Three Foundations of the Trinity

The 3 foundations of the Trinity are:

  1. Monotheism: There is only one God
  2. There are three divine persons
  3. The persons are coequal and coeternal

The triangle below represents these three foundations on the flat sides of the triangle (yellow boxes). Each of the three sides represents a foundational truth. When any one of these truths is denied, the other two sides form and arrow that points to the resultant error.

Errors


Subordination

Denial of the Equality of the Persons of the Godhead results in the error of subordination:

Subordination is a tricky subject. Below is an important quote from Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem (p. 245)

Charles Hodge discusses another facet of subordination here.


Modalism

Denial of the Three Persons of the Godhead results in the error of Modalism (Sabellianism):

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem (p. 242)


Polytheism

Denial of Monotheism results in the error of Polytheism:


Comment: Resource: The Forgotten Trinity by James White

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Christological Heresies

JP: This brief entry with links is a followup to our discussion and study of the Trinity. Last week the subject of Christological Heresies came up and I was not able to answer the questions clearly. Hopefully the above graphic, brief comments, and the links here will help. The Chalcedon view is the Biblical position.

Trinitarian foundations:

  1. Monotheism: There is only one God
  2. There are three divine persons
  3. The persons are coequal and coeternal

  • MODALISM emphasizes the UNITY of God to the destruction of the TRINITY of God and thus results in UNITARIANISM.
  • TRITHEISM states the TRINITY OF GOD to the destruction of the UNITY of God thus resulting in THREE GODS (polytheism).
  • TRINITARIANISM (Triunity) emphasizes the biblical view that God is ONE, PERSONAL and TRIUNE.

  • Docetism: “Docetism (from the Greek δοκέω [dokeō], “to seem”) is the belief that Jesus’ physical body was an illusion, as was his crucifixion; that is, Jesus only seemed to have a physical body and to physically die, but in reality he was incorporeal, a pure spirit, and hence could not physically die. This belief treats the sentence “the Word was made Flesh” (John 1:14) as merely figurative. Docetism has historically been regarded as heretical by most Christian theologians “
  • Nestorianism: “Nestorianism is the doctrine that Christ exists as two persons, the man Jesus and the divine Son of God, or Logos, rather than as two natures (True God and True Man) of one divine person. The doctrine is identified with Nestorius (c. 386–c. 451), Archbishop of Constantinople. This view of Christ was condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and the conflict over this view led to the Nestorian schism, separating the Assyrian Church of the East from the Byzantine Church.”
  • Monophysitism: “Monophysitism (from the Greek monos meaning ‘one, alone’ and physis meaning ‘nature’), or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Christ has only one nature (divine), as opposed to the Chalcedonian position which holds that Christ has two natures, one divine and one human.”
  • Arianism: “Jesus was not of one substance with the Father and that there had been a time before he existed. “
  • The Chalcedonian definition: “The Chalcedonian understanding of how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus is that the two natures (divine and human) are united in one person (Christ). This view, known as the hypostatic union, became the official theological understanding after it was endorsed by the Council of Chalcedon. The opposing view, that the person Jesus had only one nature, was known as Monophysitism.”
  • Hypostatic union: “Hypostatic union (from the Greek: ὑπόστασις, {“[h]upostasis”},”hypostasis”, translated reality or person) is a technical term in Christian theology employed in mainstream Christology to describe the presence of both human and divine natures in Jesus Christ. It became official at the Council of Chalcedon, which stated that the two natures (divine and human) are united in the one person (existence or reality, “hypostasis”) of Christ”

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