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I Am Apostolic

Last Friday night I went to the final service for the UPC National Youth Congress 2007, held in Charlotte, NC. The worship leader who started the service got everyone “fired up” by telling the story of a conversation he had with a Muslim friend. He said that the Muslim friend asked him why all of the UPC women had long hair. His answer to his Muslim friend was, “Because we’re Christian!!” Of course he also told his Muslim friend that he believed in just one God, not in the Trinity! (The implication being that everyone who believes in the Trinity believes in three gods; belief in three gods is actually tritheism–a belief held by the Mormons–, not Trinitarianism, but that’s a discussion for a different article.)

So, that happened last Friday night. Then on Monday or Tuesday night I got in a long discussion with a Mormon. It was a very one-sided discussion since he didn’t give me a chance to talk. He just sat there and talked over me and just kept raising his voice when I tried to say anything. Interestingly enough, the Mormon gentleman also claimed to have “apostolic” doctrine. He claimed to believe what the apostles really taught. I’m not comparing the UPC to Mormonism, I’m only pointing out that quite a few groups with very different doctrines all claim to believe what the apostles really taught.

So where does this leave me? It leaves me with the belief that I am apostolic. The reason? I believe what the apostles taught. It’s really quite simple. It only becomes complicated when people try to come up with “new” revelations or new ideas that convince them and their followers that they alone really have truth and that everyone else is part of the “great falling away”…

When is Truth no longer true?

Have you ever seen a house built out of cards? They’re amazing! I did a Google search to try to find a picture of one, and I found the Web site of the guy who holds the world record in building card houses. His record? Over 25 feet high. The thing is, I think the UPC’s record beats his by a few hundred feet. Why? Because the UPC’s theology is nothing more than a house built out of cards…

The loss of our heroes

It seems that the hardest problem for people to face when they leave the UPC is the one of figuring out what they believe and who they can trust. I know it’s an issue that I faced, and from the forums that I have participated in and the discussions that I have been a part of I know that others have faced it well.

Today I was thinking about this and it struck me that if a person was raised in the UPC (as I was) then their greatest heroes are generally people in the UPC. My heroes were certain preachers who I saw as being full of wisdom and compassion, godliness and grace, mercy and anointing. These were the men that I aspired to be like more than anything else in the world. I wanted to have the tenacity that they had to “hold on to Truth.” I wanted to have the anointing that they did and affect people in the same ways that they affected people…

Why study?

One of the issues that pops up over and over again when people leave the UPC is the issue of trust. I was reminded of this again this evening as I was talking with my family about some of the reasons that I left the UPC. As we were talking, my sister-in-law stopped us to ask a question; she wanted to know why all of the study is necessary. She wanted to know why a person can’t just read the Bible and be saved. She and my mother even hinted that all of my Bible study might be getting me into trouble with God.

The first thing to understand when answering that question is that the Bible is designed so that anyone can pick it up, read it, and be saved. At the same time, the Bible is an incredibly deep book…

Why is questioning so bad?

I have a question. Why is it considered so bad to question doctrine in the UPC (and associated organizations)? I don’t think that I have ever heard a preacher get up and say that it is wrong to question doctrine, but I spent over 26 years in the UPC, and the impression that I always had is that it is a horrible sin to question doctrine.

Of course, some doctrines are worse to question than others (according to the typical UPC preacher). The doctrine that is #1 on the list of taboo’d doctrines is the doctrine of the Oneness of God. Other ones are high on the list as well, such as baptism in Jesus’ Name, speaking in tongues as the evidence of receiving the Holy Ghost, and more.

But aren’t we commanded in the Scriptures to question what we are taught?…

Response to UPC Bible study on Make-up

Response to a Bible study written by Rev. M.G. Blankenship. Found at http://www.apostolic.edu/biblestudy/files/bwahprt3.htm. Accessed 12/21/06.

I am not going to reprint the entire study because it would take too much space. What I will do is show a piece from the Bible study and then respond to it. I do recommend that you read the entire Bible study and form your own conclusions.

Spelling and editing errors in the italicized errors are the mistake of the author of the Bible study that I am responding to. Spelling and editing errors in the rest of the article are my mistake…

Response to UPC Bible study on Jewelry

Response to a Bible study written by Rev. M.G. Blankenship. Found at http://www.apostolic.edu/biblestudy/files/bwahprt3.htm. Accessed 12/21/06.

I am not going to reprint the entire study because it would take too much space. What I will do is show a piece from the Bible study and then respond to it. I do recommend that you read the entire Bible study and form your own conclusions.

Spelling and editing errors in the italicized errors are the mistake of the author of the Bible study that I am responding to. Spelling and editing errors in the rest of the article are my mistake…

Response to UPC Bible study on women wearing pants

Response to a Bible study written by Rev. M.G. Blankenship. Found at http://www.apostolic.edu/biblestudy/files/bwahprt2.htm. Accessed 4/28/2007.

I am not going to reprint the entire study because it would take too much space. What I will do is show a piece from the Bible study and then respond to it. I do recommend that you read the entire Bible study and form your own conclusions.

Spelling and editing errors in the italicized errors are the mistake of the author of the Bible study that I am responding to. Spelling and editing errors in the rest of the article are my mistake…

Introduction (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

There are many Scriptures that are misinterpreted by Oneness Pentecostals. I have decided to create a list of the most common ones on this page. Some of these Scriptures are misinterpreted by most, if not all, Christians, but most of the Scriptures on this page are misinterpreted mostly by Oneness Pentecostals.

My breakdown of these Scriptures will follow this format: I will give the Scripture, then give the common misinterpretation, and then explain the correct meaning of the Scripture…

2 Samuel 6:14 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

2 Samuel 6:14 KJV

Misinterpretation: This Scripture is often used to tell people that there is something wrong with their spiritual life (usually pride) if they do not dance during worship.

Facts: There is nothing wrong with dancing in worship. As a matter of fact, dancing as a form of worship to the true God has a long, long heritage. It dates at least back to the Israelite exodus from Egypt, when Miriam, the sister of Moses, led some of the women of Israel in dance (Ex. 15:20). However, just because David danced does not mean that people have to dance…

2 Chronicles 7:14 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV

Misinterpretation: Some in the UPC say that the people “called by God’s Name” are Oneness Pentecostals (because they believe in baptism in Jesus’ Name).

Facts: This Scripture was written at least 400-500 years before Christ, and the event that it was recording was the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, which happened almost 1,000 years before Christ! The promise in 2 Chr. 7:14 was to the Jews, not to Oneness Pentecostals, or even to Christians in general. Of course, I do believe that the forgiveness of sins is a Biblical concept, and this Scripture is certainly a beautiful illustration of that! However, it is a mistake to say that this Scripture is talking directly to anyone but the Israelites.

Isaiah 47:2 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Isaiah 47:2 KJV

Misinterpretation: The UPC often uses this Scripture to try to prove that it is wrong for men to wear shorts or for women to wear skirts above the knee.

Facts: If this Scripture is teaching that men cannot wear shorts then it is also teaching that women cannot remove their veils. Let’s take a closer look at the Scripture to see what I mean…

Malachi 3:8-10 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Malachi 3:8-10 KJV

Misinterpretation: This passage is often used by many different Christians to prove the importance of tithing.

Facts: Tithing is one of the most misunderstood subjects in Christianity today, and space does not permit a full discussion of the topic. Suffice it to say that tithing is part of the Mosaic Law, it is not part of the New Testament model of giving. The New Testament model of giving is that every person gives to others as they are able (cf. Heb. 13:16; Luke 6:38; 2 Cor. 9:6-8), and that they give to the one who teaches the Word (Gal. 6:6). It is safe to say that the New Testament model is that we give willingly, to those who have need, out of all of our excess, not just 10%…

Matthew 28:19 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Matthew 28:19 KJV

Misinterpretation: The UPC points out that this Scripture says to baptize in the Name (singular). They go on to say that the Name is Jesus, and they quote Acts 2:38 as proof (because Peter instructed people to be baptized in the Name of Jesus). Unfortunately, the UPC believes that if a person was baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, then their baptism was invalid and they are not truly saved.

Facts: I will not open up a debate on Oneness vs. the Trinity here, or a debate on whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation. Instead, I will say that I really do not think that Jesus is going to send the majority of His followers to hell for obeying Him…

Mark 16:16 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Mark 16:16 KJV

Misinterpretation: The UPC and some other groups often use this Scripture to say that a person must be baptized to be saved.

Facts: The purpose of this discussion is not to talk about whether or not baptism is necessary, but to point out that Mark 16:16 is almost certainly an apocryphal Scripture (meaning that it was probably not part of the original Book of Mark).

Mark 16:17-18 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Mark 16:17-18 KJV
Misinterpretation: This Scripture is often used to support the UPC doctrine that says a person must speak in tongues to be saved.

Facts: First, this is an apocryphal Scripture (see my comments on Mark 16:16). Second, if this Scripture means that all believers will speak in tongues then it also means that all believers will cast out devils, take up serpents, and heal the sick by laying hands on them. Finally, even if this Scripture is not apocryphal, there is nothing in it that says that all believers will do these things. It only lists some signs that will follow believers as a whole, not as individuals…

John 3:16 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

John 3:16 KJV

Misinterpretation: I have heard several UPC preachers say that this Scripture does not say that people will be saved if they believe on Christ, it only says that they should be saved. Many of them then go on to say that a person who truly believes will be baptized in Jesus’ Name and speak in tongues, at which point they will actually be saved. I am ashamed to admit that I once taught this view.

Facts: The context of the Scripture makes it clear that Jesus is saying that those who believe on Him will be saved. To understand this point, let’s look at the verses immediately preceding John 3:16…

Acts 2:37-38 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Acts 2:37-38

Misinterpretation: This is the “flagship” Scripture of the UPC and of all Oneness Pentecostal churches. There are many ways that this Scripture is mistaught by the UPC, but the only error that I will point out here is that many Oneness Pentecostal preachers and saints misquote the Scripture by reciting, “Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved.”

Facts: The careful reader will notice that the words “to be saved” are not found in Acts 2:37. Peter had already told the believers how to be saved in Acts 2:21, when he quoted the prophet Joel and said, “[W]hosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved…”

Acts 4:12 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

Acts 4:12 KJV

Misinterpretation: This Scripture is often quoted by Oneness Pentecostals as a proof for the importance of baptism in Jesus’ Name. Their reasoning is that no one will be saved except by the Name of Jesus, so that means that people must be baptized in the Name of Jesus to be saved.

Facts: No true Christian doubts that a person will only be saved by the Name of Jesus. However, Peter was not talking about baptism in Acts 4:12. He was answering the question that the high priest had just asked him, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” (Acts 4:7 KJV)…