Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Great Resource On Eternal Generation

I want to recommend the following article as strongly as possible. This is an excellent treatment of the subject of eternal generation by David Waltz: http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2010/03/eternal-generation-of-son.html.

For those who aren't familiar with what Eternal Generation is, 'Eternal Generation' is the name of the doctrine expressed in the Nicene Creed as follows:

"And in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the Son of God,
begotten from the Father, only-begotten,
that is, from the substance of the Father,
God from God,
light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten not made,
of one substance with the Father"

The Nicene-Constantinople Creed is vey clear on it as well:

"And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God, 
begotten of the Father before all worlds;
God of God,
Light of Light,
very God of very God;
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father"

This sadly neglected doctrine is crucial to the Nicene understanding of the Trinity and has proved a bulwark of Orthodoxy against the heresies of Sabellianism and Arianism because if it is true, then it logically follows that Christ must be both a numerically distinct person from the Father (hence defeating Sabellianism which says the Father and Son are the same person) as well as truly God in His very nature, consubstantial with the Father (hence defeating Arianism, which denies the divinity of the Son).

Contra the erroneous claim that this doctrine finds its beginning with the church father Origen in the 3rd century, it can be traced back through Justin Martyr in the 2nd century and Ignatius in the 1st. But far more importantly, it can be proven from the scriptures. More to come on this. :)

Grace and peace,

Andrew


2 comments:

  1. So, what is the difference between eternal sonship and eternal generation? How are they not the same?

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  2. Eternal generation and eternal sonship are linked. They both agree that from all eternity, Christ is the Son of God -that belief is eternal sonship in a nutshell. Eternal generation explains this eternal sonship by saying that Christ was begotten by the Father before the ages, and that it is for this reason/basis that He is eternally the Son.

    So while eternal generation includes a belief in eternal sonship (since it is the logical result of eternal generation), there are some in more recent times who have denied eternal generation but still maintained that Christ has always been the Son (as opposed to not becoming the Son until the incarnation or resurrection, as some have theorized). So basically, people who hold eternal sonship without eternal generation tend to admit that Christ has always been the Son of God (the result of eternal generation) while denying the biblical/theological/logical basis for that eternal sonship by denying eternal generation.

    I imagine there are a variety of alternative explanations they give for why Christ's sonship is eternal -one I have come across is to claim that the persons of the Trinity merely decided to act as Father, Son, and Spirit in regards to their redemptive roles, which basically makes the whole thing a bit of a divine charade, in my opinion. Another way to say that would be that they hold a "relational trinity" and not an ontological Trinity -the difference being that the relational trinity explains the Sonship of Christ as a mere role that was chosen, and being nothing more than the way that the first and second persons of the Trinity have chosen to interact; whereas the latter explains the relationships of the Trinity as being grounded in who they are as they exist -that is, the first and second persons of the Trinity interact as Father and Son not just because they chose to do so, but because they actually are Father and Son by virtue of eternal genration -the Father really begat the Son, and the Son was really begotten by the Father, so they are in the truest sense Father and Son, and so they interact as Father and Son because they actually are ontologically so (the view of the early church, and for that matter, the majority of Christians over the centuries).

    Does that help clarify at all?

    In Christ,

    Andrew

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