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UNITED PENTECOSTAL CHURCH INTERNATIONAL

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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 "in tongues".

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:
bulletability to heal others mentally and/or physically
bulletprophecy - the ability to predict the future as in Acts 2:17
bulletwisdom that is unattainable by natural methods
bulletdiscernment 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.

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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 Christian denomination, 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:
bulletthey 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.
bulletthey believe that anyone who is not baptized in the name of Jesus only will not be accepted into heaven when they die. 
bulletIf 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."
bulletthey 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.
bullettheir religious service includes foot washing in emulation of Jesus and his followers.
bulletmembers are forbidden to join the Masonic Order and other "secret societies."
bulletstrict dress and codes are followed, particularly for women.
bulletattendance 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
bulletThe 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:

bulletThey 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 woman.
bulletMembers may hot participate in competitive sports because of the evils associated with that activity.
bulletThey 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.
bullet"...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." 4

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Church locator:

You can search for a UPCI church by state or province, by the pastor's last name and by the UPCI district. See: http://wec.upci.org/churches/

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References:

  1. The UPCI has an official home page at: http://www.upci.org/ 
  2. Their 1983 statement on television is at: http://www.upci.org/about/doctrine/video.cfm 
  3. Their 1988 statement on abortion is at: http://www.upci.org/about/doctrine/abortion.cfm 
  4. Their 1877 statement on physical education is at: http://www.upci.org/about/doctrine/holinessphysed.cfm
  5. "Formula for Baptism," at: http://www.upci.org/about/doctrine/apostles.cfm#salvation 

Copyright 1998 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-SEP-05
Author: B.A. Robinson 

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