What is Tritheism?

Question
What is Tritheism?
Answer
Tritheism is an anti-Trinitarian heresy. Tritheism is the belief in three gods, as opposed to the Trinitarian doctrine of three Persons in One Godhead. Tritheism understands that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three separate gods. It accepts the threeness of God, but ignores the unity of God. As affirmed at the Council of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381), the doctrine of the Trinity is essentially that God is one in being or essence, while existing as three co-equal, co-eternal Persons - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Scripture says there is one God who is made up of three distinct Persons: (1) there is one God (Deut 6:4; Isa 43:10; 1 Cor 8:4; cf. 1 Tim 2:5) and (2) three Persons; God the Father (John 6:27; Rom 1:7; 1 Pet 1:2), God the Son (John 1:1-3; Col 1:16-17; Tit 2:13; Heb 1:2), and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor 3:16). All three Persons of the Trinity are distinct from each other (Matt 28:19; Rom 15:30; 2 Cor 13:14).

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity assists one from the heretical extremes of Modalism on the one hand, and Tritheism on the other. God is not one Person who manifests himself in three different modes (Modalism); nor is the Godhead three different gods (Tritheism). The doctrine of the Trinity teaches one eternal truth:

  • There is only one God.
  • The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
  • The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all distinct persons from one another.

Despite all the heresies in the early church (among them, Adoptionism, Albigenses, Apollinarianism, Arianism, Docetism, Ebionism, Gnosticism, Kenosis, Marcionism, Modalism, Monarchianism, Monophysitism, Nestorianism, Patripassionism, Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Socinianism, Subordinationism, and Tritheism, etc.) the Word of God still abides (1 Pet 1:23). Amidst all these assaults against God and his church by numerous false religions, the church has grown stronger, not weaker. In many ways, the church should be thankful for the gift of opposition!

Related Topics:

What are the Attributes of God? What is the Trinity?
Christological Heresies?
What is Adoptionism?
What is Albigenses?
What is Apollinarianism?
What is Arianism?
What is Docetism?
What is Ebionism?
What is Gnosticism?
What is Kenosis?
What is Marcionism?
What is Modalism?
What is Monarchianism?
What is Monophysitism?
What is Nestorianism?
What is Patripassionism?
What is Pelagianism?
What is Semi-Pelagianism?
What is Socinianism?
What is Subordinationism?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).