Each pastor within the United Pentecostal Church International is required to sign an oath, every two years, known as "The Affirmation Statement", which affirms that he embraces, believes and will teach and preach "the message" of water/Spirit soteriology as well as legalistic lifestyle standards.
The full text of the oath:
"I (Minister's name) do hereby declare that I believe and embrace the Fundamental Doctrine as stated in the Articles of Faith as set forth in the Manual of the United Pentecostal Church International. I also believe and embrace the holiness standards of the United Pentecostal Church International as set forth in the Articles of Faith, and I pledge to practice, preach and teach the same.
What, exactly, does your pastor affirm?
1. The Fundamental Doctrine of the UPCI.
From the 2012 UPCI Manual:
"The basic and fundamental doctrine of this organization shall be the Bible standard of full salvation, which is repentance, baptism in water by immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the initial sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.
We shall endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit until we all come into the unity of the faith, at the same time admonishing all brethren that they shall not contend for their different views to the disunity of the body."
2. The holiness standards of the UPCI.
Again, from the 2012 UPCI Manual.
"We wholeheartedly disapprove of our people indulging in any activities which are not conducive to good Christianity and godly living, such as theaters, dances, mixed bathing or swimming, women cutting their hair, make-up, any apparel that immodestly exposes the body, all worldly sports and amusements, and unwholesome radio programs and music.
Furthermore, because of the display of all these evils on television, we disapprove of any of our people having television sets in their homes. We admonish all of our people to refrain from any of these practices in the interest of spiritual progress and the soon coming of the Lord for His church."
We make precious few oaths in this life. Religious oaths are fewer still. There is a deep gravity attached to an oath. It's a promise, a vow, that is either audibly sworn publicly, or affirmed by a signature.
Most of our oaths are promises to repay loans for cars, houses and other high dollar items. Lenders run credit checks to ensure we are able to repay. When they verify that we are able to do so they extend a credit offer that is completely dependent upon our signature. The signature ensures that we have read and understood the terms of the contract. This protects the lender. It is the borrowers responsibility to read the fine print. No one who signs can later plead ignorance. Failure to abide by the terms of the agreement leads to repossession or foreclosure. The borrower, at that point, loses whatever money he or she has paid toward the purchase.
In the case of the affirmation statement, the lender is the UPCI. The lender extends certain privileges, and full membership, to those who sign the oath. There is no membership offered to ministers who refuse. Fellowship is dependent upon conformity.
You should realize that there is no room for differences of opinion regarding the holiness standards listed in the Manual. Your pastor does not have the right to ignore any of these standards. He signs an oath affirming that he embraces them.
If he is licensed and yet attends St. Louis Cardinal ballgames, he has broken his oath. If he swims with his wife he has broken his oath. If he has a television he has broken his oath.
I routinely see UPCI ministers, who believe that I have compromised because I have left the organization, publicly post photos of themselves in all of these settings. The duplicity is maddening.
Further, the affirmation requires more than personal obedience. It requires that each minister must also PREACH and TEACH both the fundamental doctrine and holiness standards.
Your pastor signs an oath that he will preach against television, theaters, mixed bathing, worldly sports, women cutting their hair, and make-up.
Does he preach against those things from the pulpit?
If he does not, he is in violation of his oath.
Again, read the quotes from the Manual, then the affirmation statement. What is its purpose?
Among UPCI pastors there are three different responses to the affirmation statement.
1. There are those who truly do embrace, believe, teach, and preach the things they affirm. While I disagree with all that they affirm, I do admire their consistency and integrity.
2. There are those who originally embraced, believed, taught and preached those things but later had a change of heart. Frankly, they are the main targets of the affirmation. It serves as a gut check. It's a sort of personal "State of the Union" for each minister.
Many, like me, evolve to the point where it is impossible to sign with integrity, so they leave. In the process, they lose most everything they've invested.
They are scorned for staying, but attempting to effect change, and scorned when they realize change isn't possible, and leave.
My good friend, Chad Davis, recently wrote about his personal struggle with this...
"A pastor holds all power in his church and if he's a nice guy, then no one cares if he's a liar and a hypocrite. I've shared this before, but I was ready last year to lie and get a UPC license. I was willing to completely impugn my own character and integrity in order to do it, because I thought it was what was best for my family. And I could have survived awhile as a liar. But that pillow I lay my head on at night would've just gotten harder and harder.
"After a church voted me in, the reality of the situation hit me. Not only was I setting a precedent for my kids to be dishonest, I was going to expose them to the ugly underbelly of religion by putting them in a situation like that. Lots of things happened to help me make the right decision, but I remain thankful that I chose to not become a purposeful hypocrite simply because it appeared to be an easier road.
"For anyone to claim that they don't see a prohibition on sports or sporting events in the AOF is blatantly obtuse. Either they are liars or lemmings. Sorry if that comes across harsh, but too many of us have fought battles with the realities of this stuff for someone to cry ignorance. I don't find it amazing anymore. I find it common. The vast majority of men who sign the AS are lying when they do it. All of my UPC friends either find a way to get around it or they just hide their true lifestyle. That's why leaving is akin to coming out as gay. You show your true self and others reject you for fear of being exposed themselves.
"It's all built on lies for the sake of acceptance. And once you're in, you can pretty much live the lie while others agree to a mutual cover up. It's ridiculous.
"My friend from CLC condemns TV. But his kids watch all the same stuff as my kids on their ipads. And in order to watch football, he takes his wife and three kids to a local bar for lunch after church. That seems pretty outrageous to me. But they didn't like it when I called them out on it."
Chad's testimony is the perfect lead-in to an examination of the third response to the affirmation statement.
3. There are those who sign with no intention of adhering to their oath. This is the rank and file membership of the organization. They possess zero integrity.
This group excuses its lie with protests that "no one agrees with everything in the Manual." If that's true, then do away with the affirmation statement. Until then, abide by your oath.
It's like the person who opens multiple credit card accounts, and runs up thousands of dollars in purchases, with no intent to pay. The UPCI vests authority in them, and they repay that honor with fraud.
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.
Social media exposes much. That's why Facebook is a favorite hobby horse of many conference and convention preachers. I only wish they could see the flip side.
There are times when I want to paste the affirmation statement, along with the holiness clause from the Articles of Faith, to the Facebook status updates of UPCI pastors who are posting from or about major sporting events (Superbowl, World Series, Masters).
I want to do the same to some of the vacation photos and posts I see.
I don't, of course, because doing so would cause the social media equivalent of WW3. It would be petty and small--much like the thinking behind the affirmation statement.
I believe it's impossible to legislate morality.
I'm opposed to thought control.
I intend to enjoy Christian liberty.
That's why I'm no longer a Oneness Pentecostal.
Read his thoughts one year later here.
This writing is the copyright of E.L. Anglin and is reprinted on this site by permission. View all of his available articles here.