The Writings of E.L. Anglin

E. L. Anglin was raised in Oneness Pentecostalism and later became a licensed minister within the United Pentecostal Church International. After he graduated from Gateway College of Evangelism, a UPCI Bible College, he later served as a founding, youth, assistant and children's pastor. For seven years he worked in management at World Evangelism Center and for several more he served on the Illinois District Youth Committee. All told he spent 40 years in the movement, leaving the UPCI in 2012. He no longer considers himself a Oneness Pentecostal and finds both definitions (Oneness and Trinity) to be inadequate and flawed.

No, he hasn't "backslid." He still loves God. He still believes Jesus is the Way. He still baptizes in the name of Jesus. He still believes the baptism of the Holy Ghost is for every believer. He has changed, however, in areas of emphasis. Where once he preached the "Never Enough" gospel, he now has a better grip on the core Christian doctrines of justification and sanctification. He no longer sees the Body of Christ as small and exclusive. Now he realizes there truly is "a number no man can number."

Answering the Charge of Bitterness: "How is it possible that simply everyone who leaves is somehow angry or bitter? Is there something inherently damaging that's driving many away or can the mass defections all be chalked up to rebellion?"

What is Legalism and Why is it Evil?: "They sing songs like "Above all else, I must be saved," which includes the line "Lord, whatever you have to do to me, don't let me be lost for eternity." Never mind the fact that they have believed, been baptized, talked in tongues, and follow standards....they are STILL worried that they haven't done enough!"

What is Legalism?: Part 2: "Legalism can be inherent to some church denominations but it would be wrong to assume that everyone within an inherently legalistic church is legalistic, too."

You've Left Legalism, What Now?: "Don't become what you hate. Don't become so dogmatic in your hatred for abusive systems that you mistake innocent people within those systems as abusers, too."

Legalism's Trap: "Our heart, and the Bible, tell us that God is love...that He casts out fear...but too often someone in authority manipulates us to fear more than love Him. We tend to run from things we fear, so legalism's lie puts distance between us and our Father."

Freedom's Cost: "You should know that from beginning to end the entire process took almost eight years. I was entrenched in the system and from the beginning never really considered exiting altogether. I naively thought that with enough conversation perhaps the system could change."

Apostolic Identity is Victim Identity: "What of this fascination with the word "identity?" In what way were the Apostles different from their culture? We have no record that they dressed different than their contemporaries. It's safe to assume they had beards and wore robes and sandals, just like everyone else. One thing is sure, they didn't wear suits, ties and dress shoes."

When an Apostolic Isn't: "Attempts to revise history are only necessary because Oneness Pentecostals have so effectively separated from the rest of Christianity that they are now completely cut off. Their only connection to historical Christianity is based upon a misunderstanding of the Apostle's doctrine."

An Alternate Definition of Sin: "It is possible to obey all of these standards with pure motives. It is also possible to view standards as a substitute for relationship. To hold them up to God as proof that He owes us for our obedience. At that point we've become holier than God."

7 Ways to Hurt Your Church Members: "Close all service roles (greeter, singer, teacher, outreach) to anyone who doesn't "look the part." Judge their worth solely upon the way they dress."

Fear Is Profitable: "It's easy for those not attached to Catholicism to mock the vulnerable rubes who fell for Tetzel's fear tactics but, really, how many Christian movements consistently use fear to motivate the faithful into submission?"

Faith And Works: ""Faith without works" refers to the way our trust in Jesus is expressed. It speaks to the fruit of our faith. James did not intend to say that faith IS works."

What Does God Really Want From You?: "Perhaps that's why He mentioned variants of the word "believe" so many times. The emphasis was turning hearts and minds back to God. The incorrect view had reduced God to a set of rigid rules. The correct view was of a Living God, who wanted a daily relationship with humans."

Misplaced Trust: "Her story is a primer on legalism vs. grace. Many refuse to approach Jesus, to trust Him for salvation, until they've exhausted all other avenues."

What Does the Bible Say About Jewelry?: "In many modern churches the anti-jewelry stance has been relaxed. Now it's generally accepted to wear most any sort of ring, tie bar, cuff links, or hair jewels but still unacceptable to wear earrings or necklaces. Why? Who determines that some jewelry is acceptable and some unacceptable? What scripture is used?"

Does the Bible Say it's a Sin for a Woman to Wear Pants?: "You have often heard that culture does not dictate standards. That statement is patently false. We no longer wear robes because we followed our culture's lead. Style varies from continent to continent and culture to culture. What is appropriate in one locale may be unthinkable in another. "Appropriate" is the very definition of the word "modest." (See 1 Timothy 2:9)"

Does the Bible Say it's a Sin for a Woman to Wear Pants? Part Two: "Why do you only go back as far as the mid-1900's? Why don't American men wear white-powdered wigs? Why don't American women wear hoop dresses? For that matter, if standards are unchangeable, why don't Apostolics wear robes and sandals?"

Just In Case: "'Just in case' theology stems from a complete lack of assurance. It reveals nagging doubts about one's standing with God and a fear that faith in God is not enough. It's the twin sister of "The Never Enough" Gospel."

Exceptions Theology? Ridiculous!: "Oneness Pentecostals do not believe in "exceptional cases." The Oneness Pentecostal message is "tongues or hell." The message that one MUST repent, be baptized and speak in tongues. Apostolics consider that "full salvation." Anything less is inadequate."

Recovering Church as Sanctuary: "Far too often religion invites the hurting to "Come as you are" only to change the expectations at a later date. "Come as you are" morphs to "You're not separate enough, holy enough, and/or good enough." At that point sanctuary is shattered. Abuse enters what was a safe place."

Collateral Damage: "Invited by a friend to "Come as you are," she did. But now, during the service, she sat with that friend, uncomfortable in her own skin. The difference between her appearance, and that of every other woman in the congregation, was glaring."

Pay Close Attention to That Man Behind The Curtain: "There are powerful voices in Christianity who want to hide what is behind the curtain. These voices boom with authority but lack spiritual power. I now realize that some things cannot be hidden behind a curtain."

The Overlooked Meanings of Ancient Hymns: "Fanny Crosby's 'Blessed Assurance' is incomprehensible to those who believe assurance is a myth; that salvation is a series of steps that doesn't end in this lifetime."

Unreasonable Grace: "The Bible is replete with commands to resist sin, but there are no admonitions to be wary of grace."

Silence is the Language of the Dead: "When one is in an abusive system, she is told to keep dissent suppressed so as not to "sow discord." When one can no longer tolerate the abusive system, and leaves, she is told to "move on" and/or "get over it" because she is no longer giving to the system. As a non-member she has supposedly forfeited her right to speak."

Why is There So Much Division in Western Christianity?: "Many use the label as the equivalent of a Boy Scout merit badge. To some, Christianity is a social club parsed out in chapters otherwise known as 'denominations.' To others it's a sort of mental antique passed down from one generation to another."

On "Sowing Discord" and Other Attempts to Control Discourse: "I'm honest enough to say that these expressions bother me for a variety of reasons which I have spent a lot of time addressing. However, I would never respond to those declarations, expressed on my friend's pages, with a request to "Stop sowing discord.""

The Betrayal Paradox: "Those we considered friends and loved proved nothing more than temporary allies. We were only valuable so long as we sang their song, and marched in their army. The sense of loss is stifling."

What is Holiness?: "Holy people don't brag about their look, brand, or identity. They simply point to Jesus, and lean on His power to cleanse and regenerate."

The Mission is Ministry: "Which is closer to the heart of God: sermons about power, authority, identity and influence or the work performed in soup kitchens, food banks and orphanages?"

Pain's Purpose: "Sometimes your dream seems millions of miles away. It seems that it will take future decades to arrive at your desired destination."

Oneness Pentecostals And The Thief: "They ignore every command of Jesus to believe, and every promise of eternal life He attached to belief. They mangle John 3:5 and ignore John 3:16. In their minds salvation is now bound to formulas, plans and rituals. Certain steps must be accomplished in order to earn salvation."

Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part One: "When I questioned these standards and discussed how extra-biblical they are, I experienced shunning, labeling and marginalization. I was called "bitter," "angry," "Charismatic" and worse. Conservative preachers called places where I was scheduled to speak, to discuss my "liberal" leanings. I learned very quickly that the system is valued more than its people."

Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part Two: "In my opinion, it's because the entire movement is built upon what flesh accomplishes, rather than what Spirit provides. It's about measurements. Speaking in tongues is something we can see and hear. It's tangible. It's "initial evidence" that you measure up. Faith, on the other hand, is mocked as "easy believism." Grace is often referred to as something dirty (greasy grace). Why? Because faith and grace are not always visible. They are unseen. They can't be measured."

Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part Three: "Here again exclusivity rears its ugly head. "We have FULL truth." "The WHOLE gospel to the whole world." That last phrase is the official motto of the United Pentecostal Church International. The words "full" and "whole" point to something supposedly missing among all other Christians. That something is the Oneness Pentecostal interpretation of John 3:5 and Acts 2:38."

Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part Four: "Oneness Pentecostals enjoy the fruits of Christendom, while at the same time believing that those who produced that fruit are as hell-bound as atheists. They attend Israel Houghton concerts but believe he's lost. They sail on Gaither cruises but would never consider him saved. They quote Wesley, Spurgeon, Edwards and Moody but would never allow those men, or others who believe as they did, to grace their platform."

Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part Five: "To Apostolics justification is not an event, it's a never-ending life-long process. There is no way to know if one has done enough to earn God's approval. Not when one repents, not when one is baptized properly, and not when one speaks in tongues. While those experiences are celebrated they are only the starting point. One has to "hold out to the end." One has to be perfectly pure. Everything hinges upon human effort."

Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part Six: "This is a huge dividing line. One movement views baptism as a step in a process which reaps a reward. Most others view it as a rite of thanksgiving, a public testimony, of something that has already taken place. Apostolics, like Catholics, view baptism as the means to a future cleansing. Almost all other Christians view it as a symbolic nod to a washing that took place at initial faith, or as the song "Amazing Grace" states, "the hour (we) first believed.""

Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part Seven: "Every Apostolic standard, whether it's mandated by a church, pastor or self, falls short of God's standard. That's because humans cannot produce spiritual perfection. Perfection is imputed, or granted, by God through faith in the work of Jesus on the cross."

Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part Eight: "Some would have you believe that prior to Pentecost the disciples were headed for hell. In their mind the baptism of the Holy Spirit poured out on that day changed the disciples' standing with God. This stands in contrast to solid Bible evidence. Jesus promised power, not salvation, to those who were willing to go Jerusalem and wait."

Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part Nine: "Other church members view them as flawed. Defective. Incomplete. Though talented and willing, their failure to speak in tongues excludes them from leadership roles in the church. The message to chronic seekers is "Try harder." At this point the gift is no longer a gift. It's work."

Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part Ten: "Crazy (and inaccurate) end-time prophecy predictions of a third China war, sermons which use the 'Encyclopedia of Witches And Witchcraft' as a proof text to propose that uncut hair on females brings magical healing powers strong enough to make the lead character of Disney's 'Tangled' jealous, and maniacal rejoicing that "all Trinitarians are lost."

Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part Eleven: "There was a time when I held those works in high regard. When someone asked me a tough question, I used Bernard's books as part dictionary, and part encyclopedia. I don't think it's hyperbole to state that most of the movement does the same."

Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part Twelve: "The worst part is that many pastors within this same group require church members who want to teach, preach or sing to sign leadership covenants which would affirm that they will abide by their (the pastor's) rules. Though these pastors violate their oath to the UPCI without penalty, they refuse access to anyone who violates their local church's leadership covenants."

Why I left, a Year Later: "Looking back I realize that I had always been defined by what I was against rather than what I was for. I had given myself to a system of division and separation instead of striving to be approachable. There is a danger, post-legalism, of slipping back into that mindset."

The Demand For Evidence: "That led to many other extra-biblical requirements all centered around the church requiring visible proofs that we had worked hard enough to be worthy."

These writings are the copyright of E.L. Anglin and are posted with his permission.

Page added February 9, 2015 and updated September 3, 2016


August 23, 1997
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