Archive | Oneness Pentecostalism

RSS feed for this section

Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Michael Brown’s New Book (Plus Some Fun Interaction Toward the End on Other Important Matters)

I was joined my Michael Brown today to discuss his new book, Outlasting the Gay Revolution.  I had read the book a few months ago, and it is now available.  We discussed the principles he lays out for a “multi-generational approach” to the subject.  We covered that during the first 45 minutes, and then we discussed two issues together, one a graphic Michael had posted on his FaceBook page about Noah, grace, and obedience, and the other Michael’s comments about T.D. Jakes in a recent Line of Fire broadcast.  As usual, our goal was to model dialogue in such a way as to clarify and edify, and hopefully that is what happened.

Here is the YouTube link:

***************************************************************

Today’s show will air LIVE at 6:00pm EDT. Follow the link below for further information about the live show.

Scripture Index for The Forgotten Trinity – Vintage

A Brother in St. Louis Kindly Generated This Index

Genesis 1:1 35, 49 Isaiah 10:21 81, 82
Genesis 1:2 147 Isaiah 31:3 81
Genesis 1:26 166 Isaiah 40:13-18 38
Genesis 18:1 63 Isaiah 40:21-28 38-39
Genesis 27 111 Isaiah 40:25 25
Genesis 43:33 111 Isaiah 41:22 100
    Isaiah 41:22-24 44
Exodus 3:14 98 Isaiah 41:4 44, 87, 98, 100
Exodus 4:22 111 Isaiah 43:10 36, 98, 99
Exodus 19:5 77 Isaiah 43:25 99
    Isaiah 44:24 44
Numbers 23:14 43 Isaiah 44:6-8 36-37
    Isaiah 45:18 45
Deuteronomy 6:4-6 35 Isaiah 45:18 99
Deuteronomy 7:6 77 Isaiah 45:21 128
Deuteronomy 10:14 35 Isaiah 45:21-22 37
Deuteronomy 10:17 81 Isaiah 45:23 128
Deuteronomy 14:2 77 Isaiah 46:4 98
Deuteronomy 21:17 111 Isaiah 46:9-10 39
Deuteronomy 29:29 34, 173 Isaiah 48:11 91
    Isaiah 48:13 133
1 Kings 11:3 135 Isaiah 51:12 99
    Isaiah 52:6 99
2 Chronicles 6:18 41 Isaiah 53:1 136, 137
    Isaiah 53:2 125
Nehemiah 9:32 81 Isaiah 55:8-9 35
    Isaiah 57:15 42
Psalm 19:1 133    
Psalm 22:1 157 Jeremiah 10:10-11 40, 105
Psalm 24:1 133 Jeremiah 23:24 41
Psalm 24:8 81 Jeremiah 31:9 111
Psalm 33:6,9 43, 50 Jeremiah 32:18 81
Psalm 45:6-7 74    
Psalm 45:10-12 75 Ezekiel 37:23 76-77
Psalm 78:69 133    
Psalm 89:11 133 Hosea 11:9 43, 81
Psalm 89:27 111, 113    
Psalm 90:2 42, 97, 102, 133 Malachi 3:6 43
Psalm 102:25-27 42, 132, 133, 134    
Psalm 104:30 147 Matthew 1:18 140
Psalm 130:7-8 76 Matthew 3:11 140
Psalm 139:7 147 Matthew 3:16-17 155
    Matthew 10:19-20 149
Proverbs 3:19 133 Matthew 11:27 146, 157
    Matthew 11:28 68
Isaiah 6 136 Matthew 12:31-32 144
Isaiah 6:1-3 63 Matthew 17:1-9 155
Isaiah 6:1-4 137 Matthew 27:46 157
Isaiah 6:1-10 132 Matthew 28:18-20 174
Isaiah 6:9 148 Matthew 28:19 144, 147
Isaiah 6:9-11 137    
Isaiah 9:6 75, 80    
Isaiah 9:7 80    
Mark 3:28-29 144 John 17:23-24 155
Mark 13:11 149 John 18:5-6 96, 103
Mark 14:62 96 John 20:17 70, 91
    John 20:24-25 69
Luke 1:15 140 John 20:26-27 69
Luke 4:8 112 John 20:28 70, 84, 95, 181
Luke 21:14-15 149 John 20:28-29 69
Luke 23:46 157    
    Acts 5:3-4 147
John 1:1 51-55, 57, 63, 84, Acts 5;32 143
John 1:1 95, 102, 123, 181 Acts 7:51 145
John 1:1-3 48, 58 Acts 8:29 142
John 1:1-18 64, 104 Acts 10:19-20 141
John 1:3 50, 56, 99 Acts 13:2 141
John 1:6, 12,13, 18 56 Acts 17:32 107
John 1:6-8 58 Acts 20:28 82, 143
John 1:10-13 58 Acts 21:11 142
John 1:14 51, 59, 102, 125 Acts 28:25-26 148
John 1:14,15,17,18 61    
John 1:18 58, 62, 63, 101, 158 Romans 1:20 85
John 3:35 154 Romans 1:7 157
John 3:6 150 Romans 5:5 143
John 4:23 16 Romans 6:3 147
John 4:24 40 Romans 8:9 150
John 5:16-19 87 Romans 8:26-27 142
John 5:17 88 Romans 8:29 112
John 5:20 155 Romans 9:5 71, 73
John 6:37-39 159 Romans 14:17-18 164
John 8:24 95, 102-104 Romans 15:16 164
John 8:24, 58 101 Romans 15:30 144
John 8:58 95-98, 102-103    
John 8:59 99 1 Corinthians 1:3 68, 157
John 10:28-29 159 1 Corinthians 1:9 150
John 10:30 89, 158 1 Corinthians 2:2-5 164
John 12:28 156 1 Corinthians 2:8 160
John 12:37-41 132, 136 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 142-143, 147
John 12:39-41 92, 101 1 Corinthians 6:11 164
John 13:19 95, 99, 100, 103 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 92
John 14 150 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 164
John 14:23 149 1 Corinthians 12:9-11 146
John 14:28 89, 90, 92 1 Corinthians 13:12 52
John 14:6 68    
John 14:9 68 2 Corinthians 1:2 157
John 14:9-10 158 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 164
John 15:9 155 2 Corinthians 5:19 56
John 15:26 141 2 Corinthians 11:31 73
John 15:27 97 2 Corinthians 13:14 150, 164
John 16  150    
John 16 13-14 141 Galatians 1:3 157
John 17:1-3 156 Galatians 3:27 147
John 17:3 83. 91, 92 Galatians 3:28 121
John 17:3-5 90-91 Galatians 4:6 142
John 17:5 90 Galatians 4:8 38
Ephesians 1:2 157 James 4:13-16 39
Ephesians 2:18 165    
Ephesians 3:16-17 165 2 Peter 1:1 78-79
Ephesians 4:4-6 165 2 Peter 1:11 78-79
Ephesians 4:30 145 2 Peter 1:20-21 47
    2 Peter 1:21 53, 148
Philippians 1:2 157 2 Peter 2:20 78-79
Philippians 1:21 68 2 Peter 3:18 78-79
Philippians 2:1-4 120    
Philippians 2:5-11 119-121 1 John 1:1-5 60
Philippians 2:5-7 122 1 John 1:2 58
Philippians 2:6 88, 90 1 John 1:3 151
Philippians 2:6-7 123 1 John 2:23 84, 154
Philippians 2:9-11 128 1 John 4:2-3 60. 109
Philippians 3:10 150 1 John 5:10-12 84
    1 John 5:20 83-84
Colossians 1:6-8 164-165    
Colossians 1:15-17 106, 109-110, 112-113 Revelation 1:17-18 86
Colossians 1:16-17 58, 99, 114 Revelation 1:5 112
Colossians 1:18 112 Revelation 1:7-8 86
Colossians 2:2-3 15 Revelation 5:11-14 116
Colossians 2:3 84 Revelation 19:16 68
Colossians 2:8-9 85 Revelation 22:12-13 86-87
Colossians 2:9 85, 86
Colossians 2:18 108
Colossians 2:19 109
Colossians 3:3 159
   
1 Thessalonians 1:3-5 163
   
2 Thessalonians 2:13 164
   
1 Timothy 1:17 183
   
2 Timothy 3:16 148
2 Timothy 3:16-17 47
   
Titus 2:13 73, 77-80
Titus 2:13-14 75
Titus 2:14 76
Titus 3:5 150
   
Hebrews 1:1-3 117
Hebrews 1:2-3 99
Hebrews 1:3 110
Hebrews 1:6 112
Hebrews 1:6-8 74
Hebrews 1:8 135
Hebrews 1:8-12 133-134
Hebrews 1:10-12 132, 135
Hebrews 6:17 146
Hebrews 10:29 145

THE NATURE OF GOD – THE TRI-UNITY OF GOD – Vintage

I. The Attributes of God:

A. Natural:

    1. Spirituality (John 4:24)
    2. Personality (Exodus 3:14)
    3. Life (Jeremiah 10:6-11)

B. Pertaining to His Infinity

    1. Absoluteness – Uniqueness
    2. Sovereignty/Supremacy (Isaiah 40:12-17, 43:12-13, 46:9-10, Psalm 135:6)
    3. Self-existence
    4. Immutability – He doesn’t change – Psalm 102:27, Malachi 3:6, James 1:17
    5. Unity – one substance, one ousia (Deuteronomy 6:4)
    6. Perfection (Matthew 5:48)
    7. Immensity (2 Chronicles 6:18)
    8. Eternity (Exodus 3:14, Psalm 90:2, 1 Timothy 1:17, Jude 25)

C. Pertaining to Creation

    1. Omnipresence – Psalm 139:7-10, Jeremiah 23:23-24
    2. Omniscience – Hebrews 4:13, Matthew 10:29-30, Romans 11:33
    3. Omnipotence – Genesis 17:1, Revelation 1:8, Romans 4:17

II. Moral Attributes of God

    A. Holiness
    B. Righteousness
    C. Love
    D. Truth

III. The Tri-Unity of God

    A. The Creeds:

The Nicene: “We believe in one God, the Father almighty, creator of all things both visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten born of the Father, that is of the substance of the Father; God from God, light from light, true God from true God; begotten, not created, consubstantial with the Father; through Him all things were made, those in heaven and those on the earth as well…And we believe in the Holy Spirit. As for those who say: ‘There was a time when He did not exist’ and ‘before He was begotten, He did not exist;’ and ‘He was made from nothing, or from another hypostasis or essence,’ alleging that the Son of God is mutable or subject to change – such persons the Catholic and apostolic church condemns.”

The Athanasian: “We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in unity; we distinguish among the persons, but we do not divide the substance. [Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct persons still they] have one divinity, equal in glory and coeternal in majesty. What the Father is, the Son is, and the Holy Spirit is. [Each, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is uncreated, has immensity, is eternal, is omnipotent, is God, is Lord, yet there is] but one eternal being…one uncreated being…one being that has immensity…one omnipotent being…one God…one Lord…The Father is not made by anyone, nor created by anyone, nor generated by anyone. The Son is not made nor created, but He is generated by the Father alone. The Holy Spirit is not made nor created nor generated, but proceeds from the Father and the Son. There is, then, one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. In this Trinity there is nothing antecedent, nothing subsequent to anything else. There is nothing greater, nothing less than anything else. But the entire three persons are coeternal and coequal with one another, so that, as we have said, we worship complete unity in Trinity and Trinity in unity…we believe and profess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and man. As God He was begotten of the substance of the Father before time; as man He was born in time of the substance of His mother. He is perfect God and He is perfect man, with a rational soul and human flesh. He is equal to the Father in His divinity but is inferior to the Father in His humanity. Although He is God and man, He is not two but one Christ…because He is one person.

IV. Foundation of the Trinity: The doctrine of the Trinity is based on three Biblical truths that together form its foundation: 1. There is only one God (monotheism); 2. There are three Persons – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is in direct contradiction of modalism, Sabellianism, or the “Jesus Only” teachings that deny the separate personhood of Father, Son and Spirit; 3. There is full equality of the Persons. This is in direct contradiction of Arianism and all systems that would deny the full Deity and equality of the Son and the Spirit. Each of these truths is part of God’s revelation of Himself, and no system can claim to be based on the Bible unless these truths are taken into account. The denial of any one of these Biblical teachings leads directly to heresy and false doctrine – denial of monotheism leads to polytheism (such as in Mormonism); denial of the three Persons leads into modalism (such as the United Pentecostal movement); and denial of the equality of the Persons leads to subordination-ism (Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Way International, etc.).

A. There is One God:  Deuteronomy 4:35, 6:4, 10:14, Psalm 96:5, 97:9, Isaiah 43:10, 44:6-8, 44:24, 45:5-6, 45:21-23, 46:9, 48:11-12, John 17:3, 1 Timothy 2:5, Revelation 1:8, (Hosea 13:4). He is not, in His essential nature, a man: Hosea 11:9, Numbers 23:19.

B. There are three Persons: Father, Son and Spirit:  Matthew 3:16-17, 11:27, 17:1-9, 27:46, John 1:18, 14:16-17. The Pre-existence of the Son:  Colossians 1:13-17, Hebrews 1:2-3, John 1:1.

C. Equality: the Deity of Christ: Colossians 2:9, John 20:28, Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1, John 1:18; identification as Yahweh: John 6:39-41/Isaiah 6, Hebrews 1:10-12/Psalm 102:25-27.

V. The Personality of God: He is Trinal

A. Scriptural Evidence: (Quotations from The Works of B. B. Warfield, vol. 2, pages 133-135).

     The term “Trinity” is not a Biblical term, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence. A doctrine so defined can be spoken of as a Biblical doctrine only on the principle that the sense of Scripture is Scripture. And the definition of a Biblical doctrine in such unBiblical language can be justified only on the principle that it is better to preserve the truth of Scripture than the words of Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity lies in Scripture in solution; when it is crystallized from its solvent it does not cease to be Scriptural, but only comes into clearer view. Or, to speak without figure, the doctrine of the Trinity is given to us in Scripture, not in formulated definition, but in fragmentary allusions; when we assemble the disjecta membra into their organic unity, we are not passing from Scripture, but entering more thoroughly into the meaning of Scripture. We may state the doctrine in technical terms, supplied by philosophical reflection; but the doctrine stated is a genuinely Scriptural doctrine…In point of fact, the doctrine of the Trinity is purely a revealed doctrine. That is to say, it embodies a truth which has never been discovered, and is indiscoverable, by natural reason. With all his searching, man has not been able to find out for himself the deep things of God. Accordingly, ethnic thought has never attained a Trinitarian concept of God, nor does any ethnic religion present in its representations of the Divine Being any analogy to the doctrine of the Trinity.
     As the doctrine of the Trinity is indiscoverable by reason, so it is incapable of proof from reason. There are no analogies to it in Nature, not even in the spiritual nature of man, who is made in the image of God. In His trinitarian mode of being, God is unique; and, as there is nothing in the universe like Him in this respect, so there is nothing which can help us to comprehend Him.
     The fundamental proof that God is a Trinity is supplied thus by the fundamental revelation of the Trinity in fact:

that is to say, in the incarnation of God the Son and the outpouring of God the Holy Spirit. In a word, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are the fundamental proof of the doctrine of the Trinity. This is as much as to say that all the evidence of whatever kind, and from whatever source derived, that Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh, and that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, is just so much evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity; and that when we go to the New Testament for the evidence of the Trinity we are to seek it, not merely in the scattered allusions to the Trinity as such, numerous and instructive as they are, but primarily in the whole mass of evidence which the New Testament provides of the Deity of Christ and the Divine personality of the Holy Spirit. When we have said this, we have said in effect that the whole mass of the New Testament is evidence for the Trinity. For the New Testament is saturated with evidence of the Deity of Christ and the Divine personality of the Holy Spirit. Precisely what the New Testament is, is the documentation of the religion of the incarnate Son and outpoured Spirit, that is to say, of the religion of the Trinity, and what we mean by the doctrine of the Trinity is nothing but the formulation in exact language of the conception of God presupposed in the religion of the incarnate Son and outpoured Spirit.

B. OT: “Let us”; tri-hagion of Isaiah 6; plural Yahwehs in Genesis 19:24.

C. NT: Deity of the Son & Spirit in correlation with the fact that there is only one God. Matthew 28:19-20. On this section: Deuteronomy 28:58 – “this glorious and fearful name, Yahweh thy God.” Jeremiah 14:9: “Yet Thou art in our midst, O Yahweh, and we are called by Thy name.” Jeremiah 15:6: “I have been called by Thy name, O Yahweh God of hosts.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 literally: “and My people over whom My name is called…” c.f. Daniel 9:18-19. When, therefore, our Lord commanded His disciples to baptize those whom they brought to His obedience “into the name of…,” He was using language charged to them with high meaning. He could not have been understood otherwise than as substituting for the Name of [Yahweh] this other Name “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy [Spirit]”; and this could not possibly have meant to His disciples anything else than that [Yahweh] was now to be known to them by the new name, of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit…There is no alternative, therefore, to understanding Jesus here to be giving for His community a new Name to Yahweh and that new Name to be the threefold Name of “the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Nor is there any room for doubt that by “the Son” in this threefold Name, He meant just Himself with all the implications of distinct personality of “the Father” and “the Holy Spirit,” with whom “the Son” is here associated, and from whom alike “the Son” is here distinguished. This is a direct ascription to Yahweh God of Israel, of a threefold personality, and is therewith the direct enunciation of the doctrine of the Trinity.

D. Triadic formulae: 1 Thessalonians 1:3-5, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Corinthians 2:2-5, 6:11, 12:4-6, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 13:14, Romans 8:26-27, 14:17-18, 15:16, 15:30, Colossians 1:6-8,Ephesians 2:18, 3:16-17, 4:4-6.

E. Statement of the Doctrine: 1. There is in the Divine Being but one indivisible essence (ousia, essentia). 2. In this one Divine Being there are three Persons or individual subsistences, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 3. The whole undivided essence of God belongs equally to each of the three persons. 4. The subsistence and operation of the three persons in the divine Being is marked by a certain definite order. 5. There are certain personal attributes by which the three persons are distinguished. 6. The Church confesses the Trinity to be a mystery beyond the comprehension of man.

1. One essence, substance, or ousia.

2. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father. 3 subsistences – “personal self-distinctions within the Divine essence.” 3 modes of existence – there are personal relations between the three.

3. Naturally following from the indivisibility of the ousia of God. Hence, there can be no subordination of one Person to another with respect to essential being. Turretin once said, “The mind of the worshiper will not be distracted by the consideration that there are three Divine persons, if he remembers that the whole Divine essence is in each of the persons, so that if he worships one he worships all.”

4. Father, Son, Spirit. Son is begotten by the Father (book example). Spirit is spirited or proceeds from both Father and Son (Western) – also seen in the positions each took in the Eternal Covenant of Redemption.

5. opera ad intra: Father generation; Son filiation; Spirit procession. opera ad extra:  creation, redemption, sanctification.

6. Finite versus infinite existence.

F. Eternal Covenant of Redemption

Remember the voluntariness of Christ’s humiliation, His unique new position, how that explains the “my God” passages and how this reflects the inherent positions within the eternal Trinity.

“In interpreting those passages in which omnipotence and divine exaltation (Phil. 2:9) are said to be “given” to the incarnate Son, it must be recollected that it requires an infinite nature to receive and wield such infinite gifts… They are communicable only to an infinite person.” (Shedd, vol. 1., p. 318).

Blurring the Dividing Line:The Legacy of Phillips,Craig and Dean

This legacy article was written prior to 2006 by Eric Nielsen for Alpha & Omega Ministries. Some of the hyperlinks may no longer function, but the information is still correct.

     Their songs have been standards for years in Contemporary Christian Music. They have gained legions of appreciative fans among evangelicals with their well-written lyrics, beautiful harmonies, and high-quality production values. Their music has consistently earned top ratings and frequent airplay, garnering numerous awards and nominations, not to mention album sales in the hundreds of thousands[1]. They have performed at the conventions of the National Religious Broadcasters and Christian Booksellers Association, appeared at Moody Church, played at Promise Keepers rallies[2], and recorded music for the National Day of Prayer. Their successful career in Contemporary Christian Music and popularity among evangelicals is impressive; even more so when it is realized that the members of Phillips, Craig and Dean (PCD) are Oneness Pentecostals who deny essential Christian doctrines, including the doctrines of the Trinity and of justification by faith alone!

 

     Although Phillips, Craig and Deans’ Oneness beliefs have been public knowledge for some time, having been disclosed in the pages of Charisma magazine[3] and the Christian Research Journal[4], there has been very little visible reaction from the evangelical community. The reasons for this are probably several: First, as stated above, Phillips, Craig and Dean are enormously popular, and have a long career in contemporary Christian music that has provided them credibility with evangelicals. Second, the people who represent Phillips, Craig and Dean to the evangelical press and organizations have been extremely effective at obscuring PCD’s true beliefs and marginalizing their relatively few critics. There seems to be genuine confusion about what the members of PCD believe among the “gatekeepers” in the evangelical media.[5] Finally, among some evangelicals, there appears to be a general lack of concern about the doctrines of God and of salvation, or at least an insufficient understanding of their importance.

     Despite the general confusion about what PCD believes, the three members of Phillips, Craig and Dean certainly cannot claim theological ignorance for themselves. The group’s promoters have been anything but shy about advertising their clients’ ministerial credentials. The group’s own web site boasts:

Phillips, Craig & Dean are three full-time church ministers; they also happen to sing together…[6]

All three men have key roles at their respective churches as pastors and teachers:

Randy Phillips serves as Pastor at his home church in Austin, Texas. Randy’s responsibilities include preaching, counseling, leading worship…

For more than 18 years, Shawn [Craig] has served as Music Pastor at his home church in St. Louis, MO. There he leads music, worship, and the New Members Disciple class.

Dan [Dean] is the Senior Pastor at his home church in Irving. TX. There Dan’s responsibilities include preaching, casting the vision for the church, oversight of day to day operations, and hiring and placement of all staff members.[7]

This article will attempt to eliminate the confusion by providing a clear statement of the beliefs of Phillips, Craig and Dean concerning the nature of God and the gospel by examining their own writings and the published writings of the churches they pastor. Their doctrines will be examined and tested in the light of Scripture. Finally, examples will be provided and analyzed to demonstrate how PCD has misrepresented their beliefs to the evangelical community.

Phillips, Craig and Dean on God’s Nature

     Perhaps the most essential (that is, definitional) doctrine of the Christian faith is the doctrine of God’s existence in three eternal persons, the Trinity. The New Testament in particular proclaims this precious truth, stated here in brief form:

Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[8]

By contrast, the god proclaimed by Phillips, Craig and Dean is not the tri-personal being of the Bible, but merely a single person who is seen to perform various different roles; those of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit As Randy Phillips has written (italics added for emphasis):

We believe in one God who is eternal in His existence, Triune in His manifestation, being both Father, Son and Holy Ghost AND that He is Sovereign and Absolute in His authority.[9]

Dan Dean’s church web site puts it like this:

…there is One True God that has manifested Himself as Father in creation, Son in redemption and the Holy Spirit in emanation. (Deuteronomy 6:4; I Timothy 3:16; Acts 2:33)[10]

PCD is willing to use words like “Triune” of God, but only in the sense that God has three different roles that he performs throughout Scripture; three different manifestations. This is a key concept that differentiates PCD’s god from the God of the Bible. Although this god manifests Himself in these three roles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, these manifestations are not eternal, but temporary. Additionally, there are no relationships of a personal kind between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

     This is demonstrated most clearly in The Enquirer’s Handbook, a book of basic doctrines published by Randy Phillips’ ministry, The World of Pentecost. The Handbook is perhaps the most detailed theological statement available from the ministries of Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig and Dan Dean. For this reason, a good deal of attention will be given to the Handbook throughout this article. The Handbook contains several specific denials of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, and derides the use of the term “persons” as a source of confusion:

One of the primary sources of confusion in this matter is related to the word “persons.” The doctrine of the trinity states that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three “persons” who make up one God. In actuality, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three MANIFESTATIONS of one God. This word MANIFESTATION means “to appear”, and it is quite scriptural. The Bible tells us that:

“God was MANIFEST in the flesh…” (I Timothy 3:16).[11]

The implication being made here is that since the word “persons” is not used by the Bible to refer to God, to say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are persons is to teach a non-biblical concept. Since the word “manifest” does appear in the language of Scripture, the idea of God “appearing” in various roles is a more “scriptural” concept. However, the question we should be asking is not, “Which word is used in Scripture: ‘person’ or ‘manifest’?” but rather, “Which of these concepts does the Bible teach?” Are there three co-equal, co-eternal persons that exist in the one Being that is God, or does a single divine person simply reveal himself in various modes of performance?

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you (John 14:16-17, NASB).”

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me (John 15:26, NASB)…”

In these verses we can see demonstrated very clearly the personhood and the distinctness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In chapter 14 of the Gospel of John, we see Jesus, distinct from the Father, speaking of His petition to the Father on behalf of the disciples for the sending of the Holy Spirit. Jesus makes a distinction between his own person and the person of the Holy Spirit by calling the Spirit “another Helper.” He also distinguishes between the person of the Father and the person of the Spirit by declaring that the Father will give the Spirit to the disciples. In chapter 15, Jesus continues to make the same distinctions, and and provides greater detail: the Spirit is sent by the Son, He proceeds from the Father, and He testifies about the Son. All three, Father, Son, and Spirit, are obviously seen to be persons, and all three are likewise shown to be distinct in person from the others.

     The Bible demonstrates the distinct personhood of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in many other ways. The love of the Son for the Father and the Father for the Son shows distinct personhood and personal relationship (John 3:35, 5:19, 10:17, 14:31). The glory of the Father is spoken of as a glory the Son had with the Father, demonstrating a distinction between the two; Jesus’ desire and request to share that glory again demonstrates a personal relationship between Himself and the Father (John 17:5). The intercessory works of both the Son and the Spirit to the Father on behalf of believers (Romans 8:26-27, 34) demonstrate that the Son and the Spirit are distinct from the Father. For example, as an intercessor, the Holy Spirit is a personal intermediary between two other persons–the believer, and the Father. Christ’s mediation between God and men confirms both His personality and distinction from the Father in a similar fashion (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6, 9:15).

     The Enquirer’s Handbook denies that the Father, Son, and Spirit are personal centers of identity, capable of relationship with each other. Instead, it claims that the terms “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” are merely descriptive of the ways that the unipersonal God acts.

In other words, God appeared in the flesh (as a son)…The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are simply three manifestations of One God. You, yourself, may be manifested as a son to your father, a husband to your wife, and a father to your children. As an individual person you may be manifested in various ways; and likewise the Almighty God is manifested as a Father, a Son, and a Holy Ghost while He remains indisputably, undeniably, ONE.[12]

     Of course this illustration fails when one considers the Biblical teaching that the Divine Persons of the Trinity interact with each other. A man may be a father to his children, and a husband to his wife, but these roles do not feel emotion toward each other; they are not consciously self-aware. On the other hand, the Persons of the Trinity communicate with each other; they love and demonstrate their love to each other. A “manifestation” cannot have a personal relationship or personal interaction with another “manifestation.”

The One Almighty God manifested Himself as a Father in creation, as a Son in redemption, and as the Holy Ghost in regeneration…The idea of three “manifestations” as opposed to three “persons” is the most scriptural way that One God can be explained.[13]

Despite the weight such a claim may initially seem to have, none of these three activities–creation, redemption, and regeneration–demonstrate the claim that there is a unipersonal God who acts in various “manifestations.” In fact, all three of these actions involve each member of the Trinity! Did God manifest Himself solely as a Father in creation? He certainly is shown to be the Father in creation, but the Bible also says that both the Son (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:13-16) and the Spirit (Genesis 1:2) were active in creation. We are redeemed by the work of the Son, but the Father sent the Son for the purpose of redemption (Galatians 4:4-5), and believers are sealed by the Spirit unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14). The work of regeneration likewise involves all three Persons of the Trinity (Titus 3:4-5). So the question is raised again: Is the idea of three “manifestations” more scriptural than the doctrine of three “Persons”? Certainly not.

     The Enquirer’s Handbook is not content simply to mislead its readers concerning the nature of the Godhead, but compounds error by mischaracterizing the Trinity as a polytheistic belief in “three Gods”:

Since the death of John and the other eleven original apostles, many concepts and teachings have arisen that do not necessarily coincide with the “one God” teaching of the early church. In the year 180 A.D. Tertullian began using the term “trinity” from which was born the Catholic doctrine of three Gods, co-equal, co-existent and co-eternal. The Roman emperor Constantine in the year 325 A.D. incorporated the “doctrine of the trinity” into the Catholic Church where it has remained ever since, and most Protestant churches have accepted this doctrine without thorough examination. The “trinity”, however, generates confusion and is not in total harmony with the Scriptures. To say that there are three separate persons who somehow comprise “one God” is like trying to connect opposing sides of two magnets. When you add 1+1+1 it must equal three, and there cannot, under any circumstances, be more than ONE GOD.[14]

For the purpose of this article, it will simply be noted that this is, at the very least, a creative interpretation of the history of the early church[15]. Further, the doctrine of the Trinity does not teach that there are three beings that are God. Monotheism, the doctrine that there is only one being who is God, is the fundamental assumption that undergirds the doctrine of the Trinity.[16] It is the Oneness doctrine, not the doctrine of the Trinity, that must attempt to “connect opposing sides of two magnets” in explaining away the personal relationships within the Godhead that are described by the Scriptures.[17]

     The Enquirer’s Handbook follows modern Oneness Pentecostal tradition, claiming that the name “Jesus” is the true name of God, and should therefore be applied to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:

…The reason for so much emphasis being placed on the name of Jesus is because JESUS is actually the NAME of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.[18]

The Holy Ghost is actually the Spirit of the Lord (Romans 8:9) and always bears his name–Jesus.[19]

In his devotional book Between Sundays, Shawn Craig similarly fails to differentiate the persons of the Father and the Son when he discusses “the bread of life.” When Jesus, in the gospel of John, applies this term to Himself, He clearly distinguishes Himself from the Father. Jesus is sent by the Father not to do His own will, but the will of the Father. Jesus is the One who is given from heaven; the Father is the One who gives Jesus:

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”

Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst…For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me (John 6:32-35, 38 NASB).

However, when Craig encounters this passage, he confuses the Father and the Son, calling both Jesus and the Father “the bread of life”:

Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11, KJV), and he declared, “I am the bread of life,” while assuring us, “He who comes to me will never go hungry” (John 6:35)…Father, I cry to you, “Give me the bread I need for today. I am hungry and needy apart from you, the Bread of Life.”[20]

The Enquirer’s Handbook’s views the Son of God not as the eternal Word of God, who was with God in the beginning, active in creation, and took on flesh for the redemption of believers. Instead, the Son of God is simply a way of referring to the human flesh of Jesus.

     The dual nature of Jesus is puzzling to some because they view the two natures as two persons. As a man, Jesus was the Son of God; He was flesh. But as God Almighty, Jesus was Spirit robed in flesh and existing everywhere else at once. There are two natures and not two persons. For example, you possess a human nature (your body) and a spiritual nature (your spirit). Whether your flesh and spirit remain intact or are separated, you are still only one person. The same is true of God.

A rule which may be followed to simplify this is: The Son of God refers to the flesh of God, and God, or the Father, refers to the Spirit. You may make this substitution in your mind as you read certain scriptures; flesh for Son, and Spirit for God (Father).[21]

Since the term “Son of God” refers only to the human flesh of Jesus, The Enquirer’s Handbook makes it plain that the Son of God is not eternal. He came into existence only when God took on flesh:

The question arises…”Did the Son of God always exist in heaven and was He sent from there to earth?”
The answer is no. The Son of God was BEGOTTEN which eliminates any possibility of His having existed in heaven beforehand. The word “begotten” denotes “a birth”, so the Son of God could not have existed until such time as he was born (His extstence in heaven was only as a thought or a plan in the mind of God) (John 1:1,14).[22]

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The fourteenth verse of the same chapter tells us that the Word “WAS MADE FLESH, AND DWELT AMONG US…’

Jesus existed in the beginning as the “Word.” He was simply a thought in the mind of the eternal Spirit; He would not become flesh for another four thousand years.[23]

Despite the fact that the Handbook quotes directly from John 1:1, it ignores the clear meaning of the text, instead insisting that the Word existed only as a thought or idea in the mind of God. What the text actually says, however, is that in the beginning, the Word “was;” that is, the Word existed from all eternity distinct from, but with, God the Father. The very next verses use the personal pronouns “He” and “Him” to declare that the Word has always been a Person, eternal, and active in creation–He certainly was not just a mere thought or plan:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:1-3, NASB).

Jesus is spoken of many times as being from heaven: “He who descended from heaven (John 3:13), “He who comes from above…from heaven (John 3:31),” “the true bread out of heaven (John 6:31)” and “the second man [who, unlike Adam] is from heaven.” Jesus says clearly about Himself, “I have come down from heaven (John 6:38).” Jesus reveals his eternal existence when he speaks of the glory which He shared with the Father “before the world was (John 17:5).”

Finally, the assertion that the word “begotten” precludes the pre-existence of the Son is simply fallacious, and betrays a misunderstanding of the term monogenes.[24]

Phillips, Craig, Dean and the Gospel

When the apostle Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthian church, he expressed his concern that they remain faithful to the truths they had been taught about God and the gospel in the following words:

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully (2 Corinthians 11:2-4, NASB).

It is not by mere coincidence that the Scripture links these three–a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel–together in the same warning. Errors concerning the nature of the Godhead naturally lend themselves to errors regarding the gospel! As we have already examined the differences between the God of the Bible and the god of Phillips, Craig and Dean, we now turn to the gospel.

In a chapter entitled “Born Again,” The Enquirer’s Handbook describes the state of mankind in sin, separated from God and needing a savior. The good news of the gospel message is introduced with these words:

Jesus has paid the full price for man’s salvation (I Corinthians 6:20), and fellowship with God can ultimately be restored. Man can now escape from the bondage of sin and the curse that it brought upon the world–because a man can be BORN AGAIN. Through our natural birth we inherit from Adam, our earthly father, sin, suffering, and death. But when a man is born again it is a spiritual birth, and we inherit from our Heavenly Father righteousness, joy, and eternal life. The born again experience is God’s gift to the sinner (Romans 5:15).

By being born again a person is made a new creature and is given a chance to start his life all over again (II Corinthians 5:17). Not only are his sins washed away and forgotten (Hebrews 8:12), but he is filled with the Spirit of God to help him in his resistance to sin (Galatians 5:16). Being “born again” is the very “heart” of the gospel of Christ…[25]

Most evangelicals would have no problem reading and agreeing with these paragraphs. The term “born again” is a staple of the evangelical vocabulary, referring to the gracious, singular act of God in which He regenerates the sinner. However, this is not what the Handbook means when it speaks of “the born again experience.” The explanation continues:

…As you will see from the following pages, the Bible gives very detailed directions on how to be born again. The eternal destiny of a person’s soul is determined by his obedience to the Word of God (Romans 6:17), so all of these scriptures will be explained in the most clear and simple way possible…

There is no way to overemphasize the need of every individual to understand and receive the born again experience because without it Jesus said we could not enter into the kingdom of God:

“…verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3)

Jesus went on to say that this new birth was of both WATER AND SPIRIT:

“…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” (John 3:5).

…Jesus said:

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).

Just as the two elements, water and spirit, are vital to the natural birth, the Bible teaches that they are also vital to the Spiritual birth. The only scriptural way to be born again is to be properly baptized in water, and to be baptized (filled) with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). (italics ours)[26]

The “born again experience” that Randy Phillips’ church, the Promiseland, teaches is necessary for salvation is a process. This process begins with repentance, and must be followed by baptism in water (using the correct spoken formula) for the remission of sins. Next, the baptism of the Holy Ghost (speaking in tongues) must take place. It is only at this point that the person who has undergone the process can be said to be “born again.” This can be seen in the brochure entitled Acts 2:38 The Ultimate Experience, also published by the World of Pentecost.

ACTS 2:38 is following Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection. In John 13:36 Jesus said, “Where I’m going now, you cannot follow, but afterwards you shall!”

Repentance is death to the old nature. Baptism is the burial (Col 2:2) Receiving the Holy Ghost is the resurrection (Rom 6:4). Luke is the first to record Acts 2:38, and it was spoken by Jesus himself![27]

In the Acts 2:38 brochure, Kenneth Phillips, who is Randy Phillips’ father, and Bishop of the Promiseland, teaches about the purpose of baptism, and emphasizes that the proper baptismal formula must be spoken to make the baptism effective:

…The purpose of baptism is to remit or wash away, your sins. Where does the power lie in baptism to wash away every sin you have committed? It is not in the preacher; it is not in the water! Something must be said over you that has all power. The name of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only name with all power! (Matthew 28:18) This is the only way the apostles baptized; in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:38, Acts 8:6, Acts 10:47-48). Even if you have been baptized another way, you need to be baptized again in the name of Jesus (Acts 19:5).[28]

By “baptized another way,” of course, the brochure is speaking of the command of Jesus in Matthew 28 to be baptized “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).” A baptism that is performed without the “Jesus Name” formula simply does not have the power required to wash away sins. We will return to this point in a moment.

UTurn Student Ministries, the youth ministry of Christ Temple, Dan Dean’s church, presents this same view of the “born again experience” in outline form, exhorting the youth to be baptized for the purpose of progressing toward their salvation. Again, water baptism is said to “wash away our sin”:

VI. WHY SHOULD I BE BAPTIZED?

3. IT IS INCLUDED IN THE SALVATION EXPERIENCE.

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16 (NIV)

“…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also- not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.” 1 Peter 3:21 (NIV)

4. IT IS THE “WATER” ELEMENT OF BEING BORN AGAIN.

“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again’…….Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” John 3:3-5 (NIV)

VII. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF BAPTISM?

1. IT IS A BURIAL OF OUR OLD MAN.

“Christ died for our sins … He was buried … and He rose again.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4

“By our baptism then, we were buried with Him and shared His death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead… so also we may live a new life.” Rom. 6:4

2. IT WASHES AWAY OUR SIN…[29]

The Enquirer’s Handbook explains why the “Jesus Name” baptism is considered absolutely essential, and why the Trinitarian form of baptism is considered insufficient.

When a person is baptized, it must also be done with the proper baptismal formula; otherwise, it will be ineffective. Baptism is a very powerful and sacred act, and there must be something to distinguish the correct way from all others; one major difference is the baptismal formula. This means that the correct “words” must be spoken when the baptism takes place[30]

It is absolutely vital that the NAME OF JESUS be said when a person is baptized.

…The reason for so much emphasis being placed on the name of Jesus is because JESUS is actually the NAME of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.[31]

It is here that we see most clearly the strong connection between the denial of the Trinity and the required Oneness baptismal formula. As a result, the name of the Lord Jesus is reduced here to a magic word invoked in the service of man. The Handbook concludes with a warning that a baptism done with the wrong formula will result in damnation (if not followed by a “proper” baptism):

…baptism is to be done in the name of the One who was crucified for us. No other name but Jesus can fill that requirement.

The proper baptismal formula is far too important to be taken lightly; it could mean the difference between going to heaven or to hell. A person should carefully examine his baptism to see if he is following the narrow way “which leadeth unto life” (Matthew 7:14).[32]

Water baptism is only considered to be a part of the “born again experience.” Although it is considered effective to forgive and wash away sins, water baptism alone does not accomplish the salvation of the believer. Speaking of the effects of water baptism, the Acts 2:38 pamphlet says:

Now your sins have been forgiven–they are “under the blood!” Your sins have been washed away in the waters of baptism! You are now ready for the empowerment of Acts 2:38, the receiving of the Holy Ghost! The teachings of Jesus are very pointed about remaining empty after you have been “swept and garnished.” You must be filled with the Spirit! (Matt. 12:43)

…When you receive the fullness of the Spirit you will speak in tongues “as the Spirit gives utterance” (Acts 2:4) Acts 10:46 is the most definite proof of this point.[33]

Christ Temple’s U-Turn Student Ministries outlines the baptism of the Holy Spirit as follows:

While baptism in water is a part of the born again experience, Jesus told us of another baptism that was intended to empower the life of every believer. It’s called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and it’s a gift that was given to a group of 120 believers almost 2,000 years ago and has continued to be poured out on hungry hearts to this day.

XII. WHY SHOULD I RECEIVE THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?

1. IT WAS COMMANDED BY JESUS AND THE APOSTLES.

“ On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 1:4-5 (NIV)

“ Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. “ Eph. 5:18 (NIV)

2. IT IS THE SPIRIT ELEMENT OF THE BORN AGAIN EXPERIENCE.

“ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. “ John 3:5-6 (NIV)

“ ….He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour. “ Titus 3:7 (NIV)

3. IT PLACES US INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST.

“ For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. “ 1 Cor. 12:13 (NIV)[34]

Of course, if the baptism of the Spirit as described here is what places us into the body of Christ, then what about those who have not spoken in tongues? The implication is clear–those who have not spoken in tongues are not part of the body of Christ. The Enquirer’s Handbook is even more direct in stating the consequences of disobeying the Oneness gospel:

There is only one apostolic doctrine of salvation–repentance, water baptism, Holy Ghost baptism–and as a word of warning regarding this, Paul wrote:

 “But though we (Paul and Peter) or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).[35]

Paul certainly did use strong language against those who would declare a different gospel than the one that he proclaimed. The reason for this is simple: The true gospel “is the power of God for salvation”–a different gospel does not have this power–a different gospel is not a saving gospel. There is no “half-way” point of compromise. So the question arises: Is the gospel of Phillips, Craig and Dean the gospel that Paul taught?

     If so, then PCD should preach their gospel boldly, and all people, particularly those who claim the name “Christian,” should embrace it wholeheartedly.

     If not, then the PCD gospel should be soundly and publicly rejected, and the platform for their message in the Christian community removed. Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig, and Dan Dean must be warned that they fall under the anathema declared by Paul, and those who claim the name “Christian” should pray for their repentance.

     In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul desired to remind the Corinthian church of the gospel that he had preached to them. It is this gospel that the believers in Corinth received and believed, and Paul proclaimed that it was the same gospel taught by all the apostles:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed (1 Corinthians 15:1-11, NASB).

Phillips, Craig and Dean would undoubtedly affirm the facts of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. They would simply add that to participate in the power of the gospel, you must follow the steps of repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus, and Holy Spirit baptism.

     However, the passage above does not merely claim to be a portion of the gospel message, to which further information or works must be added to complete its saving power; rather, it claims to be an entirely sufficient synopsis of the gospel. Paul clearly calls it, “the gospel…by which also you are saved.” In this gospel that Paul preached, there is no mention of water baptism for the purpose of forgiveness; neither is there any mention of speaking in tongues. Paul is concerned here with the work of the Lord Jesus, and what He has accomplished: “Christ died for sins…was buried…was raised…and…appeared.” The Corinthians could have assurance of their salvation if they trusted solely in this work of Christ alone on their behalf. Paul says “you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you.” What is the word which Paul preached? It is nothing outside of this very context; this word is “the gospel which I preached to you…Whether then it was I or they, so we preach!”

     Paul speaks of this same gospel in a much more detailed fashion in his letter to the Romans. However, he does not use the opportunity to add commands regarding water baptism[36] or speaking in tongues[37] to his message. Instead, he simply elaborates on the same message of the power of the gospel in those who have faith:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH (Romans 1:16-17, NASB).”

The gospel that Paul taught is “salvation to everyone who believes,” and can only be appropriated through faith. There is no room for a multi-step process of salvation; all the work involved in this salvation has been performed by Christ alone. In Ephesians, he speaks of this salvation as the gracious gift of God. In Romans, he explains that salvation must be by faith because it is by grace. No other attempted means of achieving salvation can succeed, because a salvation that is not through faith alone is not salvation by grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB).

For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (Romans 4:16, NASB)…

The Evangelical Picture of Phillips, Craig and Dean

Shawn Craig makes the following observation in Between Sundays:

Just as we should express our feelings, we should also speak out about what we believe. It isn’t enough to believe silently in our hearts and never express what we know to be the truth…Say what you believe, and believe what you say. That is the kingdom principle.[38]

This “kingdom principle” has not characterized the way that Phillips, Craig and Dean have responded when those in the evangelical community have questioned them about their Oneness beliefs. Instead, the information that has been promulgated by PCD has generally obscured what their true views are, and cloaked them in Trinitarian-sounding language.

To illustrate the way that Phillips, Craig and Dean have represented themselves to the evangelical community when these issues have arisen in the past, two examples are provided below. As you read these passages, try to consider how they would be understood by the average evangelical, unfamiliar with Oneness doctrine. Then, reread the passage, keeping in mind the background provided in this article. You will notice how carefully the language has been crafted to avoid offense to the evangelical community and make PCD’s belief system seem orthodox.

As far as your question is concerned, we believe in the THREE DIMENSIONS OR PERSONAS OF ONE GOD (1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19; 1 Tim 3:16)

We believe in one God who is eternal in His existence, Triune in His manifestation, being both Father, Son and Holy Ghost AND that He is Sovereign and Absolute in His authority.

We believe in the Father who is God Himself, Creator of the universe. {Gen 1:1; John 1:1}

We believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (Col 2:9) He suffered, died, was buried, and rose from the dead for our total salvation (Luke 3:21-22; Philippians 2:5-11). We believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 3:36; John 3:31-32; John 14:6).

We believe in the Holy Spirit who is God indwelling, empowering and regenerating the believer. This Holy Spirit is called the Comforter. The Spirit of Truth (John14:17, 14:26)

We believe that the blood of Jesus Christ atones for our sins and iniquity. It is through His shed blood that we are saved, healed and set free from bondage and the forces of darkness (Romans 5:9-11; Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 12:11).

We believe that every believer must have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, for apart from Him we can do nothing. Each person has a ministry from God that no one else can fill. We are to instruct, teach, exhort, and admonish believers in the ways of God (John 15:1-5; Hebrews 13:5-6).

For centuries people have debated endlessly theological differences. We do not want to spend our time in debating differences but in coming together on our similarities.

Hope this clears things up for you.

Randy.[39]

For the evangelical, there is the affirmation of the “threeness” of God, the word “Triune,” affirmation of the existence of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and a statement about the saving work of Jesus. The last major paragraph plays to the desire among many evangelicals for unity, not “doctrines that divide.”

     The “THREE DIMENSIONS…OF GOD,” however, are revealed to be “manifestations,” and in this context “Triune” simply reiterates that there are three of them. Oneness Pentecostals believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; that can simply be affirmed[40]–although by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Mr. Phillips is speaking of roles, not persons. He speaks of salvation and a personal relationship with Christ without noting that the only apostolic means of salvation is through water baptism in the name of Jesus, followed by Holy Spirit baptism evidenced by speaking in tongues. For those who still have doubts, the matter is cast as a fruitless debate for those who are actively involved in Christian ministry.

September 30, 1999

Dear Friend:

Thank you for sharing your concerns. We understand the importance of knowing that the artists you listen to not only sing the truth but speak and believe the Truth. Please allow us to clear up any confusion regarding the belief system of PCD regarding the doctrine of the Godhead, which is often referred to as the Trinity.

In the church body, controversy often exists in matters of doctrine. However, we, the members of Phillips, Craig & Dean do believe in the existence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit–the Three in One.

We also have chosen to agree and affirm the following statements of faith which we agreed upon when we first began with Star Song in 1992. It is the Apostles’ Creed which believers have declared and stood upon for centuries.

The Apostles’ Creed

(This creed is called the Apostles’ Creed not because it was produced by the apostles themselves but because it contains a brief summary of their teachings. It sets forth their doctrine “In sublime simplicity, in unsurpassable brevity, in beautiful order, and with liturgical solemnity.” In its present form it is dated no later than the fourth century. More than any other Christian creed, it may justly be called an ecumenical symbol of faith. This translation of the Latin text was approved by the CRC Synod of 1988.)

I believe in God, the Father, almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
And born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead and was buried;
He descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead,
He ascended to heaven
And is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic* church,
The communions of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting. Amen.

* catholic (small cap “c”) here refers to “of or pertaining to the whole Christian body or church.”

Please take a deep look into the lyrics of Phillips, Craig & Dean songs to find each song is based on scripture. We hold fast to the Holy Bible, and our music ministry and personal walks are grounded in these truths.

If you have any hesitations, please feel free to contact PCD Ministries at 615-264-0012.

For the cause of Christ,

Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig, and Dan Dean[41]

Again, for the evangelical, there is an assurance that PCD understands the need for truth. The word “Trinity” is used, the term “Three in One” is used, and an affirmation is given that PCD believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed follows, which many evangelicals are familiar and comfortable with. Those who are not familiar with it will be impressed with PCD’s grasp of church history. Finally, assurances of PCD’s commitment to the Bible are given.

Although the promise of “clearing up confusion” is made, the same methods are used here to obscure what PCD really believes. The “Trinity” is never defined. “Three in One,” like “Triune” in the previous example, simply refers to the three manifestations of the Godhead. The Apostle’s Creed was a very early creed of the church, and came into popular use before the problem of Sabellianism (an ancient version of Oneness) arose–so it does not specifically address the issue of the Trinity.

It is somewhat difficult to understand why Phillips, Craig and Dean would work so hard to conceal their true beliefs, particularly if, as their literature teaches, they believe that the true gospel message–the gospel that saves–is not the gospel of the evangelical world. At best one may only speculate what the reasons may be. Is it simply that they are earning a substantial amount of money from the evangelical community, and do not want that income to dry up? Or is something else involved?

Perhaps some light may be shed on the matter from an excerpt of a recent church service at the Promiseland. Randy Phillips’ father Kenneth Phillips stood up after a young lady had just finished performing the song “Awesome God,” and began to speak about the talent in the Oneness movement:

“It always amazes me, and I’ve been reared around it–the incredible talent that’s in the Jesus Name people; the people that have been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of the greatest preachers in the world, including T.D. Jakes and Tommy Tenney and all of those wonderful Jesus’ Name people…and then it seemed like there’s so many piano players and bass players and guitar players and saxophone players and song writers…and song writers…song writers…people that get together and just worship the Lord Jesus. We used to just be in tents, and brush arbors, and on campgrounds, but now–word’s got out, and it’s all over the world. People singing our song, people playing our music, people preaching our sermons–isn’t that incredible? I’m glad that I was on the ground floor of this–ground floor of this, prayed for this, believed for this.”[42]

Bishop Phillips expresses that it has been his desire all along for Oneness preachers and musicians to enter the mainstream evangelical world. But for what purpose? Surely it is not solely to sell books and music to the evangelical community. It seems entirely possible that Kenneth Phillips desires to use evangelical media and marketing channels to spread the Oneness gospel. Perhaps not now, at least not openly–but at some point, when the evangelical community has accepted T.D. Jakes, Tommy Tenney, PCD, and others wholeheartedly into their ranks–after years of heartfelt, emotional sermons, and music loved by evangelicals. One can almost hear the argument being raised even now:

“If their music is so moving, and we listen to their sermons, and we’ve welcomed them into the evangelical community as leaders now for years…maybe that means that what we believe, and what they believe about the nature of God is not an essential issue. Maybe the Trinity is not such a big deal after all. And maybe the gospel is the same way.” 

Addendum, June 10, 2002

This article was first published on the aomin.org site in April, 2002. In the intervening weeks both the Promiseland and Christ Temple web sites, although they had remained relatively unchanged for a substantial length of time, have suddenly undergone significant renovations. In particular:

·    The abrupt changes at the Promisland site (http://www.wop.com) have resulted in several dead links. The main page announces “A New Promiseland is coming!” For the time being, the web bookstore at the Promiseland appears to be unavailable.

·    The Promiseland brochure “Acts 2:38–The Ultimate Experience” linked in the article footnotes above has been removed from the web site.

·    The message boards at the Promiseland which contained discussion of Jesus-name baptism have been completely erased.

·    Christ Temple has removed its statement of faith from their “About Us” page.

·    Christ Temple’s U-Turn Inneractive Student Ministries site has removed the outline containing references to Oneness and Jesus-name baptism.

·    Christ Temple has removed an article concerning their support of a oneness mission in St. Petersburg, Russia, which had a reference to oneness evangelist Andrew Urshan.

·    T.D. Jakes ministry, The Potter’s House, has moved its doctrinal statement to a new URL. The doctrinal statement remains unchanged except for a link to an article Bishop Jakes wrote for Christianity Today concerning the statement.

All of these recent modifications will make it significantly more difficult for the reader to verify the accuracy of this article.

However, although several of these pages are no longer available at their respective web sites, they are, for the time being, still available for viewing online, since they have been cached by the Google search engine.

To view these pages, browse to http://www.google.com and copy the desired URL into the search box. When Google displays the link, choose to view the cached version.

If you intend to share this article with someone else, you may want to save a copy of the cached web pages for yourself, as the Google cache may change or be cleared at some time in the future.


[1] http://www.pcdministries.com/aboutartist.asp says: “Ten years ago, StarSong, a Nashville-based record company, urged Randy Phillips to form a men’s group. He called two friends – Dan Dean and Shawn Craig – and they sang their first concert in November 1991. They cut their first album early the next year. Since then, they’ve produced seven more albums, have had 17 No. 1 singles, topped the charts with the #1 Inspirational Song of the 90s for “Crucified With Christ,” earned a fistful of Dove Award nominations, and sold over 1.3 million units.”
[2] http://www.cmo.com/cmo/cmo/starsong/pcd/pcd.htm
[3] J. Lee Grady, “The Other Pentecostals,” Charisma (June 1997); available online at http://www.charismamag.com/june97/cu197123.htm. The article contains the brief statement, “The contemporary Christian recording group Phillips, Craig and Dean is composed of three Oneness ministers.”
[4] James R. White, “Loving the Trinity,” Christian Research Journal 21, no. 4 (1999).
[5] Angie Thomas, Music Director of the Moody Broadcasting Network writes, “Someone got ahold (sic) of information, didn’t validate it, and has exploited in on the internet and has caused them great grief in the last few years…We have no qualms about inviting them to the Friday Sing and continuing to play their music.” (Email sent by James R. White to AR-talk, 03 April 2001.) The statement may reflect a press agent’s allusion to Ernest Sanchez’s web site http://members.tripod.com/~ernchez/home/main.htm. MBN is still playing PCD’s music; The PCD rendition of “You Are My King” was listed as one of the top songs on the WMBI playlist as of 03/04/02.
A PCD press agent responding to a reporter at Christianity Today writes, “In 1999 a writer made allegations relating to PCD’s upholding of the Oneness doctrine without ever going to the guys directly…Billy Graham, Moody, Focus on the Family and every other Christian organization that has had the chance to research the matter have come to see how the allegations were untrue.” (Email from Rich Poll to AR-talk, Wed, 21 Mar 2001.) The quote probably refers to James R. White’s article “Loving the Trinity,” referenced above. Even if James White did not “go to the guys,” the article quotes directly from PCD church materials.
[6] http://www.pcdministries.com/aboutartist.asp
[7] Ibid.
[8] James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1998), 26. A brief outline of this statement may be found at http://www.aomin.org/trinitydef.html
[9] Email dated 09 September 1999; copy sent by James R. White in email to AR-talk, 03 April 2001. The statement of faith contained in this email is identical to the statement used by T.D. Jakes’ ministry, The Potter’s House: http://www.thepottershouseinternational.com/PH_PHdoctrine.htm
[10] This statement appeared for a number of years in Christ Temple’s statement of faith at the URL http://www.christ-temple.org/about.html, but was deleted between May 14, 2001. As a result, the main statement of faith for the church now contains absolutely no direct references to the Father at all! This sentence has remained untouched, however, in “THE ESSENTIALS OF THE UTURN STUDENT MINISTRY” http://www.uturn-inneractive.com/discipleship.htm, a document that appears to be designed for education in the youth ministry of Christ Temple.
[11] The Enquirer’s Handbook (Austin, TX: World of Pentecost), 64.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid, 67.
[14] Ibid, 64.
[15] See James R. White, What Really Happened at Nicea? at http://www.equip.org/free/DN206.htm for a brief history of the Council of Nicea, particularly with regard to the role of Constantine.

[16] “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one (Deuteronomy 6:4, NASB)!”
[17] As an example, see The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 2, Articles 1 and 3 available online at http://www.prbc.org/Confession.htm#Chapter%202 for a demonstration of the Scriptural consistency of the doctrine of the Trinity.
[18] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 43.
[19] Ibid, 44.
[20] Shawn Craig, Between Sundays (West Monroe, La.: Howard Publishing Co., Inc., 1998), 178.
[21] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 68.
[22] Ibid, 79-80.
[23] Ibid, 75.
[24] See James R. White, The Trinity, the Definition of Chalcedon, and Oneness Theology at http://aomin.org/CHALC.html
[25] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 29.
[26] Ibid, 29-30.
[27] Acts 2:38 The Ultimate Experience (Austin, TX: World of Pentecost), 3. This document is also available online at http://www.wop.com/promiseland/acts238.htm as of March 12, 2002.
[28] Ibid, 7.
[29] “THE ESSENTIALS OF THE UTURN STUDENT MINISTRY” http://www.uturn-inneractive.com/discipleship.htm
[30] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 42.
[31] Ibid, 43.
[32] Ibid, 45.
[33] Acts 2:38 The Ultimate Experience, 9.
[34] “THE ESSENTIALS OF THE UTURN STUDENT MINISTRY”
[35] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 32.
[36] For a refutation of specific verses used to justify baptismal regeneration, see http://www.aomin.org/bapreg.html.
[37] It is interesting to note that there are no actual commands in the Bible to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, or to pray for the baptism; rather, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is always something that is a passive event for the one baptized (see Acts 2:4, 10:46, and 19:6 for specific examples of tongues-speaking; 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaks more generally of the baptism of believers into the body of Christ).
[38] Between Sundays, 69.
[39] Email dated 09 September 1999; copy sent by James R. White in email to AR-talk, 03 April 2001.
[40] Sometimes Oneness Pentecostals are referred to simply as “Jesus Only,” which is an accurate term so far as it is used of the belief that “Jesus” is the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. This term, though, has been used to the advantage of Oneness Pentecostals desiring to enter the evangelical mainstream–they can simply answer, “We are not ‘Jesus Only,’ we believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
[41] Transcript of fax copy received by Ernest Sanchez from Crosswalk.com. The original fax is viewable online at Mr. Sanchez’s web site: http://members.tripod.com/~ernchez/home/pcdletter.htm. Mr. Sanchez, a former Oneness Pentecostal himself, provides a brief analysis of the document as well: http://members.tripod.com/~ernchez/home/n2_appendix.htm
[42] Kenneth Phillips, excerpted from the March 18, 2001 service at the Promiseland, Austin, TX. This service is no longer available for audio streaming at the World of Pentecost web site, but the excerpt may be heard online at http://www.straitgate.com/kp031801.ram

The Trinity, the Definition of Chalcedon, and Oneness Theology – Vintage

I. Introduction
The doctrine of the Trinity requires a balanced view of Scripture. That is, since the doctrine itself is derived from more than one stream of evidence, it requires that all the evidence be weighed and given authority. If any of the foundational pillars of the doctrine (monotheism, the deity of Christ, the person of the Holy Spirit, etc.) be ignored or even rejected, the resulting doctrinal system will differ markedly from the orthodox position, and will lose its claim to be called “biblical.” For centuries various small groups have rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. In modern times these groups have frequently attracted quite a following; Jehovah’s Witnesses as the modern heirs of Arius have over 3 million people actively engaged in their work; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) are heirs of ancient polytheism and mystery religions, and nearly 10 million adhere to their teachings. A smaller number of people, however, cling to the third-century position of modalism – the teachings of men such as Sabellius or Praxeas or Noetus. Though fewer in number, it is this position, popularly called the “Oneness” teaching, that prompts this paper’s clarification of the Biblical position regarding the doctrine of the Trinity and the Person of Jesus Christ. Oneness writers strongly deny the doctrine of the Trinity. In the words of David K. Bernard,

“The Bible does not teach the doctrine of the trinity, and trinitarianism actually contradicts the Bible. It does not add any positive benefit to the Christian message….the doctrine of the trinity does detract from the important biblical themes of the oneness of God and the absolute deity of Jesus Christ.”[1]

The attack on the Trinity launched by Oneness writers can be divided into two camps. There are some writers who know what the doctrine is and disagree with it; unfortunately, many others don’t know what it is and attack it anyway, normally misrepresenting the doctrine in quite obvious ways. For example, one writer, while ridiculing the use of the term “mystery” in reference to the Trinity said, “When asked to explain how God could be one and three persons at the same time the answer is, “It’s a mystery.” “[2] Of course, the doctrine of the Trinity does not say God is one person and three persons or one being and three beings, but that within the one being of God there exists eternally three persons. It is easy to see why many find the doctrine unintelligible, especially when they trust writers who are not careful in their research. This Oneness teaching is quite attractive to the person who wishes, for whatever personal reason, to “purge” the faith of what they might consider to be “man’s philosophies.” There are a number of Oneness groups in the United States, located primarily in the South and Midwest. The United Pentecostal Church is the largest of the Oneness groups in the U.S.; others include the Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, and the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith. Each of these groups has thousands of followers, many of whom are quite evangelistic in spreading their faith. Given that many of the issues that Oneness addresses are not familiar ground for most Christians, it is good to examine these issues in the light of Biblical revelation and theology so that the orthodox Christian will be able to “give a reason” for the hope that is within us. This survey will be broken into four sections. First, the important aspects of the doctrine of the Trinity relevant to the Oneness position will be examined. These would include the Christian definition of monotheism, the existence of three persons, the pre-existence of the Son and the internal operations of the Trinity. Secondly, vital issues relevant to Christology will be addressed, such as the Chalcedonian definition, the unipersonality of Christ, and the relationship of the Father and the Son. Thirdly, the Oneness position will be defined and presented, and finally that position will be critiqued.

II. Trinitarian Concepts

The very word “Trinity” is made up of two terms – “tri” and “unity.” The doctrine travels the middle road between the two, and neither can be allowed to predominate the other. Trinitarians have but one God – the charge of polytheism or tritheism leveled at the orthodox position ignores the very real emphasis, drawn from the Biblical witness to one God, on monotheism. This can be seen, for example, in the definition of the Trinity given by Berkhof:

A) There is in the Divine Being but one indivisible essence (ousia, essentia). B) In this one Divine Being there are three Persons or individual subsistences, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. C) The whole undivided essence of God belongs equally to each of the three persons. D) The subsistence and operation of the three persons in the divine Being is marked by a certain definite order. E) There are certain personal attributes by which the three persons are distinguished. F) The Church confesses the Trinity to be a mystery beyond the comprehension of man.[3]

Twice the emphasis is made that the essence or being of God is indivisible. There is but one being that is God. The doctrine of the Trinity safeguards this further by asserting that “the whole undivided essence of God belongs equally to each of the three persons.” This follows logically on the heels of asserting the indivisibility of the being of God, for if three Persons share that one being, they must share all of that being. The Father is not just 1/3 of God – he is fully Deity, just as the Son and the Spirit. The Biblical evidence for monotheism is legion, and it is not within the scope of this paper to review all those passages. The Shema might be sufficient to demonstrate the point, for this recital begins at Deuteronomy 6:4 with the words, “Hear, O Israel; Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one.” This concept of monotheism separates Judaism (and Christianity) from any kind of polytheistic religion. Given monotheism as a basis, it must be stressed that the bald statement of monotheism does not imply nor denote unitarianism. When the Bible says God is one, this does not mean that God is unitarian (i.e., uni-personal) in his mode of existence. Frequently individual writers will quote from the many passages that teach that there is one God and will infer from this a denial of the tri-personality of God. This is going beyond what is written. It is vital, if justice is to be done to the Biblical teaching, that all of the witness of Scripture be given due consideration. If the Bible presents more data that clarifies the meaning of God’s “oneness,” then this information must be taken into account. Does, then, the Bible indicate the existence of more than one Person in the divine nature? It most certainly does. John Calvin expressed the proper balance well in the Institutes:

“Again, Scripture sets forth a distinction of the Father from the Word, and of the Word from the Spirit. Yet the greatness of the mystery warns us how much reverence and sobriety we ought to use in investigating this. And that passage in Gregory of Nazianus vastly delights me: ” “I cannot think on the one without quickly being encircled by the splendor of the three; nor can I discern the three without being straightway carried back to the one.” Let us not, then, be led to imagine a trinity of persons that keeps our thoughts distracted and does not at once lead them back to that unity. Indeed, the words “Father,” “Son,” and “Spirit” imply a real distinction – let no one think that these titles, whereby God is variously designated from his works, are empty – but a distinction, not a division.”[4]

Before looking at the particular Biblical data, it is good to make the same emphasis as made by Gregory via Calvin – though this paper will emphasize the triunity of God, this is only because of the object of clarification, that being the Oneness teaching. Balance demands that both elements – the existence of three persons as well as the absolute claim of monotheism – be maintained. The Christian church maintains that the terms Father, Son and Holy Spirit refer to actual Persons, not simply modes of existence. As the popular, short definition goes, “There is within the one being that is God three co-equal and co-eternal Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father, etc. Each is eternal – the Father has always been, the Son has always been, and the Spirit has always been. No person precedes the other, no follows another. Charles Hodge said in reflecting on the early church councils,

“These Councils decided that the terms Father, Son, and Spirit, were not expressive merely of relations ad extra, analogous to the terms, Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor. This was the doctrine known as Sabellianism, which assumed that the Supreme Being is not only one in essence, but one in person. The Church doctrine asserts that Father, Son, and Spirit express internal, necessary, and eternal relations in the Godhead; that they are personal designations, so that the Father is one person, the Son another person, and the Spirit another person. They differ not as allo kai allo, but as allos kai allos; each says I, and each says Thou, to either of the others. The word used in the Greek Church to express this fact was first prosopon, and afterwards, and by general consent, hupostasis; in the Latin Church, “persona,” and in English, person. The idea expressed by the word in its application to the distinctions in the Godhead, is just as clear and definite as in its application to men.”[5]

Some Oneness writers have gone so far as to say, “To say that God is three persons and find substantiation for it in the Scripture is a work in futility. There is literally nothing in the Bible that supports God being three persons.”[6] However, as the Church throughout the ages has seen fit to reject the modalistic presentation, there must obviously be some reason for this. Such reason is found in the teaching of Scripture itself. The Bible presents a number of categories of evidence that demonstrates the existence of three Persons all sharing the one being that is God. First, the Persons are described as personal; that is, the attributes of personhood and personal existence are ascribed to the three. Secondly, clear distinctions are made between the Persons, so that it is impossible to confound or confuse the three. The second Person, the Son, is described as being eternal (as is the Spirit, but in this context, given the denial of the eternal nature of the Son by the Oneness position, and the acceptance of the eternality of the Spirit by the same group, this point is more tangent to the issue) and is differentiated in this pre-existence from the Father. Finally, we see real and eternal relationships between the Persons (the opera ad intra.) One of the characteristics of personal existence is will. Few would argue the point in relationship to the Father, as He obviously has a will. So too, the Son has a will, for he says to the Father in the Garden, “not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) The ascription of will to the Persons indicates the ability to reason, to think, to act, to desire – all those things we associate with self-consciousness. As we shall see later, there is a difference between nature and person, and one of those differences is the will. Inanimate objects do not will; neither do animals. Part of the imago dei is the will itself.

Another aspect of personhood seen to exist with each of the Persons is the ability to love. In John 3:35 we read that “the Father loves the Son…” This is repeated in John 5:20. In John 15:9 the Father loves the Son, and the Son in return loves those who are His own. In Jesus’ prayer to the Father in John 17, we are again reminded of the Father’s love for Jesus in 17:23, and in verse 24 we are told that this love between Father and Son has existed from all eternity. That love marks every word of Jesus concerning the Father is beyond dispute, and is it not fair to say that the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church is an act of love as well? Hence we see that the persons described in these passages (and in many others) are capable of love, a personal attribute. It might be argued that these personal attributes are simply applied to the three manifestations of God, but that this does not necessarily mean that there are three Persons. However, the Bible clearly differentiates between the three Persons, as the brief survey to follow demonstrates. One of the more well-known examples of the existence of three Persons is the baptism of Jesus recorded in Matthew 3:16-17. Here the Father speaks from heaven, the Son is being baptized (and is again described as being the object of the Father’s love, paralleling the Johannine usage), and the Spirit is descending as a dove.[7] Jesus is not speaking to himself here (as many non-Christian groups tend to accuse the Trinitarians of making Jesus a ventriloquist), but is spoken to by the Father. There is no confusing of the Persons at the baptism. The transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17:1-9 again demonstrates the separate personhood of the Father and the Son. The Son’s true pre- existent glory is unveiled for an instant in the presence of the Father in the cloud. Communication again takes place, marked with the familiar love of the Father for the Son. Both the deity and the separate personhood of the Son is clearly presented in this passage. The Father spoke to the Son at another time, recorded in John 12:28. Again, the distinction of person of the Father and the Son is clearly maintained.

Some of the most obvious passages relevant to the Father and the Son are found in the prayers of Jesus Christ. These are no mock prayers – Jesus is not speaking to Himself (nor, as the Oneness writer would put it, is Jesus’ humanity speaking to His deity) – He is clearly communicating with another Person, that being the Person of the Father. Transcendent heights are reached in the lengthiest prayer we have, that of John 17. No one can miss the fact of the communication of one Person (the Son) with another (the Father) presented in this prayer. The usage of personal pronouns and direct address put the very language squarely on the side of maintaining the separate personhood of Father and Son. This is not to say that their unity is something that goes far beyond simple purpose; indeed, given the background of the Old Testament, the very statements of the Son regarding His relationship with the Father are among the strongest assertions of His Deity in the Bible.

But, as stated before, the doctrine of the Trinity is pre-eminently a balanced doctrine that differentiates between the being or nature of God and the Persons who share equally that being. If there is more than one God, or if there is less than three Persons, then the doctrine of the Trinity is in error. Striking is the example of Matthew 27:46 where Jesus, quoting from Psalm 22:1 cries out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” That the Father is the immediate person addressed is clear from Luke’s account where the next statement from Jesus in his narrative is “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)[8] Some early heresies (predominately gnostic in character) had to posit some kind of “separation” of the Deity from the human Son at this point (and indeed, some Oneness writers could be accused of the same problem). That this is the Son addressing the Father is crystal clear, and the ensuing personhood of both is inarguable.

One of the high-water marks of Synoptic Christology is to be found in Matthew 11:27. Here the reciprocity between the Father and Son is put forth with exactness, while at the same time dictating the absolute deity of both. The relationship of the Father and Son is the topic under discussion in both John 5:16ff and John 8:12ff. The Apostle again walks a tight line in maintaining the distinct personhood of Father and Son while asserting the full deity of Jesus Christ. Outside of a Trinitarian concept of God, this position of John’s is unintelligible. Important in this discussion is the fact that in the very same passages that the Deity of the Son is emphasized his distinction from the Father is also seen. This causes insuperable problems for the Oneness position, as we shall see. In John 5:19-24, Jesus clearly differentiates himself from the Father, yet claims attributes that are only proper of Deity (life, judgment, honor). In John 5:30 the Son says He can do nothing of Himself, yet in 37-39 he identifies Himself as the one witnessed to by the Scriptures who can give eternal life. Only Yahweh of the Tanakh can do so.

Hence, the deity spoken of by Jesus is not the Father dwelling in the Son, but is the Son’s personally. This is seen even more plainly in chapter 8. Here it is the Son who utilizes the phrase ego eimi in the absolute sense, identifying Himself as Yahweh. It is the Son who says He is glorified by the Father (v. 54) and yet only four verses later it is the Son who says, “Before Abraham came into existence, I AM!” Clearly the Son is fully deity just as the Father. And what of the Spirit? Jesus said in John 14:16-17 that the Father would send another (Gr: allos) comforter. Jesus had been the Comforter for the disciples during His earthly ministry, but He was about to leave them and return to heaven where he had been before (John 17:5). The Holy Spirit, identified as a Person by John (through his usage of the masculine ekeinos at John 16:13), is sent both by the Father (John 14:16) as well as by the Son (16:7).[9] The Spirit is not identified as the Father, nor as the Son, for neither could send Himself.

Hence, it is clear from this short review that the Scriptures differentiate between the Person of the Father and the Person of the Son, as well as differentiating between these and the Spirit. The next area that must be addressed is the Biblical teaching of the pre-existence of the Son, or, as often referred to by Oneness writers, the “eternal Son theory.” That the Son, as a divine Person, has existed from all eternity, is a solidly Biblical teaching. Most denials of this teaching stem from a misunderstanding of the term monogenes[10] or the term “begotten” as used in Psalm 2:7. Such denials cannot stand under the weight of the Biblical evidence. Though other passages could be examined, we will limit the discussion to seven Biblical sections that clearly teach the pre-existence of the Son as a Person within the divine being. What may be the most obvious passage is found in Colossians chapter 1, verses 13 through 17. Here the “beloved Son” is described as “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn (Gr: prototokos) of all creation.” He (the Son) is then described as the Creator in what could only be called exhaustive terms. Certainly, if the Son is the creator, then the Son both pre-existed and is indeed eternal, for God is the creator of all that is. It will not do to say that this passage says that God created all things for the Son who was yet to exist; for verse 16 is emphatic is announcing that it was “in Him” that all things were created (the usage of en is the instrumental of agency). Without doubt the Son is presented here as pre-existent.

The same can be said of Philippians 2:5-7, the Carmen Christi. This passage has spawned literally hundreds of volumes, and an in-depth exegesis is not called for here. Rather, it is obvious that the Son is presented here as eternally existing (huparchon) in the very morphe tou theou – the form of God. This One is also said to be “equal with God.” Note there is here no confounding of the Persons (just as throughout Scripture) yet there is just as plainly an identification of more than one Person under discussion. It was not the Father with whom the Son was equal who became flesh and “made Himself of no repute”; rather, it was the Son who did this. The opening chapter of the book of Hebrews identifies the Son as pre-existent as well. Verse 2 echoes Colossians 1:13-17 in saying that it was “through the Son” that the worlds were made. This Son is the “radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His being.” Again the distinction of the Son from the Father is maintained at the exact same time as the absolute deity of the Son is put forward, a balance found only in the doctrine of the Trinity and not in non-Christian theories. The Son, verse 3 says, “upholds all things by His powerful word.” This is directly analogous to the final statements of Colossians 1:17, and demands the continuous and eternal existence of the Son to make any sense whatsoever. In light of this, it is clear that the interpretation of verse 5, which quotes from Psalm 2, that asserts a beginning for the Son misses the entire point of the opening of Hebrews. In its original context, this passage did not indicate that God had literally fathered the king to whom the Psalm was addressed; certainly, therefore, such a forced meaning cannot be placed on this usage either. Rather, the writer of Hebrew’s purpose is to exalt the Son and demonstrate His superiority even to the angels, going so far as to clearly identify the Son as Yahweh in verses 10 through 12. It would be strange indeed if the writer tried to show the real nature of the Son by saying that He, like the angels, was a created, non-eternal being. The Lord Jesus Himself never attempted to say He had a beginning, but was instead aware of His true nature.

In the real “Lord’s prayer” of John 17, he states in verse 5, “And now you glorify me, Father, with the glory I had with you (para seauto) before the worlds were made.” Jesus is here conscious of the glory which He had shared with the Father in eternity, a clear reflection of Philippians 2, Hebrews 1, and, as we shall see, John 1. As Yahweh declares that he will give his glory to no other (Isaiah 48:11) yet another identification of the Son as being one with the Father in sharing the divine name Yahweh is here presented. This glorious pre-existence of which Jesus here speaks is also seen in John 14:28 when Jesus, having said He was returning to the Father, points out to the disciples that they should have rejoiced at this, for rather than His continued existence in His current state of humiliation (the “being made of no repute” of Philippians 2), He was about to return to His glorious position with the Father in heaven, a position which is “greater” than the one He now was enduring.

Many passages in the New Testament identify the Lord Jesus Christ as Yahweh. One of these is John 8:58, where, again speaking as the Son, Jesus asserts his existence before Abraham. As pointed out above, it does not do to say that this was simply an assertion that the deity resident within Him pre-existed (in Oneness teaching, the Father) but rather it was He as the Son who was “before Abraham.” In John 3:13 Jesus said, “no one has gone up into heaven except the one who came out of heaven, the Son of man.”[11] Jesus’ own words indicate that He was aware of His origin and pre-existence. What is also interesting is the name for Himself that is used – the Son of Man. One would expect the Son of God to be used here, but it is not. Jesus was one Person, not two. The Son of God was the Son of Man. One cannot divide Him into two Persons.

The most striking evidence of the pre-existence of the Son is found in the prologue of the Gospel of John. This vital Christological passage is incredible for its careful accuracy to detail – even down to the tenses of verbs the author is discriminating in his writing. It again must be asserted that, without a Trinitarian understanding of God, this passage ends up self-contradictory and illogical. John defines his terms for us in verses 14 and 18. In verse 14 he tells us that the Logos of whom he has been speaking became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. He also tells us that it is Jesus Christ who, though clearly not the Father Himself, is the one who “makes the Father known” and who is, indeed, the monogenes theos[12] the “unique God.” That verse 18 has under consideration two separate Persons is beyond disputation. That these two Persons are the Father and the Son is just as sure, for John so identifies them. With this in mind, the first three verses are crystalline in their teaching. John asserts that the Logos was “in the beginning,” that is, the Word is eternal. This Logos was “with God” (Gr: pros ton theon.)[13] This latter phrase can only refer to personal contact and communion, a point to be expanded on in much of the Gospel of John. Hence, from this phrase, it is clear that one cannot completely identify the Person of God (in John’s usage here, the Father) with the Logos (i.e., the Son). However, he goes on in the third clause to provide that balance found throughout the inspired text by saying, “the Word was God.” The NEB renders this clause, “and what God was, the Word was.” Perhaps Dr. Kenneth Wuest came the closest when he translated, “And the Word was as to His essence absolute deity.” By placing the term theos in the emphatic position, and by using that term itself (rather than theios – a “godlike” one), John avoids any kind of Arian subordinationism. At the same time, John does not make logos and theos identical to one another, for he does not put an article before theos. By so doing he walks the fine line between Arianism and Sabellianism, subordinationism and modalism. Finally, John asserts, as did Paul before him, that the Logos is the Creator. “Through him were all things made which have been made.” This is exactly the point of Colossians 1:15-17 and Hebrews 1:2. As John identified the Logos as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, then his testimony must be added to all the others in proclaiming the pre-existence of the Son. Having seen the pre-existence of the Son, then we are forced by the Biblical data itself to deal with the internal relationships of the Persons who make up the Godhead. Though many Oneness writers would object to the terminology utilized to discuss this subject, it is they, not the Trinitarian, who are ignoring the Biblical material and its clear teaching. Though an in-depth discussion of the opera ad intra is not warranted in this paper, it might be good to point out that we are obviously here not discussing simply an economic trinity. All of the above evidence points to real and purposeful distinctions (not divisions) within the Being of God that are necessary and eternal, not temporal and passing. God has eternally been trinal and will always be so. The relationship between the essence of God and the Persons is not a subject of Biblical discussion directly; but we are forced to deal with the issue nevertheless – by the Scriptural testimony itself. G. T. Shedd expressed it this way:

“The essence…is not prior, either in the order of nature or of time, to the persons, nor subsequent to them, but simultaneous with them. Hence, the essence is not one constituent factor by itself, apart from the persons, any more than the persons are three constituent factors by themselves, apart from the essence. The one essence is simultaneously three persons, and the three persons are one essence. The trinity is not a composition of one essence with three persons. It is not an essence without distinctions united with three distinctions, so as to make a complex. The trinity is simple and uncomplex. “If,” says Twesten,… “we distinguish between the clearness of light and the different degrees of clearness, we do not imply that light is composed of clearness and degrees of clearness.” Neither is God composed of one untrinal essence and three persons.”[14]

With these Trinitarian concepts in mind, the specific Christological questions must now be addressed.

III. Christological Concepts

“Therefore, following the holy Fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance [homoousios] with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer [theotokos]; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation [en duo phusesin, asungchutos atreptos, adiairetos achoristos]; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence [hupostasis], not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the Fathers has handed down to us.”[15]

In 451 A.D. the Council of Chalcedon formulated this definition of the Person of Christ. The council was called as a result of the controversy concerning the relationship of the divine and the human in the Lord Jesus.[16] The Nestorian controversy, monothelitism, the Eutychian controversy, and others, had precipitated the council. It can be safely said that we have yet to get beyond Chalcedon in our theology – modern orthodox Christological formulations have not proceeded beyond the Chalcedonian definition. Chalcedon’s emphasis on the two natures but one person in Christ was anticipated in its main elements by the Athanasian creed. A portion of that creed reads, “He is perfect God and He is perfect man, with a rational soul and human flesh…Although He is God and man, He is not two but one Christ…because He is one person.” The relationship between the divine and the human in Christ is as unique as the God who brought this situation about. Indeed, to understand this relationship one must first define the terms being utilized, and this was one of the main contributions of Chalcedon. Schaff noted that one of the main importances of Chalcedon was

“The precise distinction between nature and person. Nature or substance is the totality of powers and qualities which constitute a being; person is the Ego, the self-conscious, self-asserting, and acting subject. There is no person without nature, but there may be nature without person (as in irrational beings). The Church doctrine distinguishes in the Holy Trinity three persons (though not in the ordinary human sense of the word) in one divine nature of substance which they have in common; in its Christology it teaches, conversely, two nature in one person (in the usual sense of person) which pervades both. Therefore it cannot be said: The Logos assumed a human person, or united himself with a definite human individual: for then the God-Man would consist of two persons; but he took upon himself the human nature, which is common to all men; and therefore he redeemed not a particular man, but all men, as partakers of the same nature of substance. The personal Logos did not become an individual anthropos, but sarx, flesh, which includes the whole of human nature, body, soul and spirit.”[17]

In his discussion of the Person and work of Christ, Dr. Berkhof gives the following information:

“The term “nature” denotes the sum-total of all the essential qualities of a thing, that which makes it what it is. A nature is a substance possessed in common, with all the essential qualities of such a substance. The term “person” denotes a complete substance endowed with reasons, and, consequently, a responsible subject of its own actions. Personality is not an essential and integral part of a nature, but is, as it were, the terminus to which it tends. A person is a nature with something added, namely, independent subsistence, individuality.”[18]

What does all of this mean? It means that when Jesus spoke, He spoke as one Person, not two. One cannot say that, when claiming deity, Jesus’ “deity” spoke, or when He referred to His humanity, it was His “human nature” that spoke. It can be seen from this that natures don’t speak – only Persons do. And, since Jesus is one Person, not two, He speaks as a whole Person. Hence, when Jesus speaks, He speaks as Jesus. This is in direct contradistinction to Oneness teaching that is fond of making either the Deity in Jesus speak (whom they identify as the Father) or the humanity (the Son). The two natures (divine and human) make up but one Person, Jesus Christ. The divine nature is the Son of God, the eternal Logos. The Chalcedonian definition defines the unipersonality of Christ.[19] Jesus was a true Person; he was not non-human, nor less than human, nor a multiple personality. He had two natures, but those natures were made personal by only one Person, the Word made flesh. Hence, though Jesus may say things that indicate his two natures, what he says represents His whole being, not a certain part thereof. One might well ask the question, what does Scripture say concerning this question? How does the Bible present this teaching? Stuart Olyott answers that question:

“It does so by three strands of teaching. The first is its entire failure to give us any evidence of two personalities in our Lord Jesus Christ…In all that is recorded of our Lord Jesus Christ there is no word spoken by him, no action performed and no attribute predicated of him, which suggests that he is not a single indivisible person…A second line of biblical evidence is found in considering the terms in which the New Testament writers wrote of Christ…There is not a hint that two personalities came to redeem them that were under the law, but one. Both natures are represented as united in one person…But there is a third line of scriptural proof which settles the issue beyond question…It is the fact that what can be true of only one or the other of Christ’s two natures is attributed, not to the nature, but to the one person. He is spoken of in terms true of either one or the other of his natures.”[20]

Olyott gives a number of Biblical examples. Acts 20:28 is cited. Here Paul speaks of the Church of God which “he purchased with His own blood.” Christ’s blood, of course, was part of his human nature, yet this attribute (the blood) is predicated here directly of the divine nature (“God”). “What could only be true of his human nature is said to have been accomplished by the divine person. There is not a human Christ and a divine Christ – two Christs. There is but one Christ.” (p. 105) Another example is 1 Corinthians 2:8 which speaks of the fact that the rulers of this age “crucified the Lord of glory.” Again, though Christ died in human terms, it is the divine Person who is said to have been crucified. No hint is given whatsoever of two persons in the one Jesus; rather, Christ is one Person composed of two natures. But could the term “Father” simply refer to the divine nature in Christ, as Oneness writers assert? The New Testament does not allow for this. As we have already seen, the Biblical witness sharply distinguishes between the Father and the Son. We have seen that Jesus Christ is unipersonal; He is one person. It is just as clear that the Lord Jesus Christ is never identified as the Father, but is shown to be another Person beside the Father. A large class of examples of this would be the greetings in the epistles of Paul. In Romans 1:7 we read, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”[21] 1 Corinthians 1:3 is identical, as is 2 Corinthians 1:2. Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, and Philippians 1:2. Nowhere does Paul identify Jesus as the Father. Even more significant in this respect is what is known as Granville Sharp’s Rule. This rule of Greek grammar basically stated says that when two singular nouns are connected by the copulative kai, and the first noun has the article, while the second does not, both nouns are describing the same person. There are a number of Granville Sharp constructions in the New Testament that emphasize the deity of Christ, most especially Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. But, no Granville Sharp construction ever identifies the Father as Jesus Christ. The care taken by Paul and the other apostles in differentiating between the Father and Jesus Christ speaks volumes concerning their faith. Some might object to the Trinitarian doctrine of Christ by saying that if we say the Son is (to use a human term) “begotten” eternally by the Father (i.e., there is a relationship that is eternal and timeless between the Father and the Son) that we are in effect positing either subordinationism or tri-theism, depending. Dr. Shedd replied as follows:

“But if the Father is unbegotten, does it not follow that he alone is the absolute Being? and is not this Arianism? Not so. For one and the same numerical essence subsists whole and undivided in him who is generated, as well as in him who generates; in him who is spirated, as well as in those two who spirate. There can therefore be no inequality of essence caused by these acts of generation and spiration.”[22]

Such language seems, to many, to be foreign to the “simple” message of the Gospel. But such an objection ignores the heights of Ephesians 1, as well as the object under discussion – that being the very Person of the Lord of glory. One writer expressed it this way:

“Jesus cannot be analyzed and calculated. But whoever speaks of him in human words is entering into the realm of “rational” speech. There is no unique language for the realm of the incalculable and the “irrational.” Thus, where we express “eschatological history,” the origin and the goal, God’s reality in the man Jesus, our language collapses; it becomes paradoxical. We could also say that our language then expresses awe. It says those things which leave men “speechless.” Its terms are not then a means for grasping but rather for making known that we have been grasped. It is not then a form of mastery, but testimony to the overpowering experience which has come upon man.”[23]

IV. Oneness Theology Defined Having examined some of the pertinent issues relevant to Christian theology, the statements of Oneness exponents themselves will now be examined. The following material is taken from original sources and materials. Following the definition of the position, specific objections will be dealt with. David K. Bernard presented a paper at Harvard Divinity School in 1985. In this paper, Bernard provided a good summary of Oneness teaching:

“The basis of Oneness theology is a radical concept of monotheism. Simply stated, God is absolutely and indivisibly one. There are no essential distinctions or divisions in His eternal nature. All the names and titles of the Deity, such as Elohim, Yahweh, Adonai, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit refer to one and the same being, or – in trinitarian terminology – to one person. Any plurality associated with God is only a plurality of attributes, titles, roles, manifestations, modes of activity, or relationships to man.”[24]

He added in his book, The Oneness of God,

“They believe that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are manifestations, modes, offices, or relationships that the one God has displayed to man.”[25]

Hence, from Bernard’s statements it is clear that the Oneness position adheres to the classical modalistic terminology of such ancient writers as Praxeas of Sabellius or Noetus. However, it would be an error to think that, from the Oneness perspective, the Father, Son and Spirit are one Person. To see exactly what this position is stating, it would be good to look at statements regarding each of the “Persons” as seen by the Trinitarian perspective. First, the question can be asked, “Who is the Father in Oneness theology?”

“The term Father refers to God Himself – God in all His deity. When we speak of the eternal Spirit of God, we mean God Himself, the Father.”[26]

“If there is only one God and that God is the Father (Malachi 2:10), and if Jesus is God, then it logically follows that Jesus is the Father.”[27]

Hence, from this perspective, God is the Father. All that can be predicated of God is predicated of the Father and the Father only. This shall be seen more clearly as we examine the other required questions. “Who is the Word in Oneness theology?” This question receives two answers from Oneness writers – there is a seeming contradiction in response to this question. John Paterson identified the Word as the Father Himself:

So we conclude that the Word was the visible expression of the invisible God – in other words, the invisible God embodied in visible form;…From the Scriptures quoted it should be obvious that the Word was not merely an impersonal thought existing in the mind of God but was, in reality, the Eternal Spirit Himself clothed upon by a visible and personal form…”[28]

In distinction to this, other writers put forward a non-personal “Word”:

“The Logos (Word) of John 1 is not equivalent to the title Son in Oneness theology as it is in trinitarianism. Son is limited to the Incarnation, but Logos is not. The Logos is God’s self expression, “God’s means of self disclosure,” or “God uttering Himself.” Before the Incarnation, the Logos was the unexpressed thought or plan in the mind of God, which had a reality no human thought can have because of God’s perfect foreknowledge, and in the case of the Incarnation, God’s predestination. In the beginning, the Logos was with God, not as a separate person but as God Himself – pertaining to and belonging to God much like a man and his word. In the fulness of time God put flesh on the Logos; He expressed Himself in flesh.”[29]

Bernard further added in The Oneness of God:

“The Word or Logos can mean the plan or thought as it existed in the mind of God. This thought was a predestined plan – an absolutely certain future event – and therefore it had a reality attached to it that no human thought could ever have. The Word can also mean the plan or thought of God as expressed in the flesh, that is in the Son. What is the difference, therefore, between the two terms, Word and Son? The Word had pre-existence and the Word was God (the Father), so we can use it without reference to humanity. However, the Son always refers to the Incarnation and we cannot use it in the absence of the human element. Except as a foreordained plan in the mind of God, the Son did not have pre-existence before the conception in the womb of Mary. The Son of God pre-existed in thought but not in substance. The Bible calls this foreordained plan the Word (John 1:1, 14).”[30]

Thomas Weisser adds, “The Logos of John 1 was simply the concept in the Father’s mind. Not a separate person!”[31] But Robert Brent Graves muddies the water even more by stating, “Only when we begin to take John at his word that God “became flesh” can we begin to understand the power and the authority of Jesus Christ.”[32] Hence, one group of Oneness exponents seem to be saying that the Word was the Father Himself, but manifested in the flesh (Paterson and possibly Graves) while others see the Word as simply the plan of God put into place at the opportune time. Asking the further question, “Who is the Son in Oneness theology?” might shed some light on the Word issue as well. The answer to this is unanimous – the Son is the human aspect of Christ. The Son is a created being who is not in any way divine. The Son did not pre-exist, and indeed, the “Sonship” of God will cease at a time in the future.[33] Important for Oneness teachers is the idea of a begotten Son (see footnote #10 and discussion at that point).

Robert Brent Graves says,

“Although some religious authors have depicted Christ as an “eternal Son. Actually the concept of an eternal Son would not allow the possibility of a begotten Son; for the two would be a contradiction in terms.”[34]

For the Christian to understand just what the Oneness position is asserting, it is necessary that, before continuing looking at each Person individually, we must look to Jesus and the Oneness teaching concerning Him. The key to understanding this theological viewpoint is found in the teaching that Jesus is both the Father and the Son. Paterson explains as follows:

“Therefore, when we say that Jesus is both God and Man, we mean that He is both Father and Son. As the Father, He is absolutely and PURELY God; as the Son, He is absolutely and PURELY Man. When Jesus claims to be God, it is with respect to His Essence as the Eternal Spirit, the Father; and when He says, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28), it is with respect to His created nature as Man, the Son…In this connection, let me make this point crystal clear – the doctrine enunciated in this booklet emphasizes the very real humanity of Christ; it is not at all the same as teaching that the Father IS the Son, or that the Son IS the Father. Such teaching is confused, illogical, and unscriptural – but when we say that Jesus is BOTH Father and Son, BOTH God and Man, that is a vastly different matter.”[35]

Likewise, Bernard states,

“Oneness believers emphasize the two natures in Christ, using this fact to explain the plural references to Father and Son in the Gospels. As Father, Jesus sometimes acted and spoke from His divine self-consciousness; as Son He sometimes acted and spoke from His human self-consciousness. The two natures never acted in conflict, for they were united into one person. Aside from their emphasis on the two natures of Christ, Oneness teachers have given inadequate attention to many areas of Christology. Some have made statements that sound Apollinarian because of failure to define and use terms precisely, but Oneness scholars overwhelmingly reject this implication. If carefully developed, Oneness may be seen as compatible with the Christological formulation of the Council of Chalcedon, namely that Christ as two complete natures – deity and humanity – but is only one person.”[36]

Despite Bernard’s assertion, the Oneness position patently denies the uni-personality of Christ. To maintain the uni-personality of God, the Oneness position has to make Jesus into two persons, the Father and the Son. Even Bernard demonstrates this when he says, “Sometimes it is easy to get confused when the Bible describes Jesus in these two different roles, especially when describes Him acting in both roles in the same story…He could speak as man one moment and then as God the next moment.”[37] As we’ve seen, natures do not speak, only persons do. Bernard seems aware of the weakness of the Oneness position at this point, for he is much more willing to admit the depths of the subject than most Oneness writers. He says,

“While the Bible is clear in emphasizing both the full deity and full humanity of Jesus, it does not describe in detail how these two natures are united in the one person of Jesus Christ. This, too, has been the subject of much speculation and debate. Perhaps there is room for divergent views on this issue since the Bible does not treat it directly.”[38]

Bernard is one of the few Oneness writers who does not directly attribute the doctrine of the Trinity to Satan. He seems aware of the fact that the Oneness position avoids the supposed “philosophical language” by basically ignoring the issue that was faced squarely at Nicea and Chalcedon.

This viewpoint gives a unique twist to what otherwise might sound somewhat like orthodox teaching:

“From the Bible we see that Jesus Christ had two distinct natures in a way that no other human being has ever had. One nature is human or fleshly; the other nature is divine or Spirit. Jesus was both fully man and fully God. The name Jesus refers to the eternal Spirit of God (the Father) dwelling in the flesh. We can use the name Jesus to describe either one of His two natures or both. For example, when we say Jesus died on the cross, we mean His flesh died on the cross. When we say Jesus lives in our hearts, we mean His Spirit is there.”[39]

But what Biblical support can the Oneness teacher gather? One of the favorite references is Colossians 2:9, which, in the King James Version (which seems to enjoy predominance in their camp) reads, “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” For them, the Godhead would refer to all that makes up God, i.e., the Father:

“According to these verses of Scripture, Jesus is not a part of God, but all of God is resident in Him. If there were several persons in the Godhead, according to Colossians 2:9 they would all be resident in the bodily form of Jesus.”[40]

However, even here the position is foundationless, for the Greek term, theotetos, is best rendered “Deity” and refers to the being of God – “that which makes God God” is how B. B. Warfield expressed it. Not only this, but the same epistle had already clearly differentiated between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father in 1:3, and had asserted the pre- existence of the Son in 1:15-17.

The many passages that teach the pre-existence and separate personality of the Son cause the Oneness position great difficulties, as can be seen from the attempts to fit these passages into the system. Hebrews chapter one gives a good example:

“Hebrews 1:2 states that God made the worlds by the Son. Similarly, Colossians 1:13-17 says all things were created by the Son, and Ephesians 3:9 says all things were created by Jesus Christ. What does creation “by the Son” mean, since the Son did not have a substantial pre-existence before the Incarnation? “Of course, we know that Jesus as God pre-existed the Incarnation, since the deity of Jesus is none other than the Father Himself. We recognize that Jesus (the divine Spirit of Jesus) is indeed the Creator. These verses describe the eternal Spirit that was in the Son – the deity that was later incarnated as the Son – as the Creator. The humanity of Jesus Christ could not create, but God who came in the Son as Jesus Christ created the world. Hebrews 1:10 clearly states that Jesus as Lord was the Creator. “Perhaps these scriptural passages have a deeper meaning that can be expressed as follows: Although the Son did not exist at the time of creation except as the Word in the mind of God, God used His foreknowledge of the Son when He created the world.”[41]

Elsewhere Bernard added,

“According to Hebrews 1:2, God made the worlds by the Son. Certainly, the Spirit (God) who was in the Son was also the Creator of the worlds. This passage may also indicate that God predicated the entire work of creation upon the future manifestation of the Son. God foreknew that man would sin, but He also foreknew that through the Son man could be saved and could fulfill God’s original purpose in creation. As John Miller stated, “Though He did not pick up His humanity till the fulness of time, yet He used it, and acted upon it, from all eternity.” “[42]

Likewise, the problem of Jesus’ prayer life elicits some intriguing interpretation:

“The prayers of Christ represent the struggle of the human will as it submitted to the divine will. They represent Jesus praying from His human self-consciousness not from His divine, for by definition God does not need to pray. This line of reasoning also explains other examples of the inferiority of the Son in power and knowledge. If these examples demonstrate a plurality of persons, they establish the subordination of one person to the other, contrary to the trinitarian doctrine of co-equality. “Other examples of communication, conversation, or expression of love between Father and Son are explained as communication between the divine and human natures of Christ. If used to demonstrate a distinction of persons, they would establish separate centers of consciousness in the Godhead, which is in effect polytheism.”[43]

“Do the prayers of Christ indicate a distinction of persons between Jesus and the Father? No. On the contrary, His praying indicates a distinction between the Son of God and God. Jesus prayed in His humanity, not in His deity…How can God pray and still be God? By definition, God in His omnipotence has no need to pray, and in His oneness has no other to whom He can pray…Some may object to this explanation, contending that it means Jesus prayed to Himself. However, we must realize that, unlike any other human being, Jesus had two perfect and complete natures – humanity and divinity.”[44]

The above hardly squares with Bernard’s earlier statement that the two natures are joined into one person. Communication between natures is illogical; between persons it is normal. If Oneness teachers wish to maintain a surface acceptance of Chalcedonian definitions, they should at least make it clear that they are defining terms in a completely different way than orthodox theology.

Finally, a common element of Oneness-Pentecostal writing is the criticism of the usage of non-Biblical terminology to answer the questions of God’s existence and being. This is a common attack utilized by many anti-Trinitarian groups. Why use such terms as “nature” or “person” or “ousia” or any of the other terms borrowed from philosophy? Doesn’t this indicate a reliance upon pagan sources? we are asked. Though this point will be answered more fully below, it might be pointed out that the Oneness position is faced with the same choice as the Trinitarian – questions can be put to their position that cannot possibly be answered in solely Biblical terminology. Either these questions must be ignored or they must be answered by using words or phrases not drawn directly from the Scriptural witness. In summary, the Oneness position asserts that God is uni-personal. All the titles of Deity are applicable to the one being who is God – Father, Lord, King, Holy Spirit, Jehovah, etc. The Son of God is the manifestation of the Father in the flesh. The Son is not eternal nor pre-existent. Jesus is the Father and the Son – Father in his divinity and Son in his humanity. Hence, the Trinity is said to be a misunderstanding of the Biblical teaching, and many Oneness writers attribute the doctrine to pagan sources.[45]

V. Brief Criticism and Reply

Since the opening of this paper dealt with the Scriptural witness concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, space need not be taken in rebutting many of the statements of the Oneness position. The following points should focus on the particular problems:

A) The Oneness position cannot explain logically or Biblically the clear references to the pre-existence and Creatorship of the Son such as Colossians 1, Hebrews 1 and John 1.

B) This position fails to demonstrate any kind of identification of Jesus Christ as the Father, and ignores or inadequately explains the many references that demonstrate the personal distinctions of Father and Son.

C) This position relies heavily on assumed and unproven presuppositions, such as the uni-personality of Yahweh. These writers tend to be very selective in their choice of facts, which can also be seen in their easy rejection of textual evidence that contradicts their position.[46]

D) The Christological formulation of the Oneness position is untenable and without Scriptural support. There is no evidence that Jesus was two persons, nor that the two “natures” communicated with one another.

E) The understanding of the Logos given in Scripture is totally lacking in the Oneness perspective. The clear personal nature of the Logos must be sacrificed to maintain the system.

F) The position asserts historical claims[47] that are not solidly based in fact.[48] For example, Oneness writers will assert that the “three persons theory” was a late innovation, while noted patristic authority J.N.D. Kelly has noted,

“Before considering formal writers, the reader should notice how deeply the conception of a plurality of divine Persons was imprinted on the apostolic tradition and the popular faith. Though as yet uncanonized, the New Testament was already exerting a powerful influence; it is a commonplace that the outlines of a dyadic and a triadic pattern are clearly visible in its pages. It is even more marked in such glimpses as are obtainable of the Church’s liturgy and day-to-day catechetical practice.”[49]

These criticisms, substantiated by earlier references, are sufficient to allow the student of Scripture to reject the Oneness position as holding any real claim to being a “biblical teaching.” The only remaining question is the validity of the criticism regarding the usage of non-biblical language and terminology. It has already been pointed out that any theological system that makes any kind of brave attempt to answer the inevitable questions that arise when the nature, attributes and being of God is discussed will have to utilize non-Biblical terminology in framing its answers. Why? First, since the Scriptures themselves rarely ask these questions, and the questions themselves are often derived from non-Biblical sources and utilize non- Biblical language and categories of thought, the honest respondant will have to express truth in such as way as to both be intelligible to the questioner, as well as be honest with the subject. The important question is, are we willing to sacrifice the true teaching of Scripture on the imaginary altar of slavery to the limited terminology of the Biblical writers? Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield aptly addressed this very question:

“The term “Trinity” is not a Biblical term, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence. A doctrine so defined can be spoken of as a Biblical doctrine only on the principle that the sense of Scripture is Scripture. And the definition of a Biblical doctrine in such un-Biblical language can be justified only on the principle that it is better to preserve the truth of Scripture than the words of Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity lies in Scripture in solution; when it is crystalized from its solvent it does not cease to be Scriptural, but only comes into clearer view. Or, to speak without figure, the doctrine of the Trinity is given to us in Scripture, not in forumulated definition, but in fragmentary allusions; when we assemble the disjecta membra into their organic unity, we are not passing from Scripture, but entering more thoroughly into the meaning of Scripture. We may state the doctrine in technical terms, supplied by philosophical reflection; but the doctrine stated is a genuinely Scriptural doctrine.”[50]

References: 1. David Bernard, The Oneness of God, (Hazelwood, Missouri: Word Aflame Press) 1985, p.298 2. Thomas Weisser, Three Persons from the Bible? or Babylon, (U.S.) 1983, p. 3. 3. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1941) pgs. 87-89. 4. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, John McNeill, ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press) 1960, pp. 141-142. 5. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 Volumes, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company) 1986, 1:459. 6. Weisser, Three Persons, p. 2. 7. The particular responses of the Oneness theologians will be noted at a later point in the presentation. 8. The words of Jesus at Matthew 27:46 have come in for many kinds of interpretation. Unfortunately, many of the theories have compromised both theology proper, as well as Christology. That the Father never was separated from or abandoned the Son is clear from many sources. The second person is utilized by Jesus, not the third in verse 46. Immediately on the heels of this statement Jesus speaks to the Father in the vocative (“Father, into your hands…”). Whatever else Jesus was saying, He was not saying that, at the very time of His ultimate obedience to the Father, that the Father there abandoned Him. Rather, it seems much more logical to see this as a quotation of Psalm 22 that is meant to call to mind all of that Psalm, which would include the victory of v. 19ff, as well as verse 24 which states, “For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” 9. It would be a grave error to identify the Father and the Son as one person, or to say that Jesus is both the Father and the Son, simply due to their mutual work and actions. As there is only one God, overlapping of work and action is hardly to be thought unusual, and does not indicate an identity of person but rather an identity of nature. 10. James Hope Moulton, George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company) 1930, pp. 416-417. See also Barclay Newman and Eugene Nida, A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of John. (New York: United Bible Societies) 1980, p. 24. 11. The variant reading “…who is in heaven.” is opposed by P66 and P75 along with Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. These witnesses are joined by the Coptic versions, a few uncials, minuscules, and Fathers. 12. The reading monogenes theos is strongly supported by the manuscript witnesses. This is the reading of P66 and P75 as well as the original reading of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, a few other uncials, and a large number of the early Fathers. That there is good reason to see monogenes huios as an assimilation to John 3:16 is obvious; just so, that monogenes theos has no logical antecedent is just as true. 13. Some try to render this as “the Word was pertaining to God” on the basis of the occurrence of pros ton theon in Hebrews 2:17 and 5:1. However, this attempt fails for the two instances in Hebrews are different syntactical constructions; the presence of the neuter plural article before the phrase in Hebrews changes the subject to an assumed “things.” Also, John 1:1b represents a sentence structure using the verb form en while this is not so in Hebrews. 14. William G. T. Shedd, Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1980, pg. 253. 15. As cited by Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church. (New York: Oxford University Press) 1963, pp. 144-145. 16. For a discussion of the Council of Chalcedon, see Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company) 1910, 3:740-762. 17. Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 3:751. 18. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company) 1941, pp. 321-330. 19. See Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Doctrine of the Person and the Work of Christ, Section III, “The Unipersonality of Christ.” 20. Stuart Olyott, Son of Mary, Son of God, (England: Evangelical Press) 1984, pp. 103-105. 21. Some Oneness writers such as Robert Brent Graves have attempted to assert that the copulative kai found here and in the other epistolary greetings should not be translated in its normal sense of “and” but rather as the equative “even.” Hence, Graves translates 1 Cor. 1:3 as “Grace to you and peace from God our Father even the Lord Jesus Christ.” That there is no scholarly support for such an assertion is clear, for Graves would hardly be consistent and say “Grace to you, even peace…” which would be required should he follow his own suggestion through. 22. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, p. 303. 23. Otto Weber, Foundations of Dogmatics, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company) 1962, 2:116. 24. David K. Bernard, Essentials of Oneness Theology, (Hazelwood, Missouri: Word Aflame Press) 1985, p. 8. 25. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 15. 26. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 98. 27. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 66. 28. John Paterson, God in Christ Jesus, (Hazelwood, Missouri: Word Aflame Press) 1966, p. 29. Bernard, Essentials in Oneness Theology, p. 22. 30. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 103. 31. Weisser, Three Persons, p. 35. 32. Robert Brent Graves, The God of Two Testaments, (U.S.) 1977, p. 35. 33. See Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 106. 34. Graves, The God of Two Testaments, p. 44. 35. Paterson, God in Christ Jesus, p. 22. 36. Bernard, Essentials in Oneness Theology, p. 19. 37. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 88. 38. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 90 39. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 86. 40. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 57. 41. Bernard, The Oneness of God, p. 115. 42. Bernard, Essentials in Oneness Theology, p. 21. 43. Ibid., p. 22. 44. Bernard, The Oneness of God, pp. 176-177. 45. See Weisser, Three Persons, pp. 17-28. 46. Bernard rejects, for example, the reading of monogenes theos at 1:18 by saying, “We do not believe these variant readings are correct…This verse of Scripture does not mean that God is revealed by God, but that God is revealed in flesh through the humanity of the Son.” Here theology determines textual criticism. 47. Bernard, The Oneness of God, pp. 236 ff as an example. 48. Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity, 2 Volumes, (New York: Harper and Row) 1975, 2:144-145 gives a brief account of the origins of the modalistic teaching. 49. J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, (New York: Harper and Row) 1978, p. 88. 50. B. B. Warfield, The Works of B.B. Warfield, 10 volumes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House) 1929, 2:133.