Early Popes of Rome taught similar Doctrines of the Godhead as that of Oneness Apostolics

Pope Zephyrinus

Zephyrinus, bp. of Rome after Victor, under the emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla. Lipsius concludes his episcopate to have been either 18 or 19 years, from 198 or 199 to 217. His reign was marked by serious disturbance at Rome owing to doctrinal controversies and consequent schism. Zephyrinus seems to have been of no sufficient mark to take a personal lead, but to have been under the guidance of Callistus, a man of more practical ability who succeeded him as pope. This Callistus and his learned opponent Hippolytus appear to have been the leading spirits of the time at Rome.

The two notable heresies of the time were Montanism and Monarchianism. The see of Rome, when occupied by Zephyrinus, declared against Montanism (Eus. H. E. ii. 25; iii. 28, 31; vi. 20). [CAIUS.] Thus Zephrinus, though no action of his in the matter is recorded, may certainly be concluded to have been no favourer of the Montanists. But neither he nor Callistus, who succeeded him, is free from the imputation of having countenanced one school of the Monarchians, that which Praxeas had introduced into Rome. Montanism and Monarchianism represented two opposite tendencies. The former was the product of emotional enthusiasm, the latter of intellectual speculation grounded on the difficulty of comprehending the mystery of the Godhead in Christ. Those called by the general name of Monarchians, though differing widely in their views, agreed in denying a divine personality in Christ distinct from that of the Father, being jealous for the Unity, and what was called the Monarchy of God. One school was also called Patripassian, because its position was held to imply that in the sufferings of Christ the Father suffered. "They taught that the one Godhead, not one Person thereof only, had become incarnate, the terms Father and Son with them denoting only the distinction between God in His Eternal Being, and God as manifested in Christ. Such views were obviously inconsistent with orthodox Trinitarian doctrine, and their outcome was the Sabellian heresy. Praxeas appears to have been the first to introduce this form of heresy at Rome, and, if Tertullian is to be believed, the popes of the time supported Praxeas and his doctrine rather than otherwise. In addition to this testimony of Tertullian (whose treatise against Praxeas, written in the time of Zephyrinus, has been supposed, not without reason, to have been directed against the reigning pope as much as against the original heresiarch) we have that of the Refutation of all Heresies, attributed to HIPPOLYTUS, a learned writer of great note in his day, whose real ecclesiastical position is still open to discussion. He probably was bishop over a community at Rome which claimed to be the true church, out of communion with the pope, after the accession of Callistus, and possibly also under Zephyrinus.

Callistus, in the time of pope Victor, had been residing under suspicion at Antium. Zephyrinus, the successor of Victor, seems to have had no misgivings about him, recalled him to Rome, gave him some position of authority over the clergy, and "set him over the cemetery." Zephyrinus is described as an unlearned and ignorant man, entirely managed by Callistus, who induced him, for his own purposes, to declare generally for, but sometimes against, the Patripassians. The picture of the Roman church during the episcopate of Zephyrinus, as given in the Refutation of Hippolytus, discloses a state of discord and disruption not recorded by the historians. The picture, indeed, may be somewhat overcoloured under the influence of odium theologicum, and Callistus may not be the unprincipled adventurer, or Zephyrinus altogether the greedy and ignorant tool, that the writer describes. Dr. Döllinger (Hippolyt. und Callist.), who attributes the whole work to Hippolytus, takes this view. He defends Callistus against the libel on his character, which, however, he allows may have had some ground, but acquits Hippolytus of wilful misrepresentation, supposing him to have been partly misled by false reports and partly by prejudice, being himself a strict maintainer of ancient discipline, while Callistus was a liberal. It is difficult, however, to acquit the writer of deliberate and malignant slander unless the picture given of the popes was mainly a true one. There remains the idea of Dr. Newman, that "the libellous matter" in the Elenchus of Hippolytus was not his; but for this there is no foundation beyond the supposed difficulty of believing it so. If Hippolytus wrote it, it is to be remembered that he was undoubtedly a divine of greater learning and repute than his rivals, and that he seems to have left a name without reproach behind him. All three (like some others who were bitterly at variance during life) are now together in the Calendar of Saints.
—Dictionary of Christian Biography


Praxeas, a somewhat mysterious heretic about whom various theories have been held. He was a Monarchian and Patripassian. Tertullian wrote a treatise against him and places his scene of activity first of all at Rome, but never mentions Noetus, Epigonus, Cleomenes, Sabellius or Callistus. On the other hand, Hippolytus, who denounces these in his controversial works for the very same tenets, never once mentions Praxeas as teaching at Rome or anywhere else. Some have regarded Praxeas as simply a nick-name. Thus De Rossi (Bullet. 1866, p. 70) identifies him with Epigonus, Hagemann (Gesch. der röm. Kirche. § 234) with Callistus. Döllinger however (Hippol. u. Kallist. § 198) and Lipsius (Chronolog. der röm. Bisch. § 175) maintain that Praxeas was a real person who first of all started the Monarchian and Patripassian heresy in Rome, but so long before the age of Hippolytus that his name and memory had faded in that city. They fix his period of activity in Rome during the earliest years of Victor, a.d. 189–198, or even the later years of his predecessor Eleutherus. This explanation, however, seems to ignore the fact that Hippolytus must have been a full-grown man all through Victor's episcopate, as he expressly asserts (Refut. ix. 6) that he and Callistus were about the same age. Praxeas remained but a short time in Rome. and the shortness of his stay offers a better explanation of Hippolytus's silence. He then proceeded to Carthage, where he disseminated his views. Tertullian (adv. Prax.) attacks the heresy under the name of Praxeas, the local teacher, but was really attacking Zephyrinus and Callistus. The facts of his life we gather from Tertullian's notices in c. 1. He was a confessor from Asia Minor, where he had been imprisoned for the faith. Asia Minor was then the seed-plot of Monarchian views. He came to Rome when the Montanist party had just gained over the pope. Praxeas converted the pope back to his own opinion, which was hostile to the Montanists. Most critics agree that the pope so converted by Praxeas was Eleutherus: cf. Bonwetsch's Montanismus, § 174; Hilgenfeld's Ketzergeschichte, p. 569. Dr. Salmon, however, maintains that it was Zephyrinus. [MONTANUS.] By this, says Tertullian, Praxeas did a twofold service for the devil at Rome, "he drove away prophecy and he introduced heresy. He put to flight the Paraclete and he crucified the Father." He then went to Carthage, where he induced some to adopt his opinions. Tertullian opposed him prior to 202, according to Hilgenfeld (l.c. p. 618), and converted Praxeas himself, who acknowledged his error in a document extant among the Catholic party when Tertullian wrote. Praxeas then seems to have disappeared from Carthage, while Tertullian joined the Montanists. The controversy some years later broke out afresh, spreading doubtless from Rome, and then Tertullian wrote his treatise, which he nominally addressed against Praxeas as the best known expositor of these views at Carthage, but really against the Patripassian system in general. Hilgenfeld (l.c. p. 619) dates this work c. 206; Harnack c. 210, i.e. about 25 years after the first arrival of Praxeas in Rome; while Dr. Salmon dates it after the death of Callistus in 222: so great is the uncertainty about the chronology of the movement. Harnack's article on "Monarchianismus" in t. x. of Herzog's Real-Encyclopädie contains a good exposition of the relation of Praxeas to the Patripassian movement; cf. Lipsius Tertullian's Schrift wider Praxeas in Jahrb. für deutsche Theolog. t. xiii. (1869) § 701–724. Among patristic writers the only ones who mention Praxeas are pseudo-Tertullian; August, de Haer. 41; Praedestinat. 41; and Gennad. de Eccles. Dog. 4.
—Dictionary of Christian Biography

It is of the utmost importance to recognize Tertullian makes the claim in his work against Praxeas that THE VIEW OF PRAXEAS WAS THE MAJORITY VIEW OF CHRISTIANS!!!!!

This next portion of text is taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia found at www.newadvent.org


Article: Against Praxeas
Chapter 3. Sundry Popular Fears and Prejudices. The Doctrine of the Trinity in Unity Rescued from These Misapprehensions

The simple, indeed, (I will not call them unwise and unlearned,) who always constitute the majority of believers, are startled at the dispensation (of the Three in One), on the ground that their very rule of faith withdraws them from the world's plurality of gods to the one only true God; not understanding that, although He is the one only God, He must yet be believed in with His own monarchy'. The numerical order and distribution of the Trinity they assume to be a division of the Unity; whereas the Unity which derives the Trinity out of its own self is so far from being destroyed, that it is actually supported by it. They are constantly throwing out against us that we are preachers of two gods and three gods, while they take to themselves pre-eminently the credit of being worshippers of the One God;

Article: Holy Ghost
Heading: The Third Person of the Blessed Trinity

Irenæus looks upon the Holy Ghost as eternal (Against Heresies V.12.2), existing in God ante omnem constitutionem, and produced by him at the beginning of His ways (IV.20.3). Considered with regard to the Father, the Holy Ghost is his wisdom (IV.20.3); the Son and He are the "two hands" by which God created man (IV.Preface.4, IV.20.20 and V.6.1). Considered with regard to the Church, the same Spirit is truth, grace, a pledge of immortality, a principle of union with God; intimately united to the Church, He gives the sacraments their efficacy and virtue (III.17.2, III.24.1, IV.33.7 and V.8.1).
St. Hippolytus, though he does not speak at all clearly of the Holy Ghost regarded as a distinct person, supposes him, however, to be God, as well as the Father and the Son (Against Noetus 8, 12).
Tertullian is one of the writers of this age whose tendency to Subordinationism is most apparent, and that in spite of his being the author of the definitive formula: "Three persons, one substance". And yet his teaching on the Holy Ghost is in every way remarkable. He seems to have been the first among the Fathers to affirm His Divinity in a clear and absolutely precise manner. In his work "Adversus Praxean" he dwells at length on the greatness of the Paraclete. The Holy Ghost, he says, is God (13); of the substance of the Father (3 and 4); one and the same God with the Father and the Son (2); proceeding from the Father through the Son (4, 8); teaching all truth (2).


Sabellius, heretic, after whom the sect of the Sabellians was called (see preceding art.). The known facts of his history are but few. All 4th-cent. writers follow Basil in saying that he was born in Africa. The scene of Sabellius's activity was Rome, where we find him during the episcopate of pope Zephyrinus, a.d. 198–217. >From the statement of Hippolytus, he was apparently undecided in his views when he came to Rome, or when he first began to put forward his views at Rome, for the silence of Hippolytus about his birthplace suggests that it may have been Rome. In Refut. ix. 6, Hippolytus says that Callistus perverted Sabellius to Monarchian views. Hippolytus argued with him and with Noetus and his followers (ib. iii.). Sabellius, convinced for a time, was again led astray by Callistus. In fact, during the episcopate of Zephyrinus, Callistus, Sabellius and the pope seem to have united in persistently opposing Hippolytus. Soon after his accession Callistus (a.d. 217) excommunicated Sabellius, wishing to gain, as Hippolytus puts it, a reputation for orthodoxy and to screen himself from the attacks of his persistent foe. Sabellius thereupon disappears from the scene. He seems to have written some works, to judge from apparent quotations by Athanasius in his 4th treatise against Arianism.
—Dictionary of Christian Biography


Sabellianism, the Eastern name for the movement designated Patripassianism in the West. It formed a portion of the great Monarchian movement, and can only be rightly understood in connexion therewith. We can trace its rise back to the age of Justin Martyr. In his Apol. i. § 63 he refers to those "who affirm that the Son is the Father," and condemns them—a condemnation which he repeats in his Dialogue with Trypho, § 128 (cf. Bull's Defence of Nic. Creed, t. i. 138, t. ii. 626 ; Judgm. Cath. Ch. iii. 198). The 2nd cent. was the age of Gnosticism, of which one of the essential principles was the emanation theory, which places a number of aeons, emanations from the Divine Being, intermediate between God and the Creation. The champions of Christian orthodoxy were led, in opposition, to insist strenuously upon the Divine Monarchy, God's sole, independent, and absolute existence and being. Thus we find Irenaeus writing a treatise pe??  ??a???a? c. 190, addressed to a Roman presbyter, Florinus, who had fallen away to Gnosticism. Asian Gnosticism regarded the Son and the Holy Ghost as aeons or emanations (cf. Tertull. cont. Prax. c. 8). Christians had to shew that the existence of the Son and the Holy Ghost could be reconciled with the Divine Monarchy. Some therefore adopted the view which Dorner calls Ebionite Monarchianism, defending the Monarchy by denying the deity of Christ. Others identified the Persons of the Godhead with the Father, a theory which was called Sabellianism, though that name is not derived from the original inventor of this view. Sabellianism, in fact, was one of the mistakes men fell into while groping their way to the complete Christological conception. It was in the 2nd cent. an orthodox reaction against Gnosticism, as in the 4th cent. the Sabellianism of Marcellus of Ancyra was a reaction against Arianism. Tertullian expressly asserts, in the opening of his treatise against Praxeas, that this heresy had sprung out of a desire to maintain orthodoxy. The Roman church was one of the chief stages whereon the controversial struggle was waged. The visit of Origen to Rome, some time in 211–217, must have introduced him to the controversy, as abundant references to it and refutations of it are in his writings. The materials for tracing the development of Sabellian views during the 3rd cent. are very defective. Novatian on the Trinity (cc. 12, 18, 21, 22) treats it as an acknowledged heresy, using the same Scripture arguments as Justin Martyr in his Dial. cum Tryph. §§ 126–129. Novatian is the earliest author who distinctly calls this view the Sabellian heresy. The controversy next emerges into the full light of day in N. Africa c. 260. It permeated very largely the district of Pentapolis in Libya, under the leadership of two bishops of that district, Ammon and EUPHRANOR. Dionysius of Alexandria wrote against their teaching, whereupon he was accused of heresy to Dionysius of Rome. The documents bearing on the dispute between these two fathers are in Routh's Rel. Sacr. iii. 370–400; for a discussion of the controversy see DIONYSIUS (8). In 4th cent. it again burst forth when Marcellus of Ancyra, in opposing Arianism and the subordination theory of Origen, was led to deny any personal distinction between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity. Marcellus was probably only guilty of loose expressions, but his disciple Photinus worked out his system to its logical conclusions and boldly proclaimed Sabellian views. Eusebius of Caesarea wrote against Marcellus, and from the extracts in his two treatises, cont. Marcell. and de Ecclesiast. Theolog. we derive most of our information concerning Marcellus (cf. Epiph. Haer. lxxii.). Athanasius, Basil, Hilary, Chrysostom, all condemned Marcellus and his teaching. Basil's letters are a repertory of information about the controversy during the latter half of 4th cent. Basil first called Sabellius an African, solely, it would seem, because of the prevalence of Sabellianism in the Pentapolis, under Dionysius of Alexandria, when probably SABELLIUS himself was long dead. The interest in the controversy ceased by degrees as the great Nestorian and Eutychian discussions of the 5th cent. arose. Yet Sabellianism lingered in various quarters. Epiphanius (Haer. lxii.) says that in his time Sabellians were still numerous in Mesopotamia and Rome—a fact confirmed by an inscription discovered at Rome in 1742, which runs: "Qui et Filius diceris et Pater inveniris," evidently erected by Sabellian hands (Northcote's Epitaph. of Catacombs, p. 102). Augustine speaks of them, however, as practically extinct in Africa (cf. Ep. ad Dioscorum, cx.).

We add a brief exposition of this heresy. One section of the Monarchian party (see supra) guarded the Monarchy by denying any personal distinctions in the Godhead, and thus identifying the Father and the Son. But Christ is called the Son of God, and a son necessarily supposed a father distinct from himself (Tertul. cont. Prax. c. 10). They evaded this difficulty by distinguishing between the Logos and the Son of God. The Logos was itself eternally identical with God the Father. The Son of God did not exist till the Incarnation, when the Eternal Logos manifested its activity in the sphere of time in and through the man Christ Jesus.
—Dictionary of Christian Biography       


Noetus, a native of Smyrna according to Hippolytus; of Ephesus according to Epiphanius (Haer. 57), probably by a mistake, as his narrative is in other respects wholly derived from Hippolytus. From Asia Minor also Praxeas, some years before, had imported into Rome the views which Noetus taught. Hippolytus traces the origin of the Patripassian heresy at Rome to Noetus, who in his opinion derived it from the philosophy of Heraclitus (Refutation, lib. ix. cc. 3–5, cf. x. 23). Noetus came to Rome, where he converted Epigonus and Cleomenes. He was summoned before the council of Roman presbyters, and interrogated about his doctrines. He denied at first that he had taught that "Christ was the Father, and that the Father was born and suffered and died," but his adherents increasing in number, he acknowledged before the same council, when summoned a second time, that he had taught the views attributed to him. "The blessed presbyters called him again before them and examined him. But he stood out against them, saying, 'What evil am I doing in glorifying one God?' And the presbyters replied to him, 'We too know in truth one God, we know Christ, we know that the Son suffered even as He suffered, and died even as He died, and rose again on the third day, and is at the right hand of the Father, and cometh to judge the living and the dead, and these things which we have learned we allege.' Then after examining him they expelled him from the church. And he was carried to such a pitch of pride, that he established a school." Cf. Routh's Reliq. Sac. t. iv. 243–248. As to his date, Hippolytus tells us "he lived not long ago," Lipsius and Salmon think this very treatise was used by Tertullian in his tract against Praxeas [HIPPOLYTUS ROMANUS], while Hilgenfeld and Harnack date Tertullian's work between a.d. 206 and 210. This would throw the treatise of Hippolytus back to c. 205. From its language and tone, we conclude that Noetus was then dead, a view which Epiphanius (Haer. 57, c. 1) expressly confirms, saying that he and his brother both died soon after their excommunication and were buried without Christian rites. The period of his teaching at Rome must then have been some few years previous to 205. But Hippolytus in his Refutation of Heresies gives us a farther note of time, telling us in ix. 2 that it was when Zephyrinus was managing the affairs of the church that the school of Noetus was firmly established at Rome and that Zephyrinus connived at its establishment through bribes. We cannot, however, fix the date of his excommunication and death more closely than c. 200. Hippolytus (x. 23) tells us that some Montanists adopted the views of Noetus. He seems to have written some works, from which Hippolytus often quotes.
—Dictionary of Christian Biography

Pope Callistus

Callistus (1) (i. q. formosissimus; later spelt Calistus, but Calixtus first in 11th cent., Bunsen's Hippolytus, i. 131, note), the successor of pope Zephyrinus in a.d. 218, said to have been a Roman, and the son of Domitius.

Nothing was known of Callistus, except that the Martyrologium Romanum contained a tradition of his martyrdom, till the discovery of the Philosophumena in 1850. This work, which first appeared under the name of Origen, but is now ascribed to Hippolytus, almost certainly the contemporary bp. of Portus, gives an account of the life of Callistus which is scarcely credible respecting one of the bishops of Rome, who had before been honoured as a saint and martyr. Accordingly, much controversy has sprung up round the names of Callistus and Hippolytus. If Hippolytus is to be believed, Callistus was an unprincipled adventurer; if Callistus can be defended, grave doubt is thrown upon the veracity of Hippolytus. Bunsen and Wordsworth adopt the former view; Döllinger the latter, in an ingenious treatise translated by Dr. Plummer (T. &; T. Clark, 1876). The story as told by Hippolytus is lifelike and natural, and, however much we may allow for personal rancour, we cannot but believe it to be substantially true.

He tells us that Callistus was originally a slave in the household of a rich Christian called Carpophorus. His master intrusted to his charge a bank in the Piscina Publica, where Callistus induced his fellow-Christians to deposit their savings upon the security of the name of Carpophorus. The bank broke, and Callistus fled, but Carpophorus tracked him to Portus, and found him on board an outward-bound ship. The slave threw himself overboard in despair, but was picked up, and delivered to his master, who brought him back and put him to the pistrinum, or mill worked by the lowest slaves, for a punishment. After a time, however, he was set at liberty, and again attempted suicide, and for this purpose raised a riot in a synagogue of the Jews. By them he was brought before Fuscianus, the praefectus urbi, who, in spite of the fact that Carpophorus claimed him as his slave, condemned him, as a disturber of public worship allowed by the Roman laws, to be sent to the mines of Sardinia (Philosophumena, ed. Miller, pp. 286, 287).

His supposed desire for death certainly seems an inadequate motive for raising the riot in the Jewish synagogue. Döllinger supposes that, while claiming his debts at the hands of members of the Jewish synagogue, his zeal for religion impelled him to bear witness for Christ, and that thus his exile to Sardinia was a species of martyrdom for Christianity (Döllinger, Hippolytus u. Kallistus, p. 119). The date of his exile is proximately fixed, since Fuscianus served the office of praefectus urbi between a.d. 188 and a.d. 193 (Bunsen's Hippolytus, i. 138). Some time after, proceeds Hippolytus, Marcia, the Christian mistress of Commodus, persuaded the emperor to grant an amnesty to Christians undergoing punishment in Sardinia; and Callistus, at his own entreaty, was released, although his name was not on the list (supplied by the then bp. Victor) of those intended to benefit by Marcia's clemency. Callistus reappeared in Rome, much to the annoyance of Victor, for the outrage on the synagogue was recent and notorious. He therefore sent him to Antium, making him a small monthly allowance (Philosophumena, p. 288). Milman dates this c. a.d. 190, in the very year of Victor's accession (Lat. Christ. i. 55, note).

That Carpophorus's runaway slave should be of such importance that the pope should buy him off with an allowance, and insist upon his residing at a distance, shews that Callistus was already thought to be no ordinary man. He must have resided at Antium for a long time; for Zephyrinus, who did not succeed Victor till a.d. 202, recalled him. The new bishop "gave him the control of the clergy, and set him over the cemetery" (Phil. p. 288). This suggests that Callistus had been ordained at Antium; and the words "set him over the cemetery" (e?? t? ??? ?t????? ?at?st?se? have a special interest; for one of the largest catacombs in Rome is known as the Coemeterium Sti. Calixti. That this should have been intrusted to the same man to whom also was given the control of the clergy proves what a high value was set upon this first public burial-place of the Christians in Rome. Thirteen out of the next eighteen popes are said to have been buried here; and the names of seven of the thirteen (Callistus himself being one of the exceptions) have been identified from old inscriptions found in one crypt of this cemetery.

Now (a.d. 202) for the first time Callistus became a power in the Roman church. To Hippolytus, who held a double position in that church [HIPPOLYTUS], he became especially obnoxious. Being set over the Roman clergy, he was over Hippolytus, who was the presbyter of one of the Roman cardines or churches; but as a presbyter himself, he was inferior ecclesiastically to one who was also the bp. of Portus. Hippolytus claims to have detected Callistus's double-dealing from the first; but tells us that Callistus, aspiring to be bp. of Rome himself, would break openly with neither party. The question which now divided the church was that of the Monarchia, or how to reconcile the sovereignty of the Father with the Godhead of the Son. Callistus, who had obtained a complete ascendancy over the mind of Zephyrinus, according to Hippolytus an ignorant and venal man, took care to use language now agreeing with the Sabellians, now with Hippolytus. But he personally sided with Sabellius, called Hippolytus a Ditheist, and persuaded Sabellius, who might otherwise have gone right, to coalesce with the Monarchians. His motive, says Hippolytus, was that there might be two parties in the church which he could play off against each other, continuing on friendly terms with both (Phil. p. 289).

We find from Tertullian that Zephyrinus began, no doubt under Callistus's influence, the relaxation of discipline which he himself afterwards carried further when he became bishop. Under Zephyrinus the practice first obtained of allowing adulterers to be readmitted after public penance (de Pudicitiâ, i. 21; Döllinger, pp. 126–130). Zephyrinus died in a.d. 218, and Callistus was elected bishop instead; and Hippolytus does not scruple to avow that by this act the Roman church had formally committed itself to heresy. He regards his own as the orthodox church, in opposition to what he henceforth considers as only being the Callistian sect (Phil. pp. 289, 292). Yet the first act apparently of Callistus as bishop was towards conciliating his rival. He threw off, perhaps actually excommunicated (?p??se), Sabellius. But he only did this, says Hippolytus, to proclaim a heresy quite as deadly as the other. If he is to be believed, he is right in thus characterizing it. The Father and the Son, Callistianism said, were one; together they made the Spirit, which Spirit took flesh in the womb of the Virgin. Callistus, says Hippolytus indignantly, is as Patripassian as Sabellius, for he makes the Father suffer with the Son, if not as the Son (ib. pp. 289–330).

Hippolytus brings against him several other grave accusations of further relaxing the bonds of church discipline (ib. pp. 290, 291)—e.g.  (1) He relaxed the terms of readmission into the church: accounting no sin so deadly as to be incapable of readmission, and not exacting penance as a necessary preliminary.  (2) He relaxed the terms of admission into orders, ordaining even those who had been twice or thrice married; and permitting men already ordained to marry freely.  (3) He also relaxed the marriage laws of the church, thereby bringing them into conflict with those of the state; and Hippolytus says that a general immorality was the consequence. Döllinger, however, pertinently observes that Hippolytus does not even hint a charge of personal immorality against Callistus (Döllinger, Hippolytus und Kallistus, p. 195).  (4) He allowed second baptisms, which perhaps means that a repetition of baptism was substituted for the penance which had been necessary at the readmission of grievous sinners into the church. This is the only accusation which Döllinger meets with a distinct contradiction, on the ground that no such practice was known in the later Roman church (p. 189). Yet it surely is not as inconceivable as it seemed to him that later bishops of Rome might have reversed the acts of their predecessor.   

Callistus is said to have died in a.d. 223 (Eus. H. E. vi. 20). Tradition tells us that he was scourged in a popular rising, thrown out of a window of his house in Trastevere, and flung into a well. This would account for no epitaph being found to Callistus in the papal crypt of his own cemetery in the catacombs. E. Rolffs, in Texte und Untersuch. (1893), xi. 3; P. Battifol, Le Décret de Callist. in Etudes d'Hist. et de Théol. (Paris, 1902), pp. 69 seq.
—Dictionary of Christian Biography


What light has been cast upon his history by the recovery of the treatise against heresies? The portion previously extant had been known under the name of Origen's Philosophumena. We make no scruple in treating this as the work of Hippolytus, for this is the nearly unanimous opinion of critics, Lipsius alone hesitating and cautiously citing the author as Pseudo-Origenes. From this work it appears that he took an active part in the affairs of the Roman church in the episcopates of Zephyrinus and Callistus. Döllinger has shewn that, without imputing wilful misstatement to Hippolytus, it is possible to put on all that he relates about CALLISTUS a very much more favourable interpretation than he has done; and with regard to the charge that Callistus in trying to steer a middle course between Sabellianism and orthodoxy had invented a new heresy, the retort may be made that it was Hippolytus himself who in his dread of Sabellianism had laid himself open to the charge of Ditheism. But the point to which Döllinger called attention, with which we are most concerned here, is that Hippolytus in this work never recognizes Callistus as bp. of Rome. He says that Callistus had aspired to the episcopal throne and that on the death of Zephyrinus "he supposed himself to have obtained what he had been hunting for." But Hippolytus treats him only as the founder of a school (d?das?a?e???) in opposition to the Catholic church, using the same word with regard to Noetus (cont. Haer. Noeti, Lagarde, p. 44), of whom he says that when expelled from the church he had the presumption to set up "a school." Hippolytus says that Callistus and his party claimed to be the Catholic church and gloried in their numbers, though this multitude of adherents had been gained by unworthy means, namely, by improper laxity in receiving offenders. Callistus had received into his communion persons whom Hippolytus had excommunicated. He adds that this school of Callistus still continued when he wrote, which was plainly after the death of Callistus, and he refuses to give its members any name but Callistians. Evidently the breach between Hippolytus and Callistus had proceeded to open schism. But if Hippolytus did not regard Callistus as bp. of Rome, whom did he so regard? To this question it is difficult to give any answer but Döllinger's: Hippolytus claimed to be bp. of Rome himself. In the introduction to his work, Hippolytus claims to hold the episcopal office; he declares that the pains which he took in the confutation of heresy were his duty as successor of the apostles, partaker of the grace of the Holy Spirit that had been given to them and which they transmitted to those of right faith, and as clad with the dignity of the high priesthood and office of teaching and guardian of the church. Afterwards we find him exercising the power of excommunication upon persons, who thereupon joined the school of Callistus. Thus we seem to have a key to the difficulty that Hippolytus is described in the Liberian Catalogue only as presbyter, and yet was known in the East universally as bishop; and very widely as bp. of Rome. His claim to be bishop was not admitted by the church of Rome, but was made in works of his, written in Greek and circulating extensively in the East, either by himself in the works or more probably in titles prefixed to them by his ardent followers. We have also a key to the origin of the tradition that Hippolytus had been a Novatianist. He had been in separation from the church, and the exact cause of difference had been forgotten. Against another hypothesis, that Hippolytus was at the same time bp. of Portus and a leading presbyter of Rome, Döllinger urges, besides the weakness of the proof that Hippolytus was bp. of Portus, that there is no evidence that Portus had then a bishop, and that, according to the then constitution of the church, the offices of presbyter and bishop could not be thus combined. Döllinger contends that the schism could not have occurred immediately on the election of Callistus; but there is exactly the same reason for saying that Hippolytus refused to recognize Zephyrinus as bishop, as that he rejected Callistus; for he speaks of the former also as "imagining" that he governed the church. In consistency, then, Döllinger ought to have made the schism begin in the time of Zephyrinus, and so de Rossi does, adding a conjecture of his own, that the leader of the schism had been Victor's archdeacon, and had in that capacity obtained his knowledge of the early life of Callistus, and that he was actuated by disappointment at not having been made bishop on Victor's death. On the other hand, to make a schism of which no one in the East seems to have ever heard begin so early ascribes to it such long duration as to be quite incredible. For it continued after the death of Callistus, some time after which the account in the treatise on heresies was plainly written, and Döllinger thinks it even possible that it may have continued up to the time of the deportation of Pontianus and Hippolytus to Sardinia. He regards with some favour the hypothesis that this banishment might have been designed to deliver the city from dissensions and disputes for the possession of churches between the adherents of the rival leaders. It seems to us most likely that Pontianus and Hippolytus were banished early in the reign of Maximin as the two leading members of the Christian community. We find it hard to refuse the explanation of von Döllinger, which makes Hippolytus the first anti-pope; but the difficulties arising from the fact that the existence of so serious a schism has been absolutely unknown to the church from the 4th cent. to the 19th are so great, that if we knew of any other way of satisfactorily explaining the language of Hippolytus we should adopt it in preference. We are not told who consecrated Hippolytus as bishop, but a schism in inaugurating which bishops thus took the lead must have been a serious one: it lasted at least 5 or 6 years, and, if we make it begin in the time of Zephyrinus as we seem bound to do, perhaps 20 years, and it had as its head the most learned man of the Roman church and one whose name was most likely to be known to foreign churches. Yet the existence of this schism was absolutely unknown abroad. All Greek lists of the popes, as well as the Latin, include Callistus, and make no mention of Hippolytus; and the confessed ignorance of Eusebius about the see of Hippolytus is proof enough that he was not in possession of the key to the difficulty.—Dictionary of Christian Biography

This next portion of text is taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia found at www.newadvent.org

Article: Monarchians
Heading: Modalists

The Monarchians properly so-called (Modalists) exaggerated the oneness of the Father and the Son so as to make them but one Person; thus the distinctions in the Holy Trinity are energies or modes, not Persons: God the Father appears on earth as Son; hence it seemed to their opponents that Monarchians made the Father suffer and die. In the West they were called Patripassians, whereas in the East they are usually called Sabellians. The first to visit Rome was probably Praxeas, who went on to Carthage some time before 206-208; but he was apparently not in reality a heresiarch, and the arguments refuted by Tertullian somewhat later in his book "Adversus Praxean" are doubtless those of the Roman Monarchians (see PRAXEAS).

Noetus (from whom the Noetians) was a Smyrnaean (Epiphanius, by a slip, says an Ephesian). He called himself Moses, and his brother Aaron. When accused before the presbyterate of teaching that the Father suffered, he denied it; but after having made a few disciples he was again interrogated, and expelled from the Church. He died soon after, and did not receive Christian burial. Hippolytus mockingly declares him to have been a follower of Heraclitus, on account of the union of the opposites which he taught when he called God both visible and invisible, passible and impassible. His pupil Epigonus came to Rome. As he was not mentioned in the "Syntagma" of Hippolytus, which was written in one of the first five years of the third century, he was not then well known in Rome, or had not yet arrived. According to Hippolytus (Philos., IX, 7), Cleomenes, a follower of Epigonus, was allowed by Pope Zephyrinus to establish a school, which flourished under his approbation and that of Callistus. Hagemann urges that we should conclude that Cleomenes was not a Noetian at all, and that he was an orthodox opponent of the incorrect theology of Hippolytus. The same writer gives most ingenious and interesting (though hardly convincing) reasons for identifying Praxeas with Callistus; he proves that the Monarchians attacked in Tertullian's "Contra Praxean" and in the "Philosophumena" had identical tenets which were not necessarily heretical; he denies that Tertullian means us to understand that Praxeas came to Carthage, and he explains the nameless refuter of Praxeas to be, not Tertullian himself, but Hippolytus. It is true that it is easy to suppose Tertullian and Hippolytus to have misrepresented the opinions of their opponents, but it cannot be proved that Cleomenes was not a follower of the heretical Noetus, and that Sabellius did not issue from his school; further, it is not obvious that Tertullian would attack Callistus under a nickname.

Sabellius soon became the leader of the Monarchians in Rome, perhaps even before the death of Zephyrinus (c. 218). He is said by Epiphanius to have founded his views on the Gospel according to the Egyptians, and the fragments of that apocryphon support this statement. Hippolytus hoped to convert Sabellius to his own views, and attributed his failure in this to the influence of Callistus. That pope, however, excommunicated Sabellius c. 220 ("fearing me", says Hippolytus). Hippolytus accuses Callistus of now inventing a new heresy by combining the views of Theodotus and those of Sabellius, although he excommunicated them both (see POPE CALLISTUS I). Sabellius was apparently still in Rome when Hippolytus wrote the Philosophumena (between 230 and 235). Of his earlier and later history nothing is known. St. Basil and others call him a Libyan from Pentapolis, but this seems to rest on the fact that Pentapolis was found to be full of Sabellianism by Dionysius of Alexandria, c. 260. A number of Montanists led by Aeschines became Modalists (unless Harnack is right in making Modalism the original belief of the Montanists and in regarding Aeschines as a conservative). Sabellius (or at least his followers) may have considerably amplified the original Noetianism. There was still Sabellianism to be found in the fourth century. Marcellus of Ancyra developed a Monarchianism of his own, which was carried much further by his disciple, Photinus. Priscillian was an extreme Monarchian and so was Commodian ("Carmen Apol.", 89, 277, 771). The "Monarchian Prologues" to the Gospels found in most old manuscripts of the Vulgate, were attributed by von Dobschütz and P. Corssen to a Roman author of the time of Callistus, but they are almost certainly the work of Priscillian. Beryllus, Bishop of Bostra, is vaguely said by Eusebius (Church History VI.33) to have taught that the Saviour had no distinct pre-existence before the Incarnation, and had no Divinity of His own, but that the Divinity of the Father dwelt in Him. Origen disputed with him in a council and convinced him of his error. The minutes of the disputation were known to Eusebius. It is not clear whether Beryllus was a Modalist or a Dynamist.

There was much that was unsatisfactory in the theology of the Trinity and in the Christology of the orthodox writers of the Ante-Nicene period. The simple teaching of tradition was explained by philosophical ideas, which tended to obscure as well as to elucidate it. The distinction of the Son from the Father was so spoken of that the Son appeared to have functions of His own, apart from the Father, with regard to the creation and preservation of the world, and thus to be a derivative and secondary God. The unity of the Divinity was commonly guarded by a reference to a unity of origin. It was said that God from eternity was alone, with His Word, one with Him (as Reason, in vulca cordis, logos endiathetos), before the Word was spoken (ex ore Patris, logos prophorikos), or was generated and became Son for the purpose of creation. The Alexandrians alone insisted rightly on the generation of the Son from all eternity; but thus the Unity of God was even less manifest. The writers who thus theologize may often expressly teach the traditional Unity in Trinity, but it hardly squares with the Platonism of their philosophy. The theologians were thus defending the doctrine of the Logos at the expense of the two fundamental doctrines of Christianity, the Unity of God, and the Divinity of Christ. They seemed to make the Unity of the Godhead split into two or even three, and to make Jesus Christ something less than the supreme God the Father. This is eminently true of the chief opponents of the Monarchians, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Novatian. (See Newman, "The Causes of Arianism", in "Tracts theol. and eccles.") Monarchianism was the protest against this learned philosophizing, which to the simplicity of the faithful looked too much like a mythology or a Gnostic emanationism. The Monarchians emphatically declared that God is one, wholly and perfectly one, and that Jesus Christ is God, wholly and perfectly God. This was right, and even most necessary, and whilst it is easy to see why the theologians like Tertullian and Hippolytus opposed them (for their protest was precisely against the Platonism which these theologians had inherited from Justin and the Apologists), it is equally comprehensible that guardians of the Faith should have welcomed at first the return of the Monarchians to the simplicity of the Faith, "ne videantur deos dicere, neque rursum negare salvatoris deitatem" ("Lest they seem to be asserting two Gods or, on the other hand, denying the Saviour's Godhead". - Origen, "On Titus", frag. II). Tertullian in opposing them acknowledges that the uninstructed were against him; they could not understand the magic word oikonomia with which he conceived he had saved the situation; they declared that he taught two or three Gods, and cried "Monarchiam tenemus." So Callistus reproached Hippolytus, and not without reason, with teaching two Gods.

Already St. Justin knew of Christians who taught the identity of the Father and the Son ("Apol.", I, 63; Dialogue with Trypho 128). In Hermas, as in Theodotus, the Son and the Holy Ghost are confused. But it was reserved for Noetus and his school to deny categorically that the unity of the Godhead is compatible with a distinction of Persons. They seem to have regarded the Logos as a mere name, or faculty, or attribute, and to have made the Son and the Holy Ghost merely aspects of modes of existence of the Father, thus emphatically identifying Christ with the one God. "What harm am I doing", was the reply made by Noetus to the presbyters who interrogated him, "in glorifying Christ?" They replied: "We too know in truth one God; we know Christ; we know that the Son suffered even as He suffered, and died even as He died, and rose again on the third day, and is at the right hand of the Father, and cometh to judge the living and the dead; and what we have learned we declare" (Hippol.; "Contra Noetum", 1). Thus they refuted Noetus with tradition - the Apostles' Creed is enough; for the Creed and the New Testament indeed make the distinction of Persons clear, and the traditional formulas and prayers were equally unmistakable. Once the Monarchian system was put into philosophical language, it was seen to be no longer the old Christianity. Ridicule was used; the heretics were told that if the Father and the Son were really identified, then no denial on their part could prevent the conclusion that the Father suffered and died, and sat at His own right hand. Hippolytus tells us that Pope Zephyrinus, whom he represents as a stupid old man, declared at the instance of Callistus: "I know one God Christ Jesus, and besides Him no other Who was born and Who suffered"; but he added: "Not the Father died, but the Son". The reporter is an unsympathetic adversary; but we can see why the aged pope was viewing the simple assertions of Sabellius in a favorable light. Hippolytus declares that Callistus said that the Father suffered with the Son, and Tertullian says the same of the Monarchians whom he attacks. Hagemann thinks Callistus-Praxeas especially attacked the doctrine of the Apologists and of Hippolytus and Tertullian, which assigned all such attributes as impassibility and invisibility to the Father and made the Son alone capable of becoming passible and visible, ascribing to Him the work of creation, and all operations ad extra. It is true that the Monarchians opposed this Platonizing in general, but it is not evident that they had grasped the principle that all the works of God ad extra are common to the Three Persons as proceeding form the Divine Nature; and they seem to have said simply that God as Father is invisible and impassible, but becomes visible and passible as Son. This explanation brings them curiously into line with their adversaries. Both parties represented God as one and alone in His eternity. Both made the generation of the Son a subsequent development; only Tertullian and Hippolytus date it before the creation, and the Monarchians perhaps not until the Incarnation. Further, their identification of the Father and the Son was not favourable to a true view of the Incarnation. The very insistence on the unity of God emphasized also the distance of God from man, and was likely to end in making the union of God with man a mere indwelling or external union, after the fashion of that which was attributed to Nestorius. They spoke of the Father as "Spirit" and the Son as "flesh", and it is scarcely surprising that the similar Monarchianism of Marcellus should have issued in the Theodotianism of Photinus.

It is impossible to arrive at the philosophical views of Sabellius. Hagemann thought that he started from the Stoic system as surely as his adversaries did from the Platonic. Dorner has drawn too much upon his imagination for the doctrine of Sabellius; Harnack is too fanciful with regard to its origin. In fact we know little of him but that he said the Son was the Father (so Novatian, "De. Trin." 12, and Pope Dionysius relate). St. Athanasius tells us that he said the Father is the Son and the Son is the Father, one is hypostasis, but two in name (so Epiphanius): "As there are divisions of gifts, but the same Spirit, so the Father is the same, but is developed [platynetai] into Son and Spirit" (Orat., IV, c. Ar., xxv). Theodoret says he spoke of one hypostasis and a threefold prosopa, whereas St. Basil says he willingly admitted three prosopa in one hypostasis. This is, so far as words go, exactly the famous formulation of Tertullian, "tres personae, una substantia" (three persons, one substance), but Sabellius seems to have meant "three modes or characters of one person". The Father is the Monad of whom the Son is a kind of manifestation: for the Father is in Himself silent, inactive (siopon, hanenerletos), and speaks, creates, works, as Son (Athan., 1. c., 11). Here again we have a parallel to the teaching of the Apologists about the Word as Reason and the Word spoken, the latter alone being called Son. It would seem that the difference between Sabellius and his opponents lay mainly in his insisting on the unity of hypostasis after the emission of the Word as Son. It does not seem clear that he regarded the Son as beginning at the Incarnation; according to the passage of St. Athanasius just referred to, he may have agreed with the Apologists to date Sonship from the creative action of God. But we have few texts to go upon, and it is quite uncertain whether Sabellius left any writings. Monarchianism is frequently combated by Origen. Dionysius of Alexandria fought Sabellianism with some imprudence. In the fourth century the Arians and Semi-Arians professed to be much afraid of it, and indeed the alliance of Pope Julius and Arhanasius with Marcellus gave some colour to accusations against the Nicene formulas as opening the way to Sabellianism. The Fathers of the fourth century (as, for instance, St. Gregory of Nyssa, "Contra Sabellium", ed. Mai) seem to contemplate a more developed form than that known to Hippolytus ("Contra Noetum" and "Philosophumena") and through him, to Epiphanius: the consummation of creation is to consist in the return of the Logos from the humanity of Christ to the Father, so that the original unity of the Divine Nature is after all held to have been temporally compromised, and only in the end will it be restored, that God may be all in all.

Our chief original authorities for early Monarchianism of the Modalist type are Tertullian, "Adversus Praxean", and Hippolytus, "Contra Noetum" (fragment) and "Philosophumena". The "Contra Noetum" and the lost "Syntagma" were used by Epiphanius, Haer. 57 (Noetians), but the sources of Epiphanius's Haer. 62 (Sabellians) are less certain. The references by Origen, Novatian, and later Fathers are somewhat indefinite.

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Comments (1)


    Interestingly, the bishop of Rome was simply the Bishop of Rome, as the bishop of Alexandria, Corinth or other cities were simply Bishops of those cities. None of these bishops exerted any authority over one another except as the various bishops allowed.

    July 13, 2017