Problems with the Affirmation

I have read and discussed for some time the issues surrounding the affirmation which UPC licensed ministers have been required to sign since 1993 in order to maintain their license with the United Pentecostal Church.  For myself and many others, it was read as to meaning ministers were attesting to believing the entire Articles of Faith, but recently I realized that this is not the case. Allow me to share two major problems with the affirmation.

Here again is what the minister's sign:

"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 said Articles of Faith, and I pledge to practice, preach, and teach the same."

The first thing is that most of us when we read the first line we think that the minister is saying they believe and embrace the Articles of Faith. But this is *not* what it says. It *only* mentions the Fundamental Doctrine section in that first sentence. The Articles of Faith are broken into 24 different sections, one of them being the Fundamental Doctrine which consists of two paragraphs. This is what ministers attest to embracing and believing:

"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."

It is interesting that ministers are not being required to reiterate their belief in the entire Articles of Faith, but are only being required to show they still believe in a very small portion. The possible scenarios that this opens up are quite interesting. A UPC minister could have changed their views about everything else in the Articles of Faith (with the exception of any holiness standards) and sign their name with a clear conscience as pertaining to the affirmation. I am sure that these possibilities would not be welcomed by the organization and yet while they started the affirmation to rid the organization of those who no longer believed UPC teachings, they are actually opening themselves up to keeping ministers in the UPC who might no longer believe many of their teachings.

A minister could change from Oneness to Trinitarian in their belief on the Godhead and still sign this affirmation. They could no longer believe in divine healing, communion, creation of man and the fall, the grace of God, the second coming of Jesus, final judgment--and a few more things included in the Articles---and still sign that form with a clear conscience.

The second observation is that they are required to believe and embrace both the Fundamental Doctrine and the holiness standards in the Articles....but....they are only required to practice, teach and preach the holiness standards. So, literally a UPC minister could get away with never teaching baptism in Jesus name or preaching that tongues are the evidence of being filled with the Spirit as long as they teach the holiness standards.

The main holiness standards outlined in the Articles are found in the following paragraph:

"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, 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."

It is interesting to note that the affirmation only requires the practicing, preaching and teaching of the holiness standards which are outlined in the Articles of Faith.  It makes it more apparent that at the time this was instituted that the main concern was that ministers adhere to and spread the UPC teachings on holiness standards.  Why is the UPC not requiring their ministers to preach, teach and practice the Fundamental Doctrine (or the rest of the Articles for that matter)?

Another thing to note is that not all holiness standards are mentioned in the Articles of Faith. For instance, jewelry, sleeve length, facial hair, dying hair and pants on women (how could they miss this one?) are *not* mentioned. Besides the paragraph quoted earlier in this article, there are a few more standards mentioned in another section of the Articles entitled "Public School Activities". The first two paragraphs of this section read as follows:

"We disapprove of school students attending shows, dances, dancing classes, theatres, engaging in school activities against their religious scruples, and wearing gymnasium clothes which immodestly expose the body.

We disapprove of school students being forced to take coeducational classes which involve boys and girls being mixed together in swimming, calisthenics, baseball, and other mixed athletics while clothed in ungodly attire which immodestly exposes the body."

There are also ministers who do not follow the video use restrictions as outlined in a positional paper which was adopted at the General Conference in 1983 which closes with the statement that "Be it further resolved that none of our ministers use video in any way except as herein provided." Since this is not made part of the affirmation or the Articles of Faith, there are those who feel a UPC licensed minister is not doing wrong by renting videos of movies which are shown in theaters or by having a library of secular movies which have been transferred to video or dvd format.

Since I have come to see more clearly exactly what the ministers are attesting to, I have had to take back what I used to say about the ministers attesting to believing, preaching, practicing, teaching and embracing the entire Articles of Faith. They only must embrace and believe the Fundamental Doctrine and holiness standards....and must preach, practice and teach only those few standards listed in the Articles.

Now, here it is, ten years later, and they haven't  appeared to have noticed the huge loopholes in their affirmation statement. Will changes be forthcoming? Only time will tell. As it stands, the affirmation statement has some very serious flaws. It took almost 30 years before they added "for the remission of sins" to their Fundamental Doctrine, so changes may not be forthcoming in the near future.


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