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Old 1st July 2019, 03:53 PM   #1
Thor 2
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The Pentecostal Phenomena.

Most of the more conventional flavours of Christianity are in decline in the West, although the Pentecostals seem to be bucking the trend. It would seem they are drawing numbers from those leaving the other denominations. Why so?

Have a look at the following extract from a Hillsong service:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7jXASBWwwI

It's a concert!

Is it any wonder these guys are doing so well at the expense of the other denominations. The worshipers get to listen to well presented music and whoop it up, as well as being saved! Just no contest from the Catholics and Anglos.
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Old 1st July 2019, 08:00 PM   #2
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You've pretty much nailed it. Pentecostal "services" (which you rightly name concerts) are heavily scripted and rehearsed, and designed to whip up as much fervour as possible. They have full-time stage managers crew. Participants go home from them feeling genuinely good. They're wound up, they're psyched.

And they've been studying how to do this for a long time now.
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Old 1st July 2019, 08:39 PM   #3
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They suck a lot of teens & tweens in with cool events, too.

Get 'em young and keep them tithing.
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Old 1st July 2019, 08:47 PM   #4
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Funnily enough, the pentecostal church I went to didn't put a great deal of emphasis on tithing. A collection plate was passed around, yes, but there didn't seem to be any pressure for anyone to actually put anything in it. People did, of course, because they felt they should, but no-one was chastised for not tithing, or not tithing enough.

I think that was probably a bit before Prosperity Gospel hit that particular church.
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Old 1st July 2019, 11:09 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Funnily enough, the pentecostal church I went to didn't put a great deal of emphasis on tithing. A collection plate was passed around, yes, but there didn't seem to be any pressure for anyone to actually put anything in it. People did, of course, because they felt they should, but no-one was chastised for not tithing, or not tithing enough.

I think that was probably a bit before Prosperity Gospel hit that particular church.
Many years ago they used to pass a collection plate in the Catholic churches. No specific order was given to donate any amount of money. However, it was the pressure of the people that made you more or less generous. Social pressure makes more Catholics - who claim not to believe in God - than love of Jesus Christ.
I don't know if it's the same in Pentecostal services.
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Old 1st July 2019, 11:14 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Many years ago they used to pass a collection plate in the Catholic churches. No specific order was given to donate any amount of money. However, it was the pressure of the people that made you more or less generous. Social pressure makes more Catholics - who claim not to believe in God - than love of Jesus Christ.
I don't know if it's the same in Pentecostal services.
It's different in different churches, obviously, but I don't recall any social or organisational pressure to donate.
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Old 1st July 2019, 11:47 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Many years ago they used to pass a collection plate in the Catholic churches. No specific order was given to donate any amount of money. However, it was the pressure of the people that made you more or less generous. Social pressure makes more Catholics - who claim not to believe in God - than love of Jesus Christ.
I don't know if it's the same in Pentecostal services.
Re: The highlighted. Huh? Catholics who don't believe in God? I'm sure that there were a number of people in the pews who stayed there out of tradition and because they had friends there even though they questioned the actual beliefs of the church, including possibly even belief in God, but if that's what they were thinking, they pretty much kept those thoughts to themselves. Perhaps I don't understand who you are talking about.

Re: Collection plates: When I was young, I remember for a couple of years there were many sermons (Catholic) devoted to a promotion they were calling "God's Plan for Church Support". They called it that, specifically. It was tithing, although they said that 5% should go to charity, and 5% to the Church. They said that should be 10% of your pre-tax income. I remember saying that I didn't think that made much sense, because a lot of your taxes went to social services, which were essentially charity. Why wouldn't God give you a credit against the tithe for that?


It all seems so silly looking back on it, like arguing about whether only the cheesemakers were blessed, or all sorts of makers of dairy products.



For what it's worth, I know I read a few years back that while church attendance in the Catholic Church was plummeting, there was significant growth among "Charismatic Catholics". Those were folks who had adapted a more rowdy style of services, more like Pentacostals. It was still Mass, and there were still priests and popes and saints and transubstantiation and all that good Catholic stuff, but just done up more powerfully, with a lot more amens and all that. I think that the mainstream churches, where people were rather sedate, was fine when Christianity was so common that everyone felt that they had to belong to a church, but they didn't care enough to shout Amen! Those sorts of people in recent years have decided they don't really need to go at all, and they don't really believe, leaving behind only people sufficiently devoted that they are willing to be more participatory. The churches where that is easier to do are attracting more followers, or at least a much larger share than they used to.

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Old 2nd July 2019, 12:03 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Re: The highlighted. Huh? Catholics who don't believe in God? I'm sure that there were a number of people in the pews who stayed there out of tradition and because they had friends there even though they questioned the actual beliefs of the church, including possibly even belief in God, but if that's what they were thinking, they pretty much kept those thoughts to themselves. Perhaps I don't understand who you are talking about.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Clergy_Project

That's just one example, but it's pretty widely reported in atheist communities.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 01:07 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post

Snip.

For what it's worth, I know I read a few years back that while church attendance in the Catholic Church was plummeting, there was significant growth among "Charismatic Catholics". Those were folks who had adapted a more rowdy style of services, more like Pentacostals. It was still Mass, and there were still priests and popes and saints and transubstantiation and all that good Catholic stuff, but just done up more powerfully, with a lot more amens and all that. I think that the mainstream churches, where people were rather sedate, was fine when Christianity was so common that everyone felt that they had to belong to a church, but they didn't care enough to shout Amen! Those sorts of people in recent years have decided they don't really need to go at all, and they don't really believe, leaving behind only people sufficiently devoted that they are willing to be more participatory. The churches where that is easier to do are attracting more followers, or at least a much larger share than they used to.

"Charismatic Catholics" whooping it up but still holding true to Papist stuff ..... what a winner! Looking down from The Vatican what is the Pope's reaction I wonder?
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Old 2nd July 2019, 01:14 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
"Charismatic Catholics" whooping it up but still holding true to Papist stuff ..... what a winner! Looking down from The Vatican what is the Pope's reaction I wonder?
Last Pope would probably look down on it. Current one would probably laugh. As long as they didn't breach any doctrine, there's no reason why they shouldn't have a little fun. Fun isn't heresy in Roman Catholicism, only in Calvinism.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 01:39 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Re: The highlighted. Huh? Catholics who don't believe in God? I'm sure that there were a number of people in the pews who stayed there out of tradition and because they had friends there even though they questioned the actual beliefs of the church, including possibly even belief in God, but if that's what they were thinking, they pretty much kept those thoughts to themselves. Perhaps I don't understand who you are talking about.
I don't think my dad was much of a believer in God when I was young, although he didn't really talk about it much either. But he did go to church once in a while. It sort of dawned on me gradually that he wasn't a big believer because he never talked about religion and he preferred to watch things like Cosmos or nature documentaries on PBS. Once I reached a certain age where it was safe for me to stay home alone, he didn't make me go to church either.

But, anyway when in church of course, he played the part and naturally would keep those thoughts to himself. I remember one Christmas Eve or some such occasion I thought about going to church with the family. I asked about why I had to dress up for the occasion though. That's when he explained that if you're going to go, you have to do it right, and that means wearing a suit and tie and being respectful of the other people there. So I decided that I didn't really want to go that much. Outside of those rare occasions when he went to church though, you would not get the idea that he was a religious man because he never talked about God or Jesus or any of that stuff (unless someone else brought it up).
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Old 2nd July 2019, 06:14 AM   #12
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When I was a young Catholic lad in the 50s, the collection plate was normal at mass. You could just toss in money.... But if you wanted, there were little envelopes that allowed you to put your cash amount and your name on same....
So that other parishioners could see exactly how much you were putting in the pot.

Our particular church had done an expansion/renovation, and the pastor was mightily concerned with paying down this debt to the dioceses.
As you exited the church, there was a huge sign indicating how much the parish still owed...
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Old 2nd July 2019, 02:51 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Last Pope would probably look down on it. Current one would probably laugh. As long as they didn't breach any doctrine, there's no reason why they shouldn't have a little fun. Fun isn't heresy in Roman Catholicism, only in Calvinism.

During your Pentecostal experience do you recall them doing any wafers and wine thing? I can see considerable possible scope for developing this into something bigger and better, than the sombre efforts of the Catholics.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 05:35 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
During your Pentecostal experience do you recall them doing any wafers and wine thing?
I've been obliquely involved with several and have never come across a Pentecostal church that does the transubstantiation thing, but boy, do they do exorcisms!
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Old 2nd July 2019, 06:53 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
During your Pentecostal experience do you recall them doing any wafers and wine thing? I can see considerable possible scope for developing this into something bigger and better, than the sombre efforts of the Catholics.
Yes, that's a pretty important part of basically any Christian observance as far as I know. My church did tasteless rice wafers and grape juice.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 06:57 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
I've been obliquely involved with several and have never come across a Pentecostal church that does the transubstantiation thing, but boy, do they do exorcisms!
Boy, do they ever! Transubstantiation is a Catholic thing - it's one of the points of difference between Catholic and Protestant. Catholics maintain that it is literal, Protestants maintain that it is symbolic. I'm generalising, of course.

The literal existence of demons was, however, a big part of my experience. Casting them out was pretty much a daily thing. Demons were responsible for everything bad that happened - from accidents to smoking to having trouble with your marriage. They were bad things personified, and they personified basically every bad thing that did or could occur. Anybody could perform an exorcism just by saying "I cast the demon out in Jesus' name". Rarely did it involve any more drama than that.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 09:52 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Re: The highlighted. Huh? Catholics who don't believe in God? I'm sure that there were a number of people in the pews who stayed there out of tradition and because they had friends there even though they questioned the actual beliefs of the church, including possibly even belief in God, but if that's what they were thinking, they pretty much kept those thoughts to themselves. Perhaps I don't understand who you are talking about.
Maybe the phrase is a little more exaggerated than I wanted it to be. I said "Catholics who don't believe in God" because I remembered a survey in which the number of those who declared themselves Catholics in my country was greater than those who claimed to believe in a personal god. As for those who claim to believe in the Bible, they are far fewer than those who call themselves Catholics. My personal experience is that I, who have been an atheist since I was 12 or 13 years old, know quite a bit more about dogma and Christian beliefs than those who call themselves Catholic.
Therefore, the average Catholic's sense of belonging is due more to gregariousness or other reasons than to a genuine faith in God and the Bible. The proof is that when priests say something they don't like --especially about sexual morality-- they ignore it.

I wonder if the atheists we usually discuss with believers aren't losing the North.
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Old 3rd July 2019, 06:12 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
It's different in different churches, obviously, but I don't recall any social or organisational pressure to donate.
It does happen with certain evangelical/pentecostal groups, there is a lot of pressure to "tithe". They're also prominent in people smuggling in some developing countries.
Link.
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Old 3rd July 2019, 08:30 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Yes, that's a pretty important part of basically any Christian observance as far as I know. My church did tasteless rice wafers and grape juice.
Not for my lot. Reeks too much of idolatry and sacrifices! Why would you want to eat god's flesh?

ETA: tithing was very important everyone was meant to donate what they could or the usual 1 in 10. No mention of the amount but not tithing anything would definitely subject you to social peer pressure.
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Old 3rd July 2019, 01:46 PM   #20
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It's not just that it's a fun show: Pentacostal services (and evangelical Christianity in general as whole, which tends to use the same kinds of services) are basically designed to induce religious experiences in followers.

Back when I was doing religious studies as my minor in undergrad, I remember reading several papers on the psychological effects of charismatic/pentacostal/evangelical church services, and how they effect the brain. People get so whipped up, the brain ends up going into trances and other altered states. Those states produce effects that are often felt as tangible religious experiences (people feeling the holy spirit, for example). It's a very powerful feeling. Part of the reason I did research on it in the first place was because when I was a teenager my sister ended up getting baptised and "converting" after going along to a friend's church after school one day. SHe wasn't expecting it at all, because we were both raised without religion (as much as is possible in the US), but she said during the service she felt compelled because it was like God was there and she couldn't explain it. She realized afterward something wasn't "right" and never went back, but that still really stuck with me. It's not isolated to charismatic Christans, either; a lot of shamanic and more traditional religions from around the world featured things like rhythmic drumming and dancing to induce the same sorts of altered state, some modern-day new-religious movements (cults) do the same - the most well-known maybe being Hare Krishnas.

That's why people feel drawn to those churches: why keep going to your boring, traditional church full of ritual you get nothing from when you can go to the fancy new megachurch where you actually feel like the holy spirit is talking to you? That's part of why evangelical Christianity has become so dangerous, too. Because followers feel what is (to them) concrete proof that their religion is real, that it effects them, and that God is personal communicating with them, they're way more strongly tied to their beliefs and convinced of them.

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Old 3rd July 2019, 02:06 PM   #21
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Interesting story about your sister ArchSas, good that she had the mental strength to see through the sham, and get out. I wonder how common this sort of result is. I can imagine someone being a tad embarrassed, if they were told they were rolling about on the floor and "speaking in tongues", after one of these events.
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Old 3rd July 2019, 05:48 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Maybe the phrase is a little more exaggerated than I wanted it to be. I said "Catholics who don't believe in God" because I remembered a survey in which the number of those who declared themselves Catholics in my country was greater than those who claimed to believe in a personal god. As for those who claim to believe in the Bible, they are far fewer than those who call themselves Catholics. My personal experience is that I, who have been an atheist since I was 12 or 13 years old, know quite a bit more about dogma and Christian beliefs than those who call themselves Catholic.
Therefore, the average Catholic's sense of belonging is due more to gregariousness or other reasons than to a genuine faith in God and the Bible. The proof is that when priests say something they don't like --especially about sexual morality-- they ignore it.

I wonder if the atheists we usually discuss with believers aren't losing the North.
Ok. Yes. Agreed.

How the question is asked, of course, makes a huge difference as well. When I was young, almost everyone in the US was Christian. Some were regular churchgoers. Others Christmas, Easter, and funerals. As to their beliefs, most people really didn't even give it much thought. Some absolutely believed in God. Some believed, but didn't pay much attention. Then there were those that went to church just because it was "the thing to do", or because their family and friends did, and they either didn't believe, or they hadn't given it any thought. So, if asked what they believed in a survey, you might get a variety of answers.

Certainly if the priest told them that they had to observe chastity before marriage, that wasn't something they were going to pay a lot of attention to, although some might feel guilty about it. With each passing generation since the invention of the birth control pill, that level of guilt has dropped dramatically.

At some point, though, the number of people who were openly atheist reached a high enough point that it was acceptable. (It really wasn't when I was young.) When it became ok to be an atheist, church attendance plummeted. I think the reason Pentacostalists, fundamentalists, Charismatic Catholics, etc, started being more prominent is that the people who really didn't want to get into the whole "religious experience" because they were just there for social reasons anyway, stopped going entirely, leaving only the fervent believers.

That's not 100% true of course. Not everyone left in the pews is an Amen! shouter. It's just a lot more common, relatively speaking, than it used to be.

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Old 3rd July 2019, 07:44 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by catsmate View Post
It does happen with certain evangelical/pentecostal groups, there is a lot of pressure to "tithe". They're also prominent in people smuggling in some developing countries.
Link.
Not saying I don't believe that. Not at all. It just wasn't a great part of my experience.

Keep in mind though, this was thirty years ago. My fallible memories are all that I have.
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Old 3rd July 2019, 07:46 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Not for my lot. Reeks too much of idolatry and sacrifices! Why would you want to eat god's flesh?
I'd say that was probably the unusual one. But every church is different, right?
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Old 3rd July 2019, 07:48 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by ArchSas View Post
It's not just that it's a fun show: Pentacostal services (and evangelical Christianity in general as whole, which tends to use the same kinds of services) are basically designed to induce religious experiences in followers.
I've said before that there's almost certainly a level of self-hypnosis about it. They really do whip the crowd up into what could probably be described as an altered state of consciousness. Similar in effect to what you'd see at a rave.
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Old 4th July 2019, 05:29 AM   #26
Bikewer
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I can recall when “Pentecostals” (at least, the female variety) were readily identified by their uncut and uncolored hair, lack of makeup, and frumpy outfits.

I take it they’ve abandoned such things? I don’t recall any similar strictures for the men....
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Old 4th July 2019, 01:32 PM   #27
The Atheist
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
I can recall when “Pentecostals” (at least, the female variety) were readily identified by their uncut and uncolored hair, lack of makeup, and frumpy outfits.
That sounds more like Brethren, where it is very much still in force.

I used to hang out with a lot of Pentecostal youth in the '70s and the chicks wore makeup & nice clothes and had haircuts. I've had plenty working for me in the meantime and not seen any evidence of the religion influencing appearance.
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Old 4th July 2019, 06:23 PM   #28
arthwollipot
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My pentecostal church was always "hip" and "with it".
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Old 11th July 2019, 03:19 PM   #29
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Just found out that a member of my club is an ex-Pentecostal preacher. He confessed to some embarrassment, about this blemish on his past, but given that his father was a clergyman, we concluded he really didn't have a chance.

My friend was a part time lay preacher* it seems, and had a run in with the main preacher regarding specific beliefs. He was black listed and ex-communicated from the church. After unsuccessfully searching for another church that gelled with his beliefs, he did some serious reading about Christian history, and eventually lost his faith. A tremendous feeling of relief came over him, as he described it.

In contradiction to others observation here, Bible reading was not common in the church he attended. My friend spoke of being surrounded by a community all having the same convictions, re-enforcing common belief. Quite "happy clappy" all the same.**



* Is there any other kind in this church I wonder? I mean, at the extreme end of the scale, Catholics ordain their priests with great ceremony, (I saw one), after qualification.

** Seems contradictory to me that a "happy clappy" church should be so stern, it would ex-communicate one of the flock.
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Old 11th July 2019, 06:57 PM   #30
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
** Seems contradictory to me that a "happy clappy" church should be so stern, it would ex-communicate one of the flock.
Nah, makes perfect sense to me. The Smiling Tyrant.
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Old 12th July 2019, 02:15 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Nah, makes perfect sense to me. The Smiling Tyrant.

So what about the other point? Is there some kind of qualifying ordeal and ordaining hoop la in Pentecostal churches, or do preachers just rise up from the ranks?
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Old 14th July 2019, 04:58 PM   #32
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My long time girlfriend's grandmother is Pentecostal. At their church they "speak in tongues", hate gays, and are very racist. She has very bad arthritis and other problems. If she is having a painful day or some other issue, she will pray or start speaking in tongues. Then if she later feels a little better, she will think god did it. I guess god's magic only works for a short time, because later she will be in pain again. They will go to doctors, but are very stubborn when it comes to listening to one, because god will take care of it.
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Old 14th July 2019, 07:21 PM   #33
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
So what about the other point? Is there some kind of qualifying ordeal and ordaining hoop la in Pentecostal churches, or do preachers just rise up from the ranks?
I never got that far, but I believe that there was some kind of accreditation process. It's certainly nothing as formal as becoming a Catholic or Anglican priest.
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Old 15th July 2019, 03:30 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by mike81 View Post
My long time girlfriend's grandmother is Pentecostal. At their church they "speak in tongues", hate gays, and are very racist. She has very bad arthritis and other problems. If she is having a painful day or some other issue, she will pray or start speaking in tongues. Then if she later feels a little better, she will think god did it. I guess god's magic only works for a short time, because later she will be in pain again. They will go to doctors, but are very stubborn when it comes to listening to one, because god will take care of it.

As I mentioned before I find this a seemingly contradictory marriage. I mean the blending of the joyful music and rejoicing, with the hatred. I wonder if the megachurches like Hillsong push the hatred angle.
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Old 15th July 2019, 08:27 PM   #35
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
As I mentioned before I find this a seemingly contradictory marriage. I mean the blending of the joyful music and rejoicing, with the hatred. I wonder if the megachurches like Hillsong push the hatred angle.
They don't push it as hatred. It's like they've tried to rebrand misogyny and homophobia and dressed it up with the trappings of love. I think they even fool themselves with this act.
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