As the debate and discussion regarding James MacDonald's claims that J.D. Jakes is not a modalist continue to blow through the internet, I wanted to challenge something that MacDonald said in his most recent clarification post. Said MacDonald:
I believe modalism is unbiblical and clearly outside confessionalism...
With all due respect to Pastor MacDonald I must emphatically disagree with him and ask him readjust his position. The historic christian church anathematized those who held to Modalism because the "god" that they believe in is not the God of the Bible but is an idol of their own making who does not exist and is powerless to save. Therefore, believing modalism does more than put one outside of "confessionalism", it puts one outside of the Christian Faith through an unrepentant breaking of the 1st commandment. In other words, modalism is not merely 'unbiblical' it is in fact a damnable heresy.
It is important to note that this is not merely my opinion but this has been the consensus of those who've held to and defended the historic orthodox faith all the way back into antiquity.
17th Century Lutheran theologian Johann Friedrich Koenig stated it this way:
The necessity of believing this doctrine is such that it not only cannot be denied, but even cannot be ignored by anyone without a loss of salvation. John 17:3; 1 John 5:11-12; 1 John 2:23; John 5:23; 2 Thess. 1:8.
And Johann Gerhard stated:
“It is necessary for all who are to be saved, to know and believe the mystery of the Trinity: (a) we exclude from men who are to be saved, not only those who deny, but also those who are ignorant of the Trinity . . . (b) we do not require of all members of the Church an equal degree of knowledge, since the light of spiritual knowledge and faith is brighter in some and more obscure in others; (c) nor do we require of those who are to be saved a perfect and full comprehension and an intuitive knowledge of this mystery, since we cannot attain this in this life . . . but we assert only this, that for the catholic faith, necessary to all who are to be saved, not a confused and implied, but a distinct and explicit knowledge of the three persons of the Godhead is required.” The reason (III, 210: “Whoever is ignorant of the mystery of the Trinity does not acknowledge God as He has revealed Himself in His Word, and is ignorant of the definition of God given in the Scriptures. The mystery of the Trinity being ignored or denied, the entire economy of salvation is ignored or denied.”
Martin Chemnitz puts it this way:
“Even in ancient times it offended many that the Church, in speaking of the article of the Trinity, was not content with the simple peculiar phraseology which the Son of God Himself employed when revealing the doctrine concerning God, and which the Holy Ghost followed in the prophets and apostles; but that it introduced into the Church foreign appellations from the irreligious schools of the heathen . . . and the orthodox fathers were oppressed with great hatred by the heretics on this specious pretext, viz., that the Church ought not to believe concerning the inaccessible light of the Godhead otherwise than as the Godhead Himself, coming forth from the hidden abode of His majesty, has manifested Himself; neither ought it [the Church] to speak otherwise, but that it should imitate the language of the Holy Ghost, and, therefore, express also the very words in just so many syllables and letters. For neither ought the weakness of the human mind to assume this to itself, viz., in regard to these mysteries placed above and beyond the sight of human intelligence, to hope to be able to speak more becomingly and skillfully than the Son of God Himself, who alone knows the Father, and has revealed to us what we know of God, or the Holy Ghost, who alone knows the things which are of God (1 Cor. 2:10), and searches also the very depths of God. . . . Both Arius and Sabellius had a specious pretext: ‘We speak of divine mysteries in no other way than God Himself speaks in Scripture. Moreover, we have been cast out of the Church for no other reason than that we were not willing to mingle philosophy with the doctrine of the Church, i.e., we are not willing to confess one essence and three persons, because Scripture is ignorant of these heathenish appellations.’ We must consider whence, with what purpose, and for what reasons, these foreign terms were received; and, in order that we may understand the entire matter better, let us observe two things: 1. What Cyril says with very great force, that, although these terms are not found in Scripture, with such a meaning, yet that the things themselves, which the Church understands and signifies by these terms, have been expressly laid down and revealed in Scripture. 2. That the Church departed from the simple usage of Scriptural words, not from any wanton affectation of novelty, but as Augustine elegantly and truly says, that, by the necessity of speech, these terms were acquired from the Greeks and Latins, because of the errors and snares of heretics. . . . The Church would have preferred to use such simplicity of speech, so that, as it believes, so it might also speak, viz., that there is one God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But contests of heretics arose, attacking partly the unity of God, and partly the Trinity, yet so artfully that when they confessed that there is one God, they understood it as though there were a plurality of gods, nevertheless called one God, just as the heart of believers is called one, Acts 4:12 . . . Because, therefore, the heretics spake with the Church, and yet believed differently, and by means of forms of expression, resembling the truth, as Nazianzen says, spread poison secretly among the inexperienced, who suspected no evil when they heard these men speak in the very same words which the Church uses; the men of the Church endeavored to find in Scripture terms by which they might draw forth from ambush the lurking heretics, so as to prevent them from deceiving by ambiguous phrases the unwary. And because Scripture thus speaks, 2 Peter 1:4; Gal. 4:8, they said that there is one divine nature. But this term they corrupted by sophistries, and by distinguishing between God and nature, as when it is said that God and nature have done nothing in vain. Likewise, in 1 John 5:7, it is written: ‘There are three,’ etc. And because in the words of Baptism it is said: ‘Baptizing them in the name of the Father,’ etc., they said that there are three names . . . Sabellius received this, but understood that one and the same person is possessed of three names, just as one and the same man has a praenomen, a nomen, and a cognomen . . . Afterwards it began to be said that there were not only three names, but also three peculiar significations of the names. Sabellius conceded also this, but in this sense, viz., just as the soul has three powers, each one of which has its own peculiarities, and yet there is only one soul. And thus, the heretics who certainly did not believe aright concerning these articles of faith, spake in the very same words in which the Church spake, and, by this deception, instilled their poison into many unwary ones, who feared no evil, because they heard the same words that are recorded in Scripture, and are proclaimed in the Church. What was the Church to do under these circumstances? It is very certain that it was her plain duty to defend against heretics that faith concerning the article of the Trinity which the Holy Ghost revealed in the Scriptures. But this could not be done in the words of Scripture, because of the petulance of heretics, who cunningly evaded all the words of Scripture, so that they could not be convicted and held fast, and who meanwhile led captive, by this artifice, the minds of the simple. Therefore, it was necessary to seek for such terms as might express, in some other manner, the facts delivered concerning this article, in Scripture; so that heretics might not be able, by a deceitful interpretation, to elude them . . . Because, therefore, in God there is a divine nature, common to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and entire in each, and nevertheless, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are distinguished by certain properties, in such a manner that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, and the Holy Ghost is neither Father nor Son, etc.; the Church, on the maturest consideration, has transferred these terms (ουσια: υποστασις) from the common usage of speech to the article of the Trinity, on account of, as Augustine says, the artifices and errors of heretics, in order that thus even the more simple might be able to observe the rule of Athanasius: ‘Neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.’”
The Athansian Creed rightly concludes that whoever does not rightly confess the true faith regarding the triune God "cannot be saved".