One rather large group of Pentecostals is the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI). They list around 1.2 million members and are represented in 118 nations. They claim an annual growth rate of about ten percent per year. They are largely known for two doctrinal tenets, The One Person of God, Jesus Only, and Water Baptism Only in the Name of Jesus. There are other erroneous views they hold, but these two distinguish them from other charismatic and Pentecostal groups.
The modern Pentecostal movement had its origin in Topeka, Kansas. It began in 1901. Charles Parham is the recognized founder of the Pentecostal movement. Please read: “Parham formulated classical Pentecostal theology in Topeka, Kansas, in 1901 and thus deserves recognition as founder of the Pentecostal movement.” Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, page 660. One need no further information to recognize that such a church is not the one Jesus founded. If Charles Fox Parham founded the Pentecostal movement — Jesus didn’t.
A significant event in Pentecostalism occurred in 1906 in Los Angeles, California. It took place at the Apostolic Faith Mission, located at 312 Azusa Street. People who were drawn toward the new ideas Parham was teaching came to this “mission” and later regarded the establishment of this so-called “mission” a “Pentecostal” revival. In reality it was more the arrival of a Pentecostal preacher from Texas, W.J. Seymour. Seymour had been trained by Parham. Parham was the father of the Apostolic Faith Movement. Seymour worked his way into meetings being held in the homes of some who were inclined toward a mystical feeling about their religion. The homes soon became too small and the meeting place at 312 Azusa St. was secured.
Seymour began in earnest preaching the baptism of the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues. Azusa St. became the center for expressions of so-called tongue speaking and the experience associated with Holy Spirit baptism. By September of 1906 they reported that there were 25 blacks and 300 whites who were members of the “mission.” It became probably the first integrated religious group on this continent. It holds the significance of being the first West Coast Pentecostal movement which leaned on the imagined experience of Holy Spirit baptism and tongue speaking.
The “Oneness” Pentecostals originated with preachers like Frank Ewart, Glenn Cook, and R.E. McAlister. These men began baptizing converts “in the name of Jesus only.” This meant that when they baptized a person, they shunned the vocal expression naming the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. They repeated a baptismal formula that included only the name of Jesus. In 1916, the Assemblies of God took a strong doctrinal position on the three persons of God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is estimated that about a fourth of the preachers in the Assemblies of God left that organization. These preachers formed various “oneness” groups. In 1945 The Pentecostal Church, Incorporated, and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ merged into one denominational body. They then took the name United Pentecostal Church International.
The belief that Jesus is the one and only person of God is stated in their articles of faith.
“We believe in the one everliving, eternal God: infinite in power, Holy in nature, attributes and purpose; and possessing absolute, indivisible deity. This one true God has revealed Himself as Father, through His Son, in redemption; and as the Holy Spirit, by emanation.” Articles of Faith of the United Pentecostal Church, page 3
This error is quite evident when the Bible is consulted. Jesus clearly affirmed the distinction in His person and that of the Father and of the Holy Spirit. Notice these verses:
“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we exist through Him” (1 Cor. 8:6).
“Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).
“But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and He who sent me” (John 8:16).
These, and many more, show that Jesus is not the Father and the Father is not Jesus. They are two of the three divine beings who make up the Godhead (Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9). The Holy Spirit is neither the Son nor the Father, for the Father was to send the Holy Spirit in the Son’s name (John 14:26).
Their creed states that God is indivisible — He is only one person. That person was the Father, revealed in the Son in redemption, and in the Holy Spirit by emanation. This by itself shows the folly of their view of God. If there is only one person, then when there was the manifestation of God as Father, there was no Son, no Holy Spirit. When the Father was revealed in the Son in redemption, there was no Father, still no Holy Spirit. But when God was revealed in the Holy Spirit by emanation, there was neither Father nor Son. This is really the doctrine of the anti-Christ (I John 4:3).
They strongly argue that when Jesus said, “I and My Father are one,” (John 10:30) that they were, in fact, one person. But the Lord did not add the word “person.” Paul said that he and Apollos were “one” (1 Cor. 3:6-8) but obviously not one person. Jesus said a man and his wife are “one flesh” but not one person. Oneness denotes concord, unison, or agreement. This is what Jesus meant.
The baptismal formula the Pentecostals require is also erroneous. The only place in the Bible where anyone was given instructions to baptize others is Matthew 28:19-20.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the ages.”
The instructions are not to the one who is to be baptized. For those instructions we read passages like Acts 2:38; 10:48; 19:5. These all tell those who were to be baptized that it was to be done “in the name of Jesus Christ,” or “in the name of the Lord,” or “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The fact that there is variation in the expression shows it cannot be a formula. But the Pentecostals ignore the only place where instructions are given to the one baptizing another and jump to passages where instructions were given to those being baptized and find their imaginary formula for baptism.
The fact is there is no baptismal formula taught in the Bible. One is not told what to say — one is told what to do. The doing is embraced in “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” There is nothing wrong with saying what you are doing. Paul wrote, “combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1 Cor. 2:13). The spiritual thought is baptism — the spiritual words one may combine with it are found in Matthew 28:19. But again, an oral formula is not required to make baptism valid.
There are other interesting doctrines the Pentecostal Church upholds. These fall into the realm of forced interpretations and human legislation. Read this from their own publication.
HOLINESS AND MAKE-UP
“A synthetic society is becoming fraudulent in appearance; Dye is for the hair, paint is for the face, eye mascara, and sad to say male participation makes the present society a strange mixture of artificiality and hypocrisy. The United Pentecostal Church has taken a position that all of these conditions are heathenistic in origin and date back to Queen Jezebel, whose very image speaks of rebellion and opposition to anything Godly or Christ-like. The scriptures give us a very decided understanding that the natural beauty of woman and the masculinity of man demands every aspect of reality and natural appearance.”
HOLINESS AND JEWELRY
“The scriptures teach us that the wearing of gold and the emphasis of putting on apparel is a low key position with a New Testament Christian. Again, jewelry and its excess steps out of the rank of modest and into the area of the heathen. The Lord’s delight is in the ornamentation of a meek and quiet spirit. We disdain the expensiveness and the excessiveness of jewelry that is not necessary. A watch and convenient accessories that assist the individual in his or hers (sic.) attire is to be given thoughtful consideration so that the emphasis does not steer from the real and subvert to the gaudy.” The Holiness Position of the United Pentecostal Church International Adopted by the General Board, page 7 – 8.
While the Bible does teach modesty in both sexes, it does not condemn make-up on either men or women, nor does it prohibit the wearing of jewelry. The passage to which most Pentecostals appeal is 1 Peter 3:3, “And let not your adornment be merely external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses…” It is no more wrong to wear gold jewelry as adornment than it is to put on dresses. The point is that excesses must be avoided. Extremes, in either direction, are to be avoided.
In former lessons we have dealt with Holy Spirit baptism and speaking in tongues. The Pentecostals of all forms and varieties hold to this in common. When they differ on such an essential doctrine as the very nature of Deity, how can they all claim they received Holy Spirit baptism, and all have the proof in that they all speak in tongues?