Daniel Caudill's UPC Experience

Long hair WAS mandatory for women, right? Short hair was a strict taboo in the Apostolic/Pentecostal denominations, along with slacks, makeup, and jewelry. I remember the fiery tirades against these and other things as I grew up in an Apostolic church. My father, who was the pastor, wasn't quite the tongue-lashing disciplinarian that other preachers were, but there was no real protest to the traditional standards that most churches held.

As I look back upon my religious upbringing, I keep asking, "what were all of those churches thinking?" I believe they felt like if they preached the doctrine of baptizing converts in Jesus' name, that they were automatically right about everything else. How easy it is to "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel", as a man from Nazareth once said.

How ironic it is that many churches that boasted of Spirit-filled services actually drained the joys of Spirit-filled life from its members. Sure, there was plenty of "shouting", and aisle-running, crying, screaming, and the obligatory "speaking in tongues" to prove the presence of the Holy Spirit during church meetings. But to prove the existence of the Holy Spirit in one's personal life, the individual had to meet the pastor's (and often, pastor's wife's) long list of do's and don'ts, with an emphasis on the don'ts. It is pretty easy to see why many churches had a high turnover rate in membership. "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them"; this saying (Luke 9:56) often comes to mind.

After my own hiatus (about seven or eight years, maybe more) from my father's church, I made my prodigal return. I knew that God Almighty was calling me into the ministry. I was reluctant to try, because I didn't want to be a duplicate of my father, even though he is a great man. But, the call was there, so I had to submit. I had a rocky start, however. I had to learn that, even as we seek a genuine, believable daily experience with Christ, a minister's method of dividing the Word must be genuine and rational as well. At first, I tried to be a traditional, excitable preacher like my father. But after a couple of somewhat frustrating years, I could see that, even though I was preaching ABOUT Christ, I wasn't ministering LIKE Christ. Once I accepted this truth, I began to see what ministry was really all about. So, I refused to be stereotyped as a typical Pentecostal preacher. In fact, a person who heard one of my local radio programs TOLD me I wasn't typical! I simply began to put thought and study into the Word, as the rabbi from Nazareth surely did.

This approach began to pay off. Not only did I discover that people really enjoyed thoughtful insight into the Bible, but I felt more satisfied in my duty as well. I knew that I didn't have to imitate anyone, and I could be relaxed and confident behind the Bible stand. There was no need for yelling and screaming, or displaying any wild antics. I wanted to be as the scribe that Jesus mentioned, able to bring out both old and new treasures.

I didn't stop with my re-examination of ministry. I actually began to re-think the whole Apostolic/Pentecostal method of operation. If, I reasoned, much of the ministry worked under false pretense, chances were good that other things might be wrong. Well, mistakes weren't hard to find. Like the ridiculous manipulation of women's appearance. Upon further scrutinization of scripture, I found less of the condemnation of hairstyles and jewelry than found in modern Pentecostalism. I also found that you don't HAVE to "speak in tongues" as evidence you have received the Holy Spirit, nor does the Bible command us to do so as continual proof that we haven't LOST the Holy Spirit! Nor do we have to run or jump or roll in the floor to have a meaningful church service. These, as well as many other facets of Pentecostalism, are nothing but traditions of men tacked on to Biblical truth. No wonder Jesus said, "In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men."

So, to the women I say, go ahead and put on some jeans if you plan on doing some gardening. You want to style your hair just a bit? Go ahead! Men, if you would like to wear a short-sleeved shirt in warm weather, do so without fear of losing your salvation. To everyone, I say don't worry about how high you jump, or how fast you run during church services. Don't judge one another by the frequency of tongue-speaking. Rather, provoke one another to good works, and know one another by the FRUIT of the Spirit. If the fruit of the Spirit is evident in a person's life, that's all the proof you need that the Spirit is there!

As I close this brief commentary, I pray that ministers everywhere will be as Christ-like as possible in their endeavors to preach the Gospel. I pray that church members will desire grace and truth to lead them. God bless all who read these words!

Daniel Caudill


Posted August 2, 1998
E-mail removed July 31, 2005 as no longer valid

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