Apostolic Identity

Posted: April 23, 2014 in On Being Apostolic
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Wow! It’s been so incredibly long since I’ve posted anything that…well…I’ll be very surprised if anyone’s remotely interested in reading these musings. Yet here they are for all that, flailing awkwardly around, disturbing the cobwebs and dust.

It’s just that for the past while, all the Famous Dudes of our movement have been writing and speaking about something called “Apostolic Identity”. Bless their hearts! It’s almost as if they all attended the same meetings and discussed it, or something. (Mind you, I’m not suggesting collusion. Heavens no!  I’m sure that they all just happen to be led of the Spirit to go all around our movement preaching and teaching the same thing at the same time.) But frankly, they’ve got me more than a little flummoxed. I’m flummoxed because I think I know what they mean when they say it, but I’m not quite sure. I’m not sure because for every sincere, impassioned, stern, and sometimes tearful remonstrance concerning “Apostolic Identity”, I’ve yet to hear anyone actually define it. It’s almost like it’s a secret code or something. “You know what we mean! (wink wink)” So, yeah. I’m flummoxed.

But hey, if it’s okay with you, I’ll just let the cat out of the bag; they’re talking about dress codes and appearance. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) It’s about pants on women, long hair on women, make-up and jewelry on women, etc. (And just in case you think we’re sexist or something, we don’t want make-up and jewelry on our men, either.) At least, I think they’re talking about dress codes and appearance, because they’re doing a remarkably good job of not actually defining what they’re talking about. Now I’m back to being flummoxed.

So, here’s one middle-aged, apostolic-all-his-life guy who’d really like someone to write something that clarifies what’s meant by “Apostolic Identity.” (Other than “magic hair”. I’ve heard quite enough about that, thank you very much.)

And while you’re at it, whoever you turn out to be, please provide comprehensive Biblical support for your definition. I mean, use those great tools you learned about in Bible College; exegesis and hermeneutics.  You know, those tools you always use in all of your preaching. Furthermore, try not to use statements like, “this is what we’ve always stood for”, as if trying to make a case based on our one hundred year tradition of doing a thing. (I was always taught that tradition was the absolute worst support for Christian belief) Just use the Bible. Then, try not to be offended and grieved if someone who’s a bit more skilled with these tools than you are points out the weaknesses of your position.

But that’ll be awkward, won’t it? After all, from region to region in our movement in North America, all that stuff is understood in slightly different ways. (And sometimes in not-so-slightly different ways.) Some areas allow light make-up on their women, and certain approved forms of jewelry. Other areas are aghast at the idea of “finger rings” on their ladies, but allow for the proud wearing of the most God-awful hair bling ever created outside of the jungles of Borneo.

Some places will tell you that “worldy amusements” are things like pro ball games, but maybe semi-pro games are ok. College games are definitely ok.  (Go Crimson! Or Ol’ Miss!) And whatever ball games you can or can’t go to, Six Flags or Canada’s Wonderland or Disney-whatever, are certainly not on the list of “worldly amusements.” For what it’s worth, I’ve gathered that it’s wrong beyond wrong to go see (let’s say) the Lion King in a movie theater, yet mysteriously, beyond my ability to comprehend, it’s perfectly okay to see it on the stage. (Tell me; is Broadway somehow morally superior to Hollywood?)

Hang on. I’m beginning to understand maybe why “Apostolic Identity” isn’t being too strictly defined; it means something different everywhere you go! Then of course, there’s the whole foreign field business… All in all, it makes for a rather squishy concept.

Here are the questions I ask myself:

When we’re more interested in identifying with a particular era of 20th century Oneness Pentecostalism (early, mid, or late 20th century…because each generation points back to a different “golden age”) than we are with identifying with Jesus, is it possible we’ve lost our way? When identifying with the Apostles has been reduced to a dress code, is it just possible that something important is already missing? When we decide that it’s perfectly moral and righteous for a Holy Ghost filled Christian to kill other human beings on behalf of secular, sinful governments, while implying that a woman who trims ½ inch from her hair is somehow outside of God’s protective covering, is it just possible that we’ve lost our sense of proportion? When we’re more concerned with appearance than we are with equity and justice, is it possible…just remotely …that something is, say, askew?

Is there any likelihood that when we reduced repentance to a simple walk down the aisle or a hand slipped into the air whilst “every head was bowed and every eye was closed”, that we’d already opened the door to major issues with genuine conversion? Is there a remote chance that when we reduced water baptism to little more than a theological also-ran on the way to Spirit baptism (or as a result of Spirit baptism), we’d already ceased to truly identify with the Apostles? Isn’t it just possible that when we began to reduce Spirit baptism to 30 seconds of “tongues” at a “crusade”, that a far more significant problem was rising? Is it possible that we have larger fish to fry?

Sure, I’m nobuddy faymahs…so nothing I’m saying really matters. And the Famous Dudes will keep talking right along about “Apostolic Identity”, while continuing…maybe even assiduously…to avoid defining it. But here’s what I think; there are far more significant issues at stake. And you’ll forgive me for saying that I think there’s far more to “Apostolic Identity” than a mid-20th century dress code.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  1. towardtheheights says:

    WOW. Great post. Much needed. That is all.

    Kent C.

    On Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 9:13 PM, Here’s What I Think… wrote:

    > Dennis Munn posted: “Dennis wrote: Apostolic Identity Wow! It’s been > so incredibly long since I’ve posted anything that…well…I’ll be very > surprised if anyone’s remotely interested in reading these musings. Yet > her”

  2. Dennis Munn says:

    Thanks for reading, Kent! 🙂

  3. Mark Morehouse says:

    Ok…this is such a sensible intelligent argument that you must prepare at once for your proper Apostolic flogging. Wow!

  4. Keri Grothe says:

    LOVED it! Sadly, so true…still, you are brave for putting it out there!

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