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Trinity....... been there, done that....

Discussion in 'Catholic DIR' started by Scott1, Aug 27, 2004.

  1. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    The early Christians were quick to spot new heresies. In the third century, Sabellius, a Libyan priest who was staying at Rome, invented a new one. He claimed there is only one person in the Godhead, so that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all one person with different "offices," rather than three persons who are one being in the Godhead, as the orthodox position holds.

    Of course, people immediately recognized that Sabellius’s teaching contradicted the historic faith of the Church, and he was quickly excommunicated. His heresy became known as Sabellianism, Modalism, and Patripassianism. It was called Sabellianism after its founder, Modalism after the three modes or offices which it claimed the one person of the Trinity occupied, and Patripassianism after its implication that the person of the Father (Patri-) suffered (-passion) on the cross when Jesus died.

    Because Modalism asserts that there is only one person in the Godhead, it makes nonsense of passages which show Jesus talking to his Father (e.g., John 17), or declaring he is going to be with the Father (John 14:12, 28, 16:10) One office of a person cannot go to be with another office of that person, or say that the two of them will send the Holy Spirit while they remain in heaven (John 14:16-17, 26, 15:26, 16:13–15; Acts 2:32–33).

    Modalism quickly died out; it was too contrary to the ancient Christian faith to survive for long. Unfortunately, it was reintroduced in the early twentieth century in the new Pentecostal movement. In its new form, Modalism is often referred to as Jesus Only theology since it claims that Jesus is the only person in the Godhead and that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are merely names, modes, or offices of Jesus. Today the United Pentecostal Church, as well as numerous smaller groups which call themselves "apostolic churches," teach the Jesus Only doctrine. Through the Word Faith movement, it has begun to infect traditionally Trinitarian Pentecostalism. Ironically, Trinity Broadcasting Network, operated by Word Faith preacher Paul Crouch, has given a television voice to many of these Jesus Only preachers (who are, of course, militantly anti-Trinitarian).


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  2. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Two quotes from early Church fathers about the Trinity:

    Novatian...
    (Treatise on the Trinity 11 [A.D. 235])

    "For Scripture as much announces Christ as also God, as it announces God himself as man. It has as much described Jesus Christ to be man, as moreover it has also described Christ the Lord to be God. Because it does not set forth him to be the Son of God only, but also the son of man; nor does it only say, the son of man, but it has also been accustomed to speak of him as the Son of God. So that being of both, he is both, lest if he should be one only, he could not be the other. For as nature itself has prescribed that he must be believed to be a man who is of man, so the same nature prescribes also that he must be believed to be God who is of God. . . . Let them, therefore, who read that Jesus Christ the son of man is man, read also that this same Jesus is called also God and the Son of God" .


    Pope Dionysius
    (Letter to Dionysius of Alexandria 1 [A.D. 262]).

    "Next, then, I may properly turn to those who divide and cut apart and destroy the most sacred proclamation of the Church of God, making of it [the Trinity], as it were, three powers, distinct substances, and three godheads. . . . [Some heretics] proclaim that there are in some way three gods, when they divide the sacred unity into three substances foreign to each other and completely separate" .

    "Therefore, the divine Trinity must be gathered up and brought together in one, a summit, as it were, I mean the omnipotent God of the universe. . . . It is blasphemy, then, and not a common one but the worst, to say that the Son is in any way a handiwork [creature]. . . . But if the Son came into being [was created], there was a time when these attributes did not exist; and, consequently, there was a time when God was without them, which is utterly absurd" (ibid., 1–2).

    "Neither, then, may we divide into three godheads the wonderful and divine unity. . . . Rather, we must believe in God, the Father Almighty; and in Christ Jesus, his Son; and in the Holy Spirit; and that the Word is united to the God of the universe. ‘For,’ he says, ‘The Father and I are one,’ and ‘I am in the Father, and the Father in me’" (ibid., 3).



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