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Modalism, or modalistic monarchianism, is a pre-Nicene teaching about the relation of Christ to God. First taught by Noetus of Smyrna at the end of the second century, modalism was also taught at Rome by Praxeas, Sabellius, and others. Modalism took several forms. Praxeas taught that Word and Spirit were simply names (or modes) of God, applicable at different times. Praxeas also taught that the Father himself was born of Mary, suffered, died, and rose again. This form of modalism is therefore sometimes called patripassianism. Sabellius understood Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be nothing more than aspects or modes of the one divine Person. Modalist teaching held that Father, Son, and Spirit were successive manifestations or modes-at one time in the OT world, then in the world of the gospels and then the church. The questions raised by modalism marked a significant stage on the way to a developed doctrine of the Trinity. See Monarchianism; see Patripassianism; see Trinity. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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