From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Monarchianism is a Christian theology that emphasizes God as one,[1][2][3] in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being.[4]


The first Christians had Jewish roots that upheld God as one. [1][2][5] This led to the creation of various models to resolve the relationship between God the Father and the Son of God. Monarchians seek to explain this relationship without causing a division within God. Writing against Praxeas (a monarchian) in the third century, Tertullian gave evidence that the majority of Christians were monarchian when he noted their startled reaction to his teaching of three in one.[6]

Monarchians were opposed by Logos theologians (Tertullian, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen of Alexandria) and gradually the Trinitarian view gained prominence and was adopted in the First Council of Constantinople.[7]

The name "Monarchian" properly does not strictly apply to the Adoptionists, or Dynamists, as they (the latter) "did not start from the monarchy of God, and their doctrine is strictly Christological".[8]


Two contradictory models of monarchianism have been propounded:[1]

Modalistic monarchianism (or Modalism) considers God to be one while appearing and working through the different "modes" of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Following this view, all the Godhead is understood to dwell in the person of Jesus from the incarnation; the terms Father and Son are then used to describe the distinction between the transcendence of God and the incarnation. Lastly, since God is a spirit, it is held that the Holy Spirit should not be understood as a separate entity but rather to describe God in action.

Notable adherents:

Adoptionism (or dynamic monarchianism) holds that God is one being, above all else, wholly indivisible, and of one nature, it holds that the Son was not co-eternal with the Father, and that Jesus Christ was essentially granted godhood (adopted) for the plans of God and for his own perfect life and works. Different variations of Dynamism hold that Jesus was "adopted" either at the time of his baptism or his ascension.

Notable adherents:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Encyclopædia Britannica: Monarchianism
  2. ^ a b c Monarchians at Catholic Encyclopedia,
  3. ^ Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3): Monarchianism
  4. ^ Knight, Kevin (ed.), "The dogma of the Trinity", Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent
  5. ^ Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3): Monarchianism
  6. ^ Tertullian. "Against Praxeas, chapter 3". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  7. ^ The SCM Press A-Z of Patristic Theology, entry Monarchianism, p. 227
  8. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia - Monarchians Archived 2013-01-29 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]