OVERVIEW OF THE TRINITY
The Trinity is one of the foundational doctrines of Christianity. The Trinity is the teaching that there is one God who exists in three distinct, concurrent, persons. Please note, though, this is not saying there are three competing and separate gods (polytheism). The Trinity is not the teaching, in spite of some of its critics, that there are three gods, nor is it the teaching that one person is three persons. What I am explaining here is a form of monotheism. They are all each fully God, but they are the one God in the sense that they are united in one purpose. Put another way, in the one substance of divinity, in the one being that is God, there are three co-eternal, co-existent, simultaneous persons: The Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. To explain the doctrine as saying that “one person is three people,” or that there are three separate, competing deities is a misrepresentation of the doctrine.
OVERVIEW OF ONENESS THEOLOGY
Oneness theology denies the Trinity doctrine and claims that there is one person in the Godhead who has manifested himself in three different forms: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These "forms" are not three distinct persons, but one person who occupied consecutive modes.
Since the Trinity doctrine states there are three persons who, in union are the one God, and Oneness Pentecostal theology states there is only one person, it is not possible for both to be right.
PROBLEMS WITH ONENESS THEOLOGY
THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE:
• If there is only one “person” in the Godhead, why does Jesus say to the Father (who is in Heaven) let your will, not mine, be done? (Luke 22:41-42). This passage shows they are two separate, simultaneous persons who each have their own will. They each had a will, and Jesus submitted his will to the Father, whose will was different than His.
• Also in the garden, Jesus prayed, saying, “O my Father.” These words show a “Me/ You” relationship as though they are two distinct, simultaneous persons.
• Is Jesus His own Father? If there is only one person in the godhead, and Jesus is God, does this not mean that He is His own Father?
• Was Jesus praying to Himself? If Jesus was praying to the divine side of Himself, then isn't He still praying to Himself?
• If it was the fleshly side of Jesus speaking to the divine side of Jesus in heaven, then does this not deny the true incarnation of God in Christ and invalidate the atonement?
THE BAPTISM OF JESUS:
• Jesus, who is God incarnate, is baptized in the water. After He rises out of the water, the Holy Spirit comes down from Heaven in the form of a dove and rests upon Him. Then the Father speaks from Heaven, saying, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased. Were all three of these distinct persons who do something Jesus? If Jesus is the Father, how could someone else, who is called the Father in the text, speak from Heaven?
THE SCENE IN HEAVEN:
• Jesus is presented in Heaven in His glorified human state in Revelation 1. He is still fully God and fully man. If He weren’t, He would not qualify to be our High Priest. If He is still fully human (and in Heaven, how can He be the same person as the Spirit, who is on the earth ( )?
• The Father is presented as on the throne and Heaven, and Jesus is presented as a lamb beside the throne. How can this be if they are the same person?
• How can Jesus ascend to the right hand of God if He is the only person of the godhead? Did He ascend to His OWN right hand?
JESUS IS STILL MAN AND GOD:
• Since the Spirit teaches us that Jesus is in bodily form now (Col. 2:9), then how does the Oneness Pentecostal person maintain that God is in the form of the Holy Spirit?
• Jesus is spoken of as “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) and the “exact representation of His [God’s] nature.” Is He a copy of Himself? He can only represent fully in His nature another person that exists.
THE BOOK OF JOHN:
• If God is only one person, why did Jesus say in John 14:23, "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." If God is only one person, why does Jesus say, "we"?
• How can Jesus, if He is the same person as the Spirit, say that He is going to send the Spirit to earth when He returns to Heaven?
• The Father didn’t send the Word who then became the Son upon entering the world at birth. Instead, he sent the Son into the world. In other words, he was already the Son before he was sent into the world. Jesus, speaking of himself, says in John 5:23 that the Father sent the Son. In John 10:36 Jesus rebukes the false teaches and says that the Father “sanctified and sent him into the world.” From this we see that the Word made flesh did not become the Son at his incarnation for he was already in that relationship with the Father before he was sent into the world
• Also, consider where Jesus was praying to the Father in John 17:5, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
THE OLD TESTAMENT GOD:
• Since the Oneness position teaches that God is the Father only in the Old Testament, how could God be seen in a different form, such as in the form of a man or in the form of the angel of the Lord? (Exo. 6:2-3; Gen. 19:24; Num. 12:6-8) Remember that Jesus said that NO ONE has seen the Father (John 6:46). If they were seeing God Almighty (Exo. 6:2-3) but it wasn't the Father, then who was it?
• If God was in the mode of the Father, why all of the mentions of the Holy Spirit filling people in the Old Testament? The Holy Spirit is spoken of as a distinct being in the Old Testament also.
• Elohim, the Hebrew word used in the Old Testament referring to God, is a plural word. Scripture says that Elohim is one. How can a plural God be one God? Is this not showing the idea of the Trinity?
• Amos says, ““I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt; I blew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses, And I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord. I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord.” In this passage, YHWH is speaking. He says that He overthrew them like God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. Why does YHWH speak of God in the third person? May it be because One member of the Godhead is talking about another?
THE BOOK OF ACTS:
• We see that the Holy Spirit is called God in Acts 5:3-4 which tells us, “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4… Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God.” Then, just a few chapters later, Stephen sees a vision in Acts 7 of Jesus in Heaven at the right hand of God. If the Spirit is the only person of the Godhead at this point, then why are Jesus and God mentioned as two distinct beings?