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

by E.L. Anglin

The holy grail of Oneness Pentecostalism is Acts 2:38. That's because the verse encapsulates the core soteriology (doctrine of salvation) of the modern Apostolic movement.

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

From birth, Oneness Pentecostal children are taught that there are three commands in this verse: repent, be baptized, and speak in tongues. These are the minimum qualifications to achieve salvation. In their minds, one or two without the third is insufficient.

To believe this one must ignore another important Oneness doctrine--"initial evidence." Speaking in tongues is considered the initial evidence that you've been filled with God's Spirit. Every Oneness Pentecostal reading this will admit, however, that they've witnessed many people speak in tongues before water baptism.

How is this possible?

Thousands, if not millions, of people speak in tongues before they are baptized in the name of Jesus. Others speak in tongues who will never submit to the Apostolic mode of water baptism. This begs the question "Why does God fill people with His Spirit, whose sins have not been remitted?"

There are several gross misconceptions involved.

First, there is not one Bible example of anyone ever being commanded to speak in tongues. Even in Acts 2:38 Peter did not command anyone to speak in tongues. He never preached Spirit baptism as necessary to salvation. A cursory glance at the verse reveals two commands and one promise. He did command those to whom he was speaking to repent and be baptized, yet the language is different in regards to "the gift of the Holy Ghost."

"Shall receive" is a far cry from "must receive."

"Shall receive" fits perfectly with the idea of a gift. "Must receive" would qualify as a personal achievement. The first is the work of God's Spirit, the second a work of the flesh.

Second, the eerie over-emphasis on Acts 2:38 ignores the surrounding text. For which sin was Peter asking his hearers to repent? Drinking? Drugs? Theft?

Something bigger was at play.

The entire first and second chapter of Acts, which precedes verse 38, is Peter's explanation of the Gospel. He clearly lays out that Jesus was Messiah and that his audience was guilty of His murder. Their unbelief led to His death. Peter asked them to repent of a sinful mindset. That sinful mindset was the worst sort. The sort that denies Jesus.

When Peter asked them to repent, He meant of unbelief.

It's obvious that repentance was already at work as Peter spoke, because according to verse 37 "when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart." They were cut to the heart by the truth of his words. This could only occur if they believed his words.

So before Peter ever spoke verse 38, the hearts of his hearers had turned from unbelief to faith. The conclusion of verse 37 bears this out..."(They) said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do?"

Third, why did Peter command them to be baptized? The easy answer is "for the remission of sins." There are two definitions of the word "for" that can be applied. The first is used by Oneness Pentecostals. To them "for" means "in order to obtain remission (forgiveness) of sins." Almost all other Christians, however, interpret that word "for" to mean "because of the remission (forgiveness) of sins."

This is a huge dividing line. One movement views baptism as a step in a process which reaps a reward. Most others view it as a rite of thanksgiving, a public testimony, of something that has already taken place. Apostolics, like Catholics, view baptism as the means to a future cleansing. Almost all other Christians view it as a symbolic nod to a washing that took place at initial faith, or as the song "Amazing Grace" states, "the hour (we) first believed."

Fourth, Peter never uses the words "salvation" or "saved" in verse 38. Contrary to most Apostolic misquotes, the men in the audience never asked Peter "What must we do to be saved?" They simply said "What shall we do?"

Finally, just as John 3:5 never mentions the words "baptism" and "tongues," Acts 2:38 never commands anyone to speak in tongues to be saved. Oneness Pentecostals see things that aren't in scripture, while ignoring a host of other passages that directly speak of the means to salvation.

I am no longer Oneness Pentecostal because I no longer ignore inconvenient scriptures. Here are a few of my favorites...

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 10:9 That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.

Ephesians 2:8,9 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Stay tuned. More to come in part seven.

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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