ADDITIONAL NOTES


Regarding Question 65:
Souer's History of the Christian Church, Volume 3, Page 406, cites a reference to the famed leader of the Protestant reformation of the 16th century, stating, "Dr. Martin Luther was a prophet, evangelist, speaker in tongues, and interpreter, in one person, endowed with all the gifts of the Spirit." This same reference is published in several other works, including a book entitled, Gifts of the Spirit (Vol 4, page 137), by Gordon Lindsay, from Christ for the Nations (reprint, 1983).


Regarding Question 3:
After the publication of this book in 1995, it appears that there were some major changes in the views of the Worldwide Church of God. After the death of founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, in 1986, the church's new leadership began a process of theological revision. In succeeding years, the church was renamed as Grace Communion International (GCI), and adopted more conventional evangelical theological views, as evidenced by its acceptance into the National Association of Evangelicals. Today its doctrinal summary highlights mainstream Protestant beliefs such as the Trinity, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that faith in him is the only way to receive salvation, and that the Bible is the inspired and infallible word of God.


Regarding Question 40:
It should be noted that as of our publication date in 1995, the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible remained as the official translation of the Roman Catholic Church, as it had been since the Council of Trent, Session IV, April 8, 1546. For English readers, the Douay-Rheims version has served as the official English translation of the Vulgate, with a revised, more readable version published as the Challoner Bible in 1790. Another English translation used by Catholics is The New Jerusalem Bible. This version was translated from Greek, Aramaic, and other sources. While quite readable, it has received mixed reviews. The newest English translation used by Catholics is the New American Bible. Published in 1986, this new translation was created by the Catholic Biblical Association of America, translated from Greek, Aramaic, and other sources, including the Septuagint for the Old Testament. This version is used for the readings during the Mass in the United States.


Regarding Question 45:
After publication in 1995, a theology professor of a major university challenged this statement taken from question 45, "...others of a Unitarian theology insist that only those who speak with tongues can be saved. These unorthodox beliefs are not embraced by the large body of Pentecostal churches or denominations..." He questioned it's accuracy, as it was his understanding that all pentecostals held the view that "speaking in tongues" was the "first sign" of the new birth... or in other words, that one is not saved until they speak with tongues. This is an incorrect view.

He also had the mistaken impression that “most pentecostals” were of a "unitarian" (Jesus Only) theology, and held to a variety of other mostly unothadox, aberrant beliefs. This is not true either. While such ideas are embraced by "some" pentecostal groups, it should be understood that such views are NOT held by the “large body” of groups which refer to themselves as pentecostal.

While it is true that a "first sign" or "initial evidence" doctrine has been prevelant in numerous pentecostal groups throughout history, yet this doctrine does not carry the same meaning within all such fellowships.

For instance, the General Council of the Assemblies of God (of Springfield, Missouri), is the largest of all pentecostal bodies, with a world-wide membership of more than 32 million (1996 A/G statitistics). According to their official documentation, they believe that speaking in tongues is the "initial, physical evidence" of the Holy Spirit Baptism. However, what is commonly misunderstood, is that they view the "Spirit baptism" as "subsequent" to a salvation experience through the "new birth." Consequently, it is not true that they believe that tongues is a required evidence of salvation... only that tongues is a "first sign" of Spirit Baptism, which they believe is a "special enduement of power for Christian service."

Please read the following quote, taken verbatim from the Assemblies of God statement of faith: "(7) All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Ghost and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,8; 1 Cor 12:1-31). This experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth (Acts 8:12-17; 10:44-46; 11:14-16; 15:7-9). With the baptism in the Holy Spirit come such experiences as an overflowing fullness of the Spirit (John 7:37-39); Acts 4:8), a deepened reverence for God (Acts 2:43; Heb 12:28), and intensified consecration for Christ, for His word, and for the lost (Mark 16:20)... (8) The baptism of believers in the Holy Ghost is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives them utterance (Acts 2:4). The speaking in tongues in this instance is the same in essence as the gift of tongues (1 Cor 12:4-10,28), but different in purpose and use." (General Council of the Assemblies of God, Statement of Fundamental Truths #7 & #8)

Futhermore, the Assemblies of God are definately rooted in trinitarian theology. Their mode of water baptism is by immersion, however they do not believe that water baptism is the instrument of salvation, but an "ordinance" to the one who has placed faith in Christ for Salvation.

Please note the following doctrinal statements taken again from the Assembies of God statement of faith. Regarding the Trinity: "2(a) The terms 'Trinity' and 'persons' as related to the Godhead, while not found in the Scriptures, are words in harmony with Scripture, whereby we may convey to others our immediate understanding of the doctrine of Christ respecting the Being of God, as distinguished from 'gods many and lords many.' We therefore may speak with propriety of the Lord our God, who is One Lord, as a trinity or as one Being of three persons, and still be absolutely scriptural (examples, Matt. 28:19, 2 Cor. 13:14; John 14:16,17)." Regarding salvation: "5. The Salvation of Man. Man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God. (a) Conditions to Salvation Salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God, according to the hope of eternal life (Luke 24:47; John 3:3; Rom. 10:13-15; Eph. 2:8; Titus 2:11; 3:5-7). Regarding Water Baptism: "6(a) The ordinance of baptism by immersion is commanded in the Scriptures. All who repent and believe on Christ as Savior and Lord are to be baptized. Thus they declare to the world that they have died with Christ and that they also have been raised with Him to walk in newness of life. (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 10:47, 48; Rom. 6:4)." (General Council of the Assemblies of God, Statement of Fundamental Truths #2a #5a & #6)

These views are nearly identical to the beliefs of most other major pentecostal denominations... the Church of God in Christ (COGIC - the largest U.S. pentecostal church), the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (ICFG), the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), the Pentecostal Church of God, and many of the other smaller pentecostal bodies. (The doctrinal statements of each of these denominations can be located on the internet at the URL addresses shown at the bottom of this page.)

The previously stated views, however, are in contrast with views held by such groups as the United Pentecostal Church International, the largest of unitarian (Jesus Only), pentecostal groups. The UPCI claims that their origin emerged in 1916, when a large group of ministers withdrew from the Assemblies of God over the doctrinal issues of the oneness of God and water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ."

According to their own statistics, the UPCI currently has 3,764 churches in the U.S. and Canada, and a world-wide membership of 2.3 million. Like many pentecostal groups, they also embrace a "first sign" doctrine... however they do not differentiate between Spirit "birth" and Spirit "baptism." It is their belief that speaking in tongues is the "first sign" of the birth of the Spirit. Thus, they believe that those who do not speak in tongues are not saved.

Please read the following quote taken directly from the UPCI doctrinal statement: "Salvation consists of deliverance from all sin and unrighteousness through the blood of Jesus Christ. The New Testament experience of salvation consists of repentance from sin, water baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost, after which the Christian is to live a godly life (Acts 2:36-41)... The baptism of the Holy Ghost is the birth of the Spirit (John 3:5). This spiritual baptism is necessary to put someone into the kingdom of God (God's church, the bride of Christ) and is evidenced by speaking in other tongues (other languages) as the Spirit of God give utterance. It was prophesied by Joel (Joel 2:28-29) and Isaiah (Isaiah 28:11), foretold by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11), purchased by the blood of Jesus, and promised by Him to His disciples (John 14:26; 15:16). The Holy Ghost was first poured out on the Day of Pentecost upon the Jews (Acts 2:1-4), then upon the Samaritans (Acts 8:17), and later upon the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-46; 19:6). "The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:39)."

Furthermore, the UPCI is well known for their unitarian views. It is their belief that water baptism by imerssion is essential to salvation, and that the verbal formula of baptism must be "in Jesus name only," and not in any trinitarian fashion, as described by Jesus in Matthew 28:19.

The following quote is again taken directly from the UPCI doctrinal statement. "Water baptism is an essential part of New Testament salvation and not merely a symbolic ritual. It is part of entering into the kingdom of God (God's church, the bride of Christ), and therefore, it is not merely a part of local church membership. (See John 3:5; Galatians 3:27)... "The name in which baptism is administered is vitally important, and this name is Jesus. Jesus' last command to His disciples was, 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost' (Matthew 28:19). We should notice that He said name (singular) not names. As previously explained, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not names of separate persons, but titles of positions held by God. An angelic announcement revealed God's saving name in the New Testament: "She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). The apostles understood that Jesus was the name to use at baptism, and from the day that the church of God was established (the Day of Pentecost) until the end of their ministry, they baptized all nations (Jews--Acts 8:16; Gentiles--Acts 19:5) in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus is the only name given for our salvation. 'Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).'

As I documented in my book, What People Ask About The Church, there are well over 43,727 pentecostal churches in the U.S., of which we estimate that only about 6,000 subscribe to the more aberrant beliefs, such as the idea that tongues is a "first sign" of salvation. Since this is less than 14% of pentecostal churches, it would be correct to say that such "unorthodox beliefs are not embraced by the large body of Pentecostal churches or denominations."

REFERENCES:

Church of God in Christ - 15,300 U.S. churches
http://www.southerncal-cogic.org/believe.htm

Assemblies of God - 11,689 U.S. churches
http://www.ag.org/info/16truths/index.html

Church of God, Cleveland Tenessee - 5,776 U.S. Churches
http://www.mindspring.com/~cog/decfaith.htm

Church of God of Prophecy - 2,005 U.S. churches
http://www.cogop.org/info/DOCTRINE.html

Foursquare Gospel - 1,558 U.S. churches
http://www.foursquare.org/whatweare/foursquare_beliefs.htm

Pentecostal Church of God - 1,209 U.S. churches
http://www.member.aol.com/user257666/derek2a.html

United Pentecostal Church Inernational - 3,764 churches U.S. & Canada
http://www.upci.org/main/about/

This article is from the book, What People Ask About the Church, authored and copyrighted © by Dr. Dale A. Robbins, 1990-2015, and is a publication of Victorious Publications, Grass Valley, CA - Nashville, TN. Unless otherwise stated, all scripture references were taken from The New King James Bible, © Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982. You may download this article for personal use as long as you retain credit to the author. Obtain permission before reproducing copies for any reason, by filling out our simple permission form. Many of our writings are also available as free pdf tri-fold pamphlets, which can be downloaded for reproduction from our Online Catalog. For media reproduction rights, or to obtain quantities of this title in other formats, email us.