Oneness Modalism Influenced The Nicene Creed, Response to Dr. Morrison Part 11

Oneness Modalism Influenced The Nicene Creed

4th Century Semi Trinitarians Allied with Oneness Modalists Against Arianism

Church historian B. B. Edwards wrote, “Athanasius (a Semi-Trinitarian) and Marcellus (a Modalist), bishop of Ancyra appear to have been the two principal speakers in behalf of the orthodox party, and to have been the agents on whom most of the doings of the Council depended” (THE BIBLICAL REPOSITORY AND QUARTERLY OBSERVER. By B. B. EDWARDS. VOLUME FIFTH— Nos. XVII, XVIII. ANDOVER: GOULD AND NEWMAN, PUBLISHERS AND PRINTERS. BOSTON: PERKINS, MARTIN AND Co. 1835. Under Remarks on Niceae, Page 291).

Under “Monarchianism”, the New Advent Encyclopedia says, “In the fourth century the Arians and Semi-Arians professed to be much afraid of it (Modalistic Monarchian theology), and indeed the alliance of Pope Julius and Arhanasius with Marcellus (Marcellus was the chief speaker for the Modalists) gave some colour to accusations against the Nicene formulas as opening the way to Sabellianism.”

If historians are correct about “the alliance” of the Athanasian camp with the Marcellan camp, we can be certain that Modalistic doctrine contributed to the development of the 325 AD Nicene Creed.


The book entitled, “The Select Treatises of Athanasius – In Controversy with the Arians” says,

“It has been noted that the Greek term ‘homoousian’ or ‘con-substantial’, which Athanasius of Alexandria favored, was actually a term reported to be put forth by Sabellius, and was a term that many followers of Athanasius were uneasy about. Their objection to the term ‘homoousian’ was that it was considered to be un-Scriptural, suspicious, and ‘of a Sabellian tendency.’” (Select Treatises of St. Athanasius - In Controversy With the Arians - Freely Translated by John Henry Cardinal Newmann - Longmans, Green, and Co., 1911, footnote, page 124)

In his lectures, Dr. Morrison spoke as if there were no Modalists alive during the Council of Nicaea. Yet if historians are correct about Athanasius and Marcellus uniting together to produce the Nicene Creed, we can be certain that Modalistic doctrine actually contributed to the development of the 325 AD Nicene Creed.

Author Paul Pavao affirmed that “It is thought that modalist bishops and Nicene bishops allied together against the Arians, who were still numerous after Nicaea.” (Author Paul Pavao, Christian History for Everyman. Greatest Stories Ever Told. 2014.

Bishop Jerry Hayes is a prominent Oneness author, apologist, and debater for the Apostolic Faith who wrote on his online blog: “Concerning the Council of Nicaea and the creed it produced, I do happen to have some very definite thoughts: First, I believe it was a council that was dominated by the Modalist bishops present, even though they were the minority.”

Jerry Hayes wrote: “The ‘Creed of Nicaea’ (also called the “Creed of the 318” for the number of bishops who signed it at the Council of Nicaea -- according to Athanasius) was formulated around the word ‘homoousia’ which was the watchword of the Modalist. The purpose of the council was to formulate a common creed that would put the followers of Arius out of fellowship. The Modalist Monarchian’s watchword ‘homoousia’ would do the trick, so to speak ...”

Jerry Hayes further wrote, “If the thinking of the time is understood and considered that the ‘Son’ was the ‘thought’ (Word) of the Father which had eternality with the Father -- for who can conceive of God without His thought -- who (the Word) was indeed the same as the Father (homo -ousious), then the Creed of Nicaea is a Monarchian document, not Trinitarian.” (Above quotes taken from Bishop Jerry Hayes online blog:

According to church historian J. N. D. Kelly, “the majority of the 318 bishops were uncomfortable with the creed formulated at Nicaea but were forced to sign the creed in that it was the only wording that the Arians (followers of Arius) could not sign ...”

There is absolutely no historical evidence to suggest that the early Nicene Creed of 325 was against Modalism.

Church historian B. B. Edwards pointed out that the early 325 Nicene Creed actually contradicts later Trinitarianism while affirming Modalism:

“It lies, moreover, on the very face of the Nicene Creed, that it acknowledges the Father only as the Monad of the Godhead: ‘We believe in One God the Father almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God the only begotten of the Father, etc.’ Jesus Christ as here presented to us is not the one God, but the one Lord who was begotten of the substance of the one God or the Father, etc. The Father then, as presented in this Creed (Nicene), is not merely a distinct person, i.e. not merely one of the three persons, and on an equality with the other two; but he is the original, independent, self-existent monad.” (“THE BIBLICAL REPOSITORY AND QUARTERLY OBSERVER. By B. B. EDWARDS”, Under Remarks of the Nicene Creed, The Biblical Repository and Classical Review, American Biblical Repository, Page 295)

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