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September 04, 1975 - Image 63

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1975-09-04

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Thursday, September 4; 1975

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Fivi

Thursday, September 4, 1975 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Pivi

atmosphere. Bob Rodriguez recalls
a meeting in which a "visitor stood
up and gave a prophecy that was
totally off the wall. He started to
prophesize and he wouldn't stop.
Everybody stood up and started
speaking in tongues and he broke
down and cried . . . Somehow, ev-
erybody got the same cue."
WORD OF GOD is still a neophyte
by the standards of most
Christian groups, and it's not sur-
prising that some spiritual con-
flicts are being resolved at the
seat-of-the-pants level.
Rodriguez acknowledged that the
woman who implored an unnamed
visitor to open his heart to the
Lord, may have said it not so much
out of divine inspiration but be-
cause she knew that some man n
the crowd probably fit her descrip-
tion. But, he adds, "Even if it were
contrived on her part, if somebody
converts, we would be happy. It
wouldn't make the conversion any
less real. Christians believe God
can draw good from evil."
Though there may still be some
kinks in the community spiritual
armor, one thing is certain. Down
to the last man, woman, and child,
they are totally commited to broad-
ening their ranks. For Word of God
members, belonging to the com-
munity is not so much a lifestyle
as it is life itself. Deferential ac-
ceptance of contemporary social
custom is an unacceptable alterna-
tive to absolute commitment to
God and community. Bob Rodriguez
foresees a day when all of Washte-
naw County will belong to Word of
God.
Bob Newenowski, a two-year
community regular, is not certain
of his future career, like many of
his fellow members. Yet he remains
pledged to stay in Ann Arbor in-
definitely. "The Lord wants me to
be here," he professes. "I'll stay
here as long as He does."
DR. FREEDMAN of the religious
studies program believes the
outlook for Word of God may not,
:e as bright as its members would
have one think. He characterizes
them as a "vital, experiential reli-
gious group," a type which, he says,
"tends to have a difficult time re-
taining its second generation.
"But," Freedman counters, "they
have set up a pyramid structure,
and they may well enter academ-
ics."
Freedman hypothesizes that the
first generation of an emotional

Daily Photo by STEVE KAGAN

group will show hostility to scho-
larship, a liability of which several
church officials have accused Word
of God. However, f the second gen-
eration starts training their own
scholars, he continues, by the third

and fourth they are no longer apol-
ogetic and defensive about, their
beliefs; they go establishment.
Will Word of God follow such a
course? "If they last that long," he
concludes.

Some local clergymen are active
members of the community. Sev-
eral others are sympatiretic to its
goals.
The most outspoken critic of the
Word of God among local clergy-
men has been Dr. Raymond Saxbe
of the ,Grace Bible Church, a Bib-
lically fundamentalist congregation
of 1,000.
"We believe that the Bible is the
one complete and final revelation
of God, Saxbe explains. "Tongue-
speaking is probably the most se-
rious error to have crept into Chris-
tianity since the first century. In
some ways it is diabolical, or in-
spired by Satan. You have tongue-
speaking in many pagan groups."
THz WORD of God community
believes that the words and ut-
terances spoken at their meeting
and in private prayer, far from be-
ing inspired by the devil, are ac-
tually fostered and inspired by
God, or the Holy Spirit. It is not
unusual for one of their members,

engrossed in the tongues phenome-
non, to break into song, riding an
intricate melody and throwing
forth disjointed syllables all the
while. When the song is completed,
he or she will sing it once more,
this time in English, supposedly
translating the message God has
just transmitted.
Speaking tongues is not the only
unusual feature of a Word of God
gathering. Members will often
stand before the assembled mass
and offer an example of how God
has manifested himself in their
lives. At a Thursday meeting a few
weeks-ago, a teenage girl told the
gathering how God had sustained
her when she had to revive a small
boy who nearly drowned in the
bottom of a pool she was guarding.
Community leaders or heads are
leary of "sharings" which they sus-
pect are aimed at heaping more
praise on the speaker than on the
Lord. But the young woman fol-
lowed the prescribed format, reliv-
ing her heroics, then adding that it

was indeed a wonderful experience
because it showed her just how
much the Lord was working in her
life, and how he had touched the
lives of the boy she had saved and
his facily. As she relinquished the
microphone to return to her seat,
the audience gave her' a healthy
round of applause.
13ROPHECY is another highlight
of community gatherings. Only
select members of the group, or
proven prophets, are allowed to
stand before the crowd and render
God's message, complete with first
person point of view.
"The love that I have for you is
more than you could ever imagine;
more than you could ever give
up..."
At a typical meeting three or
four prophecies will take place-
on rare occasions, as many as ten.
Usually matters proceed without
a hitch. But sometimes people get
carried away in -the highly charged

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