Jason Hasty's UPC Experience
In 1974, I prayed at my grandmother's house for the "Holy Ghost", which I understood to be essentially the speaking with tongues experience. My grandmother, Lois Rogers, was a wonderful woman who got up early to pray and who loved God. I am so thankful that, during the later years of her life, she was attending a Baptist church and witnessing to them about the gifts of the Spirit. I say this because, for so many years, she would not attend anywhere except UPC.
I did experience speaking with tongues after "tarrying" at my grandmother's house, and was baptized with the words "in Jesus' Name" spoke over me the next Sunday in Minden, Louisiana. Rev. T.W. Barnes was the pastor, and I still consider him a friend, both personally and to my family.
My grandfather, R. L. Rogers, hunted and fished with Rev. Barnes from time to time, but did not attend the UPC church. He did not agree with what he felt was too much control from the pulpit. He used to say "I go to all churches". I worried about him because, as far as I knew, he had never spoke in tongues.
I enrolled at Duke University in Durham, NC in 1983, where I tried at first going to a UPC church. It was, in my opinion, very oppressive. First, I learned that the pastor had called Rev. Barnes and had said that I was "not like the other young men at the church" [i.e. I did not sit on the front row and react in unison with them, to say the least]. Rev. Barnes called my mom with the information from the pastor in NC, and told her that he had responded, "you're right, Jason is not like all the other young men" [as a compliment to me]. Second, the ladies [not young, available ladies, mind you] in particular of the church always surrounded me and exhorted me to "be back" [in every service].
Eventually I attended another oneness church in Durham, NC, partly because I was interested in a young lady who had left the UPC church and started going to the other oneness church. And partly to see if I might fit in better somewhere else. I ended up playing the electric bass guitar and having a very good time. I attended McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 1985, and did not enjoy the UPC church there, so I ended up not going to church at all.
In 1986, and back at Duke, I went through severe depression and left school for a while, but ended up finishing on time and enrolling at University of Georgia School of Law in Athens, GA in 1987. While at UGA Law School, I had several Bible studies with a fellow Christian who asked a lot of questions about my beliefs. He was particularly interested to learn that I had been taught that speaking with tongues was a necessary sign of being saved. We looked into this issue for a while and I realized that I had been taught wrong on this issue. We next turned our focus to the oneness-trinity issue. In 1989 I married my wife, Misty, while still having some questions about the UPC teachings but still believing it was the best possible church.
The oneness-trinity issue led me to write a 12-page paper while in law school, and it almost drove my wife crazy. I concluded that there was an ongoing debate, but that uplifting the name of Jesus was what really mattered and that UPC probably did that the best, especially with its emphasis on "Jesus Name".
After law school, my wife and I moved back to Marietta, Georgia (north of Atlanta, GA), close to both our parents. We attended a UPC church which eventually withdrew from the UPC. We were then part of a little church which started in my mom's home. Eventually that church came to select a pastor. The pastor became very controlling, wanting to rename the church, and quickly changing the way things were done. We endured with this pastor until he resigned with family problems. Then, the church had an interim pastor who already pastored another church south of Atlanta, GA. He claimed to have seen himself one morning after rising from prayer. Yes, he said he saw himself, in his house, and later concluded this is how people could have claimed to have seen him when he never actually went places [i.e. to a particular hospital, for example].
I was beginning to see more and more problems with the UPC organization and its responses to our church issues. My father-in-law was on a committee which found issues that went unaddressed by the UPC as far as its ministers were concerned. I stayed in UPC because I was convinced that it was the only church that baptized people properly. By this time, my brother Jeremy had already started going to a Baptist church. He had talked to his minister about baptism "in Jesus' name", and Jeremy and I were planning to get him some proof of the "change in formula at Nicea in 325 a.d.", etc. My wife, my mom, my brother and I prayed, holding hands, in my mom's kitchen. There were tongues and interpretation that my brother was going to lead his family into the truth. I assumed that it meant everybody was coming [back or otherwise more strongly] into the UPC.
In a VERY SHORT TIME, my brother brought me an article he had found about "Witnessing to Oneness Pentecostals". We discovered that many of the claims we had accepted as true about church history were, at best, not fairly presented by the UPC. From there, my brother found Bernard Gillespie's website, and so on. We have looked at the Ankerberg debate from 1985, read E. Calvin Beisner's "Jesus Only Churches", listened to debates, read David K. Bernard's oneness arguments in favor of UPC, etc. We are most recently looking into the history of the modern-day oneness movement, including [by Bernard' s own admission] the acceptance by some oneness writers of Emanuel Swedenborg's (sp?) "understanding of oneness". It is our understanding that this man was an 18th century medium.
I withdrew from the oneness movement shortly after reading many of the articles listed above. I have tried to witness to my wife, but please note that her mother was shot to death by her grandfather (my wife's mother's father shot my wife's mother) in January 2000. My wife seems to think that, if her mother was wrong about oneness, then her mother is in hell. I have assured her this is not the case, and I understand how hard it is for her to even think about it. But I also strongly disagree with my kids being taught that tongues is necessary, that the UPC is the only church where they can "feel God", and that those who leave UPC are leaving [at least the highest] truth. And I'm also concerned about the history of those who have had a "revelation" that God is definitely "NOT" three persons, and the way in which they have ridiculed the ones who believe that He is.
Last year, I walked down the aisle of the Baptist church where my brother attends, knelt at the altar, and confessed to Jesus Christ that I accept Him personally as the Son of God! What an experience! I can honestly say that, for the first time, I really had an understanding of the personality of the Son. Not as just flesh, in whom deity (the Father) resided, but as a person of the Godhead, who has a real relationship with the Father! So much of the Bible is more clear to me now, and I am not "afraid" of so many of the scriptures.
My wife was so concerned about these things that she got the Rev. T.W. Barnes on the phone, and handed the phone to me, saying "talk to Bro. Barnes". I did for about an hour. He told me [generally] that a person who accepts the "oneness" of God and who later gets baptized in the "titles", has rejected the [truth of] oneness of God and is "lost, right then and there". That was when I knew I must go ahead and get baptized with the words "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" spoke over me. Not as a rejection of Jesus name, but as an affirmation of His power and authority in uttering those very words Himself! I knew that I could not be bound by someone's forcing a narrow interpretation upon me, especially considering the deliverance that God had been working in my life!
I will admit to being somewhat nervous about these things, but it has been a wonderful healing process. I still believe in living a life that is pleasing to God. But I no longer view myself as capable of being lost and re-saved over and over. The scriptures are clear to me on these things. And I can no longer tolerate the abuse within that organization. I desperately would like to free my wife of that thinking. I know this will happen only by the Holy Spirit guiding her. My best example to my children, I believe, will be the life and live and the fact that I am not bound to that thinking.
Please pray for me and my family. May the peace of God, and the fellowship of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, be with you!
In His love,
Jason R. Hasty
Posted March 3, 2002
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August 23, 1997
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