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  • Writer's pictureMichael Burgos

Questions Oneness Pentecostals Don’t Ask: A Review

Questions Oneness Pentecostals Don’t Ask: How I See the Elephant by Glenn Davidson

by Michael R. Burgos

There are not many books written by evangelicals that address Oneness Pentecostalism. Ever rarer are those books written by Oneness Pentecostals which attempt to persuade trinitarian Christians of their doctrinal distinctives. Questions Oneness Pentecostals Don’t Ask was written to fill this gap, at least in part. Glenn Davidson, a Minister within the United Pentecostal Church International, claimed that he had two groups in mind when writing this volume, namely, “Both the Trinitarian and Oneness Pentecostal camps.”[1]

Glen Davidson has struck a warm tone in this very accessible volume. The author shares his reflections on several of the doctrinal distinctives especially as they relate to questions surrounding the nature of God, Christ, and salvation. Written from a conventional Oneness Pentecostal perspective, Davidson rehearses standard Oneness argumentation. Thus, any reader interested in Oneness views on orthodox Christian theology can find a good primer therein.

Throughout Questions Oneness Pentecostals Don’t Ask I repeatedly found myself wondering if Davidson really had trinitarians in mind when he wrote this volume. More likely, Davidson’s book articulates his own reflections as it relates to both Christology and soteriology for an audience who is already favorably disposed to his views. There are several significant drawbacks to the book that illustrate this point. These include 1.) A failure to substantially interact with any scholarship written by Trinitarians on the relevant biblical passages and theological issues, 2.) a rather quaint use of biblical languages that often results in unsubstantiated claims that are long discredited (e.g., p. 63), 3.) a consistent misrepresentation (or failure to understand) of select portions of trinitarian creeds (e.g., pp. 24-6), and 4.) a failure to address portions of Scripture which mitigate against the author's viewpoints even on a cursory reading (e.g., pp. 26-32).

By way of example, in Davidson’s treatment of Colossians 1:16 he wrote, “Paul seems to say that all things were made by him, the Son. However, the Greek word used by ‘by’ is en, which is better translated ‘in.’ All things were created in (en) him, not by him.”[2] Davidson gave no exegetical justification for a locative rendering of the preposition. Instead, he merely asserted that “in” is a better translation. Since both the preposition can have both an agentival and locative senses,[3] one would expect an actual exgetical explanation for why the term is better translated one way or another. Moreover, Davidson neglected to deal with the balance of the verse and how it negates his contention (“all things were created through him”). Either Davidson is unaware of these issues and has parroted second-hand arguments or he has, for one reason or another, omitted the considerations that cast doubt upon his conclusions.

The above example is typical of Questions Oneness Pentecostals Don’t ask. While this book may be helpful insofar as it rehearses typical Oneness Pentecostal views and arguments, it is far from providing a substantial treatment of Scripture or a meaningful interaction with trinitarianism.

[1] Glen Davidson, Questions Oneness Pentecostals Don’t Ask: How I See the Elephant (n.p., 2021), vii. [2] Ibid., 63. [3] W. Bauer et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago, IL: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2000), 329.

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