What is Monarchianism?


Monarchianism (a compound word made up of mono, meaning "one" and arche meaning "rule") was a heresy concerning the nature of God. It contradicts the doctrine of the Trinity. The orthodox doctrine of the Trinity affirms that God is one in essence and three in person.The Holy Scripture teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but also that the Father is not the Son or Holy Spirit, the Son is not the Father or Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father or Son. There are three distinct Persons in the Godhead.

Monarchianism holds that there is one God as one person: God the Father. It is divided into two but related schools of belief: (1) Dynamic Monarchianism and (2) Modal Monarchianism.

Dynamic Monarchianism teaches that God is the Father and that Jesus Christ is only a man. They teach a form of Adoptionism; that Jesus Christ was tested, passed, and adopted by God the Father who then gave him certain supernatural powers. See "What is Adoptionism" below. They teach that the Holy Spirit is merely a force of God the Father, and not the third Person of the Trinity. Jehovah's Witnesses and Unitarians still espouse a form of Dynamic Monarchianism.

Modal Monarchianism (see "What is Modalism" below) teaches that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are just three modes of the single person who is God (cf. John 17:1-5). Today Oneness Pentecostal groups hold to this type of Monarchianism. They baptize only in the name of Jesus, not in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (cf. Matt 28:18-20).

As one can see, this is not in agreement with the doctrine of the Trinity or the biblical nature of the Person of Christ.

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:

Could Jesus Sin?
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?
What is Tritheism?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

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