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Old 04-15-2007, 02:53 PM
RunningOnFaith RunningOnFaith is offline
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Oneness and Trinitarian Unity?

This is a personal reply that I recieved from a Trinitarian theologian when I asked him his thoughts concerning Lee Grady's push for unity between Oneness and Trinitarian believers (his remarks are inserted in between Grady's essay. I haven't had much contact with Trinitarians, but for those of you who have, have they seemed to be as anti-oneness as this person is? Although I disagree with some of this persons theology, I do think he brought forth some interesting observations about the nature of truth.



By the editor of Charisma magazine.


Grady- As we celebrate 100 years of Pentecostalism this month, let's ask God to heal the ugly rift that divides us.

They speak in tongues and shout hallelujah. Their fervent gospel music has influenced the Christian music scene for decades. They trace their roots to the 1906 Azusa Street Revival, just like members of the Assemblies of God (AG), the Church of God in Christ or other mainline Pentecostal groups do.

But the similarities stop there. In the Pentecostal family tree, the so-called "Jesus only" Pentecostals are viewed as the strange cousins who broke ranks with their brethren in 1916. They have lived in a murky parallel universe ever since, invisible to most mainstream Christians even though their numbers have grown.

They are officially known as Oneness Pentecostals, a large but isolated subset of Christians who are too orthodox in their beliefs to be compared with Mormons but too sectarian to mix with other evangelicals.

******It is a mistake to chalk it up to sectarianism. The differences are strongly doctrinal--on the Trinity, on the incarnation, on the efficacy of baptism (baptismal regeneration and remission), on justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone--i.e., the doctrinal differences strike at the essence of Christianity and the gospel.

Grady-Many of them belong to the United Pentecostal Church (UPC) or the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW), the two largest Oneness denominations, but hundreds of smaller Oneness groups exist.

They wear the Jesus-only label (a phrase they dislike) because they insist that converts must be baptized in the name of Jesus rather than in the more common Trinitarian formula ("in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit"). They also refuse to use the term "trinity" to describe the Godhead, even though they affirm that God has a triune nature.

*******That ambiguous way of putting it avoids the very substance of the debate between Oneness Pentecostals and Trinitarians. The writer either is unaware of or intentionally obscures the real issue in debate. For Oneness Pentecostals, god is "triune" only in His relations with creatures--to whom he relates as Father/Creator, as Son/Redeemer, and as Spirit/Sanctifier. For Oneness Pentecostals, there are no internal relations in the deity; the deity is but one person. For Trinitarians, God is triune in His internal relations: while He is but one God (being), He is three distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who relate to Each Other as Person to Person.


Grady-And besides these doctrinal quirks, they are extremely strict about holiness standards.

*******That is tied, as Grady doesn't tell us, to the justification-by-works doctrine of the Oneness Pentecostals.


They forbid their members to play sports or watch television, and they instruct their women not to wear pants, makeup or short hairstyles. Some people have gone so far as to label Oneness Pentecostalism a cult, partly because of its isolationism but also because some UPC leaders have suggested that only Oneness believers are truly saved.

*******I call them a cult because they claim to be Christian but deny defining doctrines of Christianity like the Trinity and justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.


Grady-Call me an idealist, but wouldn't it be great if leaders on both sides of this family feud attempted to resolve it? 2006 would be a great time for reconciliation, since all of us are celebrating Pentecostalism's 100th anniversary this month.

Does anyone out there want to take the first step?

As in all broken relationships, healing of this rift will require apologies on both sides. This is no time for childish rantings such as, "They started it first!"

*******That would indeed be childish. But to insist that we not ignore the substantive doctrinal disagreements would not; it would be earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

Those of us on the Trinitarian side of this debate need to be willing to embrace our Oneness brethren. The devil split the Pentecostal movement 10 years after it began, yet we don't seem to care. We've kept a 90-year-old wound infected by ignoring it. Some of us have condemned Oneness believers to hell for their legalism when love should have moved us to reach out to them.

********If they are indeed legalists--if they teach that justification is by works (even if by faith plus works) and not by faith alone--then they are teaching another gospel, and Paul's judgment fits: let them be anathema (Galatians 1:8). Certainly we should in love reach out to them to persuade them to embrace the true triune God and the true gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But it is not an act of love to allow people to remain captive to a false gospel that is not the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).


Grady-I think it is odd that the headquarters of the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Mo., is located on the corner of Boonville Avenue and Division Street. Every day when leaders of that denomination pull into their parking lot they are reminded of the divided state of our movement. Yet daily reminders haven't pushed us toward healing. The AG and the UPC have little or no dialogue.

On the Oneness side, leaders of the UPC and other groups must apologize to the rest of us for splitting doctrinal hairs and insisting that their narrow interpretation of the Bible is the only view.

********Here the Oneness Pentecostal leaders have seen what Grady fails to see: that the differences between Trinitarianism and Oneness, and between the gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and between baptismal regeneration and baptismal remission, on the one hand, and baptism as sign and seal of regeneration and remission, on the other, are not "doctrinal hairs" but gigantic, towering mountains that divide genuine Christianity from counterfeit Christianity.

Grady-God is bigger than a baptismal formula,

**********Such rhetorical flourish is no argument for anything. Further, Grady fails to see that the Oneness Pentecostals fight over the baptismal formula precisely because they see that the God of Trinitarianism is not theirs. Either they or we Trinitarians are worshiping a false god. They recognize that; Grady doesn't and those who make mountains out of theological molehills Athanasius and Eusebius of Caesarea and Alexander of Alexandria and Hosius of Cordova and the other leaders of the Council of Nicaea, and the Three Cappadocians, and others who led the church through the Arian controversy of the fourth century, would be shocked to hear an heir of their faith calling the doctrine of the Trinity a theological molehill. Augustine and Gottschalk and Anselm and Luther and Calvin and Knox and Zwingli and Beza and Bucer and Whitefield and Wesley and Edwards and Hodge and Moody and Warfield and Sunday and Machen and Graham would be shocked to hear an heir of their faith calling the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone a theological molehill.
will answer to Him for the division and confusion they caused.

Grady-Oneness folks also must apologize for spiritual elitism. They must stop teaching people that they have a corner on the truth.

********Granted the doctrinal squishiness of the rest of this editorial, one must wonder if Grady writes thus because he thinks there is no truth. Sure, Oneness Pentecostalism teaches that Trinitarianism is pagan and contra-Biblical and insists that there are no personal distinctions in god, and Trinitarianism teaches that Oneess Pentecostalism is pagan rationalism and contra-Biblical and insists that there are personal distinctions in God. Sure, Oneness Pentecostalism teaches that water baptism regenerates and remits sins and that one can have neither without it, while evangelical Protestantism--Lutheran, Reformed, Arminian, Baptist, and Wesleyan--teaches that baptism is a sign and seal but not the effective instrument of regeneration and remission and that one may have both without it. Sure, Oneness Pentecostalism teaches that one can trust in Jesus for salvation but still go to hell because one's works don't measure up, while evangelical Protestantism--Lutheran, Reformed, Arminian, Baptist, and Wesleyan--teaches the Reformation gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. If Grady is right, those differences are inconsequential. We should ignore the facts that we worship different deities and believe different gospels. Let us all embrace religious relativism!
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Old 04-15-2007, 02:56 PM
RunningOnFaith RunningOnFaith is offline
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Grady-They must challenge their congregations to embrace the whole body of Christ.
******But Grady doesn't understand that the Oneness Pentecostals are right: If theirs is the true god and the true gospel, then the rest of us are not part of the body of Christ. And the opposite is true, too.
Grady-When they do this, they will break the power of a vile religious spirit that has paralyzed the Oneness movement for decades.The devil thrives on division.
********It is actually the Church that thrives on division: division between truth and falsehood, right and wrong, good and evil, light and darkness, holiness and impurity, justice and injustice, love and hatred. That is why Paul said that it is necessary that there be schisms among the church members, so that those who are approved of God may be CLEARLY seen (1 Corinthians 11:19). The devil doesn't thrive on division. He thrives on ambiguity, on relativism, on obscuring the divisions between God and idols, between the true gospel and false gospels. Woe to those who call light darkness and darkness light (Isaiah 5:20).


Grady-He has an uncanny way of using doctrines to split our ranks and turn us against each other. That way, when a common enemy like militant Islam comes along (psst! .it's coming), Christians will be so busy fighting each other we won't be able to join forces.
********This of course begs the question whether those who worship false gods and preach false gospels are Christians. I strongly suspect that many "Oneness believers" are just very confused (as are many Trinitarians, for that matter!) and in reality have a simple faith in Jesus Christ, and I would not take it upon myself to determine whether that faith is a "saving faith" or not. Ask them (or many lay Trinitarians) for a technical definition of God, and they're likely to give a quite confused answer. But ask, "Do you believe Jesus is God and man? Do you believe Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sins and thus satisfied the Father's justice on your behalf? Do you believe God sent His Holy Spirit to give you new life in Christ?" and they'll probably answer "Yes" to all of those--and that implies that they really don't think Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit are just one Person. There are of course other issues related to the Oneness groups' legalistic "gospel." If I'm trust in Jesus PLUS my own good works to get me into Heaven, then I'm really not trusting in Jesus. Also, I would distinguish between laymen who are just accepting what they're being taught and don't really know any better, and clergy or teachers who know the Biblical arguments for the Trinity (or the non-legalistic gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone) and who persist in teaching the falsehood anyway. The latter are far more accountable than the former.
Grady-As we celebrate the Azusa Street centennial, my prayer is: "Father, make us one."
*********Unity without truth is illusory and worthless. My prayer is, "Father, Jesus said that He is the way, the TRUTH, and the life, and that no one comes to You but by Him. Please unite Your people in Him, in the TRUTH, and protect us from all falsehood."
J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma and an award-winning journalist. Check out the new April issue of Charisma, a collector's edition that celebrates the Azusa Street Revival.
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Old 04-15-2007, 03:32 PM
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Praxeas Praxeas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RunningOnFaith View Post
******It is a mistake to chalk it up to sectarianism. The differences are strongly doctrinal--on the Trinity, on the incarnation, on the efficacy of baptism (baptismal regeneration and remission), on justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone--i.e., the doctrinal differences strike at the essence of Christianity and the gospel.
I know Trinitarians that don't see it as a problem. First of all, how much difference is there really between Trinity and Oneness? In the early centuries Oneness was under the movement of Modalistic Monarchism, it was termed a Trinitarian heresy. It was also termed Economic Modalism. Many so called Trinitarian themselves don't even understand or know the true historical doctrine of the Trinity. So if this is an issue for divide what does it say of the Trinitarian movement? Are they divided even amo.ng themselves?

Incarnation: BOTH camps believe in the incarnation. The only difference is they believe it was the second person of the Trinity that became flesh and we believe it was the only person of the Godhead to become flesh.

Baptism...why is the efficiency of baptism an issue for divide? Even Luther still believed in baptismal regeneration and even infant baptism...you don't hear protestants calling him a heretic. Does this Trinitarian divide from Catholics in the same manner as he wants from OPs?

BTW On baptism and forgiveness of sins???? Note the following from the articles of faith of the UPCI

REPENTANCE AND CONVERSION
Pardon and forgiveness of sins is obtained by genuine repentance, a confessing and forsaking of sins.



We are justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). John the Baptist preached repentance, Jesus proclaimed it, and the Apostles emphasized it to both Jews and Gentiles. (Acts 2:38, 11:18, 17:30).


The word "repentance" comes from several Greek words which mean, change of views and purpose, change of heart, change of mind, change of life, to transform, etc.


Jesus said, -except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).
Luke 24:47 says, "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."


WATER BAPTISM
The scriptural mode of baptism is immersion, and is only for those who have fully repented, having turned from their sins and a love of the world. It should be administered by a duly authorized minister of the Gospel, in obedience to the Word of God, and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the Acts of the Apostles 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5; thus obeying and fulfilling Matthew 28:19.

And on the so called "Baptismal regeneration"...that word is misused by these types. That phrase applies only to those that teach one is saved AT baptism. The Roman Catholics would baptize infants, without them needing to believe, because they believed that baptism saves. Not that it is necessary for salvation, but that literally AT the moment of baptism one is instantly saved and receives the Holy Ghost. It is the Spirit that regenerates.


The UPCI does NOT teach that the method for receiving and being saved is water baptism.



Justification, as you can see from the AOF the UPCI's official position is that we are indeed Justified By Faith. There is NOT ONE thing about being justified any other way than by Faith. We are justified by Faith apart from works. Where the real issue lies is probably more in regards to what it means to be justified, what it means to have faith and what the bible means by "works"


Quote:
*******That ambiguous way of putting it avoids the very substance of the debate between Oneness Pentecostals and Trinitarians. The writer either is unaware of or intentionally obscures the real issue in debate. For Oneness Pentecostals, god is "triune" only in His relations with creatures--to whom he relates as Father/Creator, as Son/Redeemer, and as Spirit/Sanctifier. For Oneness Pentecostals, there are no internal relations in the deity; the deity is but one person. For Trinitarians, God is triune in His internal relations: while He is but one God (being), He is three distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who relate to Each Other as Person to Person.
In Oneness Father and Son DO relate to each other, but "person" is ambiguous here...what does he mean? Father and Son in Oneness can be seen psychologically distinct persons, but not ontologically. Did early Trinitarians even use the term person? And why is this really enough to divide over?

Quote:
*******That is tied, as Grady doesn't tell us, to the justification-by-works doctrine of the Oneness Pentecostals.
Maybe there are some OPs that teach justification by works, but the truth is doctrinally Justification is by faith alone. I know and can testify that I was justified by Faith alone in Christ alone because of what HE did on the cross. It has nothing to do with works. However justification, sanctification and regeneration are not all synonymous terms. Works is often meant to mean "anything you can do" but that would make repentance a work. Works in the bible though refer to the law most of the time and can thus mean anything you can do APART from the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why the Judaizers were so troublesome because they kept introducing other things like circumcision to the gentiles who had already believed, repented and been baptized and as well received the Holy Ghost

Quote:
They forbid their members to play sports or watch television, and they instruct their women not to wear pants, makeup or short hairstyles. Some people have gone so far as to label Oneness Pentecostalism a cult, partly because of its isolationism but also because some UPC leaders have suggested that only Oneness believers are truly saved.
This is simply not true of all OPs. This is a sweeping Generalization. And in fact I've been playing sports since the day I started going to the UPC. We never forbade sports. We did discourage organized sports like in public schools for certain reasons, but to say this is peculiar to the UPC only is absurd nor is it a reason to divide over. BTW if isolationism is an issue lol...why having this discussion or why divide from us?

Quote:
*******I call them a cult because they claim to be Christian but deny defining doctrines of Christianity like the Trinity and justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
A series of logical fallacies, but let's deal with something else here....the word cult is being used slanderously to marginalize certain groups. Everynow knows what bad connotations that word bears with it...It was not until recent times that such a word was used rather than heresy or heterodox. I can call him a reprobate, sinner, pagan, heretic or whatever else. It's simply an attempt on their part to marginalize people

Quote:
*******That would indeed be childish. But to insist that we not ignore the substantive doctrinal disagreements would not; it would be earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
Honestly....I really could not care less if this person wants to be divided from us.

Quote:
********If they are indeed legalists--if they teach that justification is by works (even if by faith plus works) and not by faith alone--then they are teaching another gospel, and Paul's judgment fits: let them be anathema (Galatians 1:8). Certainly we should in love reach out to them to persuade them to embrace the true triune God and the true gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But it is not an act of love to allow people to remain captive to a false gospel that is not the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
See previous points regarding this. I wonder though if this person feels the same way towards the Roman Catholics. Protestants are often divided on this and inconsistant. Like Hank Hanagraff from CRI who dares never to speak a word against the RCC


Quote:
**********Such rhetorical flourish is no argument for anything. Further, Grady fails to see that the Oneness Pentecostals fight over the baptismal formula precisely because they see that the God of Trinitarianism is not theirs. Either they or we Trinitarians are worshiping a false god. They recognize that; Grady doesn't and those who make mountains out of theological molehills Athanasius and Eusebius of Caesarea and Alexander of Alexandria and Hosius of Cordova and the other leaders of the Council of Nicaea, and the Three Cappadocians, and others who led the church through the Arian controversy of the fourth century, would be shocked to hear an heir of their faith calling the doctrine of the Trinity a theological molehill. Augustine and Gottschalk and Anselm and Luther and Calvin and Knox and Zwingli and Beza and Bucer and Whitefield and Wesley and Edwards and Hodge and Moody and Warfield and Sunday and Machen and Graham would be shocked to hear an heir of their faith calling the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone a theological molehill.
will answer to Him for the division and confusion they caused.
And they called us divisive. People wonder why so many OPs have the attitudes they do, while some OPs today would never say they worship a false God. Could it be that we both worship the same God but one or the other or both of just don't know as much as we think we do on how God exists?

After a while it becomes clear that it's just the same thing repeated over and over
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Old 04-15-2007, 03:53 PM
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I have it first hand while sitting at lunch with three TOP AOG leaders in Springfield that they have no problem with Oneness believers within their ranks. In fact, there are a (very small) number of their own ministers that are Oneness and have been in their ranks since 1916 that never left. All of this came as a total shock to me. I was further shocked to learn that they have no problem with the Oneness stance just as long as the adherents do not make it an "ISSUE"... as in the case of the "New Issue."
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Old 04-15-2007, 03:57 PM
Brother Price Brother Price is offline
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You want unity between those who serve the God of the Bible and those who subscribe to pagan deism such as trinitarianism. You think their Jesus is the same as our Jesus. You are so sadly mistaken.
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Old 04-15-2007, 04:02 PM
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You want unity between those who serve the God of the Bible and those who subscribe to pagan deism such as trinitarianism. You think their Jesus is the same as our Jesus. You are so sadly mistaken.
Right.
It will never happen. At least not any more than blessed fellowship between the mongoose and the cobra. The two spirits are opposed.
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Old 04-15-2007, 04:31 PM
RunningOnFaith RunningOnFaith is offline
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Originally Posted by Brother Price View Post
You want unity between those who serve the God of the Bible and those who subscribe to pagan deism such as trinitarianism. You think their Jesus is the same as our Jesus. You are so sadly mistaken.
I didn't describe my own personal desires or theological opinions concerning the prospect of unity between Oneness and Trinitarian believers. I thought the response was interesting because it proves in no uncertain terms what conservative Pastors such as Bro. Epley have contended all along.... i.e. not all Charismatics and Evangelicals desire the unity that many of the "Liberal" Apostolics seem to want to happen. These issues must be unresolved in your own mind, Less then a year ago your own website declared Oneness to be a damnable heresy. Where you an idol worshiper when you became a Trinitarian? Many times when we are unsure or uncertain that is when we are the most strident and confrontational about what we consider to be Orthodox.
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Old 04-15-2007, 04:48 PM
Brother Price Brother Price is offline
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Yes, I was an idol worshiper, backslider, and was totally lost. Was lost, but now am found. Does not dissway me on this, because I was totally backslidden.
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Old 04-15-2007, 05:45 PM
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Never having been backslid myself, I don't feel any connection either way.

I was thinking about this on the way home from church today. It would be interesting to me to see how people would respond to a oneness-trinitarian discussion. Not a debate, or a point counter point, but to have a Trinitarian theologian and a oneness theologian to present in a symposium setting the details of their doctrine.

I guarantee you that garden variety saints will be so confused, they won't know what to believe.

You know how I know? I remember when a UPC church here invited folks to watch the Sabin/Urshan-Walter Martin et al. debates and people were pretty hacked off afterward in the Q&A because it was so confusing and they were upset that not every argument against the T or for the O had merit.

I remember the heated exchanges between the three ministers on the deck and several folks in the audience. People were pretty mad.
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Old 04-15-2007, 05:46 PM
Carpenter Carpenter is offline
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You want unity between those who serve the God of the Bible and those who subscribe to pagan deism such as trinitarianism. You think their Jesus is the same as our Jesus. You are so sadly mistaken.
You're the only Jesus that some will ever see, you're the only words of life that some will ever read...so let them see in you the one in whom is all they will ever neeeeeed....cause you're the only Jesus, some will ever see.


...a Trinitarian wrote that song.
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