I work with a woman who is a serious assemblies of God member. We got into an arguement once over Mary and haven’t discussed it since. She’s a very good person, she knows her faith VERY WELL… How do I defend Catholicism against this specific religion? It’s hard to get much info on them.
I am a Baptist (who has attended many AOG worship services in a few different AOG churches). And I am currently waiting for RCIA class to begin.
I think you need to be fairly careful yourself. Perhaps help at your RCIA classes this year (so you can be more grounded yourself).
Serious Assembly of God people believe in the Bible and believe in the Trinity. And they pray a lot and read their Bible cover to cover (minus the Deuterocanonical books of course). They love children and also hate abortion. The one in Endicott NY used to have more church buses than any other church I knew about. Just to bring children to Sunday School (even if their parents didn’t come). Easily more than a dozen full-size used school buses. Because “They grow up someday” the pastor said. In my opinion (I used to go to AOG sometimes) they are not a cult.
They try to exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit (speaking in tongues, translating, and sometimes may have genuine healings – spiritual or physical). And many times it may be absolutely genuine. They love Jesus a lot, pray and have Faith, Hope and Love. So obviously it is going to be very difficult. Just remember Mark 9:38-40. You cannot easily win by using intellectual arguments against somebody who has had genuine experiences.
My Baptist evangelism experience tells me that you cannot win somebody who thinks they are saved already. Instead, focus on those who know they are lost. And we never win anyone anyway. The Lord has to draw them. But we need to reach out to find those that the Lord is drawing to Himself.
If you are well grounded and feel so led, perhaps instead of trying to win her over, you could instead agree to meet together to pray for your friends or relatives that need the Lord.
Remember that the Roman Catholic Church also has the same and also has much more. All the sacraments. And the authorization (keys of St. Peter). There are some Charismatic Catholics. And there are countless healings (Lourdes and elsewhere).
Odd as it sounds, an Assembly of God member was a factor in my becoming a serious Catholic. Why? Because he knew I was Catholic and asked me a few questions: is purgatory a second chance? What’s this about Maccabees? Why do you pray to dead people? He wasn’t challenging me, he was simply curious. And while I knew that no, purgatory was not a second chance, I couldn’t explain the doctrine very well. I didn’t know anything about Maccabees…anyway, I was made painfully aware that I had very little knowledge about what I believed and why. So I thank my Assembly of God neighbor for starting me on the road to understanding my faith.
I think that you will be most effective if you can first correct the misconceptions they have about the Catholic faith. The misconceptions are the usual Protestant ones, at least from my experience with my neighbor: Catholics worship Mary, purgatory represents a second chance, Catholics communicate with the dead (communion of saints), etc., etc. Make sure you can charitably defend these doctrines. I think that if you can at least show your neighbor that she has incorrect ideas about Catholicism, she may be curious enough to inquire further.
Jmm is correct when he says, "They try to exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit (speaking in tongues, translating, and sometimes may have genuine healings – spiritual or physical). And many times it may be absolutely genuine. They love Jesus a lot, pray and have Faith, Hope and Love."
From what my neighbor says, their services (long!!) consist of a lot of “praise singing”, and his wife experienced a physical healing from persistent migraine headaches. I believe that AOGs are also followers of the “Left Behind” Rapture theory, or at least my neighbors’ church does. I went to a play there once, when my neighbor’s wife invited me (she was in the play herself), and from the play, it would seem that they adhere to a “once saved, always saved” view of salvation. That may be an opening for you too, as that can be effectively argued against if you know your faith. Catholic.com has some useful tracts on that topic, as well as on the others.
in the first place, don’t discuss religion at work when you are supposed to be working. if you can have a friendly conversation off the clock, fine, but don’t try to debate points of doctrine or meaning of bible versus unless you know your stuff. Just say cheerfully you have found your spiritual home in the Catholic Church and thank her for her interest. Then read your bible and study your catechism, and concentrate on learning your faith and teaching it to your kids.
When I was in college, I prayed with some friends of mine that my mother and sister would find a better church to go to. God sent them both to the Endicott AOG church (and I said to my friends jokingly “Oh no, wrong one” – because AOG speaks in tongues, etc). But really (because my sister is mentally retarded and doesn’t easily understand many things) God probably chose the right one for her in that small community. The pastor gave easy-to-understand sermons, and was very loud and dramatic. It was nearly impossible to sleep or not pay attention in that Church (at that time).
When I went along with them, one of their assistant pastors walked up to me and said “Hi John.” He recognized me and I thought I hadn’t seen him from Adam. The assistant pastor turned out to be from my High School (we were in 7th grade classes together). In High School his hair and beard had gotten very long, he was into grass and hard drugs, cut a lot of classes and eventually dropped out. I think he probably even spent some time at the county jail. God had smacked him upside the head, he turned his life around and he became very clean cut, wore a suit and loved Jesus.
So yes, you need to really dig deep and make sure you are well grounded and learn a lot in the Roman Catholic Church. And you need to be careful not to damage a work that God is doing elsewhere.
Sometimes an AOG person may fall away from their church. They don’t have the sacrament of reconciliation (for Mortal Sin). So I think that that can be a difficult area for them go minister to. And I do suppose that those AOG who have fallen away could be ministered to by a well-grounded charismatic Roman Catholic.
Women who work together often form very good friendships outside of work as well. So asquared’s reply may not be the one you like.
I like Sherlock’s testimony and figure it could well happen to you too. If you need to know more about your own faith, then why not sponsor somebody or volunteer for your own RCIA classes starting up soon?
I didn’t make the assumption that Dizzy-dave was discussing religion when he should have been working—so why did you? That seems an uncharitable assumption to make.There are plenty of legitimate opportunities at the workplace (“water-cooler”, lunch, etc., etc.) to discuss various matters, and it seems to me that faith is one of the most important matters we can talk about. So, no, I don’t think we should hide in our faith fortress and concentrate only on learning our faith and teaching it to our kids—we need to learn our faith, teach it to our kids, and engage the world! If someone has misconceptions about Catholicism, simply saying “I’ve found my spiritual home in the Catholic Church, thank you very much”, isn’t accomplishing anything.
As a person who used to go to AOG, the only way to talk to her about the Catholic faith is first to understand your Bible better. You must be able in converstation to remember verses in the Bible. I do not ususally have the exact verse and # memorized but I would say something like "In the book of James, I can’t remember the exact #, it says faith without works is dead. " There is a website that sells a Biblical defense to the Catholic faith. (Look at the posts by Little Mary. I’ll try to find it too.) Take a Bible to work and look verses up together. Show her you are not afraid for others to “see” your faith in all ways. (Do you pray before you eat? Do you make a visable sign of the cross or a little inconspicuous one or don’t do one at all?
But most important is to not argue the meaning of words with her. If she asked you if you are saved, She does not mean once saved always saved, she means that if you died right this instant, would you die in mortal sin or in the grace of God? The Assembly of God I went to was very Biblical in the tongues aspect. Someone spoke and we waited until there was an interpretation. If conversation goes that way, you could inquire if they follow the Bible on the interpretation of tongues. Laying on of hands is frequent for healings and prayers. The AOG I went to prayed for each other alot, the others summed it up pretty good. Basically, it is in the Bible and that is where she stands.
If it is not in the Bible, she will not listen to you. Also, when talking to her do not confuse the issue by saying pray to Mary. Always, always, always say when we ask Mary to pray to God for us. I think the best place to start with the issue of Mary is to first to talk about the difference between devotion and worship. She probably does daily devotionals. **The definition of devotion is very narrow in her mind. **You need to broaden it to help her understand devotion to Mary. The great thing is there is a lot of Scripture on Mary. It of course is not limited to Scripture, but also in Sacred Tradition, but that is another discussion. And since she is used to praying for others frequently, she should at least be able to see that all you are doing is asking a member of the body of Christ to pray for you. (Because when I die I will not be dead in Christ but alive in Christ. Dying doesn’t mean I am no longer part of the body of Christ, but am actually able to be closer to Christ.
And I would also agree that one of the best ways to start dialogue with her is to talk generally about God and the things he is doing in your life. Share the little miracles that happen in your life that you attribute to God. Ask her to pray for you. I would be a little hesitant to ask her to pray with you because she may or may not think you are a Christian and may not be comfortable with it. Little by little show her God working in your life, and then start talking doctrine.
Many take it as a given that catholics “worship” Mary.
That we place her on a goddess pedestal.
That we pray to her instead of Jesus.
So the first response I usually give is “No - we don’t worship Mary, or place her above her divine Son” and then wait for the response.
Sometimes the response is something like “of course you do!!” or "what do you mean - everyone knows this is true!"
With these people there is no use in further discussion.
If they respond “what do you think of Mary?” These people are interested in genuine conversation.
The most effective approaches I have used involve intercessory prayer and Jesus’s love for His mother.
Once they understand that asking Mary to pray for us is the same as asking a neighbor/minister/whoever to pray for us - that helps.
There is often a stumbling block with the notion of “dead people” being asked to pray for us though. They don’t have the same concept we do of heavenly souls being active in our lives - they seem to think they are far removed from us and incapable of action.
To that misconception I point out that the book of Revelation clearly depicts the souls who have been martyred praying for those on earth.
If it is wrong to ask Mary for intercession - and we should go “straight to Jesus” Then everyone should quit praying for everyone else - and quit ASKING others to pray for them- and just go straight to Jesus! Right?
I also ask them - how much do you love your mother? (and get the typical response)
Then I ask - how much do you think Jesus loved His mother?
Do you really think anyone could love her more than Him?
Do you really think he would condemn anyone for loving His mother? Or would he treat them as a friend and member of His family?
When we have a “personal relationship” with someone (something catholics are often accused of lacking regarding Jesus) do we reject their friends and family? Or embrace them?
Could someone give those of us who are following this thread a short synopsis of what Assemblies of God believe? For example, where do they fit in with Baptists, fundamentalists, etc.? Would they be considered non-denominational? I am trying to get a better sense for the American Protestant religions. Seems to me that we have a lot of Protestant sects that broke away from the mainline Protestant denominations in the US. It is hard to keep track of where they came from and what they believe.
[quote=La Chiara]Could someone give those of us who are following this thread a short synopsis of what Assemblies of God believe? For example, where do they fit in with Baptists, fundamentalists, etc.? Would they be considered non-denominational? I am trying to get a better sense for the American Protestant religions. Seems to me that we have a lot of Protestant sects that broke away from the mainline Protestant denominations in the US. It is hard to keep track of where they came from and what they believe.
The AG’s pride themselves on winning over Catholics. They have a national and international stratagy to do it. Some of their churches are made up entirely of former Catholics. Get to know faith. Catholic Answers can help. Read, read, read, the Bible, catechism, and other apologetics books. We have an answer for anything they claim or say.
[quote=MariaG]There is a website that sells a Biblical defense to the Catholic faith. (Look at the posts by Little Mary. I’ll try to find it too.) Take a Bible to work and look verses up together. Show her you are not afraid for others to “see” your faith in all ways. (Do you pray before you eat? Do you make a visable sign of the cross or a little inconspicuous one or don’t do one at all?God Bless
The web site is www.biblechristiansociety.com . John Martignoni is on the EWTN call-in show on Thursdays. He has many tapes on apologetics (six are free, now, but a goodwill donation always helps).
The good thing about John in your situation is that he lives in Birmingham, Alabama, the heart of the “Bible Belt” and has been on the radio down there for years. All of his discussion points are Biblically based – he knows they won’t listen to anythng else.
If you’re in the Eastern time zone, (I think Ohio is), listen to him 3:00 to 4:00 on EWTN on Thursdays.
And you can e-mail him and he’ll get back to you with good advice and probably ananswer to your question.
As you can tell, I’m a fan.
Part of the reason that AOG win over Catholic who are weak in their faith is because what they do believe is closer to the Catholic church than Baptist. Although you may get a better explanation of beliefs at the website, AOG are more about emotion to a certain extent. I hope this helps give you a “feeling” for them.
Here was my experience. Most AOG I know are very sincere Christians that not only “talk the talk, but walk the walk.” The AOG is a very emotional experience. The service can last for a couple of hours, mostly because the worship music can last a long time. They will sing simple songs with easy refrains over and over, moving without stop between new songs. Most will raise their arms up with eyes closed. This usually goes on until the pastor “feels the moving of the Spirit”. There then is usually a period of prayer and an opportunity for speaking in the tongues of angels and waiting for an interpretation.
Many scoff at this next part. However, I will share this. When I went there, I asked God if He were to give me a gift, He give me the gift of interpretation. (That is what Paul tells us to do.) One day, words were spoken. I wanted to speak up because I knew what she had said. I was too chicken to do so. I still regret not speaking because of what followed. Someone else “interpreted”. I knew they were wrong. I said to myself No, can’t you hear? The angels are singing and rejoicing because someone has been healed. The next thing that happened, the pastor announced great news. A person, who I had no knowledge of, had been miraculously healed of a fatal tumor. Doctors had no explantation.
A sermon will follow. “Open up your Bibles…” Sometimes the pastor will talk an hour on 1 or 2 verses. Then usually, people with needs will come forward for the congregation to pray for them. People do a “laying on of hands” to pray for healings, emotional and physical. There is also usually a time of sharing of miracles and the workings of God in peoples personal daily lives. God is made very real and very concerned with my everyday life. Praising God for small miracles is common place. (I was depressed and I saw a person walking with a shirt with the cross on it. I know God put that person in my path to remind me of His Sacrifice for me. Okay, sacrifice is the wrong word here. They think more in a Christ has won kind of way, we may still be fighting the battle, but we’ve already won the war.) Usually, the service is ended with an altar call, for those who wish to come to know the Lord as their personal savoir.
They are Rapture people. Left Behind is almost the gospel. Most people in the church I went to went to Sunday service and Wednesday Bible study without fail.
Hiring outside ministers to come in for a Revival is a big thing. People become “drunk in the spirit”. Okay another story, I went to a revival there, right before I started to attend the AoG denomination. I wasn’t sure about staying. I finally, while in the beginning of the worship music, prayed to God and told Him I needed to know that this was His Spirit here or I would rather leave than take a chance on it not being Him. No sooner than I got done saying that prayer, the person leading the music, kind of waved off the next song that was starting and asked for a different one, (I don’t remember the name). It’s words were along the line of “There is a spirit among you and that is the Holy Spirit” kind of thing. After the service, I thanked the man for stopping to sing that song and shared the above with him. He got really pale and said, I didn’t even know that song. Also at that revival, they “laid on hands”. Some people who were touched would collapse to the ground. I thought that was stupid. I was going to be touched but I had decided I would stay on me feet. I was “slain in the Spirit” and dropped like a rock.
I think multiple baptism is also considered the way to go to rededicate your life to Christ (this sometimes varies from pastor to pastor. Even if the pastor says to do it individual people may disagree). Confession in your Bedroom to God should be a daily habit. You can lose your salvation. They would agree with the statement I am saved by faith alone, but believe faith without works is dead. Also, real big on what has God done in my life for me today. If the last miracle in your life was 15 years ago, you better get down on your knees and start praying more. Scoff if you will but I believe to this day, that the Holy Spirit does mighty wonders and miracles in those churches.
However, while there are great miracles, the whole worship style leaves it open to great abuse and demonic activity. I have a gift of discernment, I can sense evil in people and places where evil has happened. Several people started attending who were evil. Although the pastor was warned from an independent source, these people were still welcomed. I left. Once again, there will be people who scoff at this, but to understand AoG, you must understand these things are very real. Spiritual warfare is a daily battle and very real.
If I were to invite an AoG to Mass (assuming they would attend, alot who think Catholic church is a cult), I would find the best Charasmatic Catholic Church I could find. Any discussion I would have with them would be based solely on interpretation of Scripture. Only once the Scripture was solid would I even bring in Church Fathers.
I hope this gives you a better “feel” for Assembly of God churches. At least for the one I went to:)
Only one thing to do: Find a phone booth, take off the Clark Kent glasses and tie and strip down to your Super Catholic cape & pajamas. That is, the best thing to do is be the best, most devout Catholic you can be. If you carry the disposition that you are responding to Christ’s call to personal holiness, that will be a better witness than all the pointy-headed arguments one can muster. And use the only weapon you have: prayer.
Preach the gospel and when necessary, use words. St. Francis…
I have to remind myself of the above when things start to get prickly in conversations with those outside the Church. Larry and Joetta Lewis were Assembly of God converts…and powerful ones, too. A woman at her work place invited them to pray the Rosary. Simple…yes, but God had His Plan!
If someone asks you “why” about the Church, make sure you know the ‘why’. You do not have to know verse and chapter, but you should have a basic knowledge of the faith so you can answer the ‘why’ with knowledge. A good book to be familiar with is the Catechism. Another one is “Why do Catholics do That?” (sorry I cannot remember the author’s name.) Also, never be scared to say, “You know, I don’t know the answer to that, but I will find out and get back to you.”
God Bless you -
First of all know that they consider themselves God’s chosen ‘saved’ people. Therefore, they conclude, everyone else, primarily Catholics, are the ‘unsaved’ wicked. They assume that because they are God’s chosen ‘born again’ God would certianly make thier thinking right and everyone else is wrong and evil. Therefore your friend at work is trying to ‘save’ your soul and not trying to understand your faith.
My aunt is a life long devoted Catholic nun. My ‘born again’ AOG cousin was comenting on how loving, giving and self sacrificing our aunt is. She ended her comment with how bad she felt that our aunt the nun was going to hell because she has not ‘accepted Jesus as her personal saviour’.
I caught an AOG man stealing my sales commissions. I took it to corporate management. They refused to listen to me saying, “Why are you trying to destroy such a good Christian’s name?” I quit over it and went to a different company two hundred miles away.
A month or two latter the AOG thiefs minister came to my door step. Turns out he had convinced a young woman to leave her husband because she was ‘unevenly yoked’. He thought it was his duty to marry the beautiful young woman because she was now alone with four children. The people of the church kicked him out of his pastor position which made him very angry. He went into manufacturing sales and on his honeymoon, no less, came to my door to go on his first joint sales calls.
I thought it was a miracle from God rather than a coincidence. I told him of the sin against me by one of his former flock. He asked, “Did the man steal from a ‘saved’ person or an ‘unsaved’ person.” He indicated that it would be ok for a ‘saved’ person to steal from an ‘unsaved’ person because he would probubly give the loot to God. It turned into a long two day debate. A month latter he conived my new management in a city five hundred miles away to fire me. I could hear the quivering in his voice when I confronted him.
AOG believe in once you are saved, even if you steal, adultery or kill, you cannot change your spiritual birth into heaven. They believe that ‘accepting Jesus as your personal savior’ is all you must do to go to heaven.
Jesus is asked, ‘What must I do to share in everlasting life?’. Jesus answer is to obey the commandments if you wish to enter into life. I brought this to the AOG’s attention. The ex AOG minister finally admitted that they do not follow the teachings of Jesus. He said that after Jesus died everything changed. They follow the ‘post ressurection’ ‘faith alone’ teachings of St. Paul and not the teachings of Jesus Christ.
NAB MAT 19:16
The dangers of riches. Another time a man came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to possess everlasting life?” He answered, “Why do you question me about what is good? There is One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." “Which ones?” he asked. Jesus replied “You shall not kill”; ‘You shall not commit adultery’; ‘You shall not steal’; ‘You shall not bear false witness’; ‘Honor your father and mother’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
If you choose to do battle with those who are brain washed into all their anti Catholic, anti Christ’s teachings, then become strong in the scriptural teachings of the gospels of Jesus. Scripturally point out Christ’s teachings on who goes to heaven. Get AOGs to admit that they do not follow these teachings of Jesus Christ.
Please visit www.ILOVEYOUGOD.com for some ideas.
Peace in Christ,
[quote=dizzy_dave]I work with a woman who is a serious assemblies of God member. We got into an arguement once over Mary and haven’t discussed it since. She’s a very good person, she knows her faith VERY WELL… How do I defend Catholicism against this specific religion? It’s hard to get much info on them.
1. Don’t underestimate the power of personal example - it’s easy to say one’s faith matters; how much it matters, tends to come out in how one lives.
Who knows, maybe your friendship can strengthen both of you.
This Mary thing is tricky, to put it mildly. Personally, I would not discuss it unless it comes up of itself - the more so, if it’s a tricky area. This isn’t being evasive, or failing to mention things you ought to - it’s common sense. Both of you know it’s tricky, so you aren’t hiding something you ought not to. If it comes up, discuss it.
As it is a tricky issue, I would be inclined to start with something you both agree on; don’t try to explain from a starting point that your friend will find strange, or alien, or incomprehensible - try to see things through her eyes.
For instance, we are used to talk about “dulia”, “hyperdulia”, “latria”. In our way of thinking, which is theologically highly sophisticated, and fond of ideas, and keen on putting them together into systematic theologies, this is familiar. To a lot of people - is this lady one of them ? - it is double Dutch, because it is just not part of the way that they are used to thinking. A good many objections to Catholicism in the USA, come from the fact that it is quite simply, unfamiliar; it’s European, it uses a lot of ideas that were old when the USA was born, it grow up in a series of societies which had ideas about politics which are completely alien to USA politics - IOW, it is very largely foreign. So people get flustered by it.
So, don’t start with those words. Instead, ask yourself what message you are trying to communicate: you may even have to “translate” from “Catholicese” into ways of thinking your friend will understand.
Why is Mary important ? Well, she is the first disciple;
She did all the things for which a blessing is given in Matthew 25.31-46;
She stood by Jesus at the Cross (how many mothers would have the stomach for anything as horrible as that? Mary did).
She lived her discipleship - including the agonising parts.
She is greeted as the mother of the Messianic King by Elizabeth.
IOW, stick to the Bible, and draw out everything that it says about her. And, see what Mary says. Look at what it says about the Christian life, about loving God and neighbour, and ask what it says that might be applicable to Mary.
Mary is the disciple who was totally and utterly dedicated to God. I think this is the other side of her sinlessness - she was “free from” all sin, so that she be “free into” the freedom intended for us all, that of serviong God without any reservation at all.
She has a lot of privileges - but, they are all God-centred - they are not mere titles to glorify her in herself, for of ourselves, we are “dust and ashes”, as Job says (42).
Mary is also a member of the Body of Christ, the Church. We are suposed to love our fellow-Christians - of whom Mary is one. Equally, if we love Mary, we will love them. Because love of Mary is ethical, it affects how we live - and it is ethical, because we worship a God Who is ethical. So that should flow into all our attitudes, including attitudes to Mary.
BTW, Mary is a means of keeping clean in a shabby world - we are influenced by what we look at, by our favourite thoughts not least. Because Mary’s purity is a living purity that comes from her Creator, and because it is completely stainless, it is in all respects holy and good. So we can do no harm to ourselves if we think about her - she exists for her Son, not for herself Her Son is the reason she exists ##
I am so sorry you had such a horrible experience with AoG. AoG who I have met are nothing like that.
With your cousin(?) talking about the aunt who is a nun, ask then why they think the aunt has not accepted Christ as their personal saavoir? Make him be specific. Is it because they haven’t said the sinneres prayer? Where is the sinners prayer in the Bible? (Did you see the thread in apologetics on “Where Do Catholics Hear the Gospel”? It show the “4 steps needed to become a Christian” laid out in the Mass.)
And there is a difference between thinking someone is following evil teachings and the person is evil. In my experience, AoG do a good job of separating the “sin from the sinner”. In my experience, they see Catholics as Lost not evil.
Everyone can and does have different experiences. But just as there can be unchristian Catholics, there can be unchristian AoG, but I would argue, that majority of Catholics along with most AoG are people who love God and follow Him to the best of their understanding.
There is a cd series by Scott Hahn called, ‘Evangelizing the Baptized’ which addresses how to talk with Christians like AG and/or Pentecostals in a way that, at the very least, will make clear that the Catholic Church is founded on Scripture and Apostolic teaching, not some willy nilly money/power hungry monolith.