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Late Medieval and Reformation Heresies (Intro to Trinitarian Theology)

Late Medieval and Reformation Heresies (Intro to Trinitarian Theology)

"This is part of our overview of Trinitarian heresies. In this video, I discuss the late middle ages and heresies which appear during the time of the Reformation." from video introduction

What Are Some Common Trinitarian Heresies?

"Sometimes in class I will jokingly say, “Heretics are God’s gift to the church . . .” I wait to let that settle in for a moment and then conclude, “. . . because they allow us to clarify the truth.” In relation to the Trinity, heretics have usually failed to maintain—or have overemphasized—one of these three vital planks: (a) God’s oneness and threeness, (b) the deity of Christ or the Holy Spirit, and (c) the distinctions and equality between the three persons.

The view that Jesus was a mere man until His baptism, when the Spirit fell on Him and He received God’s power in a unique way, has come to be called dynamic monarchianism, or adoptionism. This second-century view wanted to protect monotheism, but did so at the expense of Jesus’ deity. The First Council of Nicaea in 325 rejected this adoptionist view: “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father.” Adoptionist views are still present among theologians today, and they create problems doctrinally since they (a) destabilize the notion of Jesus’ sacrifice as the God-man, and (b) raise the specter of merit as a means for acceptance before God.

Others, wanting to maintain monotheism and the divinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thought the best way to describe the Trinity was with names representing modes of being. This view came to be known as modalistic monarchianism, or Sabellianism. A third-century theologian, Sabellius taught that God revealed Himself as the Father in the Old Testament, then as the Son during the life of Jesus, and finally as the Holy Spirit during the age of the church. One God, three subsequent modes. A difficulty with this view, though, is that it doesn’t deal satisfactorily with the texts where all three members of the Godhead are simultaneously active or speaking, such as at Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:16–17), His transfiguration (Matt. 17:5), and even in His prayers (John 14:16; Luke 23:46). Another significant problem, known as patripassianism, is the belief that the Father suffered or died on the cross in the appearance of Jesus. This was deemed unacceptable and so the church responded with the doctrine of the impassibility of God. The Father could not die; only Jesus, the God-man, by adding human nature, could suffer and die..." from the article: What Are Some Common Trinitarian Heresies?

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