General Council of The Assemblies of God in The United States of America - History - 1930-1979 - Relations With Other Denominations and Renewal Movements

Relations With Other Denominations and Renewal Movements

Between the World Wars, the movement kept a relative isolation from other Pentecostal and evangelical groups, but after World War II, the AG started an approximation with Pentecostal groups overseas. Like the Federation of Pentecostal Churches in Germany and the Assemblies of God in Australia, at that time many national denominations came to affiliate with the U.S. fellowship. These partnerships would later develop into the World Assemblies of God Fellowship. As well as establishing fellowships in other nations, the AG also began to communicate with other U.S. churches. The Assemblies of God was a founding member of both the National Association of Evangelicals and the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America (now Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America).

In the 1950s, the AG was challenged by the Latter Rain Movement, which began among former members of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, the AG's Canadian counterpart, and quickly spread to the United States. The "New Order" as it was known was highly critical of denominations, such as the AG, and taught that the gifts of the Spirit are channeled through church elders and are given to others by the laying on of hands. However, the Assemblies of God and other classical Pentecostal groups maintained that the charismata are not personally received or imparted but are manifested as the Holy Spirit wills. In 1949 with a meeting of the General Council approaching, there were fears that the fellowship might split over the Latter Rain issue, but in the end, the General Council was united against what were seen as the excesses of the movement. A General Council resolution specified six errors which included: imparting, identifying, bestowing, or confirming gifts by prophecy and the laying on of hands. It also rejected the idea that the Church is built on present-day apostles and prophets. The Latter Rain theology of no pre-tribulation rapture and the manifested sons of God teaching were condemned as heresy. The Latter Rain and the Salvation/Healing Revival of the late 1940s and 50s would be a major influence on later renewal movements.

The affiliation of the Assemblies of God with the National Association of Evangelicals in 1942 signaled the AG's alignment with evangelicalism and its opposition to mainline Protestantism and the ecumenical movement. The AG and its evangelical partners agreed on most issues and shared similar world views though the AG's Pentecostal distinctives—Spirit baptism and the operation of spiritual gifts—were not embraced by most evangelical Christians. The AG's response then to the charismatic movement that began in the 1960s was a cautious one, affirming the move of the Holy Spirit yet urging that all revival must be judged by scripture. For the first time, beliefs and practices which had largely remained confined to the classical Pentecostal denominations began to impact mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic churches on a large scale. The fact that this occurred in these churches (which were historically seen by Pentecostals as suspect), the multifaceted nature of the movement owing to the many different traditions its participants came from, and the perception by Pentecostals that the movement was based too much on experience and not on biblical teaching led some in the Assemblies of God to see it in relation to the ecumenical movement.

The charismatic movement forced a reevaluation of what it was to be Pentecostal. The Assemblies of God understood Spirit baptism in the context of baptistic evangelical theology and, by the 1950s, emphasized certain doctrines and practices as requisite for Spirit baptism. Charismatics challenged these views by claiming to receive Holy Spirit baptism outside of this context (such as remaining in liturgical churches, failing to reject sacramental theologies, and not adopting Pentecostal taboos on dancing, drinking, smoking, etc.). On the local level, Assemblies of God churches were influenced by the charismatic movement. Some charismatics left their original churches and joined less formal Assemblies of God congregations. In addition, the contemporary decreased emphasis on traditional Pentecostal taboos in the AG is in part attributable to the charismatic movement, which accelerated a trend already in existence.

Read more about this topic:  General Council Of The Assemblies Of God In The United States Of America, History, 1930-1979

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