Though many North American Oneness Pentecostals like to think of our movement as having suddenly been born on earth from heaven with no earthly theological antecedents, little could be further from the truth.  Historically, the organized efforts of the Oneness Movement in North America have their roots in early trinitarian Pentecostal organizations, most notably the Assemblies of God.  Further, the Pentecostal movement in North America has it’s theological roots primarily in the Holiness Movement of the 19th century.

The Holiness Movement was itself a loose association of denominations and mission organizations that arose primarily in the latter half of the 19th century.  They were Methodist in theology, but held certain distinctive beliefs that formed the core of their emphasis.  While they shared with Methodism belief in a “second work of grace”, they were distinctive in their emphasis on how this experience would result in sanctified living.

They believed that aspects of God’s Law were pertinent, and expected their members to follow strict behavioral rules.  Among these strict rules were equally strict & modest dress codes.  Among those strict dress codes were prohibitions on makeup, jewelry, sleeves above the elbows, and the wearing of pants by women.  Women were also expected to have long hair.

The point of this very brief & necessarily simplistic examination of the history of the Oneness Pentecostal movement is to help you understand why many Oneness denominations have traditionally placed such emphasis on “personal holiness”.  We didn’t invent this emphasis; we’re simply a contemporary expression of it. From Methodism, to the Holiness Movement, to trinitarian Pentecostals, to us…  Turns out we’re not that original after all.

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