I Witnessed A Baptism, and it Made Me Mad as Hell.

12047815_10153749059760087_1392352053_nYesterday, while making my rounds in the small community of Mindo-Ecuador, I witnessed a baptism. The folks participating in the baptism were not from Mindo, but from Quito, one of Ecuador’s major cities.  They were using a public swimming area and there was many other activities going on there simultaneously.  They were dressed very well, but their attire was certainly not the norm for people coming from outside to enjoy Mindo’s biodiversity and abundant tourism activities.

I watched as they prepared for the baptism. Two men with suits and ties minus jackets, stood in the river’s water with their bibles and ‘preached’ before receiving the candidates for submersion. I listened to the words they were saying very carefully and didn’t hear anything that struck me as strange. They explained what baptism signified to them and paused for some music now and again.

I became curious about what church they represented and decided to ask one of the people on the river’s bank. I approached him, greeted him, and asked. He looked at me, dwelled on my tattoos, earring, and the clothes I was wearing and decided not to answer. “Maybe he’s deaf” I thought, or maybe my Spanish was a bit off. I repeated my question annunciating very clearly. He looked at me again and then I knew. He wasn’t going to talk to me because of who I was, because he had made a judgement about my character, my life, and what he thought I represented. I’ll have to admit, THAT caught me off guard. In fact, it made me just a bit angry. I got over it quickly. No big deal.

Not to give up so easily, I crossed the river and circled to the other side where the bulk of the people from that congregation were standing. I asked another gentlemen the same questions; “What church do you represent?” and “Where are you from?” Initially he gave me the same sort of Star-Trek scan, but decided to answer. His answer intrigued me. He said, “We represent a church that is expanding greatly in this region.” “A bit cryptic,” I thought, so I pressed a bit. “What denomination do you represent?”  Then he told me what I already knew.

They were members of an Evangelical Apostolic Church. That’s code talk for “Oneness Pentecostal,” “Jesus Only,” Sabellians” or “modalists.” In a nutshell, they teach that there is only one God, but deny the tri-unity of God. In other words, oneness theology does not recognize the distinct persons of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The core doctrine of ‘Oneness Pentecostal’ or ‘Jesus Only’ is that Jesus is the Father and Jesus is the Spirit. There is one God who reveals Himself in different “modes,” or manifests himself in whatever form He chooses appropriate to the moment. Modalism teaches that God operated in different forms or modes at different times—sometimes as the Father, sometimes as the Son, and sometimes as the Holy Spirit.

I thanked him for answering me, smiled, and spoke peace over him. I then returned to other side of the river and watched as the baptisms continued. That’s when I experienced some inner rage. While trying to calm myself, I heard one of the preachers say “it is through this baptism, that we are saved.” It was then that I became mad as hell. For a moment, I wanted to ‘crash the party’ and start some preaching of my own. I had envisioned climbing to a high rock and delivering some angry apologetic. I didn’t. I internalized my frustration. I screamed to myself, “They’re worshiping a another God,” they’re preaching another Gospel,” and “There is another spirit besides the Holy Spirit at work here.”

The man I spoke to was right, their ‘church’ was expanding greatly in this region. “Why???” I thought. “Why do these people want this false religion, false god, and why do they embrace this bastardized gospel? Harsh, I know, but I’ve seen the fruit of that gospel. I’ve seen it’s destructiveness. I’ve seen how it robs people of their freedom and peace and joy in Christ. Yes, I was getting more and more angry as time went on.

So there I stood fuming. I’m not one to get overly angry about things like this, but this got to my core. I had to take a step back and analyze my thoughts and ask God to reveal the source of this anger. Here’s what I perceived;

I was mad because of their ‘success’ in penetrating many communities here in the Cloud Forest Region.

I was mad because the people settled for it.

I was mad because they were forming/planting churches all over the place.

I was mad because their twisted gospel was spreading like a dry forest’s fire.

I was mad because I believed they knew they were choosing falsehoods, religion, and superficiality over genuine faith.

I was mad because they seemed more faithful than me in getting out their message then I was at getting out ‘my’ message. 

While thinking these things I watched as those who were baptized were brought up onto the river bank afterwards and ‘expected’ or ‘pressured’ to manifest an ecstatic display (speaking in tongues) to ‘prove’ that they were really saved. It was after seeing this that my anger became sadness. I prayed that God would bless this group with His truth, peace, and grace. I also asked Him what He wanted me to do about it.  The answers came immediately. And while there was no new insight these words came to mind;  “Stay in motion.” “Keep preaching ALL of the gospel.” “Keep pushing gracefully forward and under MY power.” “Don’t jettison your calling.” “Don’t be jealous of the successes of religion.” “Persist through trial, love people, don’t become a peddler of religion for personal gain.” “Keeping speaking the truth person by person, life by life, and encounter by encounter. “Answer every honest question, to the best of your ability, that hints of ME working in their hearts.” “Avoid the desire to win arguments or souls.” “Make Disciples.” “Oh, and one more thing… be ready to give a defense OF THE HOPE within you.”

With all of this in mind, I’d like to ask you a few questions…

Does being wrong about the Trinity (The Triune Nature of God), disqualify a person from having a relationship with Him?

Are people who deny God’s triune nature worshiping another god, preaching another gospel, and operating under the power of another spirit?

When it comes right down to it, do you believe that people willingly choose to accept the lies or are truly deceived? 

One more…

Was my being ‘mad as hell’ justified?

 

 

0 thoughts on “I Witnessed A Baptism, and it Made Me Mad as Hell.

  1. Marshall says:

    Would the following declaration by Simon Peter also anger you?

    “…the type/representation of which: bathed-to-clean-water [baptism], now is saving you — not of removing filth from flesh, but inquiry/appeal on-to God for a good/clear/clean consciousness/chorus-of-senses through [the] rising of Jesus Christ.”
    [I Peter 3:21]

    Pentecostal Oneness is able to advance upon those who have neglected (by way of their systematic theology?) that Elohim is One, and/or how that the Spirit sent upon His own does “manifest”. Surely-consequently, this denomination has come along to take advantage of a “hole” in faith with another (twisted) system of theology and praxis.

    When nothing true is truly neglected, then it be far more difficult for error to jump in alongside, or across the river.

  2. phubert28 says:

    I’m sure you understand some of their reaction, since we all tend to judge what we see and have conceptions based on experiences. This is part of ‘pre-judging’ that is can be a precursor to prejudice, but isn’t necessarily.

    If we belong to Christ obediently, then I don’t know that “mad as hell” would be appropriate, though I can also see an argument FOR it. I am so often saddened seeing those who divide us with their insistence on HUMAN interpretations of scripture that are NOT from the Holy Spirit. And Oneness IS one of these, as are the Judaizers (whatever they are called today), the “King James Bible ONLY” people, those who follow “Replacement” theology and others, I’m sure.

    WILL the Oneness people see heaven? I can’t say. Surely not as a group because we know NO ‘group’ is saved, only individuals. So, it will always depend on the individual heart judged by God alone. We DO know what scripture has to say about penalty for leading ‘one of these little ones’ astray, so false doctrines are strongly cautioned.

    Now, I have been refused Communion at one Lutheran church by a pastor I very much respect because I could not affirm the language in the Order of Service bulletin which declares the body and blood of Christ are “Literally in and under the bread and the wine” – and they DO use WINE. To me, “literally” must in this case mean “physically present”. I don’t relate to “literally” “in and under”. So, what is to me a logical inconsistency is to them a failure to correctly follow the truth as they declare it.

    THIS, to me, is another form of division I really cannot see God approving for the Body of Christ. Likewise forms of water baptism.

    My refusal online to accept this or that divisive position has led to people blocking me in Google Plus – including some I thought were preaching VERY well and effectively – until they began to cross-over into exclusionary and false (e.g. anti-Israel) teachings. And NEED I wonder where such things come from???

    I can’t answer your first two questions beyond “God knows, person by person”
    Your third question would be yes for both. Some choose, many, I think, are deceived. I’ve met (or should I say ‘encountered’ if meeting online isn’t called really ‘meeting’) so many (including my own sister) who are so easily swayed. Some respond very well (at least for a time) to sound apologetics. The ones who are committed to the lie of course do not. Perhaps that tells us on which side of the ‘yes’ they stand.

  3. phubert28 says:

    Oops, sorry, when I read your REASONS to be mad – I AGREE WITH YOU! – too much scanning (too much material to keep up with).

  4. phubert28 says:

    Finally, however, it seems falsehood is ALWAYS attractive to more people than God’s simple, direct, pure TRUTH. Since we ARE willful beings, isn’t it simply that our WILL gets in the way of our SUBMISSION?

  5. Miguel, I was very interested in your post on the Pathways devotional, about the Jesus only folk that you encountered there. I have more that 13 years of dealing with sections of this group in 3 different Spanish speaking countries. In Spain the oneness folk renamed me “Martin Luther”, because wherever they spread their lies, I was a little bit behind, with the full Gospel. I even offered to debate with their leaders, in an open public debate, at first they said my english was not good enough, but then when a local professor said that I was teaching in Spanish at the University, they changed tack and said that I was “too clever with words” and the Gospel truth was not to be debated, finally they said something near the truth, that as Spain was a majority catholic country, and folk had learned the Trinity since birth, the debate would confuse the people, and they would fall back to that which the knew better, the Trinity.

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