Arianism’s picture of The Gentile Trinity and the Jewish Modalism

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]] has done a great service to the Church by resurrecting for Protestant audiences the ancient writings of those passed on. One of these is the Incomplete Commentary on Matthew, written by an Arian, but filled with some substantial points about Christianity theology. Admittedly, the word ‘Arian’ may be off-putting to some, but the fact is, is that this commentary remained while so many of the other heretical works associated with Arius vanished. Why? Possible due to some of the deeper theological points found there.

While reading through this weighty book adored by Thomas Aquinas, I found the author’s view of the Trinity and Modalism, a theological war raging then and simmering now.

He writes in the forty-fifth homily, regarding Matthew 23.32, he assigns the Trinity to the Gentiles and Modalism to the Jews:

For whenever you see heretics saying that the three are equal in all respects, that they are of the same substance and the same authority, that all are without beginning but distinguishing the other two from themselves in some fashion, do not be astonished, for they are filling up the measure of their Gentile ancestors, because also they worshiped many gods in a similar fashion. When you see them saying that the three are one person and that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are the same person, do not be astonished, for they are filling up the measure of their ancestors, the Jews. So also they worship one God the Father and do not confess God the Son after the Father. (p358)

I find it interesting that during a time in which Chrysostom was preaching against the Jewish influence still found in the Church, and that Gregory of Nyssa was using a Jewish version of the afterlife in his writings, that this unknown author saw Modalism, or Oneness, beliefs as Jewish.

While I thank IVP for sending these books for review, I think them more for their great service in all of the Ancient Christian series which I believe is serving the Church in a return to the sources.

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