So it looks like Israel (Izzy) Folau may be a Oneness Pentecostal.
Izzy’s “non-mainstream Christianity” is the new line the media is taking in their reporting of this whole fiasco.
When I first read about it I didn’t believe it. I just thought that it was another way the media was attacking him for his faith. But having looked into it myself and going by his own words in his own tweets, which I will share, it looks like it may be true.
This is disturbing to me, for two main reasons:
- I was brought up in a Oneness Pentecostal cult and so I know the false doctrine that pervades this system of false theology and
- I have supported him thus far, what should I do now?
My Upbringing in a Cult
I have hesitated to share my upbringing in a cult for the sake of my parents. I love and respect them as parents, grandparents and Christians and so I don’t want to bring any dishonour to them. So before I begin my brief discourse here, I will say that although they brought me up in the Revival Centres International cult, they left when I was in my 20’s and then they were absolutely instrumental in getting me out of the cult. When I was still indoctrinated with the false teachings they would give me sermons to listen to by Bill Randles, David Wilkerson and Paris Reidhead. In fact it was by listening to “Ten Shekels and a Shirt”, which my mum had given me, that I was convicted of sin and turned to the true Christ. So I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am now without their guidance and I honour them for that.
So back to Oneness Pentecostalism… I was taught and fully believed :
- that there was no such thing as the Trinity, or Godhead, that Jesus Christ is not God and that the Holy Spirit was an impersonal force and not a person.
- that you must speak in tongues to be saved,
- Acts 2:38 was the go-to scripture that we preached, it was the 3-step formula for how to be saved
- that once you spoke in tongues you could not sin ever again because there is no more forgiveness for sin after that cut-off point,
- that the devil was also an impersonal force of evil, not a person, or he was just “the world system”,
- that there was no heaven nor hell,
- Adam and Eve were not the first people on earth, they were the first farmers,
- British Israelism was true
- That we were the only ones really saved etc etc
I remember clearly the head Pastor, Lloyd Longfield, specifically saying “Jesus is not deity”. (After I left RCI I prayed and do hope that he may have repented of everything before he died.)
I spoke in tongues when I was 9 years old and so from that moment on I believed I could never sin again, because “there remained no more sacrifice for sin”. Can you imagine the uncertainty, the bondage, the guilt that was provoked by this doctrine? I remember as a teenager, and even into my 20’s trying to work out whether I had done such and such a sin before or after I was 9 years old, so was I forgiven? Was I saved? Salvation was a tenuous thing that you could lose at any moment. We viewed God as an exacting tyrant looking for any little thing we’d done just so He could wipe our name out of the Book of Life. The pastors would say there was no way of knowing if you’re forgiven, so “just do your best”.
So then a religion of works would kick in… have I done enough to expiate my earlier sins? Will God forgive me now? Legalism was rife. There were rules for everything. People were encouraged to “dob” others in when they broke a rule otherwise “their sin would be on your head”. I remember the fear of that. I dobbed in a fellow teenager for using magic mushrooms because I was terrified his blood would be on my hands.
But all PRAISE TO JESUS, who is God in the flesh, (John 1:1-14) for leading me out of false doctrine by His Holy Spirit, who is the third Person of the Godhead, (John 14:15-17) and revealing that “it is by grace I have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works…” Ephesians 2:8-9. I thank my loving, Heavenly Father that He is not a tyrant but a good God who is ever so faithful to keep me and love me just as I am. I am ever so grateful for the BLOOD of Jesus that even when I do sin it continually cleanses me and that if I confess my sin He is faithful and just and forgives me. (1 John 1)
So back to Izzy’s beliefs…
Izzy Folau’s church is called the True Church of Jesus Christ. I have no idea whether they believe you have to speak in tongues to be saved or not, or any of the other things I used to believe, but they are Trinity-deniers as Izzy’s own tweets show:
This goes against orthodox Christianity as well as the Word of God. (See 2 Corinthians 13:14; Colossians 2:9; John 1:14; Matthew 28:19)
He does also seem very focussed on Acts 2:38 as a 3-step formula which rings alarm bells for me coming out of that false theology:
So What To Do Now With this Knowledge?
I cannot support Izzy’s false doctrine, because it is a denial of the true Christ of the Bible. I cannot and do not agree with him or his church in what they believe or teach. I have written to him in love on his Twitter account to inform him of his erroneous beliefs and how I cannot support them, especially since I have come out of similar beliefs myself.
However I still do support his right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech. I still believe he should not have lost his livelihood because he quoted a scripture. I still believe the scripture he quoted, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, is right and he had a right to quote it. The fact is that many non-Christians will not understand the difference in orthodox or non-orthodox theology and so I still believe he should fight this as a champion for freedom of speech and Christianity in this country.
It’s not perfect but I guess it’s along the lines of what the late, great Francis Schaeffer said about “co-belligerence”:
“An ally is a person who is a born-again Christian with whom I can go a long way down the road . . . A co-belligerent is a person who may not have any sufficient basis for taking the right position but takes the right position on a single issue. And I can join with him without any danger as long as I realize that he is not an ally and all we’re talking about is a single issue.”
I pray for Izzy that he will see the truth and repent of his erroneous beliefs, just as I had to do.
Happy to hear your thoughts on this!
August 11, 2019 at 8:48 pm
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
Which of these two statements do you prefer?
You knew and wrote and understood a lot and did very little.
You knew and wrote and understood a little and did a lot.
September 24, 2019 at 6:28 am
I am so grateful for your site, the Lord directing me to it through our much loved Bill Randles. Thank you especially for sharing your art, your poetry and your writings, especially your upbringing in the Oneness Pentecostal cult. Praise God He delivered you out of it, and for the wonderful testimony He has given you.
September 24, 2019 at 11:01 pm
Praise the Lord , I do love Pst Bill and his beautiful wife.
Yes God is good and how well He looks after His own. Thank you for your words of encouragement.
December 6, 2019 at 10:50 am
Thank you very much for this insightful post. I really appreciated your perspective and it definitely challenged my thinking. I have been interested in the Folau situation since it started and I have recently published an article on my blog about Israel Folau and his journey over the past 8 months. If you have time, it would be great if you could check out my post as I would be really interested to hear your thoughts! Thanks 🙂
February 12, 2020 at 10:09 pm
The vast majority of Oneness Pentecostals do not adhere to British Israelism nor do they believe that committing sin after Spirit baptism is unpardonable. In that regard, it is good that you no longer hold those beliefs.
However, you threw the baby out with the bath water when you rejected Oneness. The Christ of the Bible is NOT the second person of the Trinity, for there is no such thing as a Trinity except in the minds of well-meaning but misguided persons. Trinitarian doctrine entails logical contradictions, and since the Bible cannot teach logical contradictions, said doctrine cannot be true.
I would explain why, but I would first need to know which version of the Trinity you affirm (yes, there are several versions), and I’m not certain you’ll publish dissenting views. I won’t further waste my time if you won’t publish my posts.
February 13, 2020 at 4:16 am
Hi, thanks for your comment.
Trinity-deniers get hung up on the word “trinity” because it’s not in the Bible. It simple means Three in One. The word Godhead is in the Bible and is comprised of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ is the second person of the Godhead as detailed in Colossians 2:9 “for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily…”
You mention contradiction . There is no contradiction in believing that there is one God existing in three persons.
The Bible talks about two different kinds of unity or oneness, absolute unity or compound unity.
The Hebrew words translated as “one “ are : “yachead” and “echad” .
“ yachead” speaks of absolute unity, a mathematical or numerical number one. It is never used to describe the unity of God but is used in Genesis 22:2,12 and other places .
“Echad” speaks of compound or collective unity which comprises more than one person, ie one crowd, one people etc.
“These two shall be one (echad)flesh” Genesis 2:24.
This word is used many times in the OT and it is the word used concerning the one God.
The Greek words which carry the same meaning as these are “heis” and “monos”.
Whenever scripture speaks of the fact God is one, it is never referring to a mathematical number but to compound unity. Ie “The Lord our God (Jehovah Elohim) is one (echad) Lord” Deut 6:4
The word Elohim is a uni-plural word and implies plurality of divine persons.
There are so many scriptures I could give you but here’s a couple:
Genesis 3:22 “and God (Elohim) said: man has become as one of us knowing good and evil”
Isaiah 6:8 “the voice of the Lord saying ‘Who will go for us…”
1 John 5:7-8
February 13, 2020 at 8:27 am
Thanks for your reply. It is irrelevant whether the word “Trinity” occurs in the Bible, and the fact that you do not even realize that most trinitarians reject your compound unity argument demonstrates your unfamiliarity with how said doctrine developed.
Every composite is the sum of its parts. If God is a compound unity, then “God” is not a living being; it is merely an abstract term like “corporation” or “club.” Moreover, every part is but a fraction of the whole. If the whole is God, then at best each “person” is 1/3rd God. But the Doctrine of the Trinity (DT), in all its forms, asserts that each person of the Godhead is fully God. Therein is the contradiction: Each person is fully God, but each person is only fractionally God.
In addition, every composite is logically posterior to its components and receives its existence and actuation from its parts. Even if the composite is eternal, it is nonetheless logically a second-order being since it is dependent upon its parts for its existence. That of course renders the parts the first order of being, and therein is another contradiction. God is the first order of being (else He is not God), and God is the second order of being.
Finally, given that the whole is dependent upon its parts, and given that the parts are dependent upon the other parts for their identity in the composite, we see another contradiction: God is dependent, and God is not dependent.
In no case does a compound unity escape logical contradictions. This is why most trinitarians, as evidenced by Roman Catholicism and mainline Protestantism, adamantly reject the belief that God is a compound unity.
With respect to elohim, the plurality in the word is the plural of majesty or the intensity of God’s power. If used for a plurality of beings, the modifying verb is plural. For singular beings, the modifying verb is singular. Every instance of elohim in reference to God is with a singular modifying verb. Many trinitarian scholars reject the notion that elohim represents a Trinity. As Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament states, though elohim is sometimes used in the numerically plural sense for angels, judges and false gods, it goes on to state:
The plural of majesty [for elohim], occurs, on the other hand, more than two thousand times. And that elohim when used in that sense “occurs in a [numerically] singular sense” and is constr[ued] with a verb … and adjective in the singular.
It goes on to state:
The pluralis excellentiae or maiestatis … is properly a variety of the abstract plural, since it sums up the several characteristics belonging to the idea, besides possessing the secondary sense of an intensification of the original idea. It is thus closely related to the plurals of amplification …. So, especially Elohim … ‘God’ (to be distinguished from the plural ‘gods’, Ex. 12:12, etc.) …. That the language has entirely rejected the idea of numerical plurality in Elohim (whenever it denotes one God) is proved especially by its being almost invariably joined with a singular attribute.
This of course is supported not only by other credible Hebrew lexicons, but also numerous Jewish scholars. I personally know native Hebrew speakers, and they all reject as fanciful the notion that elohim, with respect to God, implies any kind of compound unity in God.
In any event, there is no such thing as a “compound unity” in God for the very idea is the logical equivalent of married bachelor. If the Bible teaches logical contradictions, then none of its words can be trusted. The inversion of everything it states becomes equally authoritative which renders everything it says unintelligible.
Since God is not logically contradictory, your version of the Trinity collapses under its own weight. Again, this isn’t simply the observation of anti-trinitarians; it is the observation of the significant majority of trinitarian scholars.
The other versions of the Trinity also do not escape contradiction, albeit in another way, but since you don’t affirm them, no comment is necessary at this point.
February 13, 2020 at 9:16 pm
Who do you say Jesus is?
February 13, 2020 at 9:41 pm
Whom I say Jesus is is not germane to my reply. You call Oneness Pentecostalism a cult while asserting a flat logical contradiction of a compound God. You “cannot support” a rugby player’s “false doctrine” and have attempted to reach out to him on Twitter to presumably correct him of his errors. Yet the trinitarian view you now espouse is both false on its face and rejected by most of your fellow trinitarians.
It would appear that you should be as zealous of expunging false beliefs from your mind as you are in encouraging others to do the same. Truth is truth regardless what I personally believe, no?
February 13, 2020 at 10:46 pm
You won’t answer the most basic and fundamental question I have asked you…. hmmm I wonder why? Oneness Pentecostalism is a cult which denies the basic tenets of orthodox Christianity. It always leads to formulaic salvation, rather than the simple faith of the Bible which is salvation by grace alone, through faith.
“ For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8
The tone of your writing displays the self-righteous, prideful tone that is the fruit of the false legalistic beliefs you adhere to.
Who you say Jesus is forms the basis of your replies to me. This is the question He asked Peter, and it is the question upon which your eternal destiny hangs – so I ask again who do you say Jesus is?
February 13, 2020 at 11:08 pm
As to my “self-righteous, prideful tone,” I’m wondering if you’re the pot or the kettle. You do not hesitate to call those whom you disagree with cultish and in false doctrine, yet you object when similar labels are applied to you. You do not even consider that those who may sincerely believe the Oneness doctrine would interpret your comments equally prideful and self-righteous.
So, it appears that it’s not really the “tone” you object to (for you carry it yourself). Your abjuration of the doctrine justifies your tone. And any person who abjures the doctrine you espouse, which would include the majority of Christians, is equally justified in carrying the dismissive “tone” you exhibit.
February 13, 2020 at 11:47 pm
The majority of Christians believe in the trinity mate, since it’s the Christianity that’s been handed down to us by the Apostles. Look in to church history. I had to do that when I left my cult.
I think we will leave the discussion here. Thanks for engaging on my blog.
February 13, 2020 at 11:00 pm
I have no problem discussing who Jesus is in the appropriate context. You’re attempting to deflect your logical conundrum by changing the subject. What you’re trying to do is debate me on whether Jesus is God the Father because you don’t want to discuss the topic I raised in reply to your remarks. I’ve been involved in these kinds of discussions long enough to recognize a debating dodge when I see it.
Your question is irrelevant because even if my views of Christ are totally false, your version of the Trinity does not become true by default. If I tell you that your vacuum cleaner will cannot pick up the dirt on the floor, it does no good for you to criticize my vacuum cleaner. Your problem remains regardless my ability to do anything about it.
February 13, 2020 at 11:44 pm
Talk about dodging the subject mate, you are skillful in using clever semantics to avoid the Bible references I quoted in my first comment to you, nor do you answer the basic fundamental question as to who Jesus is. If you can’t see that the Person of Christ is central to this debate then you’re missing the point. Which is actually the case with Celtic beliefs – they miss the point of the Personhood of Christ and the finished work of the atonement. It’s all about Him and His work on the cross. I would encourage you to seek Him while He may be found and turn from your erroneous beliefs. Your eternal destiny hinges on it mate.
I’m saying this in earnest to you , in concern for your eternal state.
February 13, 2020 at 11:50 pm
February 13, 2020 at 11:00 pm
Also, why are you moderating every one of my comments? I will not use profanity, and I will certainly stay on topic.
February 13, 2020 at 11:44 pm
I moderate every comment on my blog