Society for Pentecostal Studies 2012-13 President Paul Alexander is seen in this public Facebook photo speaking at the society’s annual conference held March 21-23, 2013, at Seattle Pacific University. (Photo: Facebook/Society for Pentecostal Studies)

February 10, 2014

Paul Alexander Dismissed from Assemblies of God Clergy

A Pentecostal minister who raised eyebrows after giving an address suffused with liberation theology themes and called for openness to the promotion of homosexual, transgender and intersex “realities” as faithful representations of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity has been dismissed as a clergyman from the Assemblies of God (AoG) denomination.

In ministerial list changes made in the period between September 1 and November 30 of 2013, Paul Alexander, of West Chester, PA, is listed as “dismissed,” the denominational equivalent of defrocking. Dismissal is a separate category from resignation, lapsed credentials or not renewed credentials. It is the result of disciplinary action, although the details of the action were not made public in the document.

Alexander is the Ronald J. Sider Professor of Social Ethics & Public Policy at Palmer Theological Seminary, a Baptist seminary attached to Eastern University in King of Prussia, PA. He was recently named as Co-President of Evangelicals for Social Action, a left-leaning advocacy group formerly led by Sider.

The Pentecostal scholar ignited controversy within the Assemblies of God after giving an address at the Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS) annual meeting in Seattle, Washington in March for 2013. Alexander, who was at the time president of the society, provided a liberation theology reading of the Exodus that portrayed both oppressive Biblical Egypt and later freed Israelites inhabiting the Promised Land as “the construct of Whiteness.” The Palmer Seminary professor described whiteness as a “super-ordination that subordinates the other.”

Alexander also offered an unorthodox interpretation Christ’s interaction with the Canaanite woman in Matthew Chapter 15 who seeks healing for her demon possessed daughter, charging that she did not come to worship Jesus, but to challenge him.

“The Canaanite woman’s reframing of the dog-bread metaphor elicited the transformation in Jesus that he needed to escape the confines of whiteness,” Alexander asserted in his address. “He suffered the humiliation of the Canaanite woman and learned deeper obedience to God’s will.”

The SPS president seemed to deny Christ’s sinless nature, proposing that “in recognizing her humility and challenge, Jesus exited whiteness.”

“The story says that her daughter was healed that very hour,” Alexander noted. “Jesus was also healed from that hour.”

In a letter to SPS members responding to controversy generated over Alexander’s address, incoming SPS President Lee Roy Martin asserted that “the SPS discussions are ‘family talks’, which are not meant to spill over into public display” and “the internet is not an appropriate venue for debating controversial matters.”

Assemblies of God General Superintendent George O. Wood released a statement shortly after controversy erupted, in which he noted that he was awaiting a written transcript to be completed from the SPS address.

“I have made his district superintendent aware of this matter,” Wood wrote. “Our General Council Bylaws, Article X, provide for a process when allegations are made against a credentialed minister. I trust that there will never be a day in the Assemblies of God when a credentialed minister can continue to hold credentials and support any form of sexual immorality.”

In a January Ministers Letter titled “Why the Assemblies of God Exists,” distributed alongside the ministerial list changes, Wood outlined five reasons for the calling of the first AoG General Council on the centenary of the event, including unity.

“The Assemblies of God never set out to be a tent large enough for heresy. Our unity was never based on experience alone – but our commitment to God’s unchanging and alive Word,” Wood penned.


  • cleareyedtruthmeister

    I think it commendable that the Assembly of God folks have facilitated Mr. Alexander’s escape from “whiteness” by liberating him from their denomination.

    • rkball

      You win. Nobody else needs to comment.

  • Joshua Locklear

    Very interesting. I was wondering how the Assemblies of God would respond to this, apparently, very public questioning of basic biblical belief by a relatively notable academic/clergymen.

    As a Pentecostal Christian myself, I can say that Alexander’s speech sounded like something you would here from an liberal Protestant seminary. It’s certainly not something most Pentecostals would think or contemplate.

  • Pudentiana

    Now, that’s what I’m talkin ’bout!!1

  • Ex-Pres

    Presbyterians…take a lesson from the Assemblies of God.

  • rockscryout

    Thank you, AOG, for making an unapologetic delineation between yourselves and the accomodators. It is critical for Bible-believing denominations to stand on bedrock Scripture, and to state, loudly and clearly, “Here we stand. We can do no other!”

  • Mike Waverly-Shank

    It amazes me that people like Alexander think they are smarter than Jesus. Just remember – He’s Jesus and you’re not!!

  • Varados Sucuri

    Beyond delicious.

    • Matt

      This is a pattendly bizarre response. What in this could possibly be construed as “delicious”?

      • Lisa K

        If it is juicy then why can’t it also be delicious?

  • Josh Blanchard

    Dr. Alexander was a professer of mine at Southwestern Assemblies of God University. I owe a great deal of debt to Dr. Alexander, who help me succeed in escaping the super-ordiantion of whiteness that plagues American Evangelicalism. I was there to hear Dr. Alexanders message and it was very thoughtful and “anointed” .

    • rkball

      I’m glad the word anointed is in scary quotes.

  • Chris Ellis

    That is how you do it! Get rid of them as soon as they show their true colors!

  • James Fielden

    Having watched Methodists self-destruct over the past months, it’s a breath of fresh air that someone takes a stand. Thank You

  • Ray Worsham

    A great example for all Christian denominations.

  • Dr. Pat Looper

    Praise the Lord for the Assemblies’ stand on the Solid Rock. If only The United Methodists would stand so firm on the truth of God’s Word. The UMC has not truly been united for more than 30 years. It’s about time members and clergy stop being concerned about property ownership and make a clean break. I’m a retired UMC Clergyperson who has been greatly saddened by the lack of clear leadership in my denomination.

  • Paul Zesewitz

    Wow. I didn’t think the AOG had any liberals. Perhaps they’d better look for more wolves in sheep’s clothing in their fold.

  • Rev Fran Mayes

    How sad that as soon as someone disagrees with established viewpoints he is labeled “enemy.” Jesus had something to say about loving God with all your mind so I’m glad he didn’t leave his brain at the door.

    • David

      Rev Fran, the issue is not “disagreement with established viewpoints.” That is to whitewash the issue to say the very least. The devil, as they say, is in the details–and what details they are.

      This man challenged the sinlessness, and thereby the deity, of Christ. He tossed out a basic teaching about sexual purity that has its roots deeply grounded in Scripture and with which the vast majority of Christians across time and space fervently agree. Both of these moves are grounded in pathetically bad exegesis. Furthermore, he violated the document that he himself signed that very year as an AG minister. On that final point alone, I would think you and anyone else who stands for basic integrity would agree with and fully understand the AG’s stance on his credentials, even if in substance you differ doctrinally.

      Let Paul Alexander be credentialed through a liberal movement he agrees with. But for him to sign off on AG doctrine, polity, and practice on a yearly basis–and in this case but a few months before he gave the address as such–is a lie, pure and simple.

  • Pamela Holmes

    2 Saul, chapter 3 verse 16 states, “If you have ought against your brother, post it on social media and make him endure a very public trial.” NOT!!! I continue to stand in solidarity with Paul Alexander for the very UnScriptural manner in which he has been handled. I heard his address, appreciated most of it and had a private conversation with him about the parts with which I took issue. Paul was very gracious and listened until he understood my concerns. You might call me a bit of a literalist but I think that’s the way the Bible suggested we do things as Christians.

    • Paul Franks

      Pamela,

      I’m slightly confused by your response. You say you “continue to stand in solidarity with Paul Alexander for the very UnScriptural manner in which he has been handled.” Fair enough, but against what are you standing with him in solidarity? Did the AG handle this in an UnScriptural manner? If so, how? Given the gravity of that charge, it seems one that ought to be substantiated.

    • rkball

      This is not an “aught against your brother” personal issue. More like a public “rebuked to his face” kind of issue.

  • David Thrower

    The unfortunate thing about this is that Alexander is not the only SPS member promoting this stuff either. Recently, one of the other SPS stalwarts, Dr. Murray Dempster, was promoting the writings of “Black Liberation” theologian James Cone, which has overtly racist language, in an Ethics class. They have also in recent years utilized people such as Walter Brueggeman, Merrold Westphal, Harvey Cox, and Ronald Sider at their conferences, and the academic elite within the SPS are starting to have a theological disconnect from the average Pentecostal in the church pew. I myself am a former Pentecostal (now Anglo-Catholic traditionalist) and years ago I was a member of the SPS back when it had more doctrinal integrity as a society of Pentecostal scholars with Pentecostal convictions. I don’t know what on earth has happened to it in recent years, but it is ghastly. Anyway, I appreciate you posting this and hope to read more good material from this site in the future.

    • https://www.facebook.com/robert.rogers.1804 robert

      As a Pentecostal seminarian, I have the same feelings about SPS.