"Eternally begotten of the Father"...?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Matt Black, Apr 15, 2008.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    I've been having some debates recently with my Plymouth Brethren in-laws about the deity of Christ (initially started by Mrs B's mother denying that God the Son had died on the cross!). Anyway, last night I was handed a little booklet by her authored by the PB C A Coates which states that Christ only became begotten of the Father when He was born of Mary; that prior to that He was not the Son of God and to argue otherwise goes beyond the warrant of Scripture.

    Now, to my mind, this strikes at the heart of the intra-Trinitarian relationship and the whole Father-Son dynamic within the Godhead, it smacks of adoptionism and is tending towards heresy.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Doubting Thomas

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    In the early Church I've read (particularly in JND Kelly's book) there were some differences* regarding the "point" when Jesus was believed to have been "begotten" of the Father. Some did say it was at His conception in Mary's womb, with the same Person more properly called the "Word" prior to His Incarnation. Others said that the Word--immanent within the Godhead yet distinct from the "Father" from Eternity--was begotten at creation (the "firstborn over all creation"). Therefore those who held this opinion still held to a co-eternality (of sorts) of the Word with the Father. Yet others stated that the Son was begotten of His Father from all eternity--that God who is always "Father" always had His "Son" with Him. It seems to me, then, that in the ante-Nicene period these three opinions were within the boundaries of (proto-)orthodoxy as long as they agreed that the Word (Son) was somehow (one) "with", yet distinct from, the Father from all eternity. When people espoused "adoptionism" they were rightfully considered heretics, as were the ones who conflated the "persons" into one (modalists, patripassionists, etc). I suppose it was the threat of Arius, who denied the co-eternality of the Word/Son with God/the Father, that led the Church to come to a more uniform expression of the relationship of the Son to the Father as expressed in the Nicene Creed.


    (*I don't have my book with me, since I'm at work, or else I'd list the specific figures who used these nuanced expressions)
     
  3. BobRyan

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    Hint #1 -- calling your inlaws "heretics" or accusing them of "heresy" is probably the wrong tone to set.

    Hint #2. -- How much "trinitarian accuracy" do you think John the baptizer had before he died?

    Now for some questions for your inlaws - let's talk about references to the "Son" in the OT. (Psalms 2 comes to mind) Ps 2:12

    Speak of Psalms 2 -- Psalms 2:7 "Thou art My Son TODAY have I begotten thee". Acts 13:33 affirms that this is a reference to Jesus.

    Jesus Himself is stated to be "the Creator of ALL" life all things in heaven and earth in John 1:1-5 and in Col 1:13-17. We are told in Rev 14:6-7 to WORSHIP that one that holds the title of "Creator" of all. (This is where you might consider accepting the Bible account of the Creator's work in Gen 1-2:3 and as defined in Ex 20:8-11) to actually make your case that SUCH A CREATOR would have to be God (even by atheist accounts).

    In Zech 2:2-12 we See that YHWH is at least two persons.

    Heb 1:5-7 says that The SON is to be worshipped even by the Angels and yet Rev 22:9 says to worship "God alone" no others.

    See if this "helps" move them towards the Bible perspective on the Triune God.

    in Christ,

    Bob
     
  4. Matt Black

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    I don't think they'd have a problem with any of those Scriptures, or the concept of Jesus being God or eternal, or the fact that He is the Son now; they just don't believe He was the Son until the incarnation
     
  5. Amy.G

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    Jhn 1:1 IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    Jhn 1:2 He was in the beginning with God.
    Jhn 1:3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
    Jhn 1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.


    1Jo 1:1 THAT which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life--
    1Jo 1:2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us--


    Jhn 17:21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, [are] in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
    Jhn 17:22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:




    Seems pretty clear to me. He was, He is, He was with God yet He was God. Jesus and God are one.
     
  6. Doubting Thomas

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    Read this again--I believe Matt's point is that "they" would disagree with Christ being called the "Son" prior to the Incarnation, not with the facts of Christ's Deity or co-eternality with God per se.
     
  7. Amy.G

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    So, they don't think Jesus even existed until He was physically born? Or if He did exist, He was in some other "person" and not the Son?

    The scriptures are so plain. I don't know how you would convince someone who can't see it.

    Did the Son say this?

    Rev 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, [the] Beginning and [the] End,"* says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

    Rev 21:6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

    Jhn 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."


    Jhn 6:35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
     
  8. Doubting Thomas

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    I still think you are misreading what Matt wrote and my comment on the same. It's not that 'they' necessarily think the "Person" did not exist before the Incarnation; it's that 'they' believe this "Person" was not called the "Son" prior to His conception in Mary's womb.*

    Here's comments I made about this (post #2) above (w/numbers and underlining added this time):

    "In the early Church I've read (particularly in JND Kelly's book) there were some differences regarding the "point" when Jesus was believed to have been "begotten" of the Father. (1) Some did say it was at His conception in Mary's womb, with the same Person more properly called the "Word" prior to His Incarnation. (2) Others said that the Word--immanent within the Godhead yet distinct from the "Father" from Eternity--was begotten at creation (the "firstborn over all creation"). Therefore those who held these opinions still held to a co-eternality (of sorts) of the Word with the Father. (3) Yet others stated that the Son was begotten of His Father from all eternity--that God who is always "Father" always had His "Son" with Him. It seems to me, then, that in the ante-Nicene period these three opinions were within the boundaries of (proto-)orthodoxy as long as they agreed that the Word (Son) was somehow (one) "with", yet distinct from, the Father from all eternity. When people espoused "adoptionism" they were rightfully considered heretics, as were the ones who conflated the "persons" into one (modalists, patripassionists, etc). I suppose it was the threat of Arius, who denied the co-eternality of the Word/Son with God/the Father, that led the Church to come to a more uniform expression of the relationship of the Son to the Father as expressed in the Nicene Creed."

    (Matt, correct me if I'm wrong here)
     
  9. Matt Black

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    No, you've got it - it's not about whether Jesus is/was divine, it's about whether He was the Son of God prior to the incarnation
     
  10. David Lamb

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    I am unclear on what you two are saying on this. Doubting Thomas wrote:
    it's that 'they' believe this "Person" was not called the "Son" prior to His conception in Mary's womb.

    Matt tells DT that he is correct, but then goes on (emphasis mine):
    it's about whether He was the Son of God prior to the incarnation

    So Doubting Thomas is talking about what Jesus was called, and Matt about what He actually was, prior to the Incarnation.
     
  11. Matt Black

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    If He 'wasn't' then He can't be 'called', can He?
     
  12. David Lamb

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    Sorry, Matt, I was not sufficiently clear. I meant that (as I understood it) Doubting Thomas was saying that your in-laws hold that the second Person of the Trinity was not referred to us the Son before His conception. (I would disagree, on the basis of Psalm 2).
     
  13. mrtumnus

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    I think these types of questions arise when people inadvertently try to place God inside of time instead of recognizing that he is outside of time.

    God is omnipresent, meaning all time is present to him for all eternity. He has no past, present or future nor does he experience time in this way -- these are human limitations. So from his perspective, there was never a time when Christ wasn't born of Mary. Just ours.
     
  14. Doubting Thomas

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    David, that is indeed what I was saying based on what Matt has described. And I agree with you that "Son" is indeed the proper designation of God the Word even before His conception as Psalm 2 and Colossians 1:15 seem to strongly imply. Since Nicaea, this has been pretty much agreed upon within orthodox Christendom. Before Nicaea, one could occasionally find one, who was otherwise "orthodox", who referred to God the Word as the "Son" only at and after the Incarnation
     
  15. Matt Black

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    Having read Coates further, he states that the term "Son of God" is only really applicable to Christ in His humanity...
     
  16. Bro. James

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    Jesus of Nazareth is unique. There are no human terms to describe Him. Immanuel perhaps come close: God with us.

    The Jews tried to stone Him for claiming to be I AM. They crucified Him for blasphemy--'he makes himself to be God'

    Either Jesus is God in flesh, or He is the greatest imposter ever. The history of this globe pivots on Him.

    Curious: many call Him Lord; but do not believe what He said.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  17. Matt Black

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    So what's your stance on eternal Sonship?

    This article usefully fleshes out the Exclusive Brethren views on the matter.

    Comments?
     
  18. Bro. James

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    The learned of religion debated the nature of Jesus when He told them He is I AM THAT I AM--then they crucified Him. The learned of religion continue to debate 2000 years later. "The smarter we get the more dumbeth become". Jesus told Nicodemus, a master of religion, that he must be born again. (John Ch. 3.) That still applies today.

    Jesus of Nazareth is The Christ, The Son of the Living God, Mt. 16. He is all God and all man. How does one describe that in human terms? Conception by The Spirit The Holy has no precedent--it is unique. Jesus is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Alpha and Omega. How does one understand that--in the flesh? No es possible.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  19. BobRyan

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    There is no doubt that Jesus as "God incarnate" born of a virgin has a "birth" that in his prior never-born, never-created state "The Glory I had with with Father" as Christ said regarding His prior existence -- represents a whole new level of "sonship" with God the Father.

    But as pointed out in Psalms 2 He is already identified as "The Son" so functionally he served in that role with God the Father prior to "emptying Himself" (Phil 2) and becoming incarnate in human flesh.

    However when we get to "from all eternity" we are speaking of an infinite amount of time BEFORE there were humans or angels or the matter in the Universe. Who knows what they were doing then? Not I.

    in Christ,

    Bob
     
  20. Matt Black

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    But from when? His Incarnation? Or always? That's the subject matter of this thread. What sayest thou?
     

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