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I work with a handful of Church of God members, and we frequently have friendly ecclesiastical conversations. The Church of God denomination is very prevalent in the area that I live and work. They often describe church services they have attended that involve sporadic behavior, such as spastic convulsions, falling in the floor, seizures, running around the pews and/or sanctuary, running across the top of pews, and so on.

Is there any biblical support for this kind of behavior?

My intentions are not meant to mock these services at all. Every person I know that is a member (many of whom are my very close friends) are very down to Earth, good people.

I just want to be able to bring scriptural material (if any) to our next breakfast fellowship.

NOTE: I am well aware of the argument for "speaking in tongues" being in the Bible. I am not looking for an answer concerning speaking in tongues...only physical behavior.

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    I know that God is a God of order not disorder. – Matt Nov 25 '13 at 20:51
  • My denomination doesn't practice this type of behavior, but I'm surprised to see no one bring up the scriptures that might support this. 1 Samuel 19:24, and similar scriptures seem to associate prophecy with an outward manifestation of unusual behavior. ("Is Saul also among the prophets?") [Also see Acts 10.] Now 1 Corinthians 14:32 would appear to contradict the idea that this behavior is uncontrollable ("The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.") In fact, that whole passage deals with the subject of orderly proceedings. – Solocutor Apr 1 '16 at 22:37
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No.

(Here are some more words since I have to have at least 30 characters to post an answer.

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There is no Biblical precedent for convulsions or seizures being a sign of The Holy Spirit's presence.

Falling on the floor in a convulsion does have a Biblical precedent, but not a good one:

When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Mark 9:201

I'm not saying that the people you have seen are possessed. However, I do think it is wise to be very wary about this ministry. Consider carefully the fruit of the ministry - are they encouraging people to develop a relationship with Jesus or are they encouraging mere physical manifestations? If the latter, I would stay clear.

1. In verse 25 this is described as an impure spirit; Jesus says it is a deaf and mute spirit. This is also referred to as a demon.

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TL;DR Yes. For some of it.

I was raised in a Church of God in Christ family (even though we didn't spend a lot of time in actual C.O.G.I.C. churches because ... reasons).

It's very easy for someone unfamiliar to walk into a Pentecostal service and misunderstand what they're seeing. It's also kind of hard to describe some of these things without sounding a little silly. Pentecostal services are very emotionally charged. It is a part of the practice of worship to let your conscious self fade away in order to allow the Holy Spirit to take control. This is based in part on James 4:7-10.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 4:7-10 (NIV)

While there's no place in the Bible that specifically says "And thou shalt run around the church, jump the pews, and stuff" there are plenty of passages that describe singing and shouting praises to God. Palm Sunday is a perfect example. Another passage that is often quoted is the one about David dancing before the Lord.

If you've ever gotten yourself so worked up emotionally that you just had to move then you have a sense of what's happening to people when they are filled with the Holy Spirit. From my own experience it's a lot like being drunk. Your inhibitions fade away. You are overcome with emotion and then that emotion just has to get out. And so you dance, cry, shout, sing, run or whatever. On the day of Pentecost people were so overcome by the Holy Spirit that they were accused of being drunk at 9:00 AM (Acts 2).

Now, the only times I've ever seen or heard of anyone having a seizure or convulsions during service were either:

  1. someone was faking it and trying to hard (it happens ... kind of a lot)
  2. someone was having a legitimate medical seizure (this one I saw and the elders recognized it immediately and called 911)
  3. (this one is really really rare) someone was so tied up in something so horrible emotionally that the encounter with the Holy Spirit manifested a powerful physical reaction. Given my experience with modern mental health, I'd say it was that a person with a serious emotional disorder experiencing a powerful physical reaction to their condition combined with the emotional experience of worship. Old folks would say it was the Holy Spirit fighting with demons for a persons soul which if you think about it is pretty accurate. And that literally happened in scripture at least twice that I can think of.

Pentecostals are great jokers and are easy to make fun of. And combined with what they actually do it can be hard to draw the line between what really happened and what was a joke. I advise you to specifically ask your friends about what they've actually seen or better yet, go to church with one of them.

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When we peruse the New Testament, we see that God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity brings about guidance, power, and the essential connection to God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In the book of Acts, we see that the Holy Spirit is the power that turned cowardly Peter into the super-apostle that he became. The same power that has been with countless saints in history up until today.

That same power is still in us believers, waiting for us to submit ourselves onto Christ's authority, which will open the flood of understanding, appreciation, and love, like a great wind that pick up our sails and brings us closer to God ("The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." - John 3:8)

Could there be physical manifestations? Sure, for nothing is impossible for God. But the impact of the Holy Spirit is the transforming of our minds, and that incredible expansion of our capacity to love God. So look for great things to happen in our mind, as we consume the Scriptures daily and submit to His teachings.

Hope this helps to think about the question.

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I would say the answer is No!

While I could not see anywhere in the Bible where such was done, it is believed in some churches (esp. in my area) that those people have some spirit(s) (whether supernatural or personal stubborness) within them that do(es) not want to submit to the Holy Spirit trying to possess them (like Light Vs Darkness in one body)

How can one enter a strong man's house … unless he first binds the strong man (Matthew 12:29)

As for the running around, here is my personal observation and opinion.

  • Excitement
  • Display
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Some other reasons I don't know
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Some excellent responses above. My understanding (like many above) is "No." These behaviors are not biblically supported. Another example that is often used in this regard is for those claiming to be "slain in the Spirit." On occasion you may find yourself in an environment where men, women, and children are seemingly passing out on the floor. Some assemblies find this so common that they have special blankets with which to cover the fallen individuals. The practice finds its roots in John 18:6. This is where we see the soldiers having come to arrest Jesus, asking where he is, and when Jesus responds, "I AM" they are all knocked to the ground.

What I find curious about those who use this to justify being "slain in the Spirit" is that this was not portrayed as a positive experience for the soldiers.

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