03 July 2012

An instructive example of leadership... from the Assemblies of God?

by Dan Phillips

I said I'd write more about the Assemblies of God today, and I shall — but it won't be the post I intended. That one, I'll bump to Thursday, Lord willing.

Here's why: part of being willing to give out criticism where needed also involves giving credit where credit is due. Believe me, I'd love to do nothing-but. And so, I'm happy to have a case for doing that here and now, and I think it is (or should be) instructive to leaders within "our" doctrinal camp.

In case you're unaware of the recent kerfuffle regarding the Assemblies of God's summer issue of Enrichment magazine, it began here. I noted that the Assemblies of God produced this cover warning of these "challenges" to the Gospel:


Then I wrote more here, and here, focusing on the AOG using Roger Olson to attempt to show what a specific threat to the Gospel it is to affirm the Biblical teaching of God's sovereignty in salvation. Do that, and you lose the whole "God-as-a-big-well-meaning-Jimmy-Carter" motif that Olson finds much more congenial, all of which I discussed here.

The whole development has been remarkable in a number of ways, and I still plan (Thursday!) to focus on a couple that I don't think redound to the glory of the AoG. But before that, one that really does.

Look, in setting the stage for my remarks, I could do the whole chronology thing here. We could go all the way back to this post from 2006, which features a "what-if?" scenario about T. D. Jakes that makes for almost eerie reading in these post-Elephant-Room-2 days. We could talk about rightly-beloved and trusted leaders within our own doctrinal ballpark, and how responsive they have (or have not) been to Biblical, high-profile, responsible, substantial expressions of concern over issues as weighty as the Trinity, the Gospel, Gospel ministry, and other matters.

And we could ask: How accessible and responsive have our standard-bearers been? How transparent? How responsive? How real?

So, here's me, happily sitting in a corner doctrinally miles away from the corner of Christendom where the AOG sits. I publish a post on my lower-traffic blog — and out of the blue George P. Wood, who is a Name in the AOG and the executive editor of Enrichment, drops by. He appears in my meta and engages in real, actual dialogue with people to whom he has no accountability, except insofar as he counts us as brothers and sisters in Christ. Wood has no dog in our specific doctrinal hunt, and zero chance of winning any of us to his booth in the fair.

Wood doesn't enjoy prominence because of us and our brotherly support. He doesn't get instant-publication and instant-promotion thanks to us, doesn't fill conferences and enjoy prominence thanks to us. He hasn't earned his position in the marketplace of Christian ideas because he claims to champion convictions we hold dear. Whatever he enjoys in the AOG, we've had nothing to do with it.

Yet not only did Wood weigh in over there, but he has here at Pyro as well, and at some length, and very feistily, and yet fraternally and respectfully.

Wood didn't stick his fingers in his ears and say "La la la, I can't hear you." He didn't pretend he couldn't see us. He didn't strike the pose that he was just too important to be bothered with obnoxious pestering from little people to whom he owed nothing. He didn't drop by, snipe briefly, and then return to his echo-chamber. He didn't send lesser fellow-leaders off with a pat on the head and an assurance that he had Top Men working on it, so they should just shush and go back to buying books and conference tickets.

Instead of all that, Wood engaged.

But wait, there's more.

Wood took the push-back seriously enough to conduct an in-house meeting and deliberation, and now has issued a clarification and an apology. Owning their actions, Wood writes, "the cover art caused offense and confusion, and we regret the error." On the road, Wood also notes that the AOG affirms some central Gospel truths that we also affirm and defend.

Could good brothers in our doctrinal camp learn something from how George P. Wood of the Assemblies of God has handled this misstep? I think so.

And I'll say, better late than never. Because on a great many issues, we're all still waiting.

So as to the AOG, do I think any better of it? Doctrinally, at present, no, for some reasons I plan to explain on Thursday.*

But I do think well of George P. Wood.

* I expect that Wood may offer responses Thursday which, one way or another, will educate us on where the AOG stands today.

Dan Phillips's signature

28 comments:

Frank Turk said...

FIRST!

It's nice to see the spirit move people to the right thing.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Well, that is encouraging to see Mr. Wood respond in that way. And Dan to respond in the way that he did. Bravo to each.

Solameanie said...

I would add one comment to the Assemblies of God and doctrine, as I attended one for several years in my younger days.

I don't know where they stand these days, but at one time the AOG took a very strong stand against the Hagin/Copeland/Kenyon errors (the Latter Rain movement, prosperity gospel and other stuff). In the 1940s, they put out a very strong statement calling it what it is—heresy. Of course, one could argue that their position on da Gifts opened the door for the heresy, but I must at least give them credit for taking the stand that they did.

In more recent years, the late Dr. Opal Reddin, former professor at the AOG's Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, was deeply concerned with what she saw as doctrinal drift in the fellowship. She has gone to be with the Lord, but I hope they heed what she said in her last days.

Another interesting note—I personally know of some ordained clergy in the AOG who lean toward a Reformed view of things, especially eternal security. That might get them in trouble with the hierarchy if it was known, but they are out there.

openid said...

Thanks, Dan!

I look forward to reading your post on AG leadership on Thursday. I think I'll be able to respond to that more quickly than to your post on limited atonement. Regarding the latter, I'm trying to find something new to say on a debate that tends to fall into predictable patterns. Unfortunately, I haven't found that new thing or fresh insight yet. Perhps there isn't one. Still thinking, however.

George

Tom said...

So the past several months have really been all about someone(s) feelings being hurt because they were being ignored...

Got it.

DJP said...

Truly, you are a dizzying intellect, and can look to a promising career as a circus knife-thrower, forever missing the mark as a way of life.

DJP said...

BTW, you want to see why nothing changes at The Top? Study No-Profile Tom's drive-by snark. He just beat someone else to saying the same thing. It was only a question of who and when.

Sean Scott said...

Oh man, I was starting to have panic attacks with no posts since last month! How can you do that to us? Thank you!

Tom Chantry said...
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Tom Chantry said...

The Goofy Concept of this post is that The Good Christians to whom it is written don’t seem To Give Counterpoints whenever The Get Called out. It’s as if They Get Confused and don’t realize The Good Criticism that could help Them Grow Constructively. Instead, whenever They Get Censured what do they do? They Get Chippy.

Sir Aaron said...

Oh that's clever Chantry.

I'm a nobody but I've been critical of the cover. I accept George's apology. I still think Arminianism is a terrible witness of the gospel and is responsible for a great number of evangelical heresies that currently permeate our ranks. But that's kinda an aside.

Jules said...

Refreshing.

Rob said...

Anyone else notice that the cover art does show the "atheism" and "calvinism" parts of the sign pointing in opposite directions? Maybe that's one part of the cover that they got right?

R.C. said...

For a people that confess we are sinners we sure don't confess many sins, do we? I'd suggest humility plays too small a role in our moral assessment of others and that gospel humility needs its place by gospel accuracy. Thanks Dan for showing us an example in George of gospel humility, even from a gentleman we would agree lacks something in the accuracy department.

Robert said...

I am glad that from time to time we see examples of people humbly receiving criticism and responding in grace, as George has here. A couple of people did the same with Frank's open letters. I hope that we are all learning from this and I also hold out hope that people within the TGC can understand that it is OK to actually receive counsel from people outside their group and even (gasp) admit that they made mistakes. Otherwise they'll keep losing credibility and just seem elitist.

Thanks, George, for showing us a good example of how to respond when somebody sees something that we might have missed and needs to be corrected.

Jesse said...

Meh, at least they got the road signs right. You will notice that Calvinism and Atheism are polar opposites.

Jesse said...

Should have read the comments before posting. Derp.

DJP said...

I believe that you get points for being the first here to use "Derp" appropriately in a comment, though. So there's that.

(c:

Tom said...

Sensei,

Just read your snarky riposte. Forgive me, but this is how you guys have come across since ER2:

"Why can't you figure out and recognize how important we are?"

The tributes to Phil have just reinforced this perception.

Glad you're enjoying some recognition from AOG...

DJP said...

How can I forgive you for what you say you're not retracting? Meaningless rhetoric.

Further, I really can't be responsible for your refusal to heed God's warning (1 Cor. 2:11) in preference for your imagined ability to mind-read, particularly given your demonstrated inability (or unwillingness) to word-read.

So when you want to ignore and trivialize every word of an earnest, substantial, documented post about weighty and eternally-significant matters so that you can engage in your own snarky amusement, don't look for a round of applause from anyone who actually cares about and labors to promote these truths.

Tom said...

Sensei,

I don't have to mind read what you and the others here have repeatedly implied in your posts.

Don't get me wrong: I think you guys are right on the issues involved. I just have found it rather amusing how you guys have handled being ignored by the TGC crowd.

I don't post here for other's applause or approval; I trust you don't either.

Tom

DJP said...

So in other words, I'm exactly right, you don't need to read and actually deal with the contents of the post, and you can read minds.

That says a lot about you. And, once again, you provide a vivid illustration why nothing changes at The Top.

It's because of sneering enablers like you.

Meanwhile, back to discussing the part between the white spaces. You know, the actual text of the post.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

I was afraid of this, Tom, given your fondness for mind-reading as opposed to dealing with actual contents of actual posts.

So, to repeat myself: "Meanwhile, back to discussing the part between the white spaces. You know, the actual text of the post."

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Classic troll-behavior, Tom. I've tried to be patient with you, and you're cumulatively well over our previous limit of three; one more, you're banned.

The Blainemonster said...

@Solameanie - I'm coming in a bit late..been a crazy week, but I'm sitting here resonating with much of what you had to say, and I am NOT using a massage chair. When I attended CBC, Opal Reddin was one of my professors. She used to cal me by the wrong name all the time :D. I did hear of her concerns near the end of her time on this earth; weren't someof those concerns regardin Rick Warren??

As for your final paragraph....that's me.

Groovsonic said...

I attended CBC of the Assemblies of God and in my AG History and Doctrine class, I was told that the AG is neither officially Calvinist nor Arminian...although admittedly the vast majority of the people in the movement are definitely not Calvinist. That being said, in my theology classes everything had a strong arminian bent. The AG is supposedly "cooperative fellowship" and not a denomination and so there is a touch of wiggle room on a few issues, so I was a bit surprised when an AG minister friend (with calvinist leanings) showed me that cover.