Arminian Today

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The Draw of the Oneness Pentecostal Movement

I have been studying the doctrine of the holy Trinity now for some time.  I love the doctrine!  It is amazing how Scripture opens up when you begin to study the nature of God.  Fred Sanders is correct, “The trinity changes everything.”  The holy Trinity changes our understanding of love, creation, humanity, order, prayer, worship, and salvation.  Without the Trinity, these doctrines become confusing and twisted.

In my studies, I have been reading books from the Oneness camps to see where they are coming from.  I have listened to many hours of lectures and sermons from Oneness Pentecostals.  Some of the sermons were just normal sermons while most of them I tried to pick that focused on my studies.  I will not, for the sake of time, try to dive into the Oneness views regarding their view of God.  It is suffice to say that Oneness Pentecostals are “Jesus only” meaning that, in the words of one of their preachers, “Jesus is everything.”  In Oneness Pentecostalism, Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the Son, Jesus is the Holy Spirit.  There is more to it than just that but they hold that Jesus is God and that there is only one God and thus Jesus is the only person of the Godhead and He alone is all three modes or manifestations of God that we read in the Bible.

What is the draw then to Oneness Pentecostalism?  I think the appeal is the same as the draw to Trinitarian Pentecostalism in many ways.  First, there is the focus on experience.  Oneness Pentecostalism is very emotional.  The worship is dramatic.  People often shake, dance, run, lift their hands, speak in tongues, etc. in their worship services.  The God of Oneness churches is a very personal God who wants to interact with his people.

Secondly, the preaching is more dramatic than the average evangelical sermon.  While I enjoy a good expository sermon, I detest a lifeless one.  I want a preacher who preaches with passion the truth of God with sound exegesis.  However, the average evangelical pulpit is often shallow and lifeless.  Not so with many Oneness Pentecostal churches.  They preach with power (anointing they would say).  While their message is often shallow and not based on exegesis, they preach with conviction and shouting and fire that is often missing in evangelical churches.

Third, they present themselves as the keepers of the truth.  Oneness Pentecostals (most of them I have listened to) believe that all are lost but Oneness Pentecostals.  If you have not been saved according to their view of Acts 2:38, you are lost.  This would be all Trinitarians including Trinitarian Pentecostals.  You must be baptized in the name of Jesus to have your sins forgiven.  To be baptized in any other way is damnation.  This twisting of Acts 2:38 leads Oneness Pentecostals to feel that they alone are the keepers of the truth of God.  Their duty is to evangelize all who are not Oneness.  This “cause” helps people find purpose in their existence.

Lastly, simple answers.  People want to know who is God.  Oneness Pentecostals are ready with an answer: Jesus is God.  Of course, Trinitarians believe the same but Oneness groups don’t teach that the one God is three persons but rather they teach that Jesus is God and He alone is God and He alone has always been God and He alone will forever be God.  There are no persons in the Godhead but only Jesus (Colossians 2:9).  If you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen the Father (John 14:8-9).  Oneness groups provide answers for who is God and what is He like.  Like cults, they have answers for God where confusing may exist.  They have their God figured out.

Sadly, many Trinitarian Pentecostals often fall into prey with Oneness Pentecostals.  The reason is that pragmatism abounds among the Trinitarian Pentecostals.  One could easily attend a Trinitarian Pentecostal church and never know that it was Pentecostal.  This is not so with Oneness Pentecostals.  They have the feel of the old Pentecostal services where the music is jumping, the people are jumping, and the sermons are “anointed.”  The average Trinitarian Pentecostal looking for an “experience” with Jesus will find one in Oneness churches and will remind them of “the good old days.”  Due to pragmatism, doctrine among many Trinitarian Pentecostals is weak and thus a Trinitarian Pentecostal is easily drawn into the Oneness groups and led astray.

For more information on Oneness Pentecostals, I recommend this book.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/18/2015 at 5:17 PM

2 Responses

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  1. The four characteristics which you identified are certainly reasons for the appeal of Oneness Pentecostals. Two others, at least of the Oneness Pentecostals which I’ve encountered, are their friendliness/helpfulness and their old-fashioned morality.

    Bob Hunter

    09/20/2015 at 1:34 AM


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