, as Evangelicals say, God has inerrantly and infallibly spoken, why is it, then, that Evangelicals have such varied and contradictory beliefs? If two thousand years after the purported resurrection of Jesus from the dead, all Christians had the same theological beliefs, I might at least pause to consider whether the claims of Christianity are true. However, there are countless Christianities, each with its own beliefs. Worse yet, there are countless Jesuses, with every Christian molding and shaping a Jesus in his or her own image. (Please read Does the Bible Contain Multiple Plans of Salvation? and Is There Only One Plan of Salvation?) Christians can’t even agree on the basics: salvation, baptism, and communion. If Christians can’t reach a consensus about what constitutes the one true faith, why should anyone pay attention to them?

Let me illustrate this by answering the quandary: Why Pentecostals speak in tongues, and Baptists don’t.

First, the Baptists. I grew up in the Baptist church, so I am quite familiar with how Baptists view speaking in tongues. SPEAKING IN TONGUES IS SATANIC, STRAIGHT FROM THE PIT OF HELL! There, end of discussion. I was taught, and later taught others, that speaking in tongues was a temporary sign gift given to Jesus’ disciples so they could spread the good news of the gospel to the ends of the earth. Once the canon of Scripture was completed, the need for tongues went away. Evidently, once Christians of the fourth century had read all sixty-six books of the King James Bible for their reading pleasure, God no longer used tongues to speak to people.

On the other hand, the Pentecostals believe that speaking in tongues is very much for today; that it is normal for Spirit-filled Christians to speak in unknown languages. Several sects go even so far as to say that one of the evidences of salvation is speaking in tongues. Don’t speak in tongues? You aren’t saved! Upon hearing I was a Baptist preacher,one Pentecostal man told me that Baptists wouldn’t know the Holy Spirit if he met them in the middle of the road. In other words, Baptists were blind to work and power of the H-o-l-y Ghost.

Years ago, I got into a heated discussion with a Pentecostal preacher over speaking in tongues. I gave him all the standard Baptist arguments, and he gave me all the classic Pentecostal arguments. Back and forth we went, neither of us winning the day. I am sure after we parted company, each of us believed that we had been victorious. Ha! I showed him!

Such conflicts as the one mentioned above are quite common. Why do Pentecostals believe in speaking in tongues, but Baptists don’t? Both sides use the Bible as proof for their beliefs. GOD HATH SPOKEN, both sides say. If God has indeed spoken, why the contradictory beliefs? God seems quite schizophrenic, telling the Baptists one thing and the Pentecostals something different. Surely, if God and the Bible are as Evangelicals claim they are, there would only be one truth, not many.

The only way to adequately answer this question is to carefully examine the matter from a tribal and sociological perspective. (Please read Why Most Americans are Christian.) Look at the religious environments people grow up in and you will have a good idea why they believe as they do. Look at their tribal and social influences, and it becomes clear that Pentecostals speak in tongues and Baptists don’t because these were the beliefs they were exposed to. They believe what they do because they couldn’t believe otherwise. While not a hard and fast rule, most often Baptists beget Baptists and Pentecostals beget Pentecostals. While Evangelical adults certainly can and do change churches, they often look for churches of “like” faith. When people change churches, they most often seek that which is familiar to them. Not always, of course. Sometimes, Baptists do become Pentecostal tongues-speakers, and Pentecostals can become starched, English-only Baptists. These, however, are exceptions to the rule.

Perhaps Christians will one day figure out exactly what is the one true faith. I doubt it, but as someone who believes in probabilities, it is possible, say .000001 percent, that God’s chosen ones will finally figure out exactly what it takes to be a member of their club. Until then, buy some popcorn, pull up a seat, and enjoy the show.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

COVID-19 Infections and Deaths Expose Faith Healers as Frauds

elmer gantry
Is Your Pastor an Elmer Gantry? Are You Sure? How Can You Know?

Cable and satellite TV subscribers are “blessed” to have numerous explicit Evangelical channels to watch. These channels are dominated by Charismatic faith healers, many of whom are fabulously rich. Con artists, the lot of them, their goal is fleece the flock while pretending to heal them of everything from cancer to cavities. As the Coronavirus pandemic sweeps the world, infecting and killing people of every race, religion, and social status, I have noticed that these faith healers seem impotent, unable to heal anyone of the virus. Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, a renowned fake healer, revealed his powerlessness over COVID-19 by cancelling all in-person worship services at his church. Johnson even shut down the church’s Healing Rooms, going to online healing instead. Why is that?

All across the world, Evangelical faith healers are powerless over COVID-19. Oh, they keep praying, anointing people with oil, and performing magic tricks, but their marks still get sick, and in some instances die. Their helplessness exposes for all the world to see the bankruptcy of faith healing. Rational, skeptical people have always known this, but I suspect that true-blue Charismatic believers are beginning to wonder if these so-called men of God are little more than modern Elmer Gantrys and Sister Sharon Falconers.

The Coronavirus pandemic also exposes Jesus himself as a fraud. Again, rational, skeptical people have always known that the miracle-working Son of God was a fraud; that the miracles recorded in the Bible are works of fiction. Yet, 2,000 years later, Charismatic (and Pentecostal) Christians still believe that Jesus, through the hands and prayers of Holy Ghost-filled preachers, can and does heal them. After all, Jesus did say to his disciples:

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7-8)

Just before allegedly ascending to Heaven, Jesus said to his followers:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:15-18)

Jesus’ brother James had this to say:

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:13-15)

These Bible verses seem clear to me: preachers, evangelists, missionaries, and even common, every day Christians are empowered by God to heal the sick. Why, then, are they powerless when it comes to healing people of COVID-19?

It is obvious, at least to me anyway, that faith healers are frauds; that for all their supposed supernatural power and faith, they are unable to heal anyone from COVID-19. Will the Coronavirus pandemic be the seismic event that finally exposes these preachers for who and what they are: money-grubbing frauds? Will devoted Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians finally pull back the curtain and see that the divine wizard is but a man? Will they put their checkbooks away and let these so-called anointed prophets starve? I want to think that this is finally the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. I really, really, really want to believe that Charismatic and Pentecostal believers will be drawn to the light of reason and science. However, the Coronavirus pandemic will eventually fade into the fabric of human history, and when it does, faith healers will come up with a new shtick to rob Christians of their money. Perhaps if God would infect Kenneth Copeland, Jim Bakker, Bill Johnson, TD Jakes, Todd Bentley, Benny Hinn, Rodney Howard-Browne, Paula White, Pat Robertson, and others like them with COVID-19 and let them die horrible deaths while hooked up to respirators, maybe then believers would see the light.

I don’t wish COVID-19 on anyone, but a bit of karmic justice might put an end to the control faith healers have over so many people. Did you attend a Charismatic or Pentecostal church? Did you really believe faith healers could deliver you from your afflictions? If yes, what caused you to change your mind? Please leave your heavenly thoughts in the comment section.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony Alamo

tony susan alamo

Sundance TV is currently showing the series Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony AlamoAlamo and his wife Susan were popular Evangelical evangelists and TV preachers in the 1970s-1990s, and are still revered by many people. Ministry of Evil details the Alamos’ rise out of the Jesus Movement of the 1960s to cultism and, later, Tony’s incarceration for sexually assaulting children. The program is a disturbing look at how easily and quickly Evangelical churches can become full blown cults. The seeds of cultism can be found in virtually every Evangelical church. That why I consider Evangelicalism a psychologically and, at times, physically harmful sect. No, I am not saying all Evangelical churches/sects are cults, but many of them are. As I watched Ministry of Evil, it was easy for me to pick out the similarities between the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement and Alamo’s Pentecostalism.

Tony and Susan Alamo are dead but, sadly, their cult lives on. (Tony died in prison in 2017.) For some True Believers®, no amount of evidence will convince them that their prophets (and gods) are false.

My editor suggested that I define for readers my use of the word cult. According to TheSage VII dictionary, a cult is:

  • An interest followed with exaggerated zeal.
  • A system of religious beliefs and rituals.
  • A religion or sect that is generally considered to be unorthodox, extremist, or false.
  • Followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
  • Followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices.

Most religions, then, are cults. Evangelicalism, the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, Islam, and Roman Catholicism most certainly are, as are many other sects and churches.  Of course, these groups don’t they are cults. In their minds, cults are other sects beside theirs; other beliefs beside theirs. Every sect believes they are right, and all other sects are false. Welcome the wonderful world of religion!

Note

TheSage dictionary is the primary dictionary I use when writing. You can purchase it for $10 — a worthy investment.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Tiffanie Irwin Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter

pastor tiffanie irwin

Tiffanie Irwin, pastor of Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford, New York, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to twelve years in prison. Eight other church members were sentenced for their parts in the crime.

In October 2016, The Daily Mail reported:

The pastor of a small church where two brothers were beaten for hours during a counseling session that she called pleaded guilty on Friday to manslaughter and assault.

Three other church members admitted to less serious charges for their roles in the all-night beatings that killed Lucas Leonard, 19, and injured Christopher Leonard, 17, last October.

Word of Life Christian Church Pastor Tiffanie Irwin, her brother Joseph Irwin and mother and son church members Linda Morey and David Morey were the last of nine people charged to be convicted in the attack.

Investigators said the attack took place after the brothers discussed leaving the congregation.

Joseph Irwin and the Moreys each pleaded guilty to assault.

Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara called the case ‘a terrible tragedy.’

‘I can only hope that Luke can rest in peace, Chris can get on with his life,’ McNamara said.

The victims’ parents and half-sister and the pastor’s mother and a second brother were among those charged after members of the secretive church took the bloodied body of Lucas Leonard to a hospital, where doctors initially thought he had been shot.

Authorities later found his badly injured brother still inside the converted New Hartford school building that housed the church and living space for its leaders.

Christopher Leonard testified at an earlier hearing that Tiffanie Irwin asked his family and some others to stay behind for a meeting after an eight-hour Sunday service last October.

Over the next 14 hours, he said, he and his brother were pummeled in their torsos and genitals with an electrical cord.

McNamara has said the brothers were ordered during the beating to repent for a variety of sins, including using a voodoo doll.

Police have said there was no evidence to support a claim by their half-sister, Sarah Ferguson, that they had molested her children.

Ferguson was convicted of manslaughter and assault after a non-jury trial in July.

The only defendant to decline a plea deal, she was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison.

The victims’ parents, Deborah and Bruce Leonard, pleaded guilty to assault.

The church’s matriarch, Traci Irwin, and her son Daniel Irwin, a deacon, admitted to counts of unlawful imprisonment.

Sentencings are scheduled for December and January.

According to Wikipedia, the following sentences were handed down:

As of January 9, 2017 the disposition of the cases against the nine people involved on the assault on Lucas Leonard are as follows:

Bruce Leonard, the father, who whipped both boys during the session pleaded guilty to felony assault was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.

Deborah Leonard, the mother, who whipped them during the session pleaded guilty to felony assault, and was sentenced to five years in state prison.

On September 1, 2016 half sister Sarah Ferguson was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted in July 2016 of manslaughter and assault.

Pastor Tiffanie Irwin, age 29, who called for the counseling session and oversaw its organization was sentenced on Dec. 19, 2016 to 12 years in state prison for manslaughter.

Joseph Irwin was sentenced on Dec. 19 to eight years in prison for gang assault.

David Morey was sentenced on Jan. 9, 2017 to five years in prison for assault.

Linda Morey who pulled the power cord out of the closet was sentenced on Jan. 9 to five years in prison for assault.

Traci Irwin, 50, and Daniel Irwin, 25, both pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment. Traci Irwin, who pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful imprisonment in the first degree, has been sentenced to one year for each count. Daniel Irwin received two years in jail for his role in the death of Lucas Leonard.

 

Black Collar Crime: Pentecostal Pastor Jose Bernal Accused of Sexually Assaulting Children

pastor jose bernal

Jose Bernal, pastor of Tabernaculo De Vida Pentecostal Church in Fort Worth, Texas, stands accused of sexually abusing two girls.

The Star-Telegram reports:

Police arrested a man Wednesday on suspicion of sexually abusing two girls when he was a preacher at a Fort Worth church.

Hurst police reported that officers executed two felony arrest warrants on Jose Francisco Bernal, 52, at his residence in the 7200 block of Deville Drive in North Richland Hills. Bernal was in the Hurst Jail on Wednesday facing two counts of continuous sexual assault of a child. Bail was set at $50,000 for each charge, police said.

Two adult females made outcries of numerous sexual abuse incidents that occurred when they were both juveniles living in Hurst between 2007 and 2013, police said.

Investigators concluded that Bernal met the girls while he was their pastor at the Tabernaculo De Vida Pentecostal Church on West Dickson Street in Fort Worth.

Bruce Gerencser