This is What I Believe
by Barb McGee
I give all honor to the Lord Jesus Christ for this opportunity to present the position of the ‘ultra conservative’. In like manner, Sister Lois Gibson is to be commended for opening a door here for another view. Thank you for the invitation.
Allow me to say at the outset that my ‘credentials’ for being here are not spectacular. Though I am third generation Apostolic (UPC), I am not a theologian. I have never attended Bible school, though I have taken several accredited courses at my (former) local church. My only excuse for being here is that I was asked (this is stated so that the reader will not fear that this will be ‘deep’ or ‘preachy’). I am an ordinary person, just like many of you, who is hungry to know the will of God.
This discussion will not be on the whys and the wherefores of Bible doctrine, at least not in depth (that would be done only if another invitation were offered), nor will I ‘hammer’ on every point. This short piece will be merely to present what I believe constitutes biblical doctrine, share its importance, and how I believe it should be taught.
This is being addressed to two groups of people: those to whom this site was designed, and to the conservative Apostolic--I know you visit here because I did!
Allow me to preface this by declaring a basic truth, simply that God is love (John 4:16). Elementary, you say? Yes indeed, however, many who walk under the banner of ‘Oneness Pentecostalism’ do not display it. Once again, this is nothing new to those who frequent this website, and is the reason that many of you are here. You have been laid to rest by those who thought they were doing the will of God by presenting the Word in an accusing manner. My purpose here is not to indict the Church (God forbid!), but merely to enlighten. It is my sincere desire that the reader will not feel condemnation, but love. God’s Word is not condemning--His Word only convicts. It is the enemy of our souls who condemns, working many times through people who do not seem to fear slinging the Word like a machete, rather than a “two edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). It would serve us well to remember that the double edged sword cuts both ways, which simply means that the one presenting the Word should feel the piercing of conviction as well as the hearer. To be more exact, as I teach to you, I must receive the same teaching. Consequently, if I beat you up with Scripture, I am beaten with the same Word, and in the process I am not displaying the love of Christ, or receiving it. It only makes sense that causing a soul to run from instruction defeats the purpose of teaching, doesn’t it? So, having laid that ground work, let us begin.
I believe the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is doctrine. Doctrine is a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government; a body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject. Through the Scriptures we learn how to relate to God and to man (home, job, church, business, etc.). Thus, we cannot, and should not lay our fundamental belief on one point, no matter how right, while neglecting the whole. For example, if salvation is a doctrinal issue, and someone believes outward holiness is scriptural, it becomes doctrinal as well. Keeping outward holiness as doctrinal issues keeps them from being merely ‘standards’. Standards are the morals, ethics, customs, etc., regarded generally or by an individual as acceptable. When outward holiness is relegated to a standard and not a biblical doctrine, it is a subject that is open to change by the custom, style, and morals of a group or individual--in other words, they are subject to the whim of man. For those of you who do not agree with this, please do not stop reading. As I stated, I am not here to hammer on every point, so hang in here with me.
I believe the Bible teaches One God. Realizing that I am not witnessing to folks who are unaware of the Scriptures which support the Oneness of the Godhead, I do not feel it is necessary to expound on Deuteronomy 6:4, as well as the many other passages, which declare that there is One, and ONLY One God. I think, for the most part, we would agree that there are not, nor have there ever been three Persons in One Godhead--there is One Person, and His Name is Jesus!
I believe the Bible teaches one plan of salvation. It is scriptural error to promote the theory that there are many roads leading in the same direction (Ephesians 4:4). Those of us who adhere to the belief of one biblical plan of salvation (Book of Acts references) are often called, “three-steppers.” Well, that is error, as well. The Bible does not teach that, in any way. In reality, though not described in this manner, the Bible teaches FOUR basic steps. “… he that cometh to God must FIRST believe that he is…” (Hebrews 11:6). Repentance must follow belief, for after one believes in the existence of God and what He came to do, there has to be a renouncing and turning away from sin. Following repentance, there really is no proper sequence. Those who teach a ‘proper sequence theology’ are likewise teaching error. What is important is not if one is baptized before they receive the Holy Ghost, but rather that the individual does not stop with repentance, continuing in their zeal for true Bible salvation. They MUST be baptized in the only saving Name, and receive the infilling of the Holy Ghost. When the Spirit of Christ comes in, the initial sign is speaking with tongues. After that first infilling, though they may speak again, and often, the sign of a Spirit filled life is righteousness and peace (Romans 14:17). The gift of tongues, listed as a ‘Gift of the Spirit’ in I Corinthians 12 and defined in chapter 14, is a ministering tool in the house of God. Not all believers have this ministering gift, but all believers do speak with tongues. Finally, let us not think that we have salvation wrapped up simply because we have displayed obedience to the scriptural plan. Speaking to people who were already baptized and Spirit filled, Paul said, “…ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain” (I Corinthians 15:2). Rehearse it, keep the Word ever before your eyes, declaring the precious Truth that brought you into His marvelous light.
I believe the Bible teaches an outward standard of separation unto God. Now, folks, it appears that this is the dividing line for many. Teach One God--yep, they believe that! Salvation--though some have experienced it in the above manner, and believe it, they will not call those who have not unsaved. Well, though I am not in agreement with the all inclusive theology, experiencing and believing biblical salvation places us on a somewhat common ground, so we can prayerfully build on that. But when it comes to an outward standard, there is open debate, with no one taking a neutral position. I will not debate this here--not because I cannot, but because that is not what I was asked to do--out of respect to Sister Gibson, I will not. What I will do is say that I believe that the issues in question (women and pants, makeup, jewelry, and hair) are important elements of doctrine, and are necessary as they pertain to separation unto God.
Where the line is drawn between many who primarily take this same stance, and myself, is that I am a FIRM believer in administering the Word in love. Stating that fact does not mean that I esteem myself higher than another, and I certainly am not unique--I am just the one chosen to be here at this appointed time. Having said that, there are some strong assertions that must be made. So, jumping in with both feet, this conservative will boldly say that the Apostolic Church has wounded, and even killed far too many in the name of holiness. THIS MUST NOT BE!
The wounding of souls is really the purpose of this website. As Sister Gibson has explained in her belief statements, she wanted to provide a platform for showing the inconsistency and cruelty of those who profess but do not possess. She has referred to it as ‘spiritual abuse’. I used to say it was so-called abuse, but no longer believe that to be the case, and humbly apologize for my ignorance. While it is true that there may be some who are calling rules abusive and are looking for support in their rebellion, many truly have a testimony of unloving teachers who have cast them to the four winds because they did not understand.
For my Apostolic compatriots (speaking for Sister Gibson), I will say that this site is not about UPC bashing. The organization is mentioned here from time to time, however, the UPC is not the only Apostolic group that demonstrates harshness--it is simply the one that is spoken of in more circles than the rest. For us, the conservative Apostolic, this site should be about revelation. Frankly, Saints, it is time that we open our eyes, and admit our error! The Apostolic Church is not made up of places of worship, manuals, and office buildings--people, flesh and blood, human beings comprise the Church. It is time that we atone for what has happened, and in some places, is STILL happening.
Pastors have an obligation to teach the Word, true enough--that I am definitely not disputing. As shepherds over the flock, they must protect the people of God from harm. As such, they are within scriptural justification to set boundaries of protection. Furthermore, pastors are not the only teachers in the Church. So, Apostolic teacher of Truth, please do not misunderstand--it is not the teaching, as much as the tactics of teaching that come into question.
For instance, we (teachers of outward holiness) have said, “If you cut your hair, you can’t sing!” Taking a stand against women who cut their hair is not the issue, for me. I believe there is a scriptural basis for women not cutting the hair. What is the issue is that stating the requirements for service in the house of God in this manner amounts to nothing more than hanging performance out as you would a carrot in front of a horse, supposing that a persons desire to be ‘used’ would entice them to comply. Never really explaining why a woman should not cut her hair, we have caused folks to look at outward holiness as nothing more than rules. Due to the lack of knowledge, these things appear as meaningless chains, and when the time is presented, they walk away. We then damn folks to hellfire, calling folks “whores” because they cut their hair. But let us indeed ask ourselves if are we blameless in their turn around?
In the process of teaching outward holiness, and for the sake of stating our cause, we have allowed well meaning folks to promote theologies on these issues that cannot be biblically supported. We must realize, however, that it does not matter how well meaning we may appear to be--if we are biblically wrong, we are just wrong! For instance (and I will not belabor the point, just mention the error), the ‘uncut hair/divine protection’ teaching. It is widely accepted and taught, but NOT scriptural. I Corinthians 11 is speaking about divine order and submission--not protection. The inconsistency in this teaching can be seen in these examples: a woman has brain surgery, and her head is shaved--so, she cannot count on God’s protection? A woman has not cut her hair, yet her husband leaves her for another--what happened to her protection? See what I mean? It causes folks to look at us as hardliners who are changing God’s Word to support a position.
It is important for us to remember, whether con or lib, that stating a right position the wrong way cannot be called right! Example: we are quick to label ALL who do not comply with outward holiness as being rebellious. This is WRONG! Though I do believe that the underlying spirit behind pants, hair, etc. IS rebellion (and can be biblically supported, thus making it right to say so), not all who do not believe this are rebels, wanting to do their own thing. Certainly, there are some for whom that applies--if there were no standard, they would still find something to rebel against! But, this does not apply to all. Many folks simply do not understand because, for the most part, no one has taken the time or effort to lovingly expound on outward holiness. All they have received is, “Your rebellion is gonna split hell wide open! What’s wrong with YOU that you won’t obey?” We have convinced people, by our arrogance and unloving hearts, that the Way is hard, however, the opposite is true. The Bible says that the way of the transgressor is hard (Proverbs 13:15). Living for God is easy, but we make it hard when we inconsistently dictate, and do not lovingly instruct.
Understand please, there are MANY teachers of the Word for whom these words do not apply. These folk are true men and women of God, who have come to realize that Holy Ghost conviction (taking-a-stand conviction and soul-piercing conviction--they are not the same!) will come when there is understanding and revelation. They have learned the art, if you will, of administering the Word with love, respect, compassion, and the Spirit. Their churches are filled with people who have come to love outward holiness, understanding that true holiness is a process that begins on the inside, radiating to the outside. This understanding has enabled them to choose to separate themselves unto God, rather than merely attempting to separate themselves from this world.
The fact remains, however, that this is not the case everywhere.
As true ambassadors for Christ, we must recognize our duty to the Brethren. In the love of Jesus Christ I say that if there is just one unloving teacher, and only one soul is damaged, that is one too many! How do we, as the Church of the living God, stand blameless before Him when we have wounded one soul? What do we say to a God who has seen our motives as we shovel the Word out, yet do not consistently live it? How do we answer when He asks why we excused the behavior of some, and damned the same behavior in others? Have we repented for teaching against everything but fresh air, and not understanding godly balance? Were we interested in pleasing Him, or building our own kingdoms? How can God be pleased with us if we have let His precious ones fall through the cracks? When will we step up to the plate, stand tall, and say, “It is me! I am the guilty one! I made ‘standards’ my god! I only spouted rules and regs, and never showed the love of Christ!”
Well, as for me, I do not want to be so almighty holy that I am no earthly good. I do, however, want to live a life of separation unto God. I want to be an example of peace and sanctification. I want to extend love to the hurting, building a bridge of reconciliation, while taking a stand for biblical holiness. I want to be a voice of reason when the voice one may have heard seemed unreasonable. I want God to know that I did all I could to extend His Grace to our wounded soldiers. I want to please HIM! That is my only desire. I am not here, seeking a pat on the back--I am here to show someone a better Way!
To my hurting Brothers and Sisters, I want to invite you to take another look. Give us another chance. For those who may have stopped going to church entirely because of past experiences, I urge you to reconsider. Find a sanctuary of Truth, dig in, and seek the face of the Master (you don’t have to chase Him--He’s not running from you!). If you drew back from a standard due to improper teaching, or lack of understanding, I am sorry! I apologize for those who did not show you the Way of holiness in its proper light. But, it’s not too late to try again. You CAN get up again!
If you have thought about coming back, and would really like to, but the United Pentecostal Church has left a ‘bad taste in your mouth’, remember that not all churches in the organization are the same. As I stated, there are many good folks out there, and many churches of power and love--find a place of Truth. I know of people, good people, who are going back, and you CAN go home again, too! If you choose to look elsewhere, there are other Apostolic groups to align with. Please do not stay away because someone did not express themselves correctly, or embarrassed you or a family member. Certainly you can rise above the rubble to find a place of contentment in Truth.
Finally, allow me to ask you, friend--regardless of the label you wear (ultra conservative, moderate, or liberal), do you really want to please HIM? Are you pleasing HIM? Will the Lord look at our works (teaching, preaching, writing), and say, “Well done! You have been faithful! You have extended my love through your love! They learned to love the Way of holiness because YOU love it, and live it!” Or will He say, “Depart from me! You did all you thought was right--you didn’t go here, there and everywhere--you LOOKED right, yet you missed the boat when it came displaying true inner holiness! You told others about me, and did mighty things in my Name, but you have never been mine! Go away for your deeds are evil!” Will Christ say to the wounded, “Why did you stop serving me? Why did you allow the words and actions of spiritually ignorant folk to keep you from pursuing my will? It was not necessary to shut ME out--I did not wound you!”
What will we say? What CAN we say if we have neglected to administer the Word in love, or if we refused to get up and try again?
I ask you in godly charity, are you hungry for peace in your spirit? Are you desiring the love of God to be manifested in your life? Are you ready to forgive and move on?
Well, my friend, if the answers are, “YES!”, He is as close as the mention of His Name! Let the work begin TODAY!
Note from Lois: I "met" Barb on an apostolic discussion board and it didn't take long for me to recognize her spirit and that though she is a conservative who believes the apostolic standard teachings, she has a soft heart toward how people should be treated in churches. After reading post after post of hers, I knew she'd probably never think to write for this website on her own, so I extended to her an invitation to write an article for this site. What I wanted to show was a conservative, what some would consider an ultra-con, who knew the necessity of teaching and treating people with love. Though Barb and I disagree in many areas, we both strongly agree that all teachings must be shared in love and that the reason(s) for the teaching must be expressed as well. I say without any reservation, that if more people had Barb's attitude and spirit concerning these things, there would be a lot less wounded souls.
Posted November 5, 2004
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