Why I Left The Tongues Movement - By Alfred H. Pohl
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To my wife, Minnie,
loving and loyal companion
on life's journey
The author gratefully acknowledges the help of the following and desires to express his appreciation:
To those who have supported us in this ministry and made the publishing of this book possible.
To the authors and publishers whose materials have been reproduced in this volume.
To Mr. David Cloud for his much appreciated assistance in the preparation of this third printing.
Many have asked, "Why did you leave the Tongues Movement?" In this book I have attempted to give my major reasons for doing so. These I present, not in a spirit of controversy, but with a sincere desire to help those who are seriously seeking a scriptural answer in these days of bewildering teaching and confusion. Should, through the reading of this testimony, someone be helped, I will be most grateful. All glory to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
--A.H. Pohl, Three Hills, Alberta, July 3, 1982
FOREWORD TO THIRD PRINTING
It is with sincere thankfulness to the Lord that the third printing of this book in English is needed. The response to its message has been beyond anything that I originally had anticipated. Requests for it have come from all parts of Canada and the U.S.A., as well as from a good number of countries overseas. And this is true in spite of practically no formal advertising.
Because of strong demands, a Spanish edition was printed and is now in circulation, and some other language editions are under consideration.
One Christian brother, whose letter is typical of many, wrote: "You will never know how much this book has meant to me. All I can say is `thank you, Lord' for directing you to put this book together."
May this third printing continue to meet the needs of many, and be a blessing to every reader, in a time when there is an ever-increasing tide of confusion and deception.
—A.H. Pohl, Westbank, B.C., January 7, 1991
17 REASONS WHY I LEFT THE TONGUES MOVEMENT
BY ALFRED H. POHL
After a service one evening a Christian brother, who is a minister in the Pentecostal Movement, approached me and asked, "Can you tell me in a sentence or two why you left the Pentecostal Movement?" He was asking for an impossibility! How could I condense all that was involved in a major, life-altering decision into one or two sentences? I left for a number of reasons, and just simply to itemize them without a good explanation backed up by Scripture would accomplish very little and could actually result in misunderstanding.
In this testimony I purpose not only to list some of the main reasons why I left or why I am not in the Tongues Movement today, but also expand on each one, at least to some extent, as space will allow. References made to tongues-speaking, Pentecostal, Full Gospel teachings will of necessity be more to those of the mainstream of that Movement, although there are many differing views and doctrines in Pentecostalism. This has resulted in the formation of many different Pentecostal-Tongues denominations. All Tongues people are not in full agreement on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
Some ask why I left pastoral work to engage in a traveling ministry majoring largely in teaching the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Much of my ministry now involves messages of warning to God's people. Is this justified? Is it loving to speak on this subject when feelings are very tender in this area? In answer, I suggest for your consideration the following three reasons:
1. GOD'S MINISTER MUST PREACH THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD
Paul, in Acts 20:20 and 27 said: "I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you," and "I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." I personally believe, that, to a large extent, failure on the part of fundamental and non-Tongues ministers to teach and preach boldly and plainly the true doctrine of the Holy Spirit to our people has; a) been unfair and unloving to our congregations, and; b) in many cases has resulted in these untaught ones being ensnared in wrong teaching, and; c) has contributed to split or divided churches, etc. Let me ask you, why should we not teach the doctrines that we believe in our own churches? We owe that to our people as well as to those who might consider joining. Do they know what they are joining? That could save a great deal of heartache for all concerned later on. Certainly, we must not teach with malice but in love (Eph. 4:15). But failure to give sound teaching on the Holy Spirit to avoid hard feelings now or fearing fanaticism isn't going to cause our people to "grow up into Him [Christ] in all things" (Eph. 4:15). They will be unprepared for the winds of false doctrine that are bound to sweep over the land.
2. THE MOST LOVING THING GOD'S MINISTER CAN DO IS TO BOTH PROCLAIM AND DEFEND THE TRUTH OF GOD'S WORD.
This is not only my right but also my obligation! I, as God's ambassador, am responsible to teach God's people. Failure to do so may result in some of them being led astray. Who will receive the blame?
3. A TRUE MINISTER OF THE WORD MUST HAVE, ALONG WITH THE THEME OF EXALTING CHRIST, A NOTE OF WARNING.
Paul did. In Acts 20:31, speaking to the Ephesian elders, he said:
"Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." Again, in Colossians 1:28 he said: "Whom we preach (that is, Christ), warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
A note of warning is an important part of the message of God's minister. It is not easy or pleasant, but essential. If I knew that the bridge down the road was washed out, and I saw you coming down the road in your car heading for danger, what kind of friend would I be if I simply smiled, waved a greeting, and shouted, "Have a good day"? We need to warn because we love God, His people, and the Word of God!
I want to make it clear that I am not a crusader against the Tongues-Charismatic Movement. Rather, I am, if you will, a crusader for the Truth. I believe that, wherever the Scriptures cut across error and false doctrine, we need to take our stand for the final authority of God's Word. This I had to do, at great cost, in my own life. I am not against Tongues people, though I can't agree with their teachings. But I am making myself available to help them and those who are confused and unsure as to what God actually has for them according to His will expressed in the Scriptures. I believe that the Lord brought me up this road that, knowing by personal experience the pitfalls and problems involved, I might be able to help and minister to others in similar circumstances.
It is my desire also to help many to a realization of what the true Spirit- filled life really is. I believe that we, in the Tongues Movement, made a serious error by putting so much emphasis upon tongues speaking, so much so, that we missed something very important. Being so occupied with what we considered to be the evidence to being Spirit-filled, namely, tongues speaking, we, to a great extent, missed the real meaning and significance of the biblical Spirit-filled life. It is this genuine Spirit-filled life that I am concerned about and want so much to see lived by God's people today, and I'm sure that many of you share this concern with me.
There are two extremes, I believe, that we have to avoid: First, when there is no fire in the church—cold, formal, dead; and, secondly, when there is wildfire in the church. Which of these present the greater danger? Certainly cold, dead formalism does not produce fruit and life.
But, on the other hand, think of the harm and reproach that is produced by an unbalanced, extreme, fanatical type of church activity. A good rule to follow is: "AVOID EXTREMES!"
In 1 Corinthians 14:26 we are told: "Let all things be done unto edifying," and in verse 40 we read: "Let all things be done decently and in order." I know a little about the "wildfire" extreme, and know what harm it can do.
But it is also dangerous to slip into the other extreme of being too cold and formal. Let us remember that we are the possessors of eternal life. We believers in Christ have that "abundant life" Christ spoke of in John 10:10. Let us be reminded that there is a real, genuine, scriptural, Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, Spirit-controlled life that each of us who are believers should know in our everyday activity and experience (Eph. 5:18).
Many today are questioning and desiring greater depth and reality in their Christian lives. This is very commendable! As they see coldness and perhaps very little emphasis on the Spirit-filled life in their churches, they begin to ask whether their answer might not be in the Charismatic Movement.
It is to meet some of these needs that I am directing my ministry now as the Lord enables.
May I here just briefly suggest the solution to this problem? (I will expand on this further toward the end of this book.) The answer for these Christians will not be found in fanaticism but in a right understanding of Bible teaching on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and His work in the believer and in the church. All that we need we already have potentially in the INDWELLING Holy Spirit. Now, it is up to us to appropriate it or yield to the Holy Spirit's ministry in and through us.
The answer, I repeat, is not in the extreme of fanaticism or "wildfire."
Now for a brief view of my personal history in the Tongues Movement:
I belonged to the Apostolic Church of Pentecost of Canada, Incorporated. I was raised in it from childhood, was saved and baptized in it, ordained in it, preached in it, taught in our Bible school for five years, and was our denomination's missionary-secretary for five years—during which time I visited and spoke in most of our churches across Canada.
I thoroughly enjoyed my work and responsibilities in the Bible school, teaching the Word of God to eager young students. Along with other Bible subjects I taught Missions. I would teach in the school during the winter months and in summer I traveled and ministered in the various churches and camps in the interest of missions. My heart was in missions and I loved the work. I had the joy of seeing a goodly number of our students and others respond to the missionary call, and then to send them out to the mission fields. I was completely satisfied, and seemingly I had found my "niche" in life and in the Lord's work.
But why then did I leave?
I will endeavour first of all to list the major reasons, and then elaborate on each one. However, it will be impossible to look at each reason thoroughly in the scope of this testimony.
I LEFT THE TONGUES MOVEMENT BECAUSE OF:
Reason # 1--Sincere convictions regarding their doctrines, emphases, and practices
Reason #2--An unsound biblical basis for their doctrine of the Holy Spirit
Reason #3--An over-emphasis of one gift of the Holy Spirit
Reason #4--An under-emphasis of other doctrines, particularly the cross-work of Christ
Reason #5--Their "experience" orientation
Reason #6--The undermining of the personality of the Holy Spirit
Reason #7--Spiritual pride and disunity produced by their doctrine
Reason #8--The teaching that tongues speaking is a sign of spirituality or even of salvation
Reason #9--Sign-seeking instead of faith
Reason #10--Questionable activities practiced and condoned
Reason #11--The fear of questioning the so-called activities of the Holy Spirit
Reason #12--The view that the Corinthian church was a model church
Reason #13--The danger of claiming extra-biblical revelation
Reason #14--The excesses and deceptive practices condoned in divine healing campaigns
Reason #15--The tendency to blind, unquestioning devotion to popular leaders
Reason #16--The possibility that the Charismatic Movement will be instrumental in producing the prophesied world ecumenical church of the last days
Reason #17--Their distortion of the true Spirit-filled life
Charismatics: Whither Bound?
Helpful Books on the Charismatic Movement
17 REASONS WHY I LEFT THE TONGUES MOVEMENT
By Alfred H. Pohl
202 - 33401 Mayfair Ave., Abbotsford, B.C. V2S 6Z2 Canada
Box 856, Three Hills, Alberta T0M 2A0 Canada
Copyright 1982, 1984, 1991 By Alfred H. Pohl
First Printing September 1982
Second Printing April 1984
Third Printing May 1991
USED WITH PERMISSION - Minnie Pohl
- January 17, 2008