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Posts Tagged ‘Apologetics

Oneness Pentecostals Exposed

Here is a link to an excellent, long series on Oneness Pentecostals by a British brother.  I highly recommend it.  I have listened to them while working and was greatly blessed.  Not only does he quote directly from Oneness Pentecostal theologians but he dives into the Word of God for answers.

You can find these teachings here.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/21/2017 at 1:16 PM

Short Thoughts on Oneness Pentecostalism

I grew up in the Assemblies of God, a Trinitarian Pentecostal group.  I was aware even as a child of the “other” Pentecostals out there who were called “Jesus Only” Pentecostals.  My dad explained them to me once saying that they only believed in Jesus and not in the Father or the Holy Spirit.  That was not entirely true but it was the best he understood.  Over the years I have had very few encounters with Oneness folks.  I visited a Oneness church only twice in my life and both for observation.

The Oneness movement is much older than Oneness Pentecostals like to believe.  They like to believe that God restored the Oneness doctrine of God in 1913-14 with the split from Trinitarian Pentecostals.  The Assemblies of God called the new teaching “the new issue” and rejected the Oneness teachings in 1916.  Many AG pastors left the Assemblies of God over the issue.  The largest Oneness Pentecostal group is the United Pentecostal Church International based out of Hazelwood, Missouri.  The UPC is rejects the historic doctrine of the Trinity and holds to the Oneness doctrine.

The teaching is essentially the old heresy of Sabellianism from the 2nd century.  The teaching is also called Modalism.  Modalism teaches that there is only one God who reveals Himself in different “modes” such as the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.  These three modes are not three persons but rather manifestations of the one true God.  The Oneness Pentecostals teach that Jesus is the mighty God (Isaiah 9:6) and that Jesus is the Father and Jesus is the Son and Jesus is the Holy Ghost.  Jesus is all three!  Jesus only is God.  There is no Father who is God nor a Son who is God nor the Spirit who is God but rather there is only one Person in the Godhead and His name is Jesus.  Oneness Pentecostals go to Matthew 28:19 and they see baptize in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and they point out that the Name of God is revealed to us in Acts 2:38 when Peter used the keys given to him by Jesus to preach the truth of the Godhead, that the Name of God is Jesus.  It is this Name (Acts 4:12) that saves us and only those who are baptized in the name of Jesus are truly saved (Romans 6:1-4).

In reality, the Oneness Pentecostals teach that the Father who is named Jesus is truly the eternal God.  They would agree with the Arians, that the Son has a beginning in the incarnation (Luke 1:35) and the Son will have an ending (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).  They love to use the word “begotten” in John 3:16 to prove that Jesus the Son was begotten by the Father.  While this is a poor usage of the Greek term here (see the NIV for example here), Oneness Pentecostals have argued effectively to poorly taught Trinitarians about the nature the Son.  They also love to point out that the words “Trinity” nor “God the Son” nor “the Eternal Son” are found in the New Testament and to them, this proves that Jesus as the Son was not eternally the Son of the Father but rather He had a beginning in Bethlehem.

So what do Oneness Pentecostals do with the Lord Jesus in the Gospels where He over and over again refers to “My Father” or “the Father?”  Or what about where Jesus prays to the Father such has in John 17?  Or what about Jesus’ baptism where all three persons (or manifestations in the Oneness mind) appear in Matthew 3:13-17?  They believe that the key to understanding the life of Jesus is to understand that at times He was speaking as the Son and sometimes as God who is the Father.  The Son, they teach, always refers to Jesus’ humanity and not to His divinity.  When the Son is praying or eating or sleeping, He is doing so as the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).  They believe that the Father (who is Jesus as the mighty God) wrapped Himself in flesh (John 1:14, 18) but the Son was not God only He was a man, the Son of God.  So when Jesus was praying, He was praying from His human side to His divine side.  And when Jesus was baptized, God, being God, chose to reveal all three manifestations at the same time which He can do if He wants.  When we read of Jesus now in the presence of God at His right hand such as in Acts 2:34-36 or Hebrews 1:3, this is speaking of Jesus in His human manifestation before the eternal Father who is Jesus the divine side.  To me it is very confusing and doesn’t allow the texts to read freely but nonetheless Oneness Pentecostals believe this is the key to reading and studying and understanding the Bible.  It is their own unique hermeneutic if you will.

Oneness Pentecostals use three major texts to prove that Jesus is God the Father.  First, they read Isaiah 9:6 and believe that the words “eternal Father” are referring to the Father.  Secondly, they point to John 10:30 and point out that Jesus Himself here says that He and the Father are one.  Third, they point to John 14:9 where Jesus answers Philip and says that if they had seen Him, they had seen the Father.

Time doesn’t permit me to answer the entire charges here and to be fair, Oneness Pentecostal have other texts they turn to prove their doctrine.  In short, Isaiah 9:6 is not speaking of necessarily titles of the Lord Jesus.  Nowhere in the New Testament are these titles worked out though they are true of Him.  The concept of God as our Father is not fully developed in the Old Testament though spoken of a few times.  Yet here the understanding could be “Father of eternity” in that the One to be born (Isaiah 7:14) is from ancient times (Micah 5:2).  Jesus is eternal and thus He is the Father of eternity but this doesn’t mean that He is the Father.  Secondly, the Greek text of John 10:30 is clear that Jesus is not speaking of unipersonal but essence when He says that He and the Father are one.  The Greek says, “One we are.”  There are very specific Greek words John could have used to show us that Jesus is the Father but instead He uses a Greek phrase that simply makes Jesus of the same kind as the Father.  Third, even Oneness Pentecostals don’t believe that when Jesus the Man was saying to Philip that if he’d seen Him, he’d seen the Father that they were seeing at that very moment the Father.  Oneness Pentecostals hold that the Father is a spirit and invisible to us (Colossians 1:15) but instead Jesus is saying that when the Apostles saw Jesus, they were seeing God the Father in that the Son is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father.  Not once in the New Testament does Jesus ever say that He is the Father though He refers to His Father or the Father or My Father hundreds of times.

Finally, a word about the Oneness view of salvation.  This is the key for me.  Oneness Pentecostals teach that a person must believe in Jesus, repent of their sins, be baptized in water by immersion “in the name of Jesus” for the forgiveness of sins, and then must receive the infilling of the Holy Ghost by the initial, physical evidence of speaking in tongues.  A person is not justified by faith alone in the Oneness mind.  A person must do all the above to be saved.  Now sometimes in the Oneness church, a person will get the Holy Ghost and speak in tongues before being baptized in Jesus’ name but they point to Acts 10:43-48 as proof that this is okay.

Also it’s not enough to just believe in Jesus, be baptized in Jesus’ name and receive the Holy Ghost with evidence of tongues, one must also live a holy life till the end lest they “lose their salvation.”  Holiness includes the holiness codes set up by many Oneness churches including women wearing dresses, not cutting their hair, no makeup or jewelry, and men must be clean-shaven, short hair, avoid alcohol and tobacco and live a holy life.  It is amounts to works-righteousness though Oneness folks will argue that they do it with joy.

In closing, Oneness Pentecostals are nice folks but being nice is not the standard of truth.  The Word of God is the final authority and they would agree.  I have been meeting a Oneness pastor from time to time to talk theology and he is a bright, loving man.  He wants me to accept him merely because he loves Jesus.  That, he says, should unite us.  But I disagree.  I am not mean to him but the Jesus he says that he worships and loves is the not the Jesus of the Bible.  I know that hurts but its true.  The Jesus he says that he worships is not the same as the Jesus I worship.  He believes that since Oneness Pentecostals speak in tongues the same as Trinitarian Pentecostals speak in tongues, this must prove that God accepts them both despite someone being wrong about the Godhead. He also believes that since Oneness Pentecostals teach and preach that Jesus is God, what is the big deal?

There are obviously many errors.  For just one.  Consider the atonement.  In Oneness theology the saving work of Christ is not God dying in my place, standing condemned for my sins.  Instead, we have the Father wrapped in flesh but not really a man.  Instead Jesus only appears as a man but the true Jesus is still the eternal Father.  In other words, the divine payment for our sins is not payed by the Lord God but instead by a mere man albeit a perfect one because the Father was inside of the man.  The payment is not God redeeming us through the divine Son but instead it is the human Jesus paying the penalty for our sins to the Father Jesus.  How weird.  In Trinitarian theology, the second person of the holy Trinity, the Lord Jesus, bears our sins on the cross and redeems us from the holy wrath of God.  God is truly in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) because the Son is offering His life for our sins to the glory of the Father who sent Him into the world (John 3:16).

Over even consider Jesus is our high priest who offers Himself before the Father to pray for us sinners (Hebrews 4:14-15).  Hebrews 7:22-28 speaks of Jesus being our high priest before the Father.  Jesus, as our faithful high priest, offered Himself to God (Hebrews 9:24-28) and He now sits at the Father’s right hand to ever live to pray for us.  In Oneness theology, Jesus as the Father hears Jesus the flesh (the Son) when we pray to Him.  In Trinitarian theology, the text is allowed to speak for itself: Jesus the Son prays for us sinner before the holy Father.  Jesus is truly our high priest in every since of the word.  A time will come when this will end at the consummation of the ages but this doesn’t mean that Jesus will cease to be the Son of God nor will He cease to reign as our Savior (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

And I could write much more.  I have gone too long.  I close by simply pointing out that Oneness Pentecostals fall short of the truth of Scripture.  While I admire them for their zeal and for holding to monotheism and to the authority of the Bible, I find much of their theology lacking.  I pray that God will help us, as biblical Trinitarians, to know what we believe about God and why the Trinity is not an optional doctrine.  The Trinity is vital.

Short Thoughts on “Berean” Ministries

I’m all for examining what people teach.  I’m also for calling people to account for things they say or do.  Recently I posted on why I believe Christians should have avoided “Together 2016” as it featured the Pope as one of the speakers.  My fear is the Protestantism doesn’t mean anything anymore if we link up with Roman Catholics.

That said, are people heretics who associate with people who spoke at the conference or who have associated with Catholics in the past?  I don’t think so.  I myself was invited once to preach to Catholic youth back when I was a teenager.  I was fully prepared to preach the gospel (as I knew it then which was the sinner’s prayer method) but I knew I wasn’t going to go to the Catholics and just beat them up and down with my Bible.  That just wouldn’t have worked and I was invited to preach there by a friend (who is now a Catholic priest).  The event was cancelled and I was never able to speak there again.  I wish I could today.

What bothers me about so called “Berean” ministries is the self-righteousness I see.  I have been guilty of this myself.   I use to say that I was just being a good old Berean like those in Acts 17:11 but I was actually just being critical and self-righteous toward others.  I’m all for taking a teaching or a teacher to task from the Bible.  We are commanded to do so (see 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21; 1 John 4:1).  However, what I find is that many Bereans are simply not charitable towards those whom they disagree.  I daily get blog posts from Berean ministries and I have yet to find one that says at the end, “Please pray for this person.”  They just rip a person up and down and then throw them out.  I believe 2 Timothy 2:24-26 must apply to our discernment passages.

Meanwhile some of the people they are writing about are doing more for the gospel then they are.  I’m not a huge fan of Josh McDowell but I don’t doubt that his ministry is being used by God.  I don’t follow Ravi Zacharias but I don’t doubt that he too is being used by God.  I’m not a big follower of Francis Chan but his ministry is amazing.  David Wood is an amazing evangelist to Muslims and bold in doing so.  Is David Wood perfect?  No.  One can listen to one of these men long enough and find something to blog about.

I’ve never debated an atheist publicly.   I have never debated a Muslim.  I have never even debated a Mormon publicly.  I have never open air preached before very hostile crowds.  It is quite safe here where I am writing at this moment.  I could sit here and attack this ministry or that and never leave my home but boy I feel better about myself.  Why?  Because I was a Berean!

Now let me again state that, at times, people need to be confronted.  I was disappointed a few years back when Ravi was invited to speak in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Mormon Tabernacle (a place I too have been).  I was hoping Ravi would preach the gospel and call Mormons to repent.  He didn’t.  Do I think he was wrong there?  Yes I do.  Is he a heretic?  No.

Dr. Michael Brown went on Benny Hinn’s program a few years back.  Would I?  Probably not unless I could clearly state the gospel and know that Hinn would both agree and denounce the false prosperity gospel.  Brown didn’t do any of that.  Dr. James White, his friend, called him to task publicly for this.  Brown later admitted he was wrong to go on Hinn’s program.

Now should we denounce Ravi Zacharias or Michael Brown?  Some say yes.  I say no.  I don’t agree with all they have done nor do I agree with all that you might do.  Our standing is before God and we must give an account to Him alone (Romans 14:10-12).

By the way, do you ever pray for Benny Hinn?  I don’t think most of us do.  We just count him as a heretic and move on.  Hinn needs our prayers.  I don’t know his heart and neither do you.  I know he has preached some wacky things but is he too far gone to repent?

And simply because one shows up doesn’t mean that one endorses the totality of that ministry.  John MacArthur appeared on TBN once.  Should we denounce MacArthur?  Of course not.  In fact, I was proud of MacArthur’s appearance on TBN as he preached the clear gospel before millions.

So meanwhile while some brothers are on the front lines of battle against the enemies of the cross, bloggers blog about them to the world.  They call this discernment ministries.  They say they are Bereans.  I think they just need to get offline and pray.  Discernment is needed.  Being mean is not.

To God be the glory.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/02/2016 at 1:45 AM

Must Hear Debate

I highly recommend you listen to Dr. James White debating a Hebrew Israelite.  This is a subject I have never encountered.  I once heard these guys “preaching” on the streets of New York City and when I walked by one of them pointed at me and called me “white devil.”  That was my brief encounter with these guys.  Their theology is radically off from biblical Christianity as Dr. White clearly shows.

My prayer is that the Church will rise up and answer the Hebrew Israelite movement.  They are racist, anti-Christ, and false teachers.  They need to be shown their errors and I pray that they repent.  As I listened to the above debate, I prayed for God to open this man’s eyes to his sins and that he would be brought to repentance (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

I greatly appreciated the end of the debate where Dr. White clearly preaches the gospel.  He preaches that Jesus is calling all sinners to repent (Acts 17:30-31) and He will save people from every nation as He has promised (Revelation 5:9-10).  The gospel is not just for Jews but for all people (Acts 13:44-52; Ephesians 2).

My Top Five Podcasts For 4/2016

I tend to jump around in my podcast listening so the following are the top five podcasts I would include for now.  A few, like Dr. John MacArthur and Grace To You, are always on my iPod.  These are listed in a random order.  I’m not saying I agree with all they teach by placing them here.  Be biblical in your thinking (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).

  1.  Soteriology 101 with Professor Leighton Flowers
  2. The Dividing Line with Dr. James White
  3. Fighting For the Faith with Chris Rosenbrough
  4. Five Minutes in Church History with Dr. Stephen Nichols
  5. Pardon the Interruption (PTI)

Glory to the King!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/22/2016 at 12:48 AM

Short Thoughts on the Islamic View of the Bible

I was listening to Dr. James White teaching on Islam and their view of the Bible and his talk got me thinking about the nature of the Islamic view of the Bible and how that plays into their view of Allah’s determinism of all things.  The Muslim view of Allah is that Allah is so sovereign that everything that happens whether good or bad happens because Allah wills it so and Allah renders all things certain.  Some have tried to place the Calvinist view of God’s sovereignty on the same level as the Muslim view but there are major differences between the two and I will not go there.  Just a cursory reading of the Calvinist view of God’s sovereignty reveals that despite their holding to divine determinism, there is a large element of God’s goodness and His love toward His creation including the reprobate (Romans 9:22).

The Muslim view of Allah is that Allah is not entirely loving and good.  His nature is not loving.  While Muslims believe that Allah is merciful and compassionate, they hold that Allah is to be known not in a loving sense but in submission (thus Muslims are those who submit to Allah).  The nature of God in Christianity is that God is love (1 John 4:7-8).  God is both holy and loving.  God hates our sins and He will judge our sins but He has also sent His Son to bear our sins on the cross (John 3:16).  This is the hope of the gospel, that Jesus has bore our sins (Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 1:7) and we will be raised to eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).  No doubt sin separates us from our holy God and Creator (Isaiah 59:2; Ephesians 2:1-3) but God has sent His Son for our sins because of His great love for us (Ephesians 2:4-9).

The Muslim view of Allah is that Allah is completely other from his creation.  Allah often remains angry with humanity because we fail to obey his laws as he gave to Mohammad in the Quran and mostly in the Hadith.  Allah will judge all of humanity and will judge the Christians harshly for their worship of Jesus Christ (Surah 19:88-98).  Muslims fear the day of judgment .  They fear that Allah will not be merciful toward them even if they have kept his laws and sought to obey the pillars of Islam.  Some Muslims even believe that no person is safe on the day of judgment for Allah may choose to ignore the works of the Muslim and simply choose to send them to hell because of his own sovereign choice.

Now back to my original thought.  Islam holds that Allah not only controls all things but he renders certain all things.  Nothing happens that Allah has not willed so.  Allah is the supreme cause of all things.  The view of God in Islam amounts to fatalism.

Yet Muslims hold that Allah gave the Old Testament (the Torah) to the Jews.  Allah gave the New Testament to the Christians (the Gospels).  Yet they hold that the Jews and Christians corrupted the Scriptures given to them by Allah.  Therefore, Allah in his mercy sent Mohammad 600 years after the New Testament to correct true religion and to bring people back to submission to Allah.  The Quran is seen to be given by Gabriel to Mohammad as the final revelation from Allah (notice that it had to come through the angel because Allah does not deal with mankind).  Muslims then reason backwards that the newer revelation is superior to the older revelation.

Muslims hold that the Bible has been corrupted though they can’t truly point out the corruptions.  They often point to variants in the Greek text such as Mark 16:9-20 or John 8:1-10.  However, Christian scholars acknowledge these variants.  We also acknowledge the textual differences among the Greek family of manuscripts.  By the way, Muslim scholars know that there are variants in the Quran texts as well.  Bear in mind that the Quran was written years after Mohammad had even died.  The key differences here is that the Bible has thousands of manuscripts for it.  The New Testament alone has thousands of Greek texts.  Muslim scholars also now that the variants do not effect any major doctrines in Christianity.

Yet all of this, the variants, the so called corruptions in the Bible, etc. all happened because Allah willed it.  Yet Allah states in the Quran that he will guide and protect his word.  How can this be if Allah allowed the Old and New Testaments to be corrupted?  How can Allah be trusted if he allows this?  And if Allah allows the Bible to be corrupted, how can the Muslim argue that Allah has protected the Quran from error?

On my desk here as I write is a copy of the Quran along with my New American Standard Bible.  The two are not even close when you read them.  As Dr. White pointed out in his talk, just take the book of Acts and read it and notice how Luke emphasizes places, historical people, emperors, etc. while the Quran does little to none of this.  One cannot read say Surah 2 and know for sure when this is or what is happening.  The Quran is not even fun reading.  Meanwhile, the Bible is full of history, poetry, prophecy, etc. that places the Bible and its events in human history with humans interacting with God as the will of God is accomplished mainly the salvation of mankind through the cross (John 1:29).  The Bible has been given to us to reveal God’s final and ultimate revelation of Himself in His Son for His glory and for our salvation (Hebrews 1:1-3).  John 20:31 records that these were written so that we might believe in Jesus and be saved.

The Quran, on the other hand, is not that way at all.  The beauty is not there.  The historical interactions are not there and what few are there are borrowed from the Bible in some form.  Even what is known about Jesus has to come from the Bible (such as His virgin birth which the Quran has to borrow from).  The Quran has to borrow from the Christian worldview (mainly the Scriptures themselves) to establish itself.  The Book of Mormon is similar in this vein where Smith has to borrow from the Bible and then attack the Bible to establish his book above the Bible.

The bottom line is that if Allah is all-powerful and he causes all things then he caused the corruption of the Bible yet he said in the Quran that he gave the Bible and protects his words.  Which is it?  Did Allah protect the Bible or did he fail?  Obviously, if the Bible is true then we have no need for the Quran and Mohammad is a false prophet and false teacher.  This is my view.

Answer the World With “The Bible Says…”

When it comes to having discussions with the world, I am learning that the best way to answer them is to say, “The Bible says…” and let the Bible speak for itself.  To say, “Well, I think…..” is only giving your fallible opinion over an issue.  We must answer with the Bible.  The Bible alone is the inerrant and infallible Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and the Bible is able to cut even unbelievers to the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

So whatever the issue may be whether about sin, about culture, about music, about books – the answer for the disciple of Jesus is the same: the Bible says….

And their reason for rejecting the Bible is not enough for us to not allow the Bible to speak for itself.  The reason that the world doesn’t want to hear the Bible is that they love their sin over God (Romans 1:18-19).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/09/2014 at 4:38 PM

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