Modalism is a term applied to the heretical views regarding the Trinity first espoused by Sabellius, a presbyter of Ptolemais, who flourished about the middle of the 3d century. Adopting the notions of the earlier Monarchians, he maintained, in opposition to the doctrine propounded by Origen and his school, that the appellations of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were only so many different manifestations and names of one and the same divine being. He thus converted the objective and real distinction of persons (a trinity of essence) into a merely subjective and modalistic view (the trinity of manifestation). SEE MONARCHIANS; SEE SABELLIANISM. Compare also the articles SEE HYPOSTASIS and SEE TRINITY.

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