Trinitarian vs. Oneness Theology – Other Resources

On the subject of the doctrine of the Trinity and Oneness there are several books (many on the doctrine of the Trinity but I’ll mention only a couple) that you can read.  Oneness individuals are familiar with David Bernard’s books.  Bernard is now the head of the United Pentecostal Church International headquartered in Missouri.  I spent a great deal of time reviewing his materials again looking at specific arguments around particular scriptural passages and comparing those interpretations to the Trinitarian perspective.  I would encourage those in the UPCI or those still confused to do the same.

For your reference a few of Bernard’s books are as follows:

The Oneness of God (Word Aflame Press, 1986).

Oneness and Trinity: A.D. 100-300: the doctrine of God in ancient Christian writings (Word Aflame Press, 1991).

The Oneness View of Jesus Christ (Word Aflame Press, 1994).

Two books that I would strongly encourage my Oneness friends to consider are written by two men that are on very different ends of the spectrum within Christianity.

Dr. James White is a Reformed Baptist and runs Alpha & Omega Ministries (aomin.org) which is an apologetics organization.  White has written a number of books but has also been involved in moderated debates on numerous subjects, including debating on the Oneness/Trinitarian subject.  His book, The Forgotten Trinity, is a nice, easy to understand perspective on the doctrine of the Trinity.  He looks at a large number of scriptural passages and breaks them down in an easy to understand manner.  While there is certainly discussion of original Greek language, the book does not come across as overly technical or so scholarly that it is not intended for the lay person.  It is clearly a book designed to provide the lay person with an understanding  of and appreciation for the doctrine of the Trinity.  It provides an explanation of the Trinity in not an overly academic manner but in a manner in which the everyday Christian can read and appreciate.  I strongly recommend this book:

The Forgotten Trinity (Bethany House Publishers, 1998).

Gregory A. Boyd describes himself as a former Calvinist – as far as the view of God’s foreknowledge, Boyd is an open theist and holds a number of views that he and White would disagree on quite strongly.  Nevertheless, they have both written nice books on the subject of the doctrine of the Trinity.  What makes Boyd interesting is that as a young person, he was a member of a United Pentecostal Church.  He left the UPCI and held to Calvinistic teaching before holding the views that he holds today.  Nevertheless, there are not many books written by people of the caliber of someone like a Greg Boyd (whether you agree with his thinking on all doctrinal subjects today or not) – someone who was in and very familiar with the UPCI and its teaching and had since left.  He provides what I think is a very fair representation of Oneness teaching and then addresses that teaching in presenting the view of the doctrine of the Trinity.  In the appendix, Boyd addresses some other subjects unrelated directly to the doctrine of the Trinity but some teaching of the United Pentecostal Church as it relates to salvation, holiness standards, and the UPCI’s teaching on hair.

Oneness Pentecostals and the Trinity (Baker Books, 1992).

In addition to reading these books, something else to consider would be viewing some of the publicly moderated debates that Dr. White has performed with Oneness Pentecostals.  There are certainly a number of debates out there available for viewing.  When viewing or listening to debates my only caveat would be that it is important to not be distracted by “show” or the energetic presentation of some that would call themselves Christian apologists but to consider only the substance of the information being presented.  Sometimes energetic presentations are simply a nice way to cover up for a lack of substance, a lack of any proper response to challenges and a means for repeating in an excited fashion the same content over and over again.  It is also important to know and consider the fact that some debaters may simply be better debaters and better able to convey an argument than others.  But in the end, the purpose of the debate is not to win, per se, but to convey the truth of God’s word to those that are listening.  To reveal error through the effective presentation of God’s truth.

In 2011, James White debated Oneness apologist Roger Perkins.  I don’t recall how I came across the debate but it was here that for the first time I heard two individuals lay out their respective views on the subject of the nature of God.  It was hear that the proverbial strings began to be pulled and the Oneness position began to unwind in my mind.  There was nothing about Mr. Perkins presentation that was necessarily inadequate so much as there was an inadequacy in scriptural support for the Oneness position.  There was a lacking of any adequate response to the issues posed by Dr. White, in particular when he raised the scriptural teaching of the pre-existence of the Son before the incarnation in such a way that scripture does not teach the logos could simply be understood to be a plan in the mind of God.

It was in this debate that I believe I first heard anyone teach in any substantive way on the subject of the doctrine of the Trinity.  This didn’t necessarily “seal the deal” with me but it began to set me on a course of reading and study as well as a closer examination of the foundations for my prior beliefs and understanding on the nature of God.  I would encourage Oneness individuals to view this debate with an open mind and heart:

The Trinity Debate – James White vs Roger Perkins 2011

While most of my references on the Oneness position are tied to David Bernard, to my knowledge Bernard and White have only debated on radio programs – once on the subject of Oneness versus the Trinity and another time on the subject of whether tongues are necessary for salvation.  I think both interesting for what they reveal but I do wish that at sometime there had been a full-length publicly moderated debate between Bernard and White on the subject of Oneness and the Trinity.  Bernard and White’s radio program debates can be found on YouTube:

Oneness vs. Trinity

Are Tongues Necessary for Salvation?

White did have public debates with Oneness advocates that are available for viewing as well.  The first dates back a number of years and was with a gentleman by the name of Robert Sabin.  Sabin has been a minister with the UPCI and written on the subject of the Oneness perspective.  This debate dates back to 1999 and can be viewed in several parts:

Trinity vs. Oneness Debate Part 1, White vs. Sabin

Trinity vs. Oneness Debate Part 2, White vs. Sabin

Trinity (White) vs. Oneness (Sabin): Lost parts of their debate (cross examination and closing statements)

I would encourage individuals to consider all of these resources and to weigh the biblical evidence.  While something may sound foreign and certainly contrary to our traditions our traditions and comfort is not what we should be seeking.  A knowledge of God and an acknowledgement of who we are as fallen humanity should certainly create a sense of uncomfortableness as we consider our condition and the holiness of God.  Yet in that we know that our uncomfortableness can be resolved when we seek him and find our sufficiency in him.  Our traditions should never trump truth and we need to be willing to have our beliefs challenged to determine whether they are merely human traditions or whether they stand fast on the foundation of God’s word.

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Author: mikeformerupci

After spending 25 years as a member of a United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) church, one of the largest Oneness Pentecostal church organizations, I made the decision that it was time to leave the UPC based not simply on differences of opinion with respect to the practices of the UPC in general but more specifically as a result of fundamental doctrinal teaching that does not comport with scripture or the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not my intent with this blog to convince anyone to leave one church and move to another – it is my intent to challenge the ideas as presented by organizations such as the UPC.  I'm just a layman - like most church attending people out there.  But you don't need to be some trained theologian to read your Bible, to read other books to aid in your understanding of the scripture, to pray and most certainly to hear and know the Shepherd's voice in your life. You shouldn’t fear challenges to your fundamental doctrinal beliefs if those beliefs are rooted in scripture. If you find that the beliefs you hold may in fact be based on a distorted view of scripture and you hold a high-view of scripture, I would expect that it would be your desire to bring your thinking, your faith, your life in line with the teaching of scripture. I also believe that when you do, what you will find is a greater appreciation and experience of the righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit in your life than you thought possible.