Summary: 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. Is this belief true?
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?