Alpha and Omega Ministries, The Christian Apologetics Ministry of James R. White
















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General Apologetics

 

Blurring the Dividing Line:

The Legacy of Phillips, Craig and Dean
 

 


Eric Nielsen

     Their songs have been standards for years in Contemporary Christian Music. They have gained legions of appreciative fans among evangelicals with their well-written lyrics, beautiful harmonies, and high-quality production values. Their music has consistently earned top ratings and frequent airplay, garnering numerous awards and nominations, not to mention album sales in the hundreds of thousands[1]. They have performed at the conventions of the National Religious Broadcasters and Christian Booksellers Association, appeared at Moody Church, played at Promise Keepers rallies[2], and recorded music for the National Day of Prayer. Their successful career in Contemporary Christian Music and popularity among evangelicals is impressive; even more so when it is realized that the members of Phillips, Craig and Dean (PCD) are Oneness Pentecostals who deny essential Christian doctrines, including the doctrines of the Trinity and of justification by faith alone!

     Although Phillips, Craig and Deans’ Oneness beliefs have been public knowledge for some time, having been disclosed in the pages of Charisma magazine[3] and the Christian Research Journal[4], there has been very little visible reaction from the evangelical community. The reasons for this are probably several: First, as stated above, Phillips, Craig and Dean are enormously popular, and have a long career in contemporary Christian music that has provided them credibility with evangelicals. Second, the people who represent Phillips, Craig and Dean to the evangelical press and organizations have been extremely effective at obscuring PCD’s true beliefs and marginalizing their relatively few critics. There seems to be genuine confusion about what the members of PCD believe among the “gatekeepers” in the evangelical media.[5] Finally, among some evangelicals, there appears to be a general lack of concern about the doctrines of God and of salvation, or at least an insufficient understanding of their importance.

     Despite the general confusion about what PCD believes, the three members of Phillips, Craig and Dean certainly cannot claim theological ignorance for themselves. The group’s promoters have been anything but shy about advertising their clients’ ministerial credentials. The group’s own web site boasts:

Phillips, Craig & Dean are three full-time church ministers; they also happen to sing together...[6]

All three men have key roles at their respective churches as pastors and teachers:

Randy Phillips serves as Pastor at his home church in Austin, Texas. Randy’s responsibilities include preaching, counseling, leading worship...

For more than 18 years, Shawn [Craig] has served as Music Pastor at his home church in St. Louis, MO. There he leads music, worship, and the New Members Disciple class.

Dan [Dean] is the Senior Pastor at his home church in Irving. TX. There Dan’s responsibilities include preaching, casting the vision for the church, oversight of day to day operations, and hiring and placement of all staff members.[7]

This article will attempt to eliminate the confusion by providing a clear statement of the beliefs of Phillips, Craig and Dean concerning the nature of God and the gospel by examining their own writings and the published writings of the churches they pastor. Their doctrines will be examined and tested in the light of Scripture. Finally, examples will be provided and analyzed to demonstrate how PCD has misrepresented their beliefs to the evangelical community.

Phillips, Craig and Dean on God’s Nature

     Perhaps the most essential (that is, definitional) doctrine of the Christian faith is the doctrine of God’s existence in three eternal persons, the Trinity. The New Testament in particular proclaims this precious truth, stated here in brief form:

Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[8]

By contrast, the god proclaimed by Phillips, Craig and Dean is not the tri-personal being of the Bible, but merely a single person who is seen to perform various different roles; those of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit As Randy Phillips has written (italics added for emphasis):

We believe in one God who is eternal in His existence, Triune in His manifestation, being both Father, Son and Holy Ghost AND that He is Sovereign and Absolute in His authority.[9]

Dan Dean’s church web site puts it like this:

...there is One True God that has manifested Himself as Father in creation, Son in redemption and the Holy Spirit in emanation. (Deuteronomy 6:4; I Timothy 3:16; Acts 2:33)[10]

PCD is willing to use words like “Triune” of God, but only in the sense that God has three different roles that he performs throughout Scripture; three different manifestations. This is a key concept that differentiates PCD’s god from the God of the Bible. Although this god manifests Himself in these three roles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, these manifestations are not eternal, but temporary. Additionally, there are no relationships of a personal kind between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

     This is demonstrated most clearly in The Enquirer’s Handbook, a book of basic doctrines published by Randy Phillips’ ministry, The World of Pentecost. The Handbook is perhaps the most detailed theological statement available from the ministries of Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig and Dan Dean. For this reason, a good deal of attention will be given to the Handbook throughout this article. The Handbook contains several specific denials of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, and derides the use of the term “persons” as a source of confusion:

One of the primary sources of confusion in this matter is related to the word “persons.” The doctrine of the trinity states that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three “persons” who make up one God. In actuality, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three MANIFESTATIONS of one God. This word MANIFESTATION means “to appear”, and it is quite scriptural. The Bible tells us that:

“God was MANIFEST in the flesh...” (I Timothy 3:16).[11]

The implication being made here is that since the word “persons” is not used by the Bible to refer to God, to say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are persons is to teach a non-biblical concept. Since the word “manifest” does appear in the language of Scripture, the idea of God “appearing” in various roles is a more “scriptural” concept. However, the question we should be asking is not, “Which word is used in Scripture: ‘person’ or ‘manifest’?” but rather, “Which of these concepts does the Bible teach?” Are there three co-equal, co-eternal persons that exist in the one Being that is God, or does a single divine person simply reveal himself in various modes of performance?

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you (John 14:16-17, NASB).”

“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, NASB)...”

In these verses we can see demonstrated very clearly the personhood and the distinctness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In chapter 14 of the Gospel of John, we see Jesus, distinct from the Father, speaking of His petition to the Father on behalf of the disciples for the sending of the Holy Spirit. Jesus makes a distinction between his own person and the person of the Holy Spirit by calling the Spirit “another Helper.” He also distinguishes between the person of the Father and the person of the Spirit by declaring that the Father will give the Spirit to the disciples. In chapter 15, Jesus continues to make the same distinctions, and and provides greater detail: the Spirit is sent by the Son, He proceeds from the Father, and He testifies about the Son. All three, Father, Son, and Spirit, are obviously seen to be persons, and all three are likewise shown to be distinct in person from the others.

     The Bible demonstrates the distinct personhood of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in many other ways. The love of the Son for the Father and the Father for the Son shows distinct personhood and personal relationship (John 3:35, 5:19, 10:17, 14:31). The glory of the Father is spoken of as a glory the Son had with the Father, demonstrating a distinction between the two; Jesus’ desire and request to share that glory again demonstrates a personal relationship between Himself and the Father (John 17:5). The intercessory works of both the Son and the Spirit to the Father on behalf of believers (Romans 8:26-27, 34) demonstrate that the Son and the Spirit are distinct from the Father. For example, as an intercessor, the Holy Spirit is a personal intermediary between two other persons--the believer, and the Father. Christ’s mediation between God and men confirms both His personality and distinction from the Father in a similar fashion (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6, 9:15).

     The Enquirer’s Handbook denies that the Father, Son, and Spirit are personal centers of identity, capable of relationship with each other. Instead, it claims that the terms “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” are merely descriptive of the ways that the unipersonal God acts.

In other words, God appeared in the flesh (as a son)...The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are simply three manifestations of One God. You, yourself, may be manifested as a son to your father, a husband to your wife, and a father to your children. As an individual person you may be manifested in various ways; and likewise the Almighty God is manifested as a Father, a Son, and a Holy Ghost while He remains indisputably, undeniably, ONE.[12]

     Of course this illustration fails when one considers the Biblical teaching that the Divine Persons of the Trinity interact with each other. A man may be a father to his children, and a husband to his wife, but these roles do not feel emotion toward each other; they are not consciously self-aware. On the other hand, the Persons of the Trinity communicate with each other; they love and demonstrate their love to each other. A “manifestation” cannot have a personal relationship or personal interaction with another “manifestation.”

The One Almighty God manifested Himself as a Father in creation, as a Son in redemption, and as the Holy Ghost in regeneration...The idea of three “manifestations” as opposed to three “persons” is the most scriptural way that One God can be explained.[13]

Despite the weight such a claim may initially seem to have, none of these three activities--creation, redemption, and regeneration--demonstrate the claim that there is a unipersonal God who acts in various “manifestations.” In fact, all three of these actions involve each member of the Trinity! Did God manifest Himself solely as a Father in creation? He certainly is shown to be the Father in creation, but the Bible also says that both the Son (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:13-16) and the Spirit (Genesis 1:2) were active in creation. We are redeemed by the work of the Son, but the Father sent the Son for the purpose of redemption (Galatians 4:4-5), and believers are sealed by the Spirit unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14). The work of regeneration likewise involves all three Persons of the Trinity (Titus 3:4-5). So the question is raised again: Is the idea of three “manifestations” more scriptural than the doctrine of three “Persons”? Certainly not.

     The Enquirer’s Handbook is not content simply to mislead its readers concerning the nature of the Godhead, but compounds error by mischaracterizing the Trinity as a polytheistic belief in “three Gods”:

Since the death of John and the other eleven original apostles, many concepts and teachings have arisen that do not necessarily coincide with the “one God” teaching of the early church. In the year 180 A.D. Tertullian began using the term “trinity” from which was born the Catholic doctrine of three Gods, co-equal, co-existent and co-eternal. The Roman emperor Constantine in the year 325 A.D. incorporated the “doctrine of the trinity” into the Catholic Church where it has remained ever since, and most Protestant churches have accepted this doctrine without thorough examination. The “trinity”, however, generates confusion and is not in total harmony with the Scriptures. To say that there are three separate persons who somehow comprise “one God” is like trying to connect opposing sides of two magnets. When you add 1+1+1 it must equal three, and there cannot, under any circumstances, be more than ONE GOD.[14]

For the purpose of this article, it will simply be noted that this is, at the very least, a creative interpretation of the history of the early church[15]. Further, the doctrine of the Trinity does not teach that there are three beings that are God. Monotheism, the doctrine that there is only one being who is God, is the fundamental assumption that undergirds the doctrine of the Trinity.[16] It is the Oneness doctrine, not the doctrine of the Trinity, that must attempt to “connect opposing sides of two magnets” in explaining away the personal relationships within the Godhead that are described by the Scriptures.[17]

     The Enquirer’s Handbook follows modern Oneness Pentecostal tradition, claiming that the name “Jesus” is the true name of God, and should therefore be applied to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:

...The reason for so much emphasis being placed on the name of Jesus is because JESUS is actually the NAME of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.[18]

The Holy Ghost is actually the Spirit of the Lord (Romans 8:9) and always bears his name--Jesus.[19]

In his devotional book Between Sundays, Shawn Craig similarly fails to differentiate the persons of the Father and the Son when he discusses “the bread of life.” When Jesus, in the gospel of John, applies this term to Himself, He clearly distinguishes Himself from the Father. Jesus is sent by the Father not to do His own will, but the will of the Father. Jesus is the One who is given from heaven; the Father is the One who gives Jesus:

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”

Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst...For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me (John 6:32-35, 38 NASB).

However, when Craig encounters this passage, he confuses the Father and the Son, calling both Jesus and the Father “the bread of life”:

Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11, KJV), and he declared, “I am the bread of life,” while assuring us, “He who comes to me will never go hungry” (John 6:35)...Father, I cry to you, “Give me the bread I need for today. I am hungry and needy apart from you, the Bread of Life.”[20]

The Enquirer’s Handbook’s views the Son of God not as the eternal Word of God, who was with God in the beginning, active in creation, and took on flesh for the redemption of believers. Instead, the Son of God is simply a way of referring to the human flesh of Jesus.

     The dual nature of Jesus is puzzling to some because they view the two natures as two persons. As a man, Jesus was the Son of God; He was flesh. But as God Almighty, Jesus was Spirit robed in flesh and existing everywhere else at once. There are two natures and not two persons. For example, you possess a human nature (your body) and a spiritual nature (your spirit). Whether your flesh and spirit remain intact or are separated, you are still only one person. The same is true of God.

A rule which may be followed to simplify this is: The Son of God refers to the flesh of God, and God, or the Father, refers to the Spirit. You may make this substitution in your mind as you read certain scriptures; flesh for Son, and Spirit for God (Father).[21]

Since the term “Son of God” refers only to the human flesh of Jesus, The Enquirer’s Handbook makes it plain that the Son of God is not eternal. He came into existence only when God took on flesh:

The question arises...”Did the Son of God always exist in heaven and was He sent from there to earth?”
The answer is no. The Son of God was BEGOTTEN which eliminates any possibility of His having existed in heaven beforehand. The word “begotten” denotes “a birth”, so the Son of God could not have existed until such time as he was born (His extstence in heaven was only as a thought or a plan in the mind of God) (John 1:1,14).
[22]

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The fourteenth verse of the same chapter tells us that the Word “WAS MADE FLESH, AND DWELT AMONG US...’

Jesus existed in the beginning as the “Word.” He was simply a thought in the mind of the eternal Spirit; He would not become flesh for another four thousand years.[23]

Despite the fact that the Handbook quotes directly from John 1:1, it ignores the clear meaning of the text, instead insisting that the Word existed only as a thought or idea in the mind of God. What the text actually says, however, is that in the beginning, the Word “was;” that is, the Word existed from all eternity distinct from, but with, God the Father. The very next verses use the personal pronouns “He” and “Him” to declare that the Word has always been a Person, eternal, and active in creation--He certainly was not just a mere thought or plan:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:1-3, NASB).

Jesus is spoken of many times as being from heaven: “He who descended from heaven (John 3:13), “He who comes from above...from heaven (John 3:31),” “the true bread out of heaven (John 6:31)” and “the second man [who, unlike Adam] is from heaven.” Jesus says clearly about Himself, “I have come down from heaven (John 6:38).” Jesus reveals his eternal existence when he speaks of the glory which He shared with the Father “before the world was (John 17:5).”

Finally, the assertion that the word “begotten” precludes the pre-existence of the Son is simply fallacious, and betrays a misunderstanding of the term monogenes.[24]

Phillips, Craig, Dean and the Gospel

When the apostle Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthian church, he expressed his concern that they remain faithful to the truths they had been taught about God and the gospel in the following words:

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully (2 Corinthians 11:2-4, NASB).

It is not by mere coincidence that the Scripture links these three--a different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel--together in the same warning. Errors concerning the nature of the Godhead naturally lend themselves to errors regarding the gospel! As we have already examined the differences between the God of the Bible and the god of Phillips, Craig and Dean, we now turn to the gospel.

In a chapter entitled “Born Again,” The Enquirer’s Handbook describes the state of mankind in sin, separated from God and needing a savior. The good news of the gospel message is introduced with these words:

Jesus has paid the full price for man’s salvation (I Corinthians 6:20), and fellowship with God can ultimately be restored. Man can now escape from the bondage of sin and the curse that it brought upon the world--because a man can be BORN AGAIN. Through our natural birth we inherit from Adam, our earthly father, sin, suffering, and death. But when a man is born again it is a spiritual birth, and we inherit from our Heavenly Father righteousness, joy, and eternal life. The born again experience is God’s gift to the sinner (Romans 5:15).

By being born again a person is made a new creature and is given a chance to start his life all over again (II Corinthians 5:17). Not only are his sins washed away and forgotten (Hebrews 8:12), but he is filled with the Spirit of God to help him in his resistance to sin (Galatians 5:16). Being “born again” is the very “heart” of the gospel of Christ...[25]

Most evangelicals would have no problem reading and agreeing with these paragraphs. The term “born again” is a staple of the evangelical vocabulary, referring to the gracious, singular act of God in which He regenerates the sinner. However, this is not what the Handbook means when it speaks of “the born again experience.” The explanation continues:

...As you will see from the following pages, the Bible gives very detailed directions on how to be born again. The eternal destiny of a person’s soul is determined by his obedience to the Word of God (Romans 6:17), so all of these scriptures will be explained in the most clear and simple way possible...

There is no way to overemphasize the need of every individual to understand and receive the born again experience because without it Jesus said we could not enter into the kingdom of God:

“...verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3)

Jesus went on to say that this new birth was of both WATER AND SPIRIT:

“...verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

...Jesus said:

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).

Just as the two elements, water and spirit, are vital to the natural birth, the Bible teaches that they are also vital to the Spiritual birth. The only scriptural way to be born again is to be properly baptized in water, and to be baptized (filled) with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). (italics ours)[26]

The “born again experience” that Randy Phillips’ church, the Promiseland, teaches is necessary for salvation is a process. This process begins with repentance, and must be followed by baptism in water (using the correct spoken formula) for the remission of sins. Next, the baptism of the Holy Ghost (speaking in tongues) must take place. It is only at this point that the person who has undergone the process can be said to be “born again.” This can be seen in the brochure entitled Acts 2:38 The Ultimate Experience, also published by the World of Pentecost.

ACTS 2:38 is following Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection. In John 13:36 Jesus said, “Where I’m going now, you cannot follow, but afterwards you shall!”

Repentance is death to the old nature. Baptism is the burial (Col 2:2) Receiving the Holy Ghost is the resurrection (Rom 6:4). Luke is the first to record Acts 2:38, and it was spoken by Jesus himself![27]

In the Acts 2:38 brochure, Kenneth Phillips, who is Randy Phillips’ father, and Bishop of the Promiseland, teaches about the purpose of baptism, and emphasizes that the proper baptismal formula must be spoken to make the baptism effective:

...The purpose of baptism is to remit or wash away, your sins. Where does the power lie in baptism to wash away every sin you have committed? It is not in the preacher; it is not in the water! Something must be said over you that has all power. The name of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only name with all power! (Matthew 28:18) This is the only way the apostles baptized; in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:38, Acts 8:6, Acts 10:47-48). Even if you have been baptized another way, you need to be baptized again in the name of Jesus (Acts 19:5).[28]

By “baptized another way,” of course, the brochure is speaking of the command of Jesus in Matthew 28 to be baptized “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).” A baptism that is performed without the “Jesus Name” formula simply does not have the power required to wash away sins. We will return to this point in a moment.

UTurn Student Ministries, the youth ministry of Christ Temple, Dan Dean’s church, presents this same view of the “born again experience” in outline form, exhorting the youth to be baptized for the purpose of progressing toward their salvation. Again, water baptism is said to “wash away our sin”:

VI. WHY SHOULD I BE BAPTIZED?

...

3. IT IS INCLUDED IN THE SALVATION EXPERIENCE.

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16 (NIV)

“...and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also- not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.” 1 Peter 3:21 (NIV)

4. IT IS THE “WATER” ELEMENT OF BEING BORN AGAIN.

“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again’.......Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” John 3:3-5 (NIV)

VII. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF BAPTISM?

1. IT IS A BURIAL OF OUR OLD MAN.

“Christ died for our sins ... He was buried ... and He rose again.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4

“By our baptism then, we were buried with Him and shared His death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead... so also we may live a new life.” Rom. 6:4

2. IT WASHES AWAY OUR SIN...[29]

The Enquirer’s Handbook explains why the “Jesus Name” baptism is considered absolutely essential, and why the Trinitarian form of baptism is considered insufficient.

When a person is baptized, it must also be done with the proper baptismal formula; otherwise, it will be ineffective. Baptism is a very powerful and sacred act, and there must be something to distinguish the correct way from all others; one major difference is the baptismal formula. This means that the correct “words” must be spoken when the baptism takes place[30]

It is absolutely vital that the NAME OF JESUS be said when a person is baptized.

...The reason for so much emphasis being placed on the name of Jesus is because JESUS is actually the NAME of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.[31]

It is here that we see most clearly the strong connection between the denial of the Trinity and the required Oneness baptismal formula. As a result, the name of the Lord Jesus is reduced here to a magic word invoked in the service of man. The Handbook concludes with a warning that a baptism done with the wrong formula will result in damnation (if not followed by a “proper” baptism):

...baptism is to be done in the name of the One who was crucified for us. No other name but Jesus can fill that requirement.

The proper baptismal formula is far too important to be taken lightly; it could mean the difference between going to heaven or to hell. A person should carefully examine his baptism to see if he is following the narrow way “which leadeth unto life” (Matthew 7:14).[32]

Water baptism is only considered to be a part of the “born again experience.” Although it is considered effective to forgive and wash away sins, water baptism alone does not accomplish the salvation of the believer. Speaking of the effects of water baptism, the Acts 2:38 pamphlet says:

Now your sins have been forgiven--they are “under the blood!” Your sins have been washed away in the waters of baptism! You are now ready for the empowerment of Acts 2:38, the receiving of the Holy Ghost! The teachings of Jesus are very pointed about remaining empty after you have been “swept and garnished.” You must be filled with the Spirit! (Matt. 12:43)

...When you receive the fullness of the Spirit you will speak in tongues “as the Spirit gives utterance” (Acts 2:4) Acts 10:46 is the most definite proof of this point.[33]

Christ Temple’s U-Turn Student Ministries outlines the baptism of the Holy Spirit as follows:

While baptism in water is a part of the born again experience, Jesus told us of another baptism that was intended to empower the life of every believer. It’s called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and it’s a gift that was given to a group of 120 believers almost 2,000 years ago and has continued to be poured out on hungry hearts to this day.

XII. WHY SHOULD I RECEIVE THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?

1. IT WAS COMMANDED BY JESUS AND THE APOSTLES.

“ On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 1:4-5 (NIV)

“ Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. “ Eph. 5:18 (NIV)

2. IT IS THE SPIRIT ELEMENT OF THE BORN AGAIN EXPERIENCE.

“ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. “ John 3:5-6 (NIV)

“ ....He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour. “ Titus 3:7 (NIV)

3. IT PLACES US INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST.

“ For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. “ 1 Cor. 12:13 (NIV)[34]

Of course, if the baptism of the Spirit as described here is what places us into the body of Christ, then what about those who have not spoken in tongues? The implication is clear--those who have not spoken in tongues are not part of the body of Christ. The Enquirer’s Handbook is even more direct in stating the consequences of disobeying the Oneness gospel:

There is only one apostolic doctrine of salvation--repentance, water baptism, Holy Ghost baptism--and as a word of warning regarding this, Paul wrote:

 “But though we (Paul and Peter) or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).[35]

Paul certainly did use strong language against those who would declare a different gospel than the one that he proclaimed. The reason for this is simple: The true gospel “is the power of God for salvation”--a different gospel does not have this power--a different gospel is not a saving gospel. There is no “half-way” point of compromise. So the question arises: Is the gospel of Phillips, Craig and Dean the gospel that Paul taught?

     If so, then PCD should preach their gospel boldly, and all people, particularly those who claim the name “Christian,” should embrace it wholeheartedly.

     If not, then the PCD gospel should be soundly and publicly rejected, and the platform for their message in the Christian community removed. Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig, and Dan Dean must be warned that they fall under the anathema declared by Paul, and those who claim the name “Christian” should pray for their repentance.

     In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul desired to remind the Corinthian church of the gospel that he had preached to them. It is this gospel that the believers in Corinth received and believed, and Paul proclaimed that it was the same gospel taught by all the apostles:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed (1 Corinthians 15:1-11, NASB).

Phillips, Craig and Dean would undoubtedly affirm the facts of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. They would simply add that to participate in the power of the gospel, you must follow the steps of repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus, and Holy Spirit baptism.

     However, the passage above does not merely claim to be a portion of the gospel message, to which further information or works must be added to complete its saving power; rather, it claims to be an entirely sufficient synopsis of the gospel. Paul clearly calls it, “the gospel...by which also you are saved.” In this gospel that Paul preached, there is no mention of water baptism for the purpose of forgiveness; neither is there any mention of speaking in tongues. Paul is concerned here with the work of the Lord Jesus, and what He has accomplished: “Christ died for sins...was buried...was raised...and...appeared.” The Corinthians could have assurance of their salvation if they trusted solely in this work of Christ alone on their behalf. Paul says “you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you.” What is the word which Paul preached? It is nothing outside of this very context; this word is “the gospel which I preached to you...Whether then it was I or they, so we preach!”

     Paul speaks of this same gospel in a much more detailed fashion in his letter to the Romans. However, he does not use the opportunity to add commands regarding water baptism[36] or speaking in tongues[37] to his message. Instead, he simply elaborates on the same message of the power of the gospel in those who have faith:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH (Romans 1:16-17, NASB).”

The gospel that Paul taught is “salvation to everyone who believes,” and can only be appropriated through faith. There is no room for a multi-step process of salvation; all the work involved in this salvation has been performed by Christ alone. In Ephesians, he speaks of this salvation as the gracious gift of God. In Romans, he explains that salvation must be by faith because it is by grace. No other attempted means of achieving salvation can succeed, because a salvation that is not through faith alone is not salvation by grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB).

For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (Romans 4:16, NASB)...

The Evangelical Picture of Phillips, Craig and Dean

Shawn Craig makes the following observation in Between Sundays:

Just as we should express our feelings, we should also speak out about what we believe. It isn’t enough to believe silently in our hearts and never express what we know to be the truth...Say what you believe, and believe what you say. That is the kingdom principle.[38]

This “kingdom principle” has not characterized the way that Phillips, Craig and Dean have responded when those in the evangelical community have questioned them about their Oneness beliefs. Instead, the information that has been promulgated by PCD has generally obscured what their true views are, and cloaked them in Trinitarian-sounding language.

To illustrate the way that Phillips, Craig and Dean have represented themselves to the evangelical community when these issues have arisen in the past, two examples are provided below. As you read these passages, try to consider how they would be understood by the average evangelical, unfamiliar with Oneness doctrine. Then, reread the passage, keeping in mind the background provided in this article. You will notice how carefully the language has been crafted to avoid offense to the evangelical community and make PCD’s belief system seem orthodox.

As far as your question is concerned, we believe in the THREE DIMENSIONS OR PERSONAS OF ONE GOD (1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19; 1 Tim 3:16)

We believe in one God who is eternal in His existence, Triune in His manifestation, being both Father, Son and Holy Ghost AND that He is Sovereign and Absolute in His authority.

We believe in the Father who is God Himself, Creator of the universe. {Gen 1:1; John 1:1}

We believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (Col 2:9) He suffered, died, was buried, and rose from the dead for our total salvation (Luke 3:21-22; Philippians 2:5-11). We believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 3:36; John 3:31-32; John 14:6).

We believe in the Holy Spirit who is God indwelling, empowering and regenerating the believer. This Holy Spirit is called the Comforter. The Spirit of Truth (John14:17, 14:26)

We believe that the blood of Jesus Christ atones for our sins and iniquity. It is through His shed blood that we are saved, healed and set free from bondage and the forces of darkness (Romans 5:9-11; Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 12:11).

We believe that every believer must have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, for apart from Him we can do nothing. Each person has a ministry from God that no one else can fill. We are to instruct, teach, exhort, and admonish believers in the ways of God (John 15:1-5; Hebrews 13:5-6).

For centuries people have debated endlessly theological differences. We do not want to spend our time in debating differences but in coming together on our similarities.

Hope this clears things up for you.

Randy.[39]

For the evangelical, there is the affirmation of the “threeness” of God, the word “Triune,” affirmation of the existence of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and a statement about the saving work of Jesus. The last major paragraph plays to the desire among many evangelicals for unity, not “doctrines that divide.”

     The “THREE DIMENSIONS...OF GOD,” however, are revealed to be “manifestations,” and in this context “Triune” simply reiterates that there are three of them. Oneness Pentecostals believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; that can simply be affirmed[40]--although by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Mr. Phillips is speaking of roles, not persons. He speaks of salvation and a personal relationship with Christ without noting that the only apostolic means of salvation is through water baptism in the name of Jesus, followed by Holy Spirit baptism evidenced by speaking in tongues. For those who still have doubts, the matter is cast as a fruitless debate for those who are actively involved in Christian ministry.

September 30, 1999

Dear Friend:

Thank you for sharing your concerns. We understand the importance of knowing that the artists you listen to not only sing the truth but speak and believe the Truth. Please allow us to clear up any confusion regarding the belief system of PCD regarding the doctrine of the Godhead, which is often referred to as the Trinity.

In the church body, controversy often exists in matters of doctrine. However, we, the members of Phillips, Craig & Dean do believe in the existence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit--the Three in One.

We also have chosen to agree and affirm the following statements of faith which we agreed upon when we first began with Star Song in 1992. It is the Apostles’ Creed which believers have declared and stood upon for centuries.

The Apostles’ Creed

(This creed is called the Apostles’ Creed not because it was produced by the apostles themselves but because it contains a brief summary of their teachings. It sets forth their doctrine “In sublime simplicity, in unsurpassable brevity, in beautiful order, and with liturgical solemnity.” In its present form it is dated no later than the fourth century. More than any other Christian creed, it may justly be called an ecumenical symbol of faith. This translation of the Latin text was approved by the CRC Synod of 1988.)

I believe in God, the Father, almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
And born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead and was buried;
He descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead,
He ascended to heaven
And is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic* church,
The communions of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting. Amen.

* catholic (small cap “c”) here refers to “of or pertaining to the whole Christian body or church.”

Please take a deep look into the lyrics of Phillips, Craig & Dean songs to find each song is based on scripture. We hold fast to the Holy Bible, and our music ministry and personal walks are grounded in these truths.

If you have any hesitations, please feel free to contact PCD Ministries at 615-264-0012.

For the cause of Christ,

Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig, and Dan Dean[41]

Again, for the evangelical, there is an assurance that PCD understands the need for truth. The word “Trinity” is used, the term “Three in One” is used, and an affirmation is given that PCD believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed follows, which many evangelicals are familiar and comfortable with. Those who are not familiar with it will be impressed with PCD’s grasp of church history. Finally, assurances of PCD’s commitment to the Bible are given.

Although the promise of “clearing up confusion” is made, the same methods are used here to obscure what PCD really believes. The “Trinity” is never defined. “Three in One,” like “Triune” in the previous example, simply refers to the three manifestations of the Godhead. The Apostle’s Creed was a very early creed of the church, and came into popular use before the problem of Sabellianism (an ancient version of Oneness) arose--so it does not specifically address the issue of the Trinity.

It is somewhat difficult to understand why Phillips, Craig and Dean would work so hard to conceal their true beliefs, particularly if, as their literature teaches, they believe that the true gospel message--the gospel that saves--is not the gospel of the evangelical world. At best one may only speculate what the reasons may be. Is it simply that they are earning a substantial amount of money from the evangelical community, and do not want that income to dry up? Or is something else involved?

Perhaps some light may be shed on the matter from an excerpt of a recent church service at the Promiseland. Randy Phillips’ father Kenneth Phillips stood up after a young lady had just finished performing the song “Awesome God,” and began to speak about the talent in the Oneness movement:

“It always amazes me, and I’ve been reared around it--the incredible talent that’s in the Jesus Name people; the people that have been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of the greatest preachers in the world, including T.D. Jakes and Tommy Tenney and all of those wonderful Jesus’ Name people...and then it seemed like there’s so many piano players and bass players and guitar players and saxophone players and song writers...and song writers...song writers...people that get together and just worship the Lord Jesus. We used to just be in tents, and brush arbors, and on campgrounds, but now--word’s got out, and it’s all over the world. People singing our song, people playing our music, people preaching our sermons--isn’t that incredible? I’m glad that I was on the ground floor of this--ground floor of this, prayed for this, believed for this.”[42]

Bishop Phillips expresses that it has been his desire all along for Oneness preachers and musicians to enter the mainstream evangelical world. But for what purpose? Surely it is not solely to sell books and music to the evangelical community. It seems entirely possible that Kenneth Phillips desires to use evangelical media and marketing channels to spread the Oneness gospel. Perhaps not now, at least not openly--but at some point, when the evangelical community has accepted T.D. Jakes, Tommy Tenney, PCD, and others wholeheartedly into their ranks--after years of heartfelt, emotional sermons, and music loved by evangelicals. One can almost hear the argument being raised even now:

“If their music is so moving, and we listen to their sermons, and we’ve welcomed them into the evangelical community as leaders now for years...maybe that means that what we believe, and what they believe about the nature of God is not an essential issue. Maybe the Trinity is not such a big deal after all. And maybe the gospel is the same way.” 

Addendum, June 10, 2002

This article was first published on the aomin.org site in April, 2002. In the intervening weeks both the Promiseland and Christ Temple web sites, although they had remained relatively unchanged for a substantial length of time, have suddenly undergone significant renovations. In particular:

    The abrupt changes at the Promisland site (http://www.wop.com) have resulted in several dead links. The main page announces "A New Promiseland is coming!" For the time being, the web bookstore at the Promiseland appears to be unavailable.

    The Promiseland brochure "Acts 2:38--The Ultimate Experience" linked in the article footnotes above has been removed from the web site.

    The message boards at the Promiseland which contained discussion of Jesus-name baptism have been completely erased.

    Christ Temple has removed its statement of faith from their "About Us" page.

    Christ Temple’s U-Turn Inneractive Student Ministries site has removed the outline containing references to Oneness and Jesus-name baptism.

    Christ Temple has removed an article concerning their support of a oneness mission in St. Petersburg, Russia, which had a reference to oneness evangelist Andrew Urshan.

    T.D. Jakes ministry, The Potter's House, has moved its doctrinal statement to a new URL. The doctrinal statement remains unchanged except for a link to an article Bishop Jakes wrote for Christianity Today concerning the statement.

All of these recent modifications will make it significantly more difficult for the reader to verify the accuracy of this article.

However, although several of these pages are no longer available at their respective web sites, they are, for the time being, still available for viewing online, since they have been cached by the Google search engine.

To view these pages, browse to http://www.google.com and copy the desired URL into the search box. When Google displays the link, choose to view the cached version.

If you intend to share this article with someone else, you may want to save a copy of the cached web pages for yourself, as the Google cache may change or be cleared at some time in the future.


[1] http://www.pcdministries.com/aboutartist.asp says: “Ten years ago, StarSong, a Nashville-based record company, urged Randy Phillips to form a men's group. He called two friends - Dan Dean and Shawn Craig - and they sang their first concert in November 1991. They cut their first album early the next year. Since then, they've produced seven more albums, have had 17 No. 1 singles, topped the charts with the #1 Inspirational Song of the 90s for "Crucified With Christ," earned a fistful of Dove Award nominations, and sold over 1.3 million units.”
[2] http://www.cmo.com/cmo/cmo/starsong/pcd/pcd.htm
[3] J. Lee Grady, “The Other Pentecostals,” Charisma (June 1997); available online at http://www.charismamag.com/june97/cu197123.htm. The article contains the brief statement, “The contemporary Christian recording group Phillips, Craig and Dean is composed of three Oneness ministers.”
[4] James R. White, “Loving the Trinity,” Christian Research Journal 21, no. 4 (1999).
[5] Angie Thomas, Music Director of the Moody Broadcasting Network writes, “Someone got ahold (sic) of information, didn't validate it, and has exploited in on the internet and has caused them great grief in the last few years...We have no qualms about inviting them to the Friday Sing and continuing to play their music.” (Email sent by James R. White to AR-talk, 03 April 2001.) The statement may reflect a press agent’s allusion to Ernest Sanchez’s web site http://members.tripod.com/~ernchez/home/main.htm. MBN is still playing PCD’s music; The PCD rendition of “You Are My King” was listed as one of the top songs on the WMBI playlist as of 03/04/02.
A PCD press agent responding to a reporter at Christianity Today writes, “In 1999 a writer made allegations relating to PCD’s upholding of the Oneness doctrine without ever going to the guys directly...Billy Graham, Moody, Focus on the Family and every other Christian organization that has had the chance to research the matter have come to see how the allegations were untrue.” (Email from Rich Poll to AR-talk, Wed, 21 Mar 2001.) The quote probably refers to James R. White's article “Loving the Trinity,” referenced above. Even if James White did not “go to the guys,” the article quotes directly from PCD church materials.
[6] http://www.pcdministries.com/aboutartist.asp
[7] Ibid.
[8] James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1998), 26. A brief outline of this statement may be found at http://www.aomin.org/trinitydef.html
[9] Email dated 09 September 1999; copy sent by James R. White in email to AR-talk, 03 April 2001. The statement of faith contained in this email is identical to the statement used by T.D. Jakes' ministry, The Potter's House: http://www.thepottershouseinternational.com/PH_PHdoctrine.htm
[10] This statement appeared for a number of years in Christ Temple's statement of faith at the URL http://www.christ-temple.org/about.html, but was deleted between May 14, 2001. As a result, the main statement of faith for the church now contains absolutely no direct references to the Father at all! This sentence has remained untouched, however, in “THE ESSENTIALS OF THE UTURN STUDENT MINISTRY” http://www.uturn-inneractive.com/discipleship.htm, a document that appears to be designed for education in the youth ministry of Christ Temple.
[11] The Enquirer’s Handbook (Austin, TX: World of Pentecost), 64.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid, 67.
[14] Ibid, 64.
[15] See James R. White, What Really Happened at Nicea? at http://www.equip.org/free/DN206.htm for a brief history of the Council of Nicea, particularly with regard to the role of Constantine.

[16] “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one (Deuteronomy 6:4, NASB)!”
[17] As an example, see The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 2, Articles 1 and 3 available online at http://www.prbc.org/Confession.htm#Chapter%202 for a demonstration of the Scriptural consistency of the doctrine of the Trinity.
[18] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 43.
[19] Ibid, 44.
[20] Shawn Craig, Between Sundays (West Monroe, La.: Howard Publishing Co., Inc., 1998), 178.
[21] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 68.
[22] Ibid, 79-80.
[23] Ibid, 75.
[24] See James R. White, The Trinity, the Definition of Chalcedon, and Oneness Theology at http://aomin.org/CHALC.html
[25] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 29.
[26] Ibid, 29-30.
[27] Acts 2:38 The Ultimate Experience (Austin, TX: World of Pentecost), 3. This document is also available online at http://www.wop.com/promiseland/acts238.htm as of March 12, 2002.
[28] Ibid, 7.
[29] “THE ESSENTIALS OF THE UTURN STUDENT MINISTRY” http://www.uturn-inneractive.com/discipleship.htm
[30] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 42.
[31] Ibid, 43.
[32] Ibid, 45.
[33] Acts 2:38 The Ultimate Experience, 9.
[34] “THE ESSENTIALS OF THE UTURN STUDENT MINISTRY”
[35] The Enquirer’s Handbook, 32.
[36] For a refutation of specific verses used to justify baptismal regeneration, see http://www.aomin.org/bapreg.html.
[37] It is interesting to note that there are no actual commands in the Bible to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, or to pray for the baptism; rather, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is always something that is a passive event for the one baptized (see Acts 2:4, 10:46, and 19:6 for specific examples of tongues-speaking; 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaks more generally of the baptism of believers into the body of Christ).
[38] Between Sundays, 69.
[39] Email dated 09 September 1999; copy sent by James R. White in email to AR-talk, 03 April 2001.
[40] Sometimes Oneness Pentecostals are referred to simply as “Jesus Only,” which is an accurate term so far as it is used of the belief that “Jesus” is the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. This term, though, has been used to the advantage of Oneness Pentecostals desiring to enter the evangelical mainstream--they can simply answer, “We are not ‘Jesus Only,’ we believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
[41] Transcript of fax copy received by Ernest Sanchez from Crosswalk.com. The original fax is viewable online at Mr. Sanchez’s web site: http://members.tripod.com/~ernchez/home/pcdletter.htm. Mr. Sanchez, a former Oneness Pentecostal himself, provides a brief analysis of the document as well: http://members.tripod.com/~ernchez/home/n2_appendix.htm
[42] Kenneth Phillips, excerpted from the March 18, 2001 service at the Promiseland, Austin, TX. This service is no longer available for audio streaming at the World of Pentecost web site, but the excerpt may be heard online at http://www.straitgate.com/kp031801.ram


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