Oneness advocate and popular TV evangelist T. D. Jakes (of the Potter’s House church in Dallas, TX) has changed (reworded) his doctrinal statement regarding God. His old statement read:

THREE DIMENSIONS OF ONE GOD. . . . Triune in His manifestation, being both Father, Son and Holy Ghost AND that He is Sovereign and Absolute in His authority. We believe in the Father who is God Himself, Creator of the universe. (Gen. 1:1; John 1:1).

Here his denial of the biblical definition of the Trinity is crystal clear. Describing God as “THREE DIMENSIONS” and saying God is “Triune in His manifestations” is decidedly Oneness, not Trinitarian. His statement before this one (1998) read in part: “God-There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three Manifestations: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

But as of recently, he changed it again, going back to the 1998 description: “There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” As we can see, the “Belief Statement” on the Potter’s House website: http://thepottershouse.org/explore/belief-statement/) still provides a unitarian and distinctly Oneness concept of God- using the term “manifestations” (thus avoiding the use of “Persons”) to describe God is consistent with Oneness doctrine, not Trinitarianism.

For those who still defend Jakes insisting that he holds to the biblical doctrine of the Trinity and not Oneness theology, please refer to the Potter’s House website and read his own Belief Statement. Denying the Trinity denies the biblical revelation of the nature of God. See A Concise Look at Oneness Beliefs.  

 

  

 

Spanish edition Here- 

 

John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (cf. John 4:24). The one true God has revealed Himself as three distinct persons, the Father and the Son, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Unbiblical Teachings of Oneness-Unitarian Theology

Oneness Christology is a clear and major departure from biblical orthodoxy. Similar to Islam, it teaches a unitarian/unipersonal (i.e., one person) concept of God. Hence, the chief Oneness Christological divergences from that of the biblical teachings are as follows:

1. Oneness Christology denies the unipersonality and deity of the Son. It teaches that “Jesus” is the name of the unipersonal deity. Accordingly, the “Son” merely represents the human nature of Jesus, while “Father/Holy Spirit” represents the divine nature of Jesus—thus, the Son is not God, only the Father is (cf. Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 99, 103, 252).

2. Along with the deity, Oneness Christology denies the preexistence and incarnation of the Son, and thus, His role as the Creator (cf. ibid., 103-4; Magee, Is Jesus in the Godhead or Is The Godhead in Jesus?, 1988: 25). By denying the preexistence of the person of the Son, Oneness doctrine rejects the incarnation of the divine Son holding to the erroneous notion that it was Jesus as the Father, not the Son, who came down and wrapped Himself in flesh, and that “flesh” was called “Son” (cf. Bernard, 106, 122).

In sharp contrast to Oneness Christology, Scripture presents clearly and definitely that the distinct person of the Son 1) is fully God (cf. Dan. 7:9-14; John 1:18; 5:17-18; Phil. 2:6-11; Heb. 1:3, 8, 10; 1 John 5:20; Rev. 1:8, 22:13), 2) was the Creator of all things (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1: 2, 10-12), 3) eternally coexisted with and is distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit (cf. Gen. 19:24; Dan 7:9-14; Matt. 28:19; John 17:5; 2 Cor. 13:14; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 5:13-14), and 4) became fully man in order “to give His life a ransom for many” (cf. John 1:1, 14; Mark 10:45; Phil. 2:6-11).

This is the Jesus of biblical revelation. Jesus Christ is the only mediator and intercessor between God the Father and human beings. Jesus is the divine Son, the monogenēs theos (“unique God”) who is always in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18), a personal self-aware subject, distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. In contrast to Oneness Christology, Jesus is not the Father, but “the Son of the Father” (2 John 1:3; cf. John 17:5ff.; 1 John 1:3).

Worshiping the unipersonal God of Oneness theology is not worshiping the true God in spirit nor truth. The Oneness concept of God is fundamentally the same as Islam and the Watchtower (Jehovah’s Witnesses): a unipersonal deity with no distinction of persons. The true God of biblical revelation is triune—the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

See Oneness Tract

NOTE: the answers provided to the questions below are a simple and quick guide for the interested person wishing to compare Oneness theology with Trinitarian theology. The answers do not represent a *full exegetical presentation—rather it simply and basically demonstrates (a) the fundamental Oneness unitarian assumptions (viz. asserting that God is one Person) and (b) the basic theological errors of Oneness theology (e.g., denying the deity of the Son). For an expanded exegetical refutation of Oneness unitarian theology see Oneness Theology (Modalism).

Important Question: If Jesus is the Father, why is there not a single passage that states this in the NT or the OT? The fact is, Jesus is explicitly referred to as “the Son” over 200 times in the NT–never as Father or Holy Spirit. In the NT, Jesus refers to the Father over 200 times as someone else.

Further, the Father and Jesus are mentioned in the same verse over 50 times. Further, 179 times, Jesus refers to the Father as “the Father,” “my Father,” or “your Father” in the Gospels as distinct from himself, at no time does he refer to “my Son” or anything of the sort as distinct from himself! Forty times in John’s Gospel, Jesus refers to himself as “sent by the Father,” but never does he refer to himself as the Father who sent the Son

Also, in Isaiah 9:6, where the name of the coming Messiah will be “Everlasting father,” is of no help for Oneness advocates trying to prove Jesus is the Father See Isaiah 9:6: Oneness Refuted

 

1. Where in the Scripture does it say that God is unitarian? (or that God exist as one person?)

Note: Nowhere in Scripture is God defined as one person, but rather as one Being: mono (from monos, meaning, alone or only one) and theism (from theos, meaning, God). Oneness adherents (along with Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses) wrongly assume that the concept or word “one” when referring to God (e.g., Deut. 6:4) has the strict denotative meaning of absolute solitude. Arguing unipersonalism (unitarianism) assumes a conclusion that is meant to be proved.

2. If God is unitarian, how do you explain passages such as Genesis 19:24 where Yahweh (“LORD”), rained brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of heaven?

Note: there are many places in the OT where God is presented as multi-personal (e.g., plural nouns, verbs, nouns, prepositions, and plural adjectives were used of God, i.e., “Us,” “Our,” in Gen. 1:26-27; 3:22; 11:7-9; Isa. 6:8; 54:5; Prov. 30:3; John 14:23]; Yahweh to Yahweh and Elohim (“God”) to Elohim correspondences in passages such as Gen. 19:24; Ps. 45:6-7; Hos. 1:6-7; etc.).

3. If God is unitarian, why are there so many plural descriptions in the OT (viz. plural nouns, adjectives, verbs, prepositions) to describe the one God? (as seen above).

Example: in Isaiah 54:5, “Maker” is plural in Hebrew, lit., “Makers”; same with Psalm 149:2 where “Maker” is in the plural in Hebrew. The same can be said in Ecclesiastes 12:1, where the Hebrew literally reads, “Remember also your Creators” (plural in Heb.). Thus, because God is tri-personal He can be described as both “Maker” and “Makers” and as “Creator” and “Creators.” He is one Being, not one Person—a point that is repeatedly brought to bear by the OT authors.

4. If God is unitarian, why is it that there are so many places in the Bible where the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are clearly distinguished from each other in the same verse?

Example, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Also see passages such as Matthew 3:17-17; 28:19; Luke 10:21-22; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:3-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 3:5-7; 1 Peter 1:2-3; and Jude 1:20-21 where all three persons of the Trinity are referred—in the same verse or context.

5. If Jesus is the Father, why is it that Jesus is explicitly referred to as “the Son” over two hundred times in the NT, and never once is he called “Father? Note, that over two hundred times, the Father is referred to by Jesus or someone else as being clearly distinct from Jesus. Over fifty times, the Father, and Jesus are presented as explicitly distinct in the same passages (cf. Dan. 7:9-14; John 1:1, 18; 6:37-39, 44; 14:23; 17:5; 2 John 1:3; 2:22; Heb. 1:1-13; Jude 1:1; Rev. 5:13 et al. (see above). Further, almost one hundred and eighty times, Jesus is presented as referring to “the Father,” “My Father,” or “your Father” in the Gospels as distinct from Himself, and at no time does Jesus refer to “my Son.” Forty times, in the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to Himself as “Sent by the Father,” but never does Jesus refer to Himself as the Father who sent the Son (cf. John 6:38). And over two hundred times, Scripture speaks of the Holy Spirit and Jesus as Distinct Persons- and Never once does Scripture call Jesus the Father or the “Holy Spirit.”

 6. If the “Son” has not eternally existed with (personally distinct from) the Father why then is the Son presented as the agent of creation, that is, the Creator Himself? (for in Oneness theology *only Jesus as the “Father” mode existed prior to Bethlehem).

Note: in passages such as John 1:3, 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16-17, Hebrews 1:2, 10-12, the “Son” is clearly presented as agent of creation, the Creator Himself. Specifically, in John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2 and 2:10, the Greek preposition dia (“though”) is followed by a pronoun (autou, “Him”) in the *genitive* case (or possessive case). Grammatically, when dia is followed by the genitive (as in these passages), the preposition indicates “agency” (cf. Daniel B. Wallace, GGBB, 368; J. Harold Greenlee, A Concise Exegetical Grammar of New Testament Greek, 5th ed. 31; A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 4:478-79; and cf. also Walter Bauer’s, A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament, 3rd ed. [hereafter BDAG], 225).

Hence, exegetically these passages do not indicate that the Son was a mere instrument of creation (as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons believe), nor, as Oneness teachers argue, these passages indicate that the Son was only a “thought” or “plan” in the Father’s mind when the Father (Jesus’ divine nature) created all things. Rather the Son is biblically (exegetically) presented as the Creator of all things Himself. That the Son was the Creator clearly disproves the Oneness position. This is the greatest weakness of the Oneness position: For if the Son created, then, He eternally existed with the Father.

7. If the Son did not eternally exist with the Father as a distinct Person why is it that the “Son” can say, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had [or shared, eichon] with You before the world was.”? How did the Son have (literally, actively possessed) glory with (para) the Father before time if the Son did not exist before Bethlehem?

Note: In this beautiful passage (Jesus’ high priestly prayer) the “Son” (for Jesus says, “Now, Father”) says that He possessed or shared glory with the Father, before time.

To avoid the plainness of the passage (namely, the preexistence of the Son and His personal distinction from His Father), Oneness teachers argue that the glory that Jesus (the Son) had with the Father, only signified the future glory or “plan” in the Father’s mind, thus anticipating the Son’s coming at Bethlehem. But the Son, they say, was not really there with the Father “before the world was.” However, consider the following:

First, note that the glory that the *Son* said that He possessed or shared (eichon) was when? Answer: Before time. The Son said that He *HAD* glory *before* time—with (para) the Father. Exegetically, it cannot refer to the Father thinking of the Son or having the Son in view or in His mind, for Jesus uses the imperfect tense [eichon, *had*), which shows that the Son had or possessed it, not in the Father‘s mind. The Son is speaking of something that He had, that He shared with the Father; the Son is not speaking of something that the Father had (in view).

Second, when did the Son have this glory (which only God has, Isa, 42:8)? Before time, with the Father. The term *with* is para in Greek. Grammatically, when the preposition para (“with”) is followed by the dative case (as in this verse: para seautō, para soi), especially in reference to persons, it indicates “near,” “beside,” or “in the presence of.” Noted Greek scholar Daniel B. Wallace provides the precise meaning of the preposition para followed by the dative: “In general, the dative uses suggest proximity or nearness. a. Spatial: near, beside, b. Sphere: in the sight of, before (someone), c. Association: with (someone/something) (BBGG). This is agreed by recognized Greek Grammars and recognized Lexicons of the NT such as BDAG, 757. Noted Greek grammarian, A. T. Robertson says of the passage that “This is not just ideal pre-existence, but actual and conscious existence at the Father’s side (para soi, “with thee”) ‘which I had’ (hē eichon, imperfect active of echō. . . . ” (Robertson, Word Pictures, 5:275-76).

In sum, John 17:5 the Son first commands/asks (doxason, aorist impart.) the Father to glorify Him together with Him (para seautō, thus, a shared glorification, a glory that only God can have, Isa. 42:8), which shows that the glory that the Son had was in together in the presence of the Father. The *Son* said that He possessed (note the imperfect of echō) the glory WITH (para, in the presence of) the Father (not in the Father’s mind, for eh Son had it). And when did the Son have this glory? Before time. Also, only that the Son was God can He God make this request/command to the Father, not mere man. For God does not share His glory with no one (cf. Isa. 42:8).

So when a Oneness advocate says that the Son did not exist before time, remember, that assertion is not based on biblical exegesis, but rather on what he or she has been taught by Oneness pastors/teachers. Also, John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17; and Hebrews 1:10-12 teach exegetically that the Son was God, the agent of creation, the Creator, thus preexisting with the Father.

Note, of all the times para is followed by the dative in John’s literature (10 times), not once does para indicate with/in the mind, but rather, a literal association or in the presence of someone else or others, unless one (as Oneness advocates do) makes John 17:5 the exception to John’s usage:

For example,

John 1:39: He *said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him [par’ autw] that day, for it was about the tenth hour

John 8:38: “I speak the things which I have seen with My Father [para tō patri ]; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”

John 14:23: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and we will make Our abode with him.'” Note the first person plural verbs (eleusometha, “We will come,” and poiēsometha, “We will make”).

John 17:5: “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had/possessed [eichon] with You before the world was.”

John 19:25: “Therefore the soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross [para tō staurō] of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”

Revelation 2:13: “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed AMONG YOU [par’ humin], where Satan dwells.”

8. If the Son did not eternally exist with the Father as a distinct Person why is it that the “Son” is said to be “sent” from the Father “out of heaven”?

Scripture presents in plain and normal language that the preexistent person of the Son was sent from the Father (e.g., John 3:13; 16-17; 6:33, 38, 44, 46, 50-51; 62; 8:23, 38, 42, 57-58; 16:28; Gal. 4:4). Nowhere in the New Testament, however, is it said that Jesus sent the Son. If Jesus were the Father, as Oneness believers contend, one would expect to find a clear example of this—at least one passage (cf. John 3:13; 6:38, 46, 62; 8:23, 38, 42; 16:28).

“No one has ascended into heaven but He who descended from [the] heaven [ek tou ouranou]: the Son of Man” (John 3:13).

References of the Son coming down from the heaven appear nine times in John chapter 6 alone!- – In Verses 32, 33, 41, 42, 50, 51-ek tou ouranou; verse 38 – apo tou ouranou; and verse 58 – “came down ex ouranou).

27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”

32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread ek tou ouranou, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread ek tou ouranou.

33 For the bread of God is that which comes down ek tou ouranou, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”

35: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36: But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.” 

38: For I have come down apo tou ouranou, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me

41: Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down ek tou ouranou

42: They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down ek tou ouranou?”

50 This is the bread which comes down ek tou ouranou, so that one may eat of it and not die.

51: I am the living bread that came down ek tou ouranou

58: This is the bread which came down ex ouranou; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

Thus, the person of the Son of Man was in heaven prior to being sent. That the “Son of Man” was in heaven prior to Bethlehem creates a theological problem for Oneness doctrine. For the “Son of Man” in Oneness theology was not the Father, but the human Son who emerged not until Bethlehem, but here, the Son of Man came from heaven, that is, the Son (cf. Phil. 2:6-11).

 

 

9. If Oneness doctrine is biblically true, why then do the biblical authors use grammatical features that personally distinguish between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

Example,

First and third person personal pronouns: Throughout chapter 14, Jesus clearly differentiates Himself from the Father by using first person personal pronouns (“I,” “Me,” “Mine”) to refer to Himself and third person personal pronouns (“He,” “Him,” “His”) to refer to His Father (e.g., John 14:7, 10, 16). This case of marked distinction is also evident when Jesus differentiates Himself from God the Holy Spirit:

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another [allon]3 Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16; also see 14:7, 10, 26).

 

Granville Sharp’s grammatical rule #6: Specifically, the repetition of the article tou (“the”) before each noun and the conjunction kai (“and”) that connects the nouns clearly denote a distinction between all three persons named.4 Note Matthew 28:19: “in the name of the [tou] Father and of the [kai tou] Son and of the [kai tou] Holy Spirit.” Further, Paul clearly presents the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, not as three modes of a unipersonal deity, but rather as three distinct persons. The same grammatical distinctions are observed in 2 Corinthians 13:14: “The grace of the [tou] Lord Jesus Christ, and [kai] the love of God [tou theou (lit. “the God”)], and [kai] the fellowship of the [tou] Holy Spirit be with you all.” .

In Revelation 5:13, the Lamb and the Father are presented as two distinct objects of divine worship, as they are clearly differentiated by the repetition of the article tō:

“To Him who sits” (tō kathēmenō [lit. “to the one sitting”—the Father]) “and the Lamb” (kai tō arniō—the Son) are grammatically differentiated by the repeated article (“the”), which precedes both nouns and are connected by the one conjunction kai (“and”). Further, turning to 1 John 1:3, not only does John show that believers have fellowship with both the Father and the Son, but the Father and the Son are clearly distinguished as two Persons by the repeated article tou (“the”) and the repeated preposition meta (“with”):

“We proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with [meta] us; and indeed our fellowship is with the [meta tou] Father and with [kai meta] His Son [tou huiou], Jesus Christ.”

There are many other passages where this construction applies clearly denoting distinction between the Persons in the Trinity (e.g., 1 Thess. 3:11; 2 Thess. 2:16-17; 1 John 2:22-23).

Different prepositions: Throughout John chapter 14 (and chaps. 15-16), Jesus distinguishes Himself from His Father by using different prepositions. This use of different prepositions “shows a relationship between them,”5 and clearly denotes essential distinction, e.g., “no one comes to [pros] the Father but through [dia] Me” (John 14:6); “he who believes in [eis] Me . . . I am going to [pros] the Father” (v. 12; cf. also John 15:26; 16:28). Paul, too, regularly uses different prepositions to clearly differentiate the Father from the Son. In Ephesians 2:18, Paul teaches that by the agency of the Son, Christians have access to the Father by means of the Spirit: “For through Him [di’ autou—the Son] we both have our access in [en] one Spirit to the Father [pros ton patera] (Eph. 2:18).

10. If Oneness doctrine (or Modalism) is the so-called doctrine of the apostles, then, why was it universally condemned as *heretical* by the early church Fathers (some of who were disciples of the original apostles) and condemned by all the important church councils and creeds?

Example, Theodotus (the first known dynamic monarchianist) was excommunicated by Victor, the bishop of Rome, around A.D. 190; Noetus (the first known modalist) was condemned by Hippolytus and by the presbyters around the same time; Praxeas was marked as a heretic by Tertullian; Paul of Samosata was condemned at the Third Council in Antioch (A.D. 268); Dionysius of Alexandria and Dionysius bishop of Rome along with many important church Fathers condemned Sabellius and his teachings as Christological heresy. Moreover, significant Christian church councils affirmed the Trinity and explicitly rejected Oneness doctrine: e.g., Council of Nicea (325); Chalcedon Creed (A.D. 451); Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381); etc.

Consider this, Trinitarians, not Oneness believers, conducted all of the major revivals worldwide. Virtually all of the great biblical scholars, theologians, and Greek grammarians, historically have been and presently are Trinitarian, not Oneness—for obvious reasons. The church has branded Oneness theology as heretical since the days of Noetus at the end of the second century. Moreover, when it found its way in the twentieth century, departing from the Trinitarian Pentecostals, it was again rejected by the church.

Modalism rips the heart out of Christianity—it denies Christ by misrepresenting Him. To be sure, Modalism embraces another Jesus, another Gospel, and another Spirit. There is only one true God. The Apostle John was very concerned as to the false beliefs and teachings of Jesus Christ, as he gives this warning:

“Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23).

By promoting the Son as a temporary mode or a role of the unitarian deity whose life started in Bethlehem, denies the Son, as well as the Father.

1. Oneness theology rejects the doctrine of the Trinity, for they are unitarian (i.e., believes that God exists as one Person—unipersonal).

2. Oneness theology rejects the eternality of the Person of the Son.

3. Oneness theology rejects that the Son was the actual Creator.

4. Oneness theology rejects the personhood of the Holy Spirit.

5. Oneness theology distorts and thus rejects the biblical concept of the Son being Mediator (Intercessor) between the Father and men (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5). For if Jesus is the Father, then, between whom would He Mediate since by definition a mediator/intercessor represents two distinct parties, other than Himself. Biblically, only Jesus, God the Son, can rightfully represent the Father (because He is God a distinct person from the the Father), and represent man because He is fully man. Again, in its proper sense, a “mediator” is one who is other than or distinct from the parties, which are being mediated. However, since in Oneness theology Jesus is both Father and Son, Jesus cannot be properly “Mediator” between two parties–God the Father and man.

6. Many Oneness churches especially the UPCI rejects justification through faith alone by teaching that one must be water baptized (“in the name of Jesus” only) to be saved—with the evidence, as the UPCI teaches, of speaking in other tongues.

7. Virtually all Oneness churches reject that water baptism should be done in the *triune* formal as instructed by Jesus in Matthew 28:19, rather, as they insist, it should be dome in the name of Jesus only.

NOTES

[1] In Phil. 2:7, the participle labōn, (“taking” as in “taking the nature of a servant”) is a participle of means (cf. Wallace, BBGG, 630). The participle describes the means or manner of the emptying. Hence, the Son emptied Himself by means of His incarnation (cf. John 1:14). Note that the emptying did not involve His deity, for Paul safeguards against such an assertion in verse 6: hos en morphē theou huparchōn (“who [Christ] always and continually subsisting in the very nature and substance God”; author’s translation).

[2] Cf. Wallace, BBGG, 350-51; Robert Reymond, Systematic Theology, 263.

[3] BDAG defines allos here as “pert[aining] to that which is other than some other entity, other . . . distinguished fr. the subject who is speaking or who is logically understood. . . .” (BDAG, 46).

[4] This grammatical rule is also know as “Granville Sharp rule #6: when multiple personal nouns in a clause are each preceded by the article ho (“the”) and linked by kai (“and”) each personal noun denotes a distinct person as in Matthew 28:19 (esp. 2 Cor. 13:14; also cf. 1 Thess. 3:11; 1 John 1:3; 2:22-23; Rev. 5:13).As NT scholar Harold Greenly points out, “When the article is used before each member, each is to be considered separately” (Greenlee, Exegetical Grammar, 23).

[5] Beisner, “Jesus Only” Churches, 34. Additionally, the repetition of the preposition distinguishes the Father and the Son as two distinct self-aware Subjects (e.g., 1 John 1:3).

Theological Identification: “Oneness” theology, historically known as “Modalism.”[1]

Who: Oneness churches include the United Pentecostal Church International (hereafter UPCI), which is the largest Oneness domination. In addition to the UPCI, there are many other Oneness churches having generic names such as “Apostolic,” “Bethel Temple,” “Higher Ground,” “Jesus’ Name,” or even “Jesus Only,” etc. Further, there are many popular and prolific preachers on the airwaves that propagate Oneness theology (e.g., Trinity Broadcasting Network [TBN] features one of the most recognized Oneness preachers, T. D. Jakes of the Potters House, Dallas, TX.[2]

The basics of Oneness theology:

The Father: Jesus’ divine nature, God.

Son: Jesus’ human nature, the Son of God, not God the Son, for only the Father is God. Jesus’ divine nature is the Father (or the Holy Spirit), His human nature is the Son.

Holy Spirit: Jesus’ divine nature. Thus, as to His divine nature, Jesus is both Father and Holy Spirit depending on His particular function (e.g., Jesus as the Father created all things, but Jesus as the Holy Spirit mode is the Comforter).

Oneness Christology is a clear and major departure from biblical orthodoxy. It removes the personhood and deity and incarnation from the Son, thus removing the Son from the Trinity. The chief Oneness Christological divergences from that of the biblical teachings are as follows:

  • Oneness Christology denies the unipersonality of the Son, Jesus Christ. 
  • Oneness Christology denies that the “Son” is God. As stated, Oneness theology teaches that Jesus’ divine nature represents the Father and Holy Spirit, but not the Son—i.e., the “Son” is not God; He is merely the human nature of Jesus (see Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 99, 103, 252; UPCI, website, 2008).
  • Oneness Christology denies the preexistence and incarnation of the Son and His role as the agent of creation (cf. Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 103-4; Magee, 1988: 25). Thus, by denying the preexistence of the Son, Oneness doctrine rejects the incarnation of the divine Son holding to the erroneous notion that it was Jesus as the Father, not the Son, who came down and wrapped Himself in flesh (hence, not actually becoming flesh), and that flesh was called “Son” (see Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 106, 122; 1991:103).
  • Oneness Christology claims that Jesus is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (same Person), hence denying the concept of the Trinity (cf. Bernard, Oneness of God, 1983: 57; Weisser, 1983: 2; UPCI, 2008). Thus, Oneness theology is “unitarian” seeing God as a unipersonal deity, same as Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

In sharp contrast, in the Pauline corpus, the deity, unipersonality and distinction of all three Persons are seen frequently either in the same passage or same context (cf. 2 Cor. 13:14). Both John and Paul present the Son as fully God and Creator of all things (cf. John 1:1, 3, 18; Col. 1:16-17; Phil. 2:6-11).

In the prologue of Hebrews, the author in v. 3 and God the Father Himself declares that the Person of the Son is “the God” (ho theos, v. 8) and further, God the Father *directly addresses* the Son as “Lord” (using the vocative kurie, “Lord”), thus, the YHWH of Psalm 102:25-27—the unchangeable Creator (1:10-12). The Father’s words here totally demolish the Oneness position, which sees the “Son” representing only the human nature of Jesus whose life started in Bethlehem.

Oneness theology cannot stand exegetically. It must circumvent and redefine the plain reading of many passages that state or imply, for example, the grammatical and contextual distinctions of the Persons in the Trinity, the preexistence and deity of the Son, and the deity and unipersonality of the Holy Spirit. Further, contrary to the historical revisionism frequently employed by Oneness authors and teachers, the early church prior to Nicea held to the concept of the Trinity and universally rejected Oneness doctrine, that is, they rejected both modalistic and dynamic forms of Monarchianism.

We must pray that God rescues Oneness believers from the darkness of Oneness-unitarianism. As Christians, we must present to them a coherent presentation of the gospel proclaiming the one true God and Savior of biblical revelation, who has revealed Himself as triune.

For a short outline on the Oneness rejection of the Son’s preexistence see this  See The Preexistence of the Son and Oneness Theology.

See10 Questions to ask Oneness Believers

See and print this short Oneness Tract

NOTES

[1] Oneness theology was first known as monarchianism, which comes from the Greek word monarchia, meaning single principle. There were two forms of monarchianism: modalistic, and the far less accepted, dynamic (or more properly called adoptionism), both of which emerged at the end of the second century. Modalistic monarchianism, known also as Modalism, Sabellianism (named after the heretic Sabellius, who came to Rome and taught it at the beginning of the third century) and even patripassianism (from Lat., meaning, “father to suffer”). Today, however, Modalism is generally classified as “Oneness.” Modalism earned its name from its distinctive theology. Basically, Modalism (or Oneness theology) teaches that God is a unitarian (i.e., unipersonal), indivisible monad. Hence, the titles “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” were merely the different modes, roles, or offices that the unipersonal deity temporally manifested for the sake of redemption. Oneness teachers today tell us that Jesus is the name of the single, lone Person behind the three masks of the “Father,” “Son” and “Holy Spirit” (in contrast to early Modalism, which taught it was the Father Person behind the masks).

[2] If you are unsure about the orthodoxy of a particular church (or pastor), examine the church’s doctrinal statement concerning God. If it avoids the word “Person,” and/or describes God as three “manifestations” or “dimensions” (as T. D. Jakes does, see The Potter’s House  use extreme caution! Orthodox Christianity has never described God as merely temporary appearances, manifestations, or even worse, “dimensions.” Oneness churches typically describe God in those terms. However, if a church claims to be Trinitarian, yet uses terms like “manifestations” to describe the three Persons of the Trinity, it reveals theological ignorance or carelessness. In my observation, the term “manifestations” in a doctrinal statement frequently indicates Oneness rather than Trinitarian theology. Therefore, when churches avoid the term “Persons” in their doctrinal statements—beware.