Theological Word of the Week


Greek mono “one” + arche “ruler”

Monarchianism represents a type of teaching in the early Church which sought to preserve the uniqueness of the rulership of God through the preservation of an extreme monotheism and the essential denial of a plurality within the Godhead (i.e. the Trinity). There were two main types of monarchianism: 1) The Adoptionists or Dynamic Monarchians believed that Christ was not truly God in essence, but became God sometime during his life or at the resurrection. 2) The Patripassionists or Modalistic Monarchians (modalists) believed that God was one who who revealed himself in different ways or modes. Sometimes he would be the Father, sometimes the Son, and sometimes the Holy Spirit. To the modalist, God is not three persons, but one person who wears three different masks. Both types of Monarchianism was condemned in the early church since it did not recognize the plurality within the Godhead and therefore denied the Trinity. Modern day modalists are represented by those of the Oneness traditions.


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