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Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by UZThD, Aug 16, 2005.
If both the Son and the Father are God how is one Person greater than the other?
Paul answers this in Philippians 2:5-8
"Your attitude whould be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death --
even death on a cross!"
Thus, during the incarnation, Jesus, who MADE HIMSELF nothing, caused Himself to become less than the Father as a matter of showing us what full obedience meant, despite the effect of human nature, which He took on, again as a matter of love for us. He is/was not, by nature, less than the Father, but made Himself so for our sakes.
Helen, that was a wonderful explanation.
He was "preincarnationally" always the Son and subject to the Father. Also, the Spirit has always been about exalting the Son, not Himself. Piper's pastor's conference last February was all about this very topic. Great stuff from Bruce Ware. (from Southeastern isn't he?)
Yes, Ware, and Grudem, and Horrell, and Lewis, and Demarest, and Kovach, and Shemm, and Kitano and Frame, and Dahms say that eternally the Father is sovereign over the Son. While the Son is essentially equal, these say, He is not economically equal.
That is made by some, as Grudem, analogous to support gender roles .
But Gregory of Nazianzus, Augustine, Warfield, Buswell, RA Torrey, Erickson, and Boettner say in God there are only equals and that the Son is NOT eternally role subordinate. Obedience occured in His humanity, they argue, NOT in His deity!
1) Did the HS eternally glorify the Son? Did not that begin with God acting salvifically toward man?
2) Did the Son obey the Father pretemporally? Why? What order would He "then" carry out?
3) Does Phil 2:6 not say that the Son as God has the same equality with God? If it does not say that , why not? If He does, then how is the Father authority over the Son in the Son's deity ?
4) If sovereignty is the divine attribute of the Father and submissiveness is the divine attribute of the Son, then how are the two the same in attributes or in divinity?
[ August 16, 2005, 01:57 PM: Message edited by: UZThD ]
I think it best to not delve too far into such topics. The nature and unity of the Godhead is an ineffable mystery that can never be fully understood. Many have speculated on the nature of God and ended up in deep heresy. The likes of Arius, Nestorius, Eutyches, Marcion, Etc. We will never explain these things fully or satisfactorily.
It seems to me that the grounds for dispute about any subordination in the Godhead disappears if we simply understand the Covenant of Grace. The Covenant of Grace constitutes the basis for the salvation of the elect of God through Jesus Christ, the mediator of the Covenant, the only mediator between God and man [1 Timothy 2:5]. The Covenant of Grace is perhaps best understood as an eternal covenant between the members of the Godhead which includes the following elements:
It is God the Father who foreknew and chose a people to be His own before the foundation of the world [Ephesians 1:4].
It is God the Son who agrees to humble Himself, take upon Himself the form of man, and die on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of those whom the Father has chosen to salvation so that none are lost [John 17; Philippians 2:6-10].
It is God the Holy Spirit who agrees to apply the work of the Son to those chosen by God the Father and who regenerates and effectually calls those whom God the Father has chosen unto salvation [John 6: 37, 44; Ephesians 2:1-10].
We must not think that this Covenant of Grace was preceded by a proposal of terms by one person of the Triune Godhead followed by deliberation prior to acceptance or rejection of the proposal by the other persons of the Triune Godhead. God is One and the nature of the Godhead is such that perfect harmony, in fact, unity of thought must exist within the Triune Godhead.
John Dagg in his Manual of Theology writes [page 253] of the Covenant of Grace as follows:
"That the covenant is eternal, may be argued from the eternity, unchangeableness, and omniscience of the parties, and from the declarations of Scripture which directly or indirectly relate to it: Through the blood of the everlasting covenant. [Hebrews 13:20]; His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. [Ephesians 3:11]; In hope of eternal life promised the world began. [Titus 1:2]; Grace given in Christ Jesus before the world began. [2 Timothy 1:9]
Although God's purpose is one, we are obliged, according to our modes of conception, to view it, and speak of it, as consisting of various parts. So, the eternal covenant is one; but it is revealed to us in a manner adapted to our conceptions and to our spiritual benefit. The work of redemption by Christ is presented in the Gospel as the great object of our faith; and the stipulation for the accomplishment of this work, is the prominent point exhibited in the revelation which is made to us respecting the covenant of grace. The agreement between the Father and the Son is conspicuously brought to view, in various parts of the sacred volume: Thine they were, and thou gavest them me. [John 17: 6] Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.[Psalm 2: 8] Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire. Then said I, Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O God.[Psalm 40: 6-18] and in Isaiah, Chapter 49, the stipulations between the Father and the Son are presented, almost as if they had been copied from an original record of the transaction.
According to the covenant arrangement, the Son appeared in human nature, in the form of a, servant; and, after obeying unto death, was exalted by the Father to supreme dominion. The Holy Spirit also is revealed as acting in a subordinate office, being sent by the Father and by the Son. The Father alone is not presented as acting in a subordinate office; but appears as sustaining the full authority of the Godhead, sending the Son, giving him a people to be redeemed, prescribing the terms, accepting the service, rewarding and glorifying the Son, and sending the Holy Spirit. In all this the Father appears as the representative of the Godhead, in its authority and majesty. The Son also sustains a representative character. The promise of eternal life was made, before the world began, to the people of God, in him as their representative. The reconciliation between God and men is provided for by the covenant engagement between the Father and the Son; the Father acting as the representative of the Godhead, and the Son as the representative and surety of his people. The Holy Spirit concurs in this arrangement, and takes his part in the work, in harmony with the other persons of the Godhead. His peculiar office is necessary to complete the plan, and to reward the obedience of the Son by the salvation of his redeemed people. The promises of the Father to the Son include the gift of the Holy Spirit; and, therefore, the sending of the Spirit is attributed to the Son; [John 16:7] and sometimes to the Father at the petition of the Son.[John 14:16]
In this order of operation, inferiority of nature is not implied, in the subordination of office to which the Son and the Spirit voluntarily consent. The fulness of the Godhead dwells in each of the divine persons, and renders the fulfillment of the covenant infallibly sure, in all its stipulations. The Holy Spirit, in the execution of his office, dwells in believers; but he brings with him the fulness of the Godhead, so that God is in them, and they are the temple of God, and filled with the fulness of God. The Son or Word, in the execution of his office, becomes the man Jesus Christ; but the fulness of the Godhead dwells in him; so that, in his deepest humiliation he is God manifest in the flesh, God over all, blessed for ever.
The order of operation in this mysterious and wonderful economy, can be learned from divine revelation only. Here we should study it with simple faith, relying on the testimony of God. In the representation of it here exhibited, we may discover that the blessings of grace, proceeding from God, appear to originate in the Father, “of whom are all things,” to be conferred through the Son, “by whom are all things,” and by the Spirit, who is the immediate agent in bestowing them, the last in the order of operation. The approach to God, in acts of devotion, is in the reverse order. The Spirit makes intercession in the saints, moving them, as a spirit of supplication, and assisting their infirmities, when they know not what to pray for. Their prayers are offered through Christ, as the medium of approach; and the Father, as the highest representative of the Godhead, is the ultimate object of the worship. Through him [Christ] we have access by one Spirit to the Father.[Ephesians 2: 18] The Spirit moves us to honor the Son and the Father: and for this purpose takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us, that we may believe in him, and through him approach the Father. In this work he acts for the whole Godhead, and therefore his drawing is ascribed to the Father: No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.[John 6: 44] When we come to Jesus Christ, the whole Godhead meets us again in the person of the Mediator: for God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.[2 Corinthians 5: 19] And when we address the Father, as the ultimate object of our worship, the whole Godhead is there, and receives our adorations. In the covenant of grace, the triune God is so presented to the view of the believer, that he may worship without distraction of thought: with full confidence of acceptance, and with a clear perception that God is to him all and in all."
If I understand Helen's post corectly she makes a similar point more succinctly. I thought hearing it from an eminent Southern Baptist of the 19th Century might be helpful.
I agree that that we never will explain them fully , but I disagree that they should not be studied. They ARE Scriptural doctrines.
The false views of the likes of Arius or Apollinarius were refuted by just such arguments as I mention above.
But, IMO, and in the view of some Historical Theologians, Nestorius was no heretic. He was misunderstood because he did not like preaching that Mary is the mother of God.
Have you read Nestorius or have you contemplated Cyril's anathemas against him?
See Acts 13:33, which interprets Psalm 2:7 in the context of the resurrection.
BTW, I believe in the eternal Sonship of Jesus (Prov 30:4, etc.)
The problem in thinking that Christ's sonship began with the VB is that He seems, AS SON, to be one with the Father (Jo 10:30); preexistent in glory with the Father (17:5); the express image of the Father (Heb 1:3, hupostasis) ; come out from the Father (Jo 16:28, 'ek para') , and be Creator and Sustainer of the universe(Col 1.
Seemingly , these texts relate to Christ AS SON ; they do not seem to apply to Christ in any state or status which He was before He was Son! Certainly that is not said.
In my opinion the KJV is wrong and monogenes does not mean begotten at all it means unique. This I think is evident by a comparison of how the adjective is used in Luke thrice , Hebrews once , and the Septuagint (translating from the Heb texts only yahid which does not mean to beget) seven times. In each the idea is uniqueness or being alone.
But, if He is not Son by being begotten, how is He Son? IMO: "Son" is a Hebraism for equality. So , when the Hebrew reads "sons of the soldiers" or "son of the goldsmith" our translation says soldiers or goldsmith. (2 Chron 25:13;Neh 3:31).
Again, "son of man" = "man", Ps 8:4 with Job 25:6.
So, 'Son of God' = God.
Again, to say God is His Father (making Him Son) = equality with God. (Jo 5:18).
Therefore, when theologians make the Son less than the Father in role or in origin, then IMO they are wrong.
As Helen possibly opines, IMO, God the Son is only less in nature or in authority in His humanity NOT in His deity.
Of course if I say this, then I am saying that some qualities or texts re Christ are to be predicated of His humanity and others of His deity. Then I too, like Nestorius whom someone above called a heretic, fall under Cyril's curse.
[ August 17, 2005, 11:47 AM: Message edited by: UZThD ]
I have read very little of Nestorius but my understanding is as you suggest. Mary was the mother of the human nature of Jesus Christ not the divine nature. I believe that is what Nestorius claimed.
When did the Son find out that He would come to die, meanwhile subjecting Himself to the Father? Has He not had that knowledge eternally? Then He would have to have been eternally submissive, unless you believe He rebelled against the idea until He was talked into it.
If God is truly immutable, then the Son has always been subject to the Father and the Spirit to the Son.
I believe that you are wrong. But if you are correct then the doctrine of the Trinity would be faultu and the statement that all the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in God the Son could not be correct.
Also how do you explain the following passage of Scripture:
Philippians 2:5-8 [KJV]
5. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 [Green's Literal]
5. For let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus,
6. who subsisting in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God,
7. but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, having become in the likeness of men
8. and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, having become obedient until death, even the death of a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 [Young's Literal]
5. For, let this mind be in you that is also in Christ Jesus,
6. who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God,
7. but did empty himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made,
8. and in fashion having been found as a man, he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death--death even of a cross,
IMO this argument breaks against two rocks:
1) the unity of God.
Unless we think that God has two or more minds and two or more faculties of will, then IMO, one Person cannot be in subjection to the other. There are not , after all, three Gods!
2) the incarnation .
If we are Chalcedonians, not Eutychians, Christ has both true humanity and true deity which do not blend.
If Christ has a TRUE humanity it follows that that humanity is replete with a human mind and a human will in addition to a divine mind and will.
This regularly is taught among both ancient and modern "evangelicals."
If the humanity does not have these , then Apollinarius was right and Christ's humanity is the LOGOS moving the body around!
But contrary to that, the writer of Hebrews says He is like us in temptations, and He learned obedience.
The mind and will of God neither learns nor is it tempted. So, unless that is done in the humanity, Christ's deity CHANGES in what it knows (see Lk 2:52). Would not that prove God mutable were these to occur in the Son's deity? One Person who is God learns what the other knows? Oh my
It is in His humanity, IMO, that Christ that obeys , not in His deity.
Therefore, the will of the Son as God is not required to be subordinate because He is in His humanity subordinate neither can He be ,as God ,because God is one!
IF sovereignty is an attribute of the Father and submissiveness is an attribute of the Son (as God) , then these Persons are DIFFERENT! But if a Person is different than GOD , that Person is NOT GOD---IMO. Atrributes reside in nature not in Persons, therefore, different attributes mean different natures!
[ August 18, 2005, 07:56 PM: Message edited by: UZThD ]
As far as I am concerned no one has addressed the problem as well as John Dagg in his Manual of Theology who writes [page 253].
In this order of operation [ref: The Covenant of Grace], inferiority of nature is not implied, in the subordination of office to which the Son and the Spirit voluntarily consent. The fulness of the Godhead dwells in each of the divine persons, and renders the fulfillment of the covenant infallibly sure, in all its stipulations. The Holy Spirit, in the execution of his office, dwells in believers; but he brings with him the fulness of the Godhead, so that God is in them, and they are the temple of God, and filled with the fulness of God. The Son or Word, in the execution of his office, becomes the man Jesus Christ; but the fulness of the Godhead dwells in him; so that, in his deepest humiliation he is God manifest in the flesh, God over all, blessed for ever.
I don't see a problem, Helen is correct.
Look, Jesus even humbled Himself before His disciples/apostles by washing their feet and said that we should practice the same.
How was the Father greater than the Son?
Jesus laid aside the Glory of deity for one thing.
We know this because He expected for it to be returned.
John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
ok. BB Warfield also suggested an eternal Covenant between the Trinal Persons as the cause of relational subordination.
Help me out. What verse says that?