This activity was noted in our Sunday bulletin recently:
"Combined Service, October 8th - In a few weeks we will host our neighbors from the Assembly of God congregation for a combined worship service. Approximately three years ago their building was flooded and they worshiped alongside us for six weeks. We want to continue to build that relationship with our church neighbors. After service on October 8th we will also enjoy a potluck meal together as we continue to demonstrate that we are a loving family, living for God and serving our neighbors."
In this coming worship service, the Assembly of God "Pastor" will speak for half of the sermon and then our preacher will preach half the sermon.
I am extremely concerned about the fact that we are having this service. I am also concerned about what this means in a larger context - where we are headed as a congregation, etc. This situation reminds me of watching for signs of IEDs in Iraq. Sometimes they looked like exactly what they were, and sometimes is was hard to tell if, for example, it was just a natural lump in the pavement. This paragraph gave me the same visceral reaction. I am having trouble qualifying my arguments against. I feel this is wrong but I don't have the words or scripture to describe why.
In your opinion, should I be concerned, either with this activity or in the larger context?
You should be concerned. The Assemblies of God arose out of the holiness movement in the 1800's -- the same moment that gave rise to the Methodists, the Church of the Nazarene, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Like other Holiness groups, they believe in two levels of salvation. There is conversion and then there is sanctification as a separate step.
"All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian Church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry. This experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth. ... The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance. The speaking in tongues in this instance is the same in essence as the gift of tongues, but is different in purpose and use. ... The Assemblies of God exists expressly to give continuing emphasis to this reason for being in the New Testament apostolic pattern by teaching and encouraging believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. This experience:
Enables them to evangelize in the power of the Spirit with accompanying supernatural signs.
Adds a necessary dimension to worshipful relationship with God.
Enables them to respond to the full working of the Holy Spirit in expression of fruit and gifts and ministries as in New Testament times for the edifying of the body of Christ and care for the poor and needy of the world." ["Assemblies of God: 16 Fundamental Truths"].
Thus, the Assemblies of God believe in the continuance of the miracles found in the New Testament, despite Paul's clear statement that they would end. "Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away" (I Corinthians 13:8-10).
The Assemblies of God are also premillennialists. They hold to the ideas of a rapture and a period of tribulation on the earth following ["The Rapture of the Church"]. See: Articles on Premillennialism for information on what is wrong with these beliefs.
They believe that women may lead churches ["The Role of Women in Ministry"]. Their position paper acknowledges that there are passages forbidding this practice, but they are then dismissed as not saying what they obviously do say. See: Articles on Women's Role for information on what the Bible says about the roles taken on by women.
There are major differences in belief between the Assemblies of God and faithful Christians. "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-10). To invite a minister of the Assemblies of God to teach in the services of the church is to pretend that these differences do not exist.
What I would recommend is to let the leadership know that this event is wrong because it gives acceptance to false doctrine. My guess is that you will be told that it is too late to change and that it isn't going to change the beliefs of the church. You will then need to consider finding a church that willing to stand for the truth.
Thank you so much for the quick reply. The phrase, "...gives acceptance to false doctrine..." was exactly what I was feeling but could not put words to. I appreciate the thoroughness of your reply, as well, and, in fact, the general high quality of the answer you provide and post on your web site.
Again, thank you for your help.