Sonship of Christ question

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Vlad_IL, Jun 9, 2005.

  1. Vlad_IL

    Vlad_IL
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    Yesterday I was listening to the Bible Answer Man (Hank Hanegraaf) and the topic was ‘Mormonism’.

    One of the Mormon’s was asked if they believed in self-existence of Christ.

    Now, I believe that Christ is NOT self-sufficient, He is fully God, but He is THE SON and is begotten/born of the Father. Born, but not created (i.e. Christ does not have a beginning, He is eternal but He is ‘created’ by the Father, as God’s wisdom or God’s Word).

    Am I on the right path?

    I’m preparing a sermon on the Trinity and would like to get as much info as possible on this subject.

    I know that saying “I don’t believe in self-existence of Christ” sounds heretical, but it appears that NONE of the Person’s in the Trinity are self-existent, except may be the Father, but He could not exist (technically) without the Son, as noone would be able to see Him.

    Any thoughts/Scriptures would be appreciated.

    in Christ,

    Vlad
    Ps. In case you are wondering, I fully adhere to the Nicene Creed myself, but there are many preachers in my church who hold the ‘Incarnational Sonship’ view, which holds that the Son was not existing as THE SON prior to His incarnation. In their view, He did exist, but not as THE SON. Some Catholics call this view ‘Twinity’.

    And that’s why I’m interested in this topic at the moment.
     
  2. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    A good start is Gromacki's book The Virgin Birth. Oh, yeah, prevyet, moy brat.
     
  3. jdcanady

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    John 1 is a great place to start.

    There is a three-fold equality in John 1. Temporal equality ("in the beginning": A clear reference to Genesis 1 and a Jewish understanding of eternity past), Positional equality (the Word was "with God": Face to face with the God of the Old Testament. No one but God could stand face to face with God), and an equality of essence: (the "Word was God"); Every thing that made God the Father "divine", the Word was as well.

    Also notice the personal pronoun in v.2 '"He" was in the beginning with God.' A clear indication of a separate person within the Godhead. This is a restatement of v.1 for emphasis. "He" as a separate person, was in the beginning (temporal) with God (face to face).

    John 1:3 "All things came into being by Him (The Word=Messiah=Jesus), and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."

    This verse clearly states (both positively and negatively for added emphasis) that all things came into being by Him. If He is a "being", that is, if He (Jesus) has existence, and He does, then this verse clearly indicates He must be self-existent, otherwise it is factually in error to say "all things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."

    I hope this is helpful for a start.
     
  4. Vlad_IL

    Vlad_IL
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    Thans for your post and I completely agree with you. But my question goes a little deeper. To the relationship between the Persons.

    In one sense, calling Father, Son and the Spirit "Person" separates them more than they are (in my opinion). I think they are so close, that they cannot be called 'Person' (but Person will do, as there is no equivalent word in the language...)

    Do you think the Son originates from the Father?

    in Christ,
    Vlad
    ps. Privet to all who speak Russian :)
     
  5. jdcanady

    jdcanady
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    Vlad_IL

    I do not see scriptural support for the doctrine that the Son originates from the Father in the manner you have proposed. Scripture does support the doctrine that the three persons exist within the Godhead, using personal pronouns when referring to the Godhead. Of course, there is only One God, so they cannot be divided in such a way that violates that doctrine.

    Our understanding will be limited because we are limited. Remember that God must condescend to us when He reveals Himself because we are flesh and He is Spirit. We are limited in our understanding, both in the breath of knowledge and the ability to comprehend. He has no limitations.

    There is nothing to compare Himself to with total accuracy. I can assume you are a man, probably of Russian background, probably a pastor of a congregation in Illinois. I went to seminary with a man of Russian background, so when I think of you, I see someone like my friend. About 6 feet tall, short brown hair, who mangles some words in English, but who is suprising funny, utterly devoted to God and studying scripture and with a great yearning for those in the former Soviet Republics. That may or may not be accurate, but it is a reference I can understand.

    God is the unique being in the universe in that nothing can be compared to Him with total accuracy; He is the only one like Himself. He, therefore, uses terminology that we can understand.

    Jesus will therefore refer to God as "Father" and Himself as "Son", and the Holy Spirit as "Comforter" or "Advocate". All of these terms accurately describe God and the relationship within the Godhead, but do not fully describe that relationship.

    They are used purposefully so that we can have a better understanding of who God is and what His nature is like. Jesus will also take the name of the God of the Old Testament for Himself (See the "I am" statements of John, especially 8:58).

    I understand the Trinity as a useful term that sets our boundaries for our understanding. We cannot deny the 3 persons (Modalists or Oneness Penteconstals) nor the One God (Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons). Other boundaries exists in our doctrine, such as the doctrine that Jesus is fully God and fully human.

    Your attempt to understand the relationship within the Trinity is taking you very close to one of the boundaries. To say that there was a time Jesus did not exist in some point of eternity past is an old heresy that will violate the doctrine (or logically lead to such a violation) that Jesus is fully God. This is currently seen among the Jehovah Witnesses who believe Jesus was the Archangel Michael. Michael was the first created of creation and is refered to as "a" God in John 1:1.

    At some point we must step back and be satisfied with the understanding we have this side of heaven, which is real and accurate and ultimately joyful, but nevertheless not total or complete.

    I do hope this is helpful
     
  6. icthus

    icthus
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    The doctrine of the "begetting of the Son from the Father", is not taught anywhere in Scripture, and is a heresy that dates from the early Church. The heretic, Origen in the second century taught that Jesus was "eteranally begotten" from the Father by means of "Generation". This view supposes that the Father alone is without beginning, and that the Son derives His existence from the Father. The so-called Nicene Creed was drawn up by the Orthodox, from a document presented to them by the Church historian, Eusebius, who was more "Arian" than Orthodox in his view of the Trinity and Deity of Jesus Christ. His subordinate views of the Person of Jesus to the Father can be seen by the wording of the Nicene Creed: "God from God, Light from Light", where in each case the preposition "from" (lit, "ek", "out of"), denotes that the Son is derived from the Father, and therefore not equal to Him. Also, with the phrase, "begotten not created", while trying to appear Orthodox, is far from it, again teaching the subordination of the Person of Jesus Christ to the Father. It should be noted, that many of the Orthodox in the early Church adopted some of the heretical language for Jesus Christ, as they wrongly regarded Origen's theology as "safe", though he was exposed as being the forerunner to Arius himself.

    Biblicaiily speaking, the Three Persons in the Trinity, are Co-Equal, Co-Essential and Co-Eternal. We have to use this for our starting point, since this is the only way that we are really going to understand what the Bible says on the Persons in the Trinity. In no way is the Son or Holy Spirit inferior to the Father, nor is the Father in any way greater than the Son and Holy Spirit. The Three are God in the fullest sense of the word, though not Three God's, but Three Persons in one "substance". As we would say: 1x1x1=1
     
  7. UZThD

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    I agree that Scripture does not teach an eternal begetting of the Son. The framers of the Nicene creed used 'beget' (gennao) in a way (IMO) it is not used of God the Son. Were the Father the source of the Son then the Son would not have the divine quality of aseity as has the Father since aseity means being self-caused. But in order to be God, the Son would have to have the same qualities of God in the same manner-IMO.
     
  8. icthus

    icthus
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    Hi, can you please explain the bit on the use of "gennao" by those who used it in the NC? Thanks
     
  9. Vlad_IL

    Vlad_IL
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    Well, you are close. I'm 6' 5", but not a pastor, (I'm the pastor's son :).

    Having said that, I can say that I agree with most of what you are saying and because I don't want to BE a heretic, I'd usually stay away from this subject in general, had it not been for Jehovah's Witnessess, Christadelphians and Mormons (all of whom err on this subject).

    But, your issue "To say that there was a time Jesus did not exist in some point of eternity past is an old heresy that will violate the doctrine (or logically lead to such a violation) that Jesus is fully God."
    is not founded in anything I've said so far.

    I've said that Jesus Christ is ETERNAL but I'd not say (at least not without further Scriptural support) that each Person is self-existent.

    I believe that God is self existent, but to say that EACH Person in the Godhead is self-existent would border on tri-theism.

    Secondly, we have many Scriptures that pose a problem to us, some of which are:

    NASB:
    Matt 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

    John 17:8 ...for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.

    John 17:22.."The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;

    John 5:30 "I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

    John 8:28 So Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.

    John 14:10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.

    Notice: Jesus uses words like 'GIVEN' - why was the GLORY given to Christ, did He not have it?

    BUT... if one holds the view that Christ is generated by the Father, then EVERYTHING the Father has is GIVEN to the SON, as the IMAGE is given everything the ORIGINAL has.

    Now, I did not come up with the word image, Paul did:

    Col. 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

    Some say that as a HUMAN Jesus was subordinate, but... what about Holy Spirit, why is He not saying ANYTHING by His own initiative?

    John 16:13 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.


    Sorry for using many CAPS, as I'm trying to emphasize certain things and I have to run...

    In Christ,
    Vlad

    It is questions like these forced me to take a look and become an adherent to the Nicene Creed.
     
  10. Marcia

    Marcia
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    But if you say God is self-existent and Jesus and the HS are not, you are dividing Jesus and the HS from God the Father. God is one nature and the Father, Son, and HS are all persons in that divine nature. "Persons" is just a convenient term; they are not separate but are distinct from each other.

    Jesus is God's Son in terms of relationship, not in terms of being anything inferior.

    Jesus as subordinate to the Father and the HS as subordinate to Jesus are a picture of the order and relationship within the Trinity. It does not mean that one is superior ontologically to the others or that God the Father is self-existent and the Son and HS are not. They have the same nature.

    IMO, it's just that that is the only way to present it to us since we cannot completely comprehend the Trinity.
     
  11. Charles Meadows

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    Vlad,

    This is a tricky semantic issue.

    It is true that the Nicene fathers would have considered any notion of the Son (Jesus) being generated (from a nonexistent state) by the Father to be heresy. Understand that they were quite concerned with refuting Arianism at that time - thus the formula "eternally begotten". This allows for Jesus to be Son and begotten but yet to still have been fully God and not a created being.
     
  12. UZThD

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    Hi, can you please explain the bit on the use of "gennao" by those who used it in the NC? Thanks </font>[/QUOTE]===

    For Vlad:

    (IMO)

    All Scriptural references which indicate a subordination in role for the Son refer to the incarnate Christ, NOT the preincarnate Christ, which by the addition of the form of a servant (Phil 2) has both the ability and the role of being permanantly relationally subordinate through the mind and will of that added nature.

    for Icthus:

    (IMO)

    The verb gennao ( I begat) is not ever used in the Bible for the divine nature of Christ but only for His humanity. [Burdick thinks that in 1 Jo 5:18 the verb is gnomic aorist and so perhaps a reference to the eternality of the begetting, but I think not].

    However, the early Christian creeds do use the verb gennao in connection with Christ's divine nature to indicate the immanent Trinal relationship between the Father and the Son. EG, :

    Gregory Thaumataturgas in 270 has, " The Father is the Perfect Begetter" [telios gennetor] of the perfect begotten [monogenous].

    Lucian around 300 has Christ born of Mary and also begotten [gennethenta] of the Father before the ages.

    Even Arius has it that the Son is begotten of the Father before all ages [ pro panton ton aionon].

    Then there is the ecumenical creed of Nicaea (325) which states that God the Son is begotten [gennethenta] of the substance of the Father [ek tes ousias tou patros]! It is of course the case that the " ousias tou patros " was intended to refute Arius and to indicate the manner of the Son having the same substance (homoousian) as does the Father . This doctrine is reproduced in the creeds of the Greek Orthodox church and is implied in some Protestant symbols as the Westminster as well.

    The doctrine of the eternal, unending begetting of the SOn is taught today by modern Protestant theologians as Berkhof , Wiley , and Shedd in their systematics , and Dahms in his articles in the journals New Testament Studies and the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.

    But I much resent that teaching. IMO it began in order to resist tritheism by affirming the monarchy of the Father as the Source of the other Persons of the Trinity and NOT by careful exegetics.

    I think that for the Son to true God He must be truly the perfect equal of the Father ; therefore, I predicate any subordination of the Son to His humanity not His deity.

    I do not believe in differents sorts of Gods. IF there is only one God, then ALL of Him must be equal. Anything less would not be God!

    Bill Grover
     
  13. shannonL

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    Dude,

    That is going to be one long sermon.
     
  14. icthus

    icthus
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    UZThD

    I agree, the "subordination" of Jesus to the Father can only be related to His Incarnation (see John 17:5), as Servant to a Master. Any notion of Christ deriving His "essential being" from the Father is pure heresy, and reduces the Son to an inferior God, something that Origen, Arius, and Lucian were happy to accept. The language used by those who framed the Nicene Creed, such as "ek tes ousias tou patros", is not Biblical, and played into the hands of the heretics who regarded Jesus as nothing more than a created being from the uncreated Father. To maintain the equalness of the Persons of the Trinity, we have to hold that each Member is self-dependant, and yet related to each other regarding their substance. I am aware that many of the modern Protestant theologians accept the doctrine of the "Eternal Generation" of the Son from the substance of the Father, but sadly they have accepted a position that is clearly heretical, and reduces the Trinity to that of an order of Persons, rather than roles.
     
  15. icthus

    icthus
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    Nonetheless, the "begetting" of Jesus from the Father, as touching His Deity, is clearly heretical. The early Church were trying to combat the early heresies on the Person of Christ, by using language that the heretics themselves used, but with different meanings. This did not work, as they thmeselves fell into the same errors by making Christ into a second God.
     
  16. icthus

    icthus
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    But if you say God is self-existent and Jesus and the HS are not, you are dividing Jesus and the HS from God the Father. God is one nature and the Father, Son, and HS are all persons in that divine nature. "Persons" is just a convenient term; they are not separate but are distinct from each other.

    Jesus is God's Son in terms of relationship, not in terms of being anything inferior.

    Jesus as subordinate to the Father and the HS as subordinate to Jesus are a picture of the order and relationship within the Trinity. It does not mean that one is superior ontologically to the others or that God the Father is self-existent and the Son and HS are not. They have the same nature.

    IMO, it's just that that is the only way to present it to us since we cannot completely comprehend the Trinity.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Marcia, you simply cannot maintain that the Persons of the Trinity are coequal, coessential and coeternal, if you allow for the Son and Holy Spirit to be subordinate to the Father. This at once makes the Father alone the Supreme Deity, while the Son and HS are secondary to Him. This will land you in the heresy of an unequal Trinity, and play into the hands of the Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.
     
  17. Vlad_IL

    Vlad_IL
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    But if you say God is self-existent and Jesus and the HS are not, you are dividing Jesus and the HS from God the Father. God is one nature and the Father, Son, and HS are all persons in that divine nature. "Persons" is just a convenient term; they are not separate but are distinct from each other.

    Jesus is God's Son in terms of relationship, not in terms of being anything inferior.

    Jesus as subordinate to the Father and the HS as subordinate to Jesus are a picture of the order and relationship within the Trinity. It does not mean that one is superior ontologically to the others or that God the Father is self-existent and the Son and HS are not. They have the same nature.

    IMO, it's just that that is the only way to present it to us since we cannot completely comprehend the Trinity.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Marcia, you simply cannot maintain that the Persons of the Trinity are coequal, coessential and coeternal, if you allow for the Son and Holy Spirit to be subordinate to the Father. This at once makes the Father alone the Supreme Deity, while the Son and HS are secondary to Him. This will land you in the heresy of an unequal Trinity, and play into the hands of the Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Marcia, I should have clarified my statement further. I should have said that the Tri-Une God (Father, Son AND Holy Spirit) are self-existent, but individual Persons depend on each other, (i.e. the Father would not be the Father had He not had the Son, etc...)

    Second, I know that it is easy to sound spiritual, yet, be off-base Biblically.

    I can show you Scripture, which says that EVEN in the human body, Jesus was EQUAL with the Father

    John 5:26 "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;

    Note: This verse has EQUALity yet, functional subordination with it. Son has the life JUST AS the Father does, yet, the Son is GIVEN life...

    John 5:22 "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

    Similar pattern in the verse above...

    But for those that say that Christ was subordinate while He was on earth ONLY, how do you interpret the following verses?

    Col. 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form...

    The verse in Col. means that EVEN in the body Christ had all fullness of Deity.

    So... is Christ divided? Is Christ speaking as a man only or as God only? In my view, He always speaks as GOD-MAN, for He is ONE Person.

    Also note the present tense of 'dwells', which means Christ is in HUMAN body (though glorified) today.

    Secondly, we have Pauline letters to Corinthians, which state:

    1 Cor. 11:3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

    Did Paul say "GOD IS the head"? How come Paul uses present tense?

    1 Cor. 15:28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

    The above verse shows that Christ is equal with the Father, (i.e. Father is subjecting all things to Him), yet, functionally subordinate.

    In addition, notice how close the Person's are. It is impossible to believe in the Father, but NOT in the Son...

    John 12:44 And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me.

    Mt. 10:40 "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

    John 5:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

    NOTICE: For Salvation, we must believe in the... FATHER? How could that be when Christ is the ONE who died? Well, I can only explain that by the fact that they are so close. By the fact that Christ is the IMAGE of the Father.

    Col. 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

    Lastly, Notice how much Scripture I've quoted so far. Yet, I'm the one who holds 'heretical' views?

    In Christ,

    Vlad
    ps. I thought Nicene Creed was universally accepted by all churches which are Orthodox.
     
  18. Vlad_IL

    Vlad_IL
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    Marcia,

    Only the first paragraph of my post was addressed to you personally.

    I wish I could edit my posts... but my time has elapsed.
     
  19. icthus

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    Vlad_IL

    Hi I am not sure who you are addressing your last post to, since you have my quote to Marcia, and then address your response to her.

    I do not follow your arguments as listed in your post on the relations between the Father and the Son. It is very clear to me from Scripture, that the "subordination" of Jesus Christ, to the Father was only during His time on earth. That, before this time, and after his ascension, Jesus has "regained" His coequality with the Father. John 17:5 brings this our very well, especially when looked at in the Greek. The Trinity is a great mystery which our limited human knowledge will never understand. However, from the data that we have in Scripture, we can safely conclude that we have One God, Who is Three Persons. I do not accept that the Father was always the Father, and the Son, always the Son. I am of the opinion that these "roles" are for the Incarnation only. The very nature of a relationship between Father and Son, carries with it a subordinate one, which I believe was that between Jesus and the Father. However, even while on earth Jesus showed that, even though on the one hand He was as Servant subordinate to the Father, yet, He could claim "equal honour" to the Father (John 5:23), something that He could not have done had He "emptied Himself" of His Divine attributes, as some have suggested in the Kenotic heresy.

    I for one do not agree with the wording of the Nicene Creed, as I see too much influence from the Arian theology that was adopted by many of the Orthodox, even the champion of their cause, Athansius!
     
  20. UZThD

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    If we do not distinguish between that which is said of His humanity and that which is said of His deity , then we have a God ,who is worn out from walking ,recuperating at Jacob's well (Jo 4) , and we have a Man who is (present tense) holding together the universe (Col 1). We have a God maturing (Lk 2:52) instead of a God who is perfect.

    Many of the Greek and the Latin fathers clearly made that distinction and predicated certain qualities, experiences, and acts to each nature: read the Creeds of Chalecedon or Constantinople or Agatho or the Damascene.

    If we suppose that Jo 5:26 and the giving of life ( and this is a primary text used by those who teach eternal begetting) refers to God the Son in His deity instead of to Jesus in His humanity, then, we must also suppose that God the Son in His deity learned from God the Father (Jo 5:19), and that this learning was ongoing (5:20).

    The effect of that is just as preposterous (IMO) of God giving life to God, for it would require that ONE AS GOD knows less than the OTHER AS GOD. So, TWO minds and intellects in GOD?

    One knowing more than the other? A God who must "go to school" to learn what He does not know?

    Sorry. I don't buy it!

    And no, Nicaea is not accepted by all.
     

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