“Born again, again,” by Bob Melone, Chapter 3, part 2 of 3

19 04 2016

In the spring of 1983 I was baptized in the Holy Spirit – whatever that means! I don’t want to minimize peoples’ personal experiences of the holy, but sometimes emotional experiences need to be named and regarded for what they are . . . emotional experiences! Not all “God” experiences are emotional; and what I learned in 1983 was that not all emotional experiences are “God” experiences.

After Dallas Holm called me to ‘come unto Jesus’ when I was in high school, many people began telling me that there was a second important step in my journey toward God. Not only did I need to invite Jesus into my heart, but there was also a ‘second blessing’ that needed to occur – the Baptism of the Holy Spirit! And so began my second search! I longed to be ‘slain in the spirit’ and ‘baptized from above’, so that I might speak in other tongues and know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I truly was part of the family of God.

Fortunately, in college, I had a dear friend who was on a similar journey, and while we both were striving to seek after God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, this baptism never came. At least we weren’t aware that it had! The outward sign of speaking in an unknown language was not an experience that had come our way. All we could manage was the little bit of French and Spanish we had learned in high school, and we knew that didn’t count! But we weren’t about to give up; and the end to our searching came in a way that we had not planned!

In an attempt to convert all the Jews at The American University, my friend and I decided that we need to bring Sid Roth to campus. Sid is a ‘completed Jew’ who continues to live in the DC area, and to this day is still preaching and evangelizing, primarily through a Christian talk show titled “It’s supernatural.” (Please know that many of the ‘terms’ I am using, like ‘completed Jew,’ are not my own; but rather ones passed on to me by others. I continue to use them here so that readers might be able to identify the parts of my journey that are similar to their own. And . . .ok . . . I’ll admit it . . . I also continue to use them to be a little sarcastic!)

Anyway, Sid Roth came, and spoke to a gathering of not more than 2 dozen students, most of whom had already been ‘saved.’ There were no Jewish people present to accept Jesus as their Messiah, and Sid knew this. As a result, he was ‘led’ to modify his talk; and because my friend and I were struggling with the Baptism of the Spirit (we had told him this ahead of time!), that was the direction in which he believed God was leading him to move. So rather than a call to conversion, Sid’s call was to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Once again, as far as I can remember, no one went forward . . . except for my friend and me! When invited to come and to receive God’s second blessing, we were on our feet in a minute . . . waiting . . . wanting . . . wishing . . . for God’s touch, one that would finally confirm that we had done everything we needed to do to be on the good side of eternity.

Trying not to laugh – this had always been a problem for me, but should in no way lead anyone to believe that I didn’t take what I was doing seriously! – my friend and I stood before Sid, listening to his words of ‘wisdom.’

“Just open your mouth, move your tongue around, and let the sounds come out!”

So . . . that’s what I did!

And that’s what I did for several years after that event!

And friends, that is all it was – opening my mouth, moving my tongue around, and letting the sounds come out!

I know these words will be offensive to some, but sometimes ‘religious experiences’ need to simply be named for what they are . . . nonsense! People may be extremely sincerely, and the event may be extremely emotional. But spiritual? Not so much!

When a mother tells the world that God told her to drive her mini-van into a lake and take the lives of her children, we are quick to say that such a mother is NOT hearing the voice of God, but rather the voice of something inside of her that is simply not right. Many would even say that she is mentally ill.

And when a man tells us that the God he worships and serves has called him to fly a plane into a building in order to murder the infidels inside that building, the world is quick to say that any god that would demand such action is simply not a god worthy of anyone’s worship! The man is devout, and passionate, but also tragically and horrifically misled.

Extreme examples? Not fair comparisons to something as personal, and private, and personally edifying as the gift of tongues? Perhaps. But the differences can only be found in terms of their consequences. Having spent most of my high school, college, and seminary years in Charismatic and Pentecost circles, I know first-hand how theologically and intellectually flawed their teachings really are, and have come to believe that sometimes, some religions just need to be called out and labeled for what they are – emotional crutches; run by misled, albeit sometimes well-intentioned, charlatans; that may at times accomplish much good, but that never the less are rooted and grounded in teachings that are factually wrong, and spiritually misguided!

HOWEVER, having said that, in spite of my criticism of, and negativity toward, so many of the teachings of Pentecostal and Charismatic communities, the one thing I willingly and enthusiastically embrace is the whole idea that the Spirit of God is indeed living and active in the hearts and minds of people today. I don’t think that movement is evidenced by speaking in unknown tongues, nor is it made manifest in prophetic predictions of future events, nor is it witnessed in the miraculous finding of a parking space in a crowded Walmart parking lot. But if God is indeed God, and if the Church of Jesus Christ really is the resurrected ‘body of Christ’ in the world today, then the Holy Spirit must be working and moving in the world around us – today, just as powerfully, and in the past!

All of this is to say that for hundreds of years, the Church has been under the mistaken notion that the Spirit of God ceased speaking after the words of Scripture were written. But I can no longer logically advocate for such a teaching! The Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches rightly speak of the Spirit’s movement in the world today; and while they may be misguided in their understanding of how that Spirit works, THAT the Spirit works, must be realized! For the work of informing, and revealing, and disclosing, and instructing . . . these are the ongoing works of the Spirit; and to think such activities ended once the Bible was complied, grossly thwarts the development of a mature understanding of God and God’s actions, in the world today.

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