False Doctrines, False Religions and Cults
Some may wonder why it is necessary to write about false doctrines, false religions and cults. Now is a time that it is more important than ever to contend for the faith. With hundreds of faiths vying for our attention and the attention of our family and friends we must know what it is that makes these religions damnable. The spiritual safety of our friends and family depend on it. This is part one of what I plan to be a several part series on false religious groups. This first part will deal with a heresy that hides within the Christian landscape, known as Oneness Pentecostalism aka. Jesus-Only, Apostolic, UPCI, or "Bible Way."
Oneness Pentecostalism: Christian Faith or Foe?
Preface for Oneness readers.
I will not ask you not to be offended by this message, as that is unavoidable. However I will tell you that the intention of this message is the teach and warn. It is presented out of love for fellow believers as well as those who have been deceived by the oneness movement. I am sure that my simple article will not answer all your objections or assuage all your doubts. However, as I do with any subject matter that I write about, I extend to you an invitation: If you have further questions after reading this article, I welcome you to email those questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Preface for Trinitarian Believers.
Their service styles are highly emotional which helps to whip the attendee into a religious fervor which may result in a lack of theological or biblical scrutiny by an unsuspecting visitor. Those of us from a Pentecostal background are particularly susceptible to this kind of deception. They may, in fact be perfectly wonderful people but we can't allow our love for the individuals to cloud our judgment of the movement. Within every vile movement are wonderful, loving, giving and caring, albeit deceived individuals.
Denial of the Trinity - Oneness of God
Oneness believers reject the concept of the trinity, falsely believing it to be the belief in three Gods and ascribe to an ancient heresy know as modalism. Modalism maintains that the one God came in different modes or offices. When He was creating, He was the Father. In the work of salvation He was the Son. Now, in the work of sanctification He is the Holy Spirit. They deny the distinct personhood of each of these individuals within the Godhead, instead regulating them to mere hats that God wears. Logically following their argument, the Father died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead on the third day. He merely did so while wearing the son “hat.”
To ascribe to this view one must ignore or give totally different meaning to many parts of scripture. Examples of this include Jesus prayer in the garden, prior to his crucifixion (Luke 22:39-46). When we read this we must keep in mind that according to Oneness believers Jesus was the Father in the flesh. His prayer to the Father, saying not my will but your will be done would, therefore be nonsensical. Other examples include:
John 14:28 : You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
1 John 5:7 : For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one
This heretical doctrine places Oneness Pentecostals outside of biblical orthodoxy. Denial of the trinity brings into question ones salvation because this is an essential doctrine of the faith. While one can come to the faith without understanding or knowing of the trinity, a true believer will eventually accept the trinity as they learn more about it. To know about the Trinity and reject it is to reject the very nature of Jesus himself.
Baptism : An outward sign or a saving act.
Oneness Pentecostalism holds that water baptism by immersion is a requirement for salvation. In other words, if you are not baptized, you are not saved. Furthermore, baptism in accordance with the biblical formula of “the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” is also deemed an invalid baptism. Only baptism administered “in Jesus name” is considered an acceptable baptism.
This is contrary to the very formula taught by Jesus himself in Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Scripture also clearly shows that baptism is not a requirement for salvation.
“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” Acts 10:47
Take note that the above verse shows that these individuals had received the Holy Spirit prior to baptism in water. If we are to follow the Oneness logic we would have to determine that unsaved people can and did receive the Holy Spirit. That would be contrary to our very understanding of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. However, we don’t have to assume. We can look to other verses for clarification.
Romans 8:9 “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”
If those who do not have the Spirit of Christ are not His then simple logic would tell us that those who do have the Spirit are His. If these people had the Spirit prior to water baptism one can only say that they already belonged to Christ and that is the very definition of being saved. Further references include:
Galatians 4:6 “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
1 John 4:13 “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”
Speaking in Tongues: Gift of the Spirit or Sign of Salvation
Oneness believers also utilize Romans 8:9 (see above) to promote another false doctrine. They assume that speaking in tongues is the only initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and that such baptism is required for one to be saved. Therefore, if one is save they must speak in tongues. This places unwarranted pressure on the member to demonstrate that they are saved by speaking in tongues and also creates a type of spiritual elitism. Such focus is given to the speaking in tongues and manifestations of the Spirit that Biblical learning and preaching is often sidelined. This creates an ignorant and unlearned congregation as well as sets members up for failure when hardships arise and they don’t “feel” anything.
Over emphasis on the emotional aspects of religious services often lead to a neglect of the Word. One side effect of this is a hyper-dependence upon the interpretation of the Pastor which can lead to any number of cultist activity.
Holiness vs. Legalism
Oneness Pentecostalism places great emphasis on external requirements of members. It is not uncommon for women to be forbidden from wearing pants, make-up or jewelry. Men have likewise been forbidden from wearing longer hair or facial hair and even the sleeve length of men has been scrutinized. It is further implied that anyone breaking this holiness codes are not truly saved. This legalism creates a salvation of works, which is obviously contrary to scripture. It places the believer under the bondage of a new law and takes away the joy of salvation.
The Word of God says, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1)." However, the Oneness Pentecostals legalistic view of "holiness" has firmly placed them back under that yoke.
Based on the Oneness Pentecostal position on the Trinity, baptismal regeneration, speaking in tongues as a sign of salvation and legalism one can only conclude that there salvation is either on shaky ground or absent. Furthermore, there emphasis on pastor determined legalism and emotions put them at serious rise of cultic activity. What should we do with this information? First, study the word of God and these very issues. The word of God says “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).” Secondly, share the truth of the Gospel with them and be prepared for false assumptions and understandings or orthodox doctrine, especially where it concerns the Trinity. Thirdly, when visiting a church or inviting a pastor know the basics of their doctrine. No matter how well intentioned the oneness believer may be, they are holding to a damnable doctrine and we must never forget that.