The doctrinal heresy known as Dynamic Monarchianism (Adoptionism) was originated in Rome and Antioch as early as the Second Century. Early proponents of the doctrine (which was really a modified Ebionism) were Theodotus of Byzantium (c. 190) and Paul of Samosata (c. 260 - 268). Paul and his teaching were condemned at the Council of Antioch in 268 AD. The impact of Dynamic Monarchianism, however, later led to a much more heated controversy over Arianism, which was eventually condemned by the Church at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. The refutation of both Dynamic Monarchianism and Arianism contributed to the Church's biblical understanding of the Deity of Christ and the Trinity.
The Teaching Summarized
The Dynamic Monarchians, like the Modalistic Monarchians, based their teachings on the strict oneness of God taught in the Bible (monarchia, coming from the Greek roots for "single" and "beginning," "source," or, "rule," as in the English word, "monarchy"). The dynamic monarchians insisted that Jesus was a man, who at some point in his life (normally identified as at His baptism) was energized and empowered1 by the Father. Christ, therefore, was not fully God, nor was He eternally God according to the Dynamic Monarchians. Additionally, that Christ was only an indwelt man also led to a Christ who was different from mankind in degree alone, as all believers are given some degree of indwelling of God by the Holy Spirit.
At the Synod of Antioch in 268 AD, the Church Fathers recognized that although dynamic monarchianism preserved a oneness of God, it did so at the cost of the deity of Christ. In fact, the gospel according to the dynamic monarchians would have been man becoming God, rather than God becoming man. Therefore, Paul of Samosata and his theology was condemned and the full deity of Christ was affirmed. The Church was unable to tolerate the teaching of Christ as a mere or ordinary man, who was simply indwelt by a spiritual power and eventually responded with the Trinitarian formulation of the Godhead.
1 Power being the meaning behind the Greek word dunamis, which the English word for "dynamite" comes from. This is where the designation "dynamic" comes from in the so-named monarchians.
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