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Introduction page

Although I was in the Apostolic Assembly of the Faith in Christ Jesus (Apostolic Assembly) organization1 since birth, I must confess that I never did a careful study of the Bible. And it was not something that would be viewed as odd. It also kept me from discovering what God had revealed about Himself in Scripture.

What kept me - and I'm sure many members of this movement - from wandering from the "fold," was the sense of belonging. This feeling was akin to being in a club and nurtured from having a "we/they" elitist mentality among the Christian world. This also came from believing that only we have the truth about God and the plan of salvation. Why I even went so far as to proclaim that only we are really saved!

I spent most of my youth in northern California and it wasn't until shortly after high school that I began the Oneness "plan of salvation" by getting baptized2 using their prescribed formula. It was not until a year later that I fulfilled all the requirements to be a "saved" member of the Apostolic Assembly organization by "receiving the Holy Ghost (speaking in tongues)."3

Meanwhile, I won a national award as the top scoring contestant in the organization's Bible quiz competition as a result of having memorized virtually all of the book of Revelation. I then became president of the local youth group as well. However, as I would later find out, this was all works related and, therefore, not true salvation. Eventually I became less involved with the Oneness movement and more involved with the temporal things this world has to offer.

It was not until I experienced a series of painful events - especially the passing away of my mother - that I took a more serious look at my eternal destiny. Unfortunately, instead of getting myself immersed in careful contemplation of Scripture, I began to experience more hyper-experientialism (getting "blessed" in Apostolic Assembly terms) thinking that would erase all my pain as well as restore my salvation.

Despite my surroundings, God knew I was earnestly seeking Him and was never far away (Deut. 4:29; Acts 17:27). It was also about this time that I became engaged to be married and was astonished of the treatment we received from the local pastor (a relative of mine in fact!). This was because I was divorced from a previous marriage of three years and my fiance had never been married. This pastor and other members (yet more of my relatives) repeatedly told my fiance to stay away from me. Using isolated texts from Scripture, they tried to show her that I would be causing her to commit adultery if she went ahead and married me.

This caused me to search the Scriptures (something I never did with zeal before) so that I would learn for myself if what he said was true. I soon discovered that, for my specific circumstances (my former wife initiated the divorce and had already re-married), the pastor was incorrect in his view. I then consulted with his presiding bishop who assured me that he was in agreement with me. However, it was not in his job description to over rule him. Even with the bishop's endorsement, the local pastor would not even let us marry in "his" church. Eventually, we had to rent a baptist church and use a minister from out of town.

Then one day I heard Hank Hanegraaff, of the Christian Research Institute (CRI), call the UPC (all Oneness Pentecostals as well) a cult on the Bible Answer Man radio broadcast. This was a shock to me, as I had never heard anyone say this about us (partly as a result of being told not to listen to non-Oneness teachers and a lack of ministries that heed the command to defend the faith). This caused me to further examine the Scriptures so that I might call or write this person and refute his lies. Meanwhile, I asked myself regarding my church: Why was I hearing and reading so much more about how women shouldn't be cutting their hair or wearing pants and less about more egregious sins such as fornicating (which was being committed by my fellow members more than hair cutting or wearing of pants!).

After a careful study on this, I discovered that they had a flawed interpretation of the verses used to support their rules regarding hair and clothing.4 I wrote letters to two leaders in the organization asking them what they thought of my view. One responded very defensively5 and the other didn't respond at all!6 Again I asked myself: If my organization can't stand up to truth on legalistic matters, could they be wrong on more essential matters like the nature of God and salvation?

I continued to study the Bible regarding their view on speaking in tongues and water baptism - again finding that it didn't match with Scripture. At the same time, I asked for literature from CRI in preparation for refuting their anti-Oneness Pentecostal stance. However, the first thing that caught my attention as I compared what I was taught to what CRI sent me, was that Trinitarians believe in one God too! And a lot of what was being revealed to me regarding the legalistic issues I had been studying were amazingly the same as what CRI presented in their literature. So instead of using it to my advantage, I began to realize that most of what I've been taught in my Oneness Pentecostal church was misinterpretation and twisting of Scripture in order to satisfy their man made ideas.

Now I was no longer hurt by CRI, but now I was hurt by this organization who, for reasons I can only speculate, presented false teaching to me. The evidence was overwhelming and all I could do was bow down to Scripture. It was about this time that I was born again in the Biblical sense and now I belong to a healthy, well balanced church where I worship the ONE living Lord of the universe who revealed to me the truth about Himself.

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1. A Oneness Pentecostal organization, based in Southern California, of mostly Hispanic members. Although formed in the early 1900s, they are still relatively small in number as even most apologists are unaware of their presence.^

2. For a description of the Oneness Pentecostal view of water baptism, and Scripture's refutation of it, go to my Theology page's Water Baptism section.

3. For a description of the Oneness Pentecostal view of tongues, and Scripture's refutation of it, go to my Theology page's Tongues section.

4. For a description of the Oneness Pentecostal view of hair and clothing, and Scripture's refutation of it, go to my Theology page's Appearance section.

5. My letter to Sam Valverde, then and still the "Secretary of Christian Education" for the Apostolic Assembly and also currently a pastor, focused on the issue of pants in response to his article in one of their publications ("Holiness: Part 3", Preserving Doctrinal Unity, Apostolic Biblical Expositor, 2nd Quarter, [Manna Apostolic Publications, Los Angeles, CA, 1994], 51) that stated Deut. 22:5 (the article actually had 22:9) "is used to prove that woman should 'not wear pants'". In his letter dated October 24, 1994, Mr. Valverde first agreed with my hermeneutical analysis of Deut. 22:5 and later admitted that he "should have put the word prove ('prove') in quotes, in order to emphasize the point."
However, his comments elsewhere dulled their truthfulness. For instance, he emphatically stated that his article explains "one should not interpret the text the way you accuse me of doing" (his emphasis). Yet in his article, he states "but to interpret this verse in this way ONLY, violates the hermeneutical laws..." (my emphasis). Clearly this is an acceptance of the flawed interpretation and only an objection to it being the only interpretation. He then denounced the fact that I did not provide a reference "by a recognized authority" for one of my statements, yet he ignored the fact that he did not always provide documentation for several of his statements.

6. Daniel Jauhall, at the time, the aforementioned bishop for the Central District of California of the Apostolic Assembly.