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Pentecostalism: A personal perspective (part 3)

In 1986 I was emotionally in a place that essentially made me vulnerable to any influence that would correct my state of mind.

I was working long hours, drinking too much, unhappy with who I was and running too much. Going further than that serves no purpose for this piece, nor does the how of my drift into Pentecostalism took place.

I was ripe for the impact of anything that might change me for the better. So, in 1986 I became born again. My life did become better and the influence of the church and its people were responsible.

I became totally involved and I think subconsciously selected from a smorgasbord of goodies those things that enhanced my being.

But I am by nature a curious individual. My favourite word is ‘observation’ and I reinforce its influence on my thinking with my grandchildren as often as I can. For my entire life I have lived with the word “observation” as my closest friend. Deeply so.

In short, why do I mention this? Well, it was the logic of observation that drew my attention to those things that I found incompatible with my version of what I really should be.

Its literalism I found disturbing as I did its attitude to women, that gays were unequal to others and I abhorred the twisting of scripture to denounce women and I vehemently opposed.

The church’s perceived self-righteousness as though they had some sort of ownership of societies morality also disturbed me.

Sexual equality, gay marriage, the rights of women and civil rights in general, those things that were of political interest to me seemed to be of little interest to Pentecostals.

Free speech, Aboriginal rights, sexual harassment, the rights of the child, the environment and climate change, domestic and family violence, equality of opportunity in education, asylum seekers and multiculturalism all seemed to pass them by. Saving souls took precedence.

I always seemed to be fighting with a very right-wing conservative thinking church. After all, my entire upbringing had involved an appreciation of what it was like to be poor and all that went with it.

I think what atheists find most offensive with religion is not only that they reject theist belief, but also the injustice, immorality and hypocrisy that often comes with it.

This newfound church with its preaching that wealth was good was in itself foreign to me.

We are in the world but we are not of it seemed to be at the forefront of their thinking.

In my last post I examined the Pentecostals desire to change communities by saving their souls for Christ.

I said that communities all believing the same thing under some sort of theocracy was undesirable.

Imagine, if you will, a society of converted people all practising western individualism and materialism within a theocracy.

Societies are made up of many differing attitudes, points of view, cultural beliefs, religious beliefs, with atheists, and a smorgasbord of many and differing opinions all competing for your interest.

I am often staggered with the vigour American atheists use to confront religion. However when one examines the conduct of some religious institutions in that country I cannot say I am the least surprised.

Everything in the charismatic church is about self-interest, the institution the individual and capitalism. Narcissism has become a national pastime firmly embedded into charismatic church psyche.

Pentecostals teach that the Holy Spirit gives believers, regardless of their age, gender, class, education or ethnicity the power to save souls for Christ and that only the saved have an afterlife. The rest go to Hell. It’s as blunt as that.

Yes, the church services are smooth with music that attracts musicians and singers on the edge of professionalism. Many of them enter television talent shows.

Similarly, Pentecostalism or evangelical Christianity preaches a form of entertaining sermon that enables the individual – with the help of the Holy Spirit – to achieve beyond that which the individual has previously achieved or is indeed capable

Over the years I wrote and performed in many dramatic productions. I wrote music and lyrics that drew compliments; friends were aplenty but the language I found to be indifferent to intellectual logic and modernity. So literal that it couldn’t challenged.

Here are but five examples (From an article in The Conversation last year by Philip C Almond):

1 Do miracles happen?

“That miracles happen is a central tenet of Pentecostalism. As a religion, it sees itself as re-creating the gifts of the Spirit experienced by the earliest Christian worshippers. Along with the working of miracles, these included speaking in tongues and healings. They remain central features of Pentecostal belief and worship today”

What was it the Prime Minister said? “I have always believed in Miracles.”

2 Divine providence

“According to Pentecostal theology, all of history – and the future – is in the control of God; from creation, to the Fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, to the redemption of all in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In turn, this will lead to the second coming of Christ, the end of the world and the final judgement.

This is why further action on reducing carbon emissions to counter the environmental damage wrought by climate change may have little intellectual purchase with the PM. If the end of the world through climate change is part of God’s providential plan, there is precious little that we need to or can do about it.”

3 Prosperity Theology

“This “have a go” philosophy sits squarely within Pentecostal prosperity theology. This is the view that belief in God leads to material wealth. Salvation too has a connection to material wealth – “Jesus saves those who save”. So the godly become wealthy and the wealthy are godly. And, unfortunately, the ungodly become poor and the poor are ungodly.

This theology aligns perfectly with the neo-liberal economic views espoused by Morrison. The consequence is that it becomes a God-given task to liberate people from reliance on the welfare state.

So there is no sense in Pentecostal economics of a Jesus Christ who was on the side of the poor and the oppressed. Nor is there one of rich men finding it easier to pass through the eyes of needles.”

4 Exclusivism

“That said, in some ways, Pentecostalism is pretty light on beliefs. Rather, it stresses an immediate personal connection with God that is the exclusive property of those who are saved. This leads to a fairly binary view of the world. There are the saved and the damned, the righteous and the wicked, the godly and the satanic.

In this Pentecostalist exclusivist view, Jesus is the only way to salvation. Only those who have been saved by Jesus (generally those who have had a personal experience of being “born again” which often happens in church spontaneously during worship) have any hope of attaining eternal life in heaven. At its best, it generates a modesty and humility at its worst a smugness and arrogance.

So only born-again Christians will gain salvation. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, and non-born-again Christians are doomed to spend an eternity in the torments of hell.”

5 Pietism

“In principle, the PM’s faith is “pietistic”. It is about the individual’s personal relationship with God. So faith is focused “upwards” on God in the here and now – and the hereafter. The result is that Pentecostalism is weak on the social implications of its beliefs. Social equity and social justice are very much on the back burner.

So you would not expect from a Pentecostalist like Morrison any progressive views on abortion, women’s rights, LGBTI issues, immigration, the environment, same sex marriage, and so on.

It would be difficult, for example, for a Pentecostalist to reject the Biblical teaching that homosexuals were bound for hell. The Prime Minister recently did so. But only after first evading the question and then through very gritted teeth.”

Nothing has ever stood in the way of science and technology. Its advancement has been staggering. So why are the conservative political and religious forces so opposed to it? I hope that these five beliefs answered the question.

I have not in the writing of this piece so far personalised it to the degree that some have asked me to. I will make some attempt now.

As to why I stayed in the church for some 20 odd years I find difficult to clarify. Suffice to say that we were surrounded with friends, work preoccupied me and I was well respected within the church.

It wasn’t until I retired and went to live in the country that I started questioning my belief in God.

At some point – while walking our dog Oscar – I asked myself a simple question what is it you truly believe in?

And so a battle began within me that has lasted more than a few years. I read the works of the popular atheists Sam Harris, Richard Hawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and others.

I became enthralled with the logic of their intelligences. I watched many debates on the Internet and read many articles on the subject.

Along the way I found the Uniting Church and in terms of theology they are like chalk and cheese with the Pentecostals. They have a strong belief in science and follow the teaching of Jesus.

Of course, it was Mikael Gorbachev who said that Jesus Christ was the world’s first socialist.

I became friendly with ministers of that faith who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ; who were of the same political ilk as I was and who had the same interest in social justice, as I did.

I began writing religious articles for The AIMN.

The Future of Faith in Australia was one title, another on the Ten Commandants and another on the virgin birth of Jesus.

I smothered myself in a critical analysis of religion in general.

I studied the complexity of the Book of Revelation. The so-called explanation of the end times that Pentecostals are so fond of quoting, and found no concord within its pages.

The study of free will, I thought, was an important foundation of rational thinking and a requirement for an objective application of thoughts to actions.

However, its application, I found, is constrained by pre-determined facts that limit free will, and personal action.

In Christian doctrine, the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead confronted my learning and something to me that could only be accepted in faith even though it is central to the Christian affirmations about God.

In the journey I had undertaken, as soon as six questions were adequately answered another six arose and I expect this will happen until my last days, and the implausibility of many things will remain unanswered.

The reader will no doubt be interested in just where I am now in my quest for the truth. I shall try to answer my own set of questions.

Are you an atheist?

When asked as to my belief or otherwise in religion, or indeed my atheist thoughts, I can only say that I am in a perpetual state of observation, which of course is the very basis of science or fact.

Do you believe in God?

There is no evidence to prove that there is and none whatsoever to suggest there isn’t. But on the balance of probability I would have to answer “no”.

Faith is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact.

How would you describe yourself?

I think we humans still have much to discover about ourselves. For example, logic would seem to form the basis of our thinking. Just what percentage, we don’t know, but neuroscience is beginning to expose and reveal the basis of logic, belief, and disbelief, uncertainty, why we lie, why we commit atrocities and many other things. We still have a long way to go.

We are yet to discover the function and importance of emotion and reasoning in our person. Which of the two has the most relevance in our daily lives. How many decisions are based on our emotion rather than our logic?

So I would describe myself as nothing but an observer of life, a theorist, or a thinker. In short an ‘observationalist’. But I cannot deny that the church and some like-minded people within it changed me for the better.

Note: This has been but a small part of my thinking on this subject. It was just impossible to put a lifetime into a couple of thousand words.

Link to Part 1

Link to Part 2


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  1. Michael

    A good book I’m reading now is “The Enchantments Of Mammon”, by Eugene MaCarraher. Deals with Capitalism becoming the religion of modernity, and the corruption of Christianity by it. Worth a read.

  2. Pingback: Pentecostalism: A personal perspective (part 3) #newsoz.org #auspol - News Oz

  3. New England Cocky

    The evolved theology of the Roman Church has much to answer for. The Prophet questioned the self-righteous secrecy of speaking in Latin rather than a local native language and Henry VIII, for equally self-righteous reasons, had an English language Bible put in every Anglican (Protestant) church.

    Meanwhile the Roman Church held that then Universe was geocentric until 1948, contrary to the many well replicated scientific experiments.

  4. Grumpy Geezer

    A very compelling series of articles, John.

    Your point that there is no evidence….none whatsoever to suggest there isn’t ( a god). Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris would likely disagree, as would Hitch if he was still around. Regardless, you’ve certainly laid out a thoughtful Morrison explainer. Good stuff.

  5. johno

    I think scottyfrommarketing would have to fit into the smugness and arrogance category.

  6. Harry Lime

    No wonder this country is in such a shambles, with cockheads like the Liar calling the shots,world’s foremost hypocrite.Jesus save us from fools like this.You can consider me unsaved.

  7. Ray Tinkler

    Once a religion becomes militant i.e. it’s leaders and members believe that it must pursue the acts of converting unbelievers by the forces available through the powers of states and politics, it has become just another evil dictatorial human invention.

  8. Sammy

    The catholic church emptying the holy water and not placing wafers on the tongues of its followers to prevent the spread of coronavirus tells a lot IMHO.

    People just need to grow up and believe that there is not some overall all powerful presence who is going to make everything ok and start taking responsibility for themselves.

    Great set of articles. Enjoyed the read.

  9. DrakeN

    I repeat [endlessly] my view that:

    “Religions are the longest running, most successful confidence tricks ever imposed on humanity.”

  10. Michael Taylor

    These seem like seriously weird people.

  11. Jano from the Gong

    God knew you were vunerable ..John ..at that point of time in your life ..So he called you !!!!!!! ..so you could experience the full gospel experience !! , The holy spirit inside of you ..A one on one relationship with the living God ..!! But now you call this into question . I must be crazy ..its not real ..so i will try figger it out in my head ..use my own common sense ..and be hood winked by other out side influences ,,Satan is the God this world . and this.is the world mentality in a very subtle way ..the slithering lies ofl of the serpent and the world’s philosophy ,,The trail of the serpent ..The evil one is everywhere ,,its so subtle . You can read this crap and false doctrines and its attacks on the keepers of the christian faith ! . (.For satan knows the time is short ) ………….

    Normal christianity ..Is learning, reading the scriptures .doing practicle things . putting your faith in action .

    But the spiritual side- is neglected .Because, most christian churches are blinded to the Holy spirit and the gifts of the spirit .
    They think ,it was only for the ancient part of the new testament ..what a load of rubbish !! I say ,,………………….

    The scripture’s says (..God is the same , Yesterday ,today and forever -…). Open your spiritual eyes ,, For God is a spirit and those who wish to follow him..must do so in spirit and truth .. ! ……..

    what was said about the gifts of the spirit and holy spirit in the new testament ..Is still just as valid today in light of the scriptures ..

    God still heals , God still saves .. God is still in control . .Despite our blindness to this !!………

    The book of Acts , was when the day of pentecost came ..Jesus went up into heaven .after his ressurection ..Then the holy spirit came . Its described in the first couple of pages in the Book of acts ,

    The day of pentecost is still ongoing . some pentecosts- may have mis contrued things ,warped things ..Gotten off the beaten track .. Satan the roaring lion .He will do what he can .To cause mayhem and disunity amongst the community of all christian faiths !!

    Unity- in Faith, Hope n Love- are the 3 great tenets of the faith ! But , the greatest is Love !! …why ?

    John 3;16 ..For God so loved the world .he gave his only cherished Son ..That who so ever believes in Him .would not perish .but have ever lasting life ! ………………………..

    we can freely chose .worldly advice and philosophy..And our own thoughts ,our own old self thought patterns- or be renewed in the mind, by the washing and cleansing of the word .The gospels ..!!! The teachings of Jesus .! Free will in that regard ,,which advice is best ,,Jesus or the world or your weak thought patterns ???? ………………………

    Dont invest in the world and its ways and philosophy ,,Invest in Jesus , and your return – will be eternity ! Amen …

    Let social justice .also be a thing of concern , and show love and stand up for what is right ..call out the bad ,,

    But grace and forgiveness , must prevail . cause- Love conquers all !! cheers ..John Lord ..A good read ,,

  12. David Stakes

    Interesting to ponder what happens after we die, is there a existence after. Nobody has really proved that yet. And really what is it like to not exist. This is what scares people the most. But like taxes we cannot avoid it. Well some can avoid the taxes bit.

  13. Jano from the Gong

    Hey- Dave ,,,you can count all the grains of the sands on the earth ,,every grain of sand ,on every beach ,, ..But ..Eternity has not even started ! . .. Cause , you can count every grain of sand- Eternally speaking . … So its heaven or Hell ..which way is the sensible truth ..? ( Time with out end ..means ..what it means) ..Eternity with the Lord- or the place you dont want to go ? once you die ..you cant come back to prove who is right !!…………………… ( The beginning of all wisdom – Is the fear of the Lord !!! )

    Dont gamble on this ..Put your trust in Jesus … cheers- Dave ,,

    P.s ,I apologise ,,if it upsets you , or any reader ,,

  14. Vikingduk

    Religion: a man made construct to subjugate the masses, enacted by cunning, conniving men. Forever perpetuating the myth of a virgin birth producing a man (welcome at most parties, water into wine) capable of miracles. As Drake N says, a gigantic con sucking in the gullible. Perhaps this planet is the insane asylum of the universe, all of us sent here, isolated, to experience birth, death, rebirth, on and on until we achieve an acceptable level of sanity or not as our current reality shows we are de evolving at a rapid rate into braindead, greedy, spiteful, hate inspired arseholes.

    Never fear, climate change is coming to a planet quite near to us, do us like a dogs dinner, ask your god and jesus to save you then.

  15. wam

    Good to see you back with the pencil, lord.
    What is the difference between suggestion and proof?
    Your description of religion suggests there is no god? The vastness of space suggests there is no god.
    Inadequacy or indoctrination is the way to god. The latter stems from a lack of science and a need to control society, from birth and the method is through women. The former is through a lack science understanding but is mutable in the use of scientific principles to debunk religion’s concept of god.
    This leaves the simple premise that there must be a beginning, let’s call it god.
    Moebius buggered that theory.
    Those observations do not prove the existence or otherwise of god but they suggest that our existence shows there is less likely to be a god
    Loved your observation in science, lord, because it illustrates the difference of everybody’s ‘truth’ being produced by belief in their honesty.
    I fail to see how any intelligent man, woman or child accepts the concept of a ‘Superman’ much less existent of god.
    Loved your thought but trump suggests otherwise and I would put japan, South, Korea and China ahead with Germany the first white country.
    Although this sight suggests otherwise:


    Whatever the rabbott, thanks boobby, made sure we dropped out with turnball and smirko keeping us languishing somewhere

  16. Merkin Wetkecks

    Pentecostalism attracts the most hypocritical people because it appeals almost exclusively to the wealthy or those who have schemes that will make them wealthy. They choose to ignore the rupting of the moneylenders tables and, choose to disregard – or te-interpret – the ‘eye of a needle’ comment about rich men, preferring ‘render unto Caesar’ by assuming that by citing Caesar as meriting being rendered unto, he actually meant them.

  17. Jack Cade

    Pentecostalism: ‘Avarice in Wonderland’.

  18. Jano from the Gong

    As i suspected ..so many blinded idiots ..who have no clue on christian spiritual things ..Just cheap shots at who ever they can injure ….just to insult ..Inflame and cause unjust, fark wit comments ,,!! Hell n heaven is real .. but you – the blinded – wanker ,,you dont give 2 farks ..(.just what Satan wants !!! a gullible ,,blinded fark wit ..’ ….a troll on streroids ..) Go jump into the lake of fire ..you wont be so insulting then ..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Grumpy Geezer

    Seems Jano is experiencing the holy spirit. And condemning many of us to eternal fire and brimstone.

    Are you pleased we’ll burn Jano?

  20. John lord

    The latter comments are a little puzzling but what l would expect.

  21. Ferkin Wanknot

    Grumpy Geezer

    I think it’s called ‘speaking in tongues’. It’s code for ‘Love thy neighbour’.
    I think.
    Or maybe it’s not…

  22. Peter F

    John, If we return to the simplistic understanding of the earth, the sun, the stars and the sky (the firmament?) believed in by those who wrote the bible, I am forced to consider that is was possibly a complete waste of energy and material for the universe as we understand it to be created. If it is all for us, and no-one else, why not create it exactly as described in the bible?

    I do accept your description of the Uniting Church.

  23. Michael Taylor

    Who the hell is Jano? And who gave her the gong?

  24. johno

    Sorry jano, but DON’T fall for the hell/satan bollocks.

  25. Harry Lime

    Grumpy Geezer, I expect we’ll all be on that wide and easy road to everlasting fire,and hasn’t it been a good ride? I reckon the nong gong might be in the same queue,cursing his bad judgment.

  26. Kronomex

    DrakeN @ at 12:42 pm

    I repeat [endlessly] my view that:

    “Religions are the longest running, most successful confidence tricks ever imposed on humanity.”

    I can’t remember where I read the following:

    One of the best tricks Satan ever did was create religion.

    I really think that “Jano from the Gong” should be renamed “Jano from the Bong.”

    “…Is the fear of the Lord !!!” Isn’t the magic sky fairy supposed to be all about love? And, anyway, if the magic sky fairy did exist and created everything it certainly wouldn’t be wasting all it’s time catering to to whims and demands of a tiny bunch bipedal protons and neutrons quarks on one electron of a planet in the entire universe.

  27. LOVO

    Sinners all, prepare thy soul !!!!!!!! or you may face an onslaught of the exclamation mark…..word, bro!
    I myself can feel the pull of ‘below’ at this time…..😈
    but hey, …. I like cellars. 😇

  28. Michael Taylor

    You’d know a lot about sinners, LOVO. You and Bacchus have sinned many times. 😜

  29. paul walter

    It is good deep stuff and enables me to claim agnosticism. I like neither the too severe Dawkinsite line, but definitely loath the tooth fairy stuff of Pentecostalism.

    Keep an open mind, friends have told me and who, indeed, knows the answers to certain questions in a universe where every/ anything could be possible.

    That I am sitting here in front of a desk typing this is both banal and fascinating.

    I can’t think of any good reason why “this” is even “here”at all,
    let alone have the cognitive resources to even begin to work out purpose, mode, value and meaning,
    if any.

  30. Jack sprat

    Pentecostalism’s number one tenet “salvation has never been cheap “so hand over your money.
    That money the church does not pay tax on . They merchandise the ultimate capitalistic product ,
    One that cost nothing to produce let alone exists ,but which they can charge anything they like to a consumer to buy . As with any product making extraordinary claims buyer beware .
    Now with a pentecostal prime minister voter beware .

  31. Ray Tinkler

    “Now with a pentecostal prime minister voter beware” . Not just beware, Jack sprat. Be terrified. Because this guy is not in politics because he wants to represent the people, but because he wants to push his religious beliefs onto them. This is an old story, the world has seen it before. It caused a period of history called “The dark ages” and cost many lives. What was it he said when assuming the Liberal Party leadership and PMship by default, about getting peoples heads right, because they must get their heads right and I will get their heads right. He wasn’t just referring to the political right, that was only a small part of it.

  32. paul walter

    Yes, in the end it is very hard not to go along with the sceptical comments from most commenters here about fundamentalist stuff being an american sales pitch rather than something to do with peoples needs instead of their wallets. It is horribly controlly stuff and cultish stuff always seems to end up in the exploitation of vulnerable people.

    Is there any thing more loathsome than having to watch sleek American demagogues doing this vile, personalised and guilt inducing stuff before crowds in the USA?

    Nuremberg rallies are not we need in challenging times.

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