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Heresy of the Day #23: Oneness Pentecostalism

by | May 14, 2024 | Apostasy, Cult, heresy, Heresy of the Day, Opinion, Religion, The Church

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Oneness Pentecostalism, a growing movement within the broader Pentecostal tradition, has ensnared many in a web of theological errors and heresies. While it might present itself as a vibrant expression of Christian faith, it is, in truth, a radical departure from biblical orthodoxy. This movement, with its roots in early 20th-century revivalism, champions a distorted view of God and Christ that stands condemned according to the clear teachings of Scripture and the historic creeds of the Christian faith.

At the center of Oneness Pentecostalism is the heresy of Modalism, a pernicious doctrine that denies the Trinity. Modalism asserts that God is a single person who manifests Himself in different modes or aspects, rather than being three distinct persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This heresy is a direct assault on the foundational Christian belief in the Triune God. According to Modalism, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not distinct persons but simply different manifestations of the one God. The early church rightly condemned this view as a heresy because it undermines the distinct personhood and relational nature of the Godhead.

The ramifications of this heresy are deep-seated. By denying the Trinity, Oneness Pentecostalism distorts the very nature of God, rendering the doctrine of the Incarnation nonsensical. If Jesus is merely a mode of the one God rather than a distinct person, then the mystery of God becoming flesh in the person of Jesus Christ is lost. This not only contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture but also strips the gospel of its power and coherence.

In addition to Modalism, Oneness Pentecostalism often veers into the heresy of Subordinationism. While claiming to uphold the full deity of Christ, Oneness theology effectively subordinates the Son to the Father, denying the co-equality and co-eternity of the persons of the Trinity. This heresy rears its ugly head in the movement’s denial of the eternal Sonship of Christ, suggesting instead that Jesus, as the Son, had a beginning in time. Such a view is a blatant rejection of the biblical testimony that Jesus is the eternal Word, who was with God in the beginning and through whom all things were made (John 1:1-3).

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Subordinationism diminishes the glory and majesty of Christ, reducing Him to a lesser deity rather than acknowledging Him as the second person of the Trinity, equal in power and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This defective theology leads to a deficient understanding of salvation, as it is only through the eternal Son of God that we can truly know the Father and receive the gift of eternal life.

Adding to the theological chaos of Oneness Pentecostalism is its embrace of modern-day Montanism. Montanism, an early heresy, was characterized by an overemphasis on new revelations, ecstatic experiences, and a rejection of established ecclesiastical authority. Similarly, Oneness Pentecostalism, and the majority of the charismatic and Pentecostal movements in general, places undue emphasis on personal experiences, emotional fervor, and supposed new revelations, at times superseding the authority of Scripture.

This dangerous inclination toward experientialism over doctrinal fidelity opens the door to all manner of excesses and errors by fostering a subjective faith that is easily swayed by the winds of emotion and personal revelation, rather than being anchored in the unchanging truth of God’s Word. Such a religion is not only unstable but also highly susceptible to deception and spiritual abuse.

Prominent figures within this movement include T.D. Jakes, pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, who has been criticized for his Modalistic view of God, and Steven Furtick of Elevation Church, whose theological ambiguity often leans towards Oneness perspectives.

The United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI), a major Oneness denomination, institutionalizes these heretical views, rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity. Charity Gayle, a highly popular worship artist in the UPCI movement, has also gained prominence, with her music widely used across Evangelical and Baptist churches, demonstrating the pervasive influence of the Oneness movement on mainstream Christianity.

These people and organizations draw people in with dynamic preaching and emotional worship experiences but build on a damning theological foundation. By rejecting the Trinity and other clear biblical doctrines, they distort the biblical revelation of God and the saving gospel. But that is all by design.

Oneness Pentecostalism is not a harmless variation of Christian belief—it is a dangerous heresy that leads people away from the true knowledge of God and the salvation He offers in Jesus Christ. Its errors on Modalism, Subordinationism, and modern-day Montanism are not minor doctrinal disputes but fundamental departures from the faith once delivered to the saints.

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