An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


From the Latin pater, “father,” and passio, “suffering,” it is a form of modalism chiefly associated with a third-century Roman Christian teacher, Praxeas, whose work is known to us chiefly through Tertullian's treatise, Against Praxeas. Praxeas regarded Word and Spirit as mere names or modes of being of the one God. Praxeas held that the Father himself was born of Mary, crucified and raised from the dead. Tertullian jibed, “He put to flight the Paraclete, and he crucified the Father” (Against Praxeas 1). This form of modalism has been named patripassianism. Patripassianism is excluded from orthodox Christian teaching by the doctrine of the Trinity and the traditional teaching of God's impassibility (see Art. I, Articles of Religion, BCP, p. 867). Nevertheless, the question of the suffering of God is of continuing interest in modern theology. Unless God can somehow be said to suffer, God is remote and imperfectly shares the human situation.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.