Monday, February 6, 2012

Six Objections to and Misconceptions about 'The Way of the Master' (Part 5)

Objection #5 - Living Waters (WOTM) is anti (against) Pentecostal churches

While the specific objection regarding Pentecostal churches is not all that common, it does speak to a more common category of objections.

First, Living Waters (WOTM) is not anti-Pentecostal. As I thought about this objection, two people immediately came to mind who are part of the Living Waters family/staff. They attend a Pentecostal church. And they are dearly loved by all in the ministry.

I don't think more needs to be said regarding the Pentecostal issue; but I would like to take some time to address the category of objection in which the Pentecostal issue falls. For the purpose of this article, I will call the category "Doctrinal Determinism."

"Doctrinal Determinism" is the practice of determining particular doctrinal positions of Living Waters (or other ministries and churches), without Living Waters ever taking an official position on those particular issues. There are certain theological issues about which Living Waters will likely never take an official, public position. And any official doctrinal positions taken by the ministry are determined by leaders in the ministry who are above my pay grade.

Silence by Living Waters regarding various theological or philosophical issues should not be seen as a position in favor or against those various theological or philosophical issues. And all members of the Living Waters staff are free to believe, study, worship, and fellowship according to their personal convictions and preferences, without compromising their deeply held spiritual beliefs, so long as those beliefs, convictions, and preferences are consistent with the ministry's Statement of Faith.

Aside from the easy-to-answer Pentecostal question, I will not discuss the doctrinal positions of Living Waters, in this post. If you want to know what Living Waters believes, as a ministry, please read the ministry's Statement of Faith.

There is yet more to gain by addressing the "anti-Pentecostal" objection; and that's helping Christians make the distinction between "non" and "anti" positions. "Non" means "not;" and "anti" means "against." It is possible for a Christian not to hold a particular doctrinal, philosophical, or methodological position without necessarily being against that doctrinal, philosophical, or methodological position.

Here are a few examples I hope are helpful.

A Christian can be non-Charismatic without being anti-Charismatic. Personally, I do not hold to a Charismatic position regarding the more extraordinary spiritual gifts (tongues, healing, prophecy, etc). But I have nothing against my brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with my theological position on the subject. I can (and do) enjoy wonderful fellowship and ministry with brothers and sisters in Christ who would label themselves as "Charismatic."

A Christian can be a non-Calvinist without being anti-Calvinist in their doctrinal positions; just as a Christian can be a non-Arminian without being anti-Arminian.

A Christian can be a member of a non-denominational church without being anti-denomination.

Unfortunately, there will likely always be those within the Body of Christ who will try to determine what another Christian, or church, or ministry believes based on what they don't talk about instead of making the determination based on what they have actually said on any given issue.