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Affirming Christians
Affirming Pentecostals
Affirming Apostolics
Pastor Charles Curtiss
The Threat of Stagnation
   Every  religious  movement  which  has  ever  begun  since  the  birth  of  humanity   faces  coming  to  a  place  of stagnation   or  decline  when  it  foolishly  clings  to  ancient  ideas  and  refuses  to  make  inroads  into  the  present and future.
     Christendom  has  seen  many  movements  since  the  birth  of  the  church;  ranging  from  Gnosticism, Lutheranism, and  Calvinism,  to  Wesleyanism,  and  Pentecostalism.  Most  of  these  same  movements  today  would have  to acknowledge  that  they  are  by  no  means  experiencing  the  same  level  of  enthusiasm  and  growth  they did  when they  first  appeared  on  the  world  religious  scene.   Inflexibility  and  a  failure  to  treat  the  Word  of  God as  a  living, breathing  document  that  is  able  to  respond  to  and  expand  as  humanity's  condition  becomes  more and  more clearly  understood  has  lent  itself  to  the  stagnation  and  decline  of  their  membership.   They  may  even be  facing  the eventual possibility of extinction.

What is Progress?
   Progress  implies  a  positive  movement  in  a  forward  direction.   The  Pentecostal  movement, now a century old, faces  the  same  eventual  dilemma  as  every  other  major  Christian  movement  -  stagnation  and  spiritual  death.  Even today  many,  if  not  most,  Pentecostal  churches  are  no  where  near  experiencing  the  kind  of  explosive move  of  God that was common in the early years of this dynamic spiritual renewal.  Many  "overeducated"  and "professional"  ministers  occupy  the  pulpits  today  which  were  once  reserved  only  for anointed  and  sincere  men of  God  who  had  spent  time  and  tears  finding  a  word  from   the  Lord  to  deliver  to  their flocks.   They've  come to  accept  whatever  doctrine  or  teaching  their  denomination  and  seminary  offers  them  as truth,  rather  than
being  sincere  students  of  the  Word  of  God,  led  by  the  Spirit,  motivated  by  a  hunger  for  truth.                                                                                             
     Some  call  this  progress  because  it  has  allowed  the  Pentecostal movement to become much more acceptable to mainstream  society.   But  is  acceptability  our  goal?   Is  it  not  the  purpose  of  the  church  to  bring  this  great Gospel message of Jesus Christ to every corner of the globe before His imminent return?

Where's the Threat?
     What  are  the potential  causes  of  our  ultimate spiritual demise?     This  movement  has  done  more to alienate and discourage  more  of  it's  converts  than  most  movements  seen  within Christianity over the last two millennium.  Pentecostal  churches  have  often  been  seen  as  looking  down  upon  the  role  of  the  woman  within  the  church, subordinating  her  and  making  her  a  second  class  citizen  beside  her  husband.   It  has  also  alienated  many groups of  people  who  identify  with  certain  "sins"  such  as  the  divorced, divorced and remarried, the homosexual, the alcoholic, etc.

"Witch Hunts"
     Pentecost  has  built  a  reputation  of  holiness  and  sanctification,  and it has been common therefore for local churches and  organizations  to  regularly  conduct  "witch  hunts",  looking  for  "secret  sins"  and  making accusations to bring  these  "sins"  to  light.   In  the  process  of  doing  this,  however,  many  good  and  sincere  believers  have been forced  from  the  fellowship  of  God's  people  and  many  find  it  hard,  if  not  impossible to return because of the sense of humiliation and alienation that they've come to know. 
     Pentecost  has  built  it's  "holiness"  reputation  on  guilt and condemnation rather than on  the truth of Holy Ghost conviction  of  sin.   Most  preachers  seem  to  think  that  if  they  don't  preach  their  saints  into  hell  every  Sunday, they won't know how to make it into Heaven should the Lord come on Monday.  There has been very little actual reliance upon  and  confidence  in  the  Holy  Spirit  within  the  Pentecostal  movement.  We have done the Spirits' job, preaching and teaching people into a helpless sense of guilt and despair, leaving little or no room for individuals to "work out their own salvation with fear and trembling."  (Philip. 2:12)  

Caught In The Act!
     If  the  woman  caught  in  the  very  act  of  adultery  were  brought before the majority of Pentecostal people today, faced  with  the  same  legal  code  that the Lord's contemporaries quoted to Him, they would simply have responded, "Well,  do  what  you've  got  to  do."   Look  at  the  callous  attitude  of  so  many  Christians  in  this  country  toward the  death penalty  issue.   In  spite  of  the  fact  that  they  know  death  brings  eternal  judgment,  many  believers around  the  nation heartily endorse killing  criminals.  So long as  there  is  life,  there  is  hope of conversion and turning from sin.  Even the  infamous  "Son  of  Sam"  serial  killer  is a life-term prisoner serving the Lord.

Keeping Israel Pure...
     The  purpose  of  the  harsh  law  and  punishments  found  in  the  Jewish  law  of  Moses  was  to  keep  Israel as a nation pure.   This  woman,  although  "unclean"  according  to  the  law  was  allowed to live and thus allowed to remain a  part of the nation of Israel.  What a lovely lesson in grace!   Jesus  Christ  clearly  teaches  that  the  Law  of  Grace and  Liberty  requires  that  we  permit  the  wheat  and  the  weeds to  grow  up  together  until  his  return,  at  which time  HE  shall  separate  the  true  from  the  untrue.  (Matthew  13:30)   Why has He said  this?  It's  simple, because we  most  often  would  be  WRONG  in  our  assessment  of  what  is  weed  and what  is  wheat.   God  sees so much  more  clearly  than  we  the condition of an individuals heart that He alone is able to make  that eternity-affecting call.  "...for  the  Lord  seeth  not  as  man  seeth;  for  man  looketh  on  the  outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." (I Sam. 16:7)
     The  Lord  Himself  is  said  to  be  the  husbandman  in  the  vineyards  we  call  the  church  (John  15:1-6).  If there are dangerous  tares  in  need  of  being  torn  up  and  removed,  He,  the  Scripture  declares  will  do  so.  What  little confidence  we  have  in  God  when  we  think  we  mere  mortals  must  do  his  work  for  Him.   In  the  process  of doing  so,we  have  hurt,  forced  into  backsliding,  and  even  pressured  into  false  religious  movements  people  who once  loved the Lord and desired to serve Him. They just didn't meet our perceived criteria of godliness or perfection.
     I  have  seen  the  Lord  remove  individuals  from  churches  who  were  disruptive  and destructive, without the pastor or  congregation having to do or say a word.  Some have literally dropped dead of  heart  attacks.   What  a  shame that we do not trust God to determine who belongs in His fellowship and who does not.
     Progress  can  only  be  made  by  going  back  and  taking  a  look  at  the  methods  we  have  been  using.  The message  of  Christ's  gospel  will  never  change,  but  our  methods  of  delivering  it  must.   We must learn to deliver His message  the  way  that  He  did.   In  their  humanity,  even  the   apostles  at  times were impaired in their ability to effectively  deliver  the  wonderful  message  of  the  Gospel.   Gospel  means  "good  news."   When is the last time you heard a Pentecostal preacher preach "good news."   If  the  Pentecostal  movement  is  to  move  forward,  thus  making  progress,  there  are  some lessons it must learn and some policies it must implement universally.

Eliminate Male Dominance
     Firstly,  the  Pentecostal  movement  must  step  up  to  the  level  of  Biblical  interpretation  and  understanding where "there  is  neither  male  nor  female  in  the  kingdom  of  God."  (Gal.  3:28)   Women are every bit as qualified,  called, anointed,  and  capable  of  every  aspect  of  ministry  and  work  in  the church as are men.  In some cases  even  more so!   We  must  recognize  this  truth  and  put  it  to  good  use,  instead  of  clinging  to  the  ancient patriarchal  systems  as the apostles apparently unwittingly did.

Adopt Inclusive Policies & Attitudes
     Secondly,  we  must  adopt  an  attitude  of  inclusion  and  acceptance  for  all  who  would  desire to know God and to serve  Him.   We  must  stop  "spot  checking"  people  at  the  door  of  the  church  and  inquiring  as  to their sexual orientations,  addictions,  and  marital  status.   If  they've  a  desire  to  be  a  part  of  God's  church  and  worship  and serve Him,  they  have  a  right  and  a  rightful  place in God's family.   The Scripture  makes  it  clear, "Let everything that  hath breath praise the Lord..." (Psalm 150:6)

Preach The Gospel, Not "Issues"
     Preaching  against  this  issue  or  that,  because  you  have  a  sense  that  the   "sin"  you  are  harping  on  is  one with which   someone  you  see  may  be  dealing,  must  end.   We  have  forced more honest, sincere, hungry seekers from our  midst  through  such  ignorant  and  less-than-spiritual  tactics.   Preach  the "Good News" of Christ and Him crucified.  Let  the  Lord  give  you  a  message.   He'll  always  give  an  uplifting,  positive,  inspirational,  faith  building, and hope  inspiring  word  anchored  squarely  in  the  cross  of  Calvary.   "For  I  determined  not  to  know  anything among  you except  Jesus  Christ  and  Him  crucified.    And  my  speech  and  my  preaching were not with persuasive words  of human  wisdom,  but  in  demonstration  of  the  Spirit  and  of  power,   that  your  faith should  not  be  in  the wisdom  of  men but in the power of God."  I COR. 2:2, 4-5   NKJV

Preach Salvation, Healing, & Deliverance
     Most  Pentecostal  churches  today  seldom see a miracle,  whereas  a  century  ago  they  were  common  place.   Why is  this?   It's  simple,  we've  become  so  preoccupied  preaching  against  people  that  we've  failed  to  preach simple salvation  (Acts  2:38),  healing,  deliverance  from  demons,  and  the  infilling  of  the  Holy  Ghost.   When  we, in  faith, preach  these  things;  God  does  these  things  to  confirm  our  preaching!     "And  these  signs shall follow those  who believe:  In  my  name  they  will  cast  out  demons;  they  will  speak  with  new  tongues;  they  will take  up  serpents;  and  if they  drink  anything   deadly,  it  will  by  no  means  harm  them;  they  will  lay hands  on  the  sick,  and  they   will  recover."  "And  they  went  out  and  preached  everywhere,  the  Lord working  with  them  and  confirming  the  Word  through  the accompanying signs."   MARK 16:17-18, 20 NKJV  Have you seen any signs lately?

Eliminate Organizational Segregation
     The Church of Jesus Christ  is still  greatly  seen  as  a  segregated  entity.   Black  organizations  exist  over   here, while  primarily  white  organizations  are  over  there.   Most  of  the  major  Pentecostal  denominations  in  the  world today  which  are  primarily  white  have  yet  to  ever  elect  or  appoint  men  of  color  or  minority  status  to  district, state,  or national  leadership  positions,  except  where  large  numbers  of  minority  members  or  churches  exist.   A black overseer  is  fine  where  you  have  several  black  churches,   but,  if  the  churches  in  a  given state are mostly white God forbid the State Overseer  should  be black.  Why  not?  Are  we  not  all  "one body in Christ and members in particular?"  (I  Cor   12:27)   Or,  is  this  merely  something  we  say,  but  don't  really  believe.
     I  have  served  under  black leadership  without  the  slightest  bit  of  concern.   Why?   Because  we  preached  the same  message  and  were working  toward  the  same  goals.   The  Black  ministry,  in  particular,  could  teach  much of  us  a  thing  or  two  about  a great number of things, particularly effective fund raising and tolerance for the people's humanity.

What Then Is Progressive Pentecost?
     Progressive Pentecostal ministries are  those  which  have  adopted  affirmative  and  restorative  policies.  They are oblivious  to  gender,  skin  color,  race,  and  lifestyle.   Their  only  goal  is  to  minister  to  and  assist  every  sincere believer  in  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ  to  find  their  way  clear  to  God  by  providing  them  with  sound  teaching, inspiring preaching,  pastoral  care,  Christian  family,  and  fellowship.   They  believe  that  God  is  able  to  convict  of sin  and change  those  things  in  any  life  that  He  deems  needful  of  change.  A progressive  church  will  affirm  the divorcee, the  homosexual,  the  addicted,  and  the  outcast.   They  do  not  insist  upon  change,  but  rather  accept every  individual as  they  are,  understanding  that  complex issues of life and human sexuality are not easily answered by  careless Biblical interpretation, but careful study and examination.
     A  progressive  Pentecostal  church  will  offer  opportunity  and  advancement  to  all  of  it's  member  without  any regard  as  to  race,  gender,  lifestyle,  or  socioeconomic  status.   It  will  seek  only  to  build  up  and  restore  that which  has been  torn  down.   And  it  will  be  ever  mindful  that  words,  actions,  and  careless  policies  often  lend themselves  to  the destruction of human souls.
     You  may  have  grown  up  within  a  Pentecostal  church  like  myself,  but now find yourself far from it's fellowship Let  me  challenge  you  with  this  -  you  can  make  progress  in  your  journey with the Lord.  You can step up higher than  many  of  those  ignorant,  bigoted, homophobic church members and preachers who in the  past have injured you.  You can be a Progressive Pentecostal!
What Is
"Progressive Pentecostal?"
By:
By: Rev. Charles Burnett-Morrow