Modalism?

During the past few months I have written almost exclusively on the subject of Filianism, the religion of the Daughter, the theology of which has been so clearly developed and articulated both by the now deceased Madrian community and more recently by the Aristasian community now named the Daughters of Shining Harmony. Filianism has been central and while current day Independent Filanism derived communities such as the Celestial Stream Church and the Kyrian Church no longer define themselves as Filianic much of the Filianic theology still permeates these communities.

However if one reads the posts from the orthodox Filianic A Chapel of Our Mother God or from the various Independent Filianic sites which have developed during the last few years, one will also have read many references to De’anism or to the De’anic aspect of the religion of Filianism / De’anism. Within this article I plan to begin to make a transition away from the discussion of Filianism toward Deanism. I plan to do this primarily because while I have a deep respect for Filianism both for its theology and spiritual practice, the natural constitution of my mind tends toward De’anic patterns of devotion and theology as opposed to Filianic patterns. I am not saying here that Filianism is in any way false. I have no way to know whether all of the truth claims of Filianism are true or if they are false. It is more that Filianism in its devotion to a singular redemptive Daughter does not fit me or perhaps I do not fit it.

What is De’anism? It is within the Chapel of Our Mother God website that one will find the most extensive discussion of De’anism in its relationship to Filianism. There are two articles in particular which should be read. These are “What is Filianism?” and “Living Scriptures of Our Mother God.”

However I do want develop my own independent analysis here. Deanism is the religion of Dea / Thea / the Goddess sometimes called simply the religion of the Mother. Of course Filiani, followers of the Daughter, also worship Dea the Mother. So what is the difference? The difference is that within Deanic theology and devotionalism, Daughter theology and devotionalism is either minimized in importance or absent. Thus Deani, followers of Dea, reject Filianic trinitarian theology for a more simple one of a simple non-trinitarian worship of Dea or alternately a theology based on a non literal reading of the Filianic mythos. By this non-literal interpretation of the Filianic mythos indvidual Deani transform the Filianic Mythos from being an endorcement of a strictly trinitarian theology to being an endorcement of a “modalist trinitarianism” of Dea / the Mother.

Modalism was a stream of trinitarian thought within the early centuries of Christianity in which theHoly trinity icon “oneness” of God was stressed over the “threeness” of God. Modalism was founded by the Christian theologian Sabellius who believed that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity should not be interpreted as a doctrine of God in three divine persons each having the full eternal nature of God. The doctrine of Christian trinity according to the modalist perspective should instead be interpreted as meaning that the one God the Creator should be seen as having three primary modes of activity, function, or aspect. These aspects were God as the Father creator of the universe, God as redeemer in the form of Jesus Christ, and God the sustainer in the form of the Holy Spirit. What should be emphasized is that the Father, Son, and Spirit within the modalist understanding are not three distinct divine persons living in loving relationship with each other. They are instead the three primary forms or activities in which the one, powerful, personal God of the Bible takes. Modalism was ultimately rejected as a heresy within early Christianity in favor of the the doctrine of the Social Trinity in which God is envisioned as being One in substance while simultaneous being three distrinct divine persons.

Now to return to De’anism. What becomes clear from the Chapel of Our Mother God articles is that through out Aristasian history many (but probably not a majority) of its members held religious views which were Deanic in nature. However most Deani were not De’anic monists who worshiped Dea / Thea in her oneness. Most probably accepted the Filianic mythos of Daughter but interpreted it non-literally in a modalistic manner.

Of course all which I have just written is abstract and highly theoretical to those who are not familiar with or interested in the Filianic / Deanic religion. It only takes on meaning and personal significance within the context of familiarity with or belief in the religion. I am sorry about that but I do assume that most of the readers of this blog do have some familieraity with the religion or are interested in it. In the next post I plan to discuss the issues surrounding the other alternative of a Deanism which is simply based on devotion to Thea / God the Mother from a non-trinitarian perspective

Glenn King

4 thoughts on “Modalism?

  1. Dear Glenn, I could not help but notice that Sabellius’ understanding of Modalism matches, exactly, the Triple Goddess concept. I believe that many of those who consider themselves to be Deanic understand Dea as functioning in three Aspects in the same way that Sabellius understood the Christian God. And so, they would understand the Mother as functioning in Her Daughter aspect. (Or, in the case of Wicca or Paganism, the Daughter would be the ‘Maiden’ aspect of the Great Goddess).
    Very interesting post as I was not familiar with Sabellius. Thank you.

  2. Pamela, thanks for your comments. While I did not learn about the Sabellius and his oneness theology until a few years latter, I had first hand experience with it in about 1980 when I started attending an Apostalic Pentacostal church in Columbus, Ohio. The Apostolic Pentacostal churches reject trinitarian doctrine in favour of what they call the “Oneness Doctrine” or “Jesus Only” doctrine and believe only in a “baptism in Jesus’ Name.” Their belief is that Jesus is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit which is of course a different doctrine than is mainstream trinitarianism.

    As far as the relationship of modalism with the triple goddess idea goes, I suspect that the parallel is close. Though to be honest I do not think that triple goddesses were nearly as prevalent in the ancient world as is often believed. They were certainly not central to most of the religion of the time. The vast majority of goddesses in ancient Egypt, Greece, and the rest of the ancient world were not triple goddesses. The ones that were seemed to be so because they had functioned in some way that implied tripleness. Thus the fates have to do with the beginning the middle and end of life. The moon is often seen as having three forms of manifestation and can the sun. But the most powerful goddesses such a Hera, Isis, Athena, and Neith were not triple in any way.

    Glenn

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