How to Answer Protestants Forum: Assembly of God Churches

Assembly of God Churches QUESTION from Michael Gunn on March 14, 2002 Dear Troy Martz I was referred to your web site by a friend of yours, Gail Buckley. I have A question about the assembly of God churches;are you familiar with their history and theology?
I am catholic but i occasionly attend AOG prayer services,i guess i dont see the harm in doing so? Gail Buckley has advised me not to attend AOG at all because they are anti-catholic,she also said you have alot of info on assemblies;i would appreciate your counsel on this...Troy!!
peace,Michael Gunn
ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on March 18, 2002 Dear Michael:
Thank you for your kind words, Gail is indeed a dear friend who is one of the most on fire for the Lord Catholics I know. She is the one who inspired me to take my apologetics work public. She is truly one of the treasures of the Church.
She is also right -- I do have experience with the Assemblies of God. I was raised in a church loosely affiliated with the AOG (most are very leary of centralized leadership). Their history is VERY short -- about a hundred years. Basically, they are the heirs of the camp revivals of decades past.
They are rightly termed Pentecostals, meaning that they believe the perpetuity and necessity of Spiritual Gifts -- primarily manifested by speaking in tongues. This is where someone claims to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak in a strange language (sometimes a foreign language, mostly totally unintelligible)to deliver a message from the Lord. The problem is that this experience cannot be credibly traced any further back than the Great Revival of the 1800's. Most of them believe of course that this is what the Apostles spoke on that first Pentecost (hence the name), though a quick reading of Acts shows that the words spoken were clearly understood by those listening. Also, this is the only Biblical record of such an even -- the Apostles didn't go around speaking in tongues after Pentecost. There are many Protestants who believe that this is mass delusion (I agree) or possibly demonic (doubtful for the majority).
That being said, the AOG is the fastest growing Christian denomination. The problem is that many of their congregations are made up of former Catholics, some as many as 80% of the members. This is largely due to poor religious training of Catholics and actively aggressive recruitment by AOG. If they don't appear to you to be trying to pull you out of the Catholic Church either they are planting seeds you don't recognize or they don't know that you are Catholic!
Their theology is often fuzzy -- it is either poorly defined and open to wide latitude of interpretation, or it is largely based on emotional response. It becomes difficult to have a theological discussion since most of their reasons for believing a certain way can be summed up as I FEEL it in my heart. Of course, that is just the kind of theology most people want -- stuff that you don't have to work very hard to understand. The problem is that it is also very shallow. Start asking questions that they can't answer (mine was Who has the authority to control what is said from the pulpit?) and you are quickly told to just believe or given an answer based on feelings not fact.
If you don't believe that the AOG are anti-Catholic, start saying a Rosary at your next prayer meeting. I warn you, they may through you out physically! If you want to be less confrontational, quietly ask around and find out how many of the members are ex-Catholics who have left Rome for the freedom of this new church.
In conclusion Michael, if you don't see the harm that means that you need to train yourself to know what to look for. I recommend Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on Romanism by Bible Christians by Karl Keating. You can buy it here at the link or just tell Gail I said she should loan you her copy!
Remember, there is only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostalic Church. Those others may love the Lord but they don't have the fullness of the Gospel, especially the Eucharist.
Pax Christi, Troy
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