Monday, July 30, 2007

Oneness Pentecostalism

***The following is my response to an AOMin email. Enjoy =)

Hello Nathan,

Just to be clear, are you a Oneness Pentecostal? And you believe that within the one being of God, there exists one divine Person? If you answered yes, then you are correct that we worship very different gods. My god is tri-personal (triune), which simply means that within His one being exists three divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

To deny that God is triune is to deny the one true god. The reason I say this is because Scripture teaches that one must believe in God as He truly is. Jesus brings this out in John 8.

Throughout the chapter, Christ makes repeated claims of His cooperation and agreement with the work of the Father. Christ's judgements are perfectly aligned with the Father's (vs 16). Christ testifies about himself; the Father also testifies about Christ (vs 18). Finally, there is such a union between the Father and the Son that to know Christ is to the know the Father (vs 19).

It is then that Christ makes the statement found in verse 24: "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (NASB). You might have noticed that "He" is italicized. The italicized font is used because the translators are making the reader aware that the word is supplied. A more literal translation would read: "...unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins." The greek phrase for "I am" is "ego eimi" which I believe is a claim of divinity on the part of Christ.

There is a strong line of argumentation that leads to this conclusion: the Septuagint's (the Septuagint is the greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) rendering of Exodus 3:14 and Isaiah 43:10 (both important Old Testament texts) uses the same Greek phrase "ego eimi" found in John 8:24. In Exodus 3:14, God describes Himself as "I AM that I AM" ... which was how Moses described God to Pharoah. In Isaiah 43:10, "I AM" is used in the context of God being the one true god. It is with this rich background that Jesus applies "I am" to himself, and throughout John's gospel (John 8:58-59, John 13:19, John 18).

Getting back to our text in John 8:24, you will notice that unless you believe Jesus is "I am" you will die in your sins. Not only is this a claim of divinity, but given the immediate context one must also properly infer Christ's relation to the Father. In other words, is the Son a distinct Person from the Father? Or are they one and the same Person? In conclusion, to embrace Oneness theology about god is to embrace a false god because the god found in Scripture is tri-personal.

If you are interested, I would be happy to discuss the doctrine of the Trinity, as well as your own thoughts on God. Please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.

Casey Ryan