Recently we received several email messages from a Oneness Pentecostal. He objected to our online article about that movement on the basis that he denies we are genuine believers in the true God (see our article: The Hidden Cult of Oneness Pentecostalism ). This e-mail dialogue is being shared in three installments (this is Part 2). To honor his privacy I have changed his name to Theophilus (the “Friend of God” Dr. Luke wrote to in his Gospel and the book of Acts). As with the previous part, my remarks are bolded for clarity.
I do appreciate you response. I have read your message, and I still say with confidence that you are in error when it comes to your beliefs. You exclusively stated that the Trinity is not even biblical, so why are we to add it to the Bible?
“I believe the reason Oneness Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and other groups cannot accept the Trinity is not because it is not biblical.”
You took this comment completely out of its context in my message. I was not saying the Trinity is not biblical. It certainly is biblical. Many of those who don’t believe it simply don’t understand it because they can’t comprehend the infinite magnitude of who God is. The Trinity is the only reasonable way to reconcile the fact that the New Testament affirms the Old Testament teaching that there is only one God. Nonetheless, the New Testament also affirms that the Father is God, the Son (Jesus – the Word – John 1:1) is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. God is, and always has been, One God in Three Persons. That is possible only because only God is infinite (i.e. limitless) and eternal (i.e. timeless) and thus exists infinitely in three infinite and eternal persons (seats of consciousness). The three persons have infinite and eternal love and relationship within the one infinite essence of deity.
The Oneness argument that they are all just one person (Jesus) in different states of being is the ancient heresy of modalism. As I explained in my earlier message, that cannot be true since Jesus prayed to the Father in heaven and since all three persons were present together at the same time at Jesus’ baptism.
God did not ordain for any one to add to the Holy Scriptures, and I’m certain that you’re aware of the consequences Joseph (Tal).
“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” – Revelation 22:18 (KJV)
I have not added to or removed anything from Scripture. The term Trinity (or Triunity) is a theological deduction based on Scriptural teaching.
Also, I would really appreciate it if you stopped comparing us to Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons. On your website, you depict us as deceiving cult, and God is surely not pleased at that!! We are Christians that happen to believe in Jesus Christ!! We just happen to “truly” understand the Godhead and live accordingly to the Word of God!!
I have not said you are a “deceiving cult.” You actually are quite open about your beliefs, and I appreciate that. Nonetheless, I cannot but regard your beliefs as unorthodox and outside the parameters of historic Christianity which is the theological definition of a cult.
Matthew 28:19 is very difficult for people to comprehend that don’t understand who God truly is. If you are a believer in the Trinity, it’s going to be hard to understand why the Apostles throughout the book of Acts baptized people in the Name of Jesus Christ.
The reason the Apostles said to be baptized in Jesus name was not to establish an absolute formula for salvation (it was not for that purpose anyway) but to clearly delineate Christian baptism from the many other kinds of baptisms practiced by the Jews at that time. It was to solidify their identification with Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
There is no power in baptizing in titles Mr. Davis. The Apostles knew and fully understand Matthew 28:19, and that’s why Peter obeyed by telling people to repent and get baptized in the Name of Jesus for remission of sin to receive the Holy Ghost!!
You are right; there is no power in baptizing at all! It is merely a symbol of one’s identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus as His disciple.
The mere fact that you negate that baptism isn’t necessary to receive salvation is an extreme error on your part!! “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” – St. Mark 16:16 (KJV)
I will address this passage on two levels.
First, Mark 16:9- 20, as published in the King James Version, is not found in any of the oldest Greek manuscripts of that Gospel (as most modern Bible editions denote that in the margins). Thus it is regarded by most New Testament textual scholars as not an authentic part of Mark’s Gospel but as a later addition by some other writer.
I assume you reject that premise. So, secondly, I contend that the verse, even if they are the authentic words of Jesus, still does not teach the necessity of baptism for salvation. Look carefully at what it says. The first clause, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” simply tells us that anyone who believes and is baptized is saved. Yes, that is a fact. But that clause does not tell us who is not saved. The second clause tells who is not saved: “…he that believeth not.” It does not say that if you are not baptized you are not saved. Thus, the verse does not teach the necessity of baptism for salvation, only the necessity of belief.
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” – St. John 3:5 (KJV)
I would also contend that this passage cannot be used to prove the necessity of baptism for salvation. This is true mainly because there is no reason in the context to assume that baptism is what Jesus was talking about. He never mentions it. So what then was he referring to? There are two possible answers. One is that he was using “water” as a synonym for the Spirit. This makes sense because the conjunction, “of water and Spirit” ties them together as one element in the phrase, and in other contexts He refers to the “Living Water”. (John 4:10-11; 7:38).
The other possible meaning is that Jesus was contrasting physical birth (“water”) to rebirth by the spirit. This is a possible solution because it fits the context. In verse 4 Nicodemus asks, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb (physical birth), and be born?” Jesus answers with verse 5 (“Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”) followed immediately, and in the same breath, by verse 6… “That which is born of the flesh is flesh (physical birth); and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (rebirth).”
In either interpretation there is no indication Jesus was talking about water baptism. As I said he never mentions it and it is unlikely Nicodemus would have understood it that way.
“The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” – 1 Peter 3:21 (KJV)
This is a favorite of baptismal regenerationists. However, If read correctly it is clear Peter is not arguing that water baptism is necessary for salvation. Why else would he have included the parenthetical clause, “(not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,)?” Peter says that it is the “answer of a good conscience toward God” (faith and belief) that is what actually saves us, not the cleansing of the body by water.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” – Titus 3:5 (KJV)
Amen. I don’t have anything to say about this. Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit metaphorically washing away our sins by grace through faith in Christ in regeneration (rebirth). It says nothing about baptism.
As you can see from scriptures, baptism is very essential, and is indeed an requirement!! The problem with modern Christianity is the fact that many think they are saved by grace along, yet they haven’t been born again nor are they producing any spiritual fruit in their lives!! They are not living holy nor separate from the world, yet they thing that they are still going to Heaven!!
It is true that we are saved by faith, but it is also true that true faith always produces action on the part of the believer.
I agree, but it is the faith that saves not the works. Good works are the fruit of the Spirit, not the Holy Spirit Himself. We receive the Spirit when we are regenerated by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-10 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto (Greek eis – for the purposes of doing) good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.)
Works are the evidence of salvation, not salvation itself or the way we retain salvation. We all continue to struggle to overcome sin, but knowing if we do sin, we have an advocate (Jesus Christ) with the Father. (1 John 2:1 – “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Hmm, there’s those two different persons again.)
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works IS DEAD? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thus how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” – James 2:14-22 (KJV)
Amen, our works demonstrate our faith. If a person shows no change of heart (repentance) and exhibits no desire for righteous living then he or she may not be genuinely saved. But it’s not the works that do it (and it’s not our job to judge).
When an individual believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, what do they believe about him? They believe the gospel, which is the death, burial, and resurrection (I Corinthians 15:1-4). James teaches us that faith without action is dead, or it is not really faith at all. When a sinner hears the true gospel and truly believes, he will obey the gospel. An individual obeys the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ by repentance, baptism, in Jesus’ name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost, evidenced by speaking with other tongues.
Yes, the Gospel is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand. By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”)
Where in the New Testament does it say that speaking in tongues is part of the Gospel and necessary for salvation? I am curious how you arrive at that conclusion. There are numerous examples in the New Testament of people becoming Christians without speaking in tongues.
I can give you scripture from the Holy Bible all day that proves that there is indeed no Trinity. Jesus Christ is God, and that can be proven quite easily Joseph. God is all powerful and omnipresent!!
I’m open to your challenge. I have been studying the Bible for more than forty years and have never seen such anti-Trinitarian passages.
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” – 1 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
Amen. God the Son was manifest in the flesh. Actually most ancient Greek manuscripts do not have the word “God’ in the verse, only “He.” For instance the New American Standard Bible says: “
He (Jesus) who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.
Instead of giving you numerous scripture after scripture, I will attach a word document that will solidify the Oneness Apostolic doctrine. What’s interesting is the fact that no Trinitarians can provide any scriptures about their believe that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are 3 separate entities. I can debunk any claim that you may have that boggles your mind about the true existence of God.
I read the document. Nothing new there.
Trinitarians do not say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate “entities.” They are separate Persons. I am perfectly willing to listen to your debunking of the doctrine if you believe you can.
Throughout your search for the truth Joseph, ask God to grant you wisdom and understanding of the Godhead. Pray and ask God to open up your mind and give you the revelation of who he truly is. I was Baptist Trinitarian for over 28 years, yet I never could explain it nor understand it. When God poured out his Holy Spirit into me, that’s when I finally got the understanding that I always needed!!
I am curious exactly how that happened. Please describe to me that experience. I worry that you are relying on emotional feelings more than on the Word of God for discovering Truth. Experiences can be counterfeited and feelings manipulated. We must evaluate our experience by Scripture, not Scripture by our experience.
I saw that you acknowledged the fact that several religious scholars agree with your standpoint. That’s great for you, but those religious scholars won’t determine your eternal salvation. Men following tradition is going to lead to damnation, and I rather follow the Holy Bible.
Believe me, I am not letting anyone but Jesus determine my salvation.
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” – Colossians 2:8 (KJV)
Another note, you should consider using the King James version of the Bible only. The NASB is filled with man-made errors, and it’s only going to cause more confusion in your quest to understand the Apostolic doctrine. God Bless!
The KJV is a great English translation and has been instrumental in bringing millions to salvation in Christ. That being said, however, the Greek and Hebrew texts upon which it was based all were dated many centuries after the writer’s original manuscripts. It also relied heavily on the Roman Catholic Vulgate Latin translation. Since its publication (1611) thousands of much earlier manuscripts, some as early as the First Century AD (e.g. the Dead Sea Scrolls) have shown that many of the KJV’s manuscripts were not accurate and that the translation reflected a Church of England bias in some places. Thus, most modern translations take into consideration the textual discoveries and have done their translations from those earlier more reliable texts. One example is the passage I mentioned earlier in Mark 16:8-20.
In the third installment we will look at Theophilus’ next response and my final response to him.
© 2013 Tal Davis