Assemblies of God (USA)

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From the Council for the Assemblies of God (USA) Official Website: http://www.ag.org

Beginning of Life

Abortion

The Assemblies of God opposes abortion.

Official Statement:

The Assemblies of God is unashamedly pro-life. Even though a United States Supreme Court decision legalized abortion in 1973, abortion is still immoral and sinful. This stand is founded on the biblical truth that all human life is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). From that truth issues the long-standing Christian view that aborting the life of a developing child is evil. Those who defend abortion claim that an unborn child in the early stages of development is merely fetal tissue, not a person. But neither science nor medicine can declare an arbitrary time during pregnancy when human life begins. The Bible indicates that human life begins at conception (Job 31:15, Psalm 139:13-16). Because of the sacredness of human life, the matter is settled by theological statement of Scripture, not by a medical determination of viability outside the mother’s womb. There is a Christian alternative to abortion. Instead of terminating the life of the unborn child, the newborn can be placed for adoption by loving Christians. Adoption is a concept authored by God, for all Christian believers have been adopted into the family of God. By choosing to give birth to her baby rather than having an abortion, the birth mother spares the life of a child created in the image of God.
CONCERNS:
Some professing Christians use unchristian methods to oppose abortion. But we must never forget the priority God places on His spiritual and material creation. The soul and where it will spend eternity is of primary importance. Believers must recognize God also loves those who are proabortion, so we must show compassion also. Yet, at the same time, we must try to halt the horrendous murder of innocents in our country. Just stopping abortions is not enough. The church must show compassion and support toward those who carry their child to birth but do not have the needed resources or an awareness of adoption options. Because of the advances in medical science, very few mothers today die in pregnancy or childbirth. Yet in some infrequent cases saving the life of the child or of the mother may mean the death of the other. If after prayer for God’s intervention, the problem is not resolved, consultation with attending pro-life physicians will be helpful in arriving at the proper conclusion.[1]

Infertility & Reproduction

Reproductive Technology

The Assemblies of God has no official stance on the use of reproductive technologies, however they have parameters.

Official Statement:

“Though the Assemblies of God has no official statement concerning the use of artificial reproductive technology as a means of overcoming infertility, there is concern that procedures tampering with the human embryo (a fertilized egg after conception) have the potential to circumvent the sovereign will of God.”[2]
“Christian couples who are unable to conceive children are not wrong in exploring the physical cause for their barrenness, or for considering options in medical assistance. However, such measures should only be considered in constant and prayerful view of biblical ethics and God’s will for their lives and marriage. To neglect God’s will and navigate a course without God’s guidance is often disastrous. [Continues with the example of Abraham and Sarah]” Barren couples should pray for God’s healing, and probably have church leaders pray over them.[3]
“However, if God does not remove the infertility, the couple should continue to pray and ask if He has a purpose in their childlessness that could not be accomplished with children. If after adequate time of prayerful waiting God gives no indication of a special purpose or ministry for remaining childless, some alternatives such as surgical repair of blocked or damaged Fallopian tubes, or the careful administration of drugs to stimulate ovulation (when physical problems can be corrected by these means) would seem acceptable. Taking medical action after earnestly seeking God’s will is much different from Abraham and Sarah’s situation who were given the promise of a child from the Lord yet impatiently sought a different solution.”
“While there is great joy in rearing a child, children are not in themselves the source of happiness and peace. God is the source of life, and He is able to distribute true joy and happiness with or without children. As the Psalmist David wrote, "He [the Lord our God] settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children" (Psalm 113:9).[4]
“Over a dozen reproductive technologies have been suggested or tried by modern science. Many of them give genuine concern to Assemblies of God adherents. From the perspective of the childless Christian couple, the scriptural principle of the sacredness of the marriage bond must always be honored, thus excluding all approaches with third-party involvement (e.g., artificial insemination by donor [AID] and surrogation). Other methods that do not violate this principle are nevertheless difficult to defend because of the potential threat posed as medical researchers tamper with the conception process and the beginning of human life. When we hear medical technicians claim they are on their way to artificially creating human life, without reliance on natural processes, we know that modern medicine, which can be a beautiful gift when regulated by God's Word, can become an arrogant challenge to our sovereign God. We can never be a part of such disobedience.”[5]

Healthcare & Medicine

Organ Donation & Transplantation

The Assemblies of God position appeals to their doctrine on the resurrection. Since upon death, the Bible teaches that the mortal bodies are no longer needed, return to dust, they allow for organ donation and encourage it to be a testimony. However, choosing not to donate is a valid option for the Christian.

Official Statement:

“Ultimately, the question comes down to whether or not we view it right for our organs to be candidates for resource.”[6]

Science & Technology

Biotechnology

Animal-Human Hybrids & Chimeras

“Genetic engineering reports have noted the insertion of human genes into animals, possibly for cloning purposes. Scripture would seem to forbid such a practice. Exodus 22:19, Leviticus 18:23 and 20:15,16, and Deuteronomy 27:21 order death as the penalty for humans and animals that engage in mutual sexual intercourse. The thought is repulsive and the death penalty could have been ordered because of the social stigma. But God may also have forbid the practice because of genetic complications that could have resulted.”[7]

Human Cloning

The Assemblies of God is opposed to human cloning.

Official Position:

“We feel strongly that such a procedure involving human cells is not in keeping with biblical principles on the God-given individuality of human life. Meditating on his own physical existence, Job declared that God gave life and He ended it (Job 1:21). Though we may understand the processes of conception, pregnancy, and birth, for humans these are not mechanical stages. God is at work creating a body to be an abode for an eternal soul. Any attempt to procreate human life outside of God’s parameters is an attempt to usurp God’s greatest act of creation, that of human life possessing both body and soul.”
“Some have claimed that the cloning of humans could provide replacement organs that would prolong the lives of persons already living. While this view seems to line up with the sacredness of human life at first glance, it probably means taking one human life to extend the life of another. We believe such decisions should be God’s alone. Furthermore, the driving motive for cloning humans seems to be for the benefit of those doing the cloning or those who desire some organ for extending life. No thought is ever given to the terrible toll that would be taken on the failed clones or the successful clone that provides harvested organs.”[8]

Animal Cloning

Official Position:

“The cloning of animals presents a difficult dilemma. The Bible recognizes that animals are a source of food for humans. It also gives humans dominion over the animal world –and by implication over the plant world (Genesis 1:26,28). There is also an instance in Scripture where selective breeding of animals took place (Genesis 30). Some recent research has sought to produce milk through genetic engineering that would be therapeutic and enriched for the benefit of those who drink it. Such research would seem to be acceptable as long as the animals used in the research are not mistreated. Animal life does not have the standing in God’s sight that human life has, but there is no justification in Scripture for needless abuse and mistreatment of animals.”[9]

Genetic Ethics

Gene Therapy/Genetic Engineering

The Assemblies of God recommend a cautionary approach to genetic engineering and technology.

Official Statement:

“It would be easy to oppose all research in areas of cloning and genetic engineering. There are voices in the medical community declaring that whatever experiments can be done in cloning and genetic research must be done. They express no moral or ethical parameters or guidelines such experimentation should respect. They don’t seem to understand the negative implications that can result from unrestricted research and experimentation in the modification of human and animal life.”
“There have been abuses in the past when the possibility of successful genetic engineering was much less likely than it is today. Hitler and the Nazis conducted abusive research on prisoners in concentration camps, seeking to produce a master race of Germans. Unregenerate persons, whether naive and primitive or learned and technical, can engage in terrible acts if there is not a moral and ethical standard to which they are held accountable. Not all of society appreciates the Christian’s respect for the ethical guidelines of Scripture. But without such a standard anything can result. We call on everyone engaged in scientific and medical research to find a standard of ethical and moral conduct, to articulate it clearly so all of society understands the premises on which any such research and experimentation is conducted. We believe God’s inspired and authoritative Word, the Bible, is that standard.”[10]


Human Enhancement

See statement on Gene Therapy/Genetic Engineering above.

Official Statement:

“It would be easy to oppose all research in areas of cloning and genetic engineering. There are voices in the medical community declaring that whatever experiments can be done in cloning and genetic research must be done. They express no moral or ethical parameters or guidelines such experimentation should respect. They don’t seem to understand the negative implications that can result from unrestricted research and experimentation in the modification of human and animal life.”
“There have been abuses in the past when the possibility of successful genetic engineering was much less likely than it is today. Hitler and the Nazis conducted abusive research on prisoners in concentration camps, seeking to produce a master race of Germans. Unregenerate persons, whether naive and primitive or learned and technical, can engage in terrible acts if there is not a moral and ethical standard to which they are held accountable. Not all of society appreciates the Christian’s respect for the ethical guidelines of Scripture. But without such a standard anything can result. We call on everyone engaged in scientific and medical research to find a standard of ethical and moral conduct, to articulate it clearly so all of society understands the premises on which any such research and experimentation is conducted. We believe God’s inspired and authoritative Word, the Bible, is that standard.”[11]


End of Life

Priority on the Sacredness of human life. They allow for a range of opinions on medical support, from prayer for healing only to use of medical doctors and technology.

“The most common view in the Assemblies of God is a reliance on God for healing through prayer as well as a wise use of medical intervention when it is available. Occasionally, medical intervention includes life support.”[12]

Extraordinary Measures

Official Statements:

“There are times when a debilitating accident, a life-threatening illness at an advanced age, or prolonged terminal illness without any natural hope of recovery makes it appropriate for a patient to say, "I will leave my life in the hands of my Lord. Do not perform any extraordinary measures to resuscitate me or maintain my body on life support machines, for I am ready to go home to be with my Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:1-10). Terminal patients, however, often wait too long to express their preference that extraordinary life-support measures not be administered. This leaves the family with a great burden of deciding whether to allow or reject such measures. A living will clearly declaring one's wishes in this regard can eliminate such painful decisions for family and loved ones.”[13]
“While weighing the biblical principle of respecting and preserving life, the Christian also takes comfort in an equal truth of joyously accepting our appointed time to begin eternal life with Christ after physical death. Most people in the Assemblies of God believe there is room for either decision after prayer and careful consideration. Furthermore, what is right for one individual choosing life support may not be right for another. Instead, the Christian, recognizing that the decision ultimately lies with God, seeks prayerfully to find what God's will is in a specific situation.”[14]

Physician-Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia

Official Statement:

“But we can find no scriptural support for euthanasia (sometimes called mercy-killing). The intentional killing of human life by deliberate act or omission runs contrary to a belief that human life is sacred because it has been created and given by God himself.”
“Believing that supernatural healing is always possible, no matter what the medical prognosis may be, members of the Assemblies of God are more inclined to pray for healing than to approve the taking of life, even to avoid pain and suffering. Modern medicines that can deaden pain and make a dying patient reasonably comfortable should negate a common fear that anticipated pain will be so severe that suicide or euthanasia are better alternatives.”[15]
“The church makes a clear distinction between actions which halt artificial life support and actions which directly cause death. Whether someone else administers the life-ending medium (homicide) or the patient takes it voluntarily (suicide), the action actively terminates life that was given by God.”[16]

Withholding & Withdrawing Treatment

See statements on Physician-Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia above.

The Assemblies of God make a distinction between halting artificial life support and actions which directly result in death.


Issues of Human Dignity & Discrimination

Disability Ethics

“Ministering to People with Disabilities: A Biblical Statement” Paper adopted by the General Presbytery of the Assemblies of God on August 11, 2000.[17] This paper addresses dealing with people with disabilities (whose disabilities persist even after much prayer) within a denomination that believes miracles happen today, including healings.

Official Statement:

“Pentecostal evangelicals, believing that miracles still happen today , sometimes have difficulty dealing with people with permanent disabilities and with those who are not healed after much prayer. But does that theology include, along with our belief in supernatural miracles today, a biblical explanation for those who are not immediately healed or made whole?”
“Jesus healed only one of many gathered at the pool of Bethesda for a superstitious expectation of physical healing. So if prayer for healing is not immediately answered, we do not change our theology to say God no longer heals. We continue to trust Him in anticipation of the day when the infirmities of earthly existence drop away in the perfect light of His eternal presence”
“God imparts ability, and He knows about disability because He at least allows it. God could have said to Moses what He later said to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).”
“Countless healings in the Old and New Testaments provide proof of the compassionate nature of God, in spite of the fact that not all illnesses, diseases, or disabilities were removed.”
“The church of Jesus Christ, the earthly representative of spiritual reality, should be the leader in providing opportunity for all people to connect with the Spirit of God. We do not fully understand the age of accountability and its application to persons with mental disabilities. We do not understand how a person with a mental disability related to God. But we must give opportunity for the spirit of God to speak to such a person at his or her level of comprehension”
“The biblical command to ‘serve one another in love’ (Galatians 5:13) includes everyone. To view people with disabilities as flawed and defective, and possibly a divine mistake, is wrong for a church with Christlike compassion. People with disabilities are platforms for the demonstration of His power to heal or His power to use weakness to display His strength…Our faith and practice must include a compassionate hand extended to those with disabilities.”
“People with disabilities are essential to the wholeness of the Christian community. In a culture that worships physical perfection, devalues human life, and takes pride in disposability, the church must protect the helpless, vulnerable, disenfranchised, including people with disabilities. They are people created in God's image, possessing dignity, value and purpose”
“The church must extend open arms of invitation and fellowship. Those with mental disabilities can respond to the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
“The physical or spiritual condition of people with disabilities should not be judged only on what our physical eyes observe. It is imperative that spiritual leaders exercise discernment when praying for people with disabilities, and not simply assume that their most pressing need is for physical healing.”[18]


Notes

  1. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/contempissues_01_abortion.cfm
  2. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/relations_16_infertility.cfm
  3. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/relations_16_infertility.cfm
  4. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/relations_16_infertility.cfm
  5. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/relations_16_infertility.cfm
  6. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/contempissues_19_organ_donation.cfm
  7. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/contempissues_14_genetics.cfm
  8. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/contempissues_14_genetics.cfm
  9. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/contempissues_14_genetics.cfm
  10. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/contempissues_14_genetics.cfm
  11. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/contempissues_14_genetics.cfm
  12. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/contempissues_18_euthanasia.cfm
  13. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/contempissues_18_euthanasia.cfm
  14. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/contempissues_18_euthanasia.cfm
  15. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/contempissues_18_euthanasia.cfm
  16. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/contempissues_18_euthanasia.cfm
  17. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/pp_disabilities.pdf
  18. http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/pp_disabilities.pdf
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