The January 2012 edition of Christianity Today included an interview with the notable modalist (oneness) preacher TD Jakes in which he claimed to have adopted a Trinitarian theology. I agree with the comments at the end of this article in which the author opines that one cannot have a foot in both the oneness camp and in the trinitarian camp. It just doesn’t work that way. TD Jakes may be a great preacher. He may have a large congregation. Mr. Jakes may be smarter than I am. He’s also a heretic.
Let me explain
Basically, oneness theology states that the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is a heretical notion and some will tell you that if you believe such a notion you are going to hell. The irony this is not lost on an observant believer. Orthodoxy cannot be heretical because….. well…. it’s orthodox. Something that goes against orthodoxy might be heretical if (in the definition of this blog at least) it pertains to salvation. Oneness surely fits this criteria nicely. Oneness believers believe that there is one god. So far so good. But they believe that this one god manifests himself in three ways, as the Father, as Jesus, and as the Holy Spirit. This is an anti-Biblical point of view that stands in stark contrast to the clear teaching of Scripture.
Jesus’ Baptism is a good example of a Biblical description of the Trinity. First John testifies concerning Jesus being the Son of God because he saw the Spirit descend upon Him.
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
(John 1: 32-34, ESV)
This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!
Obviously, Jesus and the Spirit are distinct personages in this passage. Also, when there is a son there must be a Father, yet another person. We can also look to Luke’s account of Jesus’ transfiguration. Jesus, James and John go up a mountain to pray and while they are up there, Jesus is transfigured and Elijah and Moses appear and speak with Him. At the end of this scene, the disciples hear the voice of the Father:
“a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
(Luke 9:34-35, ESV)
“I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”
17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
(John 20:17, ESV)
These are just a few obvious examples but enough to demonstrate that the doctrine of the Trinity is Biblical and sound. Since Jesus is God (c.f. Jesus is Equal With God), His Father and our Father must also be God and so must the Holy Spirit and yet they are somehow different persons. To those who claim that it is impossible for one God to be fully present in three persons I can only say, He’s God so it’s not. The Bible says that this is so, therefore, to claim to be a Christian, one must accept this or go get your own name.
But Why is Oneness/Jesus Only Theology Heretical?
A belief in God presenting Himself in three different ways, as such groups as Apostolic Pentecostals such as Bishop Jakes and denominations such as The United Pentecostal Church International, and other Jesus Only/Oneness organizations adhere to, is heretical for at least two reasons. First, like I said it is anti-Biblical. This leads to the more important reason that it is heretical. Since the Bible clearly and easily reveals God in three persons and that Jesus Christ is the Son in this Holy Trinity, worshiping a Jesus that is not the Son of God in this way is not worshiping Christ at all. Anyone who worships this not-Christ must by simple definition, be worshiping the anti-Christ. It does not get much more heretical than that, period.
- Truth Matters (christophercrandolph.wordpress.com)
- Jesus, the Gospel and other Essentials of the Christian Faith (christophercrandolph.wordpress.com)