Gregory, although he has not always escaped the charge of Sabellianism, now holds an undisputed place among the fathers of the church; and although the turn of his mind was practical rather than speculative, he is known to have taken an energetic part in most of the doctrinal controversies of his time.
Thus when in the ante-Nicene age the doctrine of the Trinity was under discussion, dynamic Monarchianism " regarded Christ as a mere man, who, like the prophets, though in a much higher measure, had been endued with divine wisdom and power"; modal Monarchianism saw in the Logos dwelling in Christ "only a mode of the activity of the Father"; Patripassianism identified the Logos with the Father; and Sabellianism regarded Father, Son and Spirit as "the roles which the God who manifests Himself in the world assumes in succession" (Kurtz, Church History, i.
He detected in his bishop Gnosticism, Manichaeism and Sabellianism, and was convinced that he himself was the champion of pure doctrine against heresy.
Sabellianism, in fact, became a collective name for all those Unitarian doctrines in which the divine nature of Christ was acknowledged.
The sources of our knowledge of Sabellianism are Hippolytus (Philos.
It was natural that he should take this side, for in his traditional fear of Sabellianism, in which he was one with the followers of Origen in general, he found it difficult to approve the position of Alexander, who seemed to be doing away altogether with the subordination of the Son.
But he never felt in sympathy with the extreme views of the Athanasian party, for they seemed to him to savour of Sabellianism, which always remained his chief dread (cf.
The former and briefer aims simply to expose the errors of Marcellus, whom Eusebius accuses of Sabellianism, the latter to refute them.