THE THREE MAIN DIVISIONS IN CHRISTIANITY
We have many denominations, independent groups, sects and so called cults in the ranks of Christianity. Christians within these denominations, groups, sects and cults are broadly divided into three main divisions, namely: Trinitarians, Oneness (Jesus Only), and Monotheistic Christians. All three divisions have their own distinct Christian beliefs. Where you belong depends on where you were born and the church you attended as a child. I think the time has come for us to endeavour to understand each other, find common ground despite our differences, pray for each other, and form a bond of friendship and brotherhood. In spite of our differences we are brothers and sisters in the Lord and we should learn to respect and love one another. I briefly discuss each group as follows:
The majority of Christian denominations and organisations and many other independent, charismatic, and evangelical churches embrace the doctrine of the Trinity. Many of us were brought up in a Trinitarian environment and we have learned to accept the doctrine from an early age. The concept of the Trinity was formulated in the fourth century. Before then it was not known. It would appear that the early Jewish Christians worshipped the Father (Yahweh God) and worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and were often accused by Jews of worshipping “Two Gods”. Given their Jewish backgrounds, early Jewish Christians being uncompromisingly monotheistic, must have had a special understanding of the relationship of God and Jesus Christ. However, they did not leave us Gentile Christians with this understanding. By the fourth century Christianity became a “Gentile religion” and the concept of the Trinity was formulated to counter the Arian doctrine that Jesus was not God. Arians were a large group of Catholics that believed that Jesus was the Son of God but not God. In spite of the word “Trinity” not appearing in the Bible, Trinitarians can convincingly argue that there are indirect references to the Trinity in the Bible and they will quote relevant scriptures to back up this claim.
The Oneness (Jesus only) Movement
Prominent among the oneness group is the United Pentecostal Church (UPCI). They hold to the oneness view of God. They teach that the one God who revealed himself in the Old Testament as Jehovah revealed Himself in his Son, Jesus Christ. Thus Jesus Christ was and is God. In other words, Jesus is the one true God manifested in the flesh, for in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (John 1:1-14; 1 Timothy 3:16; Colossians 2: 9). While fully God, Jesus was also fully man, possessing a full and true humanity. He was both God and Man. They do not accept the doctrine of the Trinity and simply worship Jesus as God, hence the term “Jesus only”. Here again many Oneness Christians were born into Oneness families and attended Oneness church and Sunday school. Is it their fault that they are Oneness?
Currently there are different groups of Monotheistic Christians all over the world and they have been dismissed as heretical by the larger Trinitarian Christian churches. Monotheistic Christians have existed for centuries. Monotheistic Christians worship Jesus as Lord, Saviour and as the coming Messiah but they do not worship Jesus as God. They believe in one God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, referred to as Yahweh. They understand that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God that indwells believers when they are born-again. They believe that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and not a separate God or Person of the Godhead. They believe that Jesus was sinless, and was born of a virgin. His body was the
in which the Spirit of God dwelt in. Others believe that the Spirit of Jehovah God dwelt in the “flesh and blood” body of Jesus and was demonstrated through this human vessel. They believe that the Spirit that indwelt Jesus was Almighty God, but the “flesh and blood” body of Jesus was not God, it was the body of a sinless man. Others believe that when Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God came down and dwelt in him in a large measure. They believe that it was the Spirit of God in Jesus that made him divine He manifested God, and was therefore sometimes worshipped as God. temple of God
Most importantly, they believe in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and his ascension to heaven. They believe that Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God that was used by God to atone for the sins of the world. They believe that God is a Spirit, and that God created a perfect (flesh and blood) man through whom the Spirit of God can be manifested. They believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour and the coming Messiah, they praise him and uplift his name, and even worship him as the Son of God. Monotheistic Christians pray to God in the name of Jesus, they baptize in the name of Jesus, they greet each other in the name of Jesus, they conduct healing and deliverance in the name of Jesus, and they worship Jesus as “Lord and Saviour”, and as the “Son of God” but not as “God”. Here again, many monotheistic Christians were born into monotheistic Christian families, and attended monotheistic churches and Sunday schools. Can we really blame them for being monotheistic Christians?
Some outstanding Evangelists have come out of all three groups. Each of the three groups presents a body of scriptures that supports their individual claim; and yet there are many other scriptures that may not support their claim. When we have different groups of Christians presenting scriptural evidence to support their beliefs, and contradicting each other, we have to ask the question: Is the Bible a book that is in conflict with itself? Does one body of scripture (in support of a particular view) cancel out all the other scriptures (that goes contrary to that view)?
Perhaps the problem lies with the way we read the scriptures. When we search the scriptures we look for scriptures to support what we already believe or want to believe. All three groups claim to be born-again and spirit-filled Christians. How then does the Holy Spirit of God lead all three groups into three different directions? There are dedicated and committed Christians in all three groups, and there are also nominal Christians in all three groups. We need to ask the question: What then is God specifically looking for in individual believers? Does God favour the one group over the other? Please meditate on these issues and pray about it.