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Heresy of the Day #3: Sabellianism

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Heresy: Sabellianism

Sabellianism, named for its seminal proponent Sabellius (3rd century) generally is another denial of the triune nature of God which maintains a single person in the eternal godhead which is manifested in three varying aspects or modes of God. Hence the more widely known label of “modalism.”

Sabellius did hold to monotheism, the belief in one God, and also defended the deity of Jesus Christ as true God.

Where he went wrong was in the refusal to recognize that the apostolic writings taught that in nature and being of the one true God there existed three distinct persons, The Father who is unbegotten, the Son, who is eternally begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

A full exposition of the triune nature of the one true and living as well as its primary importance in the biblical Christian faith is beyond the scope of a short synopsis like this, but it is far more than simply an academic and optional affirmation.

Though Sabellius and his doctrine of God were rejected in the early with near unanimity his influence continues to this day.

Key tenets of Sabellianism include:

  • The rejection of the triunity of the nature and being of God as irrational.
  • The assertion of the oneness of God.
  • The affirmation of the full deity of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  • The idea that God manifests himself in three different modes as an explanation for three persons each being recognized as God in scripture.

Modern-Day Proponents of Sabellianism:

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  • Today, the Oneness Pentecostals, which began as an excommunicated subgroup of the assemblies of God in 1916, maintain a modified version of Sabellian modalism.
  • A number of individuals, largely within charismatic groups, most famously TD Jakes and the contemporary Christian music group Phillips, Craig, and Dean also hold this heretical view today.


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