Assemblies of God

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World Assemblies of God
ClassificationEvangelical Pentecostal
TheologyFinished Work Pentecostal
GovernanceCooperative body
ChairmanDominic Ye (acting chairman)[1]
Region190 countries
Origin1911 (WAGF formally established 1988)
Separated fromChurch of God in Christ, Christian and Missionary Alliance, and various other denominations, including those of Reformed and Baptist traditions.[2]
Merger ofSeveral Pentecostal groups
SeparationsGeneral Assembly of the Apostolic Churches, The Foursquare Church
Congregations367,398
Members68,500,000 [3]
Missionary organizationWAGF Missions Commission
Aid organizationWorld Assemblies of God Relief and Development Agency
Official websiteworldagfellowship.org

The World Assemblies of God (AG), officially the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, is an international Pentecostal denomination.[4]

As an international fellowship, the member denominations are entirely independent and autonomous, but they are united by shared beliefs and history. Pentecostalism originated from the Azusa Street Revival of the early 20th century.

This revival led to the founding of the Apostolic Faith Mission in 1911, later named the Assemblies of God in Brazil in 1918, in 1914, of the Assemblies of God in the United States,[5][6][7] the first Finished Work Pentecostal denomination after white ministers separated from the historically African American Church of God in Christ through which many had licenses and ordination credentialing.[8][9][10] Since its founding, in the initial years AG was strongly influenced by Aimee Semple McPherson[11] who was ordained evangelist in 1919 by the Assemblies of God US until she branched away[12] from AG in 1922 and went on to found the Foursquare Church in 1923.

The denomination was formed from several Finished Work Pentecostal groups who held to the doctrine of progressive sanctification that left the Church of God in Christ (a Holiness Pentecostal denomination), Christian and Missionary Alliance (a Charismatic but non-Pentecostal denomination), and various other denominations, including those of Reformed and Baptist origins.[2]

Through foreign missionary work and establishing relationships with other Pentecostal churches, the Assemblies of God expanded into a worldwide movement. It was not until 1988 that the world fellowship was formed. As a Pentecostal fellowship, the Assemblies of God believes in the Pentecostal distinctive of baptism with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

Beginning in 1911, many white ministers affiliated with the Church of God in Christ expressed dissatisfaction with African-American leadership.[13] In 1913, 353 white ministers formed a new church, which gave its own credentials, although still using the same name (Church of God in Christ). In April 1914, after separating from the black-founded Church of God in Christ over disagreements with governance and credentials,[14][15] about 300 preachers and laymen from 20 states and several foreign countries met for a general council in Hot Springs, Arkansas, United States.[16] A new fellowship emerged from the meeting and was incorporated under the name General Council of the Assemblies of God in the United States of America.

In time, self-governing and self-supporting general councils broke off from the original fellowship or formed independently in several nations throughout the world, originating either from indigenous Pentecostal movements or as a direct result of the indigenous missions strategy of the General Council.[17] In 1919, Pentecostals in Canada united to form the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, which formally affiliated with the Assemblies of God USA the following year. The Assemblies of God in Great Britain formed in 1924 and would have an early influence on the Assemblies of God in Australia, now known as Australian Christian Churches. The Australian Assemblies of God formed in 1937 through a merger of the Pentecostal Church of Australia and the Assemblies of God Queensland. The Queensland AG had formed in 1929; though, it was never formally affiliated with the AG in America. The Assemblies of God of South Africa, founded in 1925, like the AG Queensland was also not initially aligned with the US fellowship.

Before 1967, the Assemblies of God, along with the majority of other Pentecostal denominations, officially opposed Christian participation in war and considered itself a peace church.[18] The US Assemblies of God continues to give full doctrinal support to members who are led by religious conscience to pacifism.

International fellowship[edit]

Salem Temple of Cotonou, affiliated with the Assemblies of God, Cotonou, Benin

In 1988, the various Assemblies of God national fellowships united to form the World Pentecostal Assemblies of God Fellowship at the initiative of Dr. J. Philip Hogan, then executive director of the Division of Foreign Missions of the Assemblies of God in the United States. The initial purpose was to coordinate evangelism, but soon developed into a more permanent organism of inter-relation.

Dr. Hogan was elected the first chairman of the Fellowship and served until 1992 when Rev. David Yonggi Cho was elected chairman. In 1993, the name of the Fellowship was changed to the World Assemblies of God Fellowship.[19] In 2000, Thomas E. Trask was elected to succeed Cho.[20] At the 2008 World Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in the United States, was elected chairman.[21] At the 2011 World AG Congress in Chennai, India, D. Mohan, General Superintendent of the All India Assemblies of God, was elected vice chairman.

Statistics[edit]

According to a census published by the association in 2022, it has 367,398 churches and 68,500,000 members worldwide.[22]

Beliefs[edit]

Worship service at Dream City Church, affiliated with the Assemblies of God USA, in 2007, in Phoenix, United States

The doctrinal position of the Assemblies of God is framed in a classical Pentecostal and evangelical context. The AG is Trinitarian. It believes that the Bible is divinely inspired and the infallible authoritative rule of faith and conduct. Baptism by immersion is practiced as an ordinance instituted by Christ for those who have been saved. Baptism is understood as an outward sign of an inward change from being dead in sin to being alive in Christ. As an ordinance, Communion is also practiced. The AG believes that the elements that are partaken are symbols of the sharing of Jesus of Nazareth's divine nature; a memorial of His suffering and death; and a prophecy of His second coming. The Assemblies of God also strongly emphasizes the fulfillment of the Great Commission and believes this is the church's calling.[23]

As classical Pentecostals, the Assemblies of God believes all Christians are entitled to and should seek baptism in the Holy Spirit. The AG teaches that this experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of salvation. Baptism in the Holy Spirit empowers the believer for Christian life and service. The initial evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues "as the Spirit gives utterance" (Acts 2:4), It also believes in the present-day use of other spiritual gifts such as divine healing.[23]

The Assemblies of God ordains women as pastors, which many Christians, especially from evangelical denominations, but also from traditional churches such as Orthodox and Catholic denominations, consider liberal and progressive,[24] putting them in complete disagreement with the other Pentecostal denominations.

While the World AG Fellowship has a statement of faith that outlines the basic beliefs that unify the various branches of the movement, each national AG denomination formulates its own doctrinal statements. The Assemblies of God USA, for example, adheres to the Statement of Fundamental Truths.

Politics[edit]

The most prominent politician within the Assemblies of God is the ex-Australian prime minister Scott Morrison. He has said, "the Bible is not a policy handbook, and I get very worried when people try to treat it like one".[25] In late 2017, Morrison said he would become a stronger advocate for protections for religious freedom.

In Brazil, the local branch Assembleias de Deus has had an increasing influence on politics throughout the early 21st century. The Christian fundamentalist party Patriota is in a parliamental coalition with the Bolsonaro government as well as the centre-right Partido Social Cristão, which is led by two AG pastors, Everaldo Pereira and Marco Feliciano, who were accused in various cases of crime and sexual misconduct. Everaldo was arrested for his participation in a corruption scheme in the state-owned company of water treatment of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Companhia Estadual de Águas e Esgotos do Rio de Janeiro [pt];[26] Feliciano proved his innocence and that he was a victim of a conspiracy planned by former PSC member Patricia Lelis, who was charged with false reporting and extortion before fleeing to the United States, where she was again charged and arrested for the same crime.[27][28][29][30][31]

Another Brazilian politician and AG member, Marina Silva, pursues ecologist ideas and supports the rights of the indigenous tribes of her country. The church leadership has criticized Silva's leftist stances on many issues, such as drug reform.[32]

In the United States,[33] most of its membership votes or leans Republican. During Donald Trump's presidency, General Superintendent George O. Wood attended the National Day of Prayer and praised an executive order allowing ministers and religious organizations to support and advocate for political candidates.[34][35]

Organization[edit]

Hansei University at Gunpo, South Korea.

The World Fellowship unites Assemblies of God national councils from around the world together for cooperation.[36] Each national council is fully self-governing and independent and involvement with the World Fellowship does not limit this independence. The work of the World Fellowship is carried out by the Executive Council. Executive Council members represent different regions of the world and serve three-year terms. Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America/Caribbean, and North America each have four representatives, Europe has three, and the Middle East and Southern Asia each have one. They are elected by the General Assembly. Each World Fellowship member is entitled to send one or more delegates to the General Assembly with one vote. The General Assembly also elects the Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Secretary of the World Fellowship.[36] At both the national and lower level, the Assemblies of God are generally structured around a form of presbyterian polity, combining the independence of the local church with oversight by district and national councils.[4]

The World Assemblies of God Relief Agency (WAGRA) directs its humanitarian work.[37]

Controversies[edit]

In 1916, American pastor F. F. Bosworth, a founding member of the organization, criticized the Assemblies of God Statement of Fundamental Truths for its excessive stance on glossolalia as a mandatory "initial sign" of baptism of the Holy Spirit and left it in 1918.[38] In revising the 1918 declaration, leaders qualified the statement of belief to be understood as the "initial physical sign" of baptism of the Holy Spirit.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Executive Council Directory. Accessed January 13, 2022.
  2. ^ a b James Leo Garrett, Systematic Theology, Volume 2, Second Edition, Wipf and Stock Publishers, USA, 2014, p. 395; "those branches which derived from Baptist or Reformed roots have taught positional and progressive sanctification as distinguishable from baptism in or with the Spirit (e.g., Assemblies of God, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel)."
  3. ^ "Five AG Stats You Need to Know". 11 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Assemblies of God". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Ed F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford University Press Inc. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Accessed 22 June 2011.
  5. ^ Levinson, David (1996). Religion: A Cross-cultural Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-87436-865-9. The Finished Work Pentecostals believed that conversion and sanctification were a single act of grace. The Assemblies of God, created in 1914, became the first Finished Work denomination.
  6. ^ Vinson Synan, The Holiness–Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), pages 153–155, ISBN 978-0-8028-4103-2.
  7. ^ Pereira, Walter Nei (2012-01-06). "Temas bíblicos na escola dominical da Igreja Assembleia de Deus (2000-2009): avaliação teológica e perspectivas". Repositório DSpace da Faculdades EST. Retrieved 2023-08-28.
  8. ^ "Opinion | Washing away the color line". Arkansas Online. 2021-07-11. Archived from the original on 3 September 2022. Retrieved 2022-09-03. Most of the founders who gathered carried credentials with the Church of God in Christ, as it was the only incorporated Pentecostal denomination at that time in the U.S. A large group of white Pentecostal ministers became dissatisfied with this arrangement, and the Assemblies of God denomination was born.
  9. ^ Randal Rust. "Mason, Charles Harrison". Tennessee Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 7 Oct 2022. Retrieved 2022-09-03. Mason dreamed of an integrated church and believed that all races were entitled to equal rights and authority. From COGIC's inception, Mason ordained and allowed whites to join his denomination. From 1907 to 1914, Mason ordained hundreds of white ministers. In 1914, a group of whites left COGIC and established the Assemblies of God. Throughout his tenure, Mason continued to integrate COGIC. A white COGIC pastor named Leonard P. Adams pastored Grace and Truth in Memphis, and COGIC's first general secretary was a white man named William B. Holt. Mason also conducted integrated funerals, baptisms, and worship services. At the height of Jim Crow, Mason allowed blacks and whites to sit next to each other in church. In the 1930s, Edward Hull "Boss" Crump told Mason he could not continue to allow blacks and whites to sit together. However, Boss Crump did not stop Mason from holding integrated meetings. Mason used COGIC as a platform to fight against segregation and encouraged blacks and whites to embrace racial unity.
  10. ^ "Race and the Assemblies of God Church: The Journey from Azusa Street to the "Miracle of Memphis" By Joe Newman". Cambria Press. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  11. ^ Maddux, Kristy (2011). "The Foursquare Gospel of Aimee Semple McPherson". Rhetoric and Public Affairs. 14 (2): 291–326. doi:10.2307/41940541. ISSN 1094-8392. JSTOR 41940541.
  12. ^ "International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (ICFG) | Description, History, Beliefs, & Facts | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 2023-06-24.
  13. ^ Cecil M. Robeck, Jr, Amos Yong, The Cambridge Companion to Pentecostalism, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2014, p. 78
  14. ^ "Church Of God In Christ (1907- )". BlackPast. 2009-03-28. Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  15. ^ Burgess, Katherine. "Bishop Mason built COGIC out of revival, the faith of former slaves". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2022-09-03. You have this very interesting phenomena that at the beginning of racial segregation, the Church of God in Christ as a larger body is interracial," Daniels said. "This interracial impulse will continue to shape the Church of God in Christ in various ways all the way up until you get to the 1950s. … It's this interesting situation where African Americans are supervising white clergy, white pastors during this time of segregation.
  16. ^ Randal Rust. "Mason, Charles Harrison". Tennessee Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2022-09-03. Mason dreamed of an integrated church and believed that all races were entitled to equal rights and authority. From COGIC's inception, Mason ordained and allowed whites to join his denomination. From 1907 to 1914, Mason ordained hundreds of white ministers. In 1914, a group of whites left COGIC and established the Assemblies of God. Throughout his tenure, Mason continued to integrate COGIC. A white COGIC pastor named Leonard P. Adams pastored Grace and Truth in Memphis, and COGIC's first general secretary was a white man named William B. Holt. Mason also conducted integrated funerals, baptisms, and worship services. At the height of Jim Crow, Mason allowed blacks and whites to sit next to each other in church. In the 1930s, Edward Hull "Boss" Crump told Mason he could not continue to allow blacks and whites to sit together. However, Boss Crump did not stop Mason from holding integrated meetings. Mason used COGIC as a platform to fight against segregation and encouraged blacks and whites to embrace racial unity.
  17. ^ William W. Menzies, Robert P. Menzies, Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience, Zondervan Academic, USA, 2011, p. 28
  18. ^ Jay Beaman, Pentecostal Pacifism: The Origin, Development, and Rejection of Pacific Belief Among the Pentecostals (Hillsboro, KS: Mennonite Brethren Historical Society, 1989)
  19. ^ "History of WAGF and its Leadership". David Cho Evangelistic Mission Journal: 9. September 2000. Archived from the original on 2009-03-03. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  20. ^ "WAGF Executive Committee Meeting and 6th General Assembly". David Cho Evangelistic Mission Journal: 11. September 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-03-03. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  21. ^ Assemblies of God USA. "General Superintendent's Office". Archived from the original on 2009-02-16. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  22. ^ Assemblies of God World Missions, Vital statistics 2022, agwm.org, USA, 2022
  23. ^ a b World Assemblies of God Statement of Faith
  24. ^ Joseph, Daniel Isaiah (18 June 2021). "Assemblies of God vs. Pentecostalism: What's the Difference?". Christianity FAQ. Retrieved 2023-06-24.
  25. ^ Nick Bryant (February 2012). "Scott Morrison: So Who the Bloody Hell Are You?". The Monthly. Archived from the original on 11 April 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  26. ^ "Pastor Everaldo e filhos são presos em operação que afastou Witzel do governo de RJ". 28 August 2020.
  27. ^ "Juiz arquiva inquérito que investigava Feliciano por suspeita de estupro". 13 December 2018.
  28. ^ "Patrícia Lélis presa e processada nos EUA, diz Eduardo Bolsonaro". 10 February 2020.
  29. ^ "Pastor Everaldo é acusado de agressão por ex-esposa" (in Portuguese). Gospel Prime. 18 May 2014. Archived from the original on 8 September 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  30. ^ Quintella, Sérgio (1 June 2017). "Jovem conta detalhes do suposto assédio do pastor Marco Feliciano" (in Portuguese). Veja. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  31. ^ Bezerra, Mirthyani; Prazeres, Leandro; Costa, Flávio (13 January 2017). ""Desespero total": Pastor Everaldo (PSC) pediu dinheiro a Cunha, aponta PF" (in Portuguese). Uol. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  32. ^ "Pastor Silas Malafaia critica Marina Silva e vira destaque no Twitter" (in Portuguese). 28 September 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-12-29. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  33. ^ Burge, Ryan P. (11 August 2021). "Assemblies of God Growing with Pentecostal Persistence". Christianity Today. Archived from the original on 6 Feb 2023. Retrieved 2023-02-05. Over the past 12 years, both traditions have drifted toward the right. In 2020, nearly three-quarters of all AG members said that they were Republicans, up about 5 percentage points. Among Southern Baptists, 67 percent claimed to be a Republican, an increase of 7 percentage points. But the share of AG members who are Democrats remained basically unchanged during that time, while declining nearly 7 percentage points among Southern Baptists...The fact that its churches are so politically homogeneous may work in its favor as well. Research has increasingly shown that more and more Americans are choosing their churches based on political considerations. If this is the case, then AG churches portray a clear message to potential converts about their political orientation, making it easy for newcomers to know what the church is about.
  34. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Stands Up For Religious Freedom In The United States – The White House". trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  35. ^ "Trump Signs Executive Order Protecting Religious Liberties". PENews. 2017-05-05. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  36. ^ a b World Assemblies of God Constitution and Bylaws
  37. ^ WAGF Relief and Development
  38. ^ Daniel Castelo, Pentecostalism as a Christian Mystical Tradition, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, USA, 2017, p. 132

Further reading[edit]

  • Blumhofer, Edith L. "Assemblies of God." In The Encyclopedia of Christianity, edited by Erwin Fahlbusch and Geoffrey William Bromiley, 143–146. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999. ISBN 0802824137
  • Blumhofer, Edith L. Restoring the Faith: The Assemblies of God, Pentecostalism, and American Culture. (1993). 281 pp. A major scholarly study.
  • Crowe, Terrence Robert. Pentecostal Unity: Recurring Frustration and Enduring Hopes. (1993). 282 pp.
  • Fisher, Lyndel Eugene, "The Theological Antecedents of the Assemblies of God: Baptist and Presbyterian Roots" (PhD dissertation, University of Memphis, 2011). DA3476380.
  • McGee, Gary B. 'This Gospel . . . Shall Be Preached': A History and Theology of Assemblies of God Foreign Missions since 1959. Springfield, Mo.: Gospel, 1990. 358 pp.
  • Poloma, Margaret M. The Assemblies of God at the Crossroads: Charisma and Institutional Dilemmas. (1989). 309 pp. scholarly study
  • Poloma, Margaret M., and John C. Green. The Assemblies of God: Godly Love and the Revitalization of American Pentecostalism (New York University Press; 2010) A sociological study that draws on surveys and interviews conducted in 22 diverse congregations.

External links[edit]