Denials Of Orthodoxy: Heretical Views Of The Doctrine Of The Trinity -- By: Gregg R. Allison

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 16:1 (Spring 2012)
Article: Denials Of Orthodoxy: Heretical Views Of The Doctrine Of The Trinity
Author: Gregg R. Allison


Denials Of Orthodoxy: Heretical Views Of The Doctrine Of The Trinity

Gregg R. Allison

Gregg R. Allison is Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr. Allison served many years as a staff member of Campus Crusade, where he worked in campus ministry and as a missionary to Italy and Switzerland. He also serves as the Secretary of the Evangelical Theological Society and the book review editor for theological, historical, and philosophical studies for the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. Dr. Allison is the author of several books, including most recently Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine (Zondervan, 2011) and Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church (Crossway, forthcoming).

As this issue of SBJT explores the doctrine of the Trinity—that God eternally exists as three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, each of whom is fully God, yet there is only one God—it is good to remember that this orthodox position was hammered out amid challenges to a “Trinitarian consciousness” that arose in the early church. By this consciousness I mean a sense, grounded in the teaching of Scripture, that developed in the church as it reflected on the nature of God;1 baptized new Christians;2 prayed;3 worshipped;4 constructed its ecclesiology;5 and as it developed its apologetics against pagans.6 Eventually, this Trinitarian sense was articulated in explicit theological affirmations—the rule of faith,7 the canon of truth,8 and the early creeds. But this developing consciousness and theological formulation was not without its challenges. The purpose of this article is to identify, describe, and critique these denials of the orthodox view of the Trinity.9

Monarchianism: Denying The Distinctions Of The Three Persons

The first significant challenge to the early church’s Trinitarian consciousness was the view that later came to be called monarchianism, a position that emphasized “the unity of God as the only monarchia, or ruler of the universe.”10 This error developed two forms.11...

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