This past week I tuned into the live stream of the 2014 PAOC General Conference. It is a Bi-Annual conference for credential holders of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. The intention of conference is to connect credential holders across the nation of Canada for time of rejuvenation, connection, and among other things, to hold a national business meeting to pass denominational or "fellowship" wide legislation. The conference this year was hosted in the beautiful city of Saskatoon, which until about nine months ago was the city I called home. I do not currently hold credentials with the PAOC, as I live in England, and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the AOG-Great Britain. 
The General Executive attempted to clarify those areas that are moral absolutes and those that are corporate convictions. The placement of “the non-medical use of mood altering substances” in the category of “moral failure” as it currently reads was not viewed as helpful to the fellowship. It was with this background that the following resolution was presented under the category of disciplinary action:
10.6.2.2.3 The use of tobacco and the non medical use of alcohol or other mood altering substances.
The resolution sought to indicate that it is drunkenness that infringes on the biblical absolute whereas drinking alcohol as a credential holder infringes on our historic corporate conviction of abstinence. What I am sure surprised many within the PAOC family is that corporate conviction is not unanimous on the issue of alcohol. The heated discussion around 10.6.2.2.3 proves that even the historic corporate conviction of abstinence has shifted. It is certainly apparent that there is a significant percentage of PAOC credential holders that would advocate for moderation on the issue of alcohol. The rest of this blog will seek to summarize the discussion that took place at the 2014 PAOC General Conference.
Point #1 The consumption of alcohol is not a sin.
Point #2 There are times when it is appropriate to limit our freedoms.
“The context for By-Law 10 is our credential holders. It is not intended to legislate morality for all believers globally but to address what is wise for Pentecostal leaders in Canada and in our global ministries”
#2. CON- You might summarize this objection as “we’ve have always done it this way.” This view believes that as a fellowship we should stay as close to original intension of the founding movement. Pentecostals have a long history of promoting prohibition, and as such, it should be the duty of credential holders to remain faithful to founding history of the movement. As Dave Wells expressed in an email to credential holders, “Drunkenness infringes on the biblical absolute whereas drinking alcohol as a credential holder infringes on our historic corporate conviction of abstinence.”
#4. PRO- “We need to allow for diversity and differing cultural contexts.” This position is perhaps best summed up in a comment from Pastor Billy Richards, “Paul says that he becomes like the Jews. Well the Jews I become like in Toronto … they all drink!!” This view believes that context should inform practice on the issue of alcohol consumption. This view is culturally sensitive, adaptable, and contextual on disputable matters, whether nationally, or internationally.
It was during the conference that two New Testament scholars from our own tradition took to the microphones to challenge the house. A professor from Masters Seminary was quick to remind the house that there is no Scriptural basis for 10.6.2. The Professor proposed a resolution to delete the inclusion of Scripture in 10.6.2 due to the passages being taken out of context. The amendment was voted down, despite the testimony of two theologians to the mis-reading of the passage(s). This proves, I believe, the tendency to neglect the wider Scriptural witness in favour of what our tradition historically believes is correct. If the PAOC was primarily concerned about following the direction of Scripture on this matter, we would have heeded the advice of the scholars among us.
I don't think I am saying anything new by highlighting this distinction. After all the context of this resolution, according to Wells, is a “historic corporate conviction of abstinence”. This is to say that the corporate body of Canadian Pentecostals are convicted of the current position of abstinence due to the historical precedence. There is no official claim that the position of (forced) abstinence is the teaching of Scripture.
Therefore, I believe, we could accurately say of the ‘con’ position: “PAOC is the absolutely supreme and sufficient in authority in all matters of faith and practice for credential holders.”
Those representing this position seek to confront the full range of the canonical texts. The 'pro' moderation view is not content to read one set of texts to the exclusion of another set of texts. For every text that declares, "Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler" (Proverbs 20:1) there is counter text of, "wine that gladdens the heart of man…” (Psalm 104:14-15) OR “spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household” (Deut 14:26). Dr. Richard Hays summarizes the approach to Scripture taken by this position:
"When we begin to seek the unity of New Testament witnesses- whether in general or on a particular issue- all of the relevant texts must be gathered and considered. Selective appeals to favourite proof texts are illegitimate without full consideration of texts that stand on the opposite side of a particular issue. The more comprehensive the attention to the full range of New Testament witness, the more adequate a normative ethical proposal is likely to be. Beware of the interpreter who always quotes only the Haustafeln (e.g. Col 3.22: "Slaves obey your earthly masters in everything') and never wrestles with Galatians 5.1 ("For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery")- Or vice versa." 
1.What say you? Which category do you find yourself most geared towards? Pro or Con?
2.Is there another category of distinction I could add to this list?
3. Which of the five points of disagreement, presented above, do you find the most compelling?
- As a side note, theologically I self identify under the category of Anabaptist- although I don’t think Anabaptism & Pentecostalism are mutually exclusive. You could call me a “Meno-costal”, or “Ana-costal”.
- I am generalizing. There is likely some exception to the points I have presented.
- 1 Timothy 3.2
- “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” - 1 Corinthians 11.1
- Email sent to credential holders.
- The Moral Vision of the New Testament.