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!