Tuesday, September 28, 2010

specifically begotton.

One debate which is not a very well known outside of theological circles is the debate regarding the Son ship of Christ. When we say that Jesus is the Son of God; how does that work? The Arians and jehovah'S Witness take this simply that Jesus is the creation of God the Father. They have trouble reconciling this with passages indicating That Jesus is the Lord God and therefore eternal. Yet even among the trinitarians there is a debate over the nature of his Sonship. Is Jesus the Son of God by means of his human nature or his deified nature?
This debate is obviously a little more technical. However it is still important for the minister in developing a proper systematic theology and handling the Challenges of the cults.
The view that I hold is incarnational sonship, that That the man Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God. That while I concede that The logos or deity of Christ may be entitled "Son" The deity was not begotten/generated since he is eternal.
The view which I critique "eternal sonship/eternal generation" denies that Jesus was begotten of God at His incarnation but instead the deity of Christ was generated by the Father in eternity past. Also the nature of this eternal generation is mysterious and not to be questioned.
So one phrase used in this debate "eternal Son of God" is not one that is of necessity biblical thought those who hold to eternal generation will used it as their Banner.

1. eternally begotten) a contradiction
Many modern champions of this view like to change the language of the debate by labeling the position eternal son-ship. However, the historical phrase is that Jesus was "eternally begotten" of the Father in eternity past,present and future.

   /bɪˈgɛt/ Show Spelled[bih-get] Show IPA
–verb (used with object), be·got or ( Archaic ) be·gat; be·got·ten or be·got; be·get·ting.
1. (esp. of a male parent) to procreate or generate (offspring).
2. to cause; produce as an effect: a belief that power begets power.


So essentially if the Father beget the Word, then He produced the Logos. Then the second person of the trinity is not eternal.

   /ɪˈtɜrnl/ Show Spelled[ih-tur-nl] Show IPA
1. without beginning or end; lasting forever; always existing ( opposed to temporal): eternal life.
2. perpetual; ceaseless; endless: eternal quarreling; eternal chatter.
3. enduring; immutable: eternal principles.
4. Metaphysics . existing outside all relations of time; not subject to change.

So here is the obvious contradiction. You can not be caused and have no beginning at the same time.
Yet the Logos is eternal.
John 1:1-3
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2The same was in the beginning with God.
3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
1:8I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

2. the complete history of eternal begotten doctrine
A. Origen
Origen in defending the deity of Christ came up with this doctrine. The problem with this idea is that it is in inherently subordinate. Not surprisingly Origen was openly a subordinationist. (in other words he held that the Son and the spirit were inferior to the Father)
"We say that the Savior and the Holy Spirit exceed all creatures without possible comparison, in a wholly transcendent way but that they are exceeded by the Father by as much or even more than they exceeded the other beings." Origen quoted by Henry Crouzel pg. 203 and later Roger E. Olson The Story of Christian theology pg. 110

b. The Son reveals the Father to us. Origen followed Neo-Platonism, which taught that from the Divine Being proceeds the Nous. The Son proceeds from the Father somewhat as the will proceeds from a human being. This procession is expressed in the conception of a generation (genesis) of the Son from the Father. But Origen made a larger contribution to the dogma of the Trinity by speaking of an eternal generation. The Father is always generating the Son...He looked upon the Logos as a Person, and taught that the Son, begotten of the Father from all eternity, was also from all eternity a hypostasis. Origen's teaching differed thus from all previous conceptions of a hypostatic Logos; especially was this true with reference to the Apologists who took the position that the hypostasizing of the Logos occurred in time for the purpose of creation and incarnation...This was the first advance made towards stating the Son's co-eternity with the Father.
A History of Christian thought Dr. J.L. Neve pg. 86-87

B. eusibius influence on creed
Eusibius was a primitive catholic and he had a great influence upon the nicene creed much of the creed was based upon his churches confession.
Eusibius theology was not entirely sound. He tried to synthesize the the deity of Christ with ariansim and he rejected the book of revelation in the canon.
“In order to analyze these discrepancies, one must first discern something of Eusebius’ national, personal and theological positions. Although we know little of His life, It is fairly certain that Eusebius was born in Caesarea about 263. This was the city which had ordained Origen and which, when he was condemned by synods in Alexandira and-significantly-Rome, sheltered after his excommunication.
“It was in Caesarea that Origen deposited his library, began a school, and continued his scholarship until his death in 254-within a decade of Eusebius’birth. After Origen’s death, his library came under the curatorship of pamphilus, who had studied in Alexandria under the Originist teacher Pierus. In his youth, Eusebius assisted Pamphilus; about the year 308 he coauthored the ‘Apology for Origen’ with Him. Breathing the air of Origen’s Own library, having learned from and assisted Origen’s principle defender, it is self evident that Eusebius was not only an easterner, but also a supporter of Origen.
“It is not surprising to learn that Eusebius should have later been Arian in His theology. Like Origen, Arius also taught subordinationism, and, like Origen, Arius found support in the east, from Eusebius of Nicomedia, and our Eusebius, who by that time was bishop of Caesaria.” Attridge, Harold W. “Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism” Pg. 317-18

The creed of Eusebius of Caesarea. - The creed which Eusebius presented to the Nicene Council was of this expanded character, and ran as follows: ‘We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things, both visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God of (from) God, Light of Light, Life of Life, the only-begotten Son, the first-born of all creation, begotten of the Father before all ages; through whom also all things were made; who for our salvation
was made flesh and lived among men, and suffered, and rose again the third day, and ascended to the Father, and shall come again in glory, to judge the living and dead; and in the Holy Spirit.’

H.N. Bate, History of the Church to 325, 2nd edn. London: Rivingtons, 1924. Hbk. pp.119-125.CHAPTER X The Council of Nicaea
I think we must take note that Eusebius had already had the doctrine of eternal generation in His creed which was the product of Origen's theology. Eusebius creed was the foundation of the Nicene creed. So the doctrine of eternal generation was implanted in the creed and made government law. Afterall, the Bishops were focused on Arianism.
Therefore much like in American law where a lobbyist may author a Bill and the senators might not actually even read the bill. The Bishops of Nicene passed this doctrine without necessarily any deep thought on the matter.

3.scriptural support for eternal generation
13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Here we see evidence that the Son of God is deity. So the Son was begotton of the Father. But that is not really the issue up for debate. The issue of the debate is whether the deity was or is eternally still being begotten.

18Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
This is clear evidence that the title Son of God implies the deity of Christ. So therefore according to Eternal sonship advocates christ was begotton in eternity.
However the crux of the Debate is not whether or not the Son of God is deity. That is settled by the fact that there is one christ. The Question is: does this passage say Jesus is eternally begotton. Besides, it was the man claiming that he was the Son of God here. Implying that the man was the Son of God and therefore that Jesus was incarnationally begotten of the father.

5. Explanations for lack of study.
The Nicene Creed was a government enforced document. As a result a minister could be imprisoned, excommunicated and possibly tortured for disagreement with the doctrine of eternal generation. Many of the "Conservative" preachers would emphasize
the mystery of God concerning the contradictions.
The same can be said of Presbyterians under the Westminster confession, though it would not have been persecuted per se.
I don't have the ability to determine why MacArthur would have switched his views, as I don't know His heart. But with as much scholarship as he has put into his views I doubt he completely converted his views. So I think it could be another explanation. It could be acceptance among evangelical elites, intimidation of numbers, fear of a church backlash etc.
However I find it telling in MacArthur's "reexamining the Eternal Sonship of Christ" Here in this document MacArthur has to successfully refute himself.
One major objection to the eternally begotten doctrine is the fact That the Logos has to Relate to the father as Generated from the Father, yet the Holy Spirit on proceeds from the father and does not relate to the Father as a father at all. MacArthur had held this objection previously. So does he answer this dilemma?
"If Christ's sonship is all about His deity, someone will wonder why this applies to the Second Member of the Trinity alone, and not to the Third. After all, we don't refer to the Holy Spirit as God's Son, do we? Yet isn't He also of the same essence as the Father?
"Of course He is. The full, undiluted, undivided essence of God belongs alike to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is but one essence; yet He exists in three Persons. The three Persons are co-equal, but they are still distinct Persons. And the chief characteristics that distinguish between the Persons are wrapped up in the properties suggested by the names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Theologians have labeled these properties paternity, filiation, and spiration. That such distinctions are vital to our understanding of the Trinity is clear from Scripture. How to explain them fully remains something of a mystery.
"In fact, many aspects of these truths may remain forever inscrutable, but this basic understanding of the eternal relationships within the Trinity nonetheless represents the best consensus of Christian understanding over many centuries of Church history. I therefore affirm the doctrine of Christ's eternal sonship while acknowledging it as a mystery into which we should not expect to pry too deeply."

So he says it is a mystery! You can not answer irrational-ism with a mystery! How can you claim that Jesus the man can not be the Son of God and that he needs to be subordinate to the Father, when an equal spiritual person doesn't have to at all! If it is a mystery, then it has not been unveiled. If it is revelation it was a mystery; but a mystery no longer. God is not the author of confusion! Perhaps it is a mystery because God did not reveal it! When preachers use such irrational arguments they are not working on the side of God anymore. They are instead comforting the enemy. God is logical. The logos is logical. Yes, they are words which are completely connected.
Isaiah 1:18Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
God communicates to us rationally. Religious politics is getting old.

6. Scriptural support for the only begotton Son being begotton on the earth

Matthew 1:18-25 (King James Version)

18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
So the messiah was conceived of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is God and Jesus is being begotten. Jesus fulfills the prophesy of being Emmanuel "God with us". So then Jesus is the one person and both natures are being spoken of. So then the Logos is having the verb "begotten" refer to the Incarnation.

Mark 15:39
And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
Nottice How the centurion identifies the man as the son of God. Is he incoorrect. Is the Man not the Son?

John 1:14
14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
First why IS he identified as Word if he was eternally begotten Son? Secondly wouldn't "made flesh" be close enough to begotten to say that if Jesus is the only begotten son it was when the deity/Word was made flesh?

I may have this article edited in the future. But I wanted to get people thinking on this topic now.
In Christ,