By Mark W. Swarbrick
A Refutation of Baptizmal Regeneration as taught by Oneness Pentecostalism.
Questions That Oneness People Can’t Answer
The oneness doctrine teaches (among other heretical teachings) that one is saved by baptism, and that God damns believers (who love and trust in Christ) to Hell, over a mere technicality. That is, if they are not baptized with the right spoken formula they are doomed to an eternity in Hell. The words “Baptize you in the name of Jesus,” must be said by the minister or they are not saved. This of course would mean that only about 99.999 percent of believers for the last two thousand years made it to heaven.
Churches that teach this are called Oneness Pentecostal and the denominations are Apostolic Assemblies of Christ, Apostolic Assembly of Faith in Jesus Christ, Apostolic World Christian Fellowship, Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ, Bible Way Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Church the Lord Jesus Christ, Churches of Jesus Christ International, Global Alliance of Affirming Apostolic Pentecostals, International Apostolic Fellowship, Jesus Name Apostolic Church of Ecuador, Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ, Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Spirit of Jesus Church, The Pentecostal Church of God, United Pentecostal Church in India, United Pentecostal Church International.
Here are some tough questions that a Oneness Pentecostal cannot give a reasonable satisfying answer to. If anyone troubles you with Onenes Baptizmal Regeneration doctrine, just give them this list of questions. While they are busy squirming you can go find a doctrinally sound church. These questions should make it clear that their doctrine is untenable, unbiblical, dangerous and downright ridiculous.
- When E. Calvin McAlister (an Assemblies of God minister) discarded the Trinity and started the Oneness movement in 1913, was he not saved before then?
- Since the Oneness movement only started in 1913, does that mean that there was no one in the world saved until then?
- When E. Calvin McAlister renounced the Oneness doctrine and returned to the orthodox teaching of Christianity (The Trinity) did he then loose his salvation?
- Do you really think God is of such a fickle and harsh character as to send a believer in Christ to Hell simply because somebody didn’t say “in the name of Jesus” when they were baptized?
- If what is said at the baptism is so important, and if it should be exactly like how you think the apostles did it, then why don’t you baptize in the name of Yeshua? That is the Hebrew name of the Son of God. When Jesus was alive, that is what people said when they called his name. They said Yeshua. So, if you are right, then all oneness Pentecostals are going to Hell, because you don’t baptize in the name of Yeshua. So I put it to you, why are you baptizing in the name of Jesus, instead of the actual correct name of Yeshua? Are all Oneness people going to have to get re-baptized in the correct name of Yeshua so they can be really saved?
- If “in the name of Jesus” is the only right formula, then why does the Bible have it different so many times? For example, Acts 2:38 has the baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ” Wait a minute – I thought it was supposed to be “in the name of Jesus,” but this says it should be “in the name of Jesus Christ.” So which people go to hell – the ones baptized in the name of “Jesus” or the ones baptized in the name of “Jesus Christ” ?
- In Acts 8:16 & 19:5 the text says that the baptism is “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” But wait, in Acts 10:48 it says the baptismal formula is just “in the name of the Lord.” Acts 22:16 has the baptismal formula as merely “his name.” I guess that would be handy since we don’t know if it should be the name Yeshua or Jesus! Matthew 28:19 has Jesus saying to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.” So which is correct?
- If its true that our eternal salvation depends upon a formula that someone recites when we are baptized, then why aren’t you more careful to get it right and include everything the Bible mentions, for example, why don’t you say: “I baptize you in the name of Jesus, in the name of the Lord Jesus,and in the name of the Lord, and in His name, and in the name of Yeshua, and in the name of the Lord Yeshua, and in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” You know, if your salvation depends upon a formula you have to be really careful to get it right.
- Can you see that these are not formulas to say at a baptism but merely words showing that a person has given their life to Christ and is being baptized by a Christian into the Christian faith by the authority which Jesus Christ has given to the Church? When the Bible says someone was baptized “in the name of“, it means the same as “with the authority of,” just as a police officer might say, “Stop in the name of the Law.” What the policeman means is that he has the authority backing him up that is contained in the law. When we baptize a believer it is done with the authority Jesus gave us to do that, and that is why it is called “in the name of…” It was never meant to be a formula to recite. When we baptize someone we are acknowledging that they are already believers, they are already saved, and that their sins are washed away, as the water represents, and that we can do and proclaim these wondrous things because Jesus gave us the authority to do it, and to announce it, and thus we baptize with the authority given by Jesus and given by the Father and given by the Holy Spirit. Thus it says “in the name of” to show that God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has given us the authority and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do these things. In Acts 4:7 Peter and John are asked, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” The meaning here of “in what name” means “on whose authority,” and that is the exact same meaning when we baptise “in the name of Jesus.” It means by Christ’s authority. Can you not see that?
- If a person’s eternal destiny depended on saying a certain formula, don’t you think that the Bible would have made that very clear and told us exactly what the formula is and said something like, “make sure you say this when you baptize or they will go to Hell.”
- Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26). So if someone believes in Jesus but is baptized with the wrong formula, you say they will experience the Second Death (Hell). So was Jesus lying when he said this?
- The Bible says “whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) But if you are correct then Jesus was wrong, because a man will go to Hell, even if he believes in Jesus, because the preacher said the wrong thing at his baptismal. So who is telling the truth – you or Jesus?
- Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” If being saved depends upon us being baptized with the exact right formula, then it is we who are saving ourselves by works, and salvation is not by grace. So do you believe we are saved by grace, as the Bible says, or do you believe we are saved by our own works of doing a proper baptismal formula?
- When certain legalists in the first century insisted that Christians must also be circumcised to be saved, the Apostle Paul wrote this to them: “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?] Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?” (Galatians 3:1-5) So I ask Oneness people: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by the works of a baptismal formula or by believing what you heard? Many people have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, even baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues before they were ever baptized. Those in the book of Acts, at Cornelius’ house received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues before being baptized, and I made add, that was my experience as well. Can you see that this proves that salvation is by grace and not by works?
- How is it that Jesus said the thief on the cross would be with him that day in paradise? You must first accept Christ before you are saved. That is why we don’t baptize infants. The man clearly had not been a believer for he had been living an evil life which he himself acknowledged was deserving of a torturous death. It was not until he met Christ on the cross that he became a believer. So he had not been baptized, and even if he had, it wouldn’t count because he wasn’t yet a believer. So he was clearly not properly baptized. Yet Jesus said he was going to heaven. How can this be so, if your doctrine of baptismal regeneration is true?
- Since you do not believe in the Trinity, you believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are Jesus. So if someone is baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, why don’t you accept that as the same as being baptized in the name of Jesus?
- Can you show me just one place in the Bible where it says you must be baptized with someone saying “in the name of Jesus” in order to be saved?
- If “baptized in the name of Jesus” means someone has to say that phrase, then why are you not consistant in your obedience to Scripture? Colossions 3:16 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” So when you get up in the morning, why don’t you say, “I brush my teeth in the name of the Lord Jesus.” and “I now take a shower in the name of the Lord Jesus,” and “In the name of the Lord Jesus I put on my shoes.” ?