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I have heard that over half of Protestants do not believe in an earlier theological conception of the Trinity.

I have heard that this is especially true of Evangelicals, and that they consider the older type of belief to be Catholic in nature.

In what sense has personal belief in (this older Protestant conception of) the Trinity decreased? Why?

Note that I am not asking whether Christians believe in the Trinity (most do), nor about Church doctrine, but about some sort of broad shift in belief. This poll provides an example, though I am not asking for analysis of that poll but rather about what further knowledge people have on this.

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A poll conducted in 2014 by LifeWay Research for Ligonier Ministries might help answer this question. You can read the article here, but according to them...

  • Most American evangelicals hold views condemned as heretical by some of the most important councils of the early church.

  • ...nearly a quarter (22%) said God the Father is more divine than Jesus, and 9 percent weren’t sure. Further, 16 percent say Jesus was the first creature created by God, while 11 percent were unsure.

  • More than half (51%) said the Holy Spirit is a force, not a personal being. Seven percent weren’t sure, while only 42 percent affirmed that the Spirit is a person.

These poll results are specifically for evangelicals and American Christians, and it seems to be the only poll of its kind. I've personally heard several heretical analogies used to explain the trinity, such as comparing it to H2O (modalism) or an egg (tritheism). This article does a good job of explaining all the bad analogies that get passed around, by possibly much more than 50% of trinitarians. The article concludes with...

One more thing. I often tell my students that if they say, “I get it!” or “Now I understand!” that they are more than likely celebrating the fact that they are a heretic! When you understand the biblical principles and let the tensions remain without rebuttal, then you are orthodox. When you solve the tension, you have most certainly entered into one of the errors that we seek to avoid.

So 98% of Christains belong to a trinitarian denomination, and if any of them think they understand the trinity, they're a heretic.

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    Since the question is about decreasing belief ( or understanding) of the Trinity, I really wonder if the figures would be any different a hundred years ago. – DJClayworth May 22 '17 at 21:06
  • @DJClayworth That's an interesting thought. This answer is lacking, so if the question remains open I'll look deeper into the history. Obviously a major reason it started getting misunderstood (and downright rejected) has to do with the the printing press, as there were some major "heretical" movements during the reformation and into the enlightenment period. – Cannabijoy May 23 '17 at 1:09
  • @anonymouswho I'll appreciate those answers. Quite possibly, given the difficulty of the concept of Trinity, many people have always held heretical views, but only recently, in a more open environment, have they been able to express them. – James Emersen May 24 '17 at 11:56
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I don't have figures for how many Christians personally subscribe to the Trinity, but far more than half the Christians in the world adhere to denominations that do subscribe to the Trinity. More than half the Christians in the world are Catholic, but the vast majority of non-Catholics are also Trinitarian.

The fraction of Christians who belong to non-Trinitarian groups is around 2%.

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