My Agreements and Disagreements with Assemblies of God – John Boruff

ag-logoI would have to say that Assemblies of God is the only denomination in the world in which I have the most agreement with. But I don’t agree with it enough; not at least to the point where I would seek ordination with them. Take my family to an AG church? Yes. Ordination? No. Here’s why

On the “Beliefs” tab of ag.org we have all of the theological statements of Assemblies of God. There are the Core Doctrines, Fundamental Truths, Official Statements, Position Papers, and the Topics Index. Here I am only dealing with the Fundamental Truths (which I agree with 95%), the Position Papers, and the Topics Index.

I AGREE WITH AG ABOUT…

1. The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture.
2. The Trinity.
3. The Deity of Christ.
4. Original Sin.
5. Salvation through repentance, faith, the witness of the Spirit, and holiness.
6. Water Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
7. Spirit-baptism for evangelism, miraculous gifts, and a holy fear of God.
8. Spirit-baptism for feeling God’s presence and speaking in tongues.
9. Holiness of life is necessary for salvation.
10. Evangelistic ministry.
11. Divine Healing.
12. The Second Coming as a literal event in the future.
13. The Millennial Reign of Christ.
14. The Final Judgment.
15. The New Heavens and the New Earth.
16. Literal Six-Day Creation and Rejection of Theistic Evolution.
17. Rejection of Homosexuality and Gay Marriage.
18. Divorce is only acceptable for adultery and desertion.
19. Hell as eternal punishment.
20. The sinfulness of gambling.
21. The heretical nature of positive confession and the prosperity gospel.
22. Evangelical Arminianism.
23. Abortion acceptable only if the mother’s life is in danger.
24. The sinfulness of suicide.
25. Conditional Security.

I DISAGREE WITH AG ABOUT…

1. Pre-Tribulation Rapture. I am a post-tribulationist (2 Thess. 2:1-4).
2. Initial Evidence. Its easy to argue from Acts that speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I would prefer calling it the “obvious” physical evidence, but not “the initial” as if to say it is “the” evidence. William J. Seymour actually retracted this view some years after Azusa Street. In his statement “The Apostolic Faith: A Doctrinal Overview,” he said, “Bishop Hurst says, in his Church History, that the gift of tongues has appeared in communities under powerful religious stimulus, as among the Camisards, early Quakers, Lasare in Sweden in 1841-43, in the Irish Revival in 1859, and in the Catholic Apostolic (Irvingite) Church (vol. 1, page 90)…I can say, through the power of the Spirit, that wherever God can get a people that will come together in one accord and one mind in the Word of God, the baptism of the Holy Ghost will fall upon them, like as at Cornelius’ house (Acts 10:45-46). It means, to be in one accord, as the Word says in Acts 2:42, 47…Fourth, as amended: ‘The speaking in tongues being one of the ‘signs following’ the baptized believers and other evidences of the Bible, casting out devils, healing the sick and with the fruits of the Spirit accompanying the signs’ (1 Cor. 13; Mark 16:16-19; Acts 2:2-3′ Acts 10:44-45-46; Act 19:6).” Seymour gave no special priority to tongues over the other gifts of healing, deliverance, and fruit of the Spirit, but he certainly believed tongues were legitimate, that they were a mark of revival, and they were to be sought out. I would add that shaking your hands uncontrollably in Spirit-filled worship or other body parts, or falling to the ground in a trance (being slain in the Spirit), can also be “physical” evidences of Spirit-baptism, with the non-physical evidences being things like feeling God’s presence around you, seeing visions, hearing God’s voice, angels, prophetic dreams, etc. Physical healing is also a result of Spirit-baptism.

3. Abstinence from Alcohol. While alcoholics would do well to abstain from alcohol during rehab, the New Testament does not bind Christians to total abstinence. It speaks against drunkenness, saying that it is better to be filled with the Holy Spirit. But it remains a fact that the drink at the Lord’s Supper was red wine. The Pharisees gossiped about Jesus being a “wino” because He drank a little wine from time to time. Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine! Paul even commanded Timothy to drink a little wine in order to relieve a stomach problem. And yet, the Assemblies of God teaches total abstinence. I think this must have come from the prohibition idea that was popular during the early fundamentalist and Pentecostal movements in the early 1900s; and it has less to do with New Testament teaching.
4. Apostles and Prophets. Assemblies of God does not believe in apostolic and prophetic ministry in the sense we find it in the Bible. They believe that their missionaries are “apostles” and their pastors are “prophets,” in a sense. But only in a sense: they refuse to use the Biblical titles or descriptors of “apostle” and “prophet” even though the Bible does so (Ephesians 4:11). I personally believe that the apostolic and prophetic ministry exists today. I reject the “manifest sons of God” teachings and other extremes, but I generally lean toward the view of the Latter Rain movement, the prophetic movement (IHOP, Mike Bickle), and non-denominational charismatic churches, that apostles and prophets are for today; and that they have existed all throughout church history, just under different titles. I believe the Bible teaches that an apostle is a prophetically guided church planter that works miracles. I believe that a prophet is a prophetically guided spokesman in a local charismatic church: he may or may not be involved in healing and deliverance as well. For more on this view, see Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, Appendix B. I believe the functions of apostle and prophet have continued throughout the history of the church and are still in existence today; however, to follow Christ’s teaching, we should shun titles, and not seek to be called “Teacher,” “Father,” “Apostle,” or “Prophet” (see Matthew 23:10).
5. Born Again Christians Being Indwelt By Demons. The Assemblies of God rejects that this can happen. I disagree. The Bible nowhere teaches that people are “oppressed” and that demons can just externally harass you. Although it is not hard to imagine that. The only Biblical prayers used in combat against demons are eviction prayers. Terms and phrases that express a desire to “cast out” a demon in Jesus’ name. If we stick to the Biblical, we will see better results. I have had personal experience with godly Christians indwelt by evil spirits, who were suffering, wanted help, and got deliverance. One even saw a demon come out of her mouth! “The Life of Brigid” has an occasion of a nun who was demonized; and the Golden Legend also has an occasion of a nun who was possessed by an evil spirit sitting on a head of lettuce; and after she ate it without praying, it entered into her, and threw her into a fit. The church father Tertullian shares a similar story of a Christian girl who became demonized the moment she set foot in an ungodly theater. Experience teaches this to be true; and all Biblical prayers against demons take the character of “casting out” and not “casting away” or “casting off.” This subject frightens those who don’t understand. But demons are no match for the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Can the Holy Spirit and demons dwell in the same body? Yes. No Christian is perfectly sanctified. Holiness is a gradual, growing process. And I believe, as did Teresa in the Second and Third Mansions of Interior Castle, that lizards and snakes exist in those dark parts of our souls, that have not fully yielded to Christ
. Those parts of us, for all intents, which we have not sanctified, or grown in, and are still weak points exploited by the devil. Those areas in us, which we call areas of improvement, weak points, and immaturity, are precisely those parts of our body that demons may very well inhabit, until we discover by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, that we should pray for them to be cast out of us in Jesus’ name, and the opposite aspect of the Holy Spirit would be asked to fill that place of us where we have not yet experienced full deliverance from sin. It is that area where Romans 7 becomes Romans 8, where flesh yields to the Spirit, and the demons struggle with your mind, in order for you to continue to give control to the flesh. To view sanctification merely as an ethical or psychological issue is not sufficient. The Bible says the devil gets in the way of holiness quite a bit (see Ephesians 6; James 4:7).
6. Impartation of Miraculous Gifts. Although there were many things wrong with the Latter Rain movement, I believe that they got their ideas right about apostles, prophets, and impartation. Paul clearly said, “I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift” (Romans 1:11); and also, “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you” (1 Timothy 4:14); and again, a descriptive passage: “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). Assemblies of God rejects that it is possible to impart or transfer gifts of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. They say this is because spiritual gifts can only come from the Holy Spirit and not from any person. But this goes directly against the doctrine of laying on of hands, and of the historical doctrine of ordination, which in the Catholic and Anglican churches, was seen as a ceremony of empowering the new minister with the Holy Spirit.
7. Female Pastors. Unlike Assemblies of God, I do not believe the Bible allows for females to pastor or teach Scripture to men. It allows for them to prophesy under charismatic inspiration and to serve in other ways: but the roles of pastor and Bible teacher are too authoritative for women to fill. It overthrows gender distinctions and the spirit of patriarchy (rule by men) that we see in the family and the church throughout Scripture, and may even open the way for effeminacy and homosexuality in the church. In my statement on “The Ministry” I say, “Scripture allows for only one man of God to be the senior pastor of a church; other men may serve as deacons, teachers, and evangelists. Women of God may serve as deaconesses and teachers of young women and children, but must remain respectful of the leadership by the pastor and male deacons. We believe that a Spirit-led presbyterian view of church government is the closest to Scripture; and that a godly male church council should prayerfully vote to ordain and hold local pastors accountable for their faith and conduct. Both men and women may prophesy in church services for a few minutes, but only if they feel led by the Holy Spirit to share a revelation. However, it is contrary to Scripture to allow women to preach sermons to men, because that would disrupt the natural authority that God has given to men. Such authority must never be abused, nor twisted into unreasonable, authoritarian power trips; but rather, as a shepherd watches over his sheep, and as a father watches over his family with love, care, and concern, so also should men lead their churches. We totally reject covering theology (1 Timothy 2:12; 3:1-13; Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Corinthians 11:5, 15; 14:34; Romans 16:1, RSV; Acts 15:1-30; 16:4; 17:11).”
8. Worship. I was surprised to find many things said about music, preaching, prophecy and other aspects of the church service, but nothing about Spirit-filled contemplation and focusing on God with closed eyes, and being lost in God’s presence, speaking in tongues. To me, that’s Biblical Pentecostal worship! Worshiping God in the Spirit! Trance-like praise and worship, marked by swaying and dancing and clapping. David dancing before the ark, losing his self-consciousness. Their whole “Worship in the Bible” article sadly lacks this basic Pentecostal practice. See my book How to Experience God, chapter 1, “Worship.”

This is just a start. There is a lot in the Topics Index I haven’t covered.

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About John Boruff

John Boruff is a Philosophy and Religion graduate from UNC Pembroke. In his free time, he blogs about the Christian life; and has special interests in evangelism and spiritual gifts. He identifies himself as a Reformed Arminian Pentecostal. He’s also a husband and dad. John loves street preaching. His influences are Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, John Wesley, Charles Finney, etc. John is always in the process of writing; and is posting free e-books on this site for cultivating a deeper Christian life. Among them are his 'How to Experience God' and 'The Gospel of Jesus Christ.' He is currently working on the lives of great prophets in church history—from Catholic saints to Protestant reformers and revivalists. He is also working on a Biblical theology of poverty alleviation.
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