What kind of Christian/Church denomination do you belong to?


This person asked that I not post their email to my website so I am removing all personal elements of  the message and reworded the question to  avoid any possibility of embarrassment.

----- Original Message -----
From: Name Withheld
To: Paul Stringini
Sent: Sunday, April 17, 2011 5:02 AM
Subject: Subject Confidential
Hello Paul Stringini,

Personal Message Held Confidential.

What kind of Christian/Church denomination do you belong to? Not that this is important, but I'm interested in hearing where you're coming from.   I have utilized different sources other than a single church to find out truth.  I feel that relying on one source is dangerous.

Balance of Personal Message Held Confidential.

My First Response:

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul Stringini
To: Name Withheld
Sent: Sunday, April 17, 2011 6:29 PM
Subject: Re: My (friendly) thoughts.
Hi Name Withheld,
What kind of Christian/Church denomination do you belong to?
The short answer right now is none.  I am not isolated from the community of other believers, but I do not belong to or attend any formal church service at this time.   I have attended various Churches and participated in various groups in the past, but eventually I leave for one reason or another 

There are quite a few stories to go along with my experiences, but I have come to believe that, in general, earthly structures and organizations promote and dogmatize corruption.  As they are currently organized and run, mainline Churches tend to stifle the growth of believers,  much like a banzai tree,  the tree ages in its tiny container, but does not grow to the full extent it would if it had sufficient soil.  The organized meeting we call "going to church" does not really exist in the New Testament.  One could argue that there are no formally organized "church services" in the New testament at all.  Not that we should not have orderly gatherings.  But we ought not think that the current traditional format of "doing church" is the God ordained way for believers to gather in the name of Christ.
Not that this is important, but I'm interested in hearing where you're coming from. 
It is a reasonable question.  In my case, telling you were I am now will not help you understand where I came from.  Let's see how abbreviated I can make my story.  I was conceived in my mother's womb...
John 3:31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
Christ came from heaven, I come from the Earth.  After I was born, my father (who described himself as a "Charismatic Catholic") prayed over me every night in tongues.  It used to fascinate me. He called himself a Charismatic Catholic at one point, but he was very un-Catholic in his opinions.  He was raised Catholic, but  had become a born-again Christian a year or two before I was born.  He was mostly an independent thinker who liked to read the bible himself.  He was interested in prophecy and encouraged me to read my bible and pray, but never forced me to do either. 
I grew up in the normal way of my times. I grew up in the world.  I grew up in the 80's which was a strange decade, a transitional decade.  I have always believed in Christ, I cannot recall ever not believing in Jesus Christ nor can I recall any moment when I first believed.  I accepted the faith of my father from my earliest memory.  My Mother was not very zealous for the faith, she was, and is, a typical nominal Christian, but a well-intentioned person.  I had a children's bible I used to read, I really loved the pictures of the bible events, the Tower of Babel, David and Goliath, the Jesus stuff was mostly boring looking, except for stuff like the walking on water and the crucifixion.  
I vaguely remember my first communion classes in the Catholic Church.  I was always excited about religious things.  I remember the lady had some papers she handed out and she talked about the "good news shoes,"  and I couldn't get past that.  That was where my eyes glazed over and I pretty much zoned out.  They sure knew how to confuse kids and make awesome subjects boring.  The only thing I picked up in communion class which lasted was a habit of blinking.  As I listened to the Sunday School teacher drone on, I was conscious of the fact that my mind was elsewhere, and I was afraid I would be detected.  So in order to seem like I was paying close attention I began blinking, and so began an annoying habit of blinking that lasted for the next ten years, but helped me fail a screen test which kept me out of the child modeling biz. 
I did very well in school.  I got in all the gifted classes and completed a number of Advance Placement classes in High School (Physics and Calculus).  I scored a perfect 36 on the reading section of my ACT.  I was in a heavy metal band, and when I was about 15 I began to be interested in reading the adult bible.   I read the Gospels, Genesis, Exodus (half-way),  the Kings, Daniel and Revelation.  I really wanted to make a heavy metal album based on bible prophecy, even creating a partial song based on Revelation 17 called "Mystery Babylon," but it would not be until about 1998 that I would begin to write my musical version of the book of Revelation.  At about the same time my long simmering interest in girls changed from fantasy to reality as the girls started noticing me, and that obsession dominated my life until I got married.
I was accepted at the University of Illinois and, on leaving home, immediately dove into hardcore drug, alcohol, and video game abuse, I almost never went to class at the university.  On a particularly bad night I began to fear that I had overdone it and that I was approaching death.  Real or imagined, I believed it and I called out to God to save me, promising that I would dedicate my life to Him. I felt better immediately, and since I had meant my promise, I did my best to start trying to keep it. 

I called my dad and asked him to send me my bibles ( I had a King James and a Living Bible)    I had read the Gospels a few years before, but I wanted to read things I had not read yet, so I tried Isaiah, but I did not understand the first few verses and quickly became frustrated. I tried the King James Bible but couldn't make heads or tails of it either.  That was frustrating, I went ahead and read the same books I had read three or so years before: The Gospel of Matthew, Samuel and Kings, Revelation.  My dad recommended Romans, but I had trouble putting it in context.  That was pretty much it, I didn't stop doing drugs, or start going to class.  At the end of the year, I had only gotten credit for weight lifting and for Western History, (I showed up for the final exam and barely passed the class). 

That summer I went home (1993). That was when I first heard Arnold Murray teaching on TV and immediately became a diligent student of his broadcast.  I listened to his show for 4 hours every night and taped it when I was not able to stay up.  In the course of about a year I ordered all his cassettes and all the books he sells.  I got a Companion Bible (and it is still my personal bible).  I bought the Greens interlinear, studied Hebrew and Greek (a little) and learned everything I could from Pastor Murray.  I got my dad to listen to Pastor Murray too. And even though he did not entirely go along with Pastor Murray (we fought often over the issue of tongues)  he was glad I was zealous and learning more about the bible. 

I started leading bible studies over at Harper Community College where I was enrolled in a few classes.  I got involved with Christian student groups there as well.  In May 1994, through the bible study I was leading, I met a girl my age who was a zealous new Christian.  She accidentally walked into my bible study and kept coming. In 1995 we went down to Arkansas for the Passover metting, and three days afterwards, we were married in the Shepherd's Chapel TV studio. 
I was still very much a follower of Dr. Murray's doctrine, but some of the things he said at the Passover troubled me.  But I considered it a small thing.  I had made contacts at the Passover meeting and began to meet regularly with other people who also "knew the truth" as we saw it.  It was though these experiences that I began to see that some Shepherd's Chapel students were not tolerant of any dissent from Arnold Murray's teaching.  I also began to see that some others did not share the zeal that my wife and I had for the word itself.   

Between 1997 and 2003, I had begun to think that it was silly (or just wrong) of me to condemn people for belief in the rapture, while I was a drug abuser and hard drinker.  What made me think my sin was less important?  I began to see my moral position as hypocritical.  Arnold Murray had told me that God didn't really care about my "little ol' sexual sins."  He really cared if I was going to worship Satan or not.  Rapture -bad,  lust - who cares?  I wasn't getting that from the bible. 
Up until 2005, while I had many disagreements with Pastor Murray, I still thought he was the best teacher out there, and often said so.  I thought he was maybe the only teacher who was even close to the truth.  I did not believe exactly as he taught, but his philosophy and teachings formed the basis on which I understood the world and the bible.  I may have grown soft about some of his doctrines, but I had not rejected them. 

In 1995 I had begun to teach myself the acoustic guitar and compose music for potions of the bible to be sung to. By 2005 I had written songs for over 5 albums and had gotten some enthusiastic supporters (many of them Shepherd's Chapel students).  In march of 2005 a 17 year old boy contacted me, he wanted to meet me, so I invited  him to come visit me at my home.  That Friday night I smoke my last pipe full of dope and "repented" for the thousandth time, packing it all away, then Saturday March 19th 2005 the young man and his friend came and talked with me.  

The boy was the son of the Pastor of a Wisconsin Church called "Spirit of Truth." The pastor had sent along something he had written detailing what he considered the foundation of their beliefs based on those listed in Hebrews 6:1,2

"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. "

I skimmed this document, I thought I agreed with most of it (or at least did not strongly disagree), except the part about speaking with tongues, I had long rejected that, but I kept my opinions to myself, these were fans and I did not want to offend them.  pastor Murray had long ago instilled in me the idea that I should act covertly among those that did not have "the truth."  They asked me to return to Wisconsin with them in the morning to visit their church and play a few songs there.  I agreed.
We got to the church early in the morning March 20, 2005.  It was a small church with seating for an absolute max of perhaps 200 people if you crammed them in every corner.  It turned out that the minister of music was also a fan (who had ordered one of my old Mp3 Cd's) and he introduced me to the congregation by serenading me with my own songs, which was one of the coolest things that had happened to me in my life to that point. 

After they had done their worshipping of God, which was very, very lively, it was time for me to sing a song.  I sang two songs, Ezekiel 13 and John 15, then it was time for the sermon.  The pastor is about 6'5" which made him seem huge (even to me at 6'3").  His message seemed to grow out of the songs I had sung and it was the most interesting preaching I had ever heard because he was saying things that I knew were true and that I knew were in the bible, but somehow I had never exactly believed them.  His message was not about tongues or prophecy, but about sin and righteousness.  This message moved me.
The most dissatisfying aspect of my life (until March 21st 2005) had been the feeling that I was sorely lacking something in my Christian walk.  I was drug and alcohol addicted, and, in a myriad of ways, I often felt depressed and alone.  The message of righteousness appealed to me.  I felt like my sins were holding me back.  I wanted to be free from my sins.  Not theoretically free, as is commonly taught.  But free in a real and practical way.  I wanted to stop doing sin. 

I remember the first time I prayed for the Holy Spirit, I think I must have been 14 or 15, I remember believing hard, nothing happening, and wondering if I got the spirit or not.  This lack of tangible evidence led me to often wonder about my spiritual state.  Did I have any right to believe that the Spirit of God was abiding in me? So when I went home that afternoon  (March 20th) my mind was in a whirl.  The Pastor had something.  His message impressed me more than any I had ever heard, and it seemed he had something I did not have.   I knew I wanted to ask them to pray for me to receive the holy spirit, but not until after reading their doctrine more carefully.  I was not going to ask a man to pray over me whose doctrine  I had not first examined more closely. 

That night I stayed up late and I read his paper and found nothing in it that I strongly disagreed with, except the matter of speaking in tongues.  He had a lot to say about laying on of hands, but I really did not have much of an opinion about that.  His doctrine did not precisely match my doctrine, but there was a lot in common, and I knew the biblical basis on which he was basing some of the minor differences.  I did not find his doctrine objectionable, it was based on the scriptures, very strictly speaking.  I was not going to split hairs over the minor differences because I did not intend to pray for tongues. I wanted the holy Spirit.
Monday march 21st 2005 I left home and travelled the hundred miles back up to the small Wisconsin church I had visited only the day before.  I had called ahead so they were expecting me.  The Pastor and the two young men who had first come to my home listened as I told them of my struggles and of my desire to get the Holy Spirit.  After we talked for over an hour, we went out into the main part of the church and they laid their hands on me and prayed. Just the four of us.  I remember thinking, "Paul, you are going to stand here all day like an idiot and nothing is going to happen,"  I then chided myself, "Paul you have to have a little faith."  I then sighed within myself and whispered, "Lord Jesus grant me my hearts desire."  Then a power came over me beginning with my hands, my feet, my ears, and eventually reaching my lips.  My lips were moving involuntarily.  I do not mean babble or making up nonsense words.  My lips were jumping on my face independently, as if controlled by someone other than me. And when I tried to speak, I could not talk as I willed, other words came out which I could not interpret.  That was my baptism of the Holy Spirit, I have written extensively on the experience elsewhere.
That changed my life and the life of my family, I've been sober for over six years and I was also changed in many other ways.  For one, my understanding was radically altered.  I stopped hanging out with my remaining Chapel friends. I began attending Spirit of Truth Church (the same place) And for the next four years, I was a prominent member. 
In 2007, of my own accord I began to speak out about my former teacher Arnold Murray on my website.  I saw it as something I owed to the truth and to my fellow Shepherd's Chapel students.
My association with Spirit of Truth Church came to an end in 2009 after I wrote the pastor about some issues that troubled me and he rejected my concerns. You can read about that in detail here:  Why I Left Spirit of Truth Church
In my opinion, defining the answers to questions like, "on what day was Jesus crucified?"  or  "how old is the earth?" or "how long was Jesus Ministry?"  or "how long was Jesus hair?" Have no place in the public ministry of the Gospel.  And it was not central to the ministry at Spirit of Truth Church, by any means, but these subjects would come up now and then and I tolerated it, because they are not important questions, but it irked me that these subjects were being placed on the same platform as the doctrines I loved.  Eventually, one of the elders went overboard and preached a message on calendars.  I could not contain myself any longer and told the ministry what I thought.  My words against the elder were received. But when I applied the same principle to the other pet doctrines which were in the ministry, it was not well received.
1Cor 8:8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
This passage is about eating things sacrificed to idols, but it is about more than that.  It is about KNOWLEDGE.  Consider this rewording of the verse.
1Cor 8:8 (according to Paul Stringini)  But (this) knowledge commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we know, are we the better; neither, if we know not, are we the worse.
God is not impressed with our knowledge.  He will not pat us on the back for figuring out on what day he was crucified.  We will not recommend ourselves to his favor if we figure out how old the earth really is.  There may be a true age of the earth, but knowledge of this fact will neither help me nor hurt me with God, because God is not interested in how smart I am.  That is what 1 Corinthians 8 is all about, when we think we know something, and the DAMAGE we can do to others.
What if someone who believes Jesus had long hair came into our church and the Pastor is mocking the idea that Jesus had long hair?  What if someone who is an atheist comes in and they believe the earth is millions of years old and our preacher is saying that the bible says the earth is six thousand years old?  Are we comfortable with someone stumbling over that?  Or conversely, what if someone believes the earth is 6000 years old and we are preaching 6 billion?  Is that our GOSPEL?  Is that the doctrine we want people to be storming out of our church over?  Great news everyone, Jesus was crucified...on Wednesday!"   Is that going to be why people reject our message? I want to be "the savor of death" only when it is for the sake of the true knowledge of God.
2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
2 Corinthians 2:16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. 
I do not want to do this!
1Cor 8:11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
That is what the knowledge that "puffs up" does.  This is exactly the kind of knowledge the Shepherd's Chapel makes its trade in, and you can see the fruit of all that puffing on my Shepherd's Chapel Page
I refuse anything except the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and all that doctrine that  he and his Apostles taught, the doctrine is godly and that leads us to godliness and the powerful knowledge that leads to salvation and true enlightenment.  Not all knowledge is equal, and not all that is true is the TRUTH. 
1Cor 8:2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
There is a verse to take heed to.
Right before I left, I had begun my own line by line bible teaching ministry http://oraclesofgod.org/studies/studies.html   So that leaves me at the present, I don't go to church, I teach the bible.  I fellowship with other believers.  I have not forsaken the assembling of ourselves together.  I just reject the traditions that define our assembly as a formal lecture given by a pastor.
 I have utilized different sources other than a single church to find out truth.  I feel that relying on one source is dangerous.
That is wise.
Proverbs 11:14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. 
I humbly suggest you add me to your counselors,  check out my bible studies because you will get a perspective on the scriptures that is faithful to the gospel yet somehow not being preached.  http://oraclesofgod.org/studies/studies.html over 125 hours of free line by line studies.
I will keep you in my prayers, Thank you for yours,  I remember that time for me, though it was 17 years ago, it does seem like not so very long ago. 
I don't know if you know but I also have a YouTube channel http://oraclesofgod.org/studies/studies.html and my website is primarily a vehicle for distributing my many free songs from the bible. http://oraclesofgod.org/ 
I won't publish your letter (and have not published it),  There is nothing to be embarrassed about, and no one would know it was you except you.
Paul Stringini