Answering 'Oneness'
Pentecostalism


Is Jesus the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

'Oneness' Pentecostalism got underway in 1913 when somebody at a camp-meeting received the 'revelation' that "the [singular!] name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" of Matthew 28:19 is 'Jesus'.  This revelation has left Bible-readers asking ever since, 'Who's on first?'  If Jesus is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then who was praying to whom at the Garden of Gethsemane?

There is a Plan A and a Plan B with 'Oneness' Pentecostalism.  Plan A tries to get by with presenting Father, Son and Holy Spirit as 'titles' borne by Jesus:

"Do these titles as used in Matthew 28:19 mean that there are three separate and distinct persons in the Godhead? No, they refer to three offices, roles, or relationship to humanity." (UPCI, '60 Questions on the Godhead').

Let's examine Plan A. Did the apostles preach Jesus as the Father, or as the Son?

Who is Jesus: the Father or the Son?

The Son of God The Beloved Son
At the Right Hand Stephen's vision
High Priest Ancient of Days
Not Alone The Lamb and His reading list
The Father AND the Son Our Home
Know and See What did the Apostles preach?
My Companion Covenant with David
My Father and I Sweat-drops of Blood
An Advocate Intercessor
Sender-Sent I'm my Own Father
'Oneness' Revised Psalms Proceeded Forth
I commit My spirit I-Thou
I go to My Father Confession
I will declare Your name Call no Man Father
Not Mine Before my Father
Anointed One No one Knows
Servant Bruise
Abraham and Isaac Let Us Make Man

So how to explain the 'I-thou' relation of love presented in the gospels between 'the Father' and 'the Son'?  Has one 'title', 'office', 'role' or 'manifestation' ever loved another? Plan A just crashed and burned.

At this they drop Plan A and advance a totally different scheme, presenting the definition that 'the Son' means 'the flesh' (the humanity) of Jesus of Nazareth, versus 'the Father', His divine Spirit:

"Remember this: Jesus is unique (through the Incarnation).  He is both God (The Father) and Man (the Son)...The flesh is the Son and The Spirit is God." (William B. Chalfant, ThD, 'Is The Godhead One Or Three?').

As the reader will note, Plan B contradicts Plan A; if 'the Son' is 'the flesh' and 'the Father' is 'the Spirit,' then 'Father' and 'Son' are not different 'titles' or 'offices;' 'flesh' and 'Spirit' are altogether different natures. Does Plan B also contradict the Bible?:

Does 'the Son' mean 'the flesh' of Jesus of Nazareth?
Revised Fleshy Version First Commandment
Secret Key to the Scripture Manifest in the Flesh
Pluto and Antares Tail-Chasing
Communicatio Idiomatum Came Down from Heaven
Son of Man Two Biographies
Arm of Flesh Only Savior
Creator Flesh? Before My Father

(Or wait — maybe 'the Son' means 'the Father in the flesh'...or something...The bottom-line definition of 'the Son' in 'Oneness' Pentecostalism seems to be, 'The Son' means 'the flesh', except when it doesn't, in which case it means 'the Father'!)


The Son = The Flesh?


Christians sing, "Amazing love! How can it be That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?" (And Can it be That I Should Gain?, Charles Wesley). 'Not so fast!' holler the 'Oneness' Pentecostals. 'God cannot die!'

"The death of Jesus is a particularly good example.  His divine Spirit did not die, but His human body did.  We cannot say that God died, so we cannot say 'God the Son' died.  On the other hand, we can say that the Son of God died because Son refers to humanity." (David Bernard, Oneness of God, p. 99-100).

As a 'Oneness' Pentecostal told me, disparaging the Christian "God that can be tempted, grow weary, and even die": "The Bible declares that the one true God can NEVER do any of these things.  My God doesn't even get sick!" Unbelievers can never fathom, "Thus the feet of the One who had trodden the sapphire glories of heaven (Exodus 24:10) now toiled onward to the Cross." (H. C. Hewlett, The Glories of Our Lord, p. 79). This doctrine is as much a stumbling-block today to those outside as it was in the apostles' day:

Who Died on the Cross?

Scandal of the Cross
Scandal of the Cross
Who Died on the Cross? Lord of Glory
The First and the Last The Blood of God
Ransom for Many Scandal of the Cross
Theos Apathes Patripassianism
His Love Is Death Extinction?
Pierced Testator's Death
Common Consent Nestorius

In consequence of their novel definition that 'the Son' refers to the humanity of the incarnation, 'Oneness' Pentecostals deny the eternity of 'the Son':


"The Sonship began at Bethlehem. The Incarnation was the time when the Sonship began. The angel, in Luke 1:35, said to the virgin mother-to-be, 'That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.' Here it is clearly revealed that the humanity of the Lord Jesus is the Son. 'That holy thing' — that physical, fleshly one — is the Son." (Chapter 3, Gordon Magee, Is Jesus in the Godhead or Is the Godhead in Jesus?).

But who is the Son, in the Bible?  Did He create the worlds...or did He not exist except as a 'plan' or 'concept' until a babe was born to Mary?

The Son of God: Eternal God or beginning in time?
Eternal Son

The Son: Eternal God or Beginning in Time?

The Vineyard Without beginning of days
From Everlasting Same Yesterday, Today and Forever
Behold, I come With the Father
Eternal Life Son of God
By Him all things were created In the Beginning
Thy throne Mind in Christ
Before me My Redeemer
First and Last Before Abraham was
Enduring Love Downward Mobility
Beginning Where He was before
Came down from Heaven In the Wilderness
Temple Vision The Firstborn
The Word Stands Forever From the Womb
At the Beginning of His way The Reproach of Christ
Root and Offspring Sons and Slaves
The Ending of the Sonship?

The Garden of Gethsemane

A party by the name of 'Jesus' went to the Garden of Gethsemane:

"Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, 'Sit here while I go and pray over there.'" (Matthew 26:36).

He called out in agony to...'Jesus'?:

"He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, 'O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me..." (Matthew 26:39).
Agony in the Garden
 "O My Father"
Agony Not My Will
And was Heard Play-Acting
Praying Flesh Sweat-drops of Blood

In 'Oneness' Pentecostalism, 'Jesus' is the name, not only of 'the Father' and of 'the Son,' but also of the Holy Spirit.  Is this Biblical?

Is Jesus the Holy Spirit?

I and He Another Comforter
Restoration of All Things Poured Out
Of Himself Who is Jesus' father?
Jesus anointed with Jesus Jesus filled with Jesus
Jesus saw Jesus Blasphemy
Orphans Intercessor

"This one true God manifested Himself in the Old Testament in divers ways; in the Son while He walked among men; as the Holy Spirit after the ascension." (UPCI Articles of Faith). Is the Holy Spirit an innovation...or has He ever been?: 

The Eternal Spirit

Eternal Spirit Wisdom
Face of the Waters Jawbone
Seventy Elders Gideon
In the Wilderness Fiery Stream
Oil of Gladness Rain
Strife Prophets of Old Time
John the Baptist Simeon
Zacharias Breathe

That God is 'Three-in-One' is no mystery; take a scripture like 1 Peter 1:2: "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied." (1 Peter 1:2).  Count on the fingers of one hand the names invoked...pardon me, 'titles'...and on the other hand, the number of true and living Gods in the universe: "For You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God." (Psalm 86:10).  Three fingers showing on one hand, one on the other...Three-in-One!

God in Three Witnesses

Three Witnesses The Three at Mamre
Holy, holy, holy Let Us Make Man
Fire and Brimstone Christ's Baptism
Oil of Gladness The Comforter Has Come
Desire of Nations Three Conversationalists
God is Love The Same God
One Faith The LORD Bless You
Seal In their Affliction
In the Name Origin
Temple Vision Jehovah Jah Jehovah

The Doctrine of the Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity is grossly misunderstood by 'Oneness' Pentecostals, who describe the Trinity as "three gods." What is the doctrine?

Biblical Proof:

The four propositions proven above: that

a.) There is only One God;
b.) The Father is God;
c.) The Son is God;
d.) The Holy Spirit is God.

— are at the heart of the fifth-century Athanasian Creed: "So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God.  And yet they are not three gods: but one God."  As with the Jehovah's Witnesses, the point which embarrasses 'Oneness' Pentecostals is c.).  Ask 'Oneness' Pentecostals to check one box:

THE SON IS GOD!

___ yes

___ no

— and their answers are all over the map.  Some frankly admit they do not believe 'the Son' is God, on the strength of the man-made definition at the heart of their system, that 'the Son' means 'the flesh' of Jesus of Nazareth.  Others claim to believe it, but then equivocate on the meaning of 'the Son' when asked how it is that the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father.

'Oneness'-speak confuses Bible-readers, who are accustomed to hear 'the Son' as synonymous with 'Jesus:' "And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ..." (1 John 3:23).  In 'Oneness'-speak, the two terms are not coterminous.  'Oneness' Pentecostals treat 'Jesus' as a name of 'the Father' also: "Jesus (meaning Jehovah-Savior) is the revealed name of God in the New Testament. Jesus is the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." (David Bernard).  Sharing the 'Father-onlyism' of the Unitarian Universalists, only on the strength of this identification do they confess Jesus' Deity at all.

Like the Unitarian Universalists, the 'Oneness' Pentecostals confess that 'the Father' is God; unique to themselves, they express this by saying 'Jesus is God'.  Like the Unitarian Universalists, they believe 'the Son' to be a man who came into existence at Bethlehem, indwelt by 'the Father' who alone is God.  It's only on the strength of the 'Philadelphia-lawyer' trick of defining 'Jesus' as a name of 'the Father' that 'Oneness' Pentecostals can slip their nose into the Christian tent, and claim to believe that Jesus is God!  Defining 'the Son' to mean the 'flesh' creates obvious difficulties in unequivocally proclaiming 'the Son' to be God, rather than a human 'tabernacle' or 'shell' in which God dwelt.

But what saith the scripture?  That 'the Son'...not 'the Father in the Son', but 'the Son'...is eternal God!:


The Son is God!

The Son is God

Your Throne, O God Work of Your Hands Let Angels Worship
True God Express Image Visible and Invisible
For Himself Son of God Kiss the Son
A Son is born Honor the Son Only-begotten God
Pantocrator Believe on the Son Only Savior

Jesus Christ Pantocrator

The unchanging God:

The God of the Bible does not morph from one 'manifestation' to another. In fact He does not change: "For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob." (Malachi 3:6). He is revealed as triune on the last page of the Bible, just as on the first:

The First PageThe Last Page

'Oneness' Pentecostal Favorite Scriptures

All scripture is of the same authorship: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  This Bible fact justifies the principle called 'analogia scriptura': "If we arrive at an interpretation of a passage that contradicts a truth taught elsewhere in the Scriptures, our interpretation cannot be correct." (The MacArthur Study Bible).  So let us look at the 'Oneness' Pentecostals' favorite scriptures:

Favorites




Favorites

"I have seen God face to face"

The church sings, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty; God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!" Is this language Bibical?

God in Three Persons?
Prosopon

Is 'Person' a Biblical Word?

The First Time Boethius
What does it Mean? Face to Face
The Father and the Son The Holy Spirit
Express Image To Each His Own
Men and Angels Persona
Thrice Holy Who are the 'God-people'?
Sabellius Separate or Distinct?
Individuals God-beings
Bible Terminology God is Not a Man

Is the Trinity of Pagan Origin?

Although claiming to base their teachings on the Bible, 'Oneness' Pentecostals often resort to extra-Biblical historical arguments whose content cannot be substantiated from the Bible, some of them fanciful: "The actual origin of the Trinity Doctrine predates Christianity. The ancient Babylonians and other Pagan nations all worshiped the Trinity." (Biblical Apostolic Organization web-site). Is that so?

Pagan Trinity?
Pagan affinities? Alexander Hislop
Changing God Masked Gods
Hindu Modalist Trinity Plotinus
Jehovah's Witnesses Isis, Osiris and Typhon
Zeus, Hera and Athena At Random
Jupiter, Mars and Venus Bus Herds

Is God the 'Father-only'?

The Father only?

Father-Only






There's One Throne in Heaven and Jesus is Sitting on It!

Those familiar with 'Oneness' Pentecostals have heard this slogan. What does it mean? Is it Biblical? What will we see when we come before the throne?

The Beatific Vision
Bar

The Son in the Old Testament

"Obviously the Son did not actually exist before Bethlehem, else we should have no difficulty locating Him as being actually present in the Old Testament and the period it covered." (Chapter 4, Gordon Magee, Is Jesus in the Godhead or Is the Godhead in Jesus?).

Where was 'the Son' in the Old Testament?  He's in there!  "Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?  Who has gathered the wind in His fists?  Who has bound the waters in a garment?  Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son's name, if you know?" (Proverbs 30:4).

"'Look!' he answered, 'I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.'" (Daniel 3:25).

"It is entirely in accordance with the promise, 'I  will be with thee' (Isa. 43:2), and the consistent teaching of Scripture touching the theophanies to recognize in the One who appeared in the fire the very Son of God, the Deliverer of His people. The circumstances of His appearance with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, illustrate delightfully the lesson of Romans 8:37. 'In all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us.' Had the three been miraculously preserved in the furnace, yet without any sign of the divine presence, they would certaily have been conquerors. But the surpassing wonder of their experience was not their deliverance, viewed in itself, but rather the companionship of their Lord in the furnace. In the added marvel of this sacred fellowship they were 'more than conquerors.' So was it in Paul's day. So has it been with all who have known amidst their trials the joy of walking with the Son of God." (H. C. Hewlett, The Companion of the Way, pp. 110-111).

Here are some of the exploits of the Son of God, as reported in the Old Testament:

The Logos
Theophanic Angel
Wisdom

Philo and Friends

'Oneness' Pentecostals present an argument in this format: The Bible cannot teach the doctrine of the Trinity because its authors were Jews and Jews do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity.  The Jehovah's Witnesses are fond of this argument as well, hoping thereby to eliminate any distinctive doctrines of Christianity.

But what did a first century Jew like Philo Judaeus believe about God?  He believed, as the Bible teaches, that the One True and Living God is the Father, His Word, and His Holy Spirit. Reading his words can serve as a useful corrective to projecting modern Rabbinic theology back into a period before it ever came into being. Philo's first century Jewish theology is closer to Christianity than to its critics:


Philo and Friends






Philo Judaeus

My Father is Greater Than I

How can Christians simultaneously assert that Father and Son are equal, yet also accept scriptures like John 14:28? The key is scriptural: Philippians 2:5-11.

He Humbled Himself

He Humbled Himself

What's Wrong with Oneness?

Nothing; the Bible teaches the Lord is One. What's wrong with 'Oneness' Pentecostalism? Plenty! The center-piece of their theology,— the extra-Biblical definition 'Son'='flesh,'— demotes the Son and strips Him of His heavenly glory. Is it a good idea to degrade the Son? Not according to the Bible:

"...that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father." (John 5:23).
"Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him." (Psalm 2:12).

For by grace you have been saved through faith

People expect to hear the minister say something at baptism; failure to do so leaves an unhappy, complaining customer:

"And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, 'Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.'  But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, 'Indeed, I said to myself, "He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy."'" (2 Kings 5:10-11).

Usually the minister at Christian baptism recites from Matthew 28:19: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..."  Though it's tough to see how reciting scripture can send a soul to Hell, according to the 'Oneness' Pentecostals, those so baptized are eternally lost.  Their exclusive claim to salvation rests upon their boast of possessing the only baptismal formula that 'works'...and it's not Matthew 28:19!

According to the 'Oneness' Pentecostals, the [singular!] "name" of Matthew 28:19 serves as a marker for a proper name to be supplied later. Alas, this transformation works only once, and in only one direction. Is that actually how this common idiom functions?

Grammar Quiz
In the Name
 What does 'in the name' mean?
'Oneness' Pentecostal Hall of Shame

Most 'Oneness' Pentecostals will claim, if challenged, that they believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God. Nevertheless they circulate arguments for their position which attack the Bible in the manner of Bart Ehrman and such people. Since Matthew 28:19 causes them difficulty, they take the easy way out: just get rid of it:

God's Word Authority Figures
Interpolation Is the Bible Trustworthy?
Ipsissima Verba Tom Harpur
Catholic Encyclopedia Jesus Seminar
Frederick C. Conybeare

Even the Roman Catholic Church has acknowledged "that humanity achieves salvation through 'faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part.'" (Christian Science Monitor, October 31, 1999)...yet their unacknowledged offspring still cling to the Council of Trent's position that salvation is through faith plus works:

Saved by Faith

Many 'Oneness' Pentecostals observe extra-Biblical 'holiness' standards governing grooming (no beards for men, no slacks for women), behavior (no TV in the home), and church discipline (obedience to pastors, mandatory tithing). Observance varies from organization to organization and even within the same body. The Lord was not fond of man-made ordinances: "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." (Mark 7:6-7). Are the 'standards' "commandments of men"...or are they Biblical?:

Does Neatness Count?

Is water baptism the 'birth of water' of John 3, without which none can enter the kingdom of God: "The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation (Cf. Jn 3:5)." (Catholic Catechism, 1257)?:

Baptismal Regeneration

'Oneness' Pentecostals find in Acts 2:38 a three-step 'Salvation Plan:' "The basic and fundamental doctrine of this organization shall be the Bible standard of full salvation, which is repentance, baptism in water by immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the initial sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance." (UPCI Articles of Faith). They embark upon a salvation treasure hunt, with items mandatory for completion including baptism under their patented 'Jesus name' verbal formula and speaking in tongues. Was this verse of scripture intended as a 'Salvation Plan'?:

Acts 2:38 "Salvation Plan"
 Is Acts 2:38 a "Salvation Plan"?
Acts 2:38
Tongues
 Is speaking in tongues essential for salvation?

Will the real 'Oneness' Pentecostals please stand up?

Skeptics wonder how the one true church burst onto the scene only in 1913 in the good old U.S. of A.  After all, didn't Jesus promise to be with His followers "even to the end of the age"?: "...lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen." (Matthew 28:20)? So how could the only baptismal formula that 'works' have been lost for nearly two thousand years?  In response, 'Oneness' Pentecostals make dizzying claims about church history, signing up not only the early church writers for their cause but virtually every heretic since:

"No organization has murdered (as 'heretics') so many real Apostolic Christians as the Roman Catholic Church! History knows no other possible organization than the RCC to fit verse Rev 17:6." (Steve Winter, PRIME.org).

But is it for real? Were rivers of blood shed by 'Oneness' Pentecostal martyrs down through the ages? For that matter, were there any 'Oneness' Pentecostals prior to 1913?


Church History

Let us Make Man Polycarp
Ignatius Clement of Rome
Shepherd of Hermas Justin Martyr
Athenagoras Irenaeus
Simon the Sorcerer Gnostics
Noetus Pope Zephyrinus
Sabellius Pope Callistus I
Tertullian Beryllus of Bostra
Montanists Donatists
Marcellus of Ancyra Photinus
Priscillian Albigensians
Waldensians Michael Servetus
Anabaptists Munster Communards
Unitarians William Penn
Emanuel Swedenborg Joseph Smith
Karl Barth Yves Congar


Church History

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