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Where did you people come from, anyway?
The Assemblies of God as a denomination has its roots in revivals that occurred in the United States around the turn of the century. In the late 1800s, Christians began to hunger more for the things of God, to find a way to experience more of God’s power working in their everyday lives. To this end, both in groups and individually, they started searching the Word, seeking God in prayer, and pressing in closer, hoping to experience more of God.
Those who sought, found. The Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost, they are used interchangably) began moving in these groups, and the results were different from what was found in the churches of that time. People began to experience "a joyous, spontaneous worship and an intense desire to spread the gospel…as in the Bible in the Book of Acts." Of course others had captured a similar thing in times past, but in this movement, everyone who experienced this baptism in the Holy Spirit saw that it was accompanied by speaking in unknown languages. The movement began to be associated with Pentecost (Acts 2) and members of the movement were known as Pentecostals.
In 1901 at Bethel College in Topeka, Kansas, a group of students began researching the association between the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in languages unlearned. Around that same time, one of the first recorded Pentecostal revivals broke out at a prayer meeting at this school. The students came to the conclusion through their research and experience that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is always accompanied by speaking in unknown languages, or tongues.
The revival that began in Kansas spread across the United States to Missouri, Texas, and California. The well-known Azusa Street revivals lasted for three years and spread the Pentecostal movement even further. As the movement gained members, those ascribing to Pentecostal ideas found themselves ostracized from local congregations. They began to meet on their own, and soon hundreds of distinctly Pentecostal congregations were meeting all over.
By 1914, some of the leaders in the movement began to recognize problems with such a segmented arrangement. They needed ways to recognize and credential ministers, to send and support missionaries, and make sure everyone was on the same page doctrinally. The first general council convened in Hot Springs, Arkansas that year, drawing about 300 people from 20 different states and even some foreign countries. They met for five reasons: "doctrinal unity, conservation of the work, foreign missions interests, chartering churches under a common name for legal purposes, and the need for a Bible training school." Out of that meeting, a cooperative fellowship known as The General Council of the Assemblies of God was born in order to "unite the assemblies in ministry and legal identity while leaving each congregation self-governing and self-supporting."
Statement of Fundamental Truths
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What does the AG believe, anyway?
Two years later, the General Council added a Statement of Fundamental Truths to its constitution which has remained virtually unchanged over the past century. The AG does not claim this list to be all-inclusive, but it does hold that they are fundamental doctrines. Below is just a summary of the AG position on each of the sixteen fundamental truths. A complete version, including scriptural backing, is available on the Assemblies of God website.
- The Scriptures Inspired
The Bible, both Old and New Testament, is inspired by God and infallible.
- The One True God
God is the I AM, the Creator, the Redeemer. The doctrine of the trinity is also covered here, whereby God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, distinct, yet three in one.
- The Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died for us on the cross, was bodily resurrected, and now sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
- The Fall of Man
Man was created good, but by willful transgression (Adam and Eve in the garden with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) incurred both physical and spiritual death, which is separation from God.
- The Salvation of Man
The only way to be saved is through Jesus’ shed blood, his work on the cross.
- The Ordinances of the Church
There are only two: baptism in water and holy communion.
- The Baptism in the Holy Ghost
All believers should seek and expect the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
- The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Ghost
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is evidenced first by speaking in unknown tongues.
Christians should live a life of holiness, separated from evil, and continually dependant upon God for help in being holy.
- The Church and Its Mission
The church consists of the Body of Christ, of believers. Each believer has a part and is important to the body. The church’s mission is three-fold: to evangelize the world, to be a body where individuals can worship God, and to build and disciple believers.
- The Ministry
Ministry is divinely called and ordained in order to lead the church in its three-fold mission.
- Divine Healing
God still miraculously heals people.
- The Blessed Hope
Jesus is coming back again to take believers to be with him. It could happen at any moment. This is commonly known as the rapture.
- The Millennial Reign of Christ
The second coming of Christ includes the rapture, followed by the visible return of Christ with believers when he sets up his kingdom on earth and reigns for one thousand years.
- The Final Judgment
Also known as the Great White Throne Judgment, the wicked, both dead and alive, will be judged according to their works. Anyone not found in the Book of Life (in other words, anyone who did not accept Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross and trust in him for redemption), will be confined to hell with the devil, his angels, and his agents that showed up in the last days (Antichrist, etc.).
- The New Heavens and the New Earth
After all that, heaven and earth are recreated.
- The AG was not the only denomination to be born out of the turn of the century Pentecostal movement; the Church of God (which is different from the Worldwide Church of God) traces its roots to the same revivals. Once Pentecostals found themselves on the outside of their home congregations, the white Pentecostals gathered together to form the Assemblies of God and the black Pentecostals gathered to form the Church of God. Doctrinally, the two denominations are very similar. Today, 75% of Assemblies of God membership is white.
- Women can be credentialed as ministers through the Assemblies of God. However, without exception until only recently, divorced people could not. The AG bylaws were recently revised to allow for those who were divorced prior to their conversion to be credentialled. Anyone divorced after conversion, however, is still unable to earn credentials.
- The AG is a very missions-minded denomination. A high priority is placed on sending and supporting both foreign and home missionaries in an effort to spread the gospel around the world. The focus is largely on planting churches and equipping local people to pastor those churches. Today there are 12,000 AG churches in the US and over 210,000 churches and outstations in 186 other countries.
- The national headquarters of the AG is located in Springfield, Missouri.
http://www.ag.org (all quotations taken from this site)
lectures from the History and Polity class at Mount Hope Bible Training Institute...wow it's been a long time since Bible school!
Thanks bookw56 for asking the question that led to the writing of this node. Hope this answers you!