Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's tough being Pentecostal

Dr. Gary Milley will soon be taking up his position at Church in the Oaks, the church where the bloggers of this blog attend. This is an article I recall reading when Milley was being considered for the position. A recent tweet by @Rich_Cherry reminded me of it. You can read the whole article here, and below you will find an excerpt.

It’s Tough being Pentecostal!
By Garry E. Milley

I grew up among the Newfoundland Pentecostals. That tells you a lot about me! I was raised in a pastor’s home and cut my teeth on the back of a pew when it wasn’t popular to be a Pentecostal. Pentecostalism now numbers close to one half a billion world wide—half the size of Roman Catholicism in one tenth of the time! The bulk of the growth is in Asia, Africa and South America. I lived through the transition from persecution to popularity, poverty to prosperity. We are celebrating what the early Pentecostals could only dream about. However, we are our own worst enemies here in North America.

It seems that no one knows about us here until some TV evangelist gets his fingers caught in the cookie jar or we are publicly embarrassed by media exposé of secret goings-on inside Pentecostal institutions. I do not want to be defined by the worst among us but, as they say, we can select our friends but we are stuck with our relatives. For better or for worse I am a Pentecostal.

But, preachers who blow people down, promise miracles for money, or who encourage strange behavior as proof of God’s work, embarrass me. I tire of being tyrannized by every religious fad. I am sick of the thin theological gruel dished out by the religious media. I want to be loyal to my roots without being blind to past errors. I oscillate between recovering the original vision and transcending traditionalism. I want the revival to mature as an expression of historic Christianity and not fossilize as a monument to the past.

I want to be positive about what is going on in the broader Christian world without being gullible and I want to offer advice on questionable issues without being merely opinionated. I, too, am a pilgrim in search of a city. I don’t have all the answers. But I’m fearful of remaining silent when something needs to be said. It’s tough being a balanced, sympathetic but self-critical Pentecostal.

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