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.Google+