Sacramentum Mundi Online

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(1,358 words)

1. The term modalism, which has been in use since the 19th century, possibly in connection with the philosophy of Spinoza, is now used in theology for a trinitarian heresy. It designates the doctrine which holds that in the relationship of Father and Son to the history of salvation, the divinity of the Son (however precisely described) is not based on a reality distinct from the Father, but only on a virtual distinction. Hence contrary to the various theologies of the Logos, Jesus himself is not God, but a “manifestation” of the divine.

2. Historically, modalism appears at the beginning…

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Elmar Klinger, “Modalism”, in: Sacramentum Mundi Online, General Editor Karl Rahner, SJ. Consulted online on 16 September 2021 <>
First published online: 2016

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