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Robert Reymond's Attack on the Eternal Generation

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Andrew C Bain, Apr 23, 2005.

  1. Andrew C Bain

    Andrew C Bain New Member

    Apr 6, 2005
    Robert L. Reymond writes:
    Reymond has made a most desperate attack (in the form of a defence) upon the doctrine of God's existence. Not only has he undone the doctrine of the Trinity -- flying in the very face of the Godhead -- but, his teaching directly murders God's eternal existence. We know nothing of God, but in the light of "the Father's and Son's soteric activity as well as the Spirit's to them in the economy of redemption." Yet, Reymond asserts that there is no reality in the Divine nature itself corresponding to this revealed soteric activity; indeed, he denies that in there is any sense whatsoever that Christ is eternally begotten, or that the Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son. He writes that, in the case of the procession of the Holy Spirit, there is no description here "of an inscrutable mysterious process transpiring eternally within the Trinity." Arbitrary! Reymond has made God's revelation arbitrary, by disconnecting the workings of the Trinity with mankind, from the workings of the Trinity eternally. Where does this reasoning lead? If the revelation of the Father and the Son sending the Holy Spirit is only descriptive of God's relations with men, and not reflective of the nature or essence of the Godhead itself, then we know NOTHING of the attributes of God in Himself. By denying that God's economy of redemption reflects the essential and personal subsistence of the Godhead, Reymond has deprived man of any knowledge of God.

    Armed with his own natural concept of "self-existence", Reymond judges the biblical truth of the Son's eternal generation -- Christ having eternally derived His essence from the Father -- to be incompatible with "self-existence". He writes, "the titles "Father" and "Son" must not be freighted respectively with the occidental ideas of source of being and essential superiority on the one hand and of subordination and dependency on the other ... to say that the Son ... was begotten out of the being of the Father by a continuing act of begetting on the Father's part ... [is] virtually denying to the Son the attribute of self-existence, an attribute essential to deity." (p325-6). I'd like to see what would happen if Reymond applied his own concept of "oneness" to the Trinity. Were he to do so, he may find that the idea of a Trinity seems to be "virtually denying" that God is One. So too, Reymond may struggle with the eternity of the Godhead, if he was to apply his concept of “self-existence” to an eternal Godhead. Reymond has his whole thinking back to front, for instead of accepting the truth of eternal generation, he first examines the idea based upon his own definitions of "subordinationism" and "self-existence", and then discards the truth that Christ derives His essence from the Father, as “virtually denying” His deity. What is my point? My point is that there is an assumption on the part of Reymond that he understands the concept of "self-existence" apart from the Bible, and thus he draws a false conclusion, positing that if the Son derives His essence from the Father, then the Son must be “inferior” and “subordinate”, and the Father must be “superior”.

    But how does Reymond know this? I understand that the Son derives His essence from the Father, but why should I conclude that the Son I believe in is "inferior" and "subordinate"? God is entirely incomprehensible to me, except for His revelation, and nowhere in the Bible can I find the concept, that, if I believe that the Son derives His essence from the Father, then my Son must be "subordinate" or "inferior". Reymond claims that the truth of eternal generation is "beyond the deliverances of Scripture", but he uses no Scripture himself to demonstrate that Christ being self-existence and eternally begotten, are contradictory. Thus Reymond applies a standard to others, which he is not willing to apply to himself. Even in the midst of caution and circumspection, he unwarily condemns himself, for at no point, does he quote Scripture on this point. Reymond is a hypocrite, who's concepts of subordination and self-existence –-to use his own words—are "beyond the deliverances of Scripture", and by applying his own standard of “self-existence” to the eternal generation of the Son, he has called divine revelation to the bar of natural reasoning.

    Yet, every true believer can learn of the doctrine of the eternal generation. Christ is "the only begotten Son,"(Jn1:18) "the only begotten of the Father,"(Jn1:14) who "was with God,"(Jn1:1) and "in the form of God, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God," (Phi2:6) who was God, "in the bosom of the Father,"(Jn1:18) "came out from the Father,"(Jn16:28) was sent of the Father,(1Jn4:14) in the Father, and the Father in Him, (Jn10:28) one with the Father, (Jn10:30) "the image of the invisible God,"(Col1:15) the Brightness of his Father's glory, the express Image of His essence, (Heb1:3). Yet, Reymond has reduced Christ's essence of Sonship to a "distinguishing property of filiation", so that several of those passages just quoted, would refer not to God in Himself, but only his temporal dealings with mankind. Questions soon begin to arise, such as, in Reymond’s mind, is there really any difference between the Father and the Son? The more one reads Reymond, the more one senses that there is an inherent conviction on his part, that Trinity is only a threefold denomination of one God, manifested in three distinct characters, with hardly any distinct personality at the bottom of each person, but merely slight "distinguishing properties". To say that the distinguishing property between the Father and the Son, is merely that one is more paternal than the other, does not account for Scriptural passages, such as Psalm 2:7 and Proverbs 8. "I will declare concerning the statute of Jehovah: He said to Me, You are My Son. Today I have begotten You."(Psa2:7). What day? The day of eternity (which is one continued now) – Christ is eternally begotten. "Jehovah possessed me" says the Messiah "in the beginning of His way, before His works. I was set up from everlasting, from that which was before the earth. When there were no depths, I was brought forth...then I was at His side"(Prov8:22-24,30) Here, the Targum, the Syriac, and the Septuagint versions give us the meaning of all the varieties of expressions which have the same meaning as the English word, "begotten".

    The Son was “set up from everlasting”. Now Reymond would allow that "the Son had glory with the Father" eternally and Christ "was before all things” eternally. Why then, is Christ not eternally begotten (“set up from everlasting”), eternally “the only begotten of the Father”, and eternally “out of the Father”? The Fatherhood of the Father and Sonship of the Son are eternal, and since the only knowledge we have been given of these relations is the Son “out of the Father”, this must be the actual in workings of the Trinity. After all, isn’t Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever? Otherwise, if we deny that the Son’s coming out of the Father is eternal, we are left with absolute atheism, and know nothing of the reality of relation subsisting among the Three themselves, who are One.

    By reducing the relations between the persons of the Godhead, to the "paternity" of the Father, and "filiation" of the Son, Reymond must understand Christ as “the only begotten” to have only begun with His incarnation. The would mean that the Christ’s essence of being begotten (according to Reymond) has no more foundation in pure Deity or divine nature, than the hands, feet, eyes, ears and wings which are ascribed to God, after the manner of men, being merely names of economy, official service, and manifested relations toward men, and not essential to the Godhead. In fact, according to Reymond, were you to ascribe the procession of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as a representation of the inward working of the Trinity, then you are a heretic who has denied the deity (self-existence) of the Holy Spirit. He writes, "to set forth the ... assertion of the Holy Spirit's eternal procession from ... the Father and the Son ... [is to have] subordinated the Spirit to the Father and the Son not only in modes of operation but in essential subsistence as well ... [one has] denied thereby to the Holy Spirit the attribute of autotheotic self-existence."(p332). The would mean that the procession of the Holy Spirit (according to Reymond) has no more foundation in pure Deity or divine nature, than the hands, feet, eyes, ears and wings which are ascribed to God, after the manner of men, being merely names of economy, official service, and manifested relations toward men, and not essential to the Godhead.

    Furthermore, to see Christ as “the only begotten” in a higher sense than the incarnation—to say that Christ is eternally, essentially and divinely begotten—according to Reymond, is to deny Christ’s deity. He writes, "the explanation ... [of] the Son acquiring his essence and personal subsistence from the Father through an eternal act of being begotten, and the Spirit acquiring his essence and personal subsistence from the Father and the Son through an eternal act of proceeding. ... [makes] God the Father alone autotheotic." It is easy to see the drift of Reymond's reasoning. He is saying that anyone who believes Christ is eternally begotten, is actually making the Father eternally superior to the Son, and denying that Christ is the self-existent Son of God. This returns to the first point I made about Reymond’s natural conceptions of “self-existence”. His argument implies, that he himself is entitled to comprehend not only the matter revealed, but also the manner of it, or altogether to reject the incomprehensible thing, as if he knew what "self-existence" was in itself. To affirm that Christ is begotten, and that the Spirit proceeds, in any other and higher sense than in temporal relations with men, is, by Reymond's doctrine, to affirm, that they are not God, but to make the Spirit "subordinate", "inferior", and "the Father alone autotheotic."

    Once again, the person reading this should be reminded that, to deny the eternal generation of the Son, is to reduce Christ as “set up from everlasting”, as “the only begotten of the Father”, and as “out of the Father”, to mere temporal and arbitrary modes of speech describing nothing of God in Himself, but only his dealings with man. And this is absolute atheism.

    It is criminal for any man to remain neutral on such a grand and weighty article as the Sonship of Christ, where His Sonship is defined as Him being "set up from everlasting" by the Father. At stake is our whole knowledge of God. Can a believer by good and necessary consequence learn of the Trinity in Himself, from reading of His dealings with men? If we deny this, then we lay a heavy charge against Jesus Christ. The Lord reproved the Sadducees for erring, not knowing the Scriptures touching the resurrection of the dead; however, in the passage adduced by him from the books of Moses, there is no mention at all made, in express words, letters and sounds, either of the dead or their resurrection, but only in sense, by means of good and necessary consequence, and connections of argument, and those too, by no means at first sight very obvious and open to everyone's perception. Perhaps the Sadducees claimed that Christ’s doctrine of the Resurrection was “beyond the deliverances of Scripture”? Mr Reymond, you stand with the Sadducees, by attempting to reduce the knowledge contained in the counsel of God. Robert, may the Lord open your eyes, that you may perceive, and shake the viper from your hand into the fire, before you drop down dead!

    Andrew C. Bain

  2. BobRyan

    BobRyan Active Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Two or three points are apparent.

    #1. The author is wrong in saying that in the open debate of Matt 22 that the "Sadducees" concede the point to Christ by assuming FOR HIS CASE - that HE MUST have evidence/reason/logic BEYOND scripture for nothing IN scripture makes His case.

    A. This could never be the position of a truly motivate debate opponant. RATHER they would argue that their own position is correct and that all others are "baseless" stories having no foundation in scripture. They would never "ASSUME FOR the opposing argument".

    B. THE BASIS of Christ's PROOF was in the ACCEPTED doctrines of the opponent. Christ states that God is NOT the God of the dead. -- THEY AGREED without challenge. THIS WAS the heart of their OWN position. He then states that SINCE relationship IN DEATH is impossible " by definition" accepted by the Sadducees THEN the only solution was the resurrection. Clearly this was the only alternative from their OWN POV.

    C. Job mentions the resurrection.

    2. The author seems to want to argue the eternal Sonship of Christ in a co-equal Godhead from all eternity. I agree that in terms of Creation - we see Him as God the Son. But who knows how the Trinity related to each other before the creation of intelligent life?

    Some of this stuff is not engraved on stones for us to be so dogmatic about.

    In Christ,