After the Lord freed the people of Israel from the clutches of the Egyptians, he imparted a series of rules meant to govern them as his people, relaying his message through Moses and Aaron. The Lord commanded the people of Israel to be Holy, as he is Holy, and by this meant that he wanted them to be separate from the world, to be morally superior to the other civilizations, even though they might be hated. This is reflected again in the epistles Peter, as he quotes God in saying, “Be Holy, as I am Holy,” in 1 Peter 1:15. It is a command from God to be Holy, so it is rather commendable for the Oneness Pentecostal church to attempt to fulfill this. However they have applied an array of strictures which are not found in the Bible, and if a member does not hold to those strictures, they are considered unholy. A justifiable question would be why they do this; why does the Oneness Pentecostal church have weird rules?
So I say again, it is commendable to attempt to be Holy and to encourage the church to be Holy, however the Oneness Pentecostal church has applied these strictures as a form of legalism, as I said above, people who do not follow these rules are thought of as unholy, untrue Christians and sometimes even warned or called derogatory names.
Further and critically, these strictures are not found anywhere in the Bible. They are a complete fabrication of the Oneness Pentecostal church, and in doing so, they are forced to reject the doctrine of sola scriptura (the view that scripture is the sole authority to which we appeal) and render the church as an equal authority with the scripture. To quote the UPCI (the most popular Oneness Pentecostal church in the world) doctrinal statement, “We learn holiness from the inspired Word of God, anointed pastors and teachers who proclaim and apply the Word, and internal promptings and convictions of the Holy Spirit.”
I often hear similar arguments from my Catholic friends who say that their church has equal authority with the scripture. So what are these weird rules in the Oneness Pentecostal church, and should Christians follow them?
Strict Dress Code
Something that is likely to stand out in a Oneness Pentecostal church is how well dressed everybody is, all of the males wearing a dress shirt and a tie, and all of the females wearing long skirts which extend passed their knees. This is in alignment with the teaching that Christians should wear their “Sunday best,” and perhaps they should. However, again, the UPCI doctrinal statement tells us that this is a manifestation of salvation. So while they may say that it is not a form of legalism, it really is, because they are imparting strictures, which in the absence of, parishioners will begin to doubt that persons’ salvation.
Now this is not to say that Christians should not bring forth good fruit. I do adhere to what is called Lordship Salvation, which is to say that faith produces salvation and salvation produces good fruit and a righteous lifestyle. However I find it incredible to say that unless you adhere to a certain dress code, that you are not Holy.
However they might defend this in saying that if a girl wears a long dress which extends passed their knees, they are being modest and preventing men from having lust. I have no problem with anybody makes the personal decision to wear a long dress for this reason. But I do have a problem when wearing a long dress for this reason is regulated by the church, and to call jeans immodest seems to me to be pedantic, and these is no biblical foundation for it.
I tend to like what Paul Washer said, “If your clothing is a frame for your face, God is pleased. If your clothing is a frame for your body, God is not pleased.” It is a matter of your heart and your intentions and whether you cause others to stumble.
The females in the UPCI never cut their hair, they let it grow for their entire life and if they do not, they are referred to as shameful. 1 Corinthians 11:14 tells us that if a woman has long hair, it is for her glory, yet if she has short hair, it is a disgrace to her. But the distinction that needs to be made here is between having long hair, and letting hair grow forever.
In the advent of the early church, Paul and the apostles had to deal with a number of prostitutes and Pagans who had very bizarre traditions, such as women with bald heads or who dress like men. His was a teaching against cross-dressing, essentially saying that women should look like women and men should look like men.
But if there is a scripture that says that women should never cut their hair, ever, please leave a comment with it. But there is not, which is why the UPCI is forced to say that the church has an equal authority with the scriptures.
The church leadership tells their parishioners that they cannot watch television, and as a consequence of that, most members of the UPCI do not own a television at all. As a Christian, I can understand the dislike for television, because there is an immensity of immorality and programs that are likely to stagger our faith rather than glorify God.
But that moderation should be a reflection of ones’ own faith, not a stricture set down by the church. As Christians, there are certain programs that we should be appalled by, and this is true whether we have a television or not. If a person is not truly converted, they will seek immorality whether they have a television or not.
I love the doctrine of sanctification, for there are so many Christians who think that if they just go to church and merely believe that the Bible is true, they do not need to bring forth good fruit or try to live in accordance with his word. That is why so many people will be told “Depart from me,” on the Day Of Judgment.
But sanctification is not something that the church can force upon men, it is a supernatural work of God.
If you would like to get in on the discussion about this, join my Theology Discussion Group!