Why I'm No Longer a Oneness Pentecostal: Part Two

by E.L. Anglin

A standard is "an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations." (Webster) We have standards for everything from credit worthiness to restaurant cleanliness. The extent to which one meets those standards, is directly related to one's worth to those who set the standards.

Standards are good for secular society but are they good for the church?

It's no accident that Oneness Pentecostal pioneers used the word "standards" to describe the way they wanted people to dress and act. They set the standard based upon their own personal preferences. Their expectations. Their model of what holiness should look like.

Over time, standard-setting became somewhat of a competitive sport. No pastor wanted to be viewed as loose, or "weak on the message," so the bar was consistently raised. New "old paths" arrived which banned jewelry, make-up, TV, radio, the color red, sports, comic books, theaters, mixed swimming and otherwise innocuous items and activities.

Today one's salvation is attached to one's adherence to standards. Meet all but one and you are as lost as a rank sinner. To make matters worse, standards are somewhat fluid within each church. There's a standard for new people, a standard for seasoned saints, and a standard for those "on the platform."

My mother struggled with church standards. Eventually she left the movement because no matter how hard she tried, she never felt good enough. What good was Christianity if every day was yet filled with fear of hell?

That's the danger in church standards. The whole system is based upon visible physical measurements. It's based upon comparisons between people instead of God. Flawed men set expectations higher than God's. The end result is never-ending guilt because no one can ever measure up.

Oneness Pentecostal measurements extend beyond physical appearances. They hold a very distinct soteriology (doctrine of salvation) that is based upon its own set of measurements. Salvation is not obtained "by grace through faith" (Ephesians 2:8) but by completing three steps: repentance, baptism and tongues.

A future post will deal with the soteriology of the movement, but consider for just a moment the words "with the initial evidence of speaking in other tongues." How often have you heard that in your lifetime? It's always used in reference to the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Guess how many times that phrase appears in the Bible? That's right, zero.

Why the focus on an initial evidence? Why is evidence needed? Especially when "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT seen?" (Hebrews 11:1)

In my opinion, it's because the entire movement is built upon what flesh accomplishes, rather than what Spirit provides. It's about measurements.

Speaking in tongues is something we can see and hear. It's tangible. It's "initial evidence" that you measure up. Faith, on the other hand, is mocked as "easy believism." Grace is often referred to as something dirty (greasy grace). Why? Because faith and grace are not always visible. They are unseen. They can't be measured.

In part one I mentioned that I've heard many times that those who leave standards eventually leave basic Oneness Pentecostal soteriology. In my previous life I wondered why. Now I know.

At some point I wearied of working and started trusting. I realized the same God whom I trusted to make me holy, has the power to keep me holy. I cannot save myself, not matter how hard I try.

Only Jesus saves.

Thanks for reading. More to come in part three.


This writing is the copyright of E.L. Anglin and is reprinted on this site by permission. View all of his available articles here.


Page added February 10, 2015

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