Individual Consubstantiality is Patripassionism

The Son of God suffered and died as the propitiation for the sins of men (1 John 2:2). The Father did not become man, or suffer, or die for our sins; and so this shows that the Son must be a distinct person and a distinct individual being from the Father. For if the Father and Son are the same person, then for the Son to have become incarnate, and suffer, and die, would be for the Father to do so equally; ‘Son’ and ‘Father’ being nothing more than two names for the same person. And as a person is a rational individual being, it then follows that the Son must be a distinct individual being, if He is a distinct person.

But some false teachers redefine ‘person’ as a consciousness alone, or as a mode of subsistence, and propose that the Father and Son are two persons inasmuch as They are two consciousnesses, or two modes of subsistence, but yet are still both the consciousnesses or modes of one and the same being. We must examine this possibility: for if this is possible, then showing that the Father and Son are two persons will not make Them two distinct individual beings. We must inquire: when they say that the Son is the same individual being as the Father, the same God as the Father, do they mean that He is a part of this one God, this one individual being, or that He is the one God? For certainly, if the Father and Son are each a part of the one God, then what is done by one, need not be done by the other, and what is experienced by one need not be experienced by the other, for they are distinguished as one part from another. Yet if this were the case, then it follows that neither the Father nor the Son is equated with the one God, but each is only a part of Him. For just as a man’s foot will not be made equal to the whole man, so a part cannot be equated to the whole. If then the Father and Son, as two mere modes or consciousness of one God, are parts of that one God, then although They can be distinct, neither truly is that one God. And such a notion is utterly repugnant to scripture, which says not that the Father is part of the one God, but that He is the one God.

It follows then, that, as they say, they believe that the Son is God, the one God, in that He is not a part of the one God, but the whole of the one God. And they teach that the Father likewise, is not a part of the one God, but the whole of the one God- which is also the Son. Therefore, whether the Father and Son be supposed to be mere modes, or mere consciousnesses, inasmuch as each is identical to the whole Supreme Being, the whole of the one God, each must be identical to one another; and so it follows, that each will be the other, the Father being the Son, and the Son the Father. If this is the case, then we return to our original dilemma; for this is to then say that just as much as the Son became incarnate, and suffered, and died as the propitiation for sins, so the Father became incarnate, and suffered, and died as the propitiation for sins; although a propitiation to Who we cannot know, since there is no one higher than Himself Whom He might propitiate.

It is demonstrated then, that to make the Father and Son out to be the same person, or the same individual being, is the ancient heresy of Patripassionism, which since ancient times has been rightly condemned as heresy. For God did not die to appease His own wrath; but He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, that we might be forgiven, and live through Him: knowing the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom He has sent.

How Different Would Church History Look If the Nicene Creed Had Not Won?

In the trinitarian debates of the fourth century, many differing articulations of the doctrine of the Trinity competed with one another. After Arianism had been condemned not only prior to the council of Nicea by regional authorities in Alexandria and Antioch, but also by the first ecumenical council itself, debate over the Trinity continued. It centered much on the language of the Nicene Creed in itself; language which, at the suggestion of the emperor, had been included more for the sake of excluding Arianism, than for sake of articulating the church’s beliefs in a precise way.

This lead to prolonged controversy for the next 50 years surrounding he terminology of ‘homoousias’ or ‘same being’ in the Nicene Creed. The language had a history of association with both modalism and the gnostic heresies, which made it suspect; on top of that, bishops such as Marcellus of Ancyra, prominent supporters of the Nicene Creed, employed its terminology in a modalistic fashion. This is because ‘same being’ is vague; it can mean generically the same, that is, that two distinct individuals share the same nature, or it can mean individually the same, that is, that two persons are the same person, the same individual being. The usage of the ‘homoousias’, ‘same being’ by Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, and Marcellus of Ancyra lead to the conservative majority of bishops to rejecting the language of Nicea altogether, as not necessarily wrong, but at least wide open to a dangerous and heretical interpretation.

Alternative suggestions included ‘homoiousias’ which is ‘like being’, and simply ‘homoi’, which is to say that the Son is ‘like’ the Father, without reference to substance or ‘ousia’. In 359, two joint councils, considered ecumenical at the time and representing the churches of the entire Roman Empire, met and decided on the ‘Homoian’ formula, to remove the language of Nicea from the church’s dogma and simply state that the Son is like the Father. This was ratified at another synod at Constantinople in 360 and gained acceptance not only within the Empire, but also among the churches of many barbarian nations in Europe. Although these creeds were slandered as ‘Arian’ by the pro-nicenes, who had effectively lost for a time, the Homoian formula does not teach any peculiar tent of Arianism, but rather rejected it, and specifically left Arianism anathematized, again proscribing its doctrines.

In 381, some twenty years later, Theodosius I became emperor and enacted changes to the church’s doctrine again, this time establishing a modified form of the Nicene Creed as the church’s official dogma, and deposing any dissenting bishops, including the patriarch of Constantinople himself. After making his opinions law and enacting strict anti-heretical laws, he called a small council in Constantinople, at which his decision was approved of by some 150 bishops, the dissenting bishops being barred from participating. With this, the Nicene Creed became the dogmatic standard of the churches of the Roman Empire, and had remained in force to this day, even as those churches have changed and become the Coptic, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches of the modern world.

Its interesting to consider what church history might have looked like, had Theodosius never became emperor, and instead, an emperor who was willing to maintain the status quo -the Homoian theology of the Councils of Arminium & Seleucia- had taken the throne instead, leaving Nicea’s decision as a more obscure point of history, rather than a dogmatic standard. When considering such a scenario there are four things especially worthy of consideration:

1. Political Ramifications: The first thing of interest to consider is more to do with the environment the churches found themselves in than the churches themselves. The Western Roman Empire fell, in the end, to Barbarian invasion; the nations of the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, and other smaller groups like the Gepids and Burgundians conquered the enormous area that once belonged to the Western Roman Empire. It was not long after the decision of Theodosius to make the imperial churches Nicene that incursions began to eat away at the Empire’s borders, until its ultimate collapse in the early sixth century.

All of these Barbarian tribes shared in common the Homoian theology articulated by the councils of Arminium & Seleucia; a faith which they had for some twenty years held in common with the churches of the Roman Empire. Once the changes Theodosius made went through, relations between the Barbarians and the Romans changed, however; the Romans saw the Barbarians as Arian heretics, and the Barbarians decried the heretical ‘Roman Religion’ of Theodosius. These sharp differences and the animosity they entailed made it that much easier for both sides to freely view the other as enemies, and subject to the cruelties of war. Had the Romans retained the Homoian theology they held in common with the Goths, it is possible that this common faith and cultural exchange that accompanied it could have drastically altered the course of Roman history; wars may have been less frequent; in short, the Barbarian nations may not have conquered the Western Roman Empire, or at least, not done so nearly as soon as they in fact did, had they continued to share a common faith, and so fostered friendly relations with one another.

Since the fall of the Western Roman empire is generally seen as having ushered in the dark ages of Europe, it is possible that by maintaining Homoian theology, the cultural losses of the dark ages could have been avoided, or lessened.

2. Ecclesiastical Unity: Some historians like to speak of an era of a ‘united church’; and they place the end of that unity at different points in history. The great schism in 1054 is often cited by Roman and Orthodox historians; others note a much earlier date can be found at the council of Chalcedon (451), which resulted in the separation of the Coptic churches, or Ephesus (431), which resulted in the separation of the Assyrian churches. But in fact, the first major split among national lines occurred in 381, when Theodosius returned the imperial churches to the Nicene Creed, thereby breaking communion with the Homoian churches among the Vandal, Ostrogoth, Visigoth, and Gepid nations of Europe. Had Homoian Theology remained the imperial dogma, it is quite possible that this period of unity would have gone on much longer.

This is not only true in respect to the schism of 381, as though schism at Ephesus in 431 would still be inevitable. For the later schisms at Ephesus and Chalcedon built upon a strictly Nicene theology; had this not been dogma, such later developments in dogma would have been nearly impossible, requiring to the churches to continue using the simple rule of faith as a dogmatic standard of orthodoxy, rather than perpetually adding more and more details to the dogma of the churches, to divide over. When we look the the Homoian churches among the Barbarians, we see that for centuries they continued on simply using the Creed of Arminium, never going through the intense, highly philosophical and speculative debates that the Imperial churches went through over christology. That likely has much to do with the exegetical and biblical, rather than speculative, character of Homoian theology. By sticking to a less-strictly defined, and less speculative theology, the churches of the Empire, like the Homoian churches among the Barbarians, could have been able to avoid the intense debates that led to so much schism in the following centuries.

Its also noteworthy that had Homoian theology been retained by the Imperial churches, the growing power of the papacy, which eventually lead to both the Great Schism of 1054 and the Protestant Reformation in 1517, could have been curbed. That’s because the papacy had been strongly pro-nicene throughout the conflict; and Homoians frequently flouted the claims of the bishop of Rome to have jurisdiction over them, maintaining their offices even after having been ‘deposed’ on paper by a pope powerless to enforce his rulings. Had they continued to hold many high positions in the church throughout the end of the fourth century, rather than being deposed, this may have severely limited the influence of the bishop of Rome on future generations of Christians.

3. The Threat of Arianism: Had the Nicene Creed never been reintroduced as a dogmatic standard, and the Creed of Arminium & Seleucia remained ‘orthodoxy’ for the imperial churches, would Arianism have widely prevailed? Certainly, this is the narrative given by many pro-Nicenes; for them, the Homoians were simply Arians in disguise. Such a narrative, however, avoids the expressly stated beliefs of the Homoians, who, at their councils, condemned Arianism. Maximinus the Homoian, in his debate with Augustine, complained of such misrepresentation by pro-Nicenes, and cited a canon of the council of Arminium condemning Arians christology:

“Do you want to know how great is the wisdom of the Father? Look at the Son, and you will see the wisdom of the Father. For this reason Christ himself said, One who has seen me has also seen the Father (Jn 14:9). That is, in me he sees his wisdom; he praises his might; he glorifies the Father who, one and alone, has begotten me, one and alone, so great and so good before all ages. He did not look for material out of which to make him, nor did he take someone as an assistant. Rather, in the way he knew, he begot the Son by his power and his wisdom. We do not profess, as you say when you falsely accuse us, that, just as the rest of creation was made from nothing, so the Son was made from nothing like a creature. Listen to the authority of statement of the Synod; for our fathers in Ariminum said this among other things, ‘If anyone says that the Son is from nothing and not from God the Father, let him be anathema.'”

The idea, then, that Homoians, on the whole, were Arian has no good basis in historical fact. Two issues remain to examine, here though; firstly, those Homoians who, according to the testimony of pro-Nicenes, were in fact Arian; and secondly, the tendency among Homoians to, while condemning Arianism, use the language of ‘creature’ for the Son (a hallmark of Arianism). Concerning the first point, it is indeed possible that such Arians existed; if, however, an Arian were willing to lie about his beliefs, and anathematize his own theology by subscribing to the decision of Arminium, why would he be any less likely to lie and hide his beliefs when the Nicene Creed replaced that of Arminium? It is difficult to see how changing the dogmatic standard of the church from Homoian to Nicene theology could have helped such an issue. As for the Eunomians, who said that the Son was unlike the Father, these were roundly condemned by the Homoians in 360 at Constantinople; and so any Eunomians, like the Arians, would have needed to lie in order to find acceptance under such dogmatic standards; and so, they could have done the same with the Nicene Creed.

Concerning the second point, it is noteworthy that while calling the Son a “creature” is very objectionable, as simply being an inaccurate term to use for Him, this language is not distinctly Arian. Inaccurate or otherwise, it had a long precedent in the ante-nicene church, such language being used in respect to the Son by notable theologians in the second and third century, such as Tertuallian and Origen. Such language may more often signify a failure to accurately distinguish between different terms for varying modes of causality, than any actual unorthodoxy in the concepts behind such language.

Finally it remains to frankly be said that a Homoian dogma would constitute a more friendly environment for Arianism than Nicene dogma; this is mostly due to how Nicene dogma developed int he following era, however, than what it meant when first championed by men like Athanasius. Since Nicene dogma quickly devolved into modalism, and modalism is even farther from Arianism than biblical trinitarianism, it is clear that it would be harder for people to make the leap from modalism to Arianism, than from Homoianism to Arianism. That does not, however, make Homoian theology less desirable; for going to the opposite heretical extreme of Arianism in order to avoid it, is no better than to fall into Arianism itself. Ultimately, while Homoian dogma would have been more favorable to Arianism than Nicene dogma, neither one was favorable to Arianism, and as far as anyone can tell, Arianism would have remained a small and strongly rejected heresy, regardless of whether the churchse’ dogma had been Nicene, or Homoian.

4. The Threat of Modalism: Finally we consider the threat modalism faced to the churches; this is one area where the difference in history would be very stark, in the opinion of this author. Many bishops warned, during the Nicene era, that the Nicene language of ‘same being’ was susceptible to a modalistic interpretation, and dangerous, as allowing such a reading, by taking the term in reference to the same *individual being*, rather than the same *generic being*. Once Nicene theology became again the dogma of the imperial churches in 381, the Homoian Vandals and Goths soon criticized the Roman churches for being modalistic in their theology; and indeed, we can see that they quickly embraced a form of modalism, with influential men like Augustine of Hippo paving the way for future generations to believe in a Trinity of persons united not by one generic nature, but by being one individual being.

The fact is, that without the Nicene terminology of ‘same being’ (homoousias) as a dogmatic standard for the churches, it is very unlikely that such modalism could have taken root in the churches. Such language had been banned from dogma by the councils of Arminium & Seleucia; and one of the greatest concerns of many Homoians seems to have been to avoid the modalist heresy. Had this remained the theology of the imperial churches, modalism would have remained the by-word it was in the ante-nicene era, rather than becoming the dominant ecclesiastical theology of the West, and much of the East as well at times. Modalism succeeded, fundamentally, thanks to the terminology of Nicea; and had this remained banned, Christian, rather than modalistic theology, would likely have remained the dominant position of the imperial churches. The creed of “one being” which is Father, Son, and Spirit became the life-blood of modalism through the middle ages and the Reformation; having allowed it to remain cut off from 359 onward would have deprived modalism of one of its greatest advantages in gaining ascendency in the ecclesiastical hierarchies.

It remains then, an interesting exercise, to imagine what might have been; a medieval  Europe built upon an enduring Western Roman Empire, with Barbarian allies to the North, united by a common Christian Creed; and a church characterized by the lack of an emperor-like Pope, the ecclesiastical schisms of later church history, and the modalistic theology of scholasticism. Such things, however, while interesting to imagine, remain mere fiction; and we must steel ourselves to bring about change in our own time, if we will see the errors of the past rectified. The tools we need to know the truth, and to publish it widely, lie at our fingertips, if only we are willing to make the effort to use them: firstly to fix firmly in our own minds a true knowledge of God, and His Son, and His Spirit; and then to make that knowledge known to our neighbor, for God’s glory, and the good of His church.

Hippolytus of Rome on the Earliest Modalists

Hippolytus of Rome relates the events of his own time in the late second and early third century in his work Refutation of All Heresies. Among the other heresies of his day, he devotes a great deal of attention to the then new heresy of Modalism, also known as Sabellianism or Patripassionism. This heresy, by teaching that the Father and Son are together the same individual being, both mere modes and names of one and the same Supreme Being, sets out to, in effect, crucify the Father, and deny the real existence of the Son. There is much that is very noteworthy in Hippolytus’s coverage of the origins of modalism, the account of which I will quote at full length below.

A few very noteworthy observations from the following: 1) Hippolytus notes that the modalists believed the Father and Son were one individual substance under different names and modes. In contrast, Hippolytus asserts a generic unity of substance between the Father and Son, that the Son as a distinct individual being from the Father, the Supreme Being, is of the same ‘stuff’ as the Father. The former modalistic belief is indiscernably different from much of modern “trinitarianism”. 2) The Popes of Rome, which by this time had a monepiscopate, were modalists, namely Callixtus and Zephyrinus. This is very noteworthy as a contemporary theologian understood the papacy to have fallen into damnable heresy and extreme corruption by the early third century. So much for papal infallibility, if Hippolytus is given any credence. This should be kept in mind when examining the development of events and theology in the west following this time, for while the Romanists like to present the Roman church as a bastion of orthodoxy against heresies in the following centuries and the trinitarian conflicts that later occurred, we will find that they entered into such controversies not as predisposed to, or defenders of orthodoxy at all, but as modalists.

Below are quoted at length, first, a section from Book 9, which recounts in great detail the history of modalism and especially its finding a home at Rome. It goes into greater detail than may be of interest to some. The next section quoted from book 10 gives much of the same information in a more concise manner, worth skipping to if the great detail given in book 9 is not desired. Finally, I quote a section from the end of book 10 where Hippolytus gives his summary of true Christian doctrine, such as stands in contrast to modalism.

Book 9, Ch 1-7.

A lengthened conflict, then, having been maintained concerning all heresies by us who, at all events, have not left any unrefuted, the greatest struggle now remains behind, viz., to furnish an account and refutation of those heresies that have sprung up in our own day, by which certain ignorant and presumptuous men have attempted to scatter abroad the Church, and have introduced the greatest confusion among all the faithful throughout the entire world. For it seems expedient that we, making an onslaught upon the opinion which constitutes the prime source of (contemporaneous) evils, should prove what are the originating principles of this (opinion), in order that its offshoots, becoming a matter of general notoriety, may be made the object of universal scorn.

There has appeared one, Noetus by name, and by birth a native of Smyrna. This person introduced a heresy from the tenets of Heraclitus. Now a certain man called Epigonus becomes his minister and pupil, and this person during his sojourn at Rome disseminated his godless opinion. But Cleomenes, who had become his disciple, an alien both in way of life and habits from the Church, was wont to corroborate the (Noetian) doctrine. At that time, [Pope] Zephyrinus imagines that he administers the affairs of the Church—an uninformed and shamefully corrupt man. And he, being persuaded by proffered gain, was accustomed to connive at those who were present for the purpose of becoming disciples of Cleomenes. But (Zephyrinus) himself, being in process of time enticed away, hurried headlong into the same opinions; and he had Callistus [who was Pope after him] as his adviser, and a fellow-champion of these wicked tenets. But the life of this (Callistus), and the heresy invented by him, I shall after a little explain. The school of these heretics during the succession of such bishops, continued to acquire strength and augmentation, from the fact that Zephyrinus and Callistus helped them to prevail. Never at any time, however, have we [the orthodox Christians at Rome] been guilty of collusion with them; but we have frequently offered them opposition, and have refuted them, and have forced them reluctantly to acknowledge the truth. And they, abashed and constrained by the truth, have confessed their errors for a short period, but after a little, wallow once again in the same mire.

But since we have exhibited the succession of their genealogy, it seems expedient next that we should also explain the depraved teaching involved in their doctrines. For this purpose we shall first adduce the opinions advanced by Heraclitus “the Obscure,” and we shall next make manifest what are the portions of these opinions that are of Heraclitean origin. Such parts of their system its present champions are not aware belong to the “Obscure” philosopher, but they imagine them to belong to Christ. But if they might happen to fall in with the following observations, perhaps they thus might be put out of countenance, and induced to desist from this godless blasphemy of theirs. Now, even though the opinion of Heraclitus has been expounded by us previously in the Philosophumena, it nevertheless seems expedient now also to set down side by side in contrast the two systems, in order that by this closer refutation they may be evidently instructed. I mean the followers of this (heretic), who imagine themselves to be disciples of Christ, when in reality they are not so, but of “the Obscure.”

Heraclitus then says that the universe is one, divisible and indivisible; generated and ungenerated; mortal and immortal; reason, eternity; Father, Son, and justice, God. “For those who hearken not to me, but the doctrine, it is wise that they acknowledge all things to be one,” says Heraclitus; and because all do not know or confess this, he utters a reproof somewhat in the following terms: “People do not understand how what is diverse (nevertheless) coincides with itself, just like the inverse harmony of a bow and lyre.” But that Reason always exists, inasmuch as it constitutes the universe, and as it pervades all things, he affirms in this manner. “But in regard of this Reason, which always exists, men are continually devoid of understanding, both before they have heard of it and in first hearing of it. For though all things take place according to this Reason, they seem like persons devoid of any experience regarding it. Still they attempt both words and works of such a description as I am giving an account of, by making a division according to nature, and declaring how things are.” And that a Son is the universe and throughout endless ages an eternal king of all things, he thus asserts: “A sporting child, playing at his dice, is eternity; the kingdom is that of a child.” And that the Father of all things that have been generated is an unbegotten creature who is creator, let us hear Heraclitus affirming in these words: “Contrariety is a progenitor of all things, and king of all; and it exhibited some as gods, but others as men, and made some slaves, whereas others free.” And (he likewise affirms) that there is “a harmony, as in a bow and lyre.” That obscure harmony (is better), though unknown and invisible to men, he asserts in these words: “An obscure harmony is preferable to an obvious one.” He commends and admires before what is known, that which is unknown and invisible in regard of its power. And that harmony visible to men, and not incapable of being discovered, is better, he asserts in these words: “Whatever things are objects of vision, hearing, and intelligence, these I pre-eminently honour,” he says; that is, he prefers things visible to those that are invisible. From such expressions of his it is easy to understand the spirit of his philosophy. “Men,” he says, “are deceived in reference to the knowledge of manifest things similarly with Homer, who was wiser than all the Greeks. For even children killing vermin deceived him, when they said, ‘What we have seen and seized, these we leave behind; whereas what we neither have seen nor seized, these we carry away.’”

In this manner Heraclitus assigns to the visible an equality of position and honour with the invisible, as if what was visible and what was invisible were confessedly some one thing. For he says, “An obscure harmony is preferable to an obvious one;” and, “Whatsoever things are objects of vision, hearing, and intelligence,” that is, of the (corporeal) organs,—“these,” he says, “I pre-eminently honour,” not (on this occasion, though previously), having pre-eminently honoured invisible things. Therefore neither darkness, nor light, nor evil, nor good, Heraclitus affirms, is different, but one and the same thing. At all events, he censures Hesiod because he knew not day and night. For day, he says, and night are one, expressing himself somehow thus: “The teacher, however, of a vast amount of information is Hesiod, and people suppose this poet to be possessed of an exceedingly large store of knowledge, and yet he did not know (the nature of) day and night, for they are one.” As regards both what is good and what is bad, (they are, according to Heraclitus, likewise) one. “Physicians, undoubtedly,” says Heraclitus, “when they make incisions and cauterize, though in every respect they wickedly torture the sick, complain that they do not receive fitting remuneration from their patients, notwithstanding that they perform these salutary operations upon diseases.” And both straight and twisted are, he says, the same. “The way is straight and curved of the carders of wool;” and the circular movement of an instrument in the fuller’s shop called “a screw” is straight and curved, for it revolves up and circularly at the same time. “One and the same,” he says, “are, therefore, straight and curved.” And upward and downward, he says, are one and the same. “The way up and the way down are the same.” And he says that what is filthy and what is pure are one and the same, and what is drinkable and unfit for drink are one and the same. “Sea,” he says, “is water very pure and very foul, drinkable to fishes no doubt, and salutary for them, but not fit to be used as drink by men, and (for them) pernicious.” And, confessedly, he asserts that what is immortal is mortal, and that what is mortal is immortal, in the following expressions: “Immortals are mortal, and mortals are immortal, that is, when the one derive life from death, and the other death from life.” And he affirms also that there is a resurrection of this palpable flesh in which we have been born; and he knows God to be the cause of this resurrection, expressing himself in this manner: “Those that are here will God enable to arise and become guardians of quick and dead.” And he likewise affirms that a judgment of the world and all things in it takes place by fire, expressing himself thus: “Now, thunder pilots all things,” that is, directs them, meaning by the thunder everlasting fire. But he also asserts that this fire is endued with intelligence, and a cause of the management of the Universe, and he denominates it craving and satiety. Now craving is, according to him, the arrangement of the world, whereas satiety its destruction. “For,” says he, “the fire, coming upon the earth, will judge and seize all things.”

But in this chapter Heraclitus simultaneously explains the entire peculiarity of his mode of thinking, but at the same time the (characteristic quality) of the heresy of Noetus. And I have briefly demonstrated Noetus to be not a disciple of Christ, but of Heraclitus. For this philosopher asserts that the primal world is itself the Demiurge and creator of itself in the following passage: “God is day, night; winter, summer; war, peace; surfeit, famine.” All things are contraries—this appears his meaning—“but an alteration takes place, just as if incense were mixed with other sorts of incense, but denominated according to the pleasurable sensation produced by each sort. Now it is evident to all that the silly successors of Noetus, and the champions of his heresy, even though they have not been hearers of the discourses of Heraclitus, nevertheless, at any rate when they adopt the opinions of Noetus, undisguisedly acknowledge these (Heraclitean) tenets. For they advance statements after this manner—that one and the same God is the Creator and Father of all things; and that when it pleased Him, He nevertheless appeared, (though invisible,) to just men of old. For when He is not seen He is invisible; and He is incomprehensible when He does not wish to be comprehended, but comprehensible when he is comprehended. Wherefore it is that, according to the same account, He is invincible and vincible, unbegotten and begotten, immortal and mortal. How shall not persons holding this description of opinions be proved to be disciples of Heraclitus? Did not (Heraclitus) the Obscure anticipate Noetus in framing a system of philosophy, according to identical modes of expression?

Now, that Noetus affirms that the Son and Father are the same, no one is ignorant. But he makes his statement thus: “When indeed, then, the Father had not been born, He yet was justly styled Father; and when it pleased Him to undergo generation, having been begotten, He Himself became His own Son, not another’s.” For in this manner he thinks to establish the sovereignty of God, alleging that Father and Son, so called, are one and the same (substance), not one individual produced from a different one, but Himself from Himself; and that He is styled by name Father and Son, according to vicissitude of times. But that He is one who has appeared (amongst us), both having submitted to generation from a virgin, and as a man having held converse among men. And, on account of the birth that had taken place, He confessed Himself to those beholding Him a Son, no doubt; yet He made no secret to those who could comprehend Him of His being a Father. That this person suffered by being fastened to the tree, and that He commended His spirit unto Himself, having died to appearance, and not being (in reality) dead. And He raised Himself up the third day, after having been interred in a sepulchre, and wounded with a spear, and perforated with nails. Cleomenes asserts, in common with his band of followers, that this person is God and Father of the universe, and thus introduces among many an obscurity (of thought) such as we find in the philosophy of Heraclitus.

[Pope] Callistus attempted to confirm this heresy,—a man cunning in wickedness, and subtle where deceit was concerned, (and) who was impelled by restless ambition to mount the episcopal throne. Now this man moulded to his purpose Zephyrinus [who became Pope after him], an ignorant and illiterate individual, and one unskilled in ecclesiastical definitions. And inasmuch as Zephyrinus was accessible to bribes, and covetous, Callistus, by luring him through presents, and by illicit demands, was enabled to seduce him into whatever course of action he pleased. And so it was that Callistus succeeded in inducing Zephyrinus to create continually disturbances among the brethren, while he himself took care subsequently, by knavish words, to attach both factions in good-will to himself. And, at one time, to those who entertained true opinions, he would in private allege that they held similar doctrines (with himself), and thus make them his dupes; while at another time he would act similarly towards those (who embraced) the tenets of Sabellius. But Callistus perverted Sabellius himself, and this, too, though he had the ability of rectifying this heretic’s error. For (at any time) during our admonition Sabellius did not evince obduracy; but as long as he continued alone with Callistus, he was wrought upon to relapse into the system of Cleomenes by this very Callistus, who alleges that he entertains similar opinions to Cleomenes. Sabellius, however, did not then perceive the knavery of Callistus; but he afterwards came to be aware of it, as I shall narrate presently.

Now Callistus brought forward Zephyrinus himself, and induced him publicly to avow the following sentiments: “I know that there is one God, Jesus Christ; nor except Him do I know any other that is begotten and amenable to suffering.” And on another occasion, when he would make the following statement: “The Father did not die, but the Son.” Zephyrinus would in this way continue to keep up ceaseless disturbance among the people. And we, becoming aware of his sentiments, did not give place to him, but reproved and withstood him for the truth’s sake. And he hurried headlong into folly, from the fact that all consented to his hypocrisy—we, however, did not do so—and called us worshippers of two gods, disgorging, independent of compulsion, the venom lurking within him. It would seem to us desirable to explain the life of this heretic, inasmuch as he was born about the same time with ourselves, in order that, by the exposure of the habits of a person of this description, the heresy attempted to be established by him may be easily known, and may perchance be regarded as silly, by those endued with intelligence. This Callistus became a “martyr” at the period when Fuscianus was prefect of Rome, and the mode of his “martyrdom” was as follows.

Callistus happened to be a domestic of one Carpophorus, a man of the faith belonging to the household of Cæsar. To this Callistus, as being of the faith, Carpophorus committed no inconsiderable amount of money, and directed him to bring in profitable returns from the banking business. And he, receiving the money, tried (the experiment of) a bank in what is called the Piscina Publica. And in process of time were entrusted to him not a few deposits by widows and brethren, under the ostensive cause of lodging their money with Carpophorus. Callistus, however, made away with all (the moneys committed to him), and became involved in pecuniary difficulties. And after having practised such conduct as this, there was not wanting one to tell Carpophorus, and the latter stated that he would require an account from him. Callistus, perceiving these things, and suspecting danger from his master, escaped away by stealth, directing his flight towards the sea. And finding a vessel in Portus ready for a voyage, he went on board, intending to sail wherever she happened to be bound for. But not even in this way could he avoid detection, for there was not wanting one who conveyed to Carpophorus intelligence of what had taken place. But Carpophorus, in accordance with the information he had received, at once repaired to the harbour (Portus), and made an effort to hurry into the vessel after Callistus. The boat, however, was anchored in the middle of the harbour; and as the ferryman was slow in his movements, Callistus, who was in the ship, had time to descry his master at a distance. And knowing that himself would be inevitably captured, he became reckless of life; and, considering his affairs to be in a desperate condition, he proceeded to cast himself into the sea. But the sailors leaped into boats and drew him out, unwilling to come, while those on shore were raising a loud cry. And thus Callistus was handed over to his master, and brought to Rome, and his master lodged him in the Pistrinum.

But as time wore on, as happens to take place in such cases, brethren repaired to Carpophorus, and entreated him that he would release the fugitive serf from punishment, on the plea of their alleging that Callistus acknowledged himself to have money lying to his credit with certain persons. But Carpophorus, as a devout man, said he was indifferent regarding his own property, but that he felt a concern for the deposits; for many shed tears as they remarked to him, that they had committed what they had entrusted to Callistus, under the ostensive cause of lodging the money with himself. And Carpophorus yielded to their persuasions, and gave directions for the liberation of Callistus. The latter, however, having nothing to pay, and not being able again to abscond, from the fact of his being watched, planned an artifice by which he hoped to meet death. Now, pretending that he was repairing as it were to his creditors, he hurried on their Sabbath-day to the synagogue of the Jews, who were congregated, and took his stand, and created a disturbance among them. They, however, being disturbed by him, offered him insult, and inflicted blows upon him, and dragged him before Fuscianus, who was prefect of the city. And (on being asked the cause of such treatment), they replied in the following terms: “Romans have conceded to us the privilege of publicly reading those laws of ours that have been handed down from our fathers. This person, however, by coming into (our place of worship), prevented (us so doing), by creating a disturbance among us, alleging that he is a Christian.” And Fuscianus happens at the time to be on the judgment-seat; and on intimating his indignation against Callistus, on account of the statements made by the Jews, there was not wanting one to go and acquaint Carpophorus concerning these transactions. And he, hastening to the judgment-seat of the prefect, exclaimed, “I implore of you, my lord Fuscianus, believe not thou this fellow; for he is not a Christian, but seeks occasion of death, having made away with a quantity of my money, as I shall prove.” The Jews, however, supposing that this was a stratagem, as if Carpophorus were seeking under this pretext to liberate Callistus, with the greater enmity clamoured against him in presence of the prefect. Fuscianus, however, was swayed by these Jews, and having scourged Callistus, he gave him to be sent to a mine in Sardinia.

But after a time, there being in that place other martyrs, Marcia, a concubine of Commodus, who was a God-loving female, and desirous of performing some good work, invited into her presence the blessed Victor, who was at that time a bishop of the Church, and inquired of him what martyrs were in Sardinia. And he delivered to her the names of all, but did not give the name of Callistus, knowing the villanous acts he had ventured upon. Marcia, obtaining her request from Commodus, hands the letter of emancipation to Hyacinthus, a certain eunuch, rather advanced in life. And he, on receiving it, sailed away into Sardinia, and having delivered the letter to the person who at that time was governor of the territory, he succeeded in having the martyrs released, with the exception of Callistus. But Callistus himself, dropping on his knees, and weeping, entreated that he likewise might obtain a release. Hyacinthus, therefore, overcome by the captive’s importunity, requests the governor to grant a release, alleging that permission had been given to himself from Marcia (to liberate Callistus), and that he would make arrangements that there should be no risk in this to him. Now (the governor) was persuaded, and liberated Callistus also. And when the latter arrived at Rome, Victor was very much grieved at what had taken place; but since he was a compassionate man, he took no action in the matter. Guarding, however, against the reproach (uttered) by many,—for the attempts made by this Callistus were not distant occurrences,—and because Carpophorus also still continued adverse, Victor sends Callistus to take up his abode in Antium, having settled on him a certain monthly allowance for food. And after Victor’s death, Zephyrinus, having had Callistus as a fellow-worker in the management of his clergy, paid him respect to his own damage; and transferring this person from Antium, appointed him over the cemetery.

And Callistus, who was in the habit of always associating with Zephyrinus, and, as I have previously stated, of paying him hypocritical service, disclosed, by force of contrast, Zephyrinus to be a person able neither to form a judgment of things said, nor discerning the design of Callistus, who was accustomed to converse with Zephyrinus on topics which yielded satisfaction to the latter. Thus, after the death of Zephyrinus, supposing that he had obtained (the position) after which he so eagerly pursued, he excommunicated Sabellius, as not entertaining orthodox opinions. He acted thus from apprehension of me, and imagining that he could in this manner obliterate the charge against him among the churches, as if he did not entertain strange opinions. He was then an impostor and knave, and in process of time hurried away many with him. And having even venom imbedded in his heart, and forming no correct opinion on any subject, and yet withal being ashamed to speak the truth, this Callistus, not only on account of his publicly saying in the way of reproach to us, “Ye are Ditheists,” but also on account of his being frequently accused by Sabellius, as one that had transgressed his first faith, devised some such heresy as the following. Callistus alleges that the Logos Himself is Son, and that Himself is Father; and that though denominated by a different title, yet that in reality He is one indivisible spirit. And he maintains that the Father is not one person and the Son another, but that they are one and the same; and that all things are full of the Divine Spirit, both those above and those below. And he affirms that the Spirit, which became incarnate in the virgin, is not different from the Father, but one and the same. And he adds, that this is what has been declared by the Saviour: “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?” For that which is seen, which is man, he considers to be the Son; whereas the Spirit, which was contained in the Son, to be the Father. “For,” says (Callistus), “I will not profess belief in two Gods, Father and Son, but in one. For the Father, who subsisted in the Son Himself, after He had taken unto Himself our flesh, raised it to the nature of Deity, by bringing it into union with Himself, and made it one; so that Father and Son must be styled one God, and that this Person being one, cannot be two.” And in this way Callistus contends that the Father suffered along with the Son; for he does not wish to assert that the Father suffered, and is one Person, being careful to avoid blasphemy against the Father. (How careful he is!) senseless and knavish fellow, who improvises blasphemies in every direction, only that he may not seem to speak in violation of the truth, and is not abashed at being at one time betrayed into the tenet of Sabellius, whereas at another into the doctrine of Theodotus.

The impostor Callistus, having ventured on such opinions, established a school of theology in antagonism to the Church, adopting the foregoing system of instruction. And he first invented the device of conniving with men in regard of their indulgence in sensual pleasures, saying that all had their sins forgiven by himself. For he who is in the habit of attending the congregation of any one else, and is called a Christian, should he commit any transgression; the sin, they say, is not reckoned unto him, provided only he hurries off and attaches himself to the school of Callistus. And many persons were gratified with his regulation, as being stricken in conscience, and at the same time having been rejected by numerous sects; while also some of them, in accordance with our condemnatory sentence, had been by us forcibly ejected from the Church. Now such disciples as these passed over to these followers of Callistus, and served to crowd his school. This one propounded the opinion, that, if a bishop was guilty of any sin, if even a sin unto death, he ought not to be deposed. About the time of this man, bishops, priests, and deacons, who had been twice married, and thrice married, began to be allowed to retain their place among the clergy. If also, however, any one who is in holy orders should become married, Callistus permitted such a one to continue in holy orders as if he had not sinned. And in justification, he alleges that what has been spoken by the Apostle has been declared in reference to this person: “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?” But he asserted that likewise the parable of the tares is uttered in reference to this one: “Let the tares grow along with the wheat;” or, in other words, let those who in the Church are guilty of sin remain in it. But also he affirmed that the ark of Noe was made for a symbol of the Church, in which were both dogs, and wolves, and ravens, and all things clean and unclean; and so he alleges that the case should stand in like manner with the Church. And as many parts of Scripture bearing on this view of the subject as he could collect, he so interpreted.

And the hearers of Callistus being delighted with his tenets, continue with him, thus mocking both themselves as well as many others, and crowds of these dupes stream together into his school. Wherefore also his pupils are multiplied, and they plume themselves upon the crowds (attending the school) for the sake of pleasures which Christ did not permit. But in contempt of Him, they place restraint on the commission of no sin, alleging that they pardon those who acquiesce (in Callistus’ opinions). For even also he permitted females, if they were unwedded, and burned with passion at an age at all events unbecoming, or if they were not disposed to overturn their own dignity through a legal marriage, that they might have whomsoever they would choose as a bedfellow, whether a slave or free, and that a woman, though not legally married, might consider such a companion as a husband. Whence women, reputed believers, began to resort to drugs for producing sterility, and to gird themselves round, so to expel what was being conceived on account of their not wishing to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time! And withal, after such audacious acts, they, lost to all shame, attempt to call themselves a Catholic Church! [from such the Roman Catholic church traces its lineage] And some, under the supposition that they will attain prosperity, concur with them. During the episcopate of this one, second baptism was for the first time presumptuously attempted by them. These, then, (are the practices and opinions which) that most astonishing Callistus established, whose school continues, preserving its customs and tradition, not discerning with whom they ought to communicate, but indiscriminately offering communion to all. And from him they have derived the denomination of their cognomen; so that, on account of Callistus being a foremost champion of such practices, they should be called Callistians.

From Book 10, Ch 22-23.

But others of them [the Montanists], being attached to the heresy of the Noetians, entertain similar opinions to those relating to the silly women of the Phrygians, and to Montanus. As regards, however, the truths appertaining to the Father of the entirety of existing things, they are guilty of blasphemy, because they assert that He is Son and Father, visible and invisible, begotten and unbegotten, mortal and immortal. These have taken occasion from a certain Noetus to put forward their heresy.

But in like manner, also, Noetus, being by birth a native of Smyrna, and a fellow addicted to reckless babbling, as well as crafty withal, introduced (among us) this heresy which originated from one Epigonus. It reached Rome, and was adopted by Cleomenes, and so has continued to this day among his successors. Noetus asserts that there is one Father and God of the universe, and that He made all things, and was imperceptible to those that exist when He might so desire. Noetus maintained that the Father then appeared when He wished; and He is invisible when He is not seen, but visible when He is seen. And this heretic also alleges that the Father is unbegotten when He is not generated, but begotten when He is born of a virgin; as also that He is not subject to suffering, and is immortal when He does not suffer or die. When, however, His passion came upon Him, Noetus allows that the Father suffers and dies. And the Noetians suppose that this Father Himself is called Son, (and vice versa,) in reference to the events which at their own proper periods happen to them severally.

Callistus corroborated the heresy of these Noetians, but we have already carefully explained the details of his life. And Callistus himself produced likewise a heresy, and derived its starting-points from these Noetians,—namely, so far as he acknowledges that there is one Father and God, viz., the Creator of the universe, and that this (God) is spoken of, and called by the name of Son, yet that in substance He is one Spirit [that is, the same individual substance or being]. For Spirit, as the Deity, is, he says, not any being different from the Logos, or the Logos from the Deity; therefore this one person, (according to Callistus,) is divided nominally, but substantially not so. He supposes this one Logos to be God, and affirms that there was in the case of the Word an incarnation. And he is disposed (to maintain), that He who was seen in the flesh and was crucified is Son, but that the Father it is who dwells in Him [that is, the body is the Son, the Logos incarnate in that flesh the Father]. Callistus thus at one time branches off into the opinion of Noetus, but at another into that of Theodotus, and holds no sure doctrine. These, then, are the opinions of Callistus.

From Book 10, Ch 28-29.

The first and only (one God), both Creator and Lord of all, had nothing coeval with Himself; not infinite chaos, nor measureless water, nor solid earth, nor dense air, not warm fire, nor refined spirit, nor the azure canopy of the stupendous firmament. But He was One, alone in Himself. By an exercise of His will He created things that are, which antecedently had no existence, except that He willed to make them. For He is fully acquainted with whatever is about to take place, for foreknowledge also is present to Him. The different principles, however, of what will come into existence, He first fabricated, viz., fire and spirit, water and earth, from which diverse elements He proceeded to form His own creation. And some objects He formed of one essence, but others He compounded from two, and others from three, and others from four. And those formed of one substance were immortal, for in their case dissolution does not follow, for what is one will never be dissolved. Those, on the other hand, which are formed out of two, or three, or four substances, are dissoluble; wherefore also are they named mortal. For this has been denominated death; namely, the dissolution of substances connected. I now therefore think that I have sufficiently answered those endued with a sound mind, who, if they are desirous of additional instruction, and are disposed accurately to investigate the substances of these things, and the causes of the entire creation, will become acquainted with these points should they peruse a work of ours comprised (under the title), Concerning the Substance of the Universe. I consider, however, that at present it is enough to elucidate those causes of which the Greeks, not being aware, glorified, in pompous phraseology, the parts of creation, while they remained ignorant of the Creator. And from these the heresiarchs have taken occasion, and have transformed the statements previously made by those Greeks into similar doctrines, and thus have framed ridiculous heresies.

Therefore this solitary and supreme Deity, by an exercise of reflection, brought forth the Logos first; not the word in the sense of being articulated by voice, but as a ratiocination of the universe, conceived and residing in the divine mind. Him alone He produced from existing things; for the Father Himself constituted existence, and the being born from Him was the cause of all things that are produced [note, Hippolytus says the Son is a being, that is, individual being, produced from, and so, distinct from, the Supreme Being]. The Logos was in the Father Himself, bearing the will of His progenitor, and not being unacquainted with the mind of the Father. For simultaneously with His procession from His Progenitor, inasmuch as He is this Progenitor’s first-born, He has, as a voice in Himself, the ideas conceived in the Father. And so it was, that when the Father ordered the world to come into existence, the Logos one by one completed each object of creation, thus pleasing God. And some things which multiply by generation He formed male and female; but whatsoever beings were designed for service and ministration He made either male, or not requiring females, or neither male nor female. For even the primary substances of these, which were formed out of nonentities, viz., fire and spirit, water and earth, are neither male nor female; nor could male or female proceed from any one of these, were it not that God, who is the source of all authority, wished that the Logos might render assistance in accomplishing a production of this kind. I confess that angels are of fire, and I maintain that female spirits are not present with them. And I am of opinion that sun and moon and stars, in like manner, are produced from fire and spirit, and are neither male nor female. And the will of the Creator is, that swimming and winged animals are from water, male and female. For so God, whose will it was, ordered that there should exist a moist substance, endued with productive power. And in like manner God commanded, that from earth should arise reptiles and beasts, as well males and females of all sorts of animals; for so the nature of the things produced admitted. For as many things as He willed, God made from time to time. These things He created through the Logos, it not being possible for things to be generated otherwise than as they were produced. But when, according as He willed, He also formed (objects), He called them by names, and thus notified His creative effort. And making these, He formed the ruler of all [that is, man], and fashioned him out of all composite substances. The Creator did not wish to make him a god, and failed in His aim; nor an angel,—be not deceived,—but a man. For if He had willed to make thee a god, He could have done so. Thou hast the example of the Logos [the Logos then, is a god, by this logic]. His will, however, was, that you should be a man, and He has made thee a man. But if thou art desirous of also becoming a god, obey Him that has created thee, and resist not now, in order that, being found faithful in that which is small, you may be enabled to have entrusted to you also that which is great.

The Logos alone of this God is from God himself; wherefore also the Logos is God, being the substance of God [this he has explained in the foregoing in such a way as to specify a strictly generic, and not individual, unity of substance, the later being said by him to be the heresy of Noetus, Sabellius, and Callixtus]. Now the world was made from nothing; wherefore it is not God; as also because this world admits of dissolution whenever the Creator so wishes it. But God, who created it, did not, nor does not, make evil. He makes what is glorious and excellent; for He who makes it is good. Now man, that was brought into existence, was a creature endued with a capacity of self-determination, yet not possessing a sovereign intellect, nor holding sway over all things by reflection, and authority, and power, but a slave to his passions, and comprising all sorts of contrarieties in himself. But man, from the fact of his possessing a capacity of self-determination, brings forth what is evil, that is, accidentally; which evil is not consummated except you actually commit some piece of wickedness. For it is in regard of our desiring anything that is wicked, or our meditating upon it, that what is evil is so denominated. Evil had no existence from the beginning, but came into being subsequently. Since man has free will, a law has been defined for his guidance by the Deity, not without answering a good purpose. For if man did not possess the power to will and not to will, why should a law be established? For a law will not be laid down for an animal devoid of reason, but a bridle and a whip; whereas to man has been given a precept and penalty to perform, or for not carrying into execution what has been enjoined. For man thus constituted has a law been enacted by just men in primitive ages. Nearer our own day was there established a law, full of gravity and justice, by Moses, to whom allusion has been already made, a devout man, and one beloved of God.

Now the Logos of God controls all these; the first begotten Child of the Father, the voice of the Dawn antecedent to the Morning Star. Afterwards just men were born, friends of God; and these have been styled prophets, on account of their foreshowing future events. And the word of prophecy was committed unto them, not for one age only; but also the utterances of events predicted throughout all generations, were vouchsafed in perfect clearness. And this, too, not at the time merely when seers furnished a reply to those present; but also events that would happen throughout all ages, have been manifested beforehand; because, in speaking of incidents gone by, the prophets brought them back to the recollection of humanity; whereas, in showing forth present occurrences, they endeavoured to persuade men not to be remiss; while, by foretelling future events, they have rendered each one of us terrified on beholding events that had been predicted long before, and on expecting likewise those events predicted as still future. Such is our faith, O all ye men,—ours, I say, who are not persuaded by empty expressions, nor caught away by sudden impulses of the heart, nor beguiled by the plausibility of eloquent discourses, yet who do not refuse to obey words that have been uttered by divine power. And these injunctions has God given to the Word. But the Word, by declaring them, promulgated the divine commandments, thereby turning man from disobedience, not bringing him into servitude by force of necessity, but summoning him to liberty through a choice involving spontaneity.

This Logos the Father in the latter days sent forth, no longer to speak by a prophet, and not wishing that the Word, being obscurely proclaimed, should be made the subject of mere conjecture, but that He should be manifested, so that we could see Him with our own eyes. This Logos, I say, the Father sent forth, in order that the world, on beholding Him, might reverence Him who was delivering precepts not by the person of prophets, nor terrifying the soul by an angel, but who was Himself—He that had spoken—corporally present amongst us. This Logos we know to have received a body from a virgin, and to have remodelled the old man by a new creation. And we believe the Logos to have passed through every period in this life, in order that He Himself might serve as a law for every age, and that, by being present (amongst) us, He might exhibit His own manhood as an aim for all men. And that by Himself in person He might prove that God made nothing evil, and that man possesses the capacity of self-determination, inasmuch as he is able to will and not to will, and is endued with power to do both. This Man we know to have been made out of the compound of our humanity. For if He were not of the same nature with ourselves, in vain does He ordain that we should imitate the Teacher. For if that Man happened to be of a different substance from us, why does He lay injunctions similar to those He has received on myself, who am born weak; and how is this the act of one that is good and just? In order, however, that He might not be supposed to be different from us, He even underwent toil, and was willing to endure hunger, and did not refuse to feel thirst, and sunk into the quietude of slumber. He did not protest against His Passion, but became obedient unto death, and manifested His resurrection. Now in all these acts He offered up, as the first-fruits, His own manhood, in order that thou, when thou art in tribulation, mayest not be disheartened, but, confessing thyself to be a man (of like nature with the Redeemer), mayest dwell in expectation of also receiving what the Father has granted unto this Son.


 

All in all, this is not an endorsement of all Hippolytus said above. But his historical testimony is extremely valuable on this important subject.

Why Individual (or Numerical) Unity of Substance is Damnable Heresy

In a recent dialogue with modalists, I was once again reminded how vile and blasphemous their heresy is. At once they dishonor the Father and nail Him to a cross, and at the same time deny the existence of the Son. For by making the Father and Son one and the same individual being or substance, and making the Father and Son out to each be mere consciousnesses of this one Supreme Being, they deny the true existence of the Son, and crucify the Father.

For by making the Son and Father each one and the same numerically individual being, they make the Son and Father identical. Since they will deny that the Father is one part of this Supreme Being, and the Son another, but will make each to be equal to the whole Supreme Being, it will necessarily follow that the consciousness they call ‘Father’ and the consciousness they call ‘Son’ are identically the same. For if the Father is the whole being, and the Son is the whole being, then it follows of logical necessity, that the Father must be identical with the Son, as surely as it follows that is A=C, and B=C, then A must equal B. They then believe not in Father and Son, but in the Son-Father of Sabellius.

It follows then (and I have heard them utter these blasphemies with my own ears) that since the Son is the Supreme Being, that the Supreme being died on the cross, having been united to a man and a human nature, that the Supreme Being suffered and died for our sins. And so they say that the uncaused Cause of all, the one Sovereign over all, the Almighty, died on the cross, and not His Son. For to them, ‘Son’ signifies not another Who is the Son of this one God, the Supreme Being, but the Supreme being Himself. And since the Son and Father are, in their incoherent and inconsistent view, the same person (for They cannot in any true way not be said to be one another) it follows that we might just as well say that the Father died on the cross. For the Son and Father being equated with one another, the only difference that can be found is one of name only, so that if we may use the name ‘Son’ for the Supreme Being as He suffered on the cross, we might with equal legitimacy call Him ‘Father’.

Who will not stop their ears at such insanity? This is truly no other heresy than that of Sabellius and Noetus of old, who were likewise rightly declared ‘Patripassionists’ for declaring, by necessary implication of what they taught, that the Father suffered and died on the cross as the man Jesus Christ. One would not expect to find such blasphemy tolerated by any church as being Christianity, perhaps, but I have heard them utter with my own ears, and readily affirm, while pretending to be trinitarians, that the Supreme Being died on the cross.

As as if their vile blasphemy of the Father, the one God, the Supreme Being, Who is alone without cause, source, or origin, and is Himself the Cause, Source, and Origin of all else that exists, and Himself with supreme dominion rules over all else that exists, humbled Himself to die on a cross, was not enough, they have denied the very existence of the Son as well. For they deny the real Son of God, as they make ‘Son’ just another consciousness (or in reality, only another name) for the Supreme Being Himself. In their view then the Supreme being did not atemporally beget another individual being prior to creation, Who is His Son. The Son has no real distinct existence then in their scheme; and so being reduced to nothing more than another name for the Father Himself, they like the Jews deny the very foundation of the Christian faith, that God has a Son, Who he sent for our salvation.

For anyone can plainly see that to be the son of someone requires that the one who is son be another besides the one Whose son they are. Yet these do not confess the Son to be another besides God, but the one God, the Supreme Being Himself. The truth of the matter though, as the scriptures teach, requires us to believe that the Son is not the same individual being as the Father, but another; for it says not merely that Christ is the ‘Son of the Father’, which they might explain my a sort of insanity within the Supreme Being, in which one of His consciousness merely relates to another as though it is its Son, without any ground for so doing, but rather scripture declares that Christ is really the Son of God.

Let us consider this phrase ‘Son of God’ carefully. If one will say it is equivalent to Son of the Father, then it will follow from that, that not only is the Father God, but God is the Father; and so, the point will be proved, that the Supreme Being, the one God, is the Father in particular, and the Father the Supreme Being, their exact identity being confirmed. But if one be inclined to resist this conclusion, then of what God is Christ the Son? Of a false God? Or of the only true God? For this will show that the Son is not the only true God, but another, Who relates to Him as Son. And so it is demonstrated, that to believe that Christ is the Son of God, as the scriptures say and teach, at the most basic of levels requires that we believe that He is not Himself the Supreme Being, the one God (Who is His Father), but another individual being besides the one God, Who is genuinely His Son, not in name only, as a mere mode or consciousness of the Supreme Being, but in real existence as a distinct individual being.

Let it be seen then, as plainly as possible, that the doctrine that the Father and Son are one and the same individual being is soul-damning heresy, the vilest blasphemy, and a total denial of the Christian faith, to be resisted by every true Christian. Such is taught by the wretched scholastics, and worse still, if worse can be imagined, by the Van Tillians; children of Sabellius all of them.

“For neither do we hold a Son-Father, as do the Sabellians, calling Him of one but not of the same essence, and thus destroying the existence of the Son.” Athanasius, Statement of Faith.

Five Common Objections to Biblical Trinitarianism Answered

In Five Simple Proofs That the Father Alone Is the Supreme Being we looked at several ways we can know on the basis of scripture, reason, and natural theology that the Son is not the same individual being as the Father. Here I want to examine the most common objections leveled against the biblical doctrine of the Trinity by semi-modalists, and briefly answer them. The objections are stated as they have frequently appeared in discussions.

Objection #1: If the Son is another distinct individual being besides the Supreme Being, the One God, and He is also called “God”, this makes two Gods, and so destroys monotheism.

Answer #1: This assumes that for monotheism to be true, there must only be one being in the universe to which the title “God” may be accurately applied; yet scripture contradicts this notion. For certainly scripture teaches that there is one God; “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things” 1 Cor 8:6 NASB; but it also teaches that there are many beings that may be called gods, on account of the dominion they possess; “indeed there are many gods and many lords,” 1 Cor 8: 5 NASB. Rulers on Israel were called “gods” (Ex 22:28), Satan is called “the god of this world” for sake of the temporal power he has over the world system (2 Cor 4:4), and men who are enslaved to their appetites are even said to have their appetites as their gods (Phil 3:19). In scripture, to be ‘god’ is always relative; to be god is to be ‘God of’ or ‘God over’ something; and so throughout scripture, to be god, or possess divinity, is simply to possess dominion. And so on this account, the Son of God, being a distinct individual being from the Father, Who shares in the Father’s dominion over the universe, is God over all creation. Yet He Himself is subject to His Father as His God, He Who alone has supreme dominion over all things absolutely, and so on that account is alone styled ‘the one God’, and ‘the only true God’.

And so we know from scripture that there is one sense in which there is only one God, as there is only one Who is absolutely supreme over all, the Father, the Supreme Being; and yet there is another sense in which there are many beings which may be called gods, on account of the lesser dominion they have. Neither the divinity of the Son, or His true existence as a distinct individual being, then, will be found to be an obstacle to biblical monotheism.

Objection #2: The Son, as well as the Father, is called by the name LORD; therefore, They must be one individual being, and so the Son, as well as the Father, is the Supreme Being.

Answer #2: This assumes that there is only one individual being called LORD; an assumption contrary to scripture. For throughout scripture we see two beings called LORD; one supreme, invisible to mortal man (“You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live” Ex 33:20 NASB), and the other subordinate, sent by the former, appearing to men and conversing with them in His own person (“I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” Gen 32:30 NASB). And so scripture speak of two named LORD; “Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven” Gen 19:24 NASB.

And the Son, after having laid aside His glory in the days of His humiliation, is expressly said to have been given the name LORD again by the Father: “For this reason also [His humiliation and passion], God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil 2:9-11 NASB. Now we must observe two things here: firstly, that unless the Son were a distinct individual being from the Father, He could not ever be given the name LORD by the Father; and secondly, that if the name LORD denotes the Supreme Being alone, Who some wrongly suppose Christ to be, then Christ would need to have always had the name LORD, even during the incarnation. The fact that it could be laid aside and taken up again shows that it is indeed a name, and is honorific, and does not only denote the very being of the one God, but is a name shared by the one God with another individual being, His Son.

Objection #3: The church has historically taught that the Father, Son, and Spirit are one individual being or essence; surely the church cannot have erred so grievously for so long, as to have been wrong on that point.

Answer #3: It would be enough to answer simply that knowledge of doctrinal truth is not gained from popularity or the consent of authorities, but by demonstration from the holy scriptures. For we are not to blindly accept whatever doctrines authority endorses, but rather “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thess 5:21 NKJV. As second century father Clement of Alexandria said “For we may not give our adhesion to men on a bare statement by them, who might equally state the opposite. But if it is not enough merely to state the opinion, but if what is stated must be confirmed, we do not wait for the testimony of men, but we establish the matter that is in question by the voice of the Lord, which is the surest of all demonstrations, or rather is the only demonstration; in which knowledge those who have merely tasted the Scriptures are believers.”

The controversy then, will not be decided by popes, councils, or the opinions of theologians in church history, but by the voice of the Lord speaking in the scriptures. But that having been said, it is noteworthy that the orthodox fathers, from the earliest times through the fourth century, held that the Son and Father are two numerically distinct individual beings. For example, Justin Martyr in the second century said “And that this power which the prophetic word calls God, as has been also amply demonstrated, and Angel, is not numbered [as different] in name only like the light of the sun but is indeed something numerically distinct, I have discussed briefly in what has gone before; when I asserted that this power was begotten from the Father, by His power and will” (Dialogue, Ch 28). But more than that, even once it was becoming more and more common to insist on a generic unity of nature, in the Nicene and post-nicene eras, the best pro-nicene fathers expressly rejected as Modalism the notion that the Father and Son share the same individual being -the very view which has become so common in later history. For Athanasius declared “For neither do we hold a Son-Father, as do the Sabellians, calling Him of one but not of the same essence, and thus destroying the existence of the Son.” (Statement of Faith). And Basil the Great said “This term [co-essential] also corrects the error of Sabellius, for it removes the idea of the identity of the hypostases, and introduces in perfection the idea of the Persons. For nothing can be of the same substance with itself, but one thing is of same substance with another.” (Letter LII). We see that for these fathers, the co-essentiality of the Trinity was a merely generic one, a sharing of a common nature between multiple individual beings; in their mind the Father and Son shared a common generic being, but were not one individual being, which is said by both these fathers to have been the very heresy of Sabellianism (which is modalism).

Objection #4: The Son shares the moral perfections and likeness of the Father, and all His divine attributes, and also shares in His works; therefore, being united in these things, They must both be one and the same individual being, together the Supreme Being.

Answer #4: Since the only-begotten Son is the very Image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), the brightness of His glory, and the exact representation of His person (Heb 1:1-3), Who shares one common image and likeness with the Father (Gen 1:26), and has life in Himself as the Father has life in Himself (Jn 5:26), through Whom the Supreme Being created all things (Jn 1:1-3), upholds the existence of all things (Col 1:17), rules over all things (Matt 28:18), reconciles all things to Himself (Col 1:20), and shall judge all men (Jn 5:22), it is no surprise that the Son shares in the Father’s moral perfections and actions. Yet none of these things require the Son to be the same individual being as the Father, but rather show the impossibility of such; for the Image and the thing imaged cannot be one and the same individual being, and neither can one work instrumentally through another, unless there really is another being to work through. But the Son, while sharing in many of the Father’s attributes, cannot be said to share in all of them; for the Father is invisible to mortal man, and the Son visible; the Father is uncaused, while the Son is begotten; the Father has supreme authority over all, while the Son is Himself subject to the Father. If then, it will be argued that the Son having all the same attributes as the Father is something in favor or Him being the same individual being as the Father (which has been shown false), then it must be admitted as well that the fact that the Son does not possess all the same attributes as the Supreme Being is a powerful proof that He is not the Supreme being, the one God, but another distinct individual being besides Him.

Objection #5: In cases where the truth is uncertain, we ought to err on the side of safety, by honoring the Son more highly, rather than less highly; and so we ought to believe Him to be, together with the Father, the Supreme Being, the One God.

Answer #5: This incorrectly assumes, firstly, that there is a reasonable ground for uncertainty, where there is not; for scripture has made sufficiently clear, in the Old Testament and the New, that the Son and Father are two distinct individual beings, not one and the same (see Five Simple Proofs That the Father Alone Is the Supreme Being). But moreover, let us consider which view truly honors Christ more- that which by making Him the same individual being as the Father takes away His true existence entirely, and makes Him a mere mode or name of the Father, or that which says that He is another really existing individual being besides the Father, subordinate only to the Father, and superior to everything in all creation. It is evident that the latter view is far more glorifying to Christ, and so indeed is the safer view.

Numerical Vs Generic Unity of Substance

Semi-modalism is built upon a twisting of the Nicene concept of co-essentiality. In the Nicene era and its creed, for multiple persons to be co-essential meant that nothing more than that they, as truly distinct rational individual beings (that is, persons) shared a common nature or species. A common analogy used by the Nicene fathers to capture their meaning, for example, is of three men being co-essential, in that they, while remaining three distinct individuals, share a common and identical human nature. Although there are three men, there is only one nature between them, human nature. Such was the original meaning of co-essentiality.

For example, Athanasius said:

“Even this is sufficient to dissuade you from blaming those who have said that the Son was coessential with the Father, and yet let us examine the very term ‘Coessential,’ in itself, by way of seeing whether we ought to use it at all, and whether it be a proper term, and is suitable to apply to the Son. For you know yourselves, and no one can dispute it, that Like is not predicated of essence, but of habits, and qualities; for in the case of essences we speak, not of likeness, but of identity. Man, for instance, is said to be like man, not in essence, but according to habit and character; for in essence men are of one nature. And again, man is not said to be unlike dog, but to be of different nature. Accordingly while the former [men] are of one nature and coessential, the latter are different in both.”

Hilary of Poitiers likewise clarified:

“Since, however, we have frequently to mention the words essence and substance, we must determine the meaning of essence, lest in discussing facts we prove ignorant of the signification of our words. Essence is a reality which is, or the reality of those things from which it is, and which subsists inasmuch as it is permanent. Now we can speak of the essence, or nature, or genus, or substance of anything. And the strict reason why the word essence is employed is because it is always. But this is identical with substance, because a thing which is, necessarily subsists in itself, and whatever thus subsists possesses unquestionably a permanent genus, nature or substance. When, therefore, we say that essence signifies nature, or genus, or substance, we mean the essence of that thing which permanently exists in the nature, genus, or substance.

And Basil of Caesarea wrote:

“The distinction between οὐσία [essence] and ὑπόστασις [person] is the same as that between the general and the particular ; as, for instance, between the animal and the particular man.” (Letter 236)”

This understanding of co-essentiality is likewise required by the council of Chalcedon:

“our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood”

Its clear, then, that the original intent of declaring that the Father, Son, and Spirit share one essence was not to make Them out to all be one person, one individual being, but simply to declare that They shared a common nature or species. This meaning changed, however, and was not kept clear as time went on; the Western churches going to far as to eventually formally change the meaning of co-essentiality in the 4th Lateran council in 1215.  Rather than indicating a generic unity of sharing one nature, now co-essentiality was defined as teaching that the unity the persons shared was of being one single numerically individual reality, one rational individual being- that is, in reality, one person. The ‘essence’ was no longer viewed as a nature, but a single subsistent ‘supreme reality’.

“We, however, with the approval of this sacred and universal council, believe and confess with Peter Lombard that there exists a certain supreme reality, incomprehensible and ineffable, which truly is the Father and the Son and the holy Spirit, the three persons together and each one of them separately. Therefore in God there is only a Trinity, not a quaternity, since each of the three persons is that reality — that is to say substance, essence or divine nature-which alone is the principle of all things, besides which no other principle can be found. This reality neither begets nor is begotten nor proceeds; the Father begets, the Son is begotten and the holy Spirit proceeds.” (From Canon 2)

This teaching is a drastic departure from the faith of the early church, and represents the culmination of what many in the Nicene era had feared might result from the introduction of ‘essence’ speculation into the church’s dogma. A council of fathers gathered in Antioch in 345 had specified their belief that the Father, Son, and Spirit were not “one supreme reality”, that is, one person, one individual rational being, but rather, three:

“Nor again, in confessing three realities and three persons, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost according to the Scriptures, do we therefore make Gods three; since we acknowledge the self-complete and unbegotten and unbegun and invisible God to be one only, the God and Father (John 20:17) of the Only-begotten, who alone has being from Himself, and alone vouchsafes this to all others bountifully.” (Macrostich)

Later in the same creed they went on to condemn the very view the 4th Lateran would later make dogma for the Roman churches:

“And those who say that the Father and Son and Holy Ghost are the same, and irreligiously take the three names of one and the same reality and person, we justly proscribe from the Church, because they suppose the illimitable and impassible Father to be also limitable and passable through His becoming man. For such are they whom Romans call Patripassians, and we Sabellians. For we acknowledge that the Father who sent, remained in the peculiar state of His unchangeable Godhead, and that Christ who was sent fulfilled the economy of the Incarnation.”

But one need not wait until the fourth century to find fathers who clearly taught that the Father, Son, and Spirit were not one numerically individual thing, one person. Second century father Justin Martyr, one of the earliest and best of the fathers, clearly understood the Father and Son to be numerically distinct persons, two distinct rational individual beings, not merely two names of or modes of one and the same reality:

“When Scripture says, ‘The Lord rained fire from the Lord out of heaven,’ the prophetic word indicates that there were two in number: One upon the earth, who, it says, descended to behold the cry of Sodom; Another in heaven, who also is Lord of the Lord on earth, as He is Father and God; the cause of His power and of His being Lord and God.” (Dialogue With Trypho, Chapter 29)

“And that this power which the prophetic word calls God, as has been also amply demonstrated, and Angel, is not numbered [as different] in name only like the light of the sun but is indeed something numerically distinct, I have discussed briefly in what has gone before; when I asserted that this power was begotten from the Father, by His power and will, but not by abscission, as if the essence of the Father were divided; as all other things partitioned and divided are not the same after as before they were divided: and, for the sake of example, I took the case of fires kindled from a fire, which we see to be distinct from it, and yet that from which many can be kindled is by no means made less, but remains the same.” (Dialogue With Trypho, Chapter 128)

“You perceive, my hearers, if you bestow attention, that the Scripture has declared that this Offspring was begotten by the Father before all things created; and that which is begotten is numerically distinct from that which begets, any one will admit.” (Dialogue With Trypho, Chapter 129)

It is clear also, that Justin did not speak of merely his own opinion in these matters, but as an apologist, spoke on behalf of the Christians of his time; and anyone who wishes to, may read his contemporary fathers, and see their agreement.

Semi-modalism, then, in proclaiming the the persons of the Trinity are numerically one substance, one individual, is clearly at odds with both the original dogmatic conception of co-essentiality held by the Nicene fathers, which proclaimed co-essentiality to mean nothing more than a mere generic unity of nature between really distinct individuals, as well as being at odds with the faith of the ante-nicene fathers, going back as close to the apostles as we can find.

For a look at how this semi-modalistic conception of the Trinity is opposed to scripture itself, and the very fundamental tenets of the Christian faith it teaches, see here.

Another Example of Modern Trinitarianism Being Nothing More Than Modalism, Barely Disguised

“The word ‘person’ has changed its meaning since the third century when it began to be used in connection with the ‘threefoldness of God’. When we talk about God as a person, we naturally think of God as being one person. But theologians such as Tertullian, writing in the third century, used the word ‘person’ with a different meaning. The word ‘person’ originally derives from the Latin word persona, meaning an actor’s face-mask—and, by extension, the role which he takes in a play. By stating that there were three persons but only one God, Tertullian was asserting that all three major roles in the great drama of human redemption are played by the one and the same God. The three great roles in this drama are all played by the same actor: God. Each of these roles may reveal God in a somewhat different way, but it is the same God in every case. So when we talk about God as one person, we mean one person in the modern sense of the word, and when we talk about God as three persons, we mean three persons in the ancient sense of the word. … Confusing these two senses of the word ‘person’ inevitably leads to the idea that God is actually a committee.”

Alister E. McGrath, Understanding the Trinity, pp 130-131

The heresy represented in this quote, unfortunately, is not uncommon. The Trinity as a whole is made out to be one person in the modern sense- that is, one rational individual being, one individual intelligent agent, one “He”; while the Father, Son, and Spirit are deemed to be nothing more than mere “masks” of this one individual. This is the same insidious heresy of Sabellius, only slightly modified. This is semi-modalism, and it is damnable heresy; this needs to be said, not to show malice to those who hold it, but to warn men of the danger it presents.

Semi-modalism equivocates on what “person” means, as this quote shows. A semi-modalist will insist that they are not a modalist because the Father, Son, and Spirit are “three persons”- yet when they use the word ‘person’, they mean something other than what is normally meant by ‘person’. They equivocate by using a non-standard definition of the term, usually without making that clear, like McGrath does above.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are really three persons; not three modes, not three masks, of one and the self-same person, but are in fact and in truth three distinct rational individual beings. Scripture repeatedly teaches this: “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17 NASB) “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23 NASB). The fact that scripture uses plural personal pronouns in these verses requires us to understand that the Father and Son are two persons.

“If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true… the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.” John 5:31-32, 37 NKJV). The Son says here that He does not bear witness to Himself (v31). Yet He also says that the Father bears witness of Him- this require that He is a distinct person from His Father. The Father is not Him, but “another” Who can witness to Christ, without Christ witnessing to Himself. Were They the same person, the Father testifying to the Son would be the same as the Son testifying to Himself.

Semi-modalism is a dangerous heresy because making the Father, Son, and Spirit to be the masks or modes of one and the same person denies the central tenets of the Christian faith, by denying the real existence of the Son of the God, the one Mediator between God and man, apart from Whom no one can approach the Father.

“Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one.” (Gal 3:20 NASB)

“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim 2:5 NASB)

It is clear that no person can be a mediator between themselves and another; the very nature of what a mediator between two parties is, requires that the mediator be a third party. If Christ then is the mediator between God and man, then He cannot be the same person, the same individual rational being, as the God to Whom He intercedes. If the Son is the same “person” as the Father according to the normal usage of the word, that is, the same rational individual being as the Father, then He cannot be a mediator between God and man, for this would make the mediator and the party being mediated to one and the same, which is impossible. As the Son would in fact be the same person as the Father Who we need a Mediator to approach, we would in fact have no Mediator- and so according to scripture, it would be impossible to approach God.

And so the God of the semi-modalists is unapproachable; for by making the Son and Spirit out to not really be distinct persons, but one and the same individual being as the Father, they deny their real existence. They have no one to Mediate between them and their God, and no one to sanctify them, since they have made the Mediator, the Son, and the Sanctifier, the Spirit, to be the very same one that they need a Mediator and a Sanctifier to approach.

And likewise, semi-modalism denies that saving confession, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. For the Son of another is necessarily another person, Who relates to that other as a Son. But the semi-modalists deny that the Son is another rational individual being besides the Father, and so, they make Him the same rational individual being as the Father. The same being, then, the same person, according to the normal usage of the term, will then at once be made to be His own Father and His own Son, which is absurd; and while saying that He is both, they will actually make Him neither. So the one they call Son will relate to God, not as a Father, not as one individual being to another, Who is His Father, but will relate to God as His own self. By making the Son a mask and mode of the one God, they deny His real personal existence as a Son, which necessarily must be another rational individual being besides the one Whose Son He is. And so they deny the Lord, the Son of God, making Him a Son in name only and not in truth.

They say that the Father Who testifies to the Son is not another besides Him, but merely another mode of His own person, and so, they make the Son’s testimony false, for “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.” And so they make God out to be a liar.

Let this then serve as a warning of the deceitful equivocation of the heretics; for they will say that “God is three persons”, but the “God” they speak of is one person, one rational individual being, and the three “persons” they speak of are no persons at all, but mere masks, modes, roles, name, or internal relations of one person. They speak of a “triune God”, a “tripersonal God”, when in reality, the God they speak of, when they are honest, is only one person, and not three; and He has no true Son, the Son being made to be simply a mode of His own person, not another person Who relates to Him as a Father; and there will be no mediator to bring them to their “tripersonal God”, for having made their mediator to be nothing more than a mode of the very person they need a mediator to approach, they will have no true mediator, no third party, to bring them to God.