The Pentecostal Way That Falwell Calls Heresy
By: D.C. Klinedinst
I am writing in response to the recent statements made by Jerry Falwell that the doctrine of the United Pentecostal Church is heresy.
Perhaps a definition of the word heresy is in order. Heresy comes from the Greek word haireses – “to choose, or to be in disunion, especially with orthodoxy.”
A dictionary definition of heresy is “a teaching that is different from church dogma.”
It seems that since the term heresy was used for a doctrine that differs from that of Jerry Falwell, he believes that any teaching that is contrary to his belief would be heresy; thus anyone who holds a doctrine different from the one he supports or allows is a heretic.
Obviously the implications here are severe. Anyone who would allow themselves to become the final authority could call all those who hold different views heretics by definition. However, all this would accomplish is that we could all call each other heretics based on our personal biases. It seems that we need a higher power to help guide us to what is truth and what is heresy. I believe that the Word of God stands as the only authority to be so definitive.
If doctrine call be supported by the Bible, it is hardly heresy.
This commentary will examine briefly the doctrines in question. While they may not agree with Jerry Falwell’s personal interpretation, they must be examined in the light of the final authority – The Bible.
I have received many calls asking me, “what does the UPC believe and teach?” While there are many areas in which we have strong convictions, I wish to present our basic doctrinal stand.
The United Pentecostal Church is a Bible-believing church. We have no special books outside the Bible, nor do we have any persons with new or special revelations that we follow.
We believe there is one God who has manifested Himself to us in three unique roles through Scripture: as the Father in Creation; the Son in Redemption; and the Holy Spirit in the church today. We do not believe there are three gods or that there are three divine beings in a godhead, but that there are three manifestations of the one true God – the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
We believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and that his shed blood produces salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith, according to Ephesians 2:8. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
The application of grace was preached by Peter on the Day of Pentecost and is a culmination of the law, prophets and gospel concerning Jesus.
Acts 2:37-39 – “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, repent (death), and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (burial), and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (resurrection).
For the promise is unto you, and to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. We believe this is the Gospel: Death, burial, resurrection.
The United Pentecostal Church does not subscribe to a “Jesus Only” doctrine. The implication of this term is that we deny God as the Father and Holy Spirit. This is not true.
When we baptize, we baptize in the name of Jesus Christ. The term “Jesus Only” is never used in any respect to baptism.
The term “baptismal regeneration” implies that we believe baptism, in and of itself, produces forgiveness of sins. While a quick study of the Greek word for remission in Acts 2:38 (Aphesis) does deal with forgiveness and liberty from sins, it is important to remember Jesus’ words in Luke 24:47 that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Repentance is clearly a preceding qualification for baptism. Baptism in no way replaces the need for repentance, nor should repentance replace or exclude baptism.
The statement that this is a “new doctrine” certainly brings an interesting point to light. It has been said that these things were for the Apostles and the early church era, thus “not for us today.” So I’m not sure if it is meant that our teaching is “too old to true” or “too new to be true.”
Repentance, baptism in Jesus’ Name and Holy Spirit infilling with speaking in other tongues are of significant proportion in the Scripture. We believe the old message is still true, although for some it may seem new.
It is interesting to note that if Matthew 28:19 is to be interpreted “repeat the titles The Father, Son, Holy Ghost,” as orthodox tradition suggests, instead of using the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost… Jesus (Eph. 3:15), then there is not one single example in the Scripture where the Apostles use those titles when administering baptism. Not one!
Every time the Apostles baptized, they used the name of Jesus. We are not angry at Jerry Falwell. We love him and are grateful for the many wonderful things he has stood for concerning morality in America.
When your beliefs in the Bible come under pressure, it is time for deep soul-searching. It is time to release bias and personal position and to hold fast to the essentials given to us in the sound doctrine of the Apostles.
There are many people in this city who are hungry for the truth. Perhaps many will begin a “search for truth” in the book of Acts of the Apostles. Here we find the Apostles message concerning these vital subjects.
With much soul-searching and biblical research in these areas, I have decided to stand fast to that form of doctrine once delivered to the saints. I feel comfortable standing with the Apostle Paul in saying:
“But this I confess unto thee, that after the way they called heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets.” Acts 24:14.
(The original source of the above material is unknown.)
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