Justine Martyr and Oneness Pentecostals
The Trinity is a fundamental teaching of orthodox Christianity. This has been true since the very early days of the Christian Church. The Scriptures of the New Covenant are clearly Trinitarian and the Trinity is also visible, though far less clearly, seen in Old Covenant Scriptures as well. Several years ago I wrote The Trinity in the Old Testament. I have been planning to write a similar article on The Trinity in the New Testament, but I have not yet set aside the time to write it.
Over the years I have read some Oneness Pentecostal arguments against the Trinity. I have found that they tend to be based on both bad (heretical) theology, but their historical understanding is as bad as their theology.
Some Oneness Pentecostal arguments point to the Council of Nicea (325 AD) for the doctrine of the Trinity, This is spurious and shows a serious lack of knowledge of the early Church history.
I have been, ever so slowly, reading the Church Fathers and the Trinity is clear adhered to from the earliest days of the Church. It is true that Tertullian (155-230 AD) is the first person to use the word “trinity,” but the doctrine is clearly in the writings of the Fathers from long before Tertullian.
Justin Martyr, who was martyred between 162-168 AD, makes clear in his two Apologies that he understands the tri-unity of God. In discussing baptism, he gives the Trinitarian formula for baptism as we still used today.
The Oneness Pentecostals deny the Trinity and hold to an ancient heresy called Sabellianism (a form of modalism). This is a dangerous heresy and is held by all Oneness Pentecostals.
Justine Martyr condemned these teachings. In chapter LXIII of his first Apology he said this about modalistic teachings “For they who affirm that the Son is the Father, are proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father, nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God.”
The modalistic teaching of modern Oneness Pentecostals is a grave error that Justin and many others among the Church Fathers addressed long before the Council of Nicea.