Why We Have Left the AG

Tony Sig
As I noted before, recently I have been in contact with some members of the AG hierarchy who seem sincerely interested in understanding the frustrations young AGers are having with the movement. Some are leaving, others are not pursuing credentials. I have been asked to talk to all my friends who share similar ideals and gather a list of reasons why we have either left the AG, or are staying but not pursuing credentials, or who are contemplating leaving. This whole process has been quite conflicting for me, because of course for a while I was just angry. But having moved on and having not really thought about these things for a while, to talk about them openly makes me feel as if I am only speaking negatively, which is not what I want to do. So I am asking all of you, even you who don’t comment often *cough, Chris & Josh* to either list your reasons or tell your story. Then I can compile them and present them to the people I am in contact with.

p.s. Try to keep it moderately civil 🙂

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8 Comments

  1. I don’t quite fit this category as I’ve never actually been a part of the AG, but I did elect to not pursue credentials with the AG while at NC. I’m in the midst of a four-part series on my blog regarding my journey which will indirectly cover some of the relevant issues.

    http://headquartersbr.wordpress.com/

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  2. I have many reasons for parting ways with the AG, some subtle and some quite obvious but altogether too many to list here.

    Instead, I’ll try to highlight one that’s easy to sum up.

    The overarching theme that Christ seems to have established in his earthly ministry is that there should not be rules and regulations dividing those who can be included, who are anointed or have special privileges within the religious experience from those who are on the outside.

    To make this personal, then:

    Although I grew up in the AG, I guess I constantly fell outside of the prescribed requirements to have any real place other than being another warm body in a pew. I didn’t look quite right (as in, clothes and appearance), I didn’t smile often enough and worst of all, I asked far too many questions at much too young an age. And the people I asked tended to only have writ answers for ‘what’ a Christian should think, but never ‘how’ or ‘why.’ If I pressed on, I was dismissed as a disruptive, rebellious kid so I eventually grew into that role for a time because it was all I had, it was all people allowed me to be. I needed so badly to be noticed and accepted as something, I did whatever I could for that attention.

    There was never a person to step forward with me, all full of curiosity and ideas and questions and most of all a desire to be included and ‘do my part’, no one to step up and take a chance the way Barnabas did with Paul.

    Paul, arguably the greatest missionary of all time, and Barnabas took him in while the memory of Saul, the arch enemy of the early church, was still fresh in people’s minds.

    Consider this; If a modern day Paul walked into an AG church, shortly after his conversion, what do you think would happen?

    As a thirteen year old, I was not a leading activist against Christians, I hadn’t seen that anyone die for their faith, yet I was so easily brushed aside, kicked out of Sunday school classes and discluded from all kinds of activities and any sort of responsibility because of my non conformity and my lack of being ‘filled with the spirit.’ At thirteen!

    I really believe what the AG represents would scarcely let a man like Paul lead so much as a small group study session, let alone hit the mission field, no matter how awesome his testimony. They would need years of proof before he could so much as step onto the platform and strum guitar as part of the sacred worship team.

    There’s just too much you have to prove to the AG to get ‘in.’ I guess I gave up wanting to be ‘in.’

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  3. I am sitting here writing and deleting, writing and deleting, again and again. This is a difficult, painful issue for me and I cannot write this in a formal manner. Much of my heart is with the AG. The people who have had the profoundest impact in my life were AG professors and fellow students in an AG school. Have I left the AG? No. I cannot say that I have ever “officially” joined, but it has been my home for many years. Will the AG remain my home? I cannot say. I do not know. My desire is for it to remain my home, but I cannot with integrity and conscious commit myself, without reservation to these 16 fundamental truths. In order to do so I would render myself a liar and cease to think. Now, the doctrine of the Church is of my utmost concern and in service of the Church I take this very seriously, but I cannot commit myself to something without any reservation. I am also concerned about the Church not being rooted in Christian history. My brothers and sisters, is there no longer any distinction between motivational speaking and Biblical teaching? Can we not know our history? If we do not know our history, then we do not have an identity. And then how can we function? I love my community deeply, I believe in what the AG could be, but at the end of the day in great sadness I cannot commit myself to something in dishonesty, and I fear that the majority of those being credentialed today are entering into the movement with lies and half-truths, because they see no other way. I am not a great person, I have many faults, I have made many horrible decisions in my life, I have hurt many people, and it is only by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that I have been blessed with the community surrounding me, but I cannot become a liar to that which I have been called to.

    Tony, Reed: feel free to clean this up and make it look nice, fix my grammar, punctuation, etc. These are just my thoughts. I don’t know how to present this formally right now. In Christ, JCD.

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  4. I hope that I am not too late, and that I am not intruding by posting here now.

    Leaving the AG for me is a long, slow process which is complicated by familial relationships (i.e. my father-in-law is the pastor of the AG church I attend[ed]). My reasons for leaving are mutually complicated, but can be broken up into at least two categories: Emotional/Experiential Reasons and Theological/Historical Reasons (are these categories in some way related to the much vaunted Shoimakian Line?).

    My emotional/experiential reasons are best summed up by a statement made by one of my friends (I put it in quotation marks, but I am paraphrasing): “Our generation at least partially verifies truth by experience. The AG claims that it will provide us with a genuine experience. For the most part they haven’t come through on that claim, so that leads us to question their truth claims as well.”

    I am not willing to say that all Pentecostal experience is disingenuous, but I am willing to say (without getting too specific or nasty) that my experiences as a life-long AG church attendee, and NCU graduate have left me spiritually hollow. I am willing to admit that it could be a personal deficiency, but I feel it is necessary to explore other Christian traditions in order to find out.

    My theological/historical reasons, are more numerous and complex, but I believe the most important and pressing is my disagreement with AG (and for the large part, evangelical) eschatology. In Reed’s post, he wonders why the AG much expend so much “verbiage” in its 16 Fundamentals on dispensational, pre-tribulation rapture, post-tribulation millennial reign eschatology. Apparently, the AG sees its eschatology as foundational. While I completely agree that eschatology is an absolutely essential part of doctrine, I strongly disagree with the aforementioned eschatological viewpoint. I don’t want to go into the exegetical particulars of my disagreement here; rather, let me skip to the chase: Bad eschatology must inevitably lead to bad Christian ethics, which, in the case of Evangelical America (which has dragged the AG right along with it), has led to bad politics. I am extremely indebted to former NCU adjunct professor Dr. Amos Yong for stimulating my thinking on this point. His example of this phenomenon was that the one and only reason for the AG’s refusal to participate in the World Council of Churches was its eschatological superstition that the “antichrist” would emerge through and along side of a “one-world religion.” Another example could be our country’s foreign policy stance regarding Israel—a policy based on a false eschatology which has led us to blindly endorse the Israeli state, while neglecting to care for the enormous Palestinian Christian population who are being oppressed, grossly violating Christ’s command that his disciples love one another.

    The popularity of dispensational eschatology (with all of its raptures and tribulations and antichrists and beasts, etc.) is at least partially due to the fact that it lets us off the ethical hook in regard to a whole range of issues from poverty to the environment. If Jesus is coming back to engage the Russians and Chinese in World War III, who cares about genocide? Who cares about climate change? Who cares about the homelessness? Who cares about anything? It’s all gonna burn anyway! No better Hermeneutic of the Status Quo has ever been invented than Evangelical Christianity’s dispensational eschatology.

    In short, the AG’s wholesale acceptance of dispensationalism has led to a lousy representation of the gospel—a “gospel” more concerned with whether or not Obama is going to rebuild the temple so he can desecrate it, and less concerned with issues that actually matter (that Jesus actually cares about) like poverty, climate change, and genocide. I seek a denomination or communion that is more comprehensively dealing with these issues.

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