Pentecostal Society

February 22, 2017

Sex Dispute Has Pentecostal Society Scrambling

The Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS) is scrambling to make alternative arrangements after the host institution for its annual meeting withdrew just weeks before the gathering is to occur.

Urshan College of Florissant, Missouri, which is affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church (UPCI), was set to host the gathering of the largest and most prominent academic society within the Pentecostal tradition. Citing the presence of a gay activist on the conference speaker schedule, the school withdrew their invitation to SPS on Monday.

Among the scheduled presentations announced two weeks ago for the SPS meeting is a session on gay Hispanic Oneness Pentecostal history by Felipe Agredano. Agredano is a Hispanic Oneness Pentecostal who is also a politically connected LGBT activist.

SPS officials have defended the participation of Agredano as a speaker, despite SPS bylaws placing the society within the tradition of Pentecostal churches – a tradition that historically proclaims the proper context of sexual intimacy to be within marriage between a man and a woman.

“After an effort by both sides to find a way forward, we agreed that the best course of action was to move forward with the annual meeting without Urshan’s role as host,” the SPS Executive Committee wrote to society members earlier this week. “Urshan has offered their apologies and to assist SPS in securing alternate venues and human resources needed for the Conference.”

“There also appears to be misinformation among some Urshan constituents about SPS, our mission, goals, and objectives as a Society,” the SPS officials added. “We regret that it has come to this conclusion.”

The SPS officials appear to have been referencing a vigorous discussion on social media in recent weeks among UPCI members. UPCI General Superintendent David K. Bernard weighed in on Facebook and also addressed a letter to fellow ministers.

“While on an overseas trip, I was dismayed to learn about potential problems with at least one of the presenters,” Bernard wrote. “While Urshan had no role in the selection, I regret it and apologize for any resulting negative association with Urshan, the UPCI, or the Apostolic faith.”

The UPCI official clarified before the withdrawal of the invitation that Since SPS is the convener of the meeting, it would not be considered an Urshan event.

“Thus Urshan had no role in choosing speakers or topics,” Bernard stated, equating the school’s involvement to providing a meeting room for a civic group or facilitating a discussion of area ministers.

Responding to a series of concerns voices by UPCI members, Bernard dismissed some but acknowledged the problem posed by hosting a presentation by a gay activist.

“The most significant concern is that one of the 250 presenters identifies himself on social media as an Apostolic homosexual and may use his 15-minute speaking slot to promote this agenda and embarrass the Apostolic movement,” Bernard reported. “If so, then this is a spiritual attack, and we need to treat it as such. In my understanding, this would be contrary to the bylaws of SPS. Therefore, I have contacted the SPS Executive Committee about this session.”

The theme of the March 9-11 gathering is “Pentecostalism and Culture”. The SPS web site describes the 2017 program as about the relationship between Pentecostals and the broader culture(s) they have inhabited.

“Under this broad theme, the conference will explore Pentecostal interactions with — and contributions to — culture, a Pentecostal understanding of culture, and the broader theological relationship between Christianity and the cultures it inhabits and has created,” the site explains.

Controversy – including dispute around human sexuality – is not new to SPS. The group drew attention in 2013 after its then-President, Paul Alexander, gave an address suffused with Liberation Theology and Process Theology themes. Alexander also called for the society to be open to the promotion of homosexual, transgender and intersex “realities” as faithful representations of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. Alexander was dismissed (the equivalent of being defrocked) from the clergy of the Assemblies of God denomination the following year. He remained on the faculty of Palmer Seminary and as co-President of Evangelicals for Social Action until last year.

In 2010, emergent church author and theologian Tony Jones was invited to speak at the SPS annual meeting, held that year at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NCU is affiliated with the Assemblies of God denomination. NCU officials and AG General Superintendent George Wood requested that SPS dis-invite Jones, citing his public advocacy for same-sex marriage among the reasons. SPS ultimately located the Jones presentation off-campus, and NCU allowed SPS to continue meeting there.

In an earlier separate letter addressed to the Urshan community, Bernard outlined his goals in engaging with SPS scholars, among them the opportunity to represent and defend Oneness Pentecostalism. The UPCI is the largest Oneness (non-Trinitarian) Pentecostal denomination.


37 Responses to Sex Dispute Has Pentecostal Society Scrambling

  1. JS says:

    “Under this broad theme, the conference will explore Pentecostal interactions with — and contributions to — culture, a Pentecostal understanding of culture, and the broader theological relationship between Christianity and the cultures it inhabits and has created,” the site explains.”

    It seems like, instead of what the above quote explains, that they are discussing how Pentecostals have affected culture, but it seems in reality Culture has affect Pentecostals…especially the vaunted and intellectual elite of the SPS!

    • Frank J Panzer Jr says:

      do you really know what you are talking about, you are twisting the words around, if the church and the members stand up to this would not be , no sinner speak in church assemblies, that rep the church

      • JS says:

        I am fully aware what this article is conveying and there is no twisting words about it. Other than that and your ad hominem attack, I have no idea what you are saying since you apparently cannot write coherently.

  2. springer says:

    Are Pentecostals Christian?

    • Frank J Panzer Jr says:

      Yes they are

      • Ricardo Rosonet Jr says:

        Too many religious groups claim to be Pentecostal and Apostolic. Unless they believe the whole bible and follow all of the teachings of the Bible, then they should not consider themselves Pentecostal Apostolic. You can’t dissect the Bible and believe the parts that you want. Homosexuality is like oil and Apostolic Pentecostal is like water. They don’t mix.
        Romans 12:2 – And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

        1 John 2:15-17King James Version (KJV)

        15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

        16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

        17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

    • James M. Reece says:

      Apostolic Pentecostal means they belive the whole Bible and follow all the teachings thereof.

    • Corey Demond Moye says:

      if you read the 2nd chapter of the book of Acts, this is a continuation of John 4:1-2, Joel 2:28. so, if

  3. David H says:

    As an Apostolic Pentecostal Jesus only: Pastor,Teacher and Professor’ The issue that I find is that what is the UPCI meeting with none Apostolics anyways! True Apostolic People do not even come close in doctrine with the other so called Pentecostals! There is no unity with paganism! This shows how lost the UPCI is and how this David Bernard has caused the UPCI to lower there standards and accept any doctrine! The Founding fathers of the UPCI are turning over in there graves! WOW

    • disqus_tktJBMQEOq says:

      If you read the article…. The UPCI wasn’t doing anything to promote the SPS or joining forces with them. They were simply providing a venue for them to host their event. However they withdrew their invitation for them to use their venue since the SPS was using a speaker who is an open homosexual, which goes against the beliefs of the UPCI. that is clearly standing up for what they believe in….how is that watering down anything??

      • Daniel Rushing says:

        There are several UPCI folk who are part of the SPS though. Several of them presented at the conference last week, even though it wasn’t at Urshan. I enjoyed each and everyone of them.

  4. Paul says:

    Oneness denies the Trinity. Inviting a pro-gay speaker is the LEAST of their concerns.

    • Chris Fields says:

      The Bible also denies the Trinity.

      It calls Jesus the everlasting Father in Isaiah 9:6

      Jesus himself said that anyone that had seen him had seen the Father ( John 14:9)and that He and His Father are one. ( John 10:30)

      How did Jesus refer to the woman with an issue of blood? He called her ” daughter” He called another “son”
      He referenced them like they were His kids because He is the Father.

      Are your words separate from you?
      Jesus is the word of God.
      He is the light emanating from the source. He is not separate from God, He is proof of the God of Israel being the one true God.

      Now 1 John 4 says if you deny that Christ who the Bible says is the Father has come in the flesh, you are of the anti Christ spirit.

      Show me one verse that says Jesus is not the Father…
      Show me a verse that says ” God the son”.
      Jesus is the son in that He is derived directly from the Spirit of God who is the Father and there is only one spirit and one body. There is one God not one group of deities in one accord.

      pagans having eyes that can’t see.

      Gal 3:20 goes so far as to say that the implication that the mediator and God being separate is not to be interpreted as such and since God is a spirit and there is only one spirit according to Ephesians 4:4.
      This means that The spirit of God was manifest in the flesh.

      • Fresh prince says:

        Explain yourself. Was God or the Spirit of God manifested in the flrsh???

        • adam says:

          i say we need unity in the church but upci does not bring up the issue of sexual sins. because alot people dont cover because people are in this sin. prayer wont solve the issue. it will take the person choice to remove it. jesus does not any that in His church so it always needs to be talk about like alcohol and drugs are too. So homosexual should not be preaching or address anything. they want protest let them do outside of the church.

      • Fresh prince says:

        No doubt, Sibelius the founder of the oneness doctrine was homosexual

    • Vincent Santoro says:

      John 10:30. Read it and you’ll see there is ONE God and his name is Jesus.. Jesus is NOT Jehovah Junior!

      • David H says:

        Jesus is the One and Almighty God: in all his manifestations! One thing Jesus is not is jehovah period! The title jehovah was created name for the father of the trinity, the author is Raymundis Martini in the year 1280ad in the book called: Pugeio Fedei- daggers of faith a discriminatory book against the Jews and 1 Century Jesus Messieh Followers!
        Jesus is the Only Manifested Name of the Great I Am: the Ehjer Asher Ehjer.

  5. David H says:

    Scripture itself stands against the anthropological pagan doctrine of trinity! One example: no where in the scriptures can we find the word trinity! My argument is that true Pentecostals should be concerned with Joining ranks with pagans! Period!

  6. dew70 says:

    One, simply put, cannot be a true Oneness Apostolic Penetcostal and be gay. End of story!!

  7. Derike Saucier says:

    For those of you who have problems with Bro. David Bernard being involved in this event and having the UPCI involved in this event. It is easy to attack someone from behind a keyboard and say things that you would never say to someone’s face. It would be good of you to write out your concerns and email them to him. You can find him on Facebook and you can find his email address online if you use the Google tool…Just a thought. Bro. Bernard’s intent in being involved and in hosting this event was to engage other Pentecostal denominations and to have a platform to present Oneness Pentacostalism to others, as explained in the article. That is part of the great commission. We as Apostolics must engage others that are different from us to better understand them and to better expose them to the Biblical Truth of Acts 2:38 and Oneness. I know some don’t want to grow their churches or our movement. Bro. Bernard did exactly the right thing as soon as it was clear that we could not host or be involved in this event due to the conflict of beliefs in the social & cultural clash of the Bible and Same Sex advocacy. People always want to jump on and blame the culture of the day for alot of things that are not true. The culture of the day affected Jesus, as it affects us in our time. How Jesus reacted to the culture of his day is how we should react to the culture of our day. He jumped in but it did not soil him. It affected how he dressed and how he appeared to mankind in human form. He wore the appropriate & modest clothes of his people and of his sex of the day. He did have a beard of some sort due to his culture, and rather we as modern Apostolics like it or not. If he had not then he would have been considered effiminate for his day. The Bible is silent about all of his features and things. Although we can look at the culture and people of his day to have a glimpse at least. It is safe to assume he did not have blue eyes and long blond or brunette hair as has been depicted since the 3rd Century to make white Europeans more comfortable. We as Apostolics need to take a good look at how we can and have affected culture, but more importantly how culture (good & bad) has and will affect us. Culture encompasses technology as well. Technology has changed how we conduct church. Most don’t like change in any form. But we also don’t have church like they did 2000 years ago either so change is inevitable. Music has, and will change as time marches on also. Nobody hardly has church like they did in 1950 and if they do their church is stagnant and limited in its appeal. I personally think that we as Apostolic Pentecostals have swallowed some changes that I can’t stand. I see alot of churches that when you walk into them look & feel like a theater or a charasmatic gathering place. The platform looks like a stage for a performance. Dress is so casual that you are not sure what is going on. I want to dress my best for my King. Whatever your best is. Come as you are, but don’t stay that way. Some churches look and feel like a dance club. They may or may not realize it if they have always been in a church and never been a worldly sinner. I came out of the world and I want to come to a place of reverance, a place to meet with Jesus, a church. Although for some this kind of a place is exactly what they are looking for. We have Pastors that have embraced this worldy culture and let that aspect creep, slide, invade,however you want to word it, into our churches and their sanctuaries. I know that as an Apostolic I have lived through the era’s of people believing a television device is such a sin and the owner a hell bound sinner. I understand that mentality from back in the day before we had DVR technology and the ability to choose what exact program we wanted to watch and the ability to block out commercials. But now that we have that technology well that mentality is not as correct. It can be if people don’t exercise control & modesty in what they let come before their eyes. I own a television. I haven’t always owned one. I like educational shows and cooking shows. The motto in my home is that if it is not safe for my toddler to watch then it is not safe for us adults to watch. Plus, would Jesus sit down an watch it with you? Technology has also brought us to the point that if you own a computer, a smart phone, and now a smart watch; then you own a television. Rather you engage it or not you own one, or atleast the device that has the potential for viewing such material. I am a firm believer in modesty, and modesty in all things. Just like the issue with men having facial hair. It is a cultural situation that has its roots in the rebellion of the 1960’s. I get the UPCI’s views from that time on facial hair. But, that era is way over. It is possible for men to have a beard and it not be long & scraggly. Modesty. Set parameters on acceptable length and grooming of such a beard. People have an aversion in our Apostolic movement to men having a beard because of what they have been taught since that time. People like to say if it was a sin then, then it is a sin now. Maybe, what is the desire of the heart in this situation. It is a preference, but not a heaven or hell issue as alot of pastors have made it. Jesus had one no matter how you try and skew it. The founding fathers of UPCI and other Apostolic movements had facial hair also. Are they sinners and are they residing in Hell for it. I hope not or my faith in the Oneness is also shakey. Some are afraid of change because they think that if they hmmm, allow people to have a modest beard or even admit that not all television is bad, that it will usher in the end of the Apostolic movement and that other compromises will be ushered in. Other compromises such as cutting of the hair and the wearing of skirts. Those particular compromises should not take place as their application is biblical and not cultural. Engaging these discussions and engaging other beliefs, even with Pentecostalism is not a horrid thing. From reading some of these comments on this article people think that any other thought process than their is Pagan. I will say that I can’t believe a Pentecostal organization, society, church, meeting, etc; would invite or engage as a speaker someone that is Pro-gay for any reason. We preach the truth about homosexuality. It does not mean we go out and accost them, or shame them in public, or cause them harm in any way. But we should not let the social justice culture invade our churches and determine what is preached and accepted. The Bible is the standard of that. God calls it an abomination. Can’t get much worse than that. Yes it is a sin and yes it is forgivable; but you have to recognize it as a sinful lifestyle before you can repent and be forgiven of it. I don’t see where Bro. Bernard has lowered the standard and accepted just any doctrine. I see where he has planted the flag stronger than it has been in more than a decade. We got through the era of time where preachers and churches thought it was a good idea to put their churches on television. Bad idea. Church does not belong on television. It does not relate. The Holy Ghost is a soul & emotional thing that does not translate to a visual medium. We look and sound stupid and crazy while we are worshipping. Nobody wants to be seen crying and blowing snot while on TV, so they don’t let themselves engage in the service. Some though do the opposite and to be seen do outrageous things to be seen in an audience shot during the service. Good Apostolic preaching does not translate visually for the mass audience. It translates in a setting where you can hear it and absorb it, via radio, cd’s etc. How do I know? I once worked in a Non-denominational, but Pentecostal influenced, ministry. I ran the main camera that was pointed at the Preacher. We had several other cameras in search of other angles to best translate what was going on at that part of the service. We looked for audience shots of people and their reactions to what was going on to be edited in and later broadcast all across the southern United States. So I have some experience in this realm. We do need to take a good hard look at how we affect culture and how culture (good & bad) affects us and how it will affect us as time marches on. This is just my view from my front porch today. God bless, in Jesus Name.

    • Fresh prince says:

      Mile long comment…. 😂 😂 😂as Einstein put it, if u cannot explain it simple u understand nothing.. David k bernard is a moronic witch…. Oneness doctrine is a moronic doctrine

    • Lori says:

      Derike Saucier, greetings of peace in Jesus’ name. I appreciated your post and as an Acts 2:38, Jesus’ name believer, I would like to encourage you to take a look at a book entitled “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola and George Barna. Also, please consider Titus 1:5.

      Paul left Titus on an island to “set in order the things that are wanting” There are quite a lot of things still wanting 2000 years later as those things to this day have not been set in order.

      There is to be but ONE church(gathering of true believers) with ordained elders and Jesus being the only head if that local body.

      There is no Apostolic example of a solo pastor/priest. With any one man being the head of a local body, you get a two headed monster…Jesus doesn’t share His glory, so essentially you just get a lot of man and a lot less God than we so desperately need.

      With New Testament church elders versus a solo pastor, you have accountability and thus much greater safety…

      Please study out elders and deacons as the true, New Testament pattern for church leadership and consider that there is also no special “man-made” requirements for an elder but that they are spelled out in Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Many solo pastors fail to meet God’s conditions. The confusion comes in various translations using interchangeable terms that really are not. In the King James version, the word bishop is substituted for elder in Timothy 3. Whereas in the first chapter of Titus, the more correct term elder is used. This is confusing. But if you are hungry for truth and looking for answers, the Lord will help you sort it out.

      The solo pastor/priest model is Roman Catholic, not Apostolic.

      And think of all that is being hindered by having so many separate, little churches when we as believers are to be one…one church per city with Jesus alone being exalted -not just given lip service as being the head, but actually allowed, indeed invited to function as such!

  8. David H says:

    According to scripture: the lifestyle choice of homosexuality and or being feminine cannot be intermingled with a child of Jesus! Reiterated- its impossible to be a Christian “child of God” and be a homosexual!

  9. Roger Martin says:

    In no way can the UPCI condone the perversion of homosexuality. This one of the reasons GOD destroyed Sodom & Gomorra. GOD calls people out of their sins, not in their sins.

  10. JS says:

    Boy, most of the comments here have turned into a oneness vs. trinitarian debate with the oneness people pretty much engaging in vitriol name calling. Can you people not stay focused on the real issue of the article?

  11. Rev. Gary Hammond M.Div says:

    The SPS should not have allowed any openly living in sin person to speak from their platform.
    What is held in secret is only known by the Lord Jesus and his Heavenly Father who even knows our thoughts and wants the sinner and/or backslider to repent to be forgiven. What is known by the church is to be approached as someone in need of repentance and restoration like Apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:1. for sin can be allowed in any of us but if the person does not repent then the church is to rebuke him/her before all. I Tim 5:20. Jesus said in Revelation “as many as I love, I rebuke.” Rev. 3:9. The A/G was right to pull his credentials.

    The SPS made a big mistake when seeming to endorse, condone or affirm an immoral sexual lifestyle of a backslider. Perhaps, the SPS was trying to show Love to a neighbour according to the commandment of God but went way beyond the instructions from God Almighty. Do we remember Jesus instructions when asked what was the greatest commandments? Jesus said”Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy mind. This the first and greatest commandment and the second is like unto it, You shalt love thy neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hangs all the law and the prophets.” Matt 22:37-40. The SPS probably wanted to show their brotherly and neighbour love but went beyond the scriptures by seemingly allowing sin to be promoted from their meeting platform as acceptable. This goes way beyond biblical academic discussion within the confines of Holy Scripture which is the final authority to the church and the world.

    Furthermore, did not the Lord Jesus say concerning those and other commands of God and all other N.T instructions (which many Christian’s ignore) whom Jesus (the Word made flesh and dwelt among us, St John 1:1-2) was repeating what his Father said to him, “Believe me not that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” St John 14:10. Jesus continues to teach: “He that hath my commandments and keeps them, he it is the loves me and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.” “If a man love me, he will keep my words and my Father will love him and WE will come unto him and make our abode with him” He that loves me not keepth not my sayings and the word which you hear is not mine but the Fathers who sent me.” John 14:21,23-24

    Jesus goes on to teach on the coming of the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in his name. “But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you”. St John 14:26 This is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit… The three in one God Head unity.. The Trinity!
    So, the backslider allowed to teach his sexual sinful lifestyle to Christians and promotes LGTB sinful living needs to repent or eventually God will take action. The SPS scholars should reflect on their error of judgement when allowing sinful lifestyles a platform to possibly cause others to backslide and bring, disgrace, disrespect and dishonor to God and the Savior himself who was crucified to save sinners. Jesus talked about those who would offend his believers in Mark 9:42-48 Nobody will get away with anything!!!

  12. Rev. Gary Hammond M.Div says:

    What happened to my comments sent in to post???

    I hope the freedom of speech is not hindered by freedom of posting?

    Also, there are no responses posted after march 3rd, 2017… Why????

    • Jeffrey Walton says:

      Pastor Hammond, comments on the blog are reviewed before posting in order to deter spam bots. This means that there is a short delay before they are publicly viewable. As for your question about the last post, I would assume it is because no one has posted a comment since then (this story is more than nine months old).

  13. Bishop Gerald Graham says:

    I agree with the doctrine of the United Pentecostal church, but I do not agree with the prejudice of 95% of the white preachers, I believe they need to make that right before condemning gays, all of it is wrong.

  14. Bishop Gerald Graham says:

    The United Pentecostal church has over the years until this day has had a problem with Race issues, like interracial marriages I think they need to take a close look at these issues before they could put anyone down for wrong.

    • Gerald Graham says:

      Some years back I was saved in the United Pentecostal church . I moved to Louisiana at the age of 19 or20, I notice the seperation of the black a white United Pentecostals churches it was worst then the days of Jim crow that I had read about . but I tried to help change them and was blackedballed out, if you whould like to talk more call me at (404)457-3892 .

  15. adam says:

    big issue dont deal with now

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