Modalism, also sabellianism or patripassianism, is the strict form of monarchianism, a heresy that originated in an exaggerated defense of the unity (monarchia ) of God; and while verbally admitting a Trinity, it denied the real distinction between the Persons. It affirmed that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are modes, aspects, or energies of one and the same divine Person, who is given different names according as He exercises different functions ad extra or outside the Trinity: creation (Father), redemption (Son), sanctification (Holy Spirit). God, one from eternity, became three in time. God's appearance on earth as the Son should logically have involved the conclusion that the Father died; hence the name Patripassianism, as the heresy was known in the West. Praxeas, the first proponent of Modalism to visit Rome, went to Carthage about 206 or 208, and tertullian refuted him in his Adversus Praxean (213), "which represents the most important contribution to the doctrine of the Trinity in the Ante–Nicene period" [J. Quasten, Patrology, 3 v. (Westminster, Md.) 2:285]. According to Tertullian, the identification of Father and Son was so complete in Praxeas's teaching that "the Father Himself came down into the Virgin, was Himself born of her, Himself suffered, indeed was Himself Jesus Christ" (ch. 1). In the East the heresy was known as Sabellianism, from Sabellius, who probably developed the teaching of Noetus and was excommunicated by Pope callistus i (c. 220). Sabellius's chief opponent was dionysius of alexandria.
Bibliography: g. bardy, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 10.2:2193–2209. e. evans, ed. and tr., Q. Septimi Florenti Tertulliani adversus Praxean, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (London 1948) 6–31. t. verhoeven, Vigiliae christianae (Amsterdam 1951) 43–48. c. huber, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 2, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (Freiburg 1957–65) 7:533–534. h. crouzel, ibid. 508. k. wÖlfl, Das Heilswirken Gottes durch den Sohn nach Tertullian in Analecta Gregoriana (Rome 1930–) 112; 1960.
[p. j. hamell]
"Modalism." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/modalism
"Modalism." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved December 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/modalism
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.