Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Eternal Sonship of Christ

I’m discussing this issue for two reasons. It seems to me that Scripturalism/Clarkianism has come to a crossroads. Will it take the unitarian fork in the road?

I’m not an insider to the world of Clark’s would-be disciples. Viewed from the outside, it appears to me that the Clarkian/Scripturalist movement is increasingly fragmented and diminished. This is, in large part, because it lacks any institutional patronage to unify it and conserve it.

Issues raised by the unitarian turn in some Clarkian/Scripturalist circles also concerns me from a missional standpoint. This sends mixed signals to Muslims. It complicates the task of Christians who evangelize Muslims.

Not that Clarkian/Scripturalist splinter groups have any appreciable impact on outreach to Muslims. That’s a miniscule fringe group. But it draws attention to fault-lines in Nicene subordination. So I’m using it to illustrate larger issues.

I’m going to use D. A. Carson’s recent book Jesus the Son of God to frame my discussion. I don’t always agree with him, but his book supplies a useful backdrop even when he and I differ.

i) In chap. 1 he points out that “sonship” had broader connotations in the ancient world than biological derivation. It had sociological as well as biological connotations. As a rule, your father’s social class determined your social class. If he was a king, you’d become the next king. If he was a commoner, you’d be a commoner. If he was a blacksmith, you’d be a blacksmith.

This stands in contrast to modern 1st world men and women. Our culture has great social mobility, including upward (as well as downward) mobility. So sonship tends to have a narrower connotation in our own culture.

Therefore, when we come to NT passages about the sonship of Christ, we need to guard against assuming a particular connotation, like eternal generation.

ii) Carson also distinguishes between different connotations of sonship in the OT, as well as how that carries over into the NT. The OT sometimes speaks of Israel as God’s son. That’s a type of collective sonship. It’s synonymous with God choosing Israel, but it uses an adoptive metaphor to illustrate and enrich the concept of divine choice.

In some NT passages, Jesus is God’s “son” in this sense. He assumes the role of the new and true Israel.

Then you have David sonship, with connotations of kingship and anointed office. That theme is obviously picked up in the NT, where it culminates in Jesus.

Both connotations of sonship also trigger further associations with the eschatological notion of hereditary rights, viz. a royal son as titular heir to his father’s throne.

Then, in the NT, there are passages where sonship connotes a relationship which implies the deity of the Son, paralleling the deity of the Father.

iii) Not only does Biblical sonship have various connotations, but each connotation can have its own cluster of OT passages which attest or develop that connotation. Indeed, these may constitute a chain of passages threading through the OT, where a seminal motif is introduced in an earlier book, and that, in turn, gives rise to a series of passages that begin to unpack the implications of that idea. Different connotations of sonship have their own literary allusions, running in tandem with each other. And sometimes in the NT, these become interwoven. Parallel lines of development converge or intersect. That’s not surprising, since these themes are fulfilled in one person.

iv) In chap 2, argues for the functional subordination of the Son to the Father. Up to a point I agree with Carson, but with some important caveats:

a) We need to distinguish between the economic and the immanent Trinity. To some extent the economic Trinity reveals the immanent Trinity, but there are discontinuities as well as continuities. For instance, things are true of God’s Incarnate Son which aren’t true and can’t be true of God’s Son in isolation to the Incarnation. Jesus obviously has some distinctively human characteristics. So you can’t simply read the economic Trinity back into the immanent Trinity.

b) Moreover, even at the economic level, inequality statements alternate with equality statements.

c) And that, in turn, suggests the direction in which we should harmonize the respective types of claims. The Son can’t very well be economically equal with the Father unless he is ontologically equal with the Father. He can assume a role that’s less than he really is, but he can’t assume a role that’s more than he really is. For no one can be more than he is. He wouldn’t be up to the task assigned to him unless he was naturally suited to the task. If he were genuinely inferior, he couldn’t discharge divine prerogatives. His performance would inevitably be deficient.

Indeed, God sometimes delegates divine responsibilities to human beings, and we see them fail. That’s a common theme in Scripture. God does that to demonstrate our natural and moral inadequacies. But in the NT, Jesus never falls short. His performance stands in stark and studied contrast to merely human performance.

So there’s an asymmetry between equality statements and inequality statements. An ontologically superior being can assume an economically inferior role, but an ontologically inferior being can’t assume an economically superior role.

v) In chap. 3, Carson reviews conventional prooftexts for eternal generation, using Berkhof as his foil.

a) He notes that even Berkhof is ambivalent about Ps 2:7. And he explains the irrelevance of Heb 11:17.

b) That leaves a handful of Johannine passages which talk about the Son as monogenes. Berkhof renders that “only-begotten,” but Carson, following most modern scholarship, renders it “one of a kind.”

c) I’m actually not convinced by that analysis. To begin with, there’s a danger here of committing the etymological fallacy. Meaning is determined by contemporary usage, not historical usage or the original root word. Even if monogenes derives from genos rather than gennao, this doesn’t mean that’s it was understood by John’s contemporaries.

In addition, Scripture often uses folk etymologies. John may well be trading on verbal associations between generation and regeneration.

d) However, even if we retain the traditional rendering (“only-begotten”), that doesn’t imply eternal generation. For one thing, we’re still dealing with a metaphor. So we need to delimit and isolate the intended scope of the figurative analogy. Is John emphasizing derivation, or something else?

Is John’s point that the Son is derived from the Father, or that the Son is divine, just like the Father? In controversial settings, where Jesus is disputing with his opponents, as well as when they accuse him of blasphemy, the stress is on the deity of Christ. Eternal generation isn’t very meaningful in context. That’s not what the testy debates in the Johannine narrative were about.

e) Likewise, the adjective (monogenes) may hold no special significance. After all, John alternates between monogenes huios, or simply the “Son”–often paired in rhetorical opposition to the “Father”–or the “Son of God.” In the Fourth Gospel and 1 John, the Apostle John uses monogenes [huios] 5 times, the “Son of God” 15 times, and the “Son” 34 times. So monogenes huios may just be a stylistic variation, interchangeable with John’s other sonship usages. These linguistic variants may well function as rough synonyms in Johannine usage.

vi)Jesus’ subordinate status is sometimes inferred from the fact that the Father sends the Son. Sending is taken to be an act of authority. The one sent is under the authority of the sender.

However, the Fourth Gospel often discusses the sender/sent relation to accentuate where the Son comes from. To highlight his divine preexistence.

He comes from above. He belongs to the divine realm rather than the created realm. In the divide between God and the world, he occupies the divine side of the divide. The Son can only be sent into the world because he doesn’t come from the world in the first place–any more than God the Father.

You can’t artificially abstract the sender/sent relation from that larger narrative context.

vii) In addition, the Father-sender/Son-sent relationship isn’t equivalent to God sending an angel or God sending a prophet. Notice, in the Fourth Gospel, how the sending of John the Baptist is contrasted with the sending of the Son. Although the Baptist can speak on behalf of God, he doesn’t reveal God in his own person, as Jesus does. There’s a categorical difference.

viii) The upshot of all this is that it’s quite possible–indeed, preferable–to affirm the eternal sonship of Christ, but deny the eternal generation of the Son.

a) One might object that that’s arbitrary, that generation and sonship are interrelated. They may be biologically related, but that doesn’t mean substitutable metaphors in Scripture. Each can have its own set of connotations. Each can have its own set of literary trajectories. They don’t necessarily (or even probably) bleed or blur into each other, any more than Davidic sonship is equivalent to divine sonship.

Even where metaphors overlap, that doesn’t tell you in advance where they overlap in a particular writer’s argument or narrative. Related metaphors may intersect at various points, but that doesn’t mean an author intends all those potential connotations to be active connotations. Indeed, that could be quite confusing.  A writer may just as well exploit what’s distinctive to a particular metaphor, rather than what is common to two related metaphors.

For instance, here are four theological metaphors for God in Scripture: king, father, potter, shepherd. These have overlapping connotations, but they also have distinctive connotations. Indeed, that’s why Scripture uses four rather than one. In some respect they’re comparable, in other respect they’re contrastive.

Moreover, even considered individually, they are intentionally limited metaphors. Many things which are true of human kings, fathers, potters, and shepherds are not true of God. So we must be sensitive to what a bible writer specifically means by any particular metaphor. We must carefully study the context.

b) And that’s even assuming that Scripture uses “only-begotten.” Or that “only-begotten” retains a distinctive semantic nuance. Or that the metaphor is meant to single out source of origin.

vii) Taken to a logical extreme, the alleged monarchy of the Father shifts the Christian faith off-center. NT piety is pervasively centered on the Son, not the Father. Indeed, it’s a tribute to the deferential humility of the Father and the Spirit that the Son takes center stage while they largely remain in the shadows. And that’s because there’s no rivalry among equals. They have nothing to lose or gain. There’s no one-upmanship in the Trinity. Instead of vying for top billing, they honor each other.

41 comments:

  1. As they say, things don't get any better than that/this!! This is a reference to "vii) Taken to a logical extreme,".

    The admonition of Jesus Himself seems to be enforced and apropos here:

    Joh 13:15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
    Joh 13:16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
    Joh 13:17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.


    I would also respond narrowly to this:

    "e)...These linguistic variants may well function as rough synonyms in Johannine usage. "

    I would add that I see that the "Father" is mostly silent but always understood to be throughout Scripture. We do see recorded when He does speak. I would add that I see the "Son" is most of the time exegeting both the Father and the Holy Spirit, their functions in creation. I see that those variations you speak about in the Johnannine Gospel and Epistles is the opportunity and function of the Holy Spirit (whose function it is) to bring understanding when and where the Father is silent so He can be understood and heard; and, showing us that Jesus is throughout the Scriptures.

    A final comment about c)"...Meaning is determined by contemporary usage, not historical usage or the original root word. Even if monogenes derives from genos rather than gennao, this doesn’t mean that’s it was understood by John’s contemporaries."

    How true that is! In fact we see Peter and Paul misunderstanding one another at time or bringing correction to one's theology. One thing is clear about all the Apostles, the exception being Judas, who became the first to ironically get it right only after seeing what they did to Jesus after selling Him out for thirty pieces of silver, none of them understood anything in the comtemporary! Geesh, even after seeing Jesus Peter and his following decided to go back to fishing! How nuts is that but for the fact that we are all deemed nuts until the Holy Spirit gives us His Faith and regenerates us to understand these things in question today?

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  2. Great series of posts. Just two corrections. The words monogenes huios do not appear 5 times in the Johannine corpus, but only 3 times (cf. John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9 - or 4 if you follow the reading of John 1:18 found in the later manuscripts and translations such as the HSCB, KJV, NKJV). However, monogenes does appear a total of 5 times in relation to Christ (cf. John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9).

    You also write, "For instance, here are fourth theological metaphors for God in Scripture:" fourth should be four.

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  3. "...where Jesus is disputing with his opponents, as well as when they accuse him of blasphemy, the stress is on the deity of Christ."

    Some days the arguments Unitarians use in John 10:33-36 can seem slightly plausible to me. Jesus can be interpreted to be denying the Jews' inference that he "makes himself out to be God".

    Likewise, the adjective (monogenes) may hold no special significance. After all, John alternates between monogenes huios, or simply the “Son”–often paired in rhetorical opposition to the “Father”–or the “Son of God.”

    But I think there's a textual variant in John 1:18 that has "God" in conjunction with monogenes. In which case it can be translated "only begotten God" as the NASB has it.

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  4. "Issues raised by the unitarian turn in some Clarkian/Scripturalist circles also concerns me from a missional standpoint. This sends mixed signals to Muslims. It complicates the task of Christians who evangelize Muslims."

    As a side note, my impression is there is some not insignificant debate within Messianic Judaism over Jesus' deity. Much of the debate seems to derive from an over reliance on rabbinic Judaism's faulty assumptions about what the Shema teaches and develops in later passages about God's "oneness." Some so-called Messianic Jews are inclined to think of Jesus in more Arian or semi-Arian terms (though their theology doesn't seem too sophisticated to me, unlike say Clarkians). Or even to outright deny vital aspects of Trinitarian theology up to and including Christ's own deity.

    (Another big debate within Messianic Judaism is with obeying the 613 commandments including male circumcision. Of course, these debates had their precursors in the NT with which the apostles themselves dealt.)

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    1. Yeah, both of those were issues I had to wrestle with in the early 1990s coming out of the legalistic background of SDA and Armstrongism. Armstrongism's Christology in places is Binitarian and Pneumatomachian other places Arian. Yet, they clearly denied the Eternal Sonship of Christ and Eternal Generation.

      Here's a link to the debate on the "Deity of the Messiah" between Unitarians Buzzard/Goode vs. Trinitarians White/Brown. As can be documented in this debate some Messianic Jews even doubt the pre-existence of the person we call Jesus in addition to doubting his deity. So, they are very close to Socinianism.

      I bought the DVD of the debate as soon as it was available. It was worth every penny even though I didn't know it would eventually end up being posted on YouTube.
      One passage I wish they had brought up is Prov. 30:4. Other than that deficiency, the debate is superb. Dr. White rightly noted after the debate it was like he and Dr. Brown were tag team wrestlers in how well they complemented each other.

      PART 1 http://youtu.be/Yn-grOfPDi0
      PART 2 http://youtu.be/M38rQXLq29g

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    2. Also while Seventh Day Adventism is officially Trinitarian (to the credit of E.G. White's defense of it against those in her movement who opposed it), some local congregations consciously or unconsciously deviate from official teaching and promote Arianism (usually the very traditional congregations).

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    3. Interesting stuff! Thanks, AP.

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    4. You're welcome. I also have some links gathered defending the true messiahship of Jesus at THIS LINK HERE
      http://www.gospelcrumbs.blogspot.com/2012/12/what-do-you-think-about-messiah.html

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    5. Sir Anthony Buzzard vs. Dr. James White on the Unbelievable radio show with Justin Brierley CAN BE LISTENED TO HERE

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  5. Steve,

    “Will it take the unitarian fork in the road?”

    >>>I have already shown your violation of the 9th commandment in your use of the Unitarian label Steve. Do I need to remind you again?

    “I’m not an insider to the world of Clark’s would-be disciples. Viewed from the outside, it appears to me that the Clarkian/Scripturalist movement is increasingly fragmented and diminished. This is, in large part, because it lacks any institutional patronage to unify it and conserve it.”

    >>>This is soon to change. Your admissions of the Van Tilian apostasy from Nicea will only aid in that effort.

    “Issues raised by the unitarian turn in some Clarkian/Scripturalist circles also concerns me from a missional standpoint. This sends mixed signals to Muslims. It complicates the task of Christians who evangelize Muslims.”

    >>>Actually we are the only ones that can give them straight answers without using your Jesuitized twisted tongued hypocrisy. WE say one person is the one God. You say three persons are do nothing but scandalize the truth.

    “I’m going to use D. A. Carson’s recent book Jesus the Son of God to frame my discussion. I don’t always agree with him, but his book supplies a useful backdrop even when he and I differ.”

    >>>His dealings with the Tri-Partitie Distinction were complete sewage and I’ll assume the same here.

    “a) We need to distinguish between the economic and the immanent Trinity. To some extent the economic Trinity reveals the immanent Trinity, but there are discontinuities as well as continuities. For instance, things are true of God’s Incarnate Son which aren’t true and can’t be true of God’s Son in isolation to the Incarnation. Jesus obviously has some distinctively human characteristics. So you can’t simply read the economic Trinity back into the immanent Trinity.”

    >>>But isn’t that exactly the basis of Filioque?


    “b) That leaves a handful of Johannine passages which talk about the Son as monogenes. Berkhof renders that “only-begotten,” but Carson, following most modern scholarship, renders it “one of a kind.”

    >>>Which David Waltz ripped to shreds here: http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2010/03/eternal-generation-of-son.html

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    Replies
    1. Drake Shelton

      “I have already shown your violation of the 9th commandment in your use of the Unitarian label Steve. Do I need to remind you again?”

      Coming from the lips of a “Semi-Arian,” you will have a hard time making your allegation stick. Indeed, the exercise would be self-incriminating on your part.

      “Our admissions of the Van Tilian apostasy from Nicea will only aid in that effort.”

      I haven’t said anything about Van Til or Van Tilians in this discussion. That’s your hobbyhorse.

      “…your Jesuitized twisted tongued hypocrisy.”

      Well, that overloaded phrase is, indeed a tongue-twister, right up there with she sells seashells by the seashore.

      “WE say one person is the one God.”

      Like I said, you’re a unitarian. Thanks for the confirmation.

      “His dealings with the Tri-Partitie Distinction were complete sewage and I’ll assume the same here.”

      He’s a premier NT scholar. Even when he’s mistaken (not often), he’s worth reading.

      “But isn’t that exactly the basis of Filioque?”

      Been there, done that.

      “Which David Waltz ripped to shreds here…”

      Yes, you’re Bahaist soul-mate.

      Delete
    2. Steve,

      “Coming from the lips of a “Semi-Arian,” you will have a hard time making your allegation stick. Indeed, the exercise would be self-incriminating on your part.”

      >>>The word “semi-arian” is an attempt by you to use Church history labels as an argument, which strangely you deny me the privilege of later...hmmmmm. Double standard? Secondly, as you have couched this argument in historical context, I reply that I have abundantly shown that Athanasius did not consider Semi-Arians heretics, so your argument fails no matter which direction you take this.

      “Our admissions of the Van Tilian apostasy from Nicea will only aid in that effort.”

      >>>First, you misquoted me. I said, “Your admissions of the Van Tilian apostasy….”. Not OUR.

      “I haven’t said anything about Van Til or Van Tilians in this discussion. That’s your hobbyhorse.”

      >>>But you have said them on this blog and defended the man’s philosophy. Quit playing games Steve.


      “WE say one person is the one God.”

      Like I said, you’re a unitarian. Thanks for the confirmation.”

      >>>No no. Unitarians say One person is God pertaining to nature. By “One God”, I mean hypostasis not nature. We have been over this before and you still either don’t get it or you are being belligerent.

      “But isn’t that exactly the basis of Filioque?”

      Been there, done that.”

      >>>Did I just receive an admission?

      “Which David Waltz ripped to shreds here…”

      Yes, you’re Bahaist soul-mate.”

      Yeah, David is a solid guy. He is my friend and has been a great encouragement for me. The last time David and I spoke on his Church attendance, he was frequenting an Evangelical Free Church congregation.

      Delete
  6. Steve,

    “d) However, even if we retain the traditional rendering (“only-begotten”), that doesn’t imply eternal generation. For one thing, we’re still dealing with a metaphor.”

    >>>That is an assertion. By metaphor do you a created representation having no univocal coincidence? The analogy of proportionality?

    I will give my view so there is no confusion from my debate with Jnorm on these things:

    ///31. I have admitted that predication between the categories of humanity and divinity are not jointly exhaustive, but they are also not mutually exclusive. I do affirm with all human ontological connection to the divine, an analogy of proportion. With reference to Christ’s humanity, the incarnation is not a participation but a hypostatic union, thus a human person is not participating in a divine person, but a divine person is personalizing a set of human faculties. I understand that not all human activity can be predicated of the divine, however, that does not exclude the proportion that can be predicated of the divine and that is the intellectual activity of man as I have made clear numerous times and you continue to ignore it- thus the Clarkian idea of the image of God. Thus all appeals to physical phenomenon such as pennies, rivers, the heat and radiance of light or the Sun are all meaningless and misrepresent my view. YET AGAIN, THIS CONVERSATION IS NOT ABOUT INANIMATE MATTER, IT IS ABOUT PERSONS! Drawing inferences from thoughtless physical objects simply re-affirms and provides foundation for my accusation that your theology proper is grounded on some kind of organic physical substance. I have already provided ancient representations that personhood, even divine personhood pertained to intelligent beings, not modes of physical inanimate objects.
    This materialistic thinking runs all throughout Jnorm’s thought even though he denies it with his lips. Later he says, “1.) Is there any separation between the Source and the Emanation? If the answer is no then ask yourself”

    >>>Spatially, no, which is exactly the category you are thinking under, yet again, showing your view of DN is physical. Logically, no. Numerically with reference to cardinal numbers and numeric nature, yes.
    And I’ll say another thing again that you will avoid answering again: What EO book on the philosophy of language can you provide as a standard reference to clear this up? Oh that’s right you don’t have one. But you see I do: Its called Language and Theology by Gordon Clark. He taught that man univocally participates in the objects of God’s knowledge not the manner of God’s knowing (essence) thus affirming the traditional analogy of proportion (not to be confused with the analogy of proportionality).https://eternalpropositions.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/analogy-of-proportionality-refuted-univocal-predication-defended/

    The categories of divine and human are not mutually exclusive: Apophaticism. The categories of divine and human are also not Jointly exhaustive: An absolute Cataphaticism. The categories of divine and human proportionally overlap at the level of intellect and even at this level we do not have a full exhaustion. The exact area where divine and human ontology overlap is the objects of God’s knowledge. I am considering myself bent over backwards with how much detail I have given to every single statement you have made and frustrated at how ambiguous and dismissively you have answered mine.//// http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/concerning-orthodoxy/68-theses-against-jnorm-s-eastern-orthodox-theology-proper

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    Replies
    1. “That is an assertion.”

      So you think eternal generation is not a metaphor? Did the Father, like Zeus, literally beget the Son (and Spirit) through physical intercourse with a goddess? Does the Father have a celestial consort? Does the Father have a sex-life?

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    2. The words metaphor and literal are too imprecise. I already gave you my view Steve.

      Delete
  7. Steve,

    “So we need to delimit and isolate the intended scope of the figurative analogy. Is John emphasizing derivation, or something else?

    Is John’s point that the Son is derived from the Father, or that the Son is divine, just like the Father? In controversial settings, where Jesus is disputing with his opponents, as well as when they accuse him of blasphemy, the stress is on the deity of Christ. Eternal generation isn’t very meaningful in context. That’s not what the testy debates in the Johannine narrative were about.”

    >>>You are making a mockery of revelation. It says he was begotten of the Father. Begotten means derivation-a consubstantial extension.


    “viii) The upshot of all this is that it’s quite possible–indeed, preferable–to affirm the eternal sonship of Christ, but deny the eternal generation of the Son.”

    >>>This is nonsense. His begetting is synonymous with sonship. To deny the former is to deny the latter.

    “They don’t necessarily (or even probably) bleed or blur into each other, any more than Davidic sonship is equivalent to divine sonship.”

    >>>That is compete facile.

    “Even where metaphors overlap”

    >>>Assuming that you even have a meaningful concept of metaphor here.

    “For instance, here are four theological metaphors for God in Scripture: king, father, potter, shepherd.”

    >>>All but the second, pertain to the economia, thus you have created a 75% nStraw man.

    “vii) Taken to a logical extreme, the alleged monarchy of the Father shifts the Christian faith off-center. NT piety is pervasively centered on the Son, not the Father.”

    >>>That is nonsense. That Christ is emphasized in the NT is because the Son is the mediator who has come and who after his resurrection, that is a result of his resurrection, not his ontological status in eternity, receives honor just as men honor the father. But wait, in order for him to be a mediator the monarchy of the Father must be present for his mediation to have any meaning. 1 Tim 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”
    A mediator is someone who comes in the name of someone else and acts as a go between. Your view that the father and the son are not merely called the same name as the son comes in his Father’s name but ARE THE SAME NAME. You have thus ipso facto denied his mediation. The only way 1 Tim 2:5 is possible is the Monarchy of the Father.

    And we read

    Phil 2: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
    11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, ******to the glory of God the Father.*************

    1 Cor 15: 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
    24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, ***********even the Father**************; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

    The Father is always the ultimate beneficiary of all Christ’s activity. It is the Father who has the center stage and ultimate certain call. That is why there is no rivalry among the divine persons because the father is supreme.

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    Replies
    1. Drake Shelton

      “You are making a mockery of revelation. It says he was begotten of the Father. Begotten means derivation-a consubstantial extension.”

      All you’ve done is to beg all the key questions. Didn’t take long for you to max out.

      “This is nonsense. His begetting is synonymous with sonship. To deny the former is to deny the latter.”

      I’ve already explained why that’s a non sequitur. You have no counterargument. Nothing in reserve.

      “That is compete facile.”

      Not a counterargument.

      “All but the second, pertain to the economia, thus you have created a 75% nStraw man.”

      To the contrary, they exemplify divine attributes and corresponding prerogatives.

      “A mediator is someone who comes in the name of someone else and acts as a go between. Your view that the father and the son are not merely called the same name as the son comes in his Father’s name but ARE THE SAME NAME.”

      You’re failing to distinguish between the immanent Trinity and the economic Trinity. Moreover, the Bible uses the same names for both. And it doesn’t say the Father is “God” or “Lord” in some preeminent sense denied to the Son.

      “That is nonsense. That Christ is emphasized in the NT is because the Son is the mediator who has come and who after his resurrection, that is a result of his resurrection, not his ontological status in eternity, receives honor just as men honor the father.”

      i) It’s his ontological status which equips him to be the mediator.

      ii) It’s because he’s the mirror-image of the Father that he can fully reveal the Father.

      “Phil 2: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
      11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, ******to the glory of God the Father.*************”

      But as the Fourth Gospel points out, the Father and the Son glorify each other.

      “1 Cor 15: 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
      24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, ***********even the Father**************; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.”

      You’re taking that out of context. In 1 Cor 15, Paul is focused on the two-Adams framework. The first Adam was subject to God, as God’s earthly viceroy, but insubordinate. In reversing the Fall, Christ, in his redemptive role as the last Adam, and eschatological viceroy, will be subject to God, in contrast to the disobedient first Adam.

      So that is not referring to the status of the Son absolutely, the Son qua Son, or Christ in every respect, but involves a narrowly-drawn comparison between rebellious Adam and his eschatological counterpart.

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  8. Steve,

    “And that’s because there’s no rivalry among equals. They have nothing to lose or gain.”

    >>>>Your communism is not going unnoticed Steve. Equals are the most contentious among each other. It is only when the supremacy of the monarch is acknowledged that there is peace. We have that exact issue portrayed before us here in female supremacy America. It is when the females have thought themselves equals that we have the most problems.

    “There’s no one-upmanship in the Trinity. Instead of vying for top billing, they honor each other.”

    >>>Of course there is no one upmanship, the Father has always had that position and always will while the son and spirit are eternally at his side. John 1:18.

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    Replies
    1. "I am actually a Protestant"

      Yet you call Calvin, Warfield, Berkhof, etc. and other Presbyterians/Reformed heretics on the Trinity? Hard to comprehend you.

      It is when the females have thought themselves equals that we have the most problems.

      Drake, are you married? Just curious.

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  9. Carson says that Hebrews 11:17 is irrelevant? I learned in seminary that it was very relevant to the μονογενες issue - and translating it as "one of a kind" or "only unique one", etc. - and it was helpful in dealing in Muslims, since just the term "only begotten" sounds like mother and father having sex and producing a child.

    I guess you are saying that Carson says Heb. 11:17 is irrelevant to the "eternal begotten" issue. Even that has to be explained a lot - "eternally generated into the past" or from eternity past" explains it better.

    But "today" in Psalm 2:7 and Hebrews 1 and 5 and Luke 1:35 does seem to indicate that at least part of the meaning of it is is His human birth from Mary and coming into world, becoming flesh.

    "For this reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God . . . " for what reason? - because it was spiritual power that caused Jesus' conception in the womb of Mary - the power of the most High and the Holy Spirit - spiritual conception, NOT physical and no sexual relationship involved.

    The virgin birth is crucial. Merry Christmas!!

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    1. Carson's point is that Heb 11:17 fails as a prooftext for eternal generation. He says:

      "Heb 11:17 does not refer to Jesus at all, but describes Isaac as Abraham's monogenes son–certainly not Abraham's 'only-begotten' son, nor even his 'only' son, but properly his unique son, in that sense his one and only son" (83-84).

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  10. What is the difference between a Scripturalist and some one who hold to inerrancy and infallibility and authority of the Scriptures and sola Scriptura?

    Is there any difference?

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    1. Scripturalism denies sense-knowledge and inductive logic. The Bible is the only source of true knowledge.

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    2. Wow; so . . . the Bible doesn't have mathematical formulas or explanation of photosynthesis; so what do they do with that?

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    3. Later Clark thought that (some) maths could be deduced from Scripture. I'd guess that's the position of his followers today. As far as explanations of photosynthesis go, that doesn't count as knowledge. It makes for good sport.

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  11. It complicates the task of Christians who evangelize Muslims.

    Yes, very much so. "one God the Father" and two lower "side-kicks" but all three having homo-ousias but only the Father is the "only God" seems to the Muslim mind saying there are three Gods or One high God and two lower "gods".

    One nature, but three in person and personal relationships seems better to preserve the Oneness of God on the one hand (Monotheism) and the threeness of the eternal love relationships with each other - God is Love. Only the Trinity can fill the void in the human heart for love, since only the Trinity is truly love-relationship from all eternity past and only one God

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  12. Drake wrote: (about witness to Muslims)
    Actually we are the only ones that can give them straight answers without using your Jesuitized twisted tongued hypocrisy. WE say one person is the one God. You say three persons are do nothing but scandalize the truth.

    The problem with "one person is the one God" (the Father) is that then you don't have the Deity of Christ at all, He is not Lord or God in the flesh or God incarnate or the Unique Son of God, to the Muslim, once you say "one person is the one God, the Father" - they will say, then there is no difference and you are Muslim in your theology proper. Then we you try to explain that the Son and Holy Spirit are lesser beings but share in the same nature, generic nature; then they will say you have 3 gods, one big God and two little gods.

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    1. Ken,

      I'm not sure about that. If you were to tell a Muslim that Jesus is not Allah, but rather the eternal Son of Allah, who as a Son shares the same nature - I would imagine they would have a problem with that - much like the Jews in John 5:18.

      At this, they picked up scimitars to behead him.

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    2. You are right, they would have a problem with that . ً

      But that will after Drake's view stays on the monarchy of the Father and that only the Father is the one God and one person. Then, later, once they say, "ok, you are a monotheist", then when he tries to explain who Jesus is - as you have said, then they will say you have one high God and 2 little gods and that is not right either.
      It also seems like three gods, after you explain the Holy Spirit.
      An Allah (الله ) and 2 gods - Ela's (اله )

      Either way, it takes the Spirit of God to convince them and awaken them and draw them. We should use Scripture and show the Deity of Christ, the oneness of God, and the Deity of the Holy Spirit.

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    3. Sorry if that was unclear -

      But explaining that to a Muslim would necessarily involving explaining things in stages. Starting with strict monotheism, Drake's "one God and Father" (one person) as the only God will be fine while he concentrates on that to a Muslim. But after Drake's view is explained on the monarchy of the Father and that only the Father is the one God and one person, then after that when he tries to explain who Jesus is, there will be a difficulty and confusion.

      Then, later, once they say, "ok, you are a monotheist", then when he tries to explain who Jesus is - as you have said, then they will say you have one high God and 2 little gods and that is not right either.

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    4. But even calling God "Father" is a problem for Muslims also. Sounds like sex, marriage, and having babies to most Muslims.

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    5. It seems to me that in contrast to the usual modern Evangelical understanding of the Trinity, Drake's position would, to a greater degree, lead Muslims to conclude his (Drake's) view commits the greatest Islamic sin of all, attributing partners with God/Allah (i.e. the sin of shirk). From a Muslim's perspective, Drake's position would probably seem "more clearly polytheistic."

      I'm not saying it is. Only that as I try to see things from a Muslim perspective, it would be more offensive.

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    6. I have replied to this numerous times already. The word "God" pertains to the hypostasis of the Father alone. This then precludes any other gods.

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    7. but you also believe in "the Son" as the eternal Son - having the same generic nature as the Father - homo-ousias - Nicean Creed, right? Presumably, you agree with John 1:1 - that the Son was always the Son and Always the Word into eternity past - what does it mean 'the Word was God" ? - there the word "God" (theos) is applied to the Son, as does John 20:28, Romans 9:5 and 1 John 5:20.
      If they have the same generic nature, then the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God also; (one God in nature, but three in persons/relationship. If you say "we don't call Jesus the Son "God", but he is the eternal Son with the same generic nature, the eternal word, then to a Muslim Jesus and the H.S are 2 little gods. You deny numeric unity of the nature - that is one of the problems, it would seem, in your scheme. Numeric Unity is what protects the oneness of God - monotheism. Three-ness of persons/personal relationships (hypostasis) is revealed in the incarnation and the NT witness of how the Father, Son, and H.S. relate to each other and love each other.
      This is "shirtK in the Muslim mind, as "Annoyed Pinoy" wrote.

      It seems you have a really wooden way of approaching Scripture. Hard to fully understand you.

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    8. Theos is also applied to the Son in Hebrews 1:8.

      if "God" is for the hypostasis (person) of the Father alone - how do you understand Hebrews 1:3 - that the Son is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation/image/character of His nature/being/hypostasis ?

      ὃς - who
      ὢν - being
      ἀπαύγασμα - the outshining/radiance/effulgence
      τῆς - of the
      δόξης - glory

      καὶ - and
      χαρακτὴρ - character/imprint/impress/image/exact representation
      τῆς ὑποστάσεως - of the nature/being (do you think hypostasis means "nature"/"being" in the NT and then in the Cappodicians and other ECF means "person" ? or what? That has been a long debate.
      αὐτοῦ, - of his

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  13. I don't see how the "one substance/nature/essence" (ousia) and three hypostasis (three persons) has anything to do with Jesuits - they came about in the 16th Century in response to the Reformation. Your using that Jesuits and "Jesuitized" language makes no sense.
    Steve has been very clear against Romanism / Roman Catholicism.

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    1. If you look up the word "Jesuit" in an older dictionary, some of the new ones have it as well, you will see that the word "Jesuit" has been made into many words, often and primarily referring to deceitful speech. You see, unlike over 99 percent of so called Protestantism, I actually am a Protestant, and I actually read the original books by the Puritans and Protestant historians. Words like Jesuit, Jesuitry, Jesuitical etc. are use din their writings because they understood who their temporal enemies were. The Vatican and their Jesuit order. I follow their lead.

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  14. Steve, could you comment on Carson's discussion of John 5:26 and your take on that verse?

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    1. http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/06/life-in-himself.html

      http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2010/02/life-of-world.html

      http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2009/12/life-in-son.html

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