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Oneness Pentecostals claim that their doctrine of God and salvation is the same understanding the apostles had of God. They also argue that the generations that immediately followed the apostles were distorted by the Trinitarian theories imposed on them.1 But if that were true, why was there no evidence of a great contention exploding to fend off this "pagan" view?

On the other hand, beginning in the 2nd century, you will find much debate AGAINST those that were infiltrating views similar to those of the Oneness Pentecostals known as Modalistic Monarchianism and Sabellianism, among others. Yes, there were different forms! It was first called Monarchianism and came about in the late 2nd century by Theodotus of Byzantium and later Paul of Samosata which developed it even further. Eventually, Sabellius refined it even more.

The fact is, the early church was confronted by all sorts of unbiblical views in addition to modalism, such as Gnosticism and Arianism. This was the catalyst for the formation of the doctrine of the Trinity. Having to take on the formidable task of defending the truth, the church fathers were required to think2 through what Scripture reveals about the nature of God. The doctrine of the Trinity is simply the EXPLICIT formulation of what Scripture already implicitly states about the nature of God.

Oneness Pentecostals see this late formulation and refinement of the Trinity as further proof of its invalidity. However, the New Testament canon was not given its formal ratification until late in the fourth century and the doctrine of the two natures of Christ was not significantly settled until the fifth century at the council of Chalcedon in 451. Needless to say, I have not yet heard of any Oneness Pentecostals who find this reason enough to view these two items as invalid.

From that point, until the 19th century, there was only a smattering of the Oneness view. So its not a surprise that a Oneness writer gives his excuse for the lack of evidence when he admits that "MOST Oneness believers did not leave a written record (my emphasis added)". However, he can't provide an excuse as to why they couldn't leave a written record. He also says what written record there was must have been destroyed.3 That would have meant that the gates of hell DID overcome the church which goes against what Jesus stated in Matthew 16:18.

It was not until 1913 that the Oneness view re-surfaced with a vengeance. Pentecostal leaders, such as Canadian R.E. McAlister, taught that the triune formula was never used in baptism. This was then meditated on by John Scheppe who then received a "revelation" that baptism was now to be administered by evoking the words "in the name of Jesus." This eventually led to the rejection of the Trinity as unbiblical. In 1916 the Assemblies of God (AOG) denomination, seeking to stem the tide, set down a new tenant of faith. Oneness adherents rejected it and eventually broke away from the AOG.

So you see, the modern Oneness Pentecostal movement was not started by an existing adherent that somehow was keeping the fire of Oneness Pentecostalism alive. Instead, it was, as UPC writer David Bernard acknowledges, many Pentecostals who "rejected trinitarianism and the trinitarian baptismal formula" that began "the modern Oneness Pentecostal movement" (The Oneness of God [Word Aflame Press, 1983], chapter 10.) Yet some will still claim only they have the truth that was passed down to them by the apostles.

Oneness Pentecostals, as a whole, are now one of the largest anti-Trinitarian movements in the world. If you believe their own estimates they are the largest, however, more conservative estimates put them behind the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses. They differ from the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses in that they don't claim their extra-biblical literature to be on the same level as, or greater than, the Bible. However, they still belong to the "club." All cults and world religions oppose the Trinity and, therefore, true Christianity.

Oneness Pentecostals, in general, view the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three roles, modes or manifestations that God temporarily assumes. Some will say that God as one divine person assumes these roles, but most call God one person only in the form of Jesus.4 Because the Oneness Pentecostal doctrine teaches that there is only one God and that Jesus is God, most Christians are satisfied, yet completely unaware of the danger that lies (pun intended?) within.What mode is"Jesus" in now? However, Oneness Pentecostals deduce from this that, since Jesus Christ is called God, and the Father is called God, then Jesus must be the Father.5

While Trinitarians acknowledge that the Sonship of Jesus is an aspect of His divinity, Oneness Pentecostals see it only as an aspect of His humanity. In other words, whenever Jesus is distinguished from the Father in Scripture, such as when He is said to love and be loved by the Father, it is referring to Jesus in His human nature as the Son. But when Jesus is portrayed in divine terms and not distinguished from the Father, then they feel that Scripture portrays Him as being Himself the Father.6

Furthermore, Oneness proponents say that Jesus is able to hold a conversation between His two natures of humanity and divinity! Understanding all of this is having the "key" to interpreting passages which show a distinction between the Father and the Son.7

Another Oneness Pentecostal view is that Jesus the Son can't be eternal, but, as Father He can. In other words, the Sonship pre-existed in the mind of God only, started at His conception in Mary's womb and will eventually have an end.8

Oneness Pentecostals take pride that they have the key to unlocking the mystery of God. However, the Oneness view is actually more mysterious than the Trinity because the real, uniform, eternal God is somehow concealed behind three (or more9 ) temporarily revealed "manifestations" or "modes" of God.

Last, but not least, their flawed interpretation of Scripture also impairs other Christian beliefs, for the Oneness doctrine believes that salvation is obtained only AFTER one has achieved ALL of the following: faith, repentance, water baptism by immersion with "name of Jesus" evoked and baptism of the Holy Spirit evidenced only by speaking in tongues.10

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1. David K. Bernard, The Oneness of God (Word Aflame Press, 1983), chapter 10. "Even after the emergence of the trinitarian doctrine in the latter part of the second century, the doctrine of the trinity did not replace Oneness as the dominant belief until around 300 A.D., and it did not become universally established until late in the fourth century."; Juan Fortino, God: Part 3, Preserving Doctrinal Unity, Apostolic Biblical Expositor, 1st Quarter (Manna Apostolic Publications, Los Angeles, CA, 1994), 19. "The formulation of our theology comes from the apostolic era"; Ibid., 20. "This position [Trinitarian] was energetically refuted by the apostolic theology of the period [4th century], but the power of these theories was imposed on Christianity and remains today." ^

2. a) Some people would have you believe that using your mind to learn the things of God is of much lesser importance than using your "heart" or getting revelation through an esoteric experience. However, Scripture commands that we use the heart and mind equally (See Matt. 22:37-38; 1 Cor. 14:14-15).
b) The early church was simply continuing what Paul himself started in defining God to unbelievers (See 1 Cor. 8:5-6).

3. David K. Bernard, The Oneness of God (Word Aflame Press, 1983), chapter 10. Bernard tries to provide evidence that the "early Christian leaders in the days immediately following the apostolic age were Oneness", however, it is a pathetic attempt at best as I demonstrate here. Now I have not read all the books or articles written by modern Oneness Pentecostals regarding the nature of God, but I would surmise that in most of them, you would find, at least once, the statement: "Jesus is the Father" (Bernard can't help but make the statement in his book about salvation -- The New Birth, Word Aflame Press, 1984, chapter 7). Now if what the apostles wrote (the Bible and other noncanonical books) was clearly what Oneness Pentecostals believe, why won't you find this statement even once? Could this be why their writings were never destroyed? And unless Oneness adherents want to go the way of Mormons, they cannot say that today's Bible can be trusted only as far it is translated correctly.

4. Ibid., chapter 12. "we limit our conception of God if we describe Him as a person. For this reason, this book has never said there is one person in the Godhead or God is one person. The most we have said is that Jesus Christ is one person, because Jesus was God manifested in flesh as a human person."; Juan Fortino, God: Part 3, Preserving Doctrinal Unity Apostolic Biblical Expositor, 1st Quarter (Manna Apostolic Publications, Los Angeles, CA, 1994), 20. "one person with three manifestations" and "He [God] is a person". Notice his view is not that of Bernard's.

5. David K. Bernard, The Oneness of God (Word Aflame Press, 1983), chapter 4. "If there is only one God and that God is the Father (Malachi 2:10), and if Jesus is God, then it logically follows that Jesus is the Father."

6. Ibid. "On His human side He is the Son of man; on His divine side He is the Son of God and is the Father dwelling in flesh."; Ibid. chapter 5. "We can never use the term "Son" correctly apart from the humanity of Jesus Christ."; Daniel Jauhall, Jesus Christ Emmanuel God with Us, (November, 1989), 30. "The mystery is that Jesus is God as to His Diety, and the Son as concerning the flesh. He is the Father as to His Divinity, and the Son as to His humanity."

7. David K. Bernard, The Oneness of God (Word Aflame Press, 1983), chapter 5. "Only in these terms can we describe and distinguish the two natures in Jesus; we know that He acted and spoke from one role or the other, but we also know that the two natures were not actually separated in Him."; Ibid., chapter 8. "The way to understand these verses is to view them as distinguishing the divinity of Jesus (the Father) from the humanity of Jesus (the Son)...the Bible does not record conversations between persons of the Godhead, but between the human and divine natures."

8. David K. Bernard, The Oneness of God (Word Aflame Press, 1983), chapter 5. See section that is titled "The Ending Of The Sonship".

9. Ibid., chapter 6. "While Father, Son, and Holy Ghost represent three important roles, titles, or manifestations of God, God is not limited to these three, nor does the number three have a special significance with respect to God."

10. Word Aflame Press Tract, The Apostles' Doctrine (#6103).; Daniel Jauhall, Pneumatology: Part 2 and 3, Preserving Doctrinal Unity, Apostolic Biblical Expositor, 2nd Quarter (Manna Apostolic Publications, Los Angeles, CA, 1994), 36,39.