Thursday, March 26, 2009

Some Subordinationism in Justin, Theophilus, and Tertullian


In the comment section of the recent thread, Apologetics against inferior opponents, our Reformed brother in Christ, Ken Temple, expressed a certain skepticism concerning subordinationism in the writings of the ante-Nicene Church Fathers. While reading a quote from John Thiel’s, Senses of Tradition, which I had cited in THIS THREAD, Ken noticed that Dr. Thiel had not provided references for certain deductions he had made from the writings of Justin Martyr, Theophilus, Tertullian, and Origen. I suspect that Dr. Thiel was of the opinion that his readers would be conversant enough with the literature he was drawing from, that he did not see a need to provide references. Such speculation aside, I shall now remedy Dr. Thiel’s neglect.

First, Justin Martyr, of whom he wrote, “whose reliance on the Middle Platonism of his day led him to portray Christ as a ‘second God’”.

Justin did not actually use the exact phrase “second God” (Gr. deuteros theos) in reference to Jesus. However, he did use a couple of equivalents: “another God and Lord” (Gr. theos kai kurios eteros), and “second place” (Gr. deutera chōra).

Then I replied, “I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures, [of the truth] of what I say, that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things — above whom there is no other God — wishes to announce to them.” (Dialogue With Trypho, ch. 56 – ANF 1.223.)

Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judaea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove. For they proclaim our madness to consist in this, that we give to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all; for they do not discern the mystery that is herein, to which, as we make it plain to you, we pray you to give heed. (First Apology, ch. 13 – ANF 1.166, 167; see also ch. 60.)

Second, Theophilus, “whose strongly Jewish Christianity avowed the creation of the logos by God”.

IMHO, Dr. Thiel overstates what Theophilus actually wrote. Theophilus wrote that God “begat Him [the Logos], emitting Him [the Logos] along with His own wisdom before all things”. (See To Autolycus, 2.10 – ANF 2.98). But, such language exhibits, in very real sense, subordinationism. Theophilus in the same chapter later calls the Logos an “instrument” of God, and “one brought up with Him”.

Third, Tertullian,who still spoke of the created generation of the Son from the Father even as he struggled to maintain the unity of the Father and Son and creaturely difference between the Son and the universe”.

Let Hermogenes then confess that the very Wisdom of God is declared to be born and created, for the especial reason that we should not suppose that there is any other being than God alone who is unbegotten and uncreated. For if that, which from its being inherent in the Lord was of Him and in Him, was yet not without a beginning, — I mean His wisdom, which was then born and created, when in the thought of God It began to assume motion for the arrangement of His creative works, — how much more impossible is it that anything should have been without a beginning which was extrinsic to the Lord! But if this same Wisdom is the Word of God, in the capacity of Wisdom, and (as being He) without whom nothing was made, just as also (nothing) was set in order without Wisdom, how can it be that anything, except the Father, should be older, and on this account indeed nobler, than the Son of God, the only-begotten and first-begotten Word? (Against Hermogenes, ch. 18 – ANF 3.487.)

For before all things God was alone — being in Himself and for Himself universe, and space, and all things. Moreover, He was alone, because there was nothing external to Him but Himself. (Against Praxeas, ch. 5 – ANF 3.600.)

Listen therefore to Wisdom herself, constituted in the character of a Second Person: “At the first the Lord created me as the beginning of His ways, with a view to His own works, before He made the earth, before the mountains were settled; moreover, before all the hills did He beget me;” that is to say, He created and generated me in His own intelligence. (Against Praxeas, ch. 6 – ANF 3.601.)

Then, therefore, does the Word also Himself assume His own form and glorious garb, His own sound and vocal utterance, when God says, “Let there be light.” This is the perfect nativity of the Word, when He proceeds forth from God — formed by Him first to devise and think out all things under the name of Wisdom — “The Lord created or formed me as the beginning of His ways;” then afterward begotten, to carry all into effect — “When He prepared the heaven, I was present with Him.” (Against Praxeas, ch. 7 – ANF 3.601.)

I confess that I call God and His Word — the Father and His Son — two. For the root and the tree are distinctly two things, but correlatively joined; the fountain and the river are also two forms, but indivisible; so likewise the sun and the ray are two forms, but coherent ones. Everything which proceeds from something else must needs be second to that from which it proceeds, without being on that account separated: Where, however, there is a second, there must be two; and where there is a third, there must be three. Now the Spirit indeed is third from God and the Son; just as the fruit of the tree is third from the root, or as the stream out of the river is third from the fountain, or as the apex of the ray is third from the sun. Nothing, however, is alien from that original source whence it derives its own properties. In like manner the Trinity, flowing down from the Father through intertwined and connected steps, does not at all disturb the Monarchy, whilst it at the same time guards the state of the Economy. (Against Praxeas, ch. 8 – ANF 3.603.)


I sense that this post is getting a bit too lengthy, so I shall reserve Origen for another time.


Grace and peace,

David

19 comments:

Voice in the Desert said...

"Such speculation aside, I shall now remedy Dr. Thiel’s neglect."

I wouldn't necessarily call it 'neglect'.

I mean, if I were writing a book on Quantum Mechanics, would I really need to expand on the basics and point the audience it was intended for to resources that would spell out the ABCs of Physics?

That is, just because a layman who happen to be interested in this very topic and happens to purchase the book (who is not in possession of rudimentary knowledge not only in connection with the subject but also as concerning other basic elements like prominent figures in the field as well as various authors and popularly expressed opinions, etc.), would such an author actually be considered neglectful that he happens to have assumed that the audience the book was intended for should already have known these kinds of details?

In other words, the work seems to me to be something of a scholarly nature as opposed to some sort of fly-by-night apologetics book.

David Waltz said...

Hi VitD,

You said:

>>In other words, the work seems to me to be something of a scholarly nature as opposed to some sort of fly-by-night apologetics book.>>

Me: Agreed; and this is why I wrote, “I suspect that Dr. Thiel was of the opinion that his readers would be conversant enough with the literature he was drawing from, that he did not see a need to provide references.”


Grace and peace,

David

Anonymous said...

David,
Thanks for taking the time to get all the specific references to those early church writers who seemed to espouse some form of subordinationism.

Yes, he is a typical scholar, writing only for those who have spent "3 months" fully digesting all the Early Church Fathers, like Frank Beckwith! ( I could not resist that).

At least now one can find the context and see what Dr. Thiel was talking about; and for that, I am grateful.

Very good work.

I will try and respond to some of that later, when I have time to actually read them with more understanding and mental focus on the details.

Just wanted to bring up on comment from the last thread that you made:

Me: But one must keep in mind that in the same book (Revelation) we are told that the saints of God will also sit on the same throne and they too will receive proskuneō.

Do you mean Revelation 3:9 for the second part of your claim, "they too will receive proskuneo."?

Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold,I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn thatI have loved you." Revelation 3:9

The purpose is a one-time bowing down at the feet of the true believers in order to show the unbelieving Jewish people that God loved them, the true believers. This is not worship, in context.

This is a far cry from extrapolating from that, the whole system of Marian unbiblical dogmas and practices and paying poskunew to other icons and statues of dead saints.

They were alive at the time - so it makes it much different. It id obvious not worship; because only God gets worship. RC practice gives the appearance of idolatry because of the statues and icons and prayers before these inanimate objects; a clear violation of the 2nd Commandment.

Where is the first part of your claim, -- "that the saints of God will also sit on the same throne"?

Ken Temple

Technically challenged by all the hoops I keep having go through with google passwords, etc.

Anonymous said...

I guess you mean Revelation 3:21 and the concept of reigning with Christ in Revelation 20.

Now, you are expanding everything to the possibility of "many gods".

It just does not require a magisterium for someone like me to be able to read, understand, depend of the Spirit of God; see the context and discern the difference between worship of God (to the Father, Son (the Lamb) and the Spirit); since there is only one God; and the difference between that and what the saints share in, in the reigning with Christ in the eternal state.

Seems like common sense, once one has read and understood all the relevant passages.

Ken Temple
still having trouble with Goggle's blogger identity thingy.

Voice in the Desert said...

"It just does not require a magisterium for someone like me to be able to read, understand, depend of the Spirit of God; see the context and discern the difference between worship of God (to the Father, Son (the Lamb) and the Spirit); since there is only one God; and the difference between that and what the saints share in, in the reigning with Christ in the eternal state.

Seems like common sense, once one has read and understood all the relevant passages."


Yeah, like it's not as if when it came to the predominant issue of the Trinity back then that they actually needed something like the Council of Nicaea in order to figure things out.

The general flock of Christians were already understanding the Trinity perfectly on their own merely by hearing/reading Scripture -- even though their understanding happened to be an heretical version of it!

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

I want to apologize for not responding to your posts yesterday; in my defense, I finally received a book I have been waiting for, and could not put it down!

You posted:

>>Thanks for taking the time to get all the specific references to those early church writers who seemed to espouse some form of subordinationism.>>

Me: You are welcome.

>>Yes, he is a typical scholar, writing only for those who have spent "3 months" fully digesting all the Early Church Fathers, like Frank Beckwith! ( I could not resist that).>>

Me: GRIN…

>>At least now one can find the context and see what Dr. Thiel was talking about; and for that, I am grateful.

Very good work.>>

Me: Much appreciated…thanks Ken.

>>I will try and respond to some of that later, when I have time to actually read them with more understanding and mental focus on the details.>>

Me: No problem; I shall be patient.

>>Just wanted to bring up on comment from the last thread that you made:

Me: But one must keep in mind that in the same book (Revelation) we are told that the saints of God will also sit on the same throne and they too will receive proskuneō.

Do you mean Revelation 3:9 for the second part of your claim, "they too will receive proskuneo."?

Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold,I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn thatI have loved you." Revelation 3:9

The purpose is a one-time bowing down at the feet of the true believers in order to show the unbelieving Jewish people that God loved them, the true believers. This is not worship, in context.

This is a far cry from extrapolating from that, the whole system of Marian unbiblical dogmas and practices and paying poskunew to other icons and statues of dead saints.

They were alive at the time - so it makes it much different. It id obvious not worship; because only God gets worship. RC practice gives the appearance of idolatry because of the statues and icons and prayers before these inanimate objects; a clear violation of the 2nd Commandment.>>

Me: Strictly speaking, you are correct. But, the important point I am trying to make is that the use of proskuneō in the Bible is not restricted to strict worship of God.

Another interesting example is 1 Chronicles 29:20, which reads:

1 Chronicles 29:20 And David said to all the assembly, Now bless Jehovah your God. And all the assembly blessed Jehovah, the God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped Jehovah, and the king. (ASV)

The LXX for the last part of the verse reads:

prosekunēsav tō kuriō kai tō basilei. (…worshipped the LORD and the king.)

>>Where is the first part of your claim, -- "that the saints of God will also sit on the same throne"?

I guess you mean Revelation 3:21 and the concept of reigning with Christ in Revelation 20.>>

Me: Correct…

>>Now, you are expanding everything to the possibility of "many gods".>>

Me: The use of “God” in the Bible is not restricted in its application to the one, true God; angels, judges, and Israel’s king are given the term.


Grace and peace,

David

Lucian said...

Tertullian also says that the Father and the Son are of the same essence. And thanks for showing the Theophilus quotes: I somehow sensed that his conclusions were untrue.

Lucian said...

I also like Justin's "numerically distinct from the Father": very clear and very precise. He doesn't say "a second God" (that's Philo), but he lists them as "second from Him" and "third from Him".

Ken Temple said...

I have been trying to read the references with understanding, when I have time; and it is indeed a challenging task to do what J.N.D. Kelly said, "soak oneself in the Fathers". Because of time and life and work, we need to "soak ourselves in the Scriptures first".

The massive amount of material in the ECF is just overwhelming.

Furthermore, I had another entry and then lost it a few days ago, so I gave up.

And moreover, this thread is fading as you crank out more issues and posts.

I really wish we had had more classes on the ECF in Seminary. (But that would have taken several more years, not 3 months!)
Tertullian, as the others are also, is wrestling with the text of Proverbs 8, and how to understand Wisdom and Logos, Reason and Intelligence and "the Word" in God from all eternity.


Tertullian, Against Praxeas, chapter 6

Chapter VI.—The Word of God is Also the Wisdom of God. The Going Forth of Wisdom to Create the Universe, According to the Divine Plan.
This power and disposition of the Divine Intelligence is set forth also in the Scriptures under the name of Σοφία, Wisdom; for what can be better entitled to the name of Wisdom than the Reason or the Word of God? Listen therefore to Wisdom herself, constituted in the character of a Second Person: “At the first the Lord created me as the beginning of His ways, with a view to His own works, before He made the earth, before the mountains were settled; moreover, before all the hills did He beget me;” that is to say, He created and generated me in His own intelligence. Then, again, observe the distinction between them implied in the companionship of Wisdom with the Lord. “When He prepared the heaven,” says Wisdom, “I was present with Him; and when He made His strong places upon the winds, which are the clouds above; and when He secured the fountains, (and all things) which are beneath the sky, I was by, arranging all things with Him; I was by, in whom He delighted; and daily, too, did I rejoice in His presence.” Now, as soon as it pleased God to put forth into their respective substances and forms the things which He had planned and ordered within Himself, in conjunction with His Wisdom’s Reason and Word, He first put forth the Word Himself, having within Him His own inseparable Reason and Wisdom, in order that all things might be made through Him through whom they had been planned and disposed, yea, and already made, so far forth as (they were) in the mind and intelligence of God. This, however, was still wanting to them, that they should also be openly known, and kept permanently in their proper forms and substances.”

It is understandable that they wrestled with the texts that indicate a "oneness" and "unity" in God ( God is one) with the "threeness"; beginning with the Son, His eternality, Him being "the Word" ( Logos, Reason, Intelligence expressed, communication). They were trying to find confirmation, it seems of John 1:1 in the OT (here in Proverbs 8). Difficult to say that God existed from all eternity and yet is somehow distinct from His own mind and intelligence, wisdom, and Word. (expressing His thoughts)

So, there is some kind of "subordination" in the sense of role and function, but it still does not seem to rise to the level of the Arians and Jehovah's witnesses.

David,
What do you think it means, "You are My Son; today I have begotten You." ?

Ken Temple said...

Difficult to express the truth that God existed from all eternity and yet is somehow distinct from His own mind and intelligence, wisdom, and Word. (expressing His thoughts) - meaning how can God exist at any time before His mind, thought, reason, and word exist also?

Proverbs 8 is poetry, so "birth" and "prepared", "established" and "created" are words that accommodate to us weak humans. There is just not a way to express these deep thoughts when dealing with the one nature and three persons (here, the two of the Father and the Son (Word; logos); and how to distinguish one's person from one's mind/thought/word/wisdom/intelligence.

Ken Temple said...

Justin did not actually use the exact phrase “second God” (Gr. deuteros theos) in reference to Jesus.

Very good - see, there was a need to investigate Dr. Thiel.

However, he did use a couple of equivalents: “another God and Lord” (Gr. theos kai kurios eteros), and “second place” (Gr. deutera chōra).

Justin himself cannot mean "another God and Lord" as if there are two Gods, but looking at the larger context of Dialogue with Trypho, he is trying to show a Jewish man from the OT, using the appearances and manifestations of God, ie, with Abraham and the "3 men", "one the Lord" and "the 2 angels", (manifestation of 3 persons of the Trinity???), etc. (Genesis 18)to show that others are seemed to be "called" God and Lord.

Then I replied, “I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures, [of the truth] of what I say, that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things — above whom there is no other God — wishes to announce to them.” (Dialogue With Trypho, ch. 56 – ANF 1.223.)

Ken Temple said...

It is interesting to me that the quote you give from Tertullian from Against Praxeas, chapter 5, that "God was alone", if we keep reading, actually Tertullian also says, "God was not alone". So Tertullian is clearly expressing and wrestling with the "oneness" and "plurality" of God at the same time. God cannot have His existence apart from His mind or reason, the logos.

This is much different than the Arian and modern Jehovah's Witness doctrine.

Tertullian, Against Praxeas, chapter 5

For before all things God was alone—being in Himself and for Himself universe, and space, and all things. Moreover, He was alone, because there was nothing external to Him but Himself. Yet even not then was He alone; for He had with Him that which He possessed in Himself, that is to say, His own Reason. For God is rational, and Reason was first in Him; and so all things were from Himself. This Reason is His own Thought (or Consciousness) which the Greeks call λόγος, by which term we also designate Word or Discourse and therefore it is now usual with our people, owing to the mere simple interpretation of the term, to say that the Word was in the beginning with God; although it would be more suitable to regard Reason as the more ancient; because God had not Word from the beginning, but He had Reason even before the beginning; because also Word itself consists of Reason, which it thus proves to have been the prior existence as being its own substance. Not that this distinction is of any practical moment. For although God had not yet sent out His Word, He still had Him within Himself, both in company with and included within His very Reason, as He silently planned and arranged within Himself everything which He was afterwards about to utter through His Word. Now, whilst He was thus planning and arranging with His own Reason, He was actually causing that to become Word which He was dealing with in the way of Word or Discourse. And that you may the more readily understand this, consider first of all, from your own self, who are made “in the image and likeness of God,” for what purpose it is that you also possess reason in yourself, who are a rational creature, as being not only made by a rational Artificer, but actually animated out of His substance. Observe, then, that when you are silently conversing with yourself, this very process is carried on within you by your reason, which meets you with a word at every movement of your thought, at every impulse of your conception. Whatever you think, there is a word; whatever you conceive, there is reason. You must needs speak it in your mind; and while you are speaking, you admit speech as an interlocutor with you, involved in which there is this very reason, whereby, while in thought you are holding converse with your word, you are (by reciprocal action) producing thought by means of that converse with your word. Thus, in a certain sense, the word is a second person within you, through which in thinking you utter speech, and through which also, (by reciprocity of process,) in uttering speech you generate thought. The word is itself a different thing from yourself. Now how much more fully is all this transacted in God, whose image and likeness even you are regarded as being, inasmuch as He has reason within Himself even while He is silent, and involved in that Reason His Word!

I may therefore without rashness first lay this down (as a fixed principle) that even then before the creation of the universe God was not alone, since He had within Himself both Reason, and, inherent in Reason, His Word, which He made second to Himself by agitating it within Himself.

Ken Temple said...

David,
What do you think it means, "You are My Son; today I have begotten You." ?

Is it the incarnation? (Psalm 2, Hebrews 1:4-8; Luke 1:33-34)

Is it the resurrection? (Acts 13:33)

Is it the eternal generation from eternity past, like rays from the sun? (But the time word, "today" gives that a problem.)

Combination of all three?

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Have been away from my computer most of today, and just now finally got around to checking the blog--you have been busy!

Unfortunately, I will not be able to respond at length until tomorrow; "see" you then...


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

As promised, I would now like to take the time to reflect and comment on your yesterday posts. You wrote:

>>Justin did not actually use the exact phrase “second God” (Gr. deuteros theos) in reference to Jesus.

Very good - see, there was a need to investigate Dr. Thiel.>>


Me: Other top-notch patristic scholars also make the claim that Justin employed the phrase, “second God”. Perhaps the most notable scholar who has done so is J.N.D. Kelly, who in his famous Early Christian Doctrines penned:

“Similarly, when Justin spoke of Him as a as a ‘second God’ worshipped ‘in a secondary rank’, and when all the Apologists stressed that His generation or emission resulted from an act of the Father’s will, their object was not so much to subordinate Him as to safeguard the monotheism which they considered indispensable.” (Second Edition, p, 160
101.)

A bit later, Oskar Skarsaune wrote:

“I have argued above that the passages treating the theophanies and proving the existence of a ‘second God’, are perhaps the most original contribution made by Justin to the development of the Scriptural proof.” (The Proof From Prophecy, 1987, p. 409.)

And even more recently we read:

“IN HIS DESCRIPTION OF OLD TESTMENT THEOPHANIES as narratives portraying preincarnate appearances of a “second God” (eteros theos*) who preexisted alongside the Father of the Universe, Justin Martyr offers a key witness to one second-century solution to the issue of divine unity raised by devotion to Jesus…” (Will Rutherford, “Altercatio Jasonis et Papisci as a Testimony Source for Justin’s “Second God’ Argument?”, in Justin Martyr and His Worlds, eds. Sara Parvis and Paul Foster, 2007, p. 137.)

I just now pulled down my Liddell & Scott Greek-English Lexicon off of the shelf and looked up eteros; under the first definition we read: “I. one or the other of two, and in the fourth: “4. = deuteros*, second (New [9th] Edition, 1940/1985, page 702.)

Note that eteros = deuteros ; this clearly supports what I had said about the “couple of equivalents”.

>>However, he did use a couple of equivalents: “another God and Lord” (Gr. theos kai kurios eteros), and “second place” (Gr. deutera chōra).

Justin himself cannot mean "another God and Lord" as if there are two Gods, but looking at the larger context of Dialogue with Trypho, he is trying to show a Jewish man from the OT, using the appearances and manifestations of God, ie, with Abraham and the "3 men", "one the Lord" and "the 2 angels", (manifestation of 3 persons of the Trinity???), etc. (Genesis 18)to show that others are seemed to be "called" God and Lord.

Then I replied, “I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures, [of the truth] of what I say, that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things — above whom there is no other God — wishes to announce to them.” (Dialogue With Trypho, ch. 56 – ANF 1.223.)>>


Me: It sure seems to me at this stage in the development of the Christian doctrine of God, that some ECFs were NOT afraid to speak of “two Gods”—in addition to Justin we have Origen, Eusebuis, and Lactantius.


Grace and peace,

David

*In this instances I have transliterated the original Greek.

David Waltz said...

Hello again Ken,

You posted:

>>It is interesting to me that the quote you give from Tertullian from Against Praxeas, chapter 5, that "God was alone", if we keep reading, actually Tertullian also says, "God was not alone". So Tertullian is clearly expressing and wrestling with the "oneness" and "plurality" of God at the same time. God cannot have His existence apart from His mind or reason, the logos.>>

Me: Tertullian espoused what has been termed, “Logos Christology”. One of the finest essays on Tertullian’s theology was B.B. Warfield’s “Tertullian and the Beginnings of the Doctrine of the Trinity” (Volume IV in the The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield – Studies in Tertullian and Augustine, Baker Book House reprint, 1981, pp. 3-109.) In that essay, Warfield wrote:


In its very essence, therefore, the Logos conception likewise involved the strongest subordinationism. Its very reason for existence was to provide a divine being who does the will of God in the regions of time and space, into which it were inconceivable that the Invisible God should be able to intrude in His own person. The Logos was therefore necessarily conceived as reduced divinity – divinity, so to speak, at the periphery, rather than at the center of its conception. (Pages 19, 20)

And:

We observe, in the third place, that Tertullian, with equal heartiness, shared the consequent view that the Logos is not God in His entirety, but only a “portion” of God—a “portion,” that is, as in the ray there is not the whole but only a “portion” of the sun. The difference seems to be not one of mode only, but also of measure. “The Father,” he says, “is the entire substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole.” He speaks “of that portion of the whole which was about to retire into the designation of the Son.” To Tertullian this idea was self-evident inasmuch as the Logos was to him necessarily produced, or rather, reduced Divinity—Divinity brought to a level on which it could become creator and principle of the world of time and space. (Page 31)


There is so much more, but, rather than me typing up more quotes, I highly recommend that you read the entire essay for yourself. If you do not own this work it is available online. Warfield’s “Tertullian and the Beginnings of the Doctrine of the Trinity” first appeared as 3 separate articles in the “Princeton Theological Review”, and can be read at:

FIRST ARTICLE; SECOND ARTICLE; THIRD ARTICLE.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Ken,

In your last contribution from yesterday, you posted:

>> David,
What do you think it means, "You are My Son; today I have begotten You." ?

Is it the incarnation? (Psalm 2, Hebrews 1:4-8; Luke 1:33-34)

Is it the resurrection? (Acts 13:33)

Is it the eternal generation from eternity past, like rays from the sun? (But the time word, "today" gives that a problem.)>>


Me: All three are certainly plausible options; and there is a fourth: the ‘anointing’ of Jesus at His baptism (Matt. 3:16, 17; Mark 1:10, 11; Luke 3:21, 22).

As for the issue of “eternal generation”, I cannot improve upon what Charles Hodge wrote:

In Ps. ii. 7, it is said, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” From this it is argued that Christ or the Messiah was constituted or made the Son of God in time, and therefore was not the Son of God from eternity. To this it may be answered, —

1. That the term Son, as used in the Scriptures, expresses different relations, and therefore may be applied to the same person for different reasons; or, have one meaning, i.e., express one relation in one place, and a different one in another. It may refer or be applied to the Logos, or to the Theanthropos. One ground for the use of the designation does not exclude all the others. God commanded Moses to say unto Pharaoh, “Israel is my son, even my first-born.” (Ex. iv. 22.) And He said of Solomon, “I will be his father and he shall be my son.” (2 Sam. vii. 14.) The word son here expresses the idea of adoption, the selection of one people or of one man out of many to stand to God in a peculiar relation of intimacy, affection, honour, and dignity. If for these reasons the theocratic people, or a theocratic king, may be called the Son of God, for the same reasons, and preeminently, the Messiah may be so designated. But this is no argument to prove that the Logos may not in a far higher sense be called the Son of God.

2. The passage in question, however, need not be understood of an event which occurred in time. Its essential meaning is, “Thou art my Son, now art thou my Son.” The occasion referred to by the words “this day” was the time when the Sonship of the king of Zion should be fully manifested. That time, as we learn from Rom. i. 4, was the day of his resurrection. By his rising again from the dead, He was clearly manifested to be all that He claimed to be, — the Son of God and the Saviour of the world.

3. There is another interpretation of the passage which is essentially the same as that given by many of the fathers, and is thus presented by Dr. Addison Alexander in his commentary on Acts xiii. 33, “The expression in the Psalm, ‘I have begotten thee,’ means, I am He who has begotten thee, i. e., I am thy father. ‘To-day’ refers to the date of the decree itself (Jehovah said, Today, etc.); but this, as a divine act, was eternal, and so must be the Sonship which it affirms.” (Systematic Theology, vol. 1, reprint 1981, pp. 474, 475.)


Grace and peace,

David

Ken Temple said...

Thanks,
Good food for thought.

What do you think of this person's article on how to explain the Son of God to Muslims?

http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/22_3_PDFs/91-96Brown_SOG.pdf

Ken

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Nice find! I found the essay to be quite solid, though there are a couple points that I believe need to be addressed in greater depth. I have some other items ‘on-my-plate’ at the moment, but think I will devote a new thread to Rick Brown’s three essays.

The other two are found at the following links:

http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/22_4_PDFs/135-145%20Brown_SOG.pdf

http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/19_1_PDFs/Explaining%20Diety%20Brown%20Fixed.pdf


Thanks again Ken.


Grace and peace,

David