Sunday, May 26, 2013

Comments to someone else's post

I'm a few years late coming to this discussion, but in the event you still read these comments, I wanted to add my 2 cents of gratitude for their being written.

I'm a recovering Pentecostal myself. I spent about seven years in the Assemblies of God, from around 1989 until 1996. I do not consider the A/G to be a cult, and would defend it from anyone who would charge that is; but I do understand why someone would make that claim.

There are a number of things about the A/G that encourage people to regard it if not as a cult then at least cultlike. At least when I was a member, there was a tremendous preoccupation with eschatology and the rise of the Antichrist, usually pertaining to how events of prophecy supposedly were playing out in the daily news. This often was accompanied by alarm over generally innocuous or even generally good events, and a fear of the secular world. To this day I can remember the fear of people at my church that their children might attend secular colleges, like the one I was attending, and the harsh, alienating rhetoric about those outside the church.

Admittedly this was my own experience 20 years ago, in one church, but things I have seen since then haven't given me much reason to hope that the church has turned around. I know someone in another state who attends an A/G church, where his pastor recently inveighed against Easter and Christmas as primarily pagan celebrations that have infected the church. I've also heard this person and his co-congregants express concerns that our president is a secret Muslim and possibly even the Antichrist, while they also rail against having a U.S. Department of Education.

One can only imagine how they are reacting to the recent decision of the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay boys to participate in Scouting.

Such fear of and disdain for those outside the church walls -- to say nothing of what happens to those who act differently within the church -- does a lot to cement the negative reputation the A/G has had for years, and encourages the rest of the world to view the A/G as a cult.

For that matter, I was a member in good standing for eight years, and there are times I have difficulty viewing it in a positive light.

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