" Therefore, the Second Coming and the Rapture are coincidental events, both of which have to do with Christ returning to Earth. The Rapture specifically refers to what happens to human beings. Once Christ returns, the "thousand-year reign" on Earth begins. According to the FFM website, "Jesus Christ will one day return to bring believers home to Heaven and will reign with them over the Earth for 1,000 years." The thousand-year reign has scriptural origin, and is also called the Millennial Reign of Jesus. A "new heaven and earth," ostensibly a holier and happier one, will result from the Second Coming.
Speaking in tongues is a phenomenon that occasionally accompanies the baptism rite. Many Protestant and evangelical groups encourage speaking in tongues as proof of one's salvation during baptism (Robinson 2005). More formally known as "glossolalia," speaking in tongues is considered to be a supernatural manifestation of the glory of God in a human subject. The glossolalia are uttered through the ecstatic religious state that accompanies the rebirth into the spirit. Speaking in tongues does not necessarily connote mastery of a foreign or ancient language, but rather, can simply entail abstract groaning or other indecipherable utterances by the believer. According to the pastor I interviewed, speaking in tongues means speaking directly with God, in a language that cannot be understood by the minds of man. Speaking in tongues is not a fearful phenomenon but rather, a spiritual gift permitting deep communication between humanity and the Lord. The pastor also affirmed that individuals can sometimes understand what they have said while speaking in tongues. Their utterances can be translated and used for the betterment of the Church: "If a believer who "Speaks in Tongues" also has the 'Gift of Interpretation' he will understand what he is saying and be able to translate to the church and the entire church will be edified by this gift." According to the FFM website, scripture asserts that speaking in tongues serves as solid proof of the efficacy of a baptism.
In contrast to the authority given to Church officials in the Catholic tradition, the FFM and other non-denominational organizations promote individual seeking and individual faith. One of the ways individual spirituality is cultivated is through what many call "being touched by God," or "hearing the voice of God." The pastor told me that "moment you are able to believe in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God, he died for our sins and was raised again, you have been touched by the Spirit." The phrase "being touched by God" emphasizes the visceral nature of the FFM beliefs. Sensory stimulation is commonly referred to as manifestations of the spirit such as: hearing the voice of God, or feeling the "touch" of God. The FFM, like many other evangelical ministries, bases its teachings and its sermons on direct sensory experiences. The individual believer is encouraged to participate fully in his or her salvation through such visceral experiences. The Catholic sacraments do contain some sensory material, notably the Eucharist, but in general is less emotional and passionate in its delivery. The Eucharist as a sacrament is eliminated from the American Protestant tradition, of which the FFM is a part.
The FFM does refer to its Church as the "body" of Christ, and scripture as the direct word and will of God. The Bible as holy writ is nothing less than the actual manifestation of the will of God; human beings need only model their actions and lives according to the holy text. In the interview, the pastor cited scriptural references regarding the position of scripture in the FFC faith: he stated, "all scripture is God breathed," which is a line from Timothy. The Bible is put forth as absolute truth, as a gift from God. While individuals may read and study scripture and derive their own personal truths from their readings, ultimately there can be no argument with the Bible. Catholics hold the Bible in similar regard, but place an important barrier on the relationship between the individual believer and the word of God: the word of God can only be transmitted genuinely through the wisdom of the clergy, and all clergy defer to the Pope's authority.
One of the ways individuals profess their belief in Christ is through what many call praise. Praise is yet another of the passionate manifestations of individual belief, and of salvation. According to the pastor I interviewed, praise is "expressing to God our appreciation and understanding of who He is and His worth. It is saying "thank you" for every aspect of His divine nature." Similarly, worship is a personal and collective expression of praise. In a FFM sermon, praise and worship are passionate, emotional expressions. Coming together under one root to praise God is a significant aspect of the Christian faith, according to the FFM. As with the Catholic faith, the FFM professes a strong awareness of the differences between Good and Evil, which are championed by God and the Devil respectively. In many ways, therefore, the FFM and the Catholic Church are on the same page.
The FFM is a prime example of an American trans-denominational Protestant organization. In the evangelical tradition, the FFM attracts believers attracted to its passionate and emotional delivery as well as the egalitarian tone of its services as well as the prospect of being saved. The fundamental theological beliefs of the FFM, like many organizations of its kind, center on the Christian concepts of salvation, the Second Coming of Christ, praise and worship.
Robinson, B.A. (2005). "Comparing the Beliefs of Roman Catholics and Conservative Protestants." Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance: Religious Tolerance.org.< http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_capr.htm>.
Robinson, B.A. (2005). "Salvation-Holy Spirit Baptism-Speaking in Tongues." (2005). Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance: Religious Tolerance.org. < http://www.religioustolerance.org/tongues2.htm>.