United Pentecostal Church
It has been said that when heresy crawls in one generation it walks in the next, then runs into the next.
Historically, the first great question that came up in the early church had to do with the Person of Christ. Was he just a man - as the ancient heresy of Sabellianism taught - or was he the "theoanthropos," the God-man that the Bible declares as the second person of the Trinity?
According to James Bjornstad in a recent issue of the Institute of Contemporary Christianity, Sabellius, a Latin theologian of the third century, taught that God was one person, not three, and that He appeared in modes or forms - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
This view of the person of Christ is very much akin to Modalism, which basically had God being sometimes the Father, sometimes the Son, and sometimes the Holy Spirit, but never three persons in the one God! So, we could say that Sabellius was semi-modalistic in his heretical view of the Trinity.
This ancient twisting of the Trinity has raised its head today in many cults, not the least of which is the United Pentecostal Church (U.P.C.).
From its inception in 1913 through John D. Schaefe, an immigrant to the United States from Danzing, Germany, it has been called the "Jesus Only" or "Oneness" movement.
The views of Schaefe spread to his followers Frank Ewart, Glenn Cook, G. T. Haywood, and others.
Today the basic tenets of the movement can be found in the writings of such men as C. Haskell Yodon, John Paterson, Nathaniel A. Urshan, A. McClain, and others.
In 1985 on the John Ankerburg Show, Rev. Nathaniel Urshan in speaking for the United Pentacostal Church and responding to Cal Beisner and Dr. Walter Martin, said "We do not believe in a three-person Trinity, we believe that Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh. We do not believe that the terms `Trinity' - `God the Son', `God the Father', `God the Holy Ghost', `eternal Son', the `first, second, and third persons in the Trinity' are either scriptual or correct. We believe the doctrine of the Trinity was a product of pagan mythology and Grecian philosophy."
Unfortunately for Rev. Urshan, when he makes a statement pertaining to his view of the Trinity, it becomes pagan because it is a distortion of the one true God who exists in three separate and distinct personalities and Christians should understand the difference.
The U.P.C. teaches that God is one Person who manifested himself in the Old Testament as the Father, in the New Testament as the Son, and today as the Holy Spirit.
Typically a consequence of distorting the Godhead is a "different gospel" (II Corinthians 11:3-4, Galatians 1:6-9). The U.P.C. also teaches that salvation or justification is conditional on several steps man must perform (obedience).
These are usually represented as five steps: (1) a belief that Christ died for past sins; (2) repentance of all known sins; (3) the necessity of baptism by immersion for the forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus only (baptismal regeneration); (4) reception of the Holy Spirit evidenced by the speaking in tongues; (5) the necessity of an obedient life including a number of legalisms peculiar to the group, in order to remain in a state of grace.
Any deviation means sure damnation according to the U.P.C..