~ Having been raised in an Evangelical Christian environment, I was exposed to many different brands (or denominations) such as Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, Roman Catholicism, Methodism, and Baptists to name a few. At the forefront of my greatest troubles related to Christianity and Evangelical culture is the brand called Pentecostalism.
Birthed from holiness teaching churches (like the Methodists) in the 19th century, Pentecostalism is generally agreed to have come into existence on January 1st, 1901 in the little town of Topeka, Kansas when 31 year old Agnes Ozman asked bible teacher Charles Fox Parham to lay hands on her in prayer, so that she could receive “the gift of the holy spirit”.
Ozman than began babbling unintelligible words and sounds and it was deemed by the observers that she had been “filled with the holy spirit”. News of Ozman spread throughout North America to places like Azuza Street in Los Angeles, where other people began speaking unintelligible words and phrases.
More than a hundred years later Pentecostalism has become a mainstream religion throughout the world and was a primary influence of the Charismatic movement of the 1970’s and still influences many non-denominational churches around the world.
Over the past thirty years holy spirit pentecostal movements have involved churches that;
—-) Teach their parishioners to crawl around on the floor and bark like dogs on Sunday morning because that is what the holy spirit wants to do ‘through’ them
—-) Teach their parishioners to laugh uncontrollably for hours on end
—-) Teach their parishioners to be ‘slain in the spirit’ which involves falling down on the floor after the preacher touches your forehead
—-) Teach their parishioners that god can directly talk to you, both audibly and inaudibly and instruct you on mystical knowledge
—-) Teach their parishioners that they have demons in them that need to be cast out by exorcists
Normally, if any common sense thinking person were to suggest these kind of things in public, they would be deemed “nuts” and referred to a psychiatrist, but because Pentecostals do these things behind the four walls of their buildings on Sunday morning, they are given a sense of legitimacy.
Pentecostalism has been one of my greatest difficulties throughout my Christian life, because so many of my friends and relatives are either full fledged Pentecostals, or they ascribe to some of the beliefs. These beliefs have led those friends and relatives of mine to some of the craziest behaviors, choices, and attitudes, and has often left me the recipient of some rather foul behavior on their part.
At the age of fourteen I read a book that shed a LOT of light on the subject of all these nutty religious beliefs and it helped propel me away from a life of thinking God could audibly talk to me and other such rubbish. Unfortunately, because so many of my friends and relatives hold to many of the crazy Pentecostal beliefs, it created a massive chasm between us when it became apparent that I believed they were a few tacos short of a fiesta platter.
My Uncle Bob always told me, “People are either on your side, or they are waiting in a dark alley to hit you with everything they got”. While people might not be as extreme as my Uncle Bob suggested, Pentecostals are indeed of the extreme sort.
After more than a hundred years of preaching their B.S. to generations of humans, Pentecostals are still brandishing their craziness and brainwashing unsuspecting victims to their ideology, and it all leads to a very simple question; Is Pentecostalism a cult?
By definition a cult is,
1) a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
2) a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.
3) a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing
We definitely see elements of veneration and misplaced admiration when it came to crazy people like David Koresh, and while not every Pentecostal church may have one particular pastor who leads the people to drinking suicide Kool-Aid, we do see the elements of point number two in just about every Pentecostal and Charismatic church that exists; “A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister”.
Of course, unlike suicide Kool-Aid, my thoughts on this subject might be very difficult to swallow if the person reading my article identifies themselves as a Pentecostal; so where does that leave us?
I’m always open to hearing people disagree, but sadly, most Pentecostals I’ve encountered are less interested in positive dialogue and are usually more adept at accusing me of having demons or needing to get right with god.
One Pentecostal believing person told me, “I know your heart Kenneth!” to which I asked,
“Really? Has god given you the mysterious gift of knowing my heart? Of knowing what I’m thinking? Of knowing my intentions?”
But of course, my retort only made the Pentecostal dude more upset as it confronted him with the reality that he believes some pretty nutty things.
So is Pentecostalism a cult? That is the subject of tonights Culture Monk LIVE streaming show, as Kylie and I explore the topic. Kylie has some firsthand experience with the subject since she herself was swayed momentarily by the Pentecostals, but thank God she got out before things got really bad.
just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,
Categories: Culture & Society