UNITED PENTECOSTAL CHURCH INTERNATIONAL
How Pentecostals differ from other conservative Christians:
The United Pentecostal Church International is normally considered to be within
the Pentecostal family of Christian churches. Pentecostals differ from other conservative
Christian denominations in their belief in Glossolalia, or the ability to speak
Acts 2:1 to 21 of the Christian Scriptures describe the day of Pentecost, when the Holy
Spirit is described as having descended upon the surviving apostles. The apostles were suddenly able "to
speak in other tongues" (NIV). Among the visitors on that day were foreigners
from various nations: Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea
and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, " etc. (NIV Acts 2:9). Each person heard
preaching in their own native language. This is called xenoglossia: the ability to
talk in an existing foreign language that one has never learned. Needless to say, it is a
rare phenomenon. Skeptics challenge that it has ever happened.
Pentecostals expect that new Christians will receive from God the gift of speaking
"in tongues" as evidence that they have been "baptized of the Holy
Spirit." This infilling of the Holy Spirit can also bring additional gifts:
||ability to heal others mentally and/or physically
||prophecy - the ability to predict the future as in Acts 2:17
||wisdom that is unattainable by natural methods
||discernment of spirits - the ability to detect angels, demons, etc.
There is one fundamental difference between the first century CE phenomenon of
xenoglossia and the glossolalia exhibited among Pentecostals today. The latter is not an
actual foreign language. It sounds to the casual observer like a repetitive series of
meaningless sounds. If it were converted to written form, the alphabet would contain only
a few vowels and consonants.
The United Pentecostal Church International:
The United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) traces its roots back to 1916-OCT, when a group
of pastors left the Assemblies of God. They are a fundamentalist
which is part of the Pentecostal family of
denominations. They are the largest of perhaps 50 "Oneness Pentecostal"
denominations (those who baptize in the name of Jesus Christ only). The UPCI has about 1.2 million members world-wide, including about 400,000 members in
their approximately 3,500 North American churches. They publish two periodicals: The
Pentecostal Herald and The Global Witness.
The United Pentecostal Church International teaches many of the same beliefs
as other conservative Christian denominations: salvation is by grace; one
is justified through faith in Jesus; one must repent of their sinful life, and
be baptized by immersion; the second coming of Jesus is expected soon. In common
with other denominations within the Pentecostal movement, they believe that a
saved person receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. They view "speaking
in tongues as the initial, physical evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost..."
However, they hold some
non-traditional beliefs, including:
||they share with other "Oneness Pentecostals" the practice of baptizing
in the name of Jesus Christ only. (See Acts 2:38) Other Christian denominations follow
Matthew 28:19 and baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
||they believe that anyone who is not baptized in the name of Jesus only will not be
accepted into heaven when they die.
||If a person is genuinely saved, then they will speak in tongues.
"Speaking in other tongues...is the manifestation God has
given as the definite, indisputable, supernatural witness or sign of
the baptism of the Holy Ghost...This spiritual baptism is necessary to
put someone into the kingdom of God."
||they reject the traditional concept of the Trinity. Although they believe that God has
manifested in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) they believe that this happened
sequentially. "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not names of
separate persons, but titles of positions held by God." 5
God appeared first as the Father; in the 1st century CE he appeared as
Jesus; since Jesus' ascension, he has appeared as the Holy Spirit.
||their religious service includes foot washing in emulation of Jesus and his followers.
||members are forbidden to join the Masonic Order and other "secret societies."
||strict dress and codes are followed, particularly for women.
||attendance at movies is forbidden "...Inasmuch as motion
pictures are utilized by the world as the medium by which the basest
and most corrupt passions and activities of men are portrayed on the
screen, and the United Pentecostal Church International has
traditionally opposed said movie films produced for the entertainment
of the ungodly world..." However, they do permit "the use of
this medium among God's people...in such areas as taking pictures of
families and friends and the viewing of educational, religious, or
inspirational films..." 2
||The use of television is restricted to the taking of pictures of
families, friends, and church activities, and the viewing of
educational, religious, or inspirational films which are consistent
with wholesome Christian principles. A 1983 resolution further called
for the alteration of all TV sets so "as to be unable to
receive television channels." 2
Most conservative Christians disagree with the current availability of "gifts of
the spirit." They believe that these were given only to the early Christian church
while the apostles were alive. They are not available to Christians today.
Some practices within the UPCI are:
||They oppose abortion. However, their 1988 statement on this topic
does not indicate whether abortion is acceptable in pregnancies
arising out of rape or incest, or if needed to save the life of the
||Members may hot participate in competitive sports because of the
evils associated with that activity.
||They teach that members' clothing and appearance must be gender
specific. For example, men must not have long hair or cover their hair in church; women
must not wear jeans or slacks.
||"...we cannot approve the integrating of male and female in
physical education classes in which scanty clothing, on the gymnasium
floor or in the swimming pool or in an outdoor stadium, is required."