Bob Klager New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal Saint John, NB

The New Brunswick Telegraph Journal Religion, Friday, January 25, 2002, p. C10

Scholar opens UPC debate

It won't even be released until the end of the year.

But expect a scholarly new work by Saint John-born church historian Thomas A. Fudge to ruffle more than a few feathers in the United Pentecostal Church community that gave him spiritual birth.

The truth be known, it already has.

Mr. Fudge, the son of a licensed United Pentecostal minister in Saint John and a tenured professor of medieval European and Reformation history, says he's been denied further access to the UPC world headquarters' archives in Hazelwood, Mo. And, on top of that, he accuses the church of trying to silence people he sought to interview as part of his three years of research for the book.

"There's been efforts to block my research," he says. "I'm glad to say they've failed."

The actions of the United Pentecostal Church International are not surprising, really, when you realize Mr. Fudge's 500-plus page manuscript doesn't stop at taking a critical look at the development of the oneness doctrine of Pentecostal salvation universally embraced by United Pentecostals today.

It has the potential to open old wounds.

That's because his findings have led him to document the fact another more mainstream view of Christian salvation - by repentance only - once flourished in UPC circles before, as he puts it, "it was suppressed by church officials."

Yet, Mr. Fudge makes it clear this is no vendetta against a church organization he once aspired to serve in the ministry of music. "The book is not an attack on the (UPC) church; I resolved all that long ago," says Mr. Fudge, 39, who has been a tenured professor at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, N.Z., since 1995.

"The book will be a contribution to balancing the historical record," he adds. "I'm not saying there is nothing over here (in the oneness camp). But it is going to provide the other side of story. It will be liked by some and reviled by others. The mass in the middle? I don't know. What I am asking them is to read the evidence and draw their own conclusions."

Mr. Fudge, the middle of three children of police chaplain Rev. James and Joyce (Wallace) Fudge, has been visiting family in the Saint John area since last week. He has also been conducting more interviews for possible last-minute manuscript changes. He has already conducted 212 interviews and collected some 3,000 documents.

"What I'm really doing is recovering part of the tradition of the United Pentecostal Church which has been lost, historically," he says. "It certainly has been lost here in New Brunswick."

Mr. Fudge says he has found many United Pentecostal Church old-timers who are eager to see the salvation-through-repentance doctrine receive at least some scholarly recognition.

Mr. Fudge tries to outline the two steams of teaching on salvation that were prevalent at the time two groups of believers merged to become the United Pentecostal Church in 1945.

"One (doctrine) was in order to be saved you had to repent, you had to be (water) baptized by immersion in the name of Jesus - not the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost - and you had to have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues," he says, summing up today's UPC teaching.

"There was that view, plus another view - that an individual is saved when they repent of their sins and truly have faith in Christ. Period. (In this view) water baptism and Spirit baptism are a result of salvation.

"That old view - salvation by repentance - has been effectively eliminated in the United Pentecostal Church today. If you were to get up and preach that message in a United Pentecostal Church, you would be in significant difficulty with the authorities."

He says United Pentecostal leaders will tell you only a few people believed that way. That's why he was astonished to discover the doctrine of salvation by repentance was widely preached as he began his research for a dissertation on the oneness doctrine he completed for his second Ph.D., in theology, from University of Otago, Dunedin, N. Z., in 2000. He had earned a Ph.D. in ecclesiastical history from the University of Cambridge, England, in 1993, after doing undergraduate studies at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore., and graduate studies at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colo.

Mr. Fudge, now married to singer and recording artist Mandi Miller, has a 10-year-old son, Jakoub, from an earlier marriage.

When he left Saint John for Oregon in 1981 to prepare for UPC music ministry at Bible school, he never imagined he would leave the church of his youth. Or, for that matter, that he would ever pen academic articles and books, including The Crusade Against the Heretics in Bohemia, 1418-1437: Sources and Documents for the Hussite Crusades, set for release this July.

Yet, a time of introspection and Scripture study in the mid-1980s redefined this thinking.

He says he rejected all of the UPC's major distinctives and what he calls its "so-called, but erroneously called, 'standards of holiness': women cannot cut their hair, they cannot wear short pants, you need to cut off your mustache, I need to shave my face, you can't watch TV and you can't go to movies."

Ironic as it may seem, he says the three greatest spiritual influences on his life were all licensed UPC preachers who had the ability to "think out of the box."

His father tops the list.

"Looking back, where I am today is because of my dad's influence," Mr. Fudge says, with admiration in his voice.

"You see, dad was every ecumenical, and still is. Dad does not think other Christians, be they Catholic, Anglican or Trinitarian Pentecostals, are less than he is. They are members of the Body of Christ.

"Of course, the church (I was once part of) taught something different. There was an elitism: 'We're UPC, we have the truth.' But dad never came across like that."


Reach our reporter mullen.mike@nbpub.com
Illustration(s): Peter Walsh/Telegraph-Journal
Saint John-born historian and author Thomas Fudge is completing the manuscript for a new book on the development of United Pentecostal Church doctrine.
Category: Society and Trends
Uniform subject(s): Books; History, archeology and genealogy (History); Religion, philosophy and ethics; Social, civic and community organizations
Length: Long, 797 words
© 2002 Telegraph-Journal - New Brunswick. All rights reserved.


Thomas Fudge released a second UPC related book in March 2014, Heretics and Politics: Theology, Power, and Perception in the Last Days of CBC (Conquerors Bible College). CBC closed abruptly in 1983. The UPC attributed the failure to financial causes. Fudge "argues that the financial crisis was rooted in theological controversy, church politics, conflicting models of education, and sustained suspicions of heresy." Former UPC minister Don Fisher is featured in the book as he was one of the presidents of the college.

You may read thoughts and opinions about the book from Joseph Howell, Dan Lewis, Tim Landry (all former UPC ministers) and others. Ronna Russell, one of Don Fisher's daughters, has shared her personal reflections in this blog.

You may read Daniel Lewis' book, The Journey Out of the United Pentecostal Church, referenced several times in Heretics & Politics, in PDF or Word formats. Much thanks to Dan Lewis for his permission to distribute the book.

Click here to order Christianity Without The Cross from Amazon.com.

Click here to read an article written by Thomas Fudge concerning why he wrote the book.

To view the first 25 pages of his book at no charge, click here.
To view much more of his book on Google at no charge, click here.

A PDF of the book may be purchased at GoHastings for $9.00.

To listen to an interview with Thomas Fudge, where he discusses his book, background, UPC beliefs and why he titled it 'Christianity Without The Cross,' click here. (This appears to no longer be available. I am leaving the link for when I may have time to further research it.)

Click here to read a former UPC member's review of the book.

To read a review by David S. Norris, current United Pentecostal Church minister, click here.
To read a review of David Norris' response to Fudge's book at the UPCI symposium by Bernie Gillespie, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, click here.

To read a review by Darrin Rodgers of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, click here.

To read a review by Danny Rodriguez, a former UPC member, click here.

To read a review by Andrew Degraffenreed, a Oneness Pentecostal believer, click here.

To read a review by Jason Dulle, a member of the UPC and graduate of one of their Bible colleges, click here.

To read a review by J.R. Ensey, a UPC minister, as well as responses to his review, click here.

To read all the reviews on Amazon.com, click here.

Thomas Fudge is also on the staff of The University of New England. To see their page on him, click here.

A series of lectures by Fudge on church history are available on YouTube below:


Page added May 17, 2003 & Updated March 18, 2016


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