eighth century doctrine
originating with Spanish theologians who taught that the man Jesus
was adopted into the Sonship by an act of God. In general, any
belief that Jesus was a man who was elevated to divinity at some
point in his life.
The denial of any knowledge concerning the existence of God. Usually,
the agnostic also denies the possibility of knowing whether or
not God exists.
The use of human characteristics to describe God; for example,
the attribution of human emotions and human body parts to God.
This is usually considered to be symbolic or figurative language
to aid man in understanding the nature of God.
The Christological position of Apollinaris, bishop of Laodicea
(died 390?). In general, he believed Christ had an incomplete
human nature - specifically, that Christ had a human body
and soul, but not a human spirit. Instead of a human spirit he
had the divine Spirit or the Logos. The Council of Constantinople
in 381 condemned Apollinarianism.
One who defends Christianity against intellectual objections.
In early church history, the Greek apologists were Christian leaders
from approximately 130 to 180 A.D. who wrote treatises in Greek
defending Christianity against attacks by pagan philosophers.
- Arianism. The
Christological views of Arius (280?-336), a priest at Alexandria.
Arius held that there is only one God, and that the Son or Logos
is a divine being like God but created by God. Thus, Jesus was
a demigod. This view came very close to sweeping Christendom in
the fourth century, but was condemned at the Council of Nicea
in 325 and again at the Council of Constantinople in 381.
- Atheism. The
assertion or belief that there is no God.
The trinitarian doctrine of Athanasius (293-373), bishop of Alexandria.
The Council of Nicea in 325 gave the first official approval to
this doctrine and the Council of Constantinople in 381 established
it even more thoroughly. It is the orthodox view of Roman Catholics
and Protestants alike. Basically, it holds that there are three
eternal persons in the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son, and
God the Holy Ghost. These three persons are co-equal, co-eternal,
and of co-essence.
- Athanasian Creed.
An ancient trinitarian creed not formulated by
It developed in the fifth century and probably reflects the theology
of Augustine. The western part of Christendom (the Roman Catholic
Church) officially adopted it and the Protestants have generally
retained it, but Eastern Orthodoxy has never accepted it because
it states that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the
Son instead of the Father only. It is the most complete statement
in ancient church history of the doctrine of the trinity. See
Chapter 11 - TRINITARIANISM:
DEFINITION AND HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT
for part of the text of this creed.
The belief in two persons in the Godhead: God the Father and God
the Son. A form of this doctrine was prevalent among the Greek
apologists. It also exists today.
The doctrine of Jesus Christ and the Incarnation. The Council
of Chalcedon in 451 expressed what is the traditional Christian
formulation on this subject when it affirmed that Jesus Christ
was one person with two natures - human and divine.
A system of theology in which the person and work of Christ is
the foundation and focus of everything is called Christocentric.
A first century Gnostic doctrine named after an early proponent,
Cerinthus, who held that Jesus and Christ were separate beings.
According to this view, Jesus was a human born naturally (not
of a virgin), while Christ was a spirit that came upon Jesus at
his baptism and left before his crucifixion.
- Ditheism. The
belief in two separate and distinct gods.
- Docetism. A
first century Gnostic belief that Christ was a spirit being only.
According to this view, Christ appeared to have a real human body
but actually did not.
A first century heresy originating with Jewish Christians. The
Ebionites rejected the teachings of Paul and emphasized the importance
of the law of Moses. Generally, they regarded Jesus as a divinely
inspired prophet but not as God.
A term covering a wide range of religious thought in the first
few centuries after Christ. It originated in paganism, but adopted
many Christian elements, and became a major threat to Christianity.
In general, Gnosticism held that spirit is good, matter is evil,
salvation consists in deliverance of the spirit from matter, and
salvation is achieved by means of a secret or higher knowledge
(Greek, gnosis). Gnosticism as applied to the
to Christology held the following: The Supreme God was transcendent
and unapproachable, but from Him came a series of progressively
more inferior emanations (called aeons). The lowest of these aeons
was Jehovah. Christ is one of the highest aeons. Since all matter
is evil, Christ was a spirit being only and had only an apparent
body (the doctrine of Docetism). Or, some taught that Christ was
a spirit being temporarily associated with a man Jesus who died
(the doctrine of Cerinthianism). These Gnostic views on the Godhead
were opposed by John in his writings and by Paul in Colossians.
- Godhead. Synonym
of the word deity. Refers to the state of being
to the sum total of God's nature.
Greek word translated as "like in nature" or "similar
in nature." The Arians used it to describe the relation of
Jesus to God. Many of those who advocated its use at the Council
of Nicea apparently were not Arians, but opposed the Sabellian
connotations of the alternate word, homoousios. Nicea rejected
Arianism and the use of homoiousios.
Greek word translated as "same in nature." Athanasius
advocated its use and the Council of Nicea adopted this word to
describe the relationship of Jesus to God although some opposed
it because of its earlier use by the Sabellians. Thus, it began
as a Oneness word, but was adopted by the trinitarians.
(Plural: hypostases.) Greek word meaning
individualized manifestation, and usually translated as "person."
According to the doctrine of the trinity, God exists as three
hypostases. According to traditional Christology, Jesus Christ
has two natures but is only one hypostasis. Hebrews 1:3 says that
the Son is the express image of God's hypostasis, not a second
Eternally unchanging. A quality belonging to God alone.
In general, the embodiment of a spirit in a human form. Specifically,
the act of God in becoming flesh; that is, the union of divinity
and humanity in Jesus Christ.
- Islam. Monotheistic
religion founded by Mohammed in the seventh century in Arabia.
Followers are called Moslems or Muslims. The Islamic confession
of faith is, "There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is
the prophet of God." Islam identifies Allah as the God of
Abraham and accepts the Bible as God's Word. However, it regards
Jesus as merely a good prophet, asserting that Mohammed is the
greatest of all prophets. It also holds that Mohammed's book,
the Koran or Qur'an, is the ultimate revelation of God's Word
for mankind today. Islam is the dominant religion in the Middle
East, North Africa, and a number of Asian countries.
- Judaism. Monotheistic
religion based on the Torah (the law of Moses), or the Christian
Old Testament. Judaism teaches that God is absolutely one in numerical
value, accepts the law of Moses as God's Word for today, and totally
rejects the deity or Messianic role of Jesus of Nazareth.
- Kenosis. Derived
from the Greek word kenoo, which appears in
2:7 and means "to make nothing, to empty, or to strip."
It describes God's choice in stripping Himself of His prerogatives
and dignity as God in order to appear in flesh as a man. Some
trinitarians hold to a kenotic theory which states that "God
the Son" emptied Himself or laid aside His divine attributes
when He was incarnated.
- Logos. The
Greek for "word." Translated as the "Word"
in John 1:1. In that passage it means the thought, plan, activity,
utterance, or expression of God. That is, it can refer to the
thought in the mind of God or to the thought of God expressed,
particularly as expressed in flesh through Jesus Christ, the Son
of God. In ancient Greek philosophy it meant reason as the controlling
principle of the universe. Neo-Platonic philosophy, particularly
that of the Greco-Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, personified
the Word and described it as a secondary deity created by God
or emanating from God in time. Some of the Greek apologists adopted
this view and equated the Logos with the Son. Trinitarianism
this belief, equating the Logos with "God the Son" but
eventually holding that the Logos was co-equal and co-eternal
with God the Father. John's writings were particularly designed
to refute these false concepts about the Logos and the Son.
To manifest means "to show, reveal, display, make evident,
or make clear." A manifestation is an act or instance of
manifesting. First Timothy 3:16 says, "God was manifest in
the flesh." This book uses the word manifestation
to describe any method, mode, role, or relationship by which God
reveals Himself to man. Thus, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are
manifestations of God rather than persons, for the latter word
contains nonbiblical connotations of individualized personalities
that the former word does not.
- Modalism. Term
used to describe a belief in early church history that Father,
Son, and Spirit are not eternal distinctions within God's nature
but simply modes (methods or manifestations) of
In other words, God is one individual being, and various terms
used to describe Him (such as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are
designations applied to different forms of His action or different
relationships He has to man. See Chapter
10 - ONENESS BELIEVERS IN CHURCH HISTORY
for further historical discussion. Also called modalistic
Patripassianism, and Sabellianism. Basically, modalism is the
same as the modern doctrine of Oneness.
- Mode. A form
or manner of expression; a manifestation; not an essential or
eternal distinction in God's nature.
Term used to describe a belief in early church history that emphasized
the undivided unity and sovereignty (monarchia) of
It rejected any essential distinctions in God's being, thus denying
the doctrine of the trinity. Historians use the term to describe
two sharply differing beliefs - dynamic monarchianism and
modalistic monarchianism - but this does not imply any
association between the two groups or doctrines. Dynamic monarchianism
held that Jesus was a human being who became the Son of God by
reason of the indwelling of divine wisdom or the Logos. Apparently,
the dynamic monarchians refused to consider Jesus as God in the
strict sense of the word and did not worship Him as God. Far more
influential historically than dynamic monarchianism was modalistic
monarchianism (modalism). Modalistic monarchianism held that God
is one individual being and that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are
terms which apply to different modes of action of the one God.
Unlike dynamic monarchianism, modalistic monarchianism identified
Jesus Christ as God Himself (the Father) manifested in flesh.
Christological doctrine that appeared after the Council of Chalcedon
in 451 and opposed Chalcedon's declaration of two natures in Christ.
The monophysites held that Christ had only one dominant nature,
and it was the divine nature.
The belief in only one God, from Greek words meaning "one
God." The Bible teaches strict monotheism. Only three major
religions of the world are monotheistic: Judaism, Christianity,
and Islam. Jews and Moslems see the doctrine of the trinity as
a rejection of true monotheism. Oneness believers also reject
trinitarianism as a departure from biblical monotheism.
in the seventh century which held that Christ had only one will.
The majority view in Christianity is that Christ had two cooperating
wills - human and divine - but the monotheletes
Christ had one divine-human will.
- Nature. "The
inherent character or basic constitution of a person or a thing"
(Webster's Dictionary), This book uses the word to
the humanity and divinity of Christ. We express this by saying
Christ had a dual nature or by saying Christ had two natures.
Christ had a complete human nature (see Chapter
5 - THE SON OF GOD)
and also the complete divine nature (see Chapter
4 - JESUS IS GOD).
Both humanity and deity are essential components of Jesus Christ's
The Christology of Nestorius (Patriarch of Constantinople, 428-431).
Nestorius held that Christ had two complete natures - human
and divine. He taught that one could not call Mary the "Mother
of God" because she was the mother of the human nature only.
The Council of Ephesus in 431 condemned Nestorius for dividing
Christ into two persons, but Nestorius denied the charge. Possibly,
he taught that the two natures of Christ were united morally or
in purpose only rather than essentially or physically. However,
many historians conclude that Nestorius actually taught two natures
in one person, but became the victim of misunderstanding and opposition
because he emphasized the distinctions between the two natures
and refused to call Mary the mother of God.
- Nicene Creed.
The product of the Council of Nicea in 325. The present version
includes additions made at the Council of Constantinople in 381
and in the fifth century. The original creed condemned Arianism
by stating that the Son was of the same nature (homoousios) as
the Father. It also stated that the Son was eternal and implied
the eternal existence of Father and Son as distinct persons in
the Godhead. The Council of Constantinople added phrases establishing
that the Holy Ghost also was an eternally distinct person in the
Godhead. Thus, the Nicene Creed is important for three reasons:
it rejected Arianism, it was the first official pronouncement
to express a trinitarian view of God, and it was the first official
pronouncement to reject (albeit by implication) modalism.
An attribute that God alone possesses, and meaning that He has
An attribute that God alone possesses, and meaning He is present
everywhere at the same time. Note that this is more than just
the ability to appear anywhere at any time or the ability to be
many places at one time.
An attribute that God alone possesses, and meaning He has all
knowledge of all things, including foreknowledge.
- Oneness. In
reference to God, oneness means the state of being absolutely
and indivisibly one, or one in numerical value. Also, there can
be oneness between God and man and between man and man in the
sense of unity of mind, will, and purpose. This book uses the
term Oneness (capitalized) to mean the doctrine that God is absolutely
one in numerical value, that Jesus is the one God, and that God
is not a plurality of persons. Thus Oneness is a modern term basically
equivalent to modalism or modalistic monarchianism,
- Ousia. Greek
word meaning substance, nature, or being. Translated as "substance"
in the trinitarian formula "three persons in one substance."
Name given to modalism, modalistic monarchianism, or Sabellianism.
It came from Latin words meaning "the Father suffered."
Some historians use it to describe modalism because Tertullian
accused the modalists of believing that the Father suffered and
died. However, the modalists apparently denied Tertullian's accusation.
The word therefore represents a misinterpretation of modalism
by trinitarians, for modalism did not teach that the Father is
the Son, but that the Father is in the Son. The flesh was not
the Father, but the Father was in the flesh. Thus, modalism did
not teach that the Father physically suffered or died.
A belief that equates God with nature or the substance and forces
of the universe. Thus, it denies the existence of a rational,
intelligent God. Rather, it asserts that God is everything and
every thing is God.
- Person. The
primary meaning of the word is an individual human being, or the
individual personality of a human being. In Christology, the term
describes the union of the two natures of Christ; namely, there
are two natures in the person of Christ. Trinitarians use the
term to represent three eternal distinctions of essence in God
(Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). Thus, we have the trinitarian formula,
"three persons in one substance" or "one God in
three persons." Although trinitarians usually state that
God does not have three separate personalities or minds, the word
person does carry strong connotations of
of personality, mind, and will. For a discussion of the Greek
and Latin words translated as "person," see Hypostasis
and Persona respectively.
- Persona. (Plural:
personae.) Latin word translated as "person."
Tertullian used this word in his trinitarian formula, "una
substantia et tres personae" ("three persons in one
substance"). Early Latin usage did not restrict the word
to its modern meaning of a self-conscious being. At that time,
it could mean a mask worn by an actor, a role in a drama, or a
legal party to a contract. However, it apparently could also apply
to individual persons. It did carry connotations of individualized
personality that the Greek word hypostasis did not
originally. (See Chapter 11 -
TRINITARIANISM: DEFINITION AND HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT.)
Although the Nicene Creed used hypostasis, which
translated as "persona," Tertullian had already used
persona much earlier to describe the members of
The belief in more than one god, from Greek words meaning "many
gods." Ditheism and tritheism are forms of polytheism. The
Bible strongly rejects polytheism. Most ancient religions were
polytheistic, including those of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Canaan, Greece,
Leaders of the Christian church in the days after the twelve apostles.
In this book, the term specifically refers to the leaders from
approximately 90 to 140 A.D., the most prominent of whom were
Polycarp, Hermas, Clement of Rome, and Ignatius.
Another term for modalism or modalistic monarchianism. It is derived
from Sabellius, the most prominent exponent of the doctrine in
ancient church history. Sabellius preached in Rome around 215
A.D. The doctrine is basically equivalent to modern Oneness.
Belief that one person in the Godhead is subordinate to or was
created by another person in the Godhead. Of course, this presupposes
a belief in a plurality of persons in the Godhead. In early
it surfaced as the belief that the Logos is the divine Son and
is subordinate to the Father. This was the view of some Greek
apologists, Tertullian, and Origen. Arianism is an extreme development
of this doctrine. Also, the term applies to any belief that the
Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Father or the Son. Orthodox
trinitarianism as expressed by the Nicene and Athanasian creeds
theoretically rejects any form of subordinationism, but the tendency
towards it remains. (See Chapter
11 - TRINITARIANISM: DEFINITION AND HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT.)
Latin word meaning substance, and used by Tertullian in his trinitarian
formula, "Three persons in one substance."
A visible manifestation of God, usually thought of as temporary
in nature. The Old Testament appearances of God in human or angelic
form were theophanies. Jesus Christ is more than a theophany;
for He is not merely God appearing in human form but God actually
robing Himself in a real human person (body, soul, and spirit).
The belief that there are three persons in the one God. History
credits Tertullian (died 225?) with being the father of Christian
trinitarianism, for he was the first person to use the Latin word
trinitas (trinity) for God. He was also the
first to use
the formula, "una substantia et tres personae" ("three
persons in one substance"). Modern trinitarianism asserts
that there are three persons in the one God - God the Father,
God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost - and that these three
persons are co-equal, co-eternal, and of co-essence. Thus,
teaches three eternal distinctions in God's nature but denies
there are three separate gods. The Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.
marked the first official acceptance of trinitarianism by Christianity.
The Council of Constantinople in 381 reaffirmed and further clarified
the doctrine. The most complete statement of trinitarianism in
ancient church history is the Athanasian Creed, which dates from
the fifth century.
- Trinity. The
Godhead in trinitarian belief; namely, God the Father, God the
Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
Belief in three gods. As such, it is a form of polytheism. Advocates
of trinitarianism deny that they are tritheists; however,
certainly has tritheistic tendencies and some extreme forms of
trinitarianism are tritheistic. (See Chapter
11 - TRINITARIANISM: DEFINITION AND HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT.)
For example, any belief that there are three self-conscious minds
in the Godhead or three eternal bodies in the Godhead can properly
be called tritheism.
In general, the belief in only one person in the Godhead. In
this term usually describes a movement that emphasizes the unity
of the Godhead but does so by denying the deity of Jesus Christ.
It arose as an antitrinitarian movement in Protestantism, and
organized as a denomination now called the Unitarian-Universalist
Association. In addition to denying the deity of Jesus Christ
Unitarianism denies a number of other evangelical or fundamental
beliefs including the virgin birth of Jesus and the substitutionary
atonement. It can be misleading to identify Unitarianism with
Oneness for two reasons. First, Oneness does not say God is one
"person," but rather there is one God. Second, Oneness
believers affirm the full deity of Jesus, His virgin birth, and
the substitutionary atonement, unlike the modern Unitarian-Universalist
The Oneness of God