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Know Your Heresies: Sabellianism

One Liam in Three Persons (2010), digital painting by Timothy Lim

The Holy Tri-Neeson (2011), T-shirt graphic by Timothy Lim

Encyclopædia Britannica has more.

The upshot: While we don’t know many of the specifics of the Sabellian heresy, we do know it was a variant of the Modalist heresy. Modalism is, briefly, the notion that the Holy Spirit, the Son, and perhaps — depending on the kind of Modalism in question — the Father, are not essential to God’s Being. Rather (says Modalism), the one God (who may or may not be identical with the Father) is like an actor; the Persons of the Trinity (or, at least, the Holy Spirit and the Son) are like roles the one God plays.

I find that almost all attempts to explain Trinitarianism have to pass through Modalism early on.


  1. By this image, I see my career in teaching theology is still needed. Reassuring, in a nauseating way.

  2. I’m thinking the Dad from Taken is more the savior type. “If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. My kingdom is not of this world. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Before Abraham was, I am. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. If you let my people go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you. Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”

  3. And of course, Neeson in The Grey is Christ on the cross, crying “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?”

  4. ok, now what trinitarian heresy is similar to Chelada? clam juice, tomato, and budweiser?

  5. So Batman climbed up a mountain and found God?

    I have issues.

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