Re: The Family International and Assemblies of God
This is a response to Chazz's comments above.
I'm sorry to hear you wasted so much time getting a degree that is as useful as a degree in homeopathy. Studying what isn't there does not prepare you to think critically. You have missed the point of my article and you have made some asinine assumptions. You assume, for example, that I'm not aware of the doctrinal issues involved, or the similarities and differences between Christian groups, so you proceed to lecture me. You write: "The Assembly of God teachings were not derived from the Mo Letters...". Do you really think I'm not aware of that and that you need to instruct me on these issues?
You wrote another comment on my article directly on my blog and in that comment you declared that TFI are not Christians. And here in this comment you go on about denominations and doctrines. I don't give a rat's ass about any of that. You can dispute all you want with other god experts about who is a Christian or not. That's a fool's game. I don't care about dogma. If someone considers themselves a Christian then they are a Christian as far as I'm concerned. That is what is really at that heart of my article. I'm saying that I, the atheist, am not anti-Christian because I'm perfectly content to let people believe anything they want. On the other hand, my Christian fundamentalist accuser is the real anti-Christian because he and his church pretend to be authorities on what Christianity is. I used the example of the dogma on homosexuals as just one obvious way in which my accuser is anti-Christian, choosing to demonize homosexual Christians (remember, from point of view they are Christians too).
What you have failed to understand, however, is that religious freedom always applies to thought and belief, but not always to action. You cite the US constitution on religious freedom, but like so many god experts, don't really understand the concept. Religious freedom means to right to be free from religion just as much as the right to freely believe. You asked: "so what's the problem anyway with how Assembly of God believes?" The fact you had to ask that question demonstrates that you have failed both to understand my article and the concept of religious freedom. If AOG, TFI and other similar fundamentalist Christians were content to just believe that homosexuals are possessed by evil spirits, that would be one thing. But they are never content with just belief, but are compelled to act upon it, which takes them out of the realm of religious freedom. They spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and physically abuse people by acting on their dogmatic beliefs, and that violates the religious freedom (the right to be free from religion) of their victims. Let me ask you a question, what if the Assemblies of God believed in the physical sacrifice of children (remember Abraham, the father of faith?)? Would you then ask what the problem is with their beliefs? I think you would make the same distinction I just made, that it is one thing to believe something, it is an entirely different matter to act on that belief. Religious freedom is not absolute. No one should get a free pass for harming someone else just because they rely on a religious defense, although plenty do, especially in the US.
There is a problem with what the TFI and the AOG believe about homosexuality because of the abusive nature of the way they practice that belief. I used that example for comparison because it is so obvious and I had just posted recent news articles exposing abuses in Teen Challenge, an AOG ministry. But I could have chosen any number of other doctrinal issues. And while I'm on the subject, some people have questioned my sexuality because of the numerous articles on my blog exposing human rights violations of homosexuals by religious groups. No, I am not gay, not that there's anything wrong with that, as Jerry and George would say. But neither am I a woman or a child, and I have far more articles on religious abuse against them. But even on the issue of sexuality you god experts get it all wrong. You wrongly assume there is only one correct sexual identity, heterosexual, and that anything that deviates from that means you are possessed by demons. I don't know how else to read your comments about homosexual deliverance. Deliverance from what?
Finally, do you remember Berg telling the Blind Men and the Elephant fable? He attempted to use it to demonstrate a theological principle. On my blog I've posted two versions of that fable that might speak to you. The first is poem from the 19th century, put to music by Natalie Merchant. The second version is written from a scientific point of view. You can find those at: http://chainthedogma.blogspot.com/2011/02/blind-men-and-elephant-duet-by-natalie.html
Here's the last stanza of the poem, which reminded me of your arguments:
So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!