United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI; Oneness Pentecostals)

Bethel | Book | Sharing Jesus with the Cults | United Pentecostal Church International

History

There are around five million Oneness Pentecostal type churches. The largest of them is the United Pentecostal Church International, with somewhere around 28,000 churches worldwide.

United Pentecostal Church International, comes from the Assembly of God movement. Sometime around the early 1900s, several of the Assembly of God pastors started holding to a belief that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were all the same person or being and that God manifests himself in three different modes, but as the same person. This is a belief called Modalism, which teaches that in the Old Testament, God manifested himself as the Father and in New Testament times, God manifested himself as the Son. God came down to earth in the form of a human. Jesus had a human nature and also a God nature. Then after the resurrection, God now exists as the Holy Spirit.

In the 1900s, many of the Assembly of God pastors started subscribing to this belief. Around 1916, a meeting was pulled together to debate this issue. Many of the Assembly of God pastors stood strong in the doctrine of the Trinity as the Bible teaches it, but about 156 of the 585 pastors broke off the Assembly of God movement because of this sharp disagreement.

Baptism in the Name of Jesus Only

A doctrine the United Pentecostal Church International teaches is that one must not be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as Matthew 28:19 teaches, but rather just in Jesus’ name alone. They teach that the doctrine of the Trinity is a pagan doctrine. They also believe that right now that Jesus is no longer in his human body. God is right now manifesting himself as the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not standing at the right hand of the Father in heaven. They believe that Jesus is God the Father and the Holy Spirit. They believe that Jesus is the name of God. They also believe that Jesus did not pre-exist as the Word.

Many Oneness Pentecostals have a mistaken viewpoint of what Trinitarians believe. They believe we have a polytheistic view of God, that we believe in three different gods.

Baptism and Tongues Necessary for Salvation

The United Pentecostal Church International denies justification by faith alone. They teach that in order to be saved, one must be baptized. They believe that if one doesn’t manifest with the gift of tongues, they are not saved. In other words, if one doesn’t speak in tongues, the Holy Spirit didn’t come upon them, and if the Holy Spirit didn’t come come upon somebody, they cannot be saved. They also believe that if one has not been baptized by Oneness Pentecostal ministers, their baptism is not valid. Some of them believe that if one is not a Oneness Pentecostal, they are not saved.

Many of these beliefs were not taught by anybody within Christian history prior to this movement in the early 1900s.

Bible Passages Commonly Used

Below are some of the verses the United Pentecostal Church International commonly uses to teach the doctrine of being baptized in the name of Jesus only:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)

(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) (Acts 8:16)

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. (Acts 10:48)

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 19:5)

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16)

Matthew 28:19 Not in the Original Text

The following verse, used by Trinitarians as evidence of one God (singular name) who exists in three co-equal, co-eternal persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the United Pentecostal Church International believes was added much later and was not in the original text of Matthew:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (Matthew 28:19)

“In the Name Of”

When one looks at the phrase “in the name of” or “in someone’s name” in the Bible, it carries more of a meaning of “in the authority of.” Like when someone says, “Stop in the name of the law.” Here are some examples:

And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole. (Acts 4:7-10)

But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:17-18)

Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. … And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten [them], they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. (Acts 5:28, 40)

But Barnabas took him, and brought [him] to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. (Acts 9:27-28)

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12)

And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. (Acts 16:18)

Claimed Spiritual Abuse

There are many individuals who have come out of the United Pentecostal Church International who have shared their testimonies of various types of abuse they experienced. Here are some of the things they experienced and shared:

Controlling

“Within the United Pentecostal Church International, there is a grocery list of what they can and can not do.”

Here are some examples:

  1. Don’t cut your hair
  2. No makeup
  3. No jewelry
  4. No nail polish
  5. No dancing
  6. No pants
  7. No shorts

“The pastor there always cut people down and was very mean.”

“Year by year things changed as far as it being a sin or not.”

“Holiness often means the way people dress.”

“I experienced that same control once, over every part of my life.”

“I was always told what I could/could not do, who I could/could not date/marry, wear/not wear, and who I would honor/not honor.”

“I do believe in Jesus [despite] the oppressive torment I endured. I know those years I was a zombie at the UPC I had no joy 95% of the time–just horrible condemnation.”

“We later left because we were not allowed to make our own decisions. They didn’t want my son to play any sports, no swimming–the last straw came when they were upset over us putting our daughter in a Christian school (she was in public school) because we didn’t consult the pastor first.”

Indoctrination

“I was amazed at how indoctrinated I became in such a short time.”

Punishment for leaving the group

“The condemnation, shunning, the unspoken message that a person has been deceived by Satan for leaving. To ‘backslide’ is to choose to stop living for God.”

“After I left and went to an Assemblies of God church some of the UPCI members said we couldn’t be friends.”

“We have gone through hell emotionally and socially after leaving.”

“I can relate to everything said about this religion, mind control, emotional abuse, threats and the ostracizing of people that leave.”

The One True Church

“The UPCI teaches that only they have the ‘truth’ and every other denomination is not saved.”

“My church felt that it was so ultra-holy that it would not even fellowship with other churches of the same denomination.”

“I don’t believe that all of the UPCI churches or pastors would go to such extremes, but they all claim that only Oneness believers will enter heaven.”

Free thought discouraged

“These men often put down women, sabotage free thought, are unable to defend ‘Holiness Standards’ either biblically or historically.”

“Our former pastor has to be one of the most extreme. He was controlling, manipulative, demanding and isolated us through constant intimidation and fear.”

Terminology

The United Pentecostal Church International does not have unique terminology.