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

by E.L. Anglin

A Oneness Pentecostal has no assurance of salvation. There is always an element of uncertainty involved in one's relationship with God. Perhaps that's why you will rarely hear a Oneness Pentecostal talk about how many people "got saved" in a church service. Instead, they report baptisms and speaking in tongues experiences. This is not coincidental. The language of the movement stems from its core beliefs.

Apostolics don't talk like other Evangelical Protestant Christians. Perhaps that's because the doctrine of justification by faith is the cornerstone of Protestant theology and, oddly, at odds with the Oneness Pentecostal doctrine of salvation.

While those who protest the Catholic doctrines of salvation by works (Protestants) believe that salvation is laid hold of by faith in the work of Jesus on the cross, Oneness Pentecostals preach that one can only obtain good standing with God by remaining perfectly obedient to all of the commands of the Bible and the church.

The premier Oneness Pentecostal theologian, David K. Bernard, says as much in the closing chapter of his book "Justification and the Holy Spirit." As the title suggests, Bernard posits that it is impossible to be justified without speaking in tongues. Further Bernard outright declares that the Oneness doctrine of salvation is neither Catholic nor Protestant. In his mind it's a mixture of faith and works.

To Apostolics justification is not an event, it's a never-ending life-long process. There is no way to know if one has done enough to earn God's approval. Not when one repents, not when one is baptized properly, and not when one speaks in tongues. While those experiences are celebrated, they are only the starting point. One has to "hold out to the end." One has to be perfectly pure. Everything hinges upon human effort.

To Oneness Pentecostals faith is a process, not a trusting belief. This is very similar to the Catholic view of salvation, which hinges upon steps and processes and formulas.

Ask a Oneness Pentecostal when his or her sins were forgiven. Initially they will report that they were forgiven at repentance, yet they believe that sins are not washed away until baptism. So were they really forgiven before baptism? No. Because in their mind, without baptism one is still headed to hell. Yet even baptism doesn't earn forgiveness, because unless one speaks in tongues one is still headed for hell. Yet even speaking in tongues is not enough, because unless one follows holiness standards they are still headed for hell. Those holiness standards are arbitrary, so in the end there is never, ever, any assurance.

To be clear, Oneness Pentecostals are uncomfortable with Protestant Evangelicals like Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and Presbyterians because they believe that those groups are inferior. Those groups don't have "full salvation." Sadly, Apostolics never seem to enjoy full salvation either.

The Apostle Paul, in Romans 3, lays out the way to lay hold of "rightness" with God. It's my prayer that you read his words and apply them to your life. Please, dear reader, stop efforting. Start trusting.

Romans 3:19-28 NLT "Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.

People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.

This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law."

Read part six.

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


August 23, 1997
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