Trask Warns Against Culture Seduction
The Assemblies of God is in a unique position to present the authentic gospel that will stem the tide of the nation’s moral collapse, retiring General Superintendent Thomas E. Trask told the Fellowship Wednesday night in the opening keynote speech at the 52nd General Council in Indianapolis.
Trask, who received two sustained standing ovations upon being introduced on the platform, warned that Pentecostals must actively oppose the turpitude that has engulfed the country, and in some cases, infected theology.
The church is God’s earthly institution to make a spiritual impact, Trask said in an emotional farewell speech. Yet congregations are in a fierce battle against the forces of evil, Trask told an enthusiastic Conseco Center crowd. Unless pulpits become a steady voice against evil, the church will be anemic and powerless, he said.
Last month, Trask unexpectedly announced his intention to step down as leader of the 2.84-million body in the middle of his fourth four-year term. Trask reported his decision to retire came after much praying and fasting to seek the Lord’s direction.
Wednesday night, Trask contended that the Assemblies of God could have a truly great future—if pastors and congregants seek righteousness and reject sin.
“It’s going to take being a church full of the power of the Holy Spirit and His anointing that is Spirit-led, Spirit-dependent,” Trask said, “a church that is prayed up and fed up with the status quo, a church that will stand against the gates of hell.”
But Trask warned of five dangers threatening the effectiveness of churches, starting with situational ethics in which biblical absolutes are rejected.
He also urged vigilance against falling prey to cultural seduction.
“We are witnessing a blatant blurring of sexual roles,” Trask said. “The target audience is our children and grandchildren.”
Related to that is cultural accommodation, in which churches are distorting scriptures on issues ranging from abortion to social drinking.
Trask likewise railed against inclusive salvation, the view that has gained favor in some churches claiming everybody goes to heaven—and no one goes to hell.
Finally, Trask counseled against passionless pulpits. Rather than being the nation’s moral compass, some preachers would rather make sure no one in the pew is upset at the sermon material, he said.
“What many churches are offering America is a new religion that guarantees no hell and requires no holiness,” Trask said. “It is a limp, spineless Christianity that does not confront sin for fear of being judgmental. It is an impotent gospel that tells people everything is OK.”
Miracles, signs and wonders have accompanied authentic Pentecostalism, both in New Testament times and today. Christians must discern the will of God by seeking after the Holy Spirit, Trask said. Simply being preoccupied with activities, or relying on tradition, programs or resources, isn’t the same as offering genuine faith, he cautioned.
“We are more concerned with acceptance of men, than we are about pleasing God,” Trask said. “We are more concerned about expediency.”
The basic plan of salvation must not be overlooked because it determines the destiny of souls, Trask said. Churches that are preoccupied with making sure that everybody is entertained and that no one is frightened by the reality of sin’s eternal destruction are only playing into Satan’s hand, he warned.
“We are not in the business of window dressing sin,” Trask said. “Let me tell you, Jesus was confrontational.”
Trask exhorted those gathered in the arena to strive for “authentic baptism” as outlined in Acts 1:8. A genuine Pentecostal church is distinct for only one reason: being full of people of the Holy Spirit.
In addition, Trask urged the assembled to hold fast to standards that remain regarding holiness, the sacredness of the Lord’s day and altar calls.
The U.S. Assemblies of God has added 600,000 adherents during Trask’s 14 years as chief executive officer, to become the nation’s 10th largest religious body. Trask commended the increasing ethnic diversity in the Fellowship, brought about in large part by church-planting initiatives. He recognized 20 groups that have formed distinct ethnic Fellowships with the Assemblies of God, starting with Hispanics, the largest group.
“This is what the church is going to look like when we get to heaven,” Trask said as he surveyed the ethnic members he had asked to stand. “It’s right that this is what the Assemblies of God should look like now.”
He noted that as a result of changes in the Assemblies of God constitution and bylaws made four years ago in Washington, D.C., congregations may be planted any time and any place, whether a satellite church, inner-city work or house church. “Let’s have no more of this territorialism or selfishness,” Trask said to applause.
Citing Revelation 3:2, Trask made a passionate plea with the assembled to remain steadfast in scriptural beliefs and to repent of non-biblical attitudes and behavior that has found its way into their lives.
“Let us be people of conviction, not convention,” he said. “Let us be people of revival, not regression. Let us be a people of passion, not passiveness.”
As he prepares to leave office in October, Trask’s list of accomplishments shows a commitment to biblical soundness in the midst of a changing culture. Trask created the National Prayer Center to provide spiritual help and guidance to callers; oversaw the merger of ICI and Berean into the fully staffed Global University for distance learning; authorized Assemblies of God Financial Solutions to help ministers, congregations and attendees meet monetary goals; expanded the executive presbytery by including ethnic minority seats for Hispanic, African-American and Korean representatives; formed ministry departments for singles, senior adults and children; established Enrichment, a quarterly journal for AG pastors; and integrated Convoy of Hope as the church’s compassion ministry.
When he retires, Trask will have been the third longest-serving superintendent in Assemblies of God history, behind only Thomas F. Zimmerman (25 years) and E.S. Williams (20 years). Trask succeeded G. Raymond Carlson as the Fellowship’s 11th general superintendent in 1993.
In all, Trask has been ministry for 51 of his 71 years. He spent five years as general treasurer of the Assemblies of God before being elected general superintendent.
In his introduction, Brad Trask said his father declined to allow a reception to be held in his honor Wednesday night after the service because he didn’t want the altar time cut short after the sermon.