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Tuesday, August 26, 2008 

The Bright Side Of Dating A Pentecostal

An evangelical friend of mine dropped a little bombshell on me last night. Here’s how the conversation went down;

The person, uh, that I’m, uh, dating.... is a little further out there than I am.

What do you mean they’re out there? You mean like Mormon out there, because that’s out there?

No, it’s not that…I..

Please tell me you’re not dating a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon. Your not dating a Mormon are you? By all that's holy, please don’t tell me you’re dating a scientologist, do not do that!

No, no, it’s nothing like that. Well I’m, uh, dating a Pentecostal.

Oh. Really?


Well, at least that snake problem in the back yard should go away...

Yep, leave it to me to find the best possible construction in every situation.

Upon hearing this, my missus just rolled her eyes and said “you ain’t right...”

Ifn's yous ever has problems wit snakes, dontcha go beggun mes fer help.

Ok, but seriously. There was a "snake church" not all that far from my house growing up. The interesting thing about the snake churches is that the verses they use to legitimize their practice are not included in some translations of scripture.

Hey, you're right!! You know about our snake problem - all we do is shoo them through the fence and they run over to the Pentecostals' house. It's pretty nice!!

Is it possible to take issue with someone's doctrine without resorting to stereotype?

I spent my first 24 years in a Pentecostal denomination. Most of my extended family is either Assembly of God or Church of God. No snakes involved -- EVER.

Of course there were plenty of warnings about those "nominal Christians" like Presbyterians and Lutherans who acted just like the world (code for drinking alcohol) and coasted on their infant baptisms. Stereotyping goes both ways.

Ya know what they say,

"Expect the worst and you'll never be disappointed..."

Anonymous, I was given no indication whatsoever that my friend is dating a snake handler. I was just being snarky and that was the reason for my missus’s comment.

I don’t on this site or in any class I might teach make fun of any denomination that is Christian. The exception to the rule is Lutherans as I love to tweak a good many people that, as you put it, “coast” without even seeing all the gifts that Christ gives to His Church.

The only criteria that I use to criticize any church, synod, or denomination is this; is the Word preached purely and are the Sacraments administered purely. That’s it, that’s all that care about.

I wasn’t making fun of my friend’s new interest at all which is why after my comment was said, all I heard on the other end of the phone was laughter. What I am blessed with is a goodly number of folks around me who (for some unknown reason) don’t seem to mind my snarky humor.

I found it hilarious that there was such hesitation in telling me the denomination of the new interest. The reason for any hesitation is likely a bit of stereotyping on the part of one of my evangelical friends who have trouble understanding me as a Lutheran. That’s ok though because sometimes Lutherans fight hard to earn those stereotypes.

EC, all I could think of was Mormon. I know this friend better than that but that was the first thing that came to mind. The way “they’re further out there than I am” came out had me thinking the worst case scenario.

Anonymous, maybe I don't understand the definition of stereotype. Our neighbors are Pentecostal and they captured the snake my brother chased into their yard last week. They intended to keep it before it died. In fact, this was the first snake we have even seen since they moved in a few years ago. When the Presbyterians lived next door we always had snake problems. Maybe snakes just like drunk, nominal christians.
Just for fun, try googling "nominal christian" and "drinking alcohol". Lutheran and Presbyterian don't pop up. When you google "snake handling" -- guess what you see immediately? That's right, information on Pentecostal sects that handle snakes. These are facts. I couldn't make this stuff up. So don't get all bent out of shape when someone suggests a Pentecostal might be able to address a snake issue. We have a similar problem with a sect that refers to themselves as Lutherans that may or may not be Christians, but are definitely not Lutherans. It only takes a few bad apples to give us all a bad name.

I'm not quite sure who is coasting on their infant baptism. Whoever is baptized and believes Christ's promises is forgiven for their sins, rescued from death and the devil, and will receive eternal life. God didn't put any age restrictions, young or old, on baptism. That came much later -- probably proposed by some nominal christians. Anyway, why would anyone withhold the gifts that God promises in baptism from their children? Only a nominal parent would do that!

Melanie, you misunderstood me. I was sharing my own experience with the stereotypes that I had been taught while growing up. Of course they are absurd, and I don't believe them, or I wouldn't be seriously considering Lutheranism.

I used the phrase "coasting on infant baptism" to point out how it's viewed by those who think if you haven't had an "ask Jesus into your heart" moment, then you're not a Christian. I have since come to understand the importance of infant baptism. Sadly, when I tell my folks, they will likely be as appalled as you would be if you had an adult child tell you they were turning Baptist and being rebaptized because their infant baptism didn't count. On top of that, they'll be worried that their grandchildren's salvation is in danger because we won't be pushing for the "ask Jesus into your heart" moment. On top of THAT, they'll be worried because we're going to church with people who take a drink now and then, and drinking = unChristian for the most part in their eyes.

I'm sorry for even commenting in the first place. I was cranky, and I don't think I'm very good at the blog commenting thing. Frank, I'm sorry. I really like your blog and I don't know what got into me to whine.

Hey Anonymous, No harm no foul! With my sense of humor I’m always offending people. I certainly didn’t take what you said personally and I definitely didn’t take offense. In fact, it’s good for you guys to get me to clarify every now and then when I’m being humorous and when I’m not.

I did understand what you meant about the “coasting on infant baptism” comment. While I’ve never used the exact same phrase, I’ve used something similar in the past. Again, no harm and no foul.

Good luck to you when you start talking to your family about God’s gifts being from Him and not something we do for Him. I’ve been down that road and it’s a bumpy one. Heck, I got relatives who think I’m going to hell simply because I “worship like a catholic (Roman of course).”

And thank you so much for the compliment about the blog. You are always welcome here at POTF!

Anonymous, there are no problems here. Please continue to visit POTF and leaving posts. The whole snake thing was just a bit funny due to my personal experience last week. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view) I don’t have very much experience with the Pentecostal/Holiness/Church of God beliefs and practices. I know some of the women like long hair. I’m sure the shampoo companies appreciate that. The closest I’ve come to a Pentecostal church service is in reading Covington’s “Salvation on Sand Mountain”. If you haven’t read it, it is a true account of a church in the Appalachian mountains….. and thus, my limited knowledge of Pentecostal Holiness Churches with Signs Following was born.

I’m afraid I may be overly sensitive about Baptism. (If a Lutheran can be overly sensitive where a Holy Sacrament is concerned.) First of all, you have to understand that we will soon be preparing to Baptize our son. This is extremely important to us. I lay awake some nights wondering what I would do if he was born with some life threatening complication. How could we get him Baptized quickly? The Bible is more or less silent about what happens to those who die having not been baptized. We (and probably other faiths) would like to believe that God takes care of them, but the truth is that we don’t know what happens.

The other factor influencing my quick reaction to any and all things related to Baptism is a result of a family full of Baptists. It is mind-boggling to hear how and why they do what they do. They have convinced themselves that the ways of the Apostolic church are wrong and things should be done the way they have been for the past hundred years or so. The “Sinner’s Prayer” – it may be based on a few different scriptures which are true, but putting them together and making the recitation of it a requirement for heaven? That must be found in Matthew 29 where it also says that you must hop on your left foot while saying it. And asking Jesus into your heart -- well of course that can only be done at the front of the church while “Just as I am” is being played. As if Jesus is sitting on the alter (if they even have one) saying, “come on down and get me”. No, believing in Jesus can actually be done from the pew or anywhere else. And then there is all of that “real Christian” business and “are you really saved?” As if they know! The Bible does tell us that when we get to heaven, we will be surprised by who is and who is not there. I won’t even get into the mid-service snack of grape juice and bread they have once in a while. All I know is that if Jesus said “this is my body…this is my blood”, then that’s good enough for me—it is his body and blood. They are so scared of being like the Roman church that they themselves have deviated from the catholic (note the little “c”) faith even farther than the Roman Catholics have! And what about this abolitionist attitude so many Baptists and others have? I can’t have an alcoholic beverage once in a while but as soon as church let’s out at the local Baptist church, many gather for a post service smoke? Is there really a difference? Oh, other than the fact that Christ himself was known to partake in an occasional alcoholic beverage.

I didn’t mean to ramble on, but I did want to share why I may be defensive about Baptism. I did miss your point at first, sorry about that. I hope you find all that you need at the Lutheran church. Frank is a great resource if you ever want to double check something you hear – don’t worry, the snarly attitude will grow on you! Keep up the good work Frank!

May the peace of the Lord guard your heart and mind always.

People wise up. The Pentecostals that play with snakes are stupid and or arogant. They dont underdtand the scripture. Ima Pentecostal and I dont play with dangerous snakes. Where in the scriptures did it say to play with a dangerous snake? It doesnt. The serpant "devil" leaped out of the kindling and latched onto Pauls hand. He shook it off into the fire. He had no idea that it would be a devil jump out and latch onto him. Paul didnt die cause he was protected by God. Had Paul known it was to be a snake in the kindling I believe he wouldve avoided it. Drinking poison knowingly is the same thing. God protects his people from things unknown to them. Like me once. I was playing with a fall decorative wreath on the doors and put it ony head not knowing that there was a red wasp in it. I didnt get stung. If I were to jowever put it back on my head and got stung it wouldve been my own fault.


If you would have read the comments a little closer you might have caught on that this was just a snarky comment directed towards my sister. Again, the reason that I made the comment I did is that there was hesitation in telling me of a denominational difference. So why was there hesitation? Because she doesn't not believe every confessing Christian is actually one if their confession or worship practices mirror her own. She eventually married the Pentecostal gentleman whose own confession states also that I'm Christian since I don't speak in tongues... so, she found a good match for herself theologically.

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  • From The Haut South
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