This Week in AG History — October 18, 1927
By William Molenaar
Originally published on PE-News, 15 October 2015
Should Pentecostals reject the doctrine of the Trinity? This question — initially called the “New Issue” — divided early Pentecostals and compelled the young Assemblies of God in 1916 to adopt the Statement of Fundamental Truths, which affirmed Trinitarian orthodoxy.
“New Issue” advocates left the Assemblies of God and other Trinitarian Pentecostal churches and coalesced into their own organizations, which became known as the Oneness movement.
Ernest S. Williams, 34-year-old pastor of Bethel Pentecostal Assembly (Newark, New Jersey), wrote an article defending the Trinitarian view of the godhead in the October 18, 1919, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. The Oneness movement, apparently, continued to be a point of theological concern.
Williams began the article by demonstrating what he believed to be the faulty logic of the Oneness position. He noted that, according to Scripture, God gave Jesus “a name that was above every name” (Philippians 2:9). Trinitarians interpret this to mean that God the Father gave Jesus a name that is above every name. Williams noted that Oneness advocates have difficulty explaining how this verse could be consistent with their belief that Jesus is God the Father. According to Oneness theology, “God” (Jesus) would have given Jesus the name above all other names. Williams pointed out that one would “conclude that there are two Lord Jesus Christs; one an intelligent Giver, and the other an intelligent Receiver.” He humorously noted, “Thus their own logic would cut their own heads off, since they teach only one personality in the Godhead.”
Williams proceeded to explain the logic of biblically grounded Trinitarian theology, appealing to Scripture, reason, and church history.
What became of the young pastor who carefully taught theology in the pages of the Pentecostal Evangel? E. S. Williams went on to serve as a leading Pentecostal systematic theologian and general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (1929-1949).
Read the article by E. S. Williams, “The Godhead,” on page 4 of the Oct. 18, 1919, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in the issue:
• “Soul Food for Hungry Saints,” by A. G. Ward
• “Jesus, the Heart of God,” by A. P. Collins
• “The Great Western Camp Meeting at Los Angeles, Cal.,” by T. Anderson
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions are courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
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