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non-Trinitarian churches There are very few or no other articles that link to this one

This article is about a doctrinal position within Christian theology.

For the doctrine of God's unity in religions generally, see Monotheism.

Nontrinitarianism is a form of Christianity that rejects the mainstream 

Christian doctrine of the Trinity—the teaching that God is three distinct 

hypostases or persons who are coeternal, coequal, and indivisibly united

in one being, or essence (from the Greek ousia). Certain religious groups

that emerged during the Protestant Reformation have historically been known as

antitrinitarian, but are not considered Protestant in popular discourse due to their

nontrinitarian nature.[according to whom?]

According to churches that consider the decisions of ecumenical councils final,

Trinitarianism was definitively declared to be Christian doctrine at the 4th-century

ecumenical councils,[1][2][3] that of the First Council of Nicaea (325), which declared

 the full divinity of the Son,[4] and the First Council of Constantinople (381),

 which declared the divinity of the Holy Spirit.[5]

In terms of number of adherents, nontrinitarian denominations comprise a minority

of modern Christianity. The largest nontrinitarian Christian denominations are 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsOneness Pentecostals

Jehovah's WitnessesLa Luz del Mundo and the Iglesia ni Cristo,

though there are a number of other smaller groups, including Christadelphians

Christian ScientistsDawn Bible Students

Living Church of God

Assemblies of Yahweh

Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ

Members Church of God International,

 Unitarian Christians

Unitarian Universalist Christians

The Way International

The Church of God International,

and the United Church of God.[6]

Nontrinitarian views differ widely on the nature of God,

 Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Various nontrinitarian philosophies,

such as adoptionismmonarchianism, and subordinationism

 existed prior to the establishment of the Trinity doctrine in AD 325,

381, and 431, at the Councils of NicaeaConstantinople,

and Ephesus.[7] Nontrinitarianism was later renewed by Cathars 

in the 11th through 13th centuries, in the Unitarian movement during

 the Protestant Reformation, in the Age of Enlightenment of the

18th century, and in some groups arising during the 

Second Great Awakening of the 19th century.

The doctrine of the Trinity, as held in mainstream Christianity,

is not present in the other major Abrahamic religions.


The phrase non-Trinitarian churches is sometimes used to refer to a number of

New religious movements (NRMs) grounded in Christianity, which parallel each

 other in non-belief in the Trinity and also a certain aloofness from other Christian

denominations, due to a degree of mutual distrust. One notable user of this

umbrella term is “Whitaker’s Almanac”.

Many of these churches started in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The term non-Trinitarian is considered less offensive than various other groupings,

but it should be pointed out however, that non-Trinitarian churches themselves

rarely engage with one another. However, they do share some interesting parallels.

Their biggest memberships tend to be in the Americas, Europe and Australasia

 (including Polynesia), in already Christian areas.

Some Unitarians, liberal mainstream

Christians etc are also “non-Trinitarian”, strictly speaking,

 but are not usually included in this grouping.

Historic non-Trinitarianism

Many ancient churches were not Trinitarian, such as Nestorianism and Gnostic Christians,

and indeed some of these modern movements bear theological resemblances to these ancient

 so-called “heresies”. Islam too seems to have some of its roots in a variety of non-Trinitarian

Christianity in seventh century Arabia, and there is a slight, but notable non-Trinitarian

tendency throughout Christian history. However, the modern non-Trinitarians do not derive

 from these ancient groups, but display affinities with/influences from Protestant Christianity.

 Modern non-Trinitarians tend to accept the standard Bible canon

 (as well as their own scriptures) rather than rejecting it, but also due to Protestant influence

 rarely pay much attention to the Apocrypha itself. In this they diverge from historic

non-Trinitarians, in that those groups tended to have a canon entirely independent of today’s

 and sacred texts produced closer in time to the Bible.

Common characteristics

  • Theology
    • Non-belief in the Trinity. This is the most fundamental link, but the churches are divided on whether God is a triple entity or a single entity. Henotheistic tendencies are also detectable in some non-Trinitarian churches.
    • Eschatology and a belief that the Apocalypse is near.
    • A strong belief in healing powers of confirmed members, and restoration of priesthood.
    • Full immersion adult baptism.
  • Unique revelation:
    • Modern day prophets, sometimes as founders, but also frequently a continuing dynasty of these. More recent pronouncements may be considered more significant than older ones. The founders are usually dead, and extremely highly venerated.
    • Sacred texts additional to the Bible unique to that group, or “retranslations” of the Bible. Usually these are held to be equal, or superior to the mainstream Bible.
  • Missionary work
    • A very strong newspaper or magazine, which is read avidly, and often used for missionary work.
    • An exceptionally strong missionary bent, and fairly high pressures on members. Missionaries usually travel in pairs.
  • Public attitudes
    • Considered non-mainstream by most other churches, and themselves displaying a strong exclusivity towards other churches, which makes inter-communication difficult.
    • Despite continuing controversies and accusations of cultishness, they also have a degree of societal acceptance that certain other large NRMs do not, such as Scientologists and Eastern-derived religions. The LDS are an integral part of mainstream life in several US states for example, and “The Christian Science Monitor” is a well-respected newspaper.
  • Lifestyle
    • Bigger, older non-Trinitarian groups tend to have strict attitudes towards sex, and frown upon promiscuity and sex before marriage. They also dress “modestly”.
    • Bigger groups do not live in communes, although their splinters may.
    • Members do not drink alcohol, smoke tobacco and tea & coffee are also banned. Wine is not used for Holy Communion equivalents. Vegetarianism is a feature shared by some, but not all these groups, most notably Jehovah’s Witnesses who consider blood transfusion a violation of this.
    • Many non-Trinitarian churches are claimed to be too male dominated, but this is certainly not the case with Christian Science which was founded by a woman.

These are all general characteristics however, and some of the big groups have smaller splinters, which tend to be more controversial. The groups share several or more characteristics.

List of major non-Trinitarian churches

  • Christadelphianism
  • Christian Science
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Mormonism/Restorationism - there are over thirty Mormon sects, but these two are the biggest
    • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (biggest, best known Mormon group)
    • Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganised LDS, the second biggest grouping)
  • Arian Catholicism
  • Unitarianism
  • Nontrinitarianism


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