Snapshot: Oneness Pentecostalism

Beginning in the latter part of the 19th century and the early 20th century a new movement began in the church which would literally impact the world. This was the Pentecostal movement. What first began in scattered and sporadic instances came to national and international attention with the Azusa Street Revival of 1906-1909. Soon the Pentecostal message was being carried around the globe.

In 1913 a large Pentecostal holiness campmeeting was held near Los Angeles, CA. Several thousand attended these meetings, mostly pastors. One minister in attendance had the revelation that although churches traditionally baptized people “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” that the book of Acts taught that the early disciples were baptized in the name of Jesus. The teaching was revolutionary and explosive. Soon there were preachers proclaiming that only those baptized in the name of Jesus were legitimately baptized.

The “revelation” about the proper method of baptism led to other revelations. If baptism was to be done in Jesus’ name, why did Matthew 28 use the formula of “Father, Son and Spirit.” The simple answer was this: Jesus is the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. Based on this, the doctrine of the Trinity was rejected. Instead, a form of heretical Modalism began to be taught. The assertion was that there is only Person in the Godhead, and that is Jesus. Jesus is One, a solitary Being. The Trinity is a pagan, polytheistic concept. Jesus has revealed Himself as the Father, Son and Spirit—but these are only three manifestations of the one Person, Jesus.

Other false ideas soon began to proliferate. Some began to assert that if a person does not receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with speaking in tongues then that person is not saved. Also, based on Acts 2:38 it began to be taught that water baptism by immersion, in the name of Jesus, is also necessary for salvation. This is a simply a form of baptismal regeneration. Thus, from this one campmeeting a multitude of heretical doctrines spread through the early Pentecostal movement. These new doctrines caused splits in many groups, especially the nascent Assemblies of God.

Stressing the unity of God, followers of this movement are often called Oneness Pentecostals, or sometimes “Jesus Only.” They are essentially Pentecostal Unitarians. With their emphasis on the importance of baptism in the name of Jesus, they are sometimes referred to as “Jesus Name” believers. (It should be noted that there are a few Trinitarian churches that baptize in the name of Jesus, and these are also sometimes called “Jesus Only” churches. However, they are not Oneness Pentecostals.)

There are a number of groups today who are part of the Oneness movement. The largest of these today is the United Pentecostal Church. Another large group is the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. There are scores of smaller churches, and individual congregation scattered throughout the country. In the south and east of the U.S., these are often called “Apostolic” churches.

Are these groups cultic? In that they reject the Trinity, and teach baptismal regeneration, this it must be stated clearly that Oneness Pentecostal churches are indeed a cult.

Basic Doctrines
God: God is a Unity. They deny the Trinity.
Jesus: Jesus is the One Person in the Godhead, made manifest in three forms.
Salvation: It is stated that salvation is by grace. However, believe in Oneness of God, and baptism in Jesus’ name is a requirement for salvation.
Sin: The same as traditional orthodox Christianity.
Scriptures: The Bible is accepted as authoritative.
Truth: Truth is absolute, and revealed in the Bible.

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