What is an apostolic Christian and why is Kim Davis’ hair so long?

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Kim Davis, of Rowan County, Ky., a clerk jailed for five days for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, identifies as an apostolic Christian and attends Solid Rock Apostolic Church in Morehead, Ky.

But what is an “apostolic Christian” and why does the group oppose same-sex marriage?

Q: Who are apostolic Christians?

A: The term can refer to any of a few different groups, including the Apostolic Christian Church or the Apostolic Pentecostal Movement, also known as Oneness Pentecostalism. But it is listed in a worldwide directory of Pentecostal churches and apostolic ministries.

[New: Pope Francis reportedly met with a same-sex couple the day before he met with Kim Davis]

Q: What is Apostolic Pentecostalism and what do Apostolic Pentecostals believe?

A: Pentecostalism is a Christian movement that emphasizes a personal experience of God, including the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. The movement grew out of the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in California and takes its name from Pentecost, when early Christians first received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as the ability to heal and prophesy.

The Apostolic Pentecostals then split from the rest of the movement in 1916 over a disagreement over the nature of the Trinity.

Without getting too complicated, Apostolic Pentecostals believe that “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” are not three separate people, but three different titles for one person: Jesus.

The group also believe that you must speak in tongues to be saved, a practice known as glossolalia, which involves speaking a foreign language previously unknown to the speaker.

Vinson Synan, professor of church history at Regent University in Virginia and an expert on Pentecostalism, estimates there are 15 to 20 million Pentecostals in the United States; of these, perhaps 1 million are apostolic Pentecostals. Apostolic Pentecostals claim to have a total membership of 25 million worldwide, he said.

Q: What does “apostolic” mean in “pentecostal apostolic”?

A: “Apostolic” refers to the apostles, the first disciples of Jesus who were sent out to spread the Christian faith. In this case, it comes from the apostolic Pentecostal beliefs about baptism. Apostolic Pentecostals baptize believers in the name of Jesus. Other Christians baptize newly converted Christians in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Q: Isn’t that just splitting hairs?

A: All this quibbling about whether Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three persons or three titles for one person and which name Christians check when baptizing new believers seems pretty minor, doesn’t it? is this not ? But it’s a big problem. The doctrine of the Trinity, Synan said, “goes to the very heart of the Bible and the Christian gospel – the very idea of ​​Godhead.”

Q: OK, well, what’s with long hair and skirts?

A: Apostolic Pentecostals are the strictest of all Pentecostal groups, according to Synan. Like most Pentecostals, they do not use alcohol or tobacco. They don’t usually watch TV or movies either. Apostolic Pentecostal women also wear long dresses, do not cut their hair or wear makeup. This is called “external holiness”, he said, and it aims to separate his followers from the rest of the world in their appearance and behavior – although, he noted, the men who are apostolic Pentecostals look like “everybody”.

Q: So what does all of this have to do with same-sex marriage and Kim Davis?

A: The general superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International, the largest and most influential apostolic Pentecostal denomination, issued a statement earlier this year in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling recognizing same-sex marriages. In his statement, he defines God’s plan for marriage as “the union of a man and a woman who are committed for life” and encourages Christians to “defend the freedoms of expression, press , association and religion”.

In a statement released Sept. 1, Davis said the definition was “a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus himself regarding marriage.”

Religious News Service

[Pope Francis-Kim Davis meeting sets off new round of: What does Francis really think?]

Pope Francis secretly met Kim Davis during his visit to the United States (Video: Reuters)

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