A Few More Funerals
By J. R. Ensey
There it was in black and white: “It may take another decade-and a few more funerals-to end this [Oneness v. Trinitarian] debate.” (J. Lee Grady, Charisma, 7/02, p. 6) It was a young, cocky Charismatic editor feeling his oats and asking the elders in both camps, “Are you feeling sick yet?”
He was appealing to both sides to “stop the feud,” as if we were the Hatfields and McCoys shooting it out in the hills of Kentucky over the rights to the Tug Fork corn squeezings. The differences between Oneness theology and trinitarianism is far more than some denominational “feud” or split.
Because the author views it from that perspective, he suggested that another decade will probably see the changing of the guard in the United Pentecostal Church. The hoary-headed elders who are stubbornly clinging to the scriptural concept of one God manifested as the eternal Father, the redeeming Son, and the transforming Holy Spirit, rather than an eternally compartmentalized God represented by three separate and distinct personages, will pass the baton of leadership to younger men who are not so committed to the cardinal doctrines of the Bible. Then, he suggested, “the real parry can begin.”
Don’t hang the streamers and light the candles yet! There is an army of young men who
are waiting in the wings with red blood in their veins, absolute truth in their hearts, and a burning desire to reach the world with the apostolic gospel. He may be listening to the wrong voices, or feeling the pulse of a few high-profile individuals who are not as committed as their peers. He may be mistaken if he thinks those with whom he meets and talks are representative of the rank and file.
He gave Oneness believers a number of steps to take if we were to heal this “dysfunctional” situation in the body of Christ and avoid being “marginalized”:
1) Cease banning television for our people;
2) Stop opposing women wearing pants, make-up, and short hairstyles;
3) Season our message with grace (read: stop preaching any holiness standards);
4) Stop trying to convert trinitarians;
5) Cease declaring that there is only one way-he used the term “ticket”-to heaven.
What would be required of the Trinitarians? As the author pulled his self-righteous robes around himself, he could only think of one requirement specifically for them: be willing to call the Oneness believers “brothers.” In other words, if we spiritually emasculate ourselves by tossing John 3:5, Acts 2:38 and Hebrews 12:14 out the window, they will embrace us as brethren. Wow, what a magnanimous concession! If we will recant the one-God message, quit insisting on the whole gospel to the whole world, drop holiness, and install a sewer line from Hollywood in our homes, then they would consider fellowshipping with us as a part of the body of Christ. Both groups were called on to “renounce sterile religion,” to which he attached the terms “dress codes and harsh judgmentalism [and] spiritual pride,” making it obvious whom he judged to be “sterile.”
We knew those were the conditions all along, they just hadn’t been put into public print. Now it is out in the open for all to see what the real Charismatic agenda is-expedite the apostolic Pentecostals’ fall from grace and be there with open arms to catch them! Grady holds out hope for “reconciliation,” yet he suggests no compromises of substance for the trinitarians. In other words, the bridge that some speak of to the Charismatic world is a one-way affair. If the gap is closing, and “they are getting closer to us” as some suggest, it simply means that we are moving toward them while they are standing still.
The Roman Catholic Renewal leader, Kilian McDonnell, made it abundantly clear that in any discussion with Oneness groups-he even exulted that “progress” was being made in ecumenical dialogue between the Oneness and Trinitarian groups discussing doctrinal issues in private sessions at the Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS) meeting earlier this year in Florida-the doctrine of the Trinity was not on the table. There would be no concessions on that dogma. So what is there to discuss? What ground is there to give? What positions are there to negotiate?
Baptism in Jesus name? Speaking with tongues? Holiness?
Apostolics desire that all come to the full knowledge that Christ was the one God manifest in the flesh, that water baptism is to be done in the name of Jesus Christ, that the infilling of the Holy Spirit is not an optional second blessing, and that the New Testament is abundantly clear on the issue of a separated lifestyle. We want everyone to be saved like the apostles were saved. We would like for all to know that we do not preach salvation by works-one can be baptized until he looks like a prune but it is not efficacious without complete faith and trust in the work of Christ on Calvary. We could wear burnooses and burkas that completely cover our bodies but it would not in itself make us holy. We could go to the hills and live in caves like medieval
ascetics, but that would not achieve sanctification. Is the false claim that we preach salvation by works made so they can justify their unwillingness to obey the Scriptures? Is it merely a salve for their conscience? Or has “must be” actually been removed from John 3:5, “must do” from Acts 9:6, “commanded” from Acts 10:48, “no other doctrine” from I Timothy 1:3, and “no man” from Hebrews 12:14? Perhaps the entire Book of James has been excised from the Holy Writ by those who propagate “super grace.”
It is love that motivates us to preach truth and “hold fast the form of sound words … without wavering” (II Timothy 1:13; Hebrews 10:23). We hold the line because we do love. But Christian love has no association with compromise with the world. Love is not a license to do or preach as one pleases, neither are we appointed to sit in judgment of our own selves: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me” (I Corinthians 4:3,4 NIV). It is God’s will-and ours-that “all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9) followed by the washing, sanctification, and justification that comes “in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the
Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
Then, and then only, let the party begin.
The Above Material Was Published By The Apostolic Christians Library Builder, Pages 1, 28. This Material Is Copyrighted And May Be Used For Study And Research Purposes Only.