Tritheists a sect which appeared in the 6th century, and which taught that the Father, Son, and Spirit were three coequal, distinct Beings, united by one. common will and purpose. This sect was divided into the Philoponists and Cononites, according to the names of their respective leaders, who agreed in the doctrine of the three Persons in the Godhead, but differed in' some opinions concerning the resurrection of the body. Having made this change in the doctrine of the Trinity, they made another change answerable to it in the form of baptism-baptizing in the name of three unoriginated principles, as three Sons; three Paracletes. As a consequence of asserting three unbegotten principles, they made three Fathers, three Sons, and three Holy Ghosts, which was a Trinity of trinities.
Cyril of Jerusalem (Catech. c. 16) attributes the origin of Tritheism in its broadest form to Marcion, and Hilary (De Synod. 22:56) associates it with the heresy of Photinus. The Tritheists of the 6th century did not hold the opinion in its broad form, and would have shrunk from any such statement as that there are three Gods. The Tritheism of the 6th century was revived by Roscelin in the 11th, and his Nominalistic opinion that the name God is the abstract idea of a genus containing the three Persons called Father, Son, and Holy Ghost was opposed by Anselm (De Fide Trinitat. etc.), and was condemned by the Council of Sessions, A.D. 1092. In 1691 the heresy was revived by Dr. Sherlock (A Vindication of the Doctrine of the Holy and Ever blessed Trinity). In a sermon delivered before the University of Oxford (1695), the preacher maintained the theory of Dr. Sherlock that "there are three infinite distinct minds and substances in the Trinity," and that "the three Persons in the Trinity are three distinct infinite minds or spirits, and three individual substances." These propositions were condemned by the authorities of the university. The speculation of Hutchinson in the last century was very similar in its logical consequences to that of the older Tritheists. See Bingham, Christ. Antiq. bk. 11:ch. 3, § 4; Blunt, Dict. of Sects, s.v.