Yikes, modalists among us!

A few weeks ago I taught about the Trinity in our Basic Theology group. As part of the discussion we covered a number of significant heresies that had dogged the church in its early days (200~500BC). These erroneous beliefs had been declared as heresy and put to rest by various church councils. At least that is what we thought about them. They were well outside of the foundational orthodoxy and heterodoxy of all of the orthodox church landscape. But the work of the evil one is persistent.

One of the key errors concerned the Trinity, and was known as Modalism.

Okay, so there I was visiting a local nursing home this afternoon. I was chatting with a lady, and in brief the significant part went something like this (with the small talk left out):

Me: Where are you from?

Her: The ….. (a Pacific Rim country)

Me: I have a number of friends from there. I know them from church. Are you a Christian?

Her: Yes

Me: Do you go do church?

Her: Back home I did, but not here.

Me: Oh, what church?

Her: The Church of the One God.

And then she added “We don’t believe in the Trinity.”

Well, I don’t know if she saw my ears perk up or the “Say what?” expression on my face but…

Without being too pushy, I trolled a bit more and realized that I was in the presence of a real, live Modalist! I was back in the early church era!

Folks, just to be clear, this is not squabbling about drums in the worship service. This is serious stuff that can affect the very grounds and sufficiency of the Gospel.

Now, admittedly, there are lots of people in today’s evangelical church who hold slightly Modalistic views without realizing it. They have never been exposed to the biblical truth (shame on their church and Pastors – but that is for another post some time later). For example, they regard the Holy Spirit as only an extension of God’s power, rather than a full person of the Godhead with the same being, power and authority as the Father and Son. This, however, appeared to be much more than that. This was flat out denial of the Trinity, period.

I am still somewhat in dis-belief.

I will certainly meet this lady again and I will plum the depths of this some more. At her relatively young age, it is most certainly a result of bad and heretical teaching, but it does show that there are large groups of people who have run seriously amuck and into dangerous territory.

The doctrinal wolves among the sheep indeed.

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