Friday, March 14, 2014

Going to get washed in the Spirit of the Oneness Pentecostals.

The second congregation I'll be visiting this week will be New Beginnings Apostolic Church in Clearfield, Utah. New Beginnings is a member of the United Pentecostal Church International, which is a denomination of a branch of Pentecostalism called Oneness Pentecostalism.

Oneness Pentecostalism varies from other branches of Pentecostal Christianity and indeed mainstream Christianity in one very key way, they do not believe in the Trinity, but rather one God in one person. The way this is explained with them is that God is one person, the Father and the Holy Spirit are the same person, just different titles for them. The Father title refers to God's relationship to mankind, and the Holy Spirit refers to God's active presence in the world.

When it comes to Jesus, they believe that Jesus is a man who had the fullness of God dwelling inside of him from the moment of his incarnation, but that Jesus wasn't God nor a separate person within God, but a man who contained within him the fullness of God.

Like other Christians in the Protestant tradition, they believe that a person must be born again in spirit by accepting Jesus as their personal savior and receive baptism. However, unlike many other Christians of this persuasion, they believe a person can lose this salvation by backsliding back into sin. In other words, they do not believe in the concept of once saved always saved.

Like other Pentecostals, they believe in gifts of the spirit, things like prophecy, faith healing, and most famously, speaking in tongues.

According to the United Pentecostal Church International's website, members are expected to abide by a strict holiness code that includes:

  • A very strict interpretation of the Bible and its meaning.
  • Not swearing oaths of any kind (except in legal situations which is a matter of debate).
  • Practicing evangelism, in other words, proselytizing the faith and promoting it to others.
  • Sexual purity, this means no sex outside of marriage, no masturbation, and homosexuality is described as a perverse sin and those involved in it described as being caught in satanic snares. (Fun for me.)
  • Abstaining from alcohol and other intoxicants.
  • Women not holding positions of leadership. Men being heads of the household and leaders in the community.
  • Modest clothing that covers the torso and upper limbs for both sexes. Women also are encouraged not to wear makeup as it promotes lust, and to distinguish herself from men by her dress. Therefore modest dresses and skirts are encouraged. Additionally, women are told that they should keep their hair long, and men told that they should keep their hair short or be bald.
  • No use of profanity or vulgar speech.
New Beginnings Apostolic Church is a small congregation. Currently they meet in a rented space in a strip mall. In going through their Facebook page, I found them to be a small, but fairly tight knit community that makes due with what they have, using a rented space for their church, a watering trough or Jacuzzi to perform baptisms, minimal decoration.

This should be an interesting experience for me. I'm not sure how welcoming they will be. We shall see what this meeting holds.

Until next time, peace be with you.

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