“But I am afraid that, even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, your minds may be corrupted and led away from the simplicity of [your sincere and] pure devotion to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 11:3
There are heresies abounding in the world of Christendom but none of them are so destructive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the mystery of Salvation as the ones that attempt to make the Bible say things that it simply does not say. This is what Paul referred to when he said “O foolish Galatians – who has bewitched you?” False doctrines and heresy are bewitching to the gullible and the ignorant.
I am writing again about the Oneness Pentecostal heresy of which I was a part of for 15 years. I graduated from the Texas Bible College program with a 4.0 degree. I know exactly what this denomination teaches, believes, and gets so severely wrong in Scripture. Lately, I’ve felt a burden to teach doctrinally, not just rant about this woe and that woe that I experienced while part of this branch of the Charismatic movement.
The Oneness Pentecostal heresy, which is nothing but a modern offshoot of Sabellius and Modalism of the 1st Century (called heresy as well by the way by present religious scholars), is one such system of theology that forces one to eisegetically cause the Bible to say things it does not say for itself. Other groups, such as Mormonism and Catholicism believe that they have new and modern revelations that supplement or replace Scripture, but the Pentecostal system simply attempts to change the purest meaning of Scripture.
If we believe the Scripture to be self-satisfactory, self-interpreting, divine, and authoritative, we must then also accept that it says what it means, and it means what it says. John McArthur, in his books Charismatic Chaos and Strange Fire, claims this heresy is an extreme fringe of the Charismatic movement and is antithetical to the message of Christ because it must add to, and take away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ to prove it’s doctrines.
When approaching the Bible through what is called Systematic Theology we have two known labels for how the Bible is interpreted.
The first, Exegesis, is the method of letting Scripture speak for itself. Taking the Word at its word – pulling the meaning from the Scripture systematically, through historical, cultural, and Scriptural referencing. This is known as digging out what the Word of God is saying to us.
The opposite and antithetical means of Biblical interpretation is known as Eisegesis, where the interpreter must force the Scripture to say what they want it to say. The Scripture must fit their mode or theology rather than building a theology on Scripture.
This is the Heresy of Oneness Pentecostalism
Time does not permit in a short blog article to expose and diffuse all of the theological misalignments of the Oneness Pentecostal movement, but the three base rally-call doctrines they keep is enough to show the slippery slope of all the rest of their teachings, and will suffice to explain how they force Scripture to say what it does not say for itself.
- The Trinity is a Heretical Theology and believing it will condemn a person to hell
- Baptism was never done in the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost and must only be done using the name of Jesus, as Peter said in Acts 2:38. Using the titles fails to gain God’s atoning grace and leaves the baptized only wet and lost to hell
- Without the witnessed evidence of glossolalia, speaking in tongues in an ‘unknown language (non-human language)’ as the initial evidence of having received God’s Spirit, a New Testament believer is not a believer and is lost to hell
These three topics cannot be disseminated in this article, but I want to tell you where this idea comes from and then talk about how Scripture is misused and modified to eisegetically force this doctrine upon the Bible, even though the Bible does not say any of the above.
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. ~ Acts 2:38, KJV
First and foremost, the claim of Oneness Pentecostalism is that this Scripture and the outpouring of God’s Spirit at Pentecost, rooted in Judaism and spoken to an entirely Jewish audience for signs and wonders, was not only a repeatable event but is the eschatological zenith of Salvation doctrine. This alone, they say, proves that the Trinity is heretical, that baptizing in the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost/Spirit is heretical (see the heresy of the Trinity), and that you will and must Speak in Tongues when infilled with the grace given Spirit of God.
Now, the first step in forcing Scripture to say what it does not say is found in the preceding verse:
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? ~ Acts 2:37, KJV
We can make some assumptions based on Peter’s response, but what this verse did not say, is “Men and brethren, what must I do to be saved?” The Acts 2:38 model has been taught from modern Oneness Pentecostals as the ONLY method of being ‘Saved’. That without following this exact process and model, practicing things that the Scripture does not even say (Speaking in Tongues), is the only valid way of obtaining grace.
By way of comparison, we have the direct question asked in the same book, in Chapter 16, verses 30-31;
“and after he brought them out [of the inner prison], he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus [as your personal Savior and entrust yourself to Him] and you will be saved, you and your household [if they also believe].”
This is the Amplified Bible version, the King James Version reads this way;
They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you and your family will be saved.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and everyone in his home.
This is a direct question, the Word speaking for itself. What must I do to be saved?
Paul’s response was quite clear and mirrored what Jesus spoke many times, and Paul illuminates again and again in his writings what constitutes salvation. Yet, here is where heresy takes form. I have a close friend, whom I’ll never stop calling a friend, that aligns with the Charismatic idea that we must add to the Word to make it say what they want it to mean.
“Acts 15 gives us the meaning that Grace is having the Acts 2:38 experience.”
The conversation later led to this statement:
“Peter says God chose my mouth that they might believe. Referring to Acts 10 and the Gentiles being saved just like the Jews (Acts 2:38) and calls that Saved by Grace. So the Grace of God is upon us after having the Acts 2:38 Experience.”
This is again changing the Bible to say something it does not say for itself. For instance, referencing Ephesians, “You are saved by Grace, through Faith”, the mindset of the former quotes must then change Scripture to say something like this:
“You are saved, by Grace (which only comes upon you after fulfilling the ritual of Acts 2:38), through Faith (which is obedience to Acts 2:38), and not of yourself (except obeying the ritual of Acts 2:38), lest, you can claim that it was your works (with the exception of Acts 2:38) that saved you.”
And yet, here again, we have a direct dichotomy of Scripture, which is what heresy always leads to. For instance, Paul again taught that it was the obedience of Christ that made us righteous, through our belief in His finished work. How do we re-write this to say, Go look at Acts 2:38?
For just as through one man’s disobedience [his failure to hear, his carelessness] the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of the one Man the many will be made righteous and acceptable to God and brought into right standing with Him. ~ Romans 5:19, AMP
Most importantly, even IF Acts 2:38 is the method by which we attain Grace, the Scripture does not say what Oneness Pentecostals say it says…
Let’s look at Acts 2:38 again, this time with an injection of the Oneness Theology on top of it;
Then Peter said unto them, Repent (Throw away your television, do not wear make up, or cut your womens hair, or go to a sports game, dress holy (for without holiness no one will see the Lord) and such like), and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ (you must speak the name of Jesus in the ritual of baptism, if you use the Titles (which references the same God…), God will not honor your faith and you are not saved or adopted into the Body of Christ) for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (With the evidence of speaking in tongues, without which you are not saved, you have not the Spirit of Christ and you are none of his). ~ Acts 2:38, KJV
This method of changing the Bible to the interpretation of the denomination is dangerous, for it at once places the interpreter in violation of the commandment not to add to, or take away from the Gospel, but it also frees the interpreter to practice this across the entirety of Scripture.
This heretical interpretation can happen across many different portions of Scripture, and it is wrong in every case. Oneness Pentecostals teach that when Paul said, ‘long hair’ in 1 Corinthians 11:15, he actually meant to say, ‘uncut hair’, which is not in any original language nor supported in any other Scripture.
The Scripture will interpret itself and we take on condemnation when attempting to change what it says into something we want it to say.
My concern was because of the false brothers [those people masquerading as Christians] who had been secretly smuggled in [to the community of believers]. They had slipped in to spy on the freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us back into bondage [under the Law of Moses]. ~ Galatians 2:4
I am astonished and extremely irritated that you are so quickly shifting your allegiance and deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different [even contrary] gospel; ~ Galatians 1:6
I testify and warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book [its predictions, consolations, and admonitions]: if anyone adds [anything] to them, God will add to him the plagues (afflictions, calamities) which are written in this book; ~ Revelation 22:18