In Christianity, there is the doctrine of the "trinity" of God. What would be the name of the corresponding doctrine if the number three were replaced with two, four or five?

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    Well, all I know is the word for six in one is sixpack. ;-) Dec 17 '11 at 5:39
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    BTW: We wouldn't say "3 monotheistic Gods make up the Trinity". The whole point of the idea of the Trinity is that there is only one monotheistic God -- hence the "mono" part -- but he is made up of 3 persons. That is, we say "3 persons of God make up the Trinity".
    – Jay
    Dec 17 '11 at 5:46
  • 1
    I was joking. In logic, if you can proof an absurdity you can proof anything. In practice, if you can make someone believe an absurdity, you can make them do anything. +1 for all the witty comments.
    – user4951
    Dec 17 '11 at 6:31
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    -1 Vote to close as not constructive. If you want to joke about other people's religion, find another forum.
    – JeffSahol
    Dec 17 '11 at 16:40
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    @JimThio, Seriously? What has this English question even got to do with religion (unless you're primed to think that way)? So all words used by religion become automatically off-limits? That's thousands upon thousands of words barred.
    – Pacerier
    Mar 24 '17 at 7:10

To the best of my knowledge, owing to various heresies and schisms in the Christian faith we presently have the following forms of monotheistic doctrine:

Unity - Espoused by the Unitarians, who reject the consubstantiation of God and hold that He is strictly a single person. Jesus is regarded by Unitarians as a prophet who is not a part of the godhead.

Binity - Advocated by the Binitarians, who believe in the co-divinity of Jesus the Son and God the Father. What I find particularly interesting about them is that they believe Jesus was fully divine and co-eternal prior to becoming human, but that he fully surrendered his divinity while in human form, only to regain it in resurrection. This differs from the standard mainstream trinitarian view that Jesus the man was both divine and human.

So to make it really confusing, the Binitarians treat Jesus as a unity at all times, while the trinitarians see his human form as a binity. Still with me? :D

Trinity - The orthodox mainline Christian theology of the coexistent, coeternal three in one: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

I am not aware of any further such terms of particular Christian significance, but there's a seemingly Scientology-like thing called the Hoffman Quadrinity Process that is all over the Internet and apparently in several countries.

If the Pope ever did pronounce the five-fold nature of God, I expect the word would continue to be based on the Latin root -nitas, and so following the pattern it would be quintinity.

Me, I'm signing up as an infinitarian. If the godhead has constituent parts, it's some unquantifiable number in one. An infinity.

  • +1. THis is an even better answer.
    – user4951
    Dec 17 '11 at 6:29
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    I don't think binity has much currency in religious or any other context. Far more common are dualism, duotheism, bitheism, and ditheism. Dec 17 '11 at 17:39
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    In popular religious discourse it's exceedingly rare, but it's common currency in formal theology. It's of particular relevance in scholarship of the early pre-Nicene Christian church. Many of the early Christian apologists are seen as binitarian monotheists, which is in no way the same thing as ditheism. But it has not been uncommon for those who disagree with the binitarian view to label it dismissively as a ditheistic heresy. So, um...when can we have theologynuts.stackexchange.com? Dec 17 '11 at 18:58
  • Or maybe quinity? Dec 17 '11 at 23:25
  • +1 for quintinity. The OP is not so much about religion as it is about language. Just quintinity should have sufficed, I suppose.
    – Kris
    Dec 19 '11 at 6:24

Duality is 2 in 1,
Trinity is 3 in 1,
Quadrality is 4 in 1

That's as far as I know them.

Primality should work for 1 in 1, at least from the mathematical point of view.

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    Or unity. That's what the Unitarian Church is about.
    – Gnawme
    Dec 17 '11 at 5:01
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    Can duality actually be used that way? In my experience, duality can only mean "a quality of something that is 2 things in one", not the 2 things in one itself; thus, we can say that "Jekyll and Hyde exhibit a duality of personality," but we can't say "Jekyll and Hyde ARE a duality." I think trinity is the only such word that can refer to the "n in one" thing itself. Having said that, though, if the Pope decided that there was a Holy Duality instead of trinity, and this became official doctrine, I'm sure the new usage would catch on :)
    – alcas
    Dec 17 '11 at 5:17
  • @alcas: Interesting point, but then we're always shifting parts of speech. Like, "hungry" is an adjective, yet if you say "The hungry of the world ..." people know what you mean.
    – Jay
    Dec 17 '11 at 5:43
  • I agree that duality/quadrality/primality are not part of this family. But Gnawme's suggestion of unity is correct - it's theologically significant and from the same root as trinity: unitas, trinitas. Dec 17 '11 at 5:53
  • @Jay: This just came up over here [english.stackexchange.com/questions/51908/… -- see my comment: "The <adjective>...." for "<adjective> people" is an idiom which applies to all adjectives (that can be applied to people) and that usage doesn't constitute any kind of evidence that <adjective> has shifted to be a noun. Dec 18 '11 at 14:57

I take it that this is not an entirely serious question, so here's a not entirely serious answer. A quadripartite deity would be a tetrakism and a quintipartite one would be a pentalogy.

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    I think by the time we get to someone claiming their god embodies five or more aspects, polytheist probably makes more sense (if indeed any of it ever could). Dec 17 '11 at 17:42
  • @FumbleFingers: Non-Christians might make the same case against the trinity. Dec 17 '11 at 17:45
  • Atheists might make a similar case against any number of "godheads" greater than zero. But I seem to recall there are [primitive?] languages that don't really have words for any numbers greater than three - the missionaries of this hypothetical "five-way godhead" might find they've got their work cut out there! Dec 17 '11 at 17:53
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    @FumbleFingers: There's a very distinct difference between polytheism and Trinitarianism: polytheism says many gods, Trinitarianism says one God with multiple aspects. Increasing the number of aspects doesn't turn him into multiple gods. That would be like saying that now that XYZ Corporation has four subsidiaries, it is no longer a single tax entity; or now that you have four children, you are no longer a single family. It may seem a subtle distinction if you're an "outsider" who doesn't believe any of it, but believe me, the implications are huge. :-)
    – Jay
    Dec 20 '11 at 16:01
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    @Jay: It's true I am an "outsider", so I must be careful not to tread too heavily on other people's beliefs. Perhaps I should have said pantheist rather than polytheist - according to my understanding that nets down to the belief that everything is an aspect of the godhead. But it does often seem that's the position of some Christians anyway - Christianity is a broad church, as they say. Dec 20 '11 at 16:14


@RiMMER said that "Quadrality" would be a term, however, according to Merriam-Webster, the following is the proper term:

Definition of quaternity: a union of a group or set of four

Quadrality does not seem to be used.

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