Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin and Religion

If I may digress from the current landslide of accolades and criticisms of Sen. McCain's VP choice, I would like to address an issue that hasn't really been mentioned. It seems that Gov. Palin is Pentecostal. Assemblies of God to be more specific.

This is incredibly interesting to me. We'll probably hear a lot about her appealing to fundamentalists, evangelicals, and all the other worthless labels currently applied by ignorant media types when discussing any Christians. Of course, what these folks don't realize is that fundamentalists and Pentecostals historically loathe one another. Sure, there's a lot of reconciliation these days due to the mutual threat of secularism, but both groups still harbor a great deal of uneasiness. In some circles, this may cause more issues than Romney's Mormonism. Folks with reservations probably could have looked at Mitt's resume and looked past the whole Mormon thing. I'm not so sure about Palin having that same advantage.

Let's consider the Assemblies for a moment. It's lacking in the wiki article, but it's pretty well-accepted that the Assemblies were founded by honky Pentecostals who didn't want to deal with black pastors. I wonder if this rather dubious lineage will become an issue.

Moreover, the Assemblies, like any other Pentecostal group, have a heavy emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, often moreso than Scripture, despite "Fundamental Truth #1."

The Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct.

This is because of Truths #7 and #8:

All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian Church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry.

The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance.

This "power" spoken of above will sometimes take the form of prophetic utterances or statements given as doctrine delivered "by the Spirit." Granted, like with most Protestant groups, there is a pretty wide variance amongst Assembly-goers as to what the Truths mean and what to believe outside of these statements.

Anyways, the biggest thing about all this pertains to Truth #8. If video surfaces of Palin speaking in tongues, it will annihilate the ticket. She will be considered a complete whack-job by secularists and perhaps only somewhat less reviled by more conservative Protestants. The Jeremiah Wright stuff will look tame by comparison. While I understand that the practice of glossolalia has gained a bit more acceptance these days due to the spread of "charismatic" movements within other communities (and even, regrettably, Catholicism), I don't think this sort of thing is ready for prime time, especially given the backlash against religion following the Kerry loss in 2004 (Jesusland maps, anyone?).

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