The "Oneness" Pentecostal Groups

The "Oneness" Pentecostal Groups

Have you any suggestions on working with the "Oneness" Pentecostal group?

By HAROLD T. GRUVER, Missionary, Costa Rica Mission, Central America

Have you any suggestions on working with the "Oneness" Pentecostal group?

We should be careful to distinguish the "Oneness" people from the trinitarian Pentecostal groups, as the following citation will show:

"In 1914, the same year that the Assemblies of God was organized, a schism developed in the movement in­volving belief in the Trinity. Some of the ministers withdrew from the newly organized Assemblies of God to form the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. The schism involved the exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ as both Father and Holy Ghost, and, therefore, was in essence Unitarian. These people became known as the 'One Name' people, and they taught baptism in the name of Jesus only (Acts 2:38), repudiating the bap­tismal form of Matthew 28:19.

"The 'One Name' people broke up into several groups which are not recognized by the trinitarians of the Pentecostal movement. These groups became known as the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ, the Pentecostal Church, Inc., and the Pentecostal Assem­blies of the World. However, the first two of these groups later combined under the name United Pente­costal Church, Inc."—J. ROSWELL FLOWER, General Secretary, General Council, Assemblies of God. (Quoted in The Ministry, October, 1947.)

This group is also variously known as "New Issue," "Jesus Only," "Pentecostal Oneness," and "Pentecostal Wonders;" Besides the afore­mentioned organized groups, there are also some unorganized groups holding to more or less the same teachings.

The "Oneness" believers are generally in­clined to more fanaticism and disorder in the conduct of their services than other Pentecos­talists, who sometimes speak of them as being under demon influence. Their chief point of difference is on the doctrine of God. They be­lieve there is only one person in the Godhead, and that person is Jesus, who is also the Father and the Holy Ghost. This teaching is based on such passages as John 10:30 ("I and My Fa­ther are one") and John 14:7-ii.

There are some differences even among vari­ous "Oneness" groups. All unite in baptizing by immersion "in the name of Jesus," "in the name of Jesus only," "in the name of the Lord Jesus," or "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." They say that since Jesus is the Fa­ther and the Holy Ghost as well as the Son, this formula fulfills Matthew 28:19. Proof texts they use are Acts 2 :38 ; 8:16; 10 :48 ; 22:16. The majority of them regard this baptism as essential to salvation.

All of them believe in baptism in the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in other tongues. Some regard this as an accompani­ment of conversion, and others regard it as an experience subsequent to conversion. Those who teach it as an accompaniment of conver­sion expect the convert to receive the experi­ence and speak in other tongues upon emer­gence from the baptismal waters. This teaching is based on Acts 2:38, correlating Acts 9 :17 and Acts 22:16, and thus the reception of the Holy Spirit is made an accompaniment of bap­tism.

When we deal with these sincere but mis­guided people, it would be well at the beginning to use the same tactics as with other Pentecos­talists, and avoid as much as possible any refer­ence to speaking in tongues and other distinc­tive features of their teaching: Teach them clearly and strongly the claims of God's laws and the perpetuity of the Sabbath, until they see the truth of it.

Inasmuch as they are secret rapturists, teach them, next, concerning the manner of Christ's return, and the millennium. When you have shaken their foundations loose on these points, they will become more receptive to teaching on their other doctrines, because they will begin to wonder whether, since they are wrong on these, it is barely possible that they are wrong on some other things. The following material may be used to enlighten them on the Godhead:

I. The three persons of the Godhead mani­fested separately. Matt. 3 :16. Jesus, the Son on earth, the Holy Spirit manifested as a dove; and the Father speaking from heaven. Also Matt. 17:5; John 12:27, 28; 14:26. Call atten­tion to the three in this last citation.

2. Jesus prayed to the Father. John 12:27, 28; 11:41, 42; 14:16. (Note that this is another Comforter, not the same one.) John 17:1, 5, II, 25; Luke 23:34. Was He praying to Him­self?

3. Jesus said that the Father was greater than He. John 14:28. How could He be greater than Himself?

4. Jesus was sent by the Father, came from the Father, and returned to the Father. John 6:38, 39; 8:18, 42; 9:4;12:49;16:28; 20:17. Did He send Himself, come forth from Him­self, and return to Himself?

5. His cry on the cross. Matt. 27 :46. Had He forsaken Himself?

Many other similar points may be found by a careful study of the Gospels, especially of the Gospel of John.

As to their use of the baptismal formula, it may be shown that Matthew 28:19 is a direct command of Jesus concerning the manner in which we should baptize. When we use this formula we are including the name of the Son, which is the real intent of the apostolic injunc­tions in such passages as Acts 2:38.

Show them from Acts 5:32 the necessity of obedience to God's law in order to receive the Holy Spirit. Place on them the burden of proof that the speaking in tongues invariably accom­panies the reception of the Holy Spirit. They will be unable to bring clear Scriptural proof for this. Show how the conduct of their serv­ices directly violates the injunctions of i Co­rinthians 14 for the use of the gift of tongues.

More than anything else, it will require much patience and much prayer to enlighten them.

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By HAROLD T. GRUVER, Missionary, Costa Rica Mission, Central America

October 1949

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