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I am President of the Association of Former Pentecostals. I was a Oneness Pentecostal for about 20 years and am now a Lutheran. It usually takes from 7-10 years to recover from the bad effects of extremely emotional religion. Hopefully this blog can help out with a few ideas. Furthermore, it appears that there are similar problems with the Charismatic movement as there are with the Pentecostals. So, Charismatics might find similar problems and hopefully a helpful discussion here.
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Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony
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Scientific-evidence based arguments for the non-existence (or the existence) of God are essentially incoherent. To explore this, one must ask, “What is science?” What does science really do? Science is, briefly put, correlation of data to a model. It asks: how well does this particular model follow the data and the evidence collected?
What is the assumption here? One clearly must have data. What does the collection of data assume? It assumes a material existent. Science cannot work with anything that is not a material existent. Thus, the pop atheist books now in circulation that use the argument, “There is no scientific evidence for the existence of God” are clearly offering an irrational argument. Science assumes material data. To apply its methods and argumentation to a deity question is to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what science is.
Also, the problem of universals shows that there are indeed non-material existents. Most or all of math is a non-material existent. One cannot find math anywhere as a physical object. Thus, one must accept the existence of non-material existents, unless one wishes to claim that mathematics does not exist. One knows that the number two really exists, but where is it? Two tables before me and two chairs behind me both use the exact same existent “two.” However, can we point physically to this number two? No, it is a non-material existent, as are most or all universals. Thus, one cannot reasonably claim that there is no such thing as a non-material existent. This opens us up to another realm where there are things that are real, and exist, apart from physical phenomena, such as mathematics and consciousness.
Thus, the evidence based atheist who says there is no evidence for God, and therefore, he does not exist is using an invalid method for the debate. One cannot use any purely material based approach to the question of a non-material existent, such as God.
Therefore, any scientifically based argument in a discussion for the existence of God is clearly irrational, and invalid. Science assumes material phenomenon for applications of any of its methods.+++
A lot of confusion among materialist scientists is perhaps a misunderstanding of the philosophical basis of the methods they practice. The correlating of evidence to fit a model usually is the application of this data to a mathematical model. And, one does not perform science without mathematics, or some abstract model. And, it seems that a materialist scientist should accept the reality of mathematics, since they necessarily use it. Thus, they accept material evidence (data) and determine how close this data correlates to the non-material models, usually mathematical.
Perhaps they do admit mathematical realities, or, perhaps they do not think about the issue at all, simply performing their work habitually without understanding philosophically what is going on. So, when the arguments for the existence of God are examined, the materialist, I suspect in some ignorance, asks the wrong questions, out of habit, not taking the effort of examining, and thereby understanding, the valid applications of their habitual method. Since the methods they use give them consistent results and a high confidence in its validity for what they do every day, they make an incorrect assumption that it applies to some philosophical questions. In many cases, this confidence turns into arrogance, which in turn explains some of the recklessness when a materialist glibly applies the method to non-material questions.
I also suspect that when a philosophically astute challenger points out these obvious errors of materialism, the materialist suddenly feels exposed and naked, since his previously unassailable method has been shown useless (for some questions) with arguments he has never thought about before. And, a scientist usually does not take very well to exposure that his previously reliable intellectual approach, (and often by implication his reputation of being “smart”) is shattered so easily. I think a lot of the materialist evasion after being challenged effectively is a turning away on their part to the truth shown in the argument coming from from a fear of looking directly at the issue, because an entire world-view will be shattered for them, in many cases.
A local church reports that Christianity as a whole has it all wrong. The Reverend Billy Gooseneck of the local Apostolic Beacon church just outside the city limits informs this newspaper that church should not be “dead, dull and boring” but lively like a football game. He mentioned that some scripture speaks of having life “more abundantly.” Supposedly, this “abundant life” means a wild church service complete with screaming by the pastor and some of the congregants. Some members – in fact, most members – “run the aisles” in the midst of fast paced music, screaming like wild hogs, reports Jim Robinson, who lives three houses from the church. Other visitors report strange, occult-like practices like ecstatic speech bursting forth from the mouths of congregants, usually called “speaking in tongues,” although no one knows what language they are speaking. This reporter could not recover any records of this Rev. Gooseneck having any college diploma from any accredited, known university. The Rev. Gooseneck claims that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is all wrong. He says that there are not three Gods in heaven, but one. Asked to explain which churches teach that there are three Gods, Gooseneck replied that most churches do, with the exception of Apostolic Beacon.
This reporter interviewed over 30 pastors in this city and could not find any who claims that there are three gods. Furthermore, Gooseneck said that Jesus is the name of the Father. Asked for proof, he replied that Jesus once said, “I and my Father are one.” Pressed for a direct answer and an explanation from the Bible, Gooseneck simply responded, “You cannot understand because you do not have the Holy Ghost.” This reporter asked about this “Holy Ghost.” Gooseneck said that this is the spirit of God that “falls” on people and the person talks in tongues when it happens. Asked for the basis of this idea, Gooseneck responded that the Bible says so, although he could only point to certain scriptures where foreign languages were spoken, but not the ecstatic mumbling that goes on at Apostolic Beacon. Asked what language this causes people to speak, Gooseneck responded that it was a “heavenly language.” Asked for the basis of this idea, Gooseneck responded that those with the Holy Ghost just “know” these things. Asked why people ran around screaming and shouting during church, Gooseneck could only point to the scriptures where during the Day of Pentecost people thought those in the upper room were drunk. Asked for specifics from the New Testament about running around, shouting, dancing, screaming, moaning, Gooseneck could not respond and just said this was the way the early church did it. This reporter could not find anywhere in the New Testament where churches acted so strangely. Gooseneck then said that unless one was baptized in Jesus’ name and filled with the Holy Ghost and talking in tongues, one would go straight to hell. Again, Gooseneck could not show this with scripture. Asked why his women only wore dresses, Gooseneck said that pants were men’s clothes. Asked about women’s pants, Gooseneck somehow thinks that this is men’s apparel.
Others who know church members report that these people are strange. The women are pale faced and have long hair. The young people do not go out to dances and do not make friends with other people. The people appear to be scared of Gooseneck and would only speak about him in terms that he is the “best Pastor” and the “greatest pastor on Earth.” Occasionally, people would go around harassing people in some ritual called “Door knocking.” These people would explain that Acts 2:38 was a “Plan of Salvation.” Traditional churches in the area deny that there is such thing as a plan of salvation.
This reporter will keep an eye on these strange people. They tend to be somewhat at the lower end of the economic scale and are always broke. The pastor demands 10% of people’s paycheck. The regional IRS was asked if this was legal; he responded that it sounded strange, but appears legal – in most cases. Former members of the church were interviewed; they hate everyone and everything about Gooseneck’s church. Church members spread hatred and slander against them after they left. Many went to drug use to cope with the pain inflicted on them. In conclusion, the people of this church are indeed a strange bunch.
Filed by you local newspaper.Lutherius
I am no expert on this issue (I am an electrical engineer by profession), but I have thought about this somewhat. I think that mentally ill people are attracted to Pentecostalism because of its irrationality and also because Pentecostalism condones insane and inappropriate behavior such as screaming, shouting, running, wailing, hopping, and other such things where insane people could fit right in and indulge their theatrics for attention. I think a large proportion of Pentecostal preachers are mentally ill also, given that the overwhelming majority of them are uneducated, and that there is no requirement for rigorous scholarship to become a Pentecostal “minister.” I understand that the level of education one has is not a determinant of mental illness, and that intelligent people can also be mentally ill; I am just speaking in general terms and general trends.
I also believe, based upon my studies, that Pentecostals and many Ex-Pentecostals who have not had appropriate therapy, suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You will find many Pentecostals suffering PTSD symptoms as follows: stomach ulcers, depression, disassociation, troubled sleep, irritability and outbursts, difficulty concentrating or remembering, hypervigilance (like extreme paranoia), exaggerated startle responses, etc.
I encourage all who are interested in PTSD to get “The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook,” by Glenn R. Schiraldi. It is available on Amazon and I have a copy, of which I have found great use.
The problem with the Ex-Pentecostal movement is that the field of psychology has not yet focused upon Pentecostalism; the closest material we can use at this stage of our history is the research done on cults – and, yes, some Pentecostal churches are cults. However, I have looked at PTSD symptoms, and also the symptoms of two other disorders that have been helpful in my studies: Disassociative disorder and De-personalization Disorder. You can Google either of these and find some useful information, and I think many here will see some parallel experiences with our Pentecostal experiences.
I think a core attribute of Pentecostalism is participatory entertainment. The service is always emotional, and people always seek particular emotional states during the service. Take yourself out of the religious zone for a moment. Why do you watch some forms of entertainment on television? Why do you watch horror? You get an emotional state plus sometimes a good story. Why do you watch
Pentecostalism perverts religion and doses it with entertainment. The most common forms of emotional induced entertainment within Pentecostalism are jubilant excitement, terror, fear, horror, sadness and guilt. Remember that when the leaders appear as hypocrites in watching stuff that the congregants are forbidden to watch, the core is still preserved. They shock their audience into thinking that certain movies create demons coming out of their televisions. They shock their audiences into thinking that people with Tourrette’s are speaking forth in demon languages. They induce extreme guilt when they say that smoking a cigarette will send you to the
Think of some of the entertainers in music and on MTV like Maryly Manson, Ozzy Ozbourne, and such. They get their money and increase their audience through shock value. It does not matter if they believe what they are doing or not. Think of nasty political fights on TV where talking heads like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Greta Van Susteren, Michael Moore, Larry King, Oprah, and others say things for shock value to increase the audience. They are all part of the same scam that Pentecostalism uses: scare them, shock them, induce fear and horror at the enemy, induce sadness and guilt and you have tons of entertainment cash coming into your bank account.
There is a large audience out there begging messiahs and leaders to manipulate their motions. Sadly, sometimes we are all suckers. Perhaps our involvement in Pentecostalism will inoculate us from a lot of this mess. Pentecostalism does indeed consist - in large part - of manipulative entertainment.
What makes our truth better than theirs?
I do not approach Pentecostalism with equity. To treat someone with equity requires certain pre-conditions. Scientists generally will not take seriously people talking about things about which they are not trained. Pentecostals are generally deficient in objective rationality. In a rational society, we approach people with more or less equity, but what are the exceptions? The insane, the criminals, children who are not yet rationally developed, and so forth and so on.
I think it is a serious mistake to approach Pentecostalism with equity. This is the major mistake of the mainline churches in my opinion. It is also a defect within the American way of seeing things, and which has spread somewhat over the western world since the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Those of you who have experienced the atmosphere in the mainline churches, have you noticed that they are too tolerant of deviant religious movements in the
Now, there might be an argument from skeptical unbelievers that all religions are irrational and thus equal. This is to be expected in some sense from unbelievers who have left irrational Christianity and have become unbelievers. However, it must be understood that this skeptical position is not based upon a serious comparison and study; it is based upon mirror-imaging broader Christianity with the skeptics own experience – and who can blame them? I was such a person myself for many years, and I fully sympathize with the position. But, it is a fundamentally unserious position to equate Pentecostalism with mainlines or Catholics. There is too much theology supporting the mainlines and the Catholics and there is virtually nothing supporting the Pentecostals and Charismatic position. This is a very shocking thing to contemplate. Most people think that there has to be something supporting the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. No – there is nothing. Read the histories of the movement when it started around 1901-1906. It is pure irrationality which mixed some Christianity with American paganism. The leaders of the movement were ignorant and uneducated with the exception of one out of several dozen leaders.
For a quick summary, the Catholics and Protestants take their reasoning traditions from
This is why Ex-Pentecostals has a “better” Truth, as it were, than the Pentecostals.
[I wish I could expand further upon this basis some time. Perhaps a few of us might be able to do this.]