“Is the United Pentecostal Church a Cult?”

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Is the United Pentacostal Church a cult, theologically speaking? And if so, why? What do they believe?

The doctrine of the UPC is definitely heretical; they deny the Trinity in favor of what is called the “oneness” doctrine. Heresy makes groups a cult. Here’s a good article on that from Watchman Fellowship: www.watchman.org/cults/upc.htm

Happy reading!

Sue Bohlin
Probe Ministries

Sue Bohlin

Sue Bohlin is an associate speaker/writer and webmistress for Probe Ministries. She attended the University of Illinois, and has been a Bible teacher and conference speaker for over 40 years. She is a frequent speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Connections), and serves on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered outreach to those dealing with unwanted homosexuality. Sue is on the Bible.org Women's Leadership Team and is a regular contributor to Bible.org's Engage Blog. In addition to being a professional calligrapher, she is the wife of Probe's Dr. Ray Bohlin and the mother of their two grown sons. Her personal website is suebohlin.com.

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12 Comments
  1. Graden Hurd 4 years ago

    Is UNPI a cult or not? You didn’t answer the question.

  2. Sue Bohlin Author
    Sue Bohlin 4 years ago

    The answer is yes.

    Doctrine of UPS is heretical (They deny the Trinity) –> Heresy means a group is a cult. So yes.

  3. MaximRecoil 4 years ago

    “Doctrine of UPS is heretical (They deny the Trinity) –> Heresy means a group is a cult. So yes.”

    In reality, the trinity doctrine is heretical, and according to your own definition, that means you belong to a cult. The word “trinity” certainly isn’t in the Bible, nor is the concept. The concept of the trinity is inherently self-contradictory.

    Trinity: the Christian Godhead as one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    If there are three persons, it can’t be one God; it is three gods by definition of the term “person,” which means that trinitarians are polytheists. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate manifestations/roles/titles of God, not three separate persons.

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

    The funny thing is: trinitarians simply repeat those instructions when baptizing someone, instead of actually following them. The instructions say to use the name (singular), yet you folks just repeat the instructions which only mention titles, never actually saying the name. So what is the name? We find out in Acts 2:38:

    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.

    We find out here that the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is “Jesus Christ,” thus proving that they can’t possibly be three separate persons.

    With the UPC doctrine, Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 are in harmony with each other. With the trinitarian doctrine, they are at odds with each other.

  4. Michael Gleghorn
    Michael Gleghorn 4 years ago

    We agree (of course) that the term “Trinity” is not in the Bible, but the concept is there all the same. The doctrine of the Trinity is not self-contradictory.

    If the doctrine taught that there was only one God while also claiming that there are three Gods – that would be contradictory. Similarly, if the doctrine alleged that there was only one person in the Godhead (a Unitarian position) while also claiming that there are three persons in the Godhead (a Trinitarian position) – that would be contradictory.

    But the doctrine teaches neither of these contradictory views. Rather, the doctrine states that there is only one God (i.e. a monotheistic position), while also maintaining that the Godhead subsists as three distinct, though inter-related, persons. It is thus Trinitarian monotheism. There is no contradiction here and one would need an argument (instead of just as assertion) to that effect.

    The author seems to claim that the definition of “person” is equivalent to the definition of “God.” But this is incorrect, for there are many “persons” who are not God (e.g. purely human persons, for example). The reason the doctrine claims that there are three distinct, though inter-related, persons is that it is driven to this by the teaching of Scripture.

    Consider, for example, the baptism of Jesus (Matt. 3:13-17). At one and the same time, the Son is incarnate on earth, the Spirit descends from heaven upon Jesus (the incarnate Son), and the Father speaks from heaven, declaring Jesus to be his beloved Son, in whom he is well-pleased. But the Father who speaks is not also the Son who is spoken of, nor is He the Spirit who descends upon Jesus. The Father sends the Son to be the Savior of the world, but the Father himself does not become incarnate (nor does the Holy Spirit). Only the Son becomes incarnate to die for the sins of the world. When the Son prays to the Father, He is not praying to Himself.

    In light of this, what about Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38? First, Matthew 28:19 is clearly a Trinitarian formula, taught by Jesus himself to his disciples. Geisler and Rhodes point out that historically, “the Trinitarian baptism (Matt. 28:19) was certainly dominant from the second century” (When Cultists Ask, 197). The singular “name,” followed by references to “the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” is actually significant for a Trinitarian view of God. The singular “name” would refer to the one true God (monotheism), while references to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, would refer to the three persons of the Godhead. This would well express the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity.

    What, then, of Acts 2:38? To cite Geisler and Rhodes again, “The phrase ‘in the name of’ in biblical times often carried the meaning ‘by the authority of'” (When Cultists Ask, 196). In this sense, Peter is urging his Jewish audience, who had previously rejected Jesus as their promised Messiah, to “repent” (i.e. change their minds) and publicly identify with Messiah Jesus through baptism. Indeed, this was to be done (as we previously saw in Matt. 28:19) “by the authority of Jesus Christ.” Jesus, after all, had commanded his original disciples to make more disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Peter now urges his Jewish audience to repent of their rejection of Jesus, receive him as their promised Messiah, and be baptized according to his commandment.

    Hence, there is really not a conflict between these two verses (i.e. Matt. 28:19 and Acts 2:38). Not only do the verses harmonize with one another, this interpretation also allows us to do justice to the very clear biblical distinctions which are repeatedly made concerning the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    • Robert 3 years ago

      I’m confused about the trinity even more.
      This explanation sounds very man made!
      It sounds very much like a pagan idea that the Catholic church has come up with like all the other rubbish they introduced like bunny rabbits at easter, praying to Mary ect…
      I like the Bible answer better, Acts 2:38 Explicitly tells how and why we should be baptized in Jesus name!! For the remission of sins for there is no other name whereby we must be saved.

  5. Joe Marchese 2 years ago

    It is exceedingly sad that people determine a Christian group by a human standard and not a scriptural standard. If a person determines the veracity of a Christian group’s theology by a doctrine was developed in 275 AD by Tertullian, then the standard can change by the whim of human emotion, changing times and erroreous thinking. Trinitarian standards are hardly the standard anyone should use to determine Biblical heresy or Truth; rather use Biblical standards to determine a cult or not!

  6. Dr. Michael Gleghorn
    Dr. Michael Gleghorn 2 years ago

    I’m not sure if Robert and Joe actually read my previous post. Robert complains that my answer sounds “very man made” and that he likes “the Bible answer better.” Did he fail to notice the biblical evidence that I both cited and interacted with? He references Acts 2:38. This is great, of course. But the question is, “How does this verse fit in with the rest of Scripture?” As soon as we attempt to craft a coherent, consistent, systematic theology that takes account of all of Scripture, then we have to deal with all the biblical material that speaks to, and informs, the doctrine of the Trinity (some of which was cited in my previous post). Indeed, even Acts 2:38 speaks of both Jesus and the Holy Spirit – – and I cited biblical evidence for the conclusion that these are distinct, though certainly inter-related, persons.

    In a similar manner, Joe refers to “a human standard” and “a scriptural standard” – – implying that the standard adopted in my previous post was a merely “human standard.” But again, this simply ignores the biblical evidence which I cited. Joe mentions Tertullian, who was (apparently) the first person to use the term “Trinity.” But did Tertullian invent this term on “the whim of human emotion”? Or was it not rather the case that Tertullian coined the term precisely in order to talk more carefully and intelligently about the very biblical material that Joe suggests he is (personally) concerned about? Joe writes, “Trinitarian standards are hardly the standard anyone should use to determine Biblical heresy or Truth; rather use Biblical standards to determine a cult or not!” This sort of statement completely fails to recognize that Trinitarian terminology arose from a careful reading of the Bible. It was precisely in order to take account of the biblical material describing the deity and personality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (all while upholding a strictly monotheistic doctrine of God) that the Church Fathers were inevitably led to develop Trinitarian terminology.

    Trinitarian theology is not some foreign and unbiblical notion that has been forced upon the biblical text by devious and unscrupulous Christian theologians. Rather, it arises from a careful reading of the biblical text itself. And Trinitarianism most definitely does distinguish a Christian view of God from those which are not Christian. Every major branch of Christendom (i.e., Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant) embraces and teaches a Trinitarian doctrine of God. Any doctrine of God that is not Trinitarian is not truly Christian. This doctrine is found in the early ecumenical creeds of the Church (e.g. the Nicene Creed in 325 A.D. or the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 A.D.), and is more importantly derived from the teaching of Scripture itself. The doctrine of the Trinity represents a very careful attempt to craft a coherent and consistent doctrine of God that is both grounded in, and faithful to, the full and explicit teaching of Scripture.

    • Robert 2 years ago

      Hi Dr. Michael Gleghorn
      Hope all is well with you.
      First I want to say that I truly love and seek his ways.
      You mentioned the ecumenical creed the Nicene creed 325AD and Niceno constantinopolitan creed 381AD
      My question is aren’t these teachings un biblical, when in light of the teachings of the apostles and scripture ? My bible warns me that if we (the apostles) or an angel from heaven, come preach any other Gospel unto you then that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed Galatians 1:8…
      To me this trinity teaching is a later teaching.
      A new revelation??? Did our Lord fogot to mention this teaching?
      Would love you to pray and let me know what God’s word says about this ,and your thoughts?
      Kind regards Robert.
      Ps I truly desire truth

  7. Bill Iskra 2 years ago

    I am a former United Pentecostal . I came to see that the true God identified in Scripture , is God the Father , Jesus Christ , and the Holy Ghost . They are who Scripture says that they are . They exist eternally with clear distinction from one another , they have a personal relationship with one another and with Christians . Jesus Christ spoke about God the Father and the Holy Ghost as someone distinct from Himself and God the Father as someone distinct from the Holy Ghost . The Apostles either wrote or spoke about Jesus Christ as someone distinct from God the Father and the Holy Ghost , and God the Father as someone distinct from the Holy Ghost . Regardless of how the doctrine of the Trinity originated , the concept has always existed in Scripture and has been the doctrine that is accepted by most of the world’s Bible believing Christians . No one can change what is in Scripture . It is wrong to call the Trinity a pagan doctrine when in fact Scripture does reveal that God the Father , Jesus Christ , and the Holy Ghost , are one God and they exist eternally . I am very familiar with many of the oppositions to the doctrine of the Trinity , and all that I can say is that people who oppose the doctrine are people who try to rewrite Scripture to fit their own theology .

  8. Mara Sours 2 years ago

    Thank you Bill. I appreciate your conclusions.

  9. Marty 11 months ago

    First of all the Trinitarian doctrine is man made. I don’t personally agree with all of UPC doctrine but as to the oneness of God I believe they are right and although they present some good biblical reasoning for this I have some of my own input as well. As you know the doctrine states there is one God who is 3 distinct and separate persons. This is not a polytheistic view. However as you have acknowledged the word trinity is not in the scriptures. Also consider this: the bible mentions the person of God twice. Once in the book of Job and once in Hebrews. Look it up in your concordance. The Hebrew verse tells us that Jesus is the express image of the person of God. This is singular. The verse in Job also singular.. The example of Jesus baptism is pretty weak although valid but if you believe in an all powerful God it’s not hard to understand that He did all that as a sign to John the Baptist. Notice when Jesus came to John there is that sign right after the number 13 for the verse to indicate there may have been some time between his conversation with the others so that it’s possible that this event was only witnessed by John himself.

    The trinity indicates that Jesus is the second person in the Godhead and yet according to Colossians 2:9 all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily and the verse before that carries a warning. As to the distinction of persons that is where things really fall apart. In John 14:9 Jesus says whoever has seen Him has seen the Father. Also even the prophet Isaiah 9:6 said that Jesus would be called everlasting Father. In other scriptures we learn that after Jesus is in the grave for 3 days the Father will raise him up but then in John 2:19 Jesus claims that He will raise his own body up. As for the Holy Ghost in John 14:16, 26 is said to be sent by the Father. 15:26 indicates that the comforter will be sent by Jesus and then in 14:18 Jesus states “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

    Ok here is my 2 cents. In Genesis we learn that we are created in His image and after His likeness. In His image which Hebrews tells us is Jesus means we look like Him. After His likeness means we ARE like Him. Yes,I have 3 votes: me, myself and I but I am only one person just like the Lord. In the minds of many is the question who then was Jesus praying to? Is it too hard to believe that He was showing us an example of how that we in our fleshly existence must submit to His Spirit so that we can be raised again into everlasting life?

  10. Tom Davis
    Tom Davis 11 months ago

    Marty,
    Thank you for your reply.

    >>First of all the Trinitarian doctrine is man made.

    In a sense this is true, but in the same sense nearly all doctrines are man-made. Doctrines are our attempt to understand what the Bible teaches, so it does not really matter of the doctrine is man-made. You point out that the word trinity does not appear in the Bible. This is true, but it does not lead to the conclusion that God is not a Triune God. The question is, does the idea of the Trinity accurately reflect what the Bible reveals about God? I believe it does, but let me address some points that you raise before I get to that.

    >>Also consider this: the bible mentions the person of God twice. Once in the book of Job and once in Hebrews.

    I am not sure what you mean. God is mentioned and portrayed as personal throughout the Bible and the doctrine of the Trinity does not deny the personal nature of God. Hebrews states, “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). The author of Hebrews is stating that Jesus is the exact representation of God in a way that does not deny the divinity of Jesus, but does make a distinction between Jesus and the “Majesty on high.” If the oneness doctrine is true how can Jesus sit at the right hand of the Majesty on high? This verse is making a distinction between Jesus and the Majesty on high, or the Father, that is not consistent with the oneness doctrine. It is the kind of distinction and unity that led early Christians to start using the term Trinity to describe God.

    >>The example of Jesus baptism is pretty weak although valid

    Jesus baptism is mentioned in three of the Gospels (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). Each of these feature Jesus being baptized, the voice of the Father from heaven, and the Spirit descending as a dove. The voice from heaven declares, “This is my beloved son.” Whether God did this as a sign to John the Baptist or a sign to a group of people does not change the distinctions between the voice of the Father, the Holy Spirit descending as a dove, and Jesus. Again, there is a distinction here that does not make sense if the oneness doctrine is true, but fits well with the doctrine of the Trinity.

    >>The trinity indicates that Jesus is the second person in the Godhead and yet according to Colossians 2:9 all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily and the verse before that carries a warning.

    The fullness of the Godhead dwelling in Jesus is not inconsistent with the Trinity because the Trinity states that there is one God. Jesus is God incarnate, fully God and fully man. Colossians 2:8 is a warning that is irrelevant because the Trinity is not based on philosophy of the traditions of men, it is the result of studying what the Bible teaches about the nature of God.

    >>As to the distinction of persons that is where things really fall apart. In John 14:9 Jesus says whoever has seen Him has seen the Father.

    That statement is followed by Jesus saying that he is in the Father and the Father is in him (John 14:10). The oneness and the distinction of the Father and the Son is maintained. You reference Isaiah 9:6 where it says Jesus will be called Everlasting Father. At the beginning of the same verse we find, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” What does it mean that the son is given? Who gives the son? We find the answer in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” That maintains the distinction between the Father and the Son. You point out that in John 2:9 Jesus says that he will raise his own body up. You also admit there are other verses that say that the Father will raise him up. The Father and the Son are two persons of the Triune God, so this verse is consistent with the Trinity. When taken in context, all of these verses maintain the distinction of the persons of the Father and the Son.

    >>As for the Holy Ghost in John 14:16, 26 is said to be sent by the Father. 15:26 indicates that the comforter will be sent by Jesus and then in 14:18 Jesus states “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

    You think these verses further blur the distinction between the persons. Let’s look at these verses: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16); and “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26). “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me” (John 15:26). In John 14:16 and 14:26 the Father sends the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name. In John 15:26 Jesus sends the Holy Spirit from the Father. Does this blur the distinction of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? No. These verses explicitly maintain a distinction between the three persons. You then point out that in John 14:18 Jesus says “”I will not leave you as orphans (or comfortless); I will come to you.” Here we have to consider what Jesus says two verses later, “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Jesus is in the Father, we are in Jesus, and Jesus is in the Apostles. Does this blur the distinction between the Father and Jesus? Not unless is blurs the distinction between the Apostles and Jesus.

    >> In the minds of many is the question who then was Jesus praying to?

    It is clear in the Scripture that Jesus was not praying to himself. He was praying to the Father.

    >>Is it too hard to believe that He was showing us an example of how that we in our fleshly existence must submit to His Spirit so that we can be raised again into everlasting life?

    Yes, one of the reasons Jesus prayed is to show us an example of submission. However, if we ignore the question of who Jesus was praying to, we miss other things that we can learn about God from reading the prayers. Jesus asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit. In the Gethsemane Jesus asked the Father to take the cup from him. Jesus was in distress. This cannot be explained by saying that Jesus’ prayers are meant to be an example.

    I want to leave you with a final thought. The Gospel of John opens with these words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) This verse expresses the diversity between the Word and God. It also expresses the unity of the Word and God. The diversity and unity between the Word and God is the same diversity and unity found in the Trinity.

    I hope you find this helpful.

    Tom Davis

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