Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘False Teachings

Where is the Discernment?

One of the things that troubles me about many Arminians is their utter lack of discernment.  This is true of course for all believers and not just Arminians but I want to speak to my camp here.  An upcoming event called “Together 2016” features many different people including Roman Catholics.  For the life of me,  I cannot understand how Protestants can join hands with Roman Catholics in any real sense until the Catholics renounce their Catholic beliefs.  The very gospel is at stake here.  This is not just about personal differences or traditions.  This is a gospel issue.

The Roman Catholic Church denies the gospel.  They deny justification by faith.  They deny the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  They teach a form of works righteousness.  They deny even declared righteousness imputed to the believer by God.  They deny sola scriptura.  They deny sola fide.  They deny sola gratia.  Everything that our Protestant forefathers did for the sake of the gospel, the blood shed in defense of the Bible and in defense of the gospel cannot be lost.

When you read the list of speakers for the “Together 2016” one not included (because he will not there in person) is the Pope.  Yes the Roman Catholic pontiff (whom Arminius called the antichrist) will address evangelicals.  Alongside the Pope will be men such as Lecrae (whom I have lost respect for), Dr. Tony Evans (whom I lost respect for sometime ago), and Dr. George Wood (the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God).  Before you think that only non-Calvinists are there, Calvinists such as Trip Lee and Francis Chan (who studied at the Master’s Seminary) will speak alongside the likes of Hillsong (who has wandered far away into something), Christine Cane, Lou Engle, and Mark Batterson.

What is disappointing about this is the lack of discernment.  Can you imagine Arminius speaking where he knew the Catholic pontiff would be welcomed?  Can you imagine the likes of a John Buynan or Charles Spurgeon preaching at this event?  Would John Wesley join hands with known mystics to promote this “unity?”  Would Leonard Ravenhill promote such an event?

I think the answer is clear.

Arminius wrote about the Roman Pontiff:

Since, therefore, the Roman Pontiff either attributes these most honourable titles of Christ to himself, or willingly suffers them to be ascribed to him; and since he evinces no horror at the blasphemy contained in these titles, and gives no tokens of his displeasure at this ascription of them; it follows, that he puts himself in the place of Christ, and is supremely opposed to Him. There is no excuse in the explanation which is given, that “the head and foundation is ministerial, and that he attributes all these things to himself under Christ, as having been elevated by the grace or favour of God and Christ to that dignity.” For the protestation is directly contrary to the fact; and he is so much the more the bitter enemy of God and Christ, as he the more confidently boasts of being defended by the authority of God and Christ. Such conduct is, in fact, under the semblance of friendship to exercise the deepest enmity, and, under the disguised pretext of a minister of light and of righteousness, to promote the interests of the kingdom of darkness and of unrighteousness. On this very account, therefore, we assert that the disparaging epithets which we laid down in our first Thesis, most justly belong to him; and this we now proceed to show by descending to particulars.

Arminius called the Pope the “pimp of the harlot Church.”  He further wrote:

Although the Roman pontiff calls himself “the servant of the servants of God,” yet we further assert that he is by way of eminence, That Wicked And Perverse Servant, who, when he saw that his Lord delayed his coming, “began to smite his fellow-servants.” (Matt. 24:48.) For the Roman pontiff has usurped domination and tyranny, not only over his fellow- servants, the bishops of the church of God, but likewise over emperors and kings themselves, whose authority and dignity he had himself previously acknowledged. To acquire this domination for himself, and still further to augment and establish it, he has employed all kinds of satanic instruments — sophistical hypocrisy, lies, equivocations, perfidy, perjury, violence, poison, and armed forces — so that he may most justly be said to have succeeded that formidable beast which “was like unto a leopard, a bear and a lion,” and by which the Roman empire was prefigured — and to have “had power to give life unto the image of the beast, and to cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast, should be killed.”

I call on Arminians to follow in the footsteps of Arminius and denounce the Roman Catholic Church.  I am not calling for hatred of Catholics themselves for they need the gospel.  I am calling for a hatred of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.  I am calling for biblical discernment (Jude 3-4).

We need to heed 1 Timothy 4:1-2.  We need to heed 2 Timothy 4:3-4.  We need to stand agains the Roman Catholic Church and preach against her false doctrines.  We need to call Catholics to repent and believe the gospel.

I pray that men such as Dr. George Wood would not only decline speaking at the “Together 2016” event but denounce it.  I pray that men and women of God would rise up and denounce the event altogether.  In our troubled world we need the true gospel and not a mixing of errors.  Now is not the time to lay down our swords in the midst of a sinful world.  What is going to slay the evils we see of racism, sexual immorality, abortion, homosexuality, wicked killings, etc. is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17).  We lose the gospel.  We lose the war.

Advertisements

Is Jesus Just an Anointed Man?

There are those who want to deny that Jesus is God.  They teach that only the Father is God and that He alone is one true and living God but Jesus is just a man, albeit an anointed man used by God and even the Messiah but certainly not divine.  These groups will often claim that they hold that Jesus is the true Messiah and that He was born of the virgin Mary by the power of God but they deny that He was God or even claimed to be God.  Some of them believe Jesus was the Son of God but not eternally existent with the Father and distinct from the Father in any way.  The Oneness Pentecostals, for example, deny that the Son of God is eternal but rather that He came to exist in Bethlehem (Luke 1:35; Galatians 4:4).

You’ll find many of the Hebrews Roots Movement teachers denying that Jesus is God.  They hold to modalism but only that Yahweh is God but not Yeshua.  They teach that Jesus is the Messiah but He was not God nor did He claim to be God.  They view Jesus as anointed by Yahweh and the servant of Yahweh but He is not Yahweh and He is not divine.  Jesus is our example, a mighty prophet of God, the Messiah sent by Yahweh, but Jesus is not divine in their teachings.  They believe this protects the monotheism of Judaism and does not elevate a man above Yahweh.

Others teach, like the Oneness Pentecostals but in different terms, that the Father alone is God.  They point out the word of Jesus in such passages as Mark 12:29-30 or John 20:17.  It seems that Jesus is giving honor to the Father and alone to the Father thus He is not claiming equality with God nor is claiming to receive worship but He is pointing others to the Father who alone is God.

Let us briefly examine these claims.

Jesus Is Assigned Old Testament Designations of Yahweh.

When we compare the Old Testament texts with their New Testament fulfillment in Christ, we see that Jesus is indeed Yahweh.  Consider Matthew 1:23 from Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 3:3 with Isaiah 40:3; John 3:31 with Psalm 97:9; John 12:38-41 with Isaiah 6:10 and 53:1; Acts 3:14 with 1 Samuel 2:2; 1 Corinthians 1:30 with Isaiah 43:24 and Jeremiah 23:5-6; 1 Corinthians 2:8 with Psalm 24:7-10; 2 Corinthians 5:10 with Ecclesiastes 12:14; Ephesians 4:7-8 with Psalm 68:18; Philippians 2:9-11 with Isaiah 45:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 with Isaiah 2:10-19; Titus 2:13 with Hosea 1:7; Hebrews 1:8-9 with Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 13:20 with Isaiah 40:10-11; 1 Peter 3:15 with Isaiah 8:13; Revelation 1:17 with Isaiah 44:6.

Jesus Is Superior to Men and Angels.

Jesus is above men and angels.  He is not part of them.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is Michael from the Old Testament.  The Oneness Pentecostals teach that Jesus the Son is but a man and not the eternal God.  The Hebrews Roots Movement teaches that Jesus is a great prophet and even the Messiah of God but He is not God but is part of God’s creation.  Consider these texts: John 1:17; Ephesians 1:19-23; Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 1:17-18; Colossians 2:10; Hebrews 1:4-6, 13; Hebrews 2:5-8; Hebrews 3:3; 1 Peter 3:21-22; Revelation 1:5.

Jesus Receives Prayer, Praise, and Worship.  

How can Jesus receive prayer, praise, and worship if He is not God?  This would violate the clear teachings of the Old Testament that forbids the people of God from praying to anyone but Yahweh (see Deuteronomy 4:39; 5:7-9; 13:1-5; Isaiah 43:11; 44:6-8; 45:22; etc.).  The Bible is clear that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4) and there are no other gods.  So if Jesus received prayer, praise, and worship and He is not God, then men are praying, praising, and worshiping a man (even an exalted man by Yahweh but Yahweh alone is to receive worship).  This would be utter blasphemy (as Muslims point out) if Jesus is just a prophet, just a created being, even just the Messiah.  If Jesus is not God, why pray to Him or praise Him or worship Him?  This would be sinful.  Yet Scripture is clear that people did pray, praise, and worshipped Him:

Acts 3:16; 7:59-60; 22:16; Romans 1:7; 10:9-12; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25; 2 Corinthians 12:8-9; Galatians 1:3-5; 6:18; Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 2:10-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; 1 Timothy 1:2, 12; 2 Timothy 4:18, 23; Hebrews 1:6; 13:20-21; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Peter 3:18; Revelation 5:14; 7:9-10; 15:3-4.

Consider the strong words of Matthew 28:17, “And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.”  The Apostles worshiped Jesus?  These faithful Jewish men worshiped the Jewish Jesus.

Is Jesus His Own Father?

One cannot read the New Testament and see that Jesus is distinct from His Father.  He speaks of His Father, prays to His Father, and says that He has come to do the will of His Father.  Jesus said that His food “is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34).  Jesus said that He does not nothing by His own initiative but He only spoke the things as His Father taught Him (John 8:28).  Jesus said that He proceeds from the Father to do the Father’s will (John 8:42).

And on and on it goes.  The Lord Jesus is portrayed as the Son of God, equal with the Father (John 10:30) but He is never said to be the Father.  The Father is God.  The Son is God.  The Holy Spirit is God.  Yet the Bible affirms that there is but one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Ephesians 4:4-6).  1 Corinthians 8:6 has stumbled some but John MacArthur writes:

Paul repeats the truth that there is but one God.  He is the one from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.  There is only one true God.  He has come to us in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ, and we are brought to the Father through the divine Son.  Everything comes from the Father, and all believers exist for the Father.  Everything is by the Son, and everyone who comes to the Father comes through the Son.  This is a powerful and clear affirmation of the equality of essence of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 8:6, rather than denying the Lordship and exaltation and deity of Jesus Christ, actually makes Him equal with the Father.

In Hebrews 1:2 tells us that God the Father made the world through the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Hebrews 1:3 it is Jesus who upholds the universe by His Word.  In Hebrews 1:8 the Father says about the Son that He is God.  In Hebrews 1:10 we read that Jesus is Yahweh (see Psalm 102:25-27).

So the question is whether Jesus is His own Father?  The Oneness Pentecostals and other modalists insist that Jesus as the Son is less than the Father and that the Father alone is truly the eternal God.  The Oneness Pentecostals teach that Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the Son, Jesus is the Holy Ghost.  In Oneness teachings, Jesus is God but He alone is God and God is unipersonal (meaning that there is only one Person in the Godhead; Colossians 2:9).  Trinitarians teach that there is only one God but we believe in three persons (unitarian versus trinitarian).  I reject the Oneness view that Jesus is His own Father.  I find nothing in the Bible to suggest that Jesus is His own Father nor can one find a passage without extreme twisting.

The closest text we have is Isaiah 9:6.  Oneness Pentecostals will quickly quote this verse when defending the idea that the Father is Jesus and Jesus is the Father.  They teach that one of the titles of the Lord Jesus would be “eternal Father.”  Yet Oneness Pentecostals are alone in their unique view of Isaiah 9:6.  The titles found in Isaiah 9:6 are part of who Jesus would be.  He would be like a wonderful counselor.  Jesus would be the mighty God.  Jesus would be like an eternal Father speaking of HIs Fatherly role as our Redeemer, and He would be the Prince of Peace.  These are not offices Jesus would be fulfilling but titles He would take upon Himself.

Consider this: does the New Testament ever say that Jesus is the Father or the Father is Jesus?

The Oneness view destroys so many precious doctrines.  The Person of Jesus suffers.  One has to read the New Testament with a weird “key” of trying to figure out if Jesus is speaking as the Father (as God) or as a man (as the Son).  The sacrifice of Jesus is not infinite in its value because Jesus is just a man who is dying on the cross for our sins rather than God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14).  The nature of true love is lost because the Lord Jesus is but a created being of the Father (who alone is God).  Prayer suffers as we pray to Jesus (the Father, the eternal God) in the name of Jesus (the Son, the flesh but not God) rather than seeing that Jesus is God the Son praying for the saint before the throne of God the Father through the power of God the Spirit.

In closing, let me state that as I write this I am listening to a oneness Pentecostal preacher preaching.  Ironically, he is shouting over and over again that Jesus is God, that Jesus alone is God, and that there is no God but Jesus.  Yet he is borrowing from a trinitarian presupposition by borrowing our language to speak of God.  He speaks of the Father and he preaches about praying in the name of Jesus and worshiping God through Jesus but all of this involves having to “split” Jesus up.  The oneness Pentecostal must borrow from the trinitarian view to make their theology work but they then must hate the Trinity lest they be a trinitarian (which condemns the sinner).  They must speak of Jesus as a unipersonal being with dual personalities (at least while on earth).

I rejoice in the doctrine of the Trinity.  It is a precious doctrine.  The Trinity makes sense of the Bible and helps us to see the infinite value of the atonement of Christ.  Further, the work of sanctification in the disciple is enhanced by understanding that the entire Trinity is involved not just in my salvation but in my sanctification.  I worship God and rejoice that He is wonderful and worthy.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/29/2015 at 7:24 PM

Arminius on the Pope and the Roman Catholic Religion

Arminius shared in the Reformers views regarding the Papacy.  His words are strong toward the Pope and he holds nothing back.  In our time, it is now common to offer grace toward Roman Catholics but we must remember that during the time of Arminius, the Catholics were persecuting all Protestants.  The debate with the divines at Geneva would be set aside when it came to battling the Catholics as Arminius would gladly join hands with the Calvinists to debate the Catholics and defend biblical Christianity.

This should be a call to us today as well.  We are not Catholics.  I stand with my Calvinist brethren in defense of the Reformation, in a call to forsake Rome, and I defy the Pope.  I stand with Arminius and denounce the Roman Catholic Church, I denounce the Roman Papacy, I denounce the Popish mass, I denounce the Popish rituals and traditions.  I denounce the Roman Catholic idolatry and their beatification of the saints.  I denounce their view of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Arminius stated about the Pope:

He is the Adulterer of the church, both by the public and mutual profession of each other; because he calls the [Roman Catholic] church his and she neither disowns the arrogance of this title nor is afraid of the odium [attached to such assumption,] and he is the adulterer in reality. For he practices spiritual adultery with the church, and she in return with him. He commands the apocryphal writings to be accounted divine and canonical; the ancient Latin version of the Scriptures, [commonly called] the Vulgate, to be everywhere received as the true original, and under no pretense whatever to be rejected; his own interpretations of the Scriptures to be embraced with the most undoubting faith; and unwritten traditions to be honoured with an affection and reverence equal to that evinced for the written word of God. He enacts and rescinds laws that pertain to faith and morals, and binds them as fetters on consciences. He promises and offers plenary indulgences, and the remission of all sins, through the plenitude of his power. “He exalteth himself above all that is worshipped,” and offers himself as some god to be adored with religious worship. In all these acts the church, deceived by his artifices, complies with his wishes. He is, therefore, the Adulterer of the church.

But he is also the Pimp or Pander of the church, because he acts towards her as the author, persuader, impelling exciter and procurer of various spiritual adulteries committed, or to be hereafter committed, with different husbands, with angels, Mary and other deceased saints, with images of God, of Christ, of the Holy Ghost, of the cross, of angels, of Mary, and of saints; with the bread in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; and with other inanimate objects.

Arminius wrote about the true foundation of the Church of God:

The Foundation of the church universal is only one, because there is but one house of God and Christ. Its properties are these: It stands by its own power, and does not rest on any extrinsic foundation. (1 Tim. iii, 15.) The whole house, consisting of two people, the Jews and the Gentiles, is built upon this foundation, as upon a chief corner-stone, and is sustained, by the power implanted in it, against all things which can assail it from without, whether from above or from below, on its sides, on the right hand and on the left; it continues immovable, does not totter, is not sunk or overwhelmed, and does not fall. (Heb. iii, 6; Ephes. ii, 20-22; Matt. xvi, 18.) This foundation is the immediate fulcrum or prop and firm support to all the lively stones that are built upon it; “they who believe on Him shall not be ashamed;” but it is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to those who do not believe and are disobedient; it dashes them in pieces, and they perish. (Isa. xxviii, 16; 1 Pet. ii, 4-6.) All these properties, both generally and severally, belong to Christ alone. But the Roman Pontiff is not Christ. Therefore, neither is he the foundation of the church. But the metonymy, by which the Prophets and Apostles are called “the foundations of the church,” (Rev. xxi, 14,) and by which the saints are said to be “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,” (Ephes. ii, 20,) attributes nothing more to them, than their being “labourers together with God” in laying down Christ as this foundation, and in building up the whole house on Him. (1 Cor. iii, 5- 12.) But St. Peter was also among these; yet he excelled none of the other Apostles in any prerogative, but was inferior to St. Paul, not indeed in power, but in “the more abundant labour” of the latter in building up the church. (1 Cor. xv, 10.)

Arminius viewed the Roman church as apostate as he writes:

By the term, “the Church of Rome,” we understand, not that congregation of men, who, confined within the walls of the city of Rome, profess the Christian faith, (although this is the only proper interpretation of that term;) not the court of Rome, which consists of the pope and of the cardinals united with him — not the representative church, assembled together in council, and having the Roman pontiff as president, nor the pope of Rome himself, who, under the cover of that title, extols and makes merchandise of his power. But by “the church of Rome” we understand a congregation of Christian, which was formerly dispersed through nearly the whole of Europe, but which is now become more contracted, and in which the Roman pontiff sits, either as the head of the church under Christ, but placed above a general council, or as the principal bishop inferior to a general council, the inspector and guardian of the whole church. This congregation professes, according to the canons contained in the council of Trent, that it believes in God and Christ, and performs acts of worship to them; and it approves of those canons, either because they were composed by the council of Trent, which could not err — or because it thinks that they are agreeable to the holy Scriptures and to the doctrine of the ancient fathers, without any regard to that council.

I find it hard to imagine then that Arminians today would associate with Rome.  We are not “separate” brethren from the Roman church.  Arminius viewed the Roman church as apostate and in need of the gospel.  The Reformed churches that Arminius spoke of were not separated from the Roman church but he understood them to be the church and Rome to be apostate and a false church.

Let us pray for the Roman Catholics to hear the gospel and repent.  I have personally seen the damage the Roman church has done in most parts of the third world.  Their idolatry and wickedness surround you in many Latin American nations.  The Catholics are not to be joined with.  They are to be preached to and evangelized.  Let us stand with Arminius and preach the gospel to the lost souls in the Roman Catholic religion (Matthew 28:19-20).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/28/2015 at 1:30 PM

Doing Something With Jesus

I have often said that whenever the doctrine of the Trinity is denied, the group that does the denying must do something with Jesus.  The Father is usually not attacked.  The Father is usually held up as the eternal God but groups who deny the doctrine of the Trinity must do something with Jesus and it is Jesus who is usually attacked and demoted.  The Holy Spirit is often altogether ignored.

Consider two groups who are similar in many ways: the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Oneness Pentecostals.  Both are Arians.  Both find the theological heritage in Arius and his condemned teachings.  Arius said that there was a time when the Son was not.  Arius viewed God the Father as the eternal God and the one that we must worship but Jesus is viewed as a created being and less than the Father though still the Son of God.  Arius reasoned that since God is one and the Father is God, the Son cannot be God logically lest there be another god.  Therefore, the Son is a created being though exalted by the Father.

Now consider the Jehovah’s Witness (JW hereafter).  The JW’s teach that Jehovah God alone is God.  Jehovah is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the supreme creation of God and He is Michael in the Old Testament.  JW’s (after 1954) forbid people for worshipping Jesus Christ.  They teach that Jesus is wonderful, our example, our Savior but He is not God.  He is a creation of God and the firstborn of Jehovah’s creation (Colossians 1:15).  The New World Translation follows the JW bias but denying the Lord Jesus His full deity in passages such as John 1:1.  In JW teaching, Jesus is the Son of God but He had a beginning and He has an ending as well when in eternity Jehovah alone will be worshiped as the true and living God (John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 15:24).  The point here is that Jesus is less than the Father (Jehovah) and He is a created being.

Oneness Pentecostals are not much different.  They will declare that Jesus is God which makes them separate from JW’s but Jesus the Son is not eternal.  Only the Father is eternal.  In Oneness teaching, there is only one God (which is biblically true) and since there is only one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all the same God (true) but not persons but instead are manifestations of the one true God (this is a heresy called Sabellianism).  Jesus is the one true God in Oneness Pentecostal teaching but only Jesus is God.  Thus Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the Son, and Jesus is the Holy Ghost.  Jesus the Father alone is eternal.  The Son had a beginning in Oneness teaching.  The Son is not eternal but only came to be in Luke 1:35.  Until Jesus the Son was born in Bethlehem, He did not exist as the Son but only as the Father.  So the Son is not the eternal God but only the Father is the eternal God (Jehovah).

Do you see the link?  The JW’s teach that Jehovah alone is God (the Father) and the Oneness Pentecostals teach that only Jesus the Father is eternal.  Both deny that the Son is eternal.  Both teach that the Son had a beginning and has an ending.  Jesus the Son is not important as much as the Father is.

In Trinitarian theology, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all the one true and living God.  There is only one God and He is revealed in Scripture as three persons in the one Godhead.  While the mystery of the Trinity is not easy to grasp, we must do something with Jesus.  Jesus is called God in the Bible (John 1:1, 14, 18; 20:28; Romans 9:5) and He shares in many aspects of divinity along with the Father and the Spirit.  Jesus spoke of His Father as distant from Him but He never made Himself less than the Father.  Jesus viewed Himself equal to His Father (John 10:30) and yet as the Messiah, He was perfectly obedient to His Father (Hebrews 5:8).  Jesus said He came from heaven (John 3:13) and He said He came from the Father (John 17:5).  Hebrews 1:3 says that the Father created the entire worlds though Jesus Christ the Son.  If Jesus is a created being, how can this be?  Philippians 2:5-11 is clear that Jesus is equal to God and He took upon Himself the form of a servant to do the will of His Father.

Time does not permit me to defend the deity of the Spirit but He too shares in the personality of God.  The Spirit is not a force as in JW teaching or a part of Jesus the Father but instead the Spirit is very much a Person who does the works of God.  The Spirit is co-equal, co-eternal with the Father and with the Son.

Jesus is where we find our problems.  Those who deny the Trinity must denounce and dethrone Jesus.  Jesus has to become less than the Father or less than God.  In Islam, Jesus is a great prophet but certainly not God.  In JW, Jesus is a created being but not the eternal God.  In Oneness Pentecostalism, Jesus is the name of the one true God but Jesus the Son only came to be when the Holy Ghost caused Mary to be impregnated.  In Mormonism, Jesus is a son of God like we all are and in fact He is a son along with Lucifer.  In Arianism, Jesus was a created being who is less than the Father.  In Sabellianism Jesus is part of a manifestation or mode of God but certainly there is no Trinity.

We stumble over Jesus just as Scripture predicts (1 Peter 2:6-8).  We must do something with Jesus.  I choose to worship Him and adore Him and praise Him and preach Him (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/28/2015 at 12:11 AM

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.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/18/2015 at 5:17 PM

Trinitarian Praying

While listening to some podcasts on the doctrine of the Trinity, I begin to consider how we pray.  People often pray without thinking about the theology behind their prayers.  For example, I have heard people pray, “Father thank You for saving me.  Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.  Father, thank you for loving me enough to sacrifice Yourself for me.”  Yet this is not biblical.  The Father did not give Himself for our sins but instead He gave His Son for our sins (John 3:16).  The Father no doubt has poured out His love upon us in His Son (1 John 3:1-3) yet the Father did not die on the cross.  The Son died for our sins on the cross.

Biblically speaking, we are to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is Trinitarian praying.  The entire Trinity was involved in our salvation.  The Father sent the Son to die for the sins of humanity.  The Son obeyed the Father perfectly (John 8:29; Philippians 2:5-11).  The Son shed His blood to save us from the wrath of a holy but loving God (Romans 5:8-9).  The Spirit raised the Son from the dead (Romans 8:11).  Acts 2:24 says that God raised Jesus from the dead.  True!  God the Spirit!  All of this, the incarnation of Jesus (Luke 1:35) to the perfect life of Jesus in obedience to His Father (Hebrews 5:8-9) and Jesus’ death on the cross and His being raised from the dead was for our salvation!  The entire Trinity was involved in this saving process!

This is also true for prayer.  Jesus is our faithful high priest (Hebrews 4:14) who mediates for us before the Father (1 Timothy 2:5).  The Lord Jesus prays for us (Hebrews 7:25).  The Spirit also prays for us (Romans 8:26-27).  We come before the Father in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14).  Jesus taught us to pray to the Father (Matthew 6:9).  This doesn’t mean that we cannot pray to the Lord Jesus since even Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus when he was being killed for his faith in Jesus (Acts 7:59).  However, prayer should normally be addressed to the Father in the name of Jesus who is our high priest before the holy Father.  We find Paul praying to the Father in Ephesians 3:14.

As we begin to think through our praying and realize that we are speaking to a trinitarian God, we begin to see the beauty not only of our redemption unfold but also the New Testament comes alive as we see the deity of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  We see their work in the New Testament and we see how precious the doctrine of the Trinity would have been to the Apostles.  We see a faithful Jew such as Paul the Apostle taking the great doctrine of God from Deuteronomy 6:4 and showing God in His fulness in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 with the Father and the Son being declared the one true and living God.

The doctrine of the Trinity helps our prayer lives explode with praise as we ponder the deep things of God.  I confess that I don’t understand the Trinity fully.  It is beyond my understanding.  I do confess to my faith in its truth.  There are simply too many passages that affirm the doctrine of one God (monotheism) while yet at the same time the Father is called God, the Son is called God, and the Spirit is called God.  We either can deny monotheism and embrace tritheism or polytheism or form heretical views about Christ (almost all heretical views attack Christ).  We can deny Christ His full deity or that He was a created being (Arianism).  We can teach that Christ is fully God but He takes on three modes (modalism).  We can teach that Christ was not eternal but rather that He had a beginning and was adopted as the Son of God at His baptism by John (adoptionism).  We can deny the full deity or full humanity of Christ and created a sort of half God, half man doctrine (see Bill Johnson and Bethel for this heretical view revised).  Either way, the person of Christ is the One who gets attack by those who want to deny the Trinity.

In the end, I choose to pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I rejoice that Jesus died for my sins, that He rose again, and that He sits at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  I rejoice in Pentecost, the glorious truth that the gift of the Spirit was poured out as promised by God the Father (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4).  I praise God that all three person of the holy Godhead were fully involved in saving a wretch like me.  It humbles me.  It makes me want to worship Him who is true.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/30/2014 at 10:26 PM

%d bloggers like this: