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As a follow-up to previous questions, I'd like to know: Do Oneness Pentecostals disagree with or "reinterpret" any phrases in the Apostles' Creed?

Here's the context: I'm listening to an audio series in which the Apostles' Creed is used as the framework for "Christian theology," implying that those who believe the Apostles' Creed are orthodox. But in this series, non-trinitarians are not considered orthodox.

This makes me wonder – how do certain non-trinitarian groups understand the Apostles' Creed? Do they accept it as written, or simply reject it? Or perhaps they accept it, but interpret particular phrases in ways that trinitarians don't?

Here, I'm most interested in how notable Oneness Pentecostal theologians view the creed (in overview style, if there is disagreement).

Related: Same question for Christadelphians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Swedenborgians.

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Like many other non-trinitarian groups, Oneness Pentecostals tend to be hesitant to align themselves too closely with any ancient creed, even one like the Apostles' Creed that is less clearly trinitarian than others (like the Nicene or Athanasian creeds). Still, some, like Steve Joel Moffett, apparently find trinitarianism within the creed:

[The] common creed known as the apostles Creed is the unifying factor of all the Christian religions of the United States except the Oneness Pentecostal churches. The Apostles Creed has as a part of the creed that those churches believe in God in three persons. (Oneness Pentecostal Theology, v2)

Others, however, on closer analysis, are not convinced that there is anything specifically objectionable in the creed. David Bernard, a leading Oneness theologian, argues that the creed does not teach trinitarianism. Reviewing the various versions of the Apostles' Creed, he writes:

For the most part they follow biblical language very closely. They describe the Son of God only in terms of the Incarnation, nowhere hinting that the Son is a separate person in the Godhead or that the Son is eternal. They affirm belief in the Holy Ghost, but not as a separate person of the Godhead. Instead they place this affirmation together with other statements relating to salvation, leading us to believe that they are talking about the gift or baptism of the Holy Ghost and to the working of the Holy Ghost in the church. Thus, there is nothing really objectionable in the language if we define the terms in the same way the Bible uses them. (The Oneness of God, 281)

Even so, Bernard does not advocate the use of the creed, in part because of its strong association with trinitarianism.

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I regret I was unable to find any information on how Oneness Pentecostals view the Apostles’ Creed, although I did find a booklet written by the Rev. Wm. H. Carey – How Many Is God? It was revised in 2008 and copyright belongs to Lighthouse Ministries. Unfortunately, I could not find any link to the article. In it, he explains why Oneness Pentecostals reject the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. This is a small extract from Carey’s booklet:

“Early Trinitarian writings include the Nicene Creed (Council of Nicea, 325 AD) and the Quicumque Vult (Latin: “Whoever wants”). Also known as the Athanasian Creed, the Quicumque Vult was probably written somewhere between 325 and 500 AD.... Both Creeds proclaim that God is one (Nicea, Line 1; Athanasius, Line 3). Athanasius declares that God is three Persons (Line 5) and that all three are equal and co-eternal (Lines 6, 17). Nicea threatens non-Trinitarians with being cursed by the church, while Athanasius claims that belief in the Trinity is paramount both to Christianity and salvation.”

The objection is primarily against there being three persons within the Godhead and the suggestion of compulsion in accepting the Trinity doctrine. Yet the Apostles’ Creed makes no such claims.

As you point out, David Bernard does not find anything objectionable in the Apostles’ Creed because it does not mention three persons within the Godhead.

Perhaps, as you suggest, Oneness Pentecostals wish to distance themselves from anything that could be associated with the Trinity (in the same way Jehovah’s Witness distance themselves from the Apostles’ Creed and the Trinity).

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Oneness Pentecostalim contains a mixture of either one or more ancient attacks on the early Church, so to know Church history is very important. By checking out the following points, we can see where Oneness Pentecostalism fits in, explaining why they will not subscribe to the Apostles’ Creed, as there are certain parts of it that they deny. The points in question are, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead… rose again from the dead [bodily]… and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty” and possibly also, “the resurrection of the body”. Please bear with me as I delve into the ancient foundations of today’s Oneness Pentecostalism.

In the history of the early church, "the first great heretic" was Marcion (who died AD 100). His doctrine of God came to be known as Modalism. From Cerdo, a Syrian Gnostic, Marcion adopted the idea that there are two gods - the imperfect, wrathful war god of the OT, and the 'unknown God', the spiritual Father who revealed himself in Jesus. Marcion did not adopt the elaborate aeons of Gnosticism, but only its dualistic distinction between the Creator, or Demiurge, and the true but unknown God, the Father. Because of his dualism, which viewed the material world and physical bodies as the handiwork of the Demiurge, Marcion denied that Christ ever was truly incarnate. Thus he was also a Docetist. Marcion taught the deity of Christ but taught that he was 'the spirit of salvation' and is simply God himself. That was another reason why Marcion had to deny that Christ really suffered, for God cannot suffer and die. Marcion's successors so fully identified Christ with the Father that he appears to be merely a mode of the Father's existence, the position also taken by the Sabellians, or Modalists, of the following century.

Modalists try to explain the Trinity by viewing the three Persons as different modes of the one God. They teach no distinct individual Persons in the Godhead (as with orthodox Christianity). For the Modalist, Christ is not only God, he is the Father himself. This claims that the fundamental unity and oneness of God does not permit a second (or a third) Person can share the titles of deity (which the Bible clearly assigns to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit).

Modalism is a word used to try to explain the Trinity while preserving the oneness of God. Modalism frequently reappears over the centuries (right up to the present one), often found in modern circles (such as the Oneness Pentecostals) which insist on the deity of Christ but only in the sense that God reveals himself under different aspects, or modes, in different ages - as the Father in creation and the giving of the Law; as the Son in Jesus Christ; as the Holy Spirit after Christ's ascension. In so doing, Modalists 'lose' the role of Jesus representing us to the Father. It is a form of Docetism, claiming that the Son, as Christ, only appeared to be human. Theologically, the teaching then becomes a Christ who was fully God, but who only appeared to be a man - which renders the biblical doctrine of Christ fully representing humanity because he was fully human himself null and void.

Today, Oneness Pentecostalism says Christ is God, who can also appear as the Father or the Holy Spirit. The problem with this is seen when we consider how Christ, the man, prayed to His Father in Heaven (also with the Holy Spirit present as a dove at Christ’s baptism). A more serious problem with such Modalism is that it negates the Bible statement that Jesus is our advocate with the Father as in 1 John 2:1.

Trinitarian Christians certainly do not accept Modalism or its modern counter-part, Oneness Pentecostalism, which cannot accept all parts of the Apostles’ Creed. The book below, from which I have culled these points, is excellent in informing us of such developments, for our protection so that we may identify modern-day versions. Heresies & Orthodoxy in the history of the Church, Harold O.J. Brown (Hendrickson 1998)

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    Could you focus more on how Oneness reject the Apostles' Creed? You say "The points in question are, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead… rose again from the dead [bodily]… and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty” and possibly also, “the resurrection of the body”." but don't explain what issues they would have with those phrases – most of this post is just vaguely related background info, not directly answering the question. – Nathaniel is protesting Aug 30 '18 at 12:57
  • Apologies for not making the link clear. I didn't quote the OP individuals below as they wrote anonymously on a website with no means of verification, but one (calling himself Bill C) wrote, "Oneness view of the Holy Spirit... the Holy Ghost is the Father of Jesus. And who is Jesus? The same Spirit that is His Father inhabited the body of His son." James, an Apostolic (Oneness) Minister, wrote, "Jesus is the Father manifest in flesh... Jesus is the Comforter." Diosdada, an OP, wrote, 'The Father's name must be Jesus... we know that the name of the Holy Ghost is Jesus'. That is Modalism. – Anne Aug 30 '18 at 16:02
  • The Apostles’ Creed shows distinctions between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that no Modalist could say ‘Amen’ to. In their desire to protect the oneness of God they have merged the 3 persons into 1 divine person but the Apostles’ Creed shows it was not the Father or the Spirit suffering and dying and being raised bodily. I hope this establishes the link more clearly. – Anne Aug 30 '18 at 16:03
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    Finding Oneness Pentecostals that agree with your statement "The Apostles’ Creed shows distinctions between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that no Modalist could say ‘Amen’ to." is basically what I'm looking for. I quoted one prominent Oneness Pentecostal above (David Bernard) who says there isn't anything particularly objectionable in the creed. – Nathaniel is protesting Aug 30 '18 at 16:08
  • If you go to the link below, you will find how sore Oneness Pentecostals actually are at their Modalism being exposed by Trinitarians. However, I do not doubt but that some of them will publicly adopt an almost indifferent attitude, trying to give the impression that there’s no real differences between them and the Apostles’ Creed, yet they still won’t subscribe to it. altupc.com/altupc/articles/upcicult.htm – Anne Aug 30 '18 at 16:16

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