In my last blog post I told you everything I once believed, and what I now believe today. What wasn’t mentioned yet is what I will call the bridge. This is my path between the Assemblies of God church I grew up in, to the Reformed Church of the United States that I now attend.
Here is a rough timeline.
2000: College came and I left the Assemblies of God church for a non-denominational church that had the same beliefs. It was also my first experience with a mega church.
2002: In my sophomore or Junior year, my old piano teacher grew ill. She asked me to cover for her as a pianist at a small Baptist church. This was my first taste with a church that believed in eternal security.
2004: I left the Baptist church to go to another AG church where many of my college friends attended. This church was in the process of moving away and becoming its own non-denom church. This is a common thing. Such a move means no accountability above the pastor. This isn’t healthy.
2005: I stayed at this (now non-denom) church for a while even after graduation. I was very active with the singles group there, playing in the worship band. Amazingly… I only dated one girl during that time. She is now married and I couldn’t be happier for her. We would not have worked out.
It was during this time that two revelations came to me: Matthew 24 and a new house group I began to attend.
One day, while waiting for the singles group to start, I randomly opened my bible and read Matthew 24. In this chapter, Jesus tells his disciples about the end times. As I read, I found many verses pastors had used to explain the rapture. After reading them in context, I realized there wasn’t any mention of the rapture. This scared me. It also angered me. I had trusted these pastors.
Reading this chapter was the first step towards the bridge (cue ominous organ music).
About 2007: The Matthew 24 revelation opened me up to try something new. So, I joined a house group. This was a small group of believers who met every other Friday. They were very similar to the AG, yet they went much deeper with tongues and prophecy. From this point on, until the end of the bridge I was a major part of this group. I thought that it was the place where I would hear God most clearly. I was wrong. Oh, and I no longer believed in the rapture. This house group still did.
Around 2008: I left the non-denom church for an AG church where I met my roommate who ended up being a closet atheist (long story I’ll save for another post). I had no idea. His dad was one of the pastors of this church. We both became roommates and moved to another AG church (yes, a preacher’s kid atheist that still went to church). This church had issues. It really burned me out. I prayed for relief. God answered.
About 2009-15: God led me to take a piano job at two Baptist churches. The baptist church was the true bridge here, leading my theology more and more away from the AG side of things. I had no idea I would eventually become a Calvinist!
Also happening at around 2008-2014: During all of this time, I was faithfully attending the house group every other Friday. I even took on a leadership role as one of the worship leaders there. I wrote and played my own worship music. I also played music written by others in the band. That part was great! Wonderful musicians and very powerful times. I have fond memories there. But there was a rotten apple added to this group. I’m not speaking of a person, but a belief. That belief was the hyper-grace movement.
The Hyper-grace Movement and It’s Affect on My Life
The hyper-grace movement was my first introduction into grace. From the leader of this group and other teachers such as Joseph Prince, I learned about many rich and wonderful verses on grace. These verses had not been taught to me growing up. I think the AG church feared that this teaching would lead to the “once saved always saved doctrine”, so, they taught more on repentance and law.
Side note: Presbyterians teach both grace and law which is one of the main reasons I eventually joined them.
Hyper-grace teachings ignore the law. They do state it is important to lead you to Christ, but it is no longer needed once Christ touches you. Joseph Prince is known for saying you only need to repent ONCE! So, hyper-grace means God’s grace is so powerful you only need to rely on that one touch of Christ. (Spoiler alert: God’s grace is uber, hyper, and super powerful for dealing with our sins and wayward ways… but we are fallen and sinful, very leaky vessels. We need to continually return to the cross in repentance and sanctification.)
Hyper-grace also teaches the word of faith doctrine which in short is “name it, claim it”. This means that I can claim things in faith and they will happen.
“The kingdom of God is here NOW! Heaven has come TODAY! You do not need to suffer at all. Just believe and it will BE!”
…and other such heretical nonsense.
Bad things began to happen to me. People and best friends hurt me deeply. I also hurt them. I apologized. They made me a scapegoat. Yadda yadda yadda… very sad stuff. I turned to my hyper-grace theology and found nothing there. Those in the house group didn’t want to hear my sob story. They just continued to teach word of faith doctrine. “Heaven is here now!” Well I wasn’t seeing it. This led me into a deep depression.
The good again:
God used all of this to eventually lead me away from this group. It was hard fought over many sleepless nights, but in the end, God is the victor!
The group, to my knowledge, no longer meets.
At this point the bridge has been crossed! (cue the hymn: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God)
2015: I got a job at a classical school and immediately left the house group. I fled them in fact.
2016: Later in that school year, I left my baptist church and joined a PCA Presbyterian church. I became a member at this church and attended it for several years until…
2019 (right at the end of that year, in November): I got a job that moved me to Minnesota. Now I attend a Reformed Church of the United States which has a very similar confession to my old PCA church.
Phew! There is so much more to tell, but this is the foundation of my strange and unusual shift from AG to reformed.