Recently, a discussion came up over the Trinity and I was sent this video. For those of you that don’t know, I ascribe to a view called Modalism (Oneness). A brief history of Modalism begins in the first century by the first Christians, who were mainly Jewish Christians.
“Modalism was the view that evidently was held by a majority of Christians at the beginning of the third century—including the most prominent Christian leaders in the church, the bishops of the church of Rome (i.e., the early “popes”).”― Bart D. Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee
“Modalistic Monarchianism”, was once, “embraced by the vast majority of ALL Christians.”-Adolph Von Harnack, Halle University
“Modalistic Monarchianism” was the “popular Christian belief in ancient Christian Theology.”-Jaroslav Pelikan, Professor, Yale University
“The Modalists were the successors to the Apostles, NOT the Trinitarians.”-Professor Friedrich Loofs, Halle University
Bart D. Ehrman claims that Oneness was the most commonly held view by Christians from the first to beginning of third century. It was the view first held by Jewish Christians, before Gentiles entered into the Christian faith. Modalism is Jewish by nature.
Having established that Modalism was, in fact, the mainstream view for centuries, I will turn my attention to the video being discussed. To start, I believe the speaker is addressing Muhammadans and speaking for Christians as an apologist. The apologist begins his attempt at defending Christianity by assuring the viewers that the Trinity has long been established as truth. The person says “[The] Trinity is the title of our theology to describe who the God we know in the Bible is. According to the statement of His Word made flesh, namely Christ. The result of a long reflection of the Bible; his disciples, the apostles; disciple of the disciples of the apostles; until the church councils later we were known by the term Tri Tunggal, the Trinity.“
He then proceeds to prove the Trinity of three persons/personalities through a writer during the second century. He states: “Now this is what Theophilus, a patriarch in the Syriac Orthodox church,in the 120-130s said, said that the triados were God, His Word, and His wisdom or His Spirit. That is what is recorded, both textually in the scriptures, and in church history.” This argument could be used to for either Trinitarianism or Modalism. However, the speaker assumes that this must be Trinitarian by nature. However, if Theophilus was a Trinitarian, his words “But when God wished to make all that he determined on, he begot (gave birth to) His Word, uttered the firstborn of all creation,” might suggest he held different views than the view held today.
“Moreover, during this time an apologist named Theophilus used the word triad (triados) to describe God. However, he probably did not use it to signify a trinity of persons but rather a triad of God’s activities.”– Dr. David K. Bernard, The Oneness of God
The speaker continues by also subjecting Genesis chapter one by the presupposition that the Trinity is true simply because there is God (Elohim), the Spirit of God (Ruach Elohim), and His Word (Dafar Elohim). Since there are three Elohim yet one God, these three must be one.
The alternative to this is Modalism, that since there is one omni God, God is not separated among three that are in unity with each other. Instead, these three explain how He works, not Who He is. This refers to a trinity of manifestations, not a trinity of three persons that are in unity as one God.
“We do not, however, view Logos/Memra as a distinct person than the original Deity source from which Logos is radiated. Rather, we view Logos as the manifested visible image (body) of the invisible One True and Living God and present with YHWH (“face to face with God”) in the beginning and being of the same substance as The Father. An Ontologically identical offspring of The Father.”– Mark August, MDiv
” God then, having His own Word internal within His own bowels, begat Him, emitting Him along with His own Wisdom before all things. “-Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch
In respect to the speaker, much of his arguments were towards Islam, thus his content was pretty basic and did not prove the Trinity of persons. Instead, he used general Christian knowledge to combat the absurd Islamic arguments against Jesus. I did notice the speaker admitted that the Trinity is a progressive revelation, as the Trinity was finalized in the fourth century. In fact, most of the arguments for the Trinity in his speech could be used for Oneness. Although the Trinity of three persons in one has become standard, the Trinity of manifestations by one God continues to this day.