HERESY

Heresy has been a concern in Christian communities at least since the writing of Peter: “Even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them” (2 Peter 2:1). While in the first two or three centuries of the early Church heresy and schism were not clearly distinguished and a similar overlapping occurred in medieval scholastic thought, heresy is understood today to mean the denial of revealed truth as taught by the Church.

While individual Protestant churches have also used the concept in proceedings against individuals and groups deemed to be heretical by those churches, the lack of a central doctrinal authority has meant that beliefs can often not be unanimously considered heretical from the Protestant perspective.

The Eastern Orthodox Church officially declares a heresy only at an ecumenical council, and currently only accepts the First seven Ecumenical Councils as ecumenical.

Traditionally, orthodoxy and heresy have been viewed in relation to the “Orthodoxy” as an authentic lineage of tradition. Other forms of Christianity were viewed as deviant streams of thought and therefore “heterodox”, or heretical.

The heresies have been divided into three types:

  1. Christological – These heresies distort the truth of the person of Christ in relation to the Trinity, whether it be a distortion of his full humanity or eternal divinity.
  2. Dualistic – These heresies have some kind of underlying presupposition that the immaterial/spiritual is superior or good, and the material/physical is inferior or bad.
  3. Individualistic – These heresies are birthed out of an individualistic tendency to isolate oneself from Holy Tradition, and choose to instead favor spontaneous innovations of private experience or personal rationalism.

Proponents

  • Theodotus of Byzantium
  • Paul of Samosata

Condemnation

  • Synod of Antioch
  • First Council of Nicaea

Adoptionism

Adoptionism is the belief that Jesus was not divine at birth, but was so virtuous that he was adopted later as “Son of God” by the descent of the Spirit on him.

Adoptionism is one of two main forms of monarchianism (the other is modalism, which regards “Father” and “Son” as two historical or soteriological roles of a single divine Person). Adoptionism (also known as dynamic monarchianism) denies the eternal pre-existence of Christ, and although it explicitly affirms his deity subsequent to events in his life, many classical trinitarians claim that the doctrine implicitly denies it by denying the constant hypostatic union of the eternal Logos to the human nature of Jesus. Under Adoptionism Jesus is currently divine and has been since his adoption, although he is not equal to the Father, per “my Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). and as such is a kind of subordinationism.

Adoptionism was one position in a long series of disagreements about the precise nature of Christ in the developing dogma of the Trinity, an attempt to explain the relationship between Jesus of Nazareth (both as man and God) and God the Father, while confidently claiming to be uncompromisingly monotheistic. It differs significantly from the Orthodox doctrine of the Trinity that was later affirmed by the ecumenical councils.

Some scholars see Adoptionist concepts in the Gospel of Mark and in the writings of the Apostle Paul. According to this view, though Mark has Jesus as the Son of God, references occurring at the strategic points in 1:1 (“The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God”, but not in all versions, see Mark 1), 5:7 (“What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”) and 15:39 (“Surely this man was the Son of God!”), the concept of the Virgin Birth of Jesus had not been developed or elucidated at the time of the writing of this early Christian text. By the time the Gospels of Luke and Matthew were written, Jesus is identified as being the Son of God from the time of birth. Finally, the Gospel of John portrays him as the pre-existent Word as existing “in the beginning”.

Christological

Proponents

  • Apollinarius of Laodicea

Condemnation

  • First Council of Constantinople

Apollinarianism

Apollinarianism is the belief that Jesus had a human body, but not a human mind.

Apollinarianism was a view proposed by Apollinarius of Laodicea (died 390) that Jesus could not have had a human mind; rather, that Jesus had a human body and lower soul (the seat of the emotions) and a divine mind.

The Trinity had been recognized at the Council of Nicea in 325, but debate about exactly what it meant continued. A rival to the more common belief that Jesus Christ had two natures was monophysitism (“one nature”), the doctrine that Christ had only one nature. Apollinariansm and Eutychianism were two forms of monophysitism. Apollinarius’ rejection that Christ had a human mind was considered an over-reaction to Arianism and its teaching that Christ was not divine.

Theodoret charged Apollinarius with confounding the persons of the Godhead, and with giving in to the heretical ways of Sabellius. Basil of Caesarea accused him of abandoning the literal sense of the scripture, and taking up wholly with the allegorical sense. His views were condemned in a Synod at Alexandria, under Athanasius of Alexandria, in 362, and later subdivided into several different heresies, the main ones of which were the Polemians and the Antidicomarianites.

It was declared to be a heresy in 381 by the First Council of Constantinople, since Christ was officially depicted as fully human and fully God. Followers of Apollinarianism were accused of attempting to create a tertium quid (“third thing,” neither God nor man). Apollinarius further taught, following Tertullian, that the souls of men were propagated by other souls, as well as their bodies

Some scholars see Adoptionist concepts in the Gospel of Mark and in the writings of the Apostle Paul. According to this view, though Mark has Jesus as the Son of God, references occurring at the strategic points in 1:1 (“The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God”, but not in all versions, see Mark 1), 5:7 (“What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”) and 15:39 (“Surely this man was the Son of God!”), the concept of the Virgin Birth of Jesus had not been developed or elucidated at the time of the writing of this early Christian text. By the time the Gospels of Luke and Matthew were written, Jesus is identified as being the Son of God from the time of birth. Finally, the Gospel of John portrays him as the pre-existent Word as existing “in the beginning”.

Christological

Proponents

  • Arius
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Mormons

Condemnation

  • First Council of Nicaea

Arianism

Arianism is the belief that Jesus Christ was not divine and had his beginning being created by the Father.

Arianism is a nontrinitarian belief that asserts that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, created by God the Father, distinct from the Father and therefore subordinate to the Father. Arian teachings were first attributed to Arius (c. AD 250–336), a presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt. The teachings are opposed to mainstream Christian teachings on the nature of the Trinity and on the nature of Christ. The Arian concept of Christ is that the Son of God did not always exist, but was created by God the Father. This belief is based on an interpretation of a verse in the Gospel of John (14:28): “You heard me say, ‘I am going away, and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

Trinitarianism was formally affirmed by the first two Ecumenical Councils. All mainstream branches of Christianity consider Arianism to be heterodox and heretical. The Ecumenical First Council of Nicaea of 325 deemed it to be a heresy. At the regional First Synod of Tyre in 335, Arius was exonerated. After his death, he was again anathemised and pronounced a heretic again at the Ecumenical First Council of Constantinople of 381. The Roman Emperors Constantius II (337–361) and Valens (364–378) were Arians or Semi-Arians.

Arianism is also often used to refer to other nontrinitarian theological systems of the 4th century, which regarded Jesus Christ—the Son of God, the Logos—as either a created being (as in Arianism proper and Anomoeanism) or as neither uncreated nor created in the sense other beings are created (as in Semi-Arianism).

Christological

Proponents

  • Gnostics

Condemnation

  • First Council of Nicaea

Docetism

Docetism is the belief that Jesus only seemed to have a physical body and to physically die, but in reality he was a spirit, and thus unable physically die

Docetism (from the Greek, “to seem/phantom”) is taken as the belief that Jesus only seemed to be human, and that his human form was an illusion. It appears to have arisen over theological contentions concerning the meaning, figurative or literal, of a sentence from the Gospel of John: “the Word was made Flesh.

Docetism was unequivocally rejected at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and is regarded as heretical by the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, and Coptic Church.

Christological

Dualistic

Proponents

  • Muslims
  • Jews
  • Protestants
  • Emperor Leo III
  • Emperor Leo V

Condemnation

  • Second Council of Nicaea

Iconoclasm

Iconoclasm is the belief that all icons are idols and should be destroyed.

Iconoclasm is the destruction of religious icons and other images or monuments for religious or political motives.

People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called iconoclasts. Conversely, one who reveres or venerates religious images is called (by iconoclasts) an iconolater; in a Byzantine context, such a person is called an iconodule or iconophile.

Iconoclasm may be carried out by people of a different religion, but is often the result of sectarian disputes between factions of the same religion. In Christianity, iconoclasm has generally been motivated by people who adopt a literal interpretation of the Ten Commandments, which forbid the making of “graven images or any likeness of anything”. The Church Fathers saw deviations from Orthodox Christianity and opposition to the veneration of images as heresies that were essentially “Jewish in spirit.” The degree of iconoclasm among Christian branches greatly varies, but typically those with the least-nuanced understanding of the Old Testament will be the most iconoclastic. Islam tends to be more iconoclastic than Christianity, and is usually seen as the origin of the controversy itself.

The iconoclasm argument was utterly destroyed by St. John of Damascus, and Orthodox Christianity has remained steadfast ever since.

Christological

Dualistic

Individualistic

Proponents

  • Macedonius I

Condemnation

  • First Council of Constantinople

Macedonianism

Macedonianism is the belief that the Son is not one in essence with the Father, and the Holy Spirit is merely a transient creation of the Father.

Macedonius and his followers were semi-Arian, and taught that though the Son was eternal, He was not of one essence (Latin: consubstanciales, Greek: homoousios) with the Father but of like essence (Greek: homoiousios) with the Father. They also taught that the Holy Spirit was not eternal and consubstantial with the Father and the Son but a creation of the Father and an action of the Son. Thus, the Macedonians denied that the Holy Spirit was a hypostasis, or person, of the Holy Trinity.

Many fathers wrote in opposition to Macedonianism, including Athanasius the Great, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory Nazianzen. Macedonianism was condemned at the Second Ecumenical Council, which inserted the following words into the Nicene Creed:

And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets.

Christological

Proponents

  • Mani the Prophet

Condemnation

  • Emperor Theodosius

Manichaeism

Manichaeism is the belief that good and evil are equally powerful, and material things are evil.

Manichaeism taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. Through an ongoing process which takes place in human history, light is gradually removed from the world of matter and returned to the world of light whence it came. Its beliefs were based on local Mesopotamian gnostic and religious movements.

Manichaeism was quickly successful and spread far through the Aramaic-Syriac speaking regions. It thrived between the third and seventh centuries, and at its height was one of the most widespread religions in the world. Manichaean churches and scriptures existed as far east as China and as far west as the Roman Empire. It was briefly the main rival to Christianity in the competition to replace classical paganism. Manichaeism survived longer in the east than in the west, and it appears to have finally faded away after the 14th century in southern China contemporary to the decline in China of the Church of the East during the Ming Dynasty. While most of Manichaeism’s original writings have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived.

An adherent of Manichaeism is called, especially in older sources, a Manichee, or more recently Manichaean. By extension, the term “manichean” is widely applied (often used as a derogatory term) as an adjective to a philosophy of moral dualism, according to which a moral course of action involves a clear (or simplistic) choice between good and evil, or as a noun to people who hold such a view.

Dualistic

Proponents

  • Marcion of Sinope

Condemnation

  • Bishops of Asia Minor
  • Tertullian

Marcionism

Marcionism is the belief that the Old Testament God of the Hebrews was a separate and lower entity than the God of the New Testament.

Marcion believed Jesus was the savior sent by God, and Paul the Apostle was his chief apostle, but he rejected the Hebrew Bible and the God of Israel. Marcionists believed that the wrathful Hebrew God was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving God of the New Testament. This belief was in some ways similar to Gnostic Christian theology; notably, both are dualistic, that is, they posit opposing gods, forces, or principles: one higher, spiritual, and “good”, and the other lower, material, and “evil” (compareManichaeism), in contrast to other Christian views that “evil” has no independent existence, but is a privation or lack of “good”, a view shared by the Jewish theologian Moses Maimonides.

Marcionism, similar to Gnosticism, depicted the God of the Old Testament as a tyrant or demiurge (see also God as the Devil). Marcion was labeled a gnostic by Philip Schaff,[4] while other scholars have rejected that categorization. Marcion’s canon consisted of eleven books: A gospel consisting of ten sections that also appeared in the Gospel of Luke; and ten Pauline epistles. The entire Old Testament, along with all other epistles and gospels of the 27 book New Testament canon are rejected from Marcion’s canon as transmitting “Jewish” ideas. Paul’s epistles enjoy a prominent position in the Marcionite canon, since Paul is credited with correctly transmitting the gracious universality of Jesus’ message in opposition to the harsh dictates of the just god.

Marcionism was denounced by its opponents as heresy, and written against, notably by Tertullian, in a five-book treatise Adversus Marcionem, written about 208. Marcion’s writings are lost, though they were widely read and numerous manuscripts must have existed. Even so, many scholars (including Henry Wace) claim it is possible to reconstruct and deduce a large part of ancient Marcionism through what later critics, especially Tertullian, said concerning Marcion.

Dualistic

Proponents

  • Melchisedechians
  • Athingani

Condemnation

  • St. Mark the Ascetic
  • St. Jerome

Melchisedechianism

Melchisedechians taught that Melchisedech was an incarnation of the Divine Word of God, and identified him with the Holy Ghost. 

The Melchisedechians were refuted by St. Mark the Ascetic, who was a disciple of St. John Chrysostom. His book, “Against the Melchisedekites”, he speaks of these new teachers as making Melchisedech an incarnation of the Logos. They were anathematized by the bishops, but would not cease to preach. They seem to have been otherwise orthodox.

St. Jerome (Ep. 73) also refutes an anonymous work which identified Melchisedech with the Holy Ghost. About AD 600, Timotheus, Presbyter of Constantinople, in his book De receptione Haereticorum adds at the end of his list of heretics who need rebaptism the Melchisedechians, “now called Athingani. They live in Phrygia, and are neither Hebrews nor Gentiles. They keep the Sabbath, but are not circumcised. They will not touch any man. If food is offered to them, they ask for it to be placed on the ground; then they come and take it. They give to others with the same precautions.”

Christological

Individualistic

Proponents

  • Montanus
  • Tertullian
  • Pentecostals
  • Charismatics

Condemnation

  • St. Hippolytus of Rome
  • St. Serapion of Antioch
  • St. Apollinaris of Hierapolis
  • St. Jerome

Montanism

Montanism is the belief that the doctrine of the Apostles could be spontaneously superseded and fulfilled.

Montanism was a prophetic movement that called for a reliance on the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit and a more conservative personal ethic. Parallels have been drawn between Montanism and modern-day movements such as Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement, and the New Apostolic Reformation.

While claiming a conversion to Christianity, Montanus preached and testified what he purported to be the Word of God as he traveled among the rural settlements of his native Phrygia and Asia Minor. In these travels he proclaimed the village of Pepuza as the site of the New Jerusalem. The Orthodox Christians, however, regarded his teaching to be heretical. He claimed not only to have received a series of direct revelations from the Holy Spirit, but personally to be the incarnation of the paraclete mentioned in the Gospel of John (14:16). Montanus was accompanied by two women, Priscilla and Maximilla, who likewise claimed to be the embodiments of the Holy Spirit that moved and inspired them. As they traveled, “the Three” as they were called, spoke in ecstatic visions and in the first person as of the Father or the paraclete. They urged their followers to fast and pray, so that they might share these personal revelations. His message spread from his native Phrygia across the Christian world of the second century, to Africa and Gaul.

Prisca claimed that Christ had appeared to her in female form. When she was excommunicated, she exclaimed “I am driven away like the wolf from the sheep. I am no wolf: I am the word and spirit and power.”

The beliefs of Montanism contrasted with Orthodox Christianity in the following ways:

  1. The belief that the prophecies of the Montanists superseded and fulfilled the doctrines proclaimed by the Apostles.
  2. The encouragement of ecstatic prophesying, contrasting with the more sober and disciplined approach to theology dominant in Orthodox Christianity at the time and since.
  3. The view that Christians who fell from grace could not be redeemed, in contrast to the Orthodox Christian view that contrition could lead to a sinner’s restoration to the church.
  4. The prophets of Montanism did not speak as messengers of God: “Thus saith the Lord,” but rather described themselves as possessed by God, and spoke in his person. “I am the Father, the Word, and the Paraclete,” said Montanus (Didymus, De Trinitate, III, xli); This possession by a spirit, which spoke while the prophet was incapable of resisting, is described by the spirit of Montanus: “Behold the man is like a lyre, and I art like the plectrum. The man sleeps, and I am awake” (Epiphanius, “Panarion”, xlviii, 4).
  5. An over-emphasis on the avoidance of sin and on church discipline than in Orthodox Christianity. They over-emphasized chastity, including forbidding remarriage.
  6. Some of the Montanists were also “Quartodeciman” (“fourteeners“), adhering to the celebration of Pascha on the Hebrew calendar date of 14 Nisan, regardless of what day of the week it landed on. The Orthodox held that Pascha should be commemorated on the Sunday following 14 Nisan.

Jerome and other church leaders claimed that the Montanists of their own day held the belief that the Trinity consisted of only a single person, similar to Sabellianism, as opposed to the Orthodox view, that the Trinity is one God of three persons. There were some who were indeed Sabellians and others that were closer to the Trinitarian doctrine. It is reported that these Sabellians baptized mentioning the name of Jesus Christ as opposed to mentioning the Trinity. Most of the later Montanists were of the Sabellian camp.

Individualistic

Christological

Proponents

  • Eutyches

Condemnation

  • Council of Chalcedon

Monophysitism

Monophysitism is the belief that Christ’s divinity dominates and overwhelms his humanity (as opposed to the orthodox Chalcedonian position which holds that Christ has two natures, one divine and one human).

Monophysitism (Greek, “single nature”) is the Christological position that, after the union of the divine and the human in the historical Incarnation, Jesus Christ, as the incarnation of the eternal Son or Word (Logos) of God, had only a single “nature” which was either divine or a synthesis of divine and human.

Historically, Monophysitism refers primarily to the position of those who rejected the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The moderate members of this group, however, maintained a “Miaphysite” theology that became that of the Oriental Orthodox churches. Many Oriental Orthodox reject the label “Monophysite” even as a generic term, but it is extensively used in the historical literature.

After the Council of Chalcedon, the Monophysite controversy (together with institutional, political, and growing nationalistic factors) led to a lasting schism between the Oriental Orthodox churches, on the one hand, and the Western and the Eastern Orthodox churches on the other. The Christological conflict among monophysitism, dyophysitism, and their subtle combinations and derivatives lasted from the third through the eighth centuries and left its mark on all but the first two Ecumenical Councils. The vast majority of Christians nowadays belong to the so-called “Chalcedonian” churches. i.e. the Roman Catholic, Maronite, Eastern Orthodox, and traditionalProtestant churches (those that accept at least the first four Ecumenical Councils); these churches have always considered monophysitism to be heretical.

The miaphysite Oriental Orthodox Churches today include the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Malankara Orthodox Church of India.

In the light of modern historical research and ecumenical discussions, the miaphysite and Chalcedonian positions appear to differ mainly in their usage of the key term “nature” (Greek: φύσις, phýsis, as used in the original texts of the relevant Ecumenical Councils) rather than in the underlying Christology, but other smaller differences of interpretation or emphasis may also exist. Intercommunion between the Oriental Orthodox and various Chalcedonian churches has not yet been reestablished.

Christological

Proponents

  • Nestorius

Condemnation

  • First Council of Ephesus
  • Council of Chalcedon

Nestorianism

Nestorianism is the belief that Jesus Christ was merely a human that was united to the Divine Son of God.

Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine that emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus. It was advanced by Nestorius (386–450), Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431, influenced by Nestorius’ studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch. Nestorius’s teachings brought him into conflict with other prominent church leaders, most notably Cyril of Alexandria, who criticized especially his rejection of the title Theotokos (“Bringer forth of God”) for the Virgin Mary. Nestorius and his teachings were eventually condemned as heretical at the First Council of Ephesus in 431 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451, leading to the Nestorian Schism, in which churches supporting Nestorius broke with the rest of the Christian Church. Following that, many of Nestorius’s supporters relocated to the Sasanian Empire, where they affiliated with the local Christian community, known as the Church of the East. Over the next decades the Church of the East became increasingly Nestorian in doctrine, leading to it becoming known alternately as the Nestorian Church.

Nestorianism is a form of dyophysitism, and can be seen as the antithesis to monophysitism, which emerged in reaction to Nestorianism. Where Nestorianism holds that Christ had two loosely united natures, divine and human, monophysitism holds that he had but a single nature, his human nature being absorbed into his divinity. A brief definition of Nestorian Christology can be given as: “Jesus Christ, who is not identical with the Son but personally united with the Son, who lives in him, is one hypostasis and one nature: human.” Both Nestorianism and monophysitism were condemned as heretical at the Council of Chalcedon. Monophysitism survived and developed into the Miaphysitism of the modern Oriental Orthodox churches.

Following the exodus to Persia, scholars expanded on the teachings of Nestorius and his mentors, particularly after the relocation of the School of Edessa to the Persian city of Nisibis in 489 (where it became known as the School of Nisibis). Nestorianism never again became prominent in the Roman Empire or later Europe, though the diffusion of the Church of the East in and after the 7th century spread it widely across Asia. But not all churches affiliated with the Church of the East appear to have followed Nestorian Christology; indeed, the modern Assyrian Church of the East, which reveres Nestorius, does not follow all historically Nestorian doctrine.

Christological

Proponents

  • Pelagius

Condemnation

  • First Council of Ephesus

Pelagianism

Pelagianism is the belief that man was untainted by ancestral sin, and that man is capable of salvation without divine aid. 

Pelagius taught that the human will, as created with its abilities by God, was sufficient to live a sinless life, although he believed that God’s grace assisted every good work. Pelagianism has come to be identified with the view, (whether Pelagius agreed or not), that human beings can earn salvation by their own efforts.

Pelagius rejected the Augustinian concept of grace. According to his opponents, Pelagius taught that moral perfection was attainable in this life without the assistance of divine grace through human free will, Augustine contradicted this by saying that perfection was impossible without grace because we are born sinners with a sinful heart and will. The Pelagians charged Augustine with departing from the accepted teaching of the Apostles and the Bible, demonstrating that the doctrine of original sin amounted to Manichaeism, which taught that the flesh was in itself sinful (and thus denied that Jesus came in the flesh). This charge would have carried added weight since contemporaries knew that Augustine had himself been a Manichaean layman before converting to mainstream Christianity. Augustine also taught that a person’s salvation comes solely through a free gift, the efficacious grace of God, but that this was a gift that one had no free choice to accept or refuse.

Pelagianism was attacked in 415 at the Council of Diospolis (also known as Lydda or Lod), which found Pelagius to be orthodox. But it was later condemned in 418 at the Council of Carthage, and this condemnation was ratified at the Council of Ephesus in 431.

Individualistic

Proponents

  • Noetus
  • Praxeas
  • Sabellius
  • Oneness Pentecostals

Condemnation

  • St. Dionysius of Rome

Sabellianism

Sabellianism if the belief that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three manifestations of one God, rather than three distinct “persons” in one God.

God is said to have three “faces” or “masks” (Greek πρόσωπα prosopa; Latin personae). Modalists note that the only number ascribed to God in the Holy Bible is One and that there is no inherent threeness ascribed to God explicitly in scripture. The number three is never mentioned in relation to God in scripture, which of course is the number that is central to the word “Trinity.”

Modalism has been mainly associated with Sabellius, who taught a form of it in Rome in the 3rd century. This had come to him via the teachings of Noetus and Praxeas. Hippolytus of Rome knew Sabellius personally and mentioned him in the Philosophumena. He knew Sabellius disliked Trinitarian theology, yet he called Modal Monarchism the heresy of Noetus, not that of Sabellius. Sabellianism was embraced by Christians in Cyrenaica, to whom Demetrius, Patriarch of Alexandria, wrote letters arguing against this belief.

Modalism teaches that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son, and Holy Spirit, identified by the Trinity Doctrine, are different modes, faces, aspects, or roles of the One God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three co-eternal persons within the Godhead, or a “co-equal trinity”. In passages of scripture such as Matthew 3:16-17 where the Son, Father, and Holy Spirit are separated in the text, they view this phenomenon as confirming God’s omnipresence, and His ability to manifest himself as he pleases. Oneness Pentecostals and Modalists dispute the traditional Trinitarian doctrine, while affirming the Christian doctrine of God taking on flesh as Jesus Christ. Like Trinitarians, Oneness adherents believe that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. However, whereas Trinitarians believe that “God the Son”, the eternal second person of the Trinity, became man, Oneness adherents hold that the one and only true God—who manifests himself in any way he chooses, including as Father, Son and Holy Spirit—became man. Oneness Pentecostals and other modalists are regarded by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and some other mainstream Christians as heretical for rejecting the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople and the Trinity Doctrine, which most mainstream Christendom regards as equivalent to Unitarianism. Modalists differentiate themselves from Arian or Semi-Arian Unitarians by affirming Christ’s full Godhead, whereas Semi-Arians view the pre-existent Christ as God’s first-begotten Son, with a beginning, and brought forth by the Father, before ages. Oneness teaches that there is only one being, revealing himself in different ways. Explaining the Oneness view of God, as opposed to the Trinitarian viewpoint, Modalists cite passages in the New Testament that refer to God in the singular, and note the lack of the word “Trinity” in any canonical scripture.

Christological

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