A report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from Charisma Magazine, August 2002 with a headline: Pentecostal leaders met privately in April to heal old divisions.”A gathering of Pentecostal, Word of Faith, Oneness Pentecostal leaders was called a first.Leaders of America’s major Pentecostal and Charismatic movements met privately in April in a history meeting intended to build bridges between different groups that have been at odds or distanced for years.Almost thirty senior figures representing Word of Faith, Charismatic, traditional Pentecostal, and Oneness Pentecostals met for three days at a Washington D. C. area hotel to talk and pray in an unprecedented move toward unity.Among the participants were T V preachers Kenneth and Gloria Copeland.Also taking part were Billy Joe Dougherty, Pastor of Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Ted Haggard, Pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.Together 2002 as the gathering was named was convened by Robert Fisher, Director of the Center for Spiritual Renewal in Cleveland, Tennessee.He was also behind Solemn Assembly 2001 which brought thousands of Pentecostal leaders and lay members together for a fifty hour prayer vigil renouncing past divisions in Atlanta.Fisher described the 2002 meeting as the first time ever top leaders from all the strings of Pentecost, Classic, Charismatic, Oneness, Word of Faith, Third Wave, came together in a spirit of unity not to discuss doctrinal differences, but to rejoice in their common heritage.Vincent Simon, Dean of the School of Divinity at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia and a leading Pentecostal historian who took part in the meeting, said it had been truly a first.It was especially significant because of the participation of those who have not usually attended Pentecostal leadership events including the Copelands, Healing Ministry leader Francis McNutt, Ann Haney and Nathaniel Urchin from the UPC.“The Oneness brethren were warmly received and participated equally in all the discussions,” Simon said.“This may mark a new day in relations with Oneness and Trinitarian Pentecostals.”The two camps split in the early 1900s because of differing views of the triune nature of God.For his part, Dougherty found the meeting especially significant in bringing the streams of the Pentecostal/Charismatic believers into a mutual appreciation of one another.He added, “People work together when they know and trust one another.We know each other now and trust was built.There are no limits to what God can do when we come together.”Haney said that he appreciated the opportunity to meet with others he had only known from a distance or met briefly.“I found them to be sincere, caring men and women he said.We have varied agendas and some theological differences, but share a common bond as advocates of the Pentecostal experience that is being poured out in unprecedented measures around the world and must not allow focus on this great experience to be derailed.Jeff Farmer said the event was the most empowering, encouraging, and affirming meeting he had been in during six years as President of Open Bible Churches.“There was no bottom line other than that God was among us and that we would meet together again and keep listening.”
Dave, this is an ecumenical meeting which is a little different than those that we’ve been discussing. Normally it’s between Catholics and evangelicals, but now we have this meeting among those of Pentecostal-Charismatic persuasion.Again, we see they are not there to discuss doctrinal differences; they are there to discuss how we can get along.Wow!
Well Tom, they liked one another, they are nice people.I think you could find that with unsaved people.Some of them are really nice, we could get along, and they said the main thing is the Pentecostal experience: speaking in tongues, the gifts of the Spirit and so forth.We don’t want doctrinal differences to lose our focus on that.Now wait a minute!How do you have a genuine experience of God?How does the Holy Spirit—this is 1 Corinthians 12.The gifts of the spirit are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit given to each one as he will according to his purpose.Now how can God, the author of the Bible put his blessing upon those who deny his Word?I just opened my Bible to the second epistle of John and it says in verse 9: “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God.He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine receive him not into your house.Neither bid him God-speed.In other words, you don’t say God bless you.What is the doctrine of Christ?What is the doctrine of the Father and the Son?Now the Oneness Pentecostals deny that.They are the Jesus only people and they say well Jesus is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and these are modes or offices so an office—the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world—so an office sent another office to be the Savior of the world.It’s not just splitting hairs, but that there are three persons, one God is the heart of scripture and we don’t have time to go into it, but on one side Allah for example, a single individual, you have unity and no diversity before he created other beings and this is what many Jews think of Yahweh.He’s incomplete, he can’t fellowship, love, commune and so forth.And on the other end of the scale you have polytheism (many gods).They’ve got diversity, but no unity.They fight with one another and so forth.The Bible presents the God of the Bible, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, three Persons, complete in themselves, loving, fellowshipping, communing, did not need to create us and that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world—we could go very quickly to Isaiah:48:16, (if I can find it real fast here) and notice what it says, “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this, I have not spoken in secret, from the beginning, from the time that it was there am I.”This one that is speaking is God.He’s been around forever, but he says, “and now the Lord God and his Spirit hath sent me.You’ve got the Trinity there.In the Shamah, “Hear O Israel, Yahweh our Eloheim is Echad, One Yahweh.”The word echad means unity.The man and woman became one flesh.A troop, a bunch of soldiers became echad, one troop.There is diversity and unity in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.Jesus prayed to the Father and so forth.We’ve got some serious differences that they’re just brushing aside.
Dave, as you said, there are serious differences, but let’s not stop there.You have Kenneth and Gloria Copeland with their heresies.That Jesus was tortured in hell to pay the penalty for our sin.That Jesus’ deity is even challenged according to some of Copeland’s teachings.But were just going to kind of brush that aside so we can get together and keep this experience alive.
I’m thinking of the claim that Copeland made that Jesus was speaking through him in a large gathering and Jesus said, “I never claimed to be God,” and so forth.Yes, there’s just an awful lot of heresy here, but let’s brush it aside because we all believe in speaking in tongues and this charismatic experience and that’s what we are going to go by.It’s a tragedy.