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What it was like growing up in an Assemblies of God cult


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On 9/14/2021 at 1:02 PM, veganbros said:

We made a video explaining what it was like growing up in an Assemblies of God cult. We would love your feedback! Thanks

 

https://youtu.be/OIKVrzpSBug

 

I'm going through it now. Sounds very similar to my upbringing in the SDA cult. We have you guys labeled here as authentic christian believers but you're dropping f bombs while slinging beers and detailing how fucked up these assholes were to you. I haven't made it through the whole video yet. But have we mislabeled your account? Are you guys ex christians? 

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So, the SDA church has pushed vegetarianism since it's inception. There's no meat allowed at school or church events. Although it is allowed to eat clean meats according to Mosaic Law. Just not at any church or school functions. My mother raised us vegetarian at home. She refused to cook meat. But we could eat it when we went out. It was a half vegetarian upbringing because she wanted to stick to the "rules" and my dad ate meat. When I got to boarding academy they didn't serve meat on campus. So kids who were not vegetarian were pretty much shafted at the cafeteria. I was half vegetarian so it didn't bother me any. I just ate what they served and ate whatever else when I was off campus. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

Are you guys ex christians?

Perhaps it is based on the blurb under the name on the left. "

Male

veganism, working out, spiritualism

Jesus Christ

"

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I listened to about 3/4 of it and it didn't sound too terribly different from own childhood.  We were always at the church.  I'd spend almost the entire day there on Sunday from Sunday School to night church.  But no one goes around calling Southern Baptists a cult.  I mean sure, some youth ministers are sadistic but I just thought that went with the territory.

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I grew up in the Church of God (Anderson) where my father was the music director for several years. We went to services on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, special guest speakers, revivals and a week at "camp" every summer where we stayed in dorms at the college in Indiana. We endured chalk talks, special music programs and Bible studies. Mom just went along with Dad but the kids hated it.

 

Luckily my dad eventually flipped out a little and started drinking, smoking and whoring around, so we got a reprieve for a while. Later, he flipped back to religion after divorcing my mom and marrying a Pentecostal Catholic or something. They were into folk guitar services and Amway. She eventually died and he went into working on a mission ship and met his next wife on the boat. Once again, it was full time religion at their house. It was all very obnoxious.

 

So I'm not surprised these guys are still a little daft. At least they got away from the worst of it. As for me, much later there was a really cool guy at work who played religious shows on his radio and he eventually persuaded me to try out his church. It was much better than my church experience as a kid/young adult and I actually enjoyed it and became good friends with the pastor there. In my zeal to learn more I took classes at a Bible college, but I learned a little too much I guess; the revelation that it was all bullshit came to me during a class on Revelation!

 

Cult/Christian is a fine line indeed.

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48 minutes ago, florduh said:

Cult/Christian is a fine line indeed.

All insistence on belief that lacks evidence is cultic.  It is morally obnoxious and primitive to bully a person into accepting a claim that is not justified by scientific knowledge and logic.  If churches want to talk about God and Jesus, and don't want to be regarded as cults, they should accept that their language is in the realm of poetry and metaphor, not objective fact, and should see dialogue and contestation of ideas as highly welcome.  Those who reject that approach are cults.

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48 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

@DarkBishop

 

Weren't you in the Assemblies of god? 

 

I dont think assemblies of God is the same. I was in The Church of God of the Gospel assembly which was an offshoot of the church of God of the Union assembly. They were very much a cult until the eighties when their beliefs on faith healing caused a child to die with curable cancer. They are the reason why there are federal laws now to protect children from those types of doctrines. 

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21 hours ago, Fuego said:

Perhaps it is based on the blurb under the name on the left. "

Male

veganism, working out, spiritualism

Jesus Christ

"

 

I get the feeling these guys are still a little confused about the jesus issue and how it may relate to their beliefs now. Trying to hang on to some aspect of it which is entirely unnecessary at this point. Their spiritual ideas and veganism could just as well be eastern mystical and Hindu. Some people struggle to let of go trying to make jesus into whatever they evolve into after leaving their churches. And you can pretty much make jesus into anything you wish at that point. Except there will always be contradictions involved because as we know, jesus is a hybridized mythological character that represents diverse schools of thought with very scant evidence of a fixed core. If someone focuses on just one school of thought, like "Prince of Peace,"

 they will be contradicted by another school of thought represented: '...I do not come to bring peace on earth, but a sword.' 

 

I see this as a situation of struggling ex christians more so than authentic christians. But I'd like to hear how they respond and converse to see for sure. 

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28 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

 

I see this as a situation of struggling ex christians more so than authentic christians. But I'd like to hear how they respond and converse to see for sure. 

I'm not sure they're here to respond and converse, though it would be nice to have some fellow ex-assemblies of god around here.  My childhood church, in which my parents are still involved, is definitely cultic.  I related to a lot in the video.

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I am a member of the Uniting Church in Australia, which is at the progressive end of Christianity, within the liberal reformed church tradition, although I don't share all the liberal political views that dominate in the progressive church.  I went to an event for the "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity" where the preacher was from Assemblies of God.  She said she is proud to be a fundamentalist.  To me that illustrates how very fractured Christianity is, because the label of fundamentalist is something that I view as morally repugnant.  They are simply closed off from hearing alternative views.

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21 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

I am a member of the Uniting Church in Australia, which is at the progressive end of Christianity, within the liberal reformed church tradition, although I don't share all the liberal political views that dominate in the progressive church.  I went to an event for the "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity" where the preacher was from Assemblies of God.  She said she is proud to be a fundamentalist.  To me that illustrates how very fractured Christianity is, because the label of fundamentalist is something that I view as morally repugnant.  They are simply closed off from hearing alternative views.

 

They are closed off to anything alternate to their respective interpretations and beliefs. Probably most people on this site have come out of fundamentalist sect's. 

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1 hour ago, Joshpantera said:

Probably most people on this site have come out of fundamentalist sect's. 

I totally agree with that. Moderate/lukewarm/liberal/CINO members of a church aren't really religious in the first place, and when they tire of their church they probably just quietly drift away without a second thought and they don't have a need to heal from their experience; I know several. Fundamentalists, though, have been through some shit!

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1 hour ago, florduh said:

I totally agree with that. Moderate/lukewarm/liberal/CINO members of a church aren't really religious in the first place, and when they tire of their church they probably just quietly drift away without a second thought and they don't have a need to heal from their experience; I know several. Fundamentalists, though, have been through some shit!

 

Yes, it's much more dramatic coming from the fundy sector. Hopefully these two brothers continue on with their journeys and find more answers as they move on with their lives. 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

Yes, it's much more dramatic coming from the fundy sector. Hopefully these two brothers continue on with their journeys and find more answers as they move on with their lives. 

 

I wish them luck as well as they continue to grow and learn.  @florduh has the right of it - those lukewarm believers are quite different from those of us who believed the Bible to be literally true and that Jesus was literally listening to our every thought and physically changed the nature of the universe to answer prayers and that all life was subject to a divine plan.  Followed of course by those unlucky enough to win the divine lottery were destined to an eternal torment.  Yeah, fundamentalists have to completely rework their/our understanding of reality and their/our place within it.  Talk about a crisis of existential dread coupled with some weird hangups.

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4 hours ago, florduh said:

Moderate/lukewarm/liberal/CINO members of a church aren't really religious in the first place

This illustrates the dilemma around the true meaning of Christianity.  Bishop Spong, who died this month, was a leader of the liberal Christian movement in the US.  I think it is true that people like Spong lack the fervour of fundamentalists who would consider him not a Christian at all.  And yet there is a strong scholarly argument that Spong's views are more in line with the original faith of the early church before it was corrupted by orthodoxy, and that it is wrong to assert that his rejection of fundamentalist dogma means he is not a Christian. 

If to be "really religious" means to hold fanatical intolerant untrue beliefs, then religion has no long term future.  But on the other hand, if to be "really religious" actually means to embark on sincere exploration of how human life connects to ultimate reality, then it is possible to see a valid modern form of religion.  My view is that the intrinsic delusions of fundamentalism cut it off as a legitimate religious method. 

I had the opportunity to preach at my church last week (here is the sermon), and focused on how the moral framework in the Bible rejects the doctrine of personal salvation, whereas the psychology of orthodoxy puts this doctrine as central.  It is entirely possible to rescue a vital moral core in the Bible while showing that doctrines such as the penal substitution theory of the atonement deserve to be wholly rejected.

I appreciate the culture in the US is different from Australia, with fundamentalism having a far more dominant stranglehold over American Christianity than we see in Australia.  So I can appreciate how people escaping from that toxic culture react against it. 

There is also the dilemma that fanaticism can be more effective in building institutions than a more flexible outlook.  But if the fanatical group lack sound foundations, they will inevitably cause harm and will not be able to sustain their institution.

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I moved from fundamentalist to radical/liberal over a period of 60 years - for much of this time as a minister. After deconverting (because the church was failing society IMO) I came to believe that if you call yourself Christian you have to believe in God and, in some form, the person of Jesus. I cannot get my head round any other definition of Christianity, no matter how much one tries to deconstruct the Bible which is the Christian's rulebook.

Incidentally, I reject the term 'lukewarm' as it is applied to liberal Christianity; I know many totally sincere radical/liberal Christians, many of whom work far harder at their faith within this world than many fundamentalists. Shame on the fundamentalists!

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7 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

But on the other hand, if to be "really religious" actually means to embark on sincere exploration of how human life connects to ultimate reality, then it is possible to see a valid modern form of religion. 

You have described what most people would call "spirituality" and not at all like religion.  The Bible clearly defines what a believer (Christian) is and I find other definitions that attempt to expand non-Biblical, fuzzy concepts into the label to be irrelevant. I know too many people who mindlessly call themselves Christian because of the society they were born into but have no idea what that means and have no intention of emulating the Jesus character at the center of their Bible story.

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3 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

if you call yourself Christian you have to believe in God and, in some form, the person of Jesus.

Sure, but does that include believing that God and Jesus are metaphors for the good of the world?

 

If you think poetic language about God and Jesus is a valid way to promote an ethical perspective, while upholding the centrality of evidence and logic, does that qualify as Christian?

 

I find it challenging for people to insist that faith means believing things you know ain't so, as Mark Twain put it.

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1 hour ago, florduh said:

You have described what most people would call "spirituality" and not at all like religion.  The Bible clearly defines what a believer (Christian) is and I find other definitions that attempt to expand non-Biblical, fuzzy concepts into the label to be irrelevant.

The Bible contains conflicting messages. It is not clear at all in its definitions. My view is that many statements in the pastoral epistles were intended to support the political objectives of the church as a secular institution, and stand in conflict with the teachings in the Gospels.  So I don't think it is reasonable to insist that fundamentalist churches have the right to insist only their definition of Christian religion is valid. 

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3 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

The Bible contains conflicting messages. It is not clear at all in its definitions. My view is that many statements in the pastoral epistles were intended to support the political objectives of the church as a secular institution, and stand in conflict with the teachings in the Gospels.  So I don't think it is reasonable to insist that fundamentalist churches have the right to insist only their definition of Christian religion is valid. 

 

Robert,

 

As usual, you touch on valid points, but once you jettison the supernatural aspects (there is really a creator who is personally involved in human affairs) of the good book then your view ceases to fit within the common definitions of religion.  The fundamentalists have the stronger argument, the issue is their premise (this IS GOD's book) is simply false and demonstrably so, as you pointed out regarding the epistles contradicting the gospels.

 

In fact, it was those huge discrepancies that caused me to jettison the epistles entirely on my path of deconversion.  Paul was not god, never claimed to be, so who was he to contradict the words of Christ, who claimed oneness with god?

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2 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

So I don't think it is reasonable to insist that fundamentalist churches have the right to insist only their definition of Christian religion is valid. 

John 3:16 is a simple, clear message. There is a minimum requirement if someone is to legitimately call himself a Christian. Obviously there are myriad nuances regarding implementation of specific teachings beyond basic salvation by a resurrected Christ, but that's the nature of any religion, no? Even the very new Scientology already has schisms and factions.

 

It's not that difficult; a Christian worships Jesus the Christ because of his supernatural standing, not because of being able to twist the story of a resurrected god into some dispassionate philosophic musings. 

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5 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

Sure, but does that include believing that God and Jesus are metaphors for the good of the world?

 

If you think poetic language about God and Jesus is a valid way to promote an ethical perspective, while upholding the centrality of evidence and logic, does that qualify as Christian?

 

I find it challenging for people to insist that faith means believing things you know ain't so, as Mark Twain put it.

I've not met people who call themselves Christian who yet see God and Jesus as metaphors: I thought this was the preserve of non-theists.:-)

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5 hours ago, Krowb said:

once you jettison the supernatural aspects (there is really a creator who is personally involved in human affairs) of the good book then your view ceases to fit within the common definitions of religion.

True, but to me that only shows that common definitions of religion are in need of change.  I think of religion as any organised activity that promotes shared social agreement relating to spirituality.  That would mean you can have a secret spirituality that you never share with anyone, or that is just a theoretical philosophy, but as soon as you use your views as a basis for organisation you are practicing religion. 

 

Buddhism is a religion where major traditions jettison supernatural aspects.  Similarly, the liberal Christianity promoted by Bishop Spong totally rejects theism, while holding on to Christian tradition and culture.  These are minority viewpoints, but the fact that traditionalists reject them does not mean they are not religion.

 

The literal original meaning of religion is 'rebinding', from the same root meaning as ligament, based on how ligaments bind our bones together.  That means whenever we try to bind people together around shared views we are practicing a form of religion, even if our connection is defined by opposition to an existing belief system, and even if we don't think of our view as religion.

 

I see a lot of grief among people who respect some aspects of religion but can't abide the absurd dogmatism.  So I prefer to say that such people don't deserve to have their legitimate views treated as heretical anathema by putting them forever outside the pale of organised religion.

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