Series Introduction: Explorations

The tagline of this website is “Exploring Oneness Pentecostal Theology.” As I said in the series on my spiritual and intellectual journey, I’ve spent most of my life among Oneness Pentecostals. That means my theological reflections begin with the Oneness views and work from there.

By contrasting the Oneness Pentecostal views with the views of other Christians, I will be able to make up my mind, in a systematic way, about the central doctrinal loci of the Christian faith. At the present time of writing, I am agnostic about whether God is one person or three persons. My purpose, then, is to find the truth about God (and other doctrines) by thinking through what Oneness Pentecostals claim in every area of Christian theology.

Eventually I will make up my mind. I’ve created this website so that others can help me along the way and so that I can document my thoughts throughout the years. When I make up my mind, I want it to be clear to everybody that I’ve done my best to be blameless.

My Goal: To Be Blameless

Regarding being blameless, I have in mind Scriptures like these:

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
—1 Peter 2:12 (ESV)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
—Matthew 5:16 (ESV)

In other words, in the end I want it to be absolutely clear that I’ve accepted (or rejected) Oneness Pentecostal theology in the right ways.

So what, in my view, are the right ways? From the Scriptures I just shared, this seems to involve several things.

1. Transparency. By this I obviously don’t mean that I will answer just any personal question. I’ve given my reasons for remaining anonymous (for now). But that raises a serious question: How can I take transparency seriously when I’ve hidden who I am?

I can do this by understanding “transparency” here to mean that my views have been made public. I am transparent with regard to ideas, not my identity. As I’ve said before (and will say again), the arguments speak for themselves. It doesn’t matter who gives them.

By making my thoughts public, it allows for collaboration and criticism. I am not a secluded armchair theologian coming up with my own neat views about God’s nature. I am in the process, like everybody else, of discovering who God is in his nature. I’m sticking my neck out in hopes that I will become a better thinker, help others, and arrive at defensible views.

2. Dialogue. Collaboration and criticism mean we have to dialogue with one another. Realistically, this often means pain and inconvenience. But it will be well worth it.

As much as I am able to over the years, I will attempt to foster dialogue between Oneness Pentecostals and other Christians. I’ve already created a live chat server where I hope to eventually host regular events and times to discuss what I’ve written on this website. And of course comments will be allowed (within reason) on the website itself. In other words, I’m attempting to build this website, from the very beginning, with community in mind.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I hope to host and moderate debates on Oneness Pentecostal theology. Eventually, I might just have a repository of go-to debates. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

3. Moral purity. Teachers are held to a high standard in Scripture. For years I’ve understood that God has given me the gift of teaching. I am a teacher. That means I am held to a high standard morally and intellectually.

Let’s start with the moral standard. I want it to be clear as my readers (and interlocutors) interact with me that there is evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in my life at all times. Disclaimer: I am quite possibly terrible at this. Another disclaimer: I will fail. Disclaimers often give us an excuse or exemption, but in this case they don’t. I’m simply trying to say that I want to discuss theology, at all times, the way that Jesus would if he were in my place. But to be honest, I barely approximate him.

By remaining morally (and intellectually) blameless, I will also be removing any excuse from my detractors for misrepresenting me. I count it as virtually certain that I will be misrepresented, mishandled, and mistreated at some point. I will become the victim of theological hatred.

If I am ever so victimized, a familiarity with my explorations will silence defamers. As I’ve already said, I want the arguments to speak for themselves.

4. Intellectual rigor. Clearly I’ve just spoken about exemplifying moral virtues, but having moral purity also means upholding intellectual virtues. I have in mind here many of the “C’s” of writing I’ve shared elsewhere. Above all, I want to accurately represent those that I disagree with and get things right. In the end, I want to have good reasons for accepting (or rejecting) Oneness Pentecostal theology.

The Beginning and the End

When I do make up my mind, I want it to be clear that I understand my theology to be the best explanation of Scripture. And if anybody disagrees with me at that point, I will have provided the necessary tools (like logic) and concepts (like distinctions) for them to be able to see if they disagree with me for the right reasons.

In other words, when I make up my mind, I’ll promote my perspective without being preachy. I want others to discover what I have through careful, sustained thinking. And discovery means that there has been exploration. The beginning and end (or purpose) of this website, then, is exploration. It even seems right to me to say that it is the purpose of theology as a whole.

I’m ready to explore the riches of God of the Bible and discover him. Are you?

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