I recently had a John the Baptist moment in a continuing discussion with other ministers in my denomination. The specific Scripture that I am referring to is this:
“And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” (Matthew 3:9 ESV)
A couple of months ago there was a group of people who formed in response to a journal article in the Assemblies of God’s (AG) ministers magazine Enrichment. They did not agree with a specific article and have been talking about it since. I originally thought this was a joke because, in my mind, to be AG meant to be conservative. At least theologically anyway. As I started to engage this group through random chats, video streams, blogs, facebook posts, and one unfortunate recent situation which spurred this blog, one theme kept coming up again and again. They were third and fourth generation pentecostal ministers while I was not. Their families were there at the beginning (not the actual day of Pentecost…I hope anyway?) and because of that family lineage they were better equipped to hold the line on certain theological points.
Now as a a lover of history myself I understood their passion. But, to state that those ministers who came from a family of ministers needed to save the AG from folks who did not have that history (like me) seemed rather…drastic? Did they really need to save the church from us Muggle-Borns?
If you are not familiar with the term Muggle-Born it is a term I am taking from Harry Potter (forgive me but it was too good to pass up). A Muggle is someone who does not have magic. To be Muggle-Born meant to be someone who was born with magic but to two parents who were not magical. In Harry Potter, Muggle-Borns are discriminated against and looked down upon.
We find the same thing happened in Jesus’ day. In fact it warranted a response from both John the Baptist in the above passage and Jesus Himself. And the same thing happens today. It is a hard thing to be swept into to something as large as the Christian faith. There is a cloud of witnesses that goes before you that you must acknowledge and carry the torch from. Undoubtedly sometimes people in my generation take the torch by force and are disrespectful of the past thinking it is all negative. This does happen! I acknowledge that completely. However, other times those who have the torch never give it up, criticize those who come along with them as destroying the church or bringing in foreign ideas that are not foreign at all. Then to utter things that all people not born into ministers homes need to be watched extra carefully does not help either. Hence the term “Pentecostal Muggle-Borns.”
I am reminded of a post my good friend William Molenaar wrote awhile back and I’ll close with his words:
I encourage all of us to consider the weaknesses and cons of using a “conservative vs. liberal” framework in our relationships with each other in the Assemblies of God. Self-identified “liberals” and “conservatives” are usually loud, divisive, and do not help in furthering the kingdom and mission of God in a constructive manner. They are too interested in themselves and preserving their own agendas. In order to directly engage “liberals” or “conservatives” is to necessarily play into their divisive game, and only gives them more motivation for polemics!