Oneness Pentecostals

Oneness Pentecostalism is a movement of Pentecostal Christianity that believes in the atoning death of Jesus Christ, His resurrection, His soon return, and the inerrancy of the Word of God as contained in the Bible. Oneness Pentecostalism teaches a literal interpretation of the biblical teaching of salvation with emphasis on the teaching of Jesus Christ & His Apostles Citing "John 3:1-12|&"Acts 2:38| experience" as necessary for salvation and places special emphasis on the direct personal experience of God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as shown in the Biblical account of the Day of Pentecost. It teaches that personal conversion is to be followed by holy living and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit"Galatians 5:22|. Oneness Pentecostalism differs from the mainstream Pentecostal movement by following the doctrine of Oneness.

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Overview

Although both Oneness and Trinitarian denominations acknowledge the God of the Bible as the only God in existence, and that Jesus was born, died, and resurrected, Oneness doctrine differs from mainstream Christian denominations in that the traditional concept of the Trinity is rejected as an inadequate and inaccurate description of God. According to the United Pentecostal Church International, the largest Oneness Pentecostal body in the United States, Oneness Pentecostals identify Jesus essentially as the human manifestation of God (Jehovah), i.e. God incarnate. [1].

Citing 1Timothy 2:5|, the Oneness doctrine affirms that God is indivisibly one in number, and sees the biblical distinction between God the Father and the man Jesus, as being a proper, observable father-son distinction, except between an incorporeal, transcendent, eternal God as Father, and a human, begotten man as Son, in whom God manifested Himself for the purpose of salvation. Oneness doctrine affirms the full deity of Jesus, by holding that God incarnate manifested Himself to humanity in the man Jesus. It refutes the Trinitarian proposal that the one, true God is comprised of three co-divine, co-equal, co-eternal, co-powerful persons. In the sense that the one God and one man of 1Timothy 2:5| co-exist simultaneously, they teach that Jesus exists simultaneously both as man Jesus and as God (God the Father an invisible, transcendent, Spirit) inseparably united (see John 10:30|) as the Son of God. Citing John 4:24| (God is a Spirit), Oneness doctrine uses the terms God the Father and Holy Spirit as references to the same one God, who is Spirit. It affirms that the Holy Spirit and God the Father are one in the same Godhead, but only as separate manifestations or relationships of the one person or being that is God.

"Oneness", "Apostolic" and "Jesus' Name" are adherents' preferred self-designations.[1].

Oneness Pentecostals have also been identified as "Holy Rollers" for their lively style of worship, which can include running church aisles, known as victory marches, as well as jumping, dancing, shouting, and clapping. This label is generally used as a negative term by critics. The church services are also punctuated at times with acts of speaking in tongues (glossalalia), interpretations of tongues, prophetical messages, and the laying of hands for the purposes of healing. These events can happen spontaneously during normal service with no forewarning or direct guidance by the leader of the service, or more often at massive altar calls where the entire congregation is encouraged to come and pray together for various purposes at the altar.

Oneness Pentecostals commonly refer to all saved Christians as saints and often refer to the men as brothers and the women as sisters, often as a title (i.e. Bro. Smith or Sis. Henderson), in their normal day-to-day speech both in and outside of church.

While the UPCI, Oneness Pentecostal churches do allow women to serve as pastors and evangelize, some Oneness Pentecostals hold the belief that women ministers are unscriptual. Ministers at all levels are allowed to marry and have children. Homosexual marriages are forbidden under all circumstances.

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History

Many people believe that the Oneness doctrine came into existence only in the early 20th century during the latter days of the Azusa Street Revival. Oneness historians, however, such as Dr. Curtis Ward, William Chalfant, Dr. Gary P. Reckart Sr., Dr. David Bernard, Dr. Marvin Arnold, and Thomas Weisser believe there were Oneness believers long before the Azusa Street Revival that lead all the way to the beginning of the first century Christian church. Dr. Ward in particular has proposed the unorthodox view of an unbroken Church lineage in which the Pentecostal Church has succeeded in continual perpetuity throughout history. Other more moderate approaches teach there were bursts of unconnected Pentecostal revivals at different time periods.

There are no indications, however, that the pioneering Oneness Pentecostal figures in the early twentieth century were either guided or inspired by any of these prior sources including ancient Modalists such as Sabellius, Noetus or Praxeas. However, modern Oneness people often stress dependence solely upon God and the Bible for the formation of their doctrines, seeking guidance not from post-biblical writings of men, but from illumination by God upon the Bible. Post-biblical church history is deemed by Oneness people to be of interest, but not binding upon them for their doctrinal views. Thus, they are unorthodox in the literal sense of the word.[2]

The Early Church

Citing various sources, Oneness theologian David K. Bernard traces Oneness adherents back[3] to the first converted Jews of the Apostolic Age, citing no evidence of Jews having any issues comprehending the new teachings and integrating them with their existing strict monotheistic beliefs. In the Post-apostolic Age, he claims that Hermas, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, and Ignatius from 90 to 140 A.D., and Irenaeus who died about 200 A.D, were either Oneness, modalist, or at most a follower of an "economic Trinity" (temporary Trinity, not eternal).

It should be noted that in David Bernard’s writings he does not provide the address to many of the citations. This is a fundamental requirement if the very claims being made are to be substantively verified.

In support of the theory that the majority of all believers up until Tertullian (died c. 225; first to use introduce the term "Trinity" to describe God) were Oneness adherents, Bernard quotes Tertullian as writing, "The simple, indeed (I will not call them unwise or unlearned), who always constitute the majority of believers, are startled at the dispensation (of the Three in One), on the very ground that their very Rule of Faith withdraws them from the world's plurality of gods to the one only true God; not understanding that, although He is the one only God, He must yet be believed in with His own economy. The numerical order and distribution of the Trinity, they assume to be a division of the Unity."[4]

Later Oneness, or closely similar to Oneness, teachers have been pointed out through history include the following: Abelard (1079-1142) who was accused of Sabellianism and forced into refuge in a monastery in France; Michael Servetus (1511-1553) eminent physician from Spain, sometimes cited as a motivating force of Unitarianism, who wrote, "There is no other person of God but Christ... the entire Godhead of the Father is in him,"[5] was burned at the stake for heresy in October 27, 1553 for his anti-trinitarian doctrine, with the approval of John Calvin (for whom of Calvinism was named), though Calvin would have preferred that Servetus was beheaded; Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772); Presbyterian minister John Miller, author of Is God a Trinity? (1876), John Clowes, pastor of St. John's Church in Manchester, reportedly wrote a book in 1828 that taught Oneness[6].

Bernard, as well as other leading Oneness historians and theologians, deny any direct link from earlier Oneness believers to the current Oneness Pentecostal movement.

Modern history

In April 1913 at The World-Wide Apostolic Camp Meeting held in Arroyo Seco, California and conducted by Maria Woodworth-Etter, organizers promised that God would "deal with them, giving them a unity and power that we have not yet known." [7] Canadian R. E. McAlister preached a message about water baptism "just prior to a baptismal service to be conducted". His message defended the "single immersion" method and "noted that apostolic baptism was administered as a single immersion in a single name, Jesus Christ," saying "'The words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were never used in Christian baptism.'" This caused a controversy to erupt immediately, causing Frank Denny, missionary to China, to jump on the platform to censor McAlister. Oneness Pentecostals mark this occasion as the initial "spark" in the Oneness revival movement. "John G. Schaepe, a young minister, was so moved that, after praying and reading the Bible all night, he ran through the camp the following morning shouting that he'd received a 'revelation' of the power of Jesus' name." [8] Ironically, Frank Denny himself, along with Frank J. Ewart, G. T. Haywood, Harry Morse, John G. Schaepe, R. J. Scott, George Studd, R. E. McAlister, Andrew D.l Urshan, and Homer L. Falkner embraced Jesus' name baptism as the "exclusive apostolic formula." [9]

Schaepe (whose name is often misspelled in a number of sources) claimed that the revelation he'd received during the camp meeting revival was that the baptismal command posited by Peter in Acts 2:38| - i.e., baptism "in the name of Jesus" - was the fulfillment of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19| - i.e., baptism "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." This conclusion was accepted by several others in the camp and developed further theologically by a minister named Frank J. Ewart. By 1914, Frank Ewart and Glenn Cook publicly baptized each other in "the name of Jesus." Thus, in 1913 Oneness Pentecostalism was again "revealed" to a group of individuals, and in 1914 it was again publicly practiced as was done in the Apostles time. A number of ministers claimed that they baptized "in the Name of Jesus" before 1914, including Frank Small and Andrew D. Urshan. Urshan claims to have baptized in Jesus' name as early as 1910. [10] Even Charles Parham himself baptized using a Christological baptismal formula prior to Azusa Street (Dr. Charles Wilson, Our Heritage, p. 12). However it was not their baptismal formula which was the issue, but rather the rejection of the Trinity that was the bigger issue to other Pentecostal ministers.

Schaepe's revelation caused a great stir within Pentecostalism. During the next year, Frank J. Ewart, another Pentecostal minister, struggled between his Trinitarian teachings and the new issue. He often spent hours debating with R. E. McAlister, attempting to bring the two doctrines together. (R.E. McAlister, the man who had fired the shot heard around the world at Arroyo Seco, defected. He formally renounced the Oneness doctrine in 1919. Thereafter, he became one of the Canadian teachers of orthodox Trinitarianism among Pentecostals in Canada as well as a propagator of the 'finished work of Calvary' doctrine). The camp ground in Arroyo Seco, California, just outside Los Angeles, where the revelation occurred was also owned by Seymour's Mission. Many were rebaptized in the new formula in an attempt to bring unity within the new Assemblies of God. However the re-baptisms also had the opposite effect on the Assemblies causing a backlash from many Trinitarians who feared the direction their organization might be heading. By October 1916 the issue finally came to a head at the Fourth General Council of the Assemblies of God. The mostly Trinitarian leadership, fearing the new issue might overtake their organization, drew up a doctrinal statement affirming the Trinity among other issues. When the final votes were tallied the "Statement of Fundamental Truths" was adopted. More than one quarter of their ministerial and assembly membership left to form their own Oneness fellowships.

Oneness Pentecostals have, as have most other denominations and Pentecostal groups, some division over a number of issues. From 1920-1950, many ministers split from the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (P.A.W.), a Oneness Pentecostal denomination that was originally racially integrated. Due to the social, political and national policies of the day such as the Jim Crow Era, white Oneness Pentecostal leaders saw that the white Southern brethren were in conflict with the racially integrated movement, and several smaller organizations were founded. In 1945, a merger of two predominantly white Oneness Pentecostal organizations (the Pentecostal Church Incorporated and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ) resulted in the formation of the United Pentecostal Church International (U.P.C.I.). In recent decades the organization has stressed multicultural ministries and racial integration. [2]

The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World have never left their original vision of a racially integrated body of believers. To this day, although predominantly black, they continue to reach out and work toward racial unity in worship and organization. There have been both white and black presiding bishops in this group. The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World is the oldest Oneness Pentecostal organization in existence. It began in 1906, the same year the Azusa Street Revival began, making it older than even most of the Trinitarian Pentecostal organizations. It was never a part of the Assemblies of God and therefore never came out from it. The group which was ousted by the Assemblies of God later joined the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, but then demerged later (Dr. Charles Wilson, Our Heritage, p. 22). The U.P.C.I. has suffered a few minor splits since its inception in 1945. For example, in 1986, Pastor L. H. Hardwick, a U.P.C.I. pastor in Nashville, Tennessee, broke away from what he called "legalists" (referring to the issue of dress code and standards), took his church (Christ Church) and formed Global Christian Ministries (now Global Network of Christian Ministries).

Doctrine and Theology

God

Oneness Pentecostalism holds to a conservative monotheistic view of God and stress Jesus Christ as the self-revelation of God in the New Testament. God was known as YHWH in the Old Testament, but with the New Covenant He has revealed His name as Jesus. It rejects all concepts of a duality, trinity, or other doctrines they see as representing multiple personalities of God. It rejects all concepts of Jesus Christ as anything different than being both fully God and fully human, and the only begotten Son of God. This rejection includes views that would place the Son as only part of God, views that the Son is only a high priest and not God, or that the Son was not fully human.

Salvation

Oneness Pentecostal doctrine and theology typically maintains that salvation comes by a specific set of commands and requirements that are found in the New Testament. These requirements necessary for salvation are: faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and the gift of Holy Ghost baptism. The view of Oneness Pentecostals is that scripture either records the commandment of these for salvation and/or explained that the lack of them would result in not having salvation. However, it should also be noted that not all Pentecostals who are Oneness regarding their view of the nature of God hold to this type of soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) and believe that water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are subsequent to salvation. One of the predecessor organizations of the UPCI, the Pentecostal Church, Inc., which was Oneness in its theology, believed such.

Holiness

Oneness Pentecostals believe that a Christian's lifestyle should be one characterized by holiness. This involves separation from the world in both practical and moral areas. Moral or inward holiness is righteous living guided and powered by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Practical or outward holiness involves modest apparel and gender distinction. For some Oneness Pentecostal organizations, this involves instituting dress codes for its members (also known as "holiness standards").

For a more in depth review, see Oneness Pentecostalism (doctrine)

For a contrast and comparison of Oneness and Trinity, see Oneness vs Trinity.

Common misunderstandings

Jesus Name vs. Jesus Only

Jesus-Name doctrine is often misunderstood or, as "Jesus Only", is sometimes seen as a derogatory term towards Oneness Pentecostals. Jesus Name, to Oneness Pentecostals refers, to the revealed name of God, and that regardless of title of relationship, is Jesus; that the man Jesus Christ inherited this name from God. Oneness Pentecostals place significant emphasis on the name of Jesus, and regard it as the "Name above all names" and invoke it for many purposes.

In contrast, Oneness Pentecostals are often referred to as "Jesus Only." The label arose early on in reference to their insistence on baptizing only in the name of Jesus, but it tends to be used only by the movement's critics today. It is generally disliked by Oneness Pentecostals.

"Jesus Only" is sometimes considered derogatory, because the understanding is that the speaker is Trinitarian and believes in three distinct persons in the Godhead, and that only one of them is named Jesus. Thus inferring that Oneness Pentecostals deny the Father and the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, Oneness in fact denies the entire concept of a Trinity including the use of the term "God the Son", yet this is overlooked by the term "Jesus Only". It is an incorrect use of the term because Oneness Pentecostalism actually affirms the Father and the Holy Spirit, but asserts that the Father is the Holy Spirit, and vice versa.

Unitarianism is not Oneness

Some confuse the terms Unitarian and Oneness. Although Unitarians and Oneness people are similar in the belief that there is not a plurality of persons in the Godhead, Unitarians believe that Jesus was only a moral authority whereas the Deity and humanity of Jesus Christ are essential to Oneness doctrine.

Followers of Oneness Pentecostalism

Some of the better-known persons associated with Oneness Pentecostals are

Gospel and Contemporary Christian artists

  • The Katinas
  • Phillips, Craig and Dean
  • Tonéx
  • Lee Greenwood
  • Elvis Presley, the well known entertainer of early rock and roll, frequented Oneness Pentecostal Churches as well as Trinitarian Assemblies of God Churches and it is claimed that from these sources he picked up the rhythm and lively antics he incorporated into his performances. It is reported that Presley was baptized in the AOG church, but was later rebaptized in the name of Jesus Christ by a Oneness Pentecostal in Tennessee.[11]
  • Jonny Lang, Grammy award winning singer and guitar player. Attends a UPCI church in Los Angeles.

References

1. ^ Dr. David K. Bernard, Unmasking Prejudice, Cyberjournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research
2. ^ Oneness Christians regard the historic Ecumenical Councils and creeds to be merely the opinions of men. In contrast, orthodox Christians (by the very definition of orthodox) must regard all post-apostolic doctrinal developments as having been guided by God's hand via the councils and church leadership, and all the post-biblical stream of creeds, decisions, and judgments by the councils and church leaders as binding upon them for their doctrinal views. This poses a conundrum for Protestant Christians, who on one hand protest against the Catholic church as doctrinally wrong on important issues, and yet on the other hand seem to define themselves (doctrinally) as orthodox. Thus, they reject parts of orthodoxy as wrong (not guided by God), and yet regard other aspects of the same orthodoxy as proper and as their own. For a Trinitarian Protestant Christian to protest against the Catholic church in one breath, and yet criticize Oneness Christians as unorthodox in the next breath, is a great curiosity for Oneness Christians. A Oneness argument would be that the post-biblical stream of decisions is either flawed, or not. It cannot be both entirely right, and yet still present a valid need to protest against parts of it. However, if Oneness Pentecostals were to follow this argument consistently, they would not accept the Bible, as it was compiled by orthodox Christians who believed in the Trinity.
3. ^ Bernard, David K., The Oneness of God, Word Aflame Press, 1983, Ch. 10.
4. ^ Tertullian, ''Against Praxeas, 3, rpt. in Alexander Robers and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (rpt. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), III, 598-599.
5. ^ "Unitarianism," Encyclopedia of Religion and Thics, XII, 520.
6. ^ Campbell, David, All the Fulness, Word Aflame Press, 1975, p. 167-173.
7. ^ "World-Wide Apostolic Faith Camp Meeting," Word and Witness, 20 March 1913, 1; Blumhofer, The Assemblies of God, 222; Blumhofer, Restoring, 20.
8. ^ Talmadge French, Our God is One, Voice and Vision Publications, 1999, 57-58; Ewart, Phenomenon, 76-77; C. M. Rabic, Jr., "John G. Schaepe," in Dictionary, Burgess and McGee, 768-769; J. Schaepe, "A Remarkable Testimony," Meat in Due Season, 21 August 1917, 4; Minute Book and Ministerial Record of the General Assembly of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, 1919-1920, 11.
9. ^ Talmadge French, Our God is One, Voice and Vision Publications, 1999, 58
10. ^ Andrew D. Urshan, Pentecost As It Was in the Early 1900's (by the author, 1923; revised edition Portland, OR: ApostolicBook Publishers, 1981, 77; The Life Story of Andrew Bar David Urshan: An Autobiography of the Author's First Forty Years (Apostolic Book Publishers, 1967),102; Cf. E. N. Bell, "The Sad New Issue," Word & Witness, June 1915, 2-3; Anderson, Disinherited, 176.
11. ^ [3]

See also

External links

Articles, indexes, & other resources

Favoring views

Opposing views

Comparative articles

  • Oneness Versus Trinity Links to various writings concerning Oneness vs. Trinity. Link is an opposing view site.

Other

Oneness Pentecostal Groups

Here are major and historical Oneness Pentecostal organizations. Not all Oneness Pentecostal churches affiliate with an organization. See for individual churches and organizations that may not be listed here.

North America

This is a list of Oneness Pentecostal organizations headquartered in North America.

Other countries

This is a list of Oneness Pentecostal organizations headquartered outside North America.
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Jesus (8–2 BC/BCE to 29–36 AD/CE),[2] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity, and is also an important figure in several other religions.
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Jesus (8–2 BC/BCE to 29–36 AD/CE),[2] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity, and is also an important figure in several other religions.
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Jesus (8–2 BC/BCE to 29–36 AD/CE),[2] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity, and is also an important figure in several other religions.
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God is given the title and attributions of Father. In many forms of polytheism, the highest god has been conceived as a "father of gods and of men". In the Israelite religion and modern Judaism, Yahweh is called Father because he is the creator, law-giver, and
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God is given the title and attributions of Father. In many forms of polytheism, the highest god has been conceived as a "father of gods and of men". In the Israelite religion and modern Judaism, Yahweh is called Father because he is the creator, law-giver, and
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God is given the title and attributions of Father. In many forms of polytheism, the highest god has been conceived as a "father of gods and of men". In the Israelite religion and modern Judaism, Yahweh is called Father because he is the creator, law-giver, and
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Jesus-Name doctrine is an informal term used to describe the Oneness doctrine, i.e., regarding the oneness of God[1], which is taught by Oneness Pentecostals such as the United Pentecostal Church and other denominations.
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