By Larry Ray Hafley
Our bead is drawn on statements made by Mr. Roger Overton, a preacher for the United Pentecostal Church in Florence, Alabama. “Now you may wonder why I am a United Pentecostal. It is because in Acts 2, when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. One accord, that is United; Pentecost fully come, that is Pentecostal; and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved, so that is the church. I wonder if you find your church in the Book of Acts? We are the original Apostolic church, the original one . . . . I am in the original Apostolic Church of the New Testament, not in the tuning fork church started by Alexander Campbell. Some one said, ‘Why don’t you yell the name of Jesus instead of United Pentecostal? Because Jesus is the name of the Savior and United Pentecostal is the name of the organization.”
One can search the Scriptures from Dan to Beersheba and find no mention of the United Pentecostal Church (UPC). Mr. Overton infers the name, “United Pentecostal Church,” the same way Missionary Baptists attempt to do. The church, say they, has a mission-that is Missionary; it is to baptize-that is Baptist; so, Missionary Baptist Church. What would be wrong with that name from Mr. Overton’s line of argument? Surely, he cannot gripe or grumble if I call him a Missionary Baptist, so here goes: Mr. Overton, you are a Missionary Baptist in the same sense that you are a United Pentecostal. For some softies who have a weak stomach for name calling, be certain to note that I am typing this with a sweet smile on my face and a grin on my heart.
Mr. Overton avers that, “they were all with one accord,” means part of the name is “United.” It also says, “and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Why, then, isn’t “Filled” part of the name, or even, “Holy Ghost?”
Can You Find Your Church?
Roger wonders if we can find “our” church in the book of Acts. He has not found his yet. The UPC is not only not in the book of Acts, it is not in the Bible-period. “The church,” “the church of God” is there, but there is nothing that is ever referred to as the UPC. Roger cannot find the UPC in any literature written prior to 1900. Let him try. He would give up his last dying gasp of “Hallelujah!” for a reference to the UPC, but he cannot find it in anything written before 1900.
If finding one’s church in the Bible means deducing the name the way Roger did, then Missionary Baptists could shout, “I found mine, too!” Methodists could say the church had a plan or method of working, thus, “We found ours!” The Mormons could say it was the last or latter days, and they were saints of Jesus Christ; so, it was “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!” Roger, how would you tell a Methodist or a Mormon that his church was not mentioned in the Bible since they might derive their name the same way you do yours? I could “authorize” the Presbyterian Church’s name on the same basis. Call my bluff, Mr. Overton, and see if I can.
I suppose “tuning fork church” would be as scriptural as the UPC name. After all, some saints use tuning forks, and it is the church; so, Tuning Fork Church! Both the tuning fork church (TFC) and the UPC go unmentioned in the Bible, and I am a member of neither one.
Roger, since you say Jesus is the name of the Savior (Christ), and UPC is the name of the organization, would it be wrong to refer to the UPC as the church of Christ? The New Testament refers to Jesus as the head of the body, the church (Eph. 1:22, 23). Is the UPC the body or church of Christ? If so, why did the writers of the New Testament not call it by its name? You say its name is UPC. However, the authors of the Bible never called it that. They called the Savior by His name, Jesus, but they never called the church by the name which you give to it-why not? Roger, I might even go off the deep end and join a tuning fork church just to get to hear your answers to these questions.
Truth Magazine XXII: 35, p. 562
September 7, 1978