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A heretical doctrine begun in the second century, that so stressed God's unity of nature as to deny the Trinity of Persons. Three forms are distinguishable: crude monarchianism denied any distinction of persons in the Godhead and claimed that the Father became incarnate. The modalist type admitted only a distinction of functions in God, who as Father created the world, as Son redeemed, and as the Holy Spirit sanctified the world. The subordinationist variety recognized a real distinction of persons but subordinated one to the other. (Etym. Greek monarch_s, sole ruler, a sovereign.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.