By Steven Bancarz| Marcus Rogers made a video recently challenging Trinitarians to explain where in the Bible it says we have to believe in the Trinity in order to be saved. Marcus, as a Oneness Pentacostal, is a type of Modalist who believes that there is only one person existing as God: The Father.
The Father then “manifested” Himself in human flesh creating a new human nature for Himself in which he dwelt (though still remaining in Heaven). The “Father” is the deity of Jesus Christ, and the “son” is the humanity of Jesus Christ. As leading Oneness advocate Dave Bernard says:
“The Bible does not use the term “God the Son” even one time. It is not a correct term because the Son of God refers to the humanity of Jesus Christ. The Bible defines the Son of God as the child born of mary, not as the eternal Spirit of God. “Son of God” may refer soley to the human nature or it may refer to God manifested in the flesh, that is, Deity in the human nature…we can never use the term “Son” correctly apart from the humanity of Jesus Christ…
the term “God the Son” is inappropriate because it equates the son with deity alone and therefore is unscriptural. The Son of God is not a separate person in the Godhead, but the physical expression of the one God. We can only use the term “Son of God” correctly when it refers to the humanity of Jesus.” – Dave Bernard, The Oneness of God, 1983. p 98-99
This means that the “Son” is not a person but a reference to the human nature that the Father assumed. The Son is a human nature indwelt by the Father and is not a distinct person from the Father:
“The Deity in the Son is the Father. Although we do not believe that the Father is the Son, we do believe the Father is in the Son..as to his Deity as Father and as to his humanity as Son…The Deity resident in Jesus Christ is none other than the Father” (Ibid, p 127, 131)
This view, of course, denies then that the “son” could have pre-existed as an eternal person alongside the Father since the Father had no humanity yet that he could call “the Son”. It therefore denies that the Son of God is the Creator by affirming the temporal beginning of the role of the “son” that the Father played. They could say that the One who manifested Himself through the “Son” is the Creator, but not the Son himself. The denial of the eternal Son is where this becomes a serious matter:
“We have already discussed that the “Son of God” refers to the humanity of jesus…since the “Son of God” refers to the humanity or deity manifest in humanity, the idea of an eternal Son is incomprehensible. the Son of God had a beginning…the Son was begotten on a specified day in time…There was a time when the Son did not exist.” (ibid, 104-105)
Yes, it is a salvation issue
This does not meet the requirements of being a meaningful confession of the Son, which we must do in order to have the Father (1 John 2:22-23) since the “Son” is just the humanity of the Father. To confess the Son in Oneness is to confess the humanity of the Father as a manifestation He took 2000 years ago, which does not qualify as being a confession of “the Son”. Confessing the Father’s human nature is not a confession of the Son. Calling the Fathers human nature “the Son” does not count.
This is also does not allow us to abide in the teaching of Christ (2 John 9) which was clearly that He was not the Father but was sent by the Father from Heaven as the eternal divine Son. Nor does it permit us to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). Now let’s make something clear.
God has grace for theological ignorance. Some people don’t understand the nature of God and believe in Oneness because they are confused. I didn’t identify as a Trinitarian for the first 8 months or so after i got saved because i didn’t understand how Jesus could be God and the Father be God at the same time. I didn’t consciously deny it, but I didn’t active hold to it because I didn’t understand what it taught about God and that is the difference.
There is a difference being in error out of ignorance which God has grace for (to a degree), and consciously rejecting the truth over and over again when it is presented to you, and even worse, teaching this error over and over again. The conscious, persistent opposition to the truth about God, the mockery of the truth about God, and the confession of a false version of the Son persistently after hearing the truth is evidence that such a person is not born of the Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth.
There is a difference between believing a lie in ignorance, the Holy Spirit convicting you of it, and you growing in the truth, and consciously opposing the truth, teaching against it, and remaining that way unto death. Without making comments on the salvation of Marcus Rogers (which I do think is unwise do to as perhaps Marcus is saved and this is the beginning of God drawing him out of his tradition), this most certainly is not the Son of God who is present in the Bible and does not agree with the sound words of the Lord Jesus.
With a list of proof-texts in hand establishing a pre-existent son and a differentiation in personhood between Father and Son, I invited Marcus on to my channel and we have a 3.5 hour live debate on the Trinity vs Oneness and how this relates to salvation: