A Special Kind Of Arrogance

the trinityThere is a special kind of arrogance that can look over more than a millennium of church history and theological development and say; “No, you’ve got it all wrong.”  Yet, that is exactly what Ryan Hedrich and Drake Shelton have done.  But they don’t just say this about some obscure or nonessential doctrine.  They argue that theologians throughout church history have been completely wrong about the Trinity and that Christians everywhere should reject it. They say it is “false” to say that God is one being that consists of Three Persons, a belief held by all Christians everywhere and for all time. They say that rather than the belief that  God is Triune, an idea they claim is “irrational” and nothing more than warmed over “Sabellianism,” the Father alone is the one true God and to Him alone is due all of our praise and worship.  While Shelton admits he is a Unitarian (although he prefers to say he’s a Unitarian with a lowercase “u”), Hedrich wants to pretend he’s really a Trinitarian (I assume with a lowercase “t”).

To create this illusion that either Hedrich or Shelton are even remotely or nominally Trinitarian, they maintain that the Son and Spirit are divine persons in a limited and restricted sense as they lack self-existence and authority in themselves.  Instead the Son and Spirit derive their existence from the Father who then delegates his authority to them.  Neither the Son nor the Spirit are “autotheos” or God of themselves.  Their divinity is derived and contingent on the Father’s essential and supreme divinity.  According to Hedrich and Shelton only the Father can be called God in the fullest sense and the Son and Spirit are merely his messengers or servants both of whom act as pointers or emissaries leading people to the “one true God the Father.”  Ryan calls Jesus Christ a “vicegerent,” which means that he is God’s deputy who exercises power delegated to him by the Father and something He lacks intrinsically and in himself.  Shelton refers to Jesus as an “icon” who is not strictly speaking God incarnate (which in his warped mind would mean the Father is incarnate), but rather is  “the representative of God on earth who has de jure authority over all men.”   The important thing to keep in mind is that when these men say “God” they mean “the Father.”

One of the results of this subordination of the Son in being and power can be seen in a recent piece defending Hedrich’s rejection of the historic Christian faith that appeared on Shelton’s blog, Nonexistent Light.  Wedged in between some of the most detestable and vile racism littered throughout Shelton’s blog, Mark Xu defends Hendirch’s semi-Arianism proclaiming:

 …the unity of Godhead is God the Father, as the fountain and source of deity, the only true God, the supreme governor of the universe and the ultimate object of our worship. To him be glory for ever and ever Amen.

Think about for a moment.  According to Xu the Father is the proper and ultimate object of all our praise and worship and not the Son and Spirit as co-equal Persons of the Godhead. The unity of the Godhead is not the attributes or essence the Three share together, rather two Persons are united in one supreme Person.  God the Father is exclusively “the one true God,” which clearly eliminates God the Son and God the Spirit from ontologically sharing in that title “the one true God.”    When I asked Hedrich if he agrees with this little piece of blasphemy offered in his defense he said; “I agree with Mark.”  Consequently, and if we’re to believe Hedrich, Christians are either sinfully wrong or simply deceived when they sing:

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessèd Trinity!

Silly Christians.  Yet, in Scripture we see many examples where Jesus is the direct object of worship without objection, qualification, or reservation.  For example:

(Mat 2:2)  “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.”

(Mat 2:11)  And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

(Mat 14:33)  And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

(John 9:38)  And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him.

(Luke 24:51, 52)  And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.   And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

(Heb 1:6)  And when He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, “AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.”

These verses can be multiplied many times over, but the interesting thing is that in every instance where we see men and women bowing down before Jesus and worshiping Him as their Lord and their God never once does He stop to correct them or tell them to worship the Father instead.  He never once tells them that their worship is misdirected and he never points them to the Father alone as the proper or ultimate object of worship.  Instead Jesus says “I and the Father are one.”  In doing so he claims to be the Father’s equal in every way even commanding that all men should honor him “even as they honor the Father” and adds;  “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23).

Sadly, Hedrich’s failure to honor the Son while thinking he is honoring the Father stems from a complete misreading of the Nicene fathers and Athanasius in particular. Perhaps the clearest evidence of this is the fact that all of church history, including the entirety of the Reformed tradition, stand in direct opposition to Hedrich.  Yet, this observation hardly gives this proud young man even the slightest pause.  But unlike “Athanasius contra mundum,” Hendich remains “contra Athanasius.” At the heart of Henrich’s departure from the faith lies the misplaced belief that the eternal generation of the Son necessitates the ontological and authoritative subordination of the Son to the Father, but that is precisely the  opposite of what Athanasius taught and what the Nicene creed affirmed.  For Hedrich, just as we derive out existence from our human parents, the Son as the only begotten of the Father derives his existence and divinity in a similar fashion, but that kind of one to one comparison is what the Nicene fathers wanted to avoid.  The irony is if Hedrich is correct then Athanasius would be advocating the very subordinationism he was opposing in his fight against the Arians and semi-Arians.   

In his De Synodis, Athanasius explains:

Accordingly, as in saying ‘offspring,’ we have no human thoughts, and, though we know God to be a Father, we entertain no material ideas concerning Him, but while we listen to these illustrations and terms, we think suitably of God, for He is not as man, so in like manner, when we hear of ‘coessential,’ we ought to transcend all sense, and, according to the Proverb, ‘understand by the understanding what is set before us’ (Proverbs 23:1); so as to know, that not by will, but in truth, is He genuine from the Father, as Life from Fountain, and Radiance from Light. Else why should we understand ‘offspring’ and ‘son,’ in no corporeal way, while we conceive of ‘coessential’ as after the manner of bodies? Especially since these terms are not here used about different subjects, but of whom ‘offspring’ is predicated, of Him is ‘coessential’ also. And it is but consistent to attach the same sense to both expressions as applied to the Saviour, and not to interpret ‘offspring’ in a good sense, and ‘coessential’ otherwise; since to be consistent, you who are thus minded and who say that the Son is Word and Wisdom of the Father, should entertain a different view of these terms also, and understand Word in another sense, and Wisdom in yet another. But, as this would be absurd (for the Son is the Father’s Word and Wisdom, and the Offspring from the Father is one and proper to His essence), so the sense of ‘Offspring’ and ‘Coessential’ is one, and whoso considers the Son an offspring, rightly considers Him also as ‘coessential.’

For Athanasius the idea of the Second Person being called the “Son” or even “Offspring” is not to be understood literally or an any “corporeal” or “material” sense, or more simply after the manner of men.  That’s because while names like “Son” and “Offspring” individuate the Son from the Father and thereby avoid any hint of modalism, the Son is coessential and is of the same being (homoousios) as the Father without any equivocation or parsing of the word “God.”  To argue otherwise would be to violate Athanasius’ own rule and that “the same things are said of the Son which are said of the Father except for calling him Father.”  To put it another way, the idea that the Son is the Father’s “offspring” is not meant to be understood as dividing the essence as Hedrich and Shelton have done, rather it is a means of differentiating the Persons within the Godhead. This also goes to the idea of the so-called “Monarchy of the Father,” another distorted and ancient error being advanced by Hedrich and Shelton.

According to Athanasius, while the eternal generation of the Son is intended to individuate the Persons of the Godhead, it is the Godhead considered as “the eternal triad” that is the “monarche” or source of the essential divinity of the Persons and not the Father exclusively.  Athanasius argues there is “a Holy Trinity but one Godhead and one beginning [arche], and that the Son is co-essential with the Father … while the Holy Spirit [is] proper to and inseparable from the essence of the Father and the Son.”  He also says elsewhere:

…but we must believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Christ Jesus His Son, and in the Holy Ghost, and hold that to the God of the universe the Word is united. For ‘I,’ says He, ‘and the Father are one’; and, ‘I in the Father and the Father in Me.’ For thus both the Divine Triad, and the holy preaching of the Monarchy, will be preserved – Defense of the Nicene Definition.

This is why T. F. Torrance said that for Athanasius the monarche “is identical with the Trinity.” Whereas Hedrich and Shelton maintain that the monarche is the Father alone. This is why all of Hedrich’s prattle about the Father and Son sharing the same divine attributes or essence is a load of deceptive claptrap simply because he maintains that the Son lacks the divine attribute of self-existence and is eternally subordinate in authority to the Father.

Interestingly, and in response to another group of schismatic trouble-making subordinationists lead by some pathetic papist loon who goes by the name, “Phantaz Sunlyk,” Kevin Giles writes:

The one thing that upsets Sunlyk more than anything else is that I do not endorse the monarchy (sole rule) of the Father, or that the Father is the monarche (sole source) of the being of the Son and the Spirit. He comes back to this matter time and time again . . . All subordinationists want to give some priority to the Father so that the Son then stands under him. This involves separating and dividing the Father and the Son and invariably when this is done their relationship is described as “asymmetrical” … The Cappadocians make the Father the monarche (sole source) of the being of the Son and the Spirit but they do everything they can to eliminate subordinationism. The divine three are one in being, one in operations/works/functions, one in authority and they interpenetrate one another. They insist that there is no hierarchical ordering in the Trinity although they teach that the divine three work in an orderly manner.  However many of the most scholarly studies by Western theologians point out that conceptually this view of the Father can lead to subordinationism … Sunlyk claims that if any Western theologian questions the monarchy of the Father he must be a contemporary Protestant [if only that were the case – SG].  This is simply not true. Edmund Fortman, a learned orthodox Roman Catholic commenting on just this issue says, “This approach is entirely orthodox and has many advantages, but if ineptly handled it can easily involve subordinationism” (The Triune God, 282). He expresses my views entirely. The Catholic theologian L Boff (Trinity and Society, p 83) makes exactly the same point and with a little work I could find other Catholics questioning the theological merit of the idea that the Father is the  monarche of the being of the Son and Spirit. [For Gile’s complete response to Sunlyk see here.  Pay particular attention to Gile’s description of Sunlyk as this guy could be Shelton’s identical twin] .

Also interesting, and as mentioned in a previous piece, this subordination of the Son to the Father creates a distorted lens by which all Scripture is read, or, more precisely, twisted.  One example of this is found right in the creation account in Genesis 1:26 where we read; “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness….”  I don’t think it is a stretch to say that Christians have universally and throughout church history viewed this verse as the earliest expression of the plurality of the Persons of the Godhead found in Scripture.  Yet, and I suppose not surprisingly, Hedrich rejects completely the traditional Christian understanding of this verse and joins himself with assorted Arians and other Christ denying Unitarians by responding to this verse by saying:

Do you know what a majestic plural is? Read Genesis 3:22, Genesis 11:7, and Isaiah 6:8, and tell me if those passages each exclusively refer to the divine persons. If not, then tell me how you can infer that the action taking place is by a God who is multiple persons rather than a God who is a numerically singular person addressing His court in the royal “we.”

I for one would maintain that all of the verses Hedirch attributes to “a numerically singular person addressing His court in the royal ‘we’” are to be understood as Old Testament Trinitarian expressions of the plurality of the Godhead.

Concerning Genesis 1:26, and Hedrich’s so-called “royal we,” Calvin writes:

Although the tense here used is the future, all must acknowledge that this is the language of one apparently deliberating. Hitherto God has been introduced simply as commanding; now, when he approaches the most excellent of all his works, he enters into consultation. God certainly might here command by his bare word what he wished to be done: but he chose to give this tribute to the excellency of man, that he would, in a manner, enter into consultation concerning his creation . . . But since the Lord needs no other counsellor, there can be no doubt that he consulted with himself. The Jews make themselves altogether ridiculous, in pretending that God held communication with the earth or with angels . . . Others who deem themselves more acute, but are doubly infatuated, say that God spoke of himself in the plural number, according to the custom of princes. As if, in truth, that barbarous style of speaking, which has grown into use within a few past centuries, had, even then, prevailed in the world. But it is well that their canine wickedness has been joined with a stupidity so great, that they betray their folly to children. Christians, therefore, properly contend, from this testimony, that there exists a plurality of Persons in the Godhead. God summons no foreign counsellor; hence we infer that he finds within himself something distinct; as, in truth, his eternal wisdom and power reside within him.

Seems that Hedrich has some company even if they’re all in the wolf family.  Also, commenting on this verse Athanasius says:

We, on the contrary, regard Him not as simply God’s pronounced word or mental, but as Living God and Word, existing in Himself, and Son of God and Christ; being and abiding with His Father before ages, and that not in foreknowledge only , and ministering to Him for the whole framing whether of things visible or invisible. For He it is, to whom the Father said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness ‘ Genesis 1:26, who also was seen in His own Person by the patriarchs, gave the law, spoke by the prophets, and at last, became man, and manifested His own Father to all men, and reigns to never-ending ages. For Christ has taken no recent dignity, but we have believed Him to be perfect from the first, and like in all things to the Father.

In addition to seeing the Son clearly in Genesis 1:26, notice too that for Athanasius the Son is “existing in Himself.” Sounds like aseity to me.  Christ is “like in all things to the Father” which includes self-existence.  Or, going back to Athanasius’ rule, a rule Hedrich rejects along with sound exegesis of critical OT Trinitarian passages,  “the same things are said of the Son which are said of the Father except for calling him Father.”

Interesting,  I asked Ryan if he affirms the Athanasian creed which reads in part:

Eternal is the Father; eternal is the Son; eternal is the Spirit: And yet there are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal; as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited.

Almighty is the Father; almighty is the Son; almighty is the Spirit: And yet there are not three almighty beings, but one who is almighty.

Thus the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God: And yet there are not three gods, but one God.

Thus the Father is Lord; the Son is Lord; the Holy Spirit is Lord: And yet there are not three lords, but one Lord.

As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords.

The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten; the Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten of the Father; the Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son.

Thus there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three spirits.

And in this Trinity, no one is before or after, greater or less than the other; but all three persons are in themselves, coeternal and coequal; and so we must worship the Trinity in unity and the one God in three persons.

Whoever wants to be saved should think thus about the Trinity.

While I would encourage people to read the creed in its entirety,  here is what R.C. Sproul says of the creed:

The content of the Athanasian Creed stresses the affirmation of the Trinity in which all members of the Godhead are considered uncreated and co-eternal and of the same substance. In the affirmation of the Trinity the dual nature of Christ is given central importance. As the Athanasian Creed in one sense reaffirms the doctrines of the Trinity set forth in the fourth century at Nicea, in like manner the strong affirmations of the fifth-century council at Chalcedon in 451 are also recapitulated therein… Though the Athanasian Creed does not get as much publicity in Protestant churches, the orthodox doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation are affirmed by virtually every historic Protestant church.

So, what was Hedrich’s answer to the question whether or not he could affirm this creed, a creed “affirmed by virtually every historic Protestant church”?  His answer, not surprisingly, was an emphatic “no” and he writes:

There is indeed not one eternal but three, not one omniscience but three. Have you accepted numeric unity after all? Is there but one Trinitarian mind and will?

Now, whether or not I have “accepted numeric unity” or not (although I’m not sure why it would be a sin if I had), or whether Hedrich even has any understanding of numeric as opposed to generic unity as it relates to the Trinity (he doesn’t), the more important question is why does he continue to pretend that he is a Trinitarian?  The reason is simple and that’s because if labels like Unitarian or even semi-Arian were to fit, and they do, not even the most witless Christian, much less anyone who considers themselves a Scripturalist, would ever join Hedrich and his fellow canines in their wickedness and stupidity.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Heresies

16 Comments on “A Special Kind Of Arrogance”

  1. Hugh McCann Says:

    The more we say about God outside of/ beyond the scriptural witness, the more we are in danger of committing blasphemy.


  2. Another excellent post. The Son of God, the divine Logos, in union with the reasonable human “person” of Jesus Crhist, is one man and one mediator. The Reformed position has been accused of being Nestorian by the Lutherans while we accuse the Lutherans of the monophysite error. It seems to me that Drake another lay persons who have not thought through the implications are more willing to jettison hundreds of years of church history. I’m wondering if there might be another way to understand the “hypostatic union” that takes into account the reasonable human soul or “person” of Christ along with the difficulties of the divine Person of the Logos. Either way, the problem with Shelton is that he confuses the incarnation with the issues of the Tri-unity of three persons or “subsistences” within the one essence or being of God. There never was a time when the Logos didn’t exist on His. Jesus, on the other hand, was born over 2,000 years ago of a virgin.

    Thanks for laying out the doctrine of the Trinity so clearly here.

    Chalrie


  3. On His own, that is.

  4. Scott Says:

    “There is a special kind of arrogance that can look over more than a millennium of church history and theological development and say; “No, you’ve got it all wrong.””

    That is essentially what the protestant reformers did on a lot of issues. Scripture ALONE is infallible.

    “But they don’t just say this about some obscure or nonessential doctrine.”

    Any doctrine never systematically laid out in scripture is by definition nonessential. And the Athanasian creed? Yeah, I think of that as obscure.

    “Silly Christians. Yet, in Scripture we see many examples where Jesus is the direct object of worship without objection, qualification, or reservation.”

    Oh yeah, just because somebody bows down to Jesus, that *totally* makes him God. I guess because Daniel never corrected Nebuchadnezzar, he must be a divine person too:
    “Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshiped Daniel” (Daniel 2:46 KJV)
    So obviously we need to add Daniel to the Trinity.

    “Instead he says “I and my Father are one.””

    You are misquoting John 10:30. Let us look at this verse in context:

    “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28-30).

    Notice that these verses, when read in context, actually REFUTE trinitarianism because it says Jesus saying, “My Father is greater than all,” which means, by definition, that the Father is greater than Jesus Christ himself!

    If you look at these verses closely, you will see that they are a syllogism.

    Premise 1: No one will snatch the sheep out of Jesus’s hand.
    Premise 2: No one will snatch the sheep out of God’s hand either.
    Conclusion: God and Jesus are “one” in the sense that neither will let their sheep be snatched out of their hands.

    Thus, these verses clearly teach unity of purpose, not unity of essence. If “I and my Father are one” taught unity of essence, it would contradict the verse right before it: “My Father is greater than all.”

  5. Scott Says:

    “their error is due to the misplaced belief that the eternal generation of the Son necessitates the ontological and authoritative subordination of the Son to the Father.”
    First of all, yes, the viewpoint that the Son is in anyway generated by the Father necessitates subordination.
    Second of all, it is a contradiction in terms to speak about something *eternally generating.* If something is eternal, it neither generates nor is generated — it simply is. Generation can only occur in time, not in eternity. Saying “X generated Y” implies that X is temporally prior to Y.
    Thirdly, the scriptures never speak about Jesus being *eternally* begotten. The following verse says that he was begotten in time on a specific day: “YHWH said to me, ‘You are my son; this day I have fathered you'” (Psalm 2:7).

    “‘I in the Father and the Father in Me.’”
    So what? The Bible also says that we are in Christ and Christ is in us and we are in God and God is in us. That doesn’t make all Christians God. This verse just means that the Father and the Son are in communion with each other.

    “Now, whether or not I have “accepted numeric unity” or not”
    According to Jesus, accepting the numeric unity of God is part of the first commandment: “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God is one.”

    I’ll ignore the fact that you keep citing theologians and hymns as authoritative in addition to scripture. I’ll also ignore your many ad hominem attacks.

  6. Ryan Says:

    “If “I and my Father are one” taught unity of essence, it would contradict the verse right before it: “My Father is greater than all…the scriptures never speak about Jesus being *eternally* begotten.”

    Sean, are you taking note of what real Unitarians believe? Have you been reading my blog posts on what the Pre-Nicene and Nicene fathers actually believed? I’m still waiting for your retraction.

  7. Sean Gerety Says:

    “There is a special kind of arrogance that can look over more than a millennium of church history and theological development and say; “No, you’ve got it all wrong.””

    That is essentially what the protestant reformers did on a lot of issues. Scripture ALONE is infallible.

    Funny, and all this time I thought Luther’s intended on “reforming” the church, not overthrowing it. Of course things didn’t work out that way as the Roman church/state was well beyond any reformation at that point which is why they sought to kill him and his fellow protesters instead (not to mention formalizing their apostasy at Trent).

    “But they don’t just say this about some obscure or nonessential doctrine.”

    Any doctrine never systematically laid out in scripture is by definition nonessential.

    I guess that depends on what you mean by “systematically.” Reformed Christians (historic Protestants) do not believe just those things that are explicitly set down in Scripture, but those things which are necessarily (i.e., soundly) deduced from Scripture as well (see Westminster Confession of Faith 1:6). Protestants aren’t fundamentalists or Anabaptists after all.

    Consequently, Christians are required to believe that God is a Triune. Of course, no one is required to be a Christian. For example, you’re free to be a Unitarian along with Ryan and Drake, but you shouldn’t play the hypocrite and pretend to be a Christian.

    That’s not only bad manners, that’s sinful.

    “Instead he says “I and my Father are one.””
    You are misquoting John 10:30. Let us look at this verse in context:

    “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28-30).
    Notice that these verses, when read in context, actually REFUTE trinitarianism because it says Jesus saying, “My Father is greater than all,” which means, by definition, that the Father is greater than Jesus Christ himself!

    ? Seems to me I quoted John 10:30 exactly and in the broader context it supports my conclusion as the “all” has to do with those who would try to snatch from the Son those given to him by the Father, i.e., the elect. To put it another way, the Father is greater than all “snatchers.” Further, it is the Son who gives the elect eternal life because He and the Father are one. There is no subordination whatsoever in this passage.

    Thus, these verses clearly teach unity of purpose, not unity of essence. If “I and my Father are one” taught unity of essence, it would contradict the verse right before it: “My Father is greater than all.”

    Again, as I just showed you it all depends on who the “all” is referring to. Second, Jesus saying he is one with the Father is an assertion of ontological and metaphysical equality, not subordination. The Jews certainly understood him this way as we see in starting in verse 31:

    31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
    32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
    33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

    Do you see that Scott? The Jews sought to stone Jesus because he claimed to be God Himself. I admit that doesn’t really work in the whole Unitarian scheme, but that’s why I’m not a Unitarian since, like all sub-Christian cults, they cherry-pick and proof-text rather than deal with the Scripture as a whole.

    “their error is due to the misplaced belief that the eternal generation of the Son necessitates the ontological and authoritative subordination of the Son to the Father.”

    First of all, yes, the viewpoint that the Son is in anyway generated by the Father necessitates subordination.

    That would be true if “to generate” was meant to be taken literally and not metaphorically. The Nicene fathers, not to mention Athanasius, were intent on refuting both Sabellianism and Arianism (and semi-Arianism). I suggest you read Kevin Giles’ book The Eternal Generation of the Son: Maintaining Orthodoxy in Trinitarian Theology as he makes a very persuasive case that the intent of the Nicene creed and the early fathers was to slam the door on all forms of subordinationism. Gordon Clark makes this point too in his monograph on the Trinity.

    Second of all, it is a contradiction in terms to speak about something *eternally generating.*

    Good point, which is why “generation” was not meant to be understood literally or in any carnal sense. You’re reading a modern and colloquial meaning of the word to generate back into the creed which is why you rightly see it as contradictory, but that is not what the writers intended (again, see Kevin Giles). Ryan and Drake make this error too, but as Clark explained (and I have this citation in “Going Beyond What Is Written” which I thought you read):

    Though we must apply to the Son some sense of the term “generation,” let it be admitted that the sense is not completely clear. Christ is indeed Son of God, and the relationship is filiation. But since this relationship is eternal, and there was no time before the Son was Son, and though there was not time before the Father was Father, and though to be Biblical we must call the first Person Father and the second Person Son, it has please God not to have revealed much further as to the nature of this relationship. At least no theologian has succeeded in extending the implications of Scripture very far. Perhaps the best we can do is to suggest that the three Persons are identical with the exception of their personal differences. (The Trinity, 122)

    The names “Father” and “Son” imply a filial relationship which is why the word “generation” was chosen and the idea of “eternal” was to slam the door on Arians who said there was a time when the Son was not. The idea of “eternal generation” was also intended to refute modalists who thought the One God merely “appeared” in the personas of Father, Son and Spirit and that the Godhead didn’t consists of three actual individual persons.

  8. Scott Says:

    “You shouldn’t play the hypocrite and pretend to be a Christian.”
    I would be a hypocrite if I lied and falsely claimed to be a Trinitarian Christian while knowing that I was a Unitarian Christian. I let my yes mean yes and my know mean no. I am not “pretending;” I genuinely think that I am a Christian. You can accuse me of error, but hypocrisy is out of the question.

    “Do you see that Scott? The Jews sought to stone Jesus because he claimed to be God Himself.”
    No. They sought to stone him because THEY THOUGHT that he was claiming to be God Himself. They also thought that he literally wanted them to cannibalize off him. Neither is true. Both are misunderstandings.

    “That would be true if “to generate” was meant to be taken literally and not metaphorically.”
    I fail to see how “to generate” can be taken figuratively. For X to generate Y means that X caused Y. Nothing metaphorical about it. I can see how “to father” can be taken metaphorically, but it goes without saying that fathers father sons.

    “The idea of eternal generation was intended to refute modalists”
    You don’t need eternal generation to refute modalists. Just point out that when the Father said, “You are my son; this day I have fathered you,” he did not say, “I am my son; this day I have fathered myself.”
    They could have just said that being “begotten” applies to Christ’s humanity while being “eternal” applies to his divinity instead of shoving contradictions into creeds that all Christians were forced to believe in under penalty of death or exile.

    “Which I thought you read”
    Yes, I did read Gordon Clark’s book “The Trinity.” Essentially he agrees with me and thinks that eternal generation is a contradictory concept, but he gave the church fathers an A for effort. On a side note, I’m not sure if I buy into his proposition-individuation theory.

    “Perhaps the best we can do is to suggest that the three Persons are identical with the exception of their personal differences.” (The Trinity, 122)
    Essentially, what Clark said there is “They are completely alike except when they are not”–such phrases are not true assertions, for they tell us nothing.

  9. Scott Says:

    “Again, as I just showed you it all depends on who the “all” is referring to. Second, Jesus saying he is one with the Father is an assertion of ontological and metaphysical equality, not subordination. The Jews certainly understood him this way as we see in starting in verse 31:
    31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
    32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
    33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”

    You are quoting the Bible out of context. Right after the Jews accuse him of making himself into God, he refutes their charges by saying, “I assure you that the Son can’t do anything by himself except what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5:19). He clearly denies that he is making himself equal with God and committing blasphemy. Let Jesus, and not the sinful Jews, interpret his own words.

  10. Scott Says:

    Sorry for the above commentary–I was quoting from the wrong chapter. But it still applies to the fact that Jesus never saw himself as committing blasphemy.

  11. Scott Says:

    And If Jesus is of one essence with the Father because he is “one” with him, then the disciples are also gods because he prays that they might be one with his Father exactly as Jesus is one with him (John 17)

  12. Steve M Says:

    Scott
    Does the Southern Baptist church that you attend accept your views 
    As Christian?

  13. Sean Gerety Says:

    Scott writes:

    I would be a hypocrite if I lied and falsely claimed to be a Trinitarian Christian while knowing that I was a Unitarian Christian. I let my yes mean yes and my know mean no. I am not “pretending;” I genuinely think that I am a Christian. You can accuse me of error, but hypocrisy is out of the question.

    “Unitarian Christian” is an oxymoron. You’re fooling yourself (and evidently others). A Unitarian is not a Christian even nominally. It’s like saying “Mormon Christian,” or “JW Christian,” or “Muslim Christian,” or “Hindu Christian.” In their denial of the Son Unitarians think they retain the Father when they have neither.

    “No one who denies the Son has the Father” (1 John 2:23).

    “Do you see that Scott? The Jews sought to stone Jesus because he claimed to be God Himself.”

    No. They sought to stone him because THEY THOUGHT that he was claiming to be God Himself. They also thought that he literally wanted them to cannibalize off him. Neither is true. Both are misunderstandings.

    You just asserting it doesn’t make it true. You need to prove that they were wrong to think that. Yet, we see Jesus saying things like; “If ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also: from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” And “I and the Father are one.” Further, as Paul says in Colossians that Christians, not Unitarians, are

    “…being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

    Notice, Paul doesn’t say all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in the Father alone, but the knowledge of mystery of God includes both Father and Son equally and unequivocally. Apart from this knowledge you cannot be saved. Not to put too fine a point on it, Unitarians are going to hell.

    “That would be true if “to generate” was meant to be taken literally and not metaphorically.”

    I fail to see how “to generate” can be taken figuratively. For X to generate Y means that X caused Y. Nothing metaphorical about it. I can see how “to father” can be taken metaphorically, but it goes without saying that fathers father sons.

    You may fail to see it, but that’s how the Nicene creed is meant to be understood. They were Trinitarians not Arians. You have the same wooden and literalistic understanding of the doctrine as does your fellow Unitarians, Drake and Ryan.

    “Which I thought you read”

    Yes, I did read Gordon Clark’s book “The Trinity.” Essentially he agrees with me and thinks that eternal generation is a contradictory concept,

    I have the book right in front of me, I don’t recall him saying that at all as he affirms the doctrine of eternal generation of the Son rightly understood. However, unlike you he clearly grasps the meaning of the doctrine and recognizes the limitations of the language that was used in formulating it. Further, he warns his readers to take particular care as difficulties abound; a warning that you, Ryan, and Drake have ignored as you all have fallen into a trap of your own making.

    On a side note, I’m not sure if I buy into his proposition-individuation theory.

    OK. I do.

    Essentially, what Clark said there is “They are completely alike except when they are not”–such phrases are not true assertions, for they tell us nothing.

    I’m not surprised it doesn’t tell you anything, but it is basically just a restatement of Athanasius’ rule and that whatever can be said of the Father can be said of the Son except that he is the Father. There are personal properties, subjective propositions, that only apply to the individual persons qua persons. For example, the Father can’t say I took on flesh, became a man and suffered and died for the sins of the elect.

  14. Scott Says:

    “No one who denies the Son has the Father” (1 John 2:23).
    I do not deny the Son of God–I just deny that “Son of God” = “God the Son.”

    “You just asserting it doesn’t make it true.”
    I never said that if I assert something, it magically becomes true. You are attacking a straw man.

  15. Scott Says:

    “You need to prove that they were wrong to think that.”
    LOL. How is the burden of proof on me? Are you assuming that the children of their father the devil whom Jesus said could not understand his words are correct unless proven otherwise? The burden of proof is on you.
    Nevertheless, HERE IS MY EVIDENCE AND MY ARGUMENT THAT JESUS WAS NOT CLAIMING DIVINITY IN JOHN CHAPTER 5:
    1.) The Jews were just irrational and looking for a way to kill him already. Are the people who once tried to drive Jesus off a cliff for preaching a sermon the best people to rationally interpret his words? They wanted to kill him already and were jumping at the chance to falsely accuse him of blasphemy just like the false witnesses lied at his crucifixion.

    2.) The evidence they used to condemn Jesus for blasphemy is laughable. He never claimed to be God in the preceding verses. How does this quote conclusively proves that Jesus is God: “My Father worketh hitherto and I work” (5:17)? Defend the Jews’ reasoning or reject their conclusion.

    3.) If Jesus was indeed claiming to be God, he would have congratulated them for finally understanding him. He doesn’t.

    4.) Jesus twice clears himself of the blasphemy charge by denying he is omnipotent:
    “the Son can’t do anything by himself” (5:19) and “I can’t do anything by myself” (5:30)

    5.) If Jesus is *autotheos* he would have claimed that his powers were intrinsic to him. Instead he said that the Father granted him his rights. Thus, Jesus’ power is contingent upon God.

    6.) Jesus responds to the blasphemy charge by saying: “I don’t seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” (John 5:19-30). If Jesus was part of a triune godhead, he would have had the same will and same intentions as the other divine persons in that godhead. He clearly distinguishes himself from God.

    7.) After being accused of blasphemy, Jesus said, “If I testify about myself, my testimony isn’t true” (John 5:31). These words are foolish if Jesus is God because God’s testimony is to be accepted no matter what and depends on nobody else. Whereas God swears by himself because nobody is greater than himself (see Heb 6:13), Jesus swears by God’s testimony and not by his own.

    8.) Although he calls himself the messianic Human One (or Son of Man, who is subservient to YHWH), he never calls himself the Ancient One (who is YHWH): “He [the Ancient One] gives the Son [Jesus] authority to judge because he is the Human One” (5:27).

    This refers to Daniel 7:

    “I suddenly saw the Human One
    coming with the heavenly clouds.
    He came to the Ancient One
    and was presented before him.
    Rule, glory, and kingship were given to him;
    all peoples, nations, and languages will serve him.
    His rule is an everlasting one—
    it will never pass away!—
    his kingship is indestructible” (Dan 7:13-14).

    Note that the Human One is not called YHWH in this vision. Only the Ancient One is YHWH. Jesus claims to be the Human One (or Son of Man) in response to the blasphemy accusation. However, in Daniel 7, the Son of Man is clearly subservient to YHWH.

    Thus, Jesus’ reasoning is simple: he repeatedly countered blasphemy charges by saying 1) that he was not omnipotent, 2) that he derived all of his power from God, and that 3) he was only the human being whom the Ancient One had given the power to possess life and be honored as the messianic king.

    He never claims to be omnipotent or to be YHWH in John Chapter 5–just the reverse. So please stop quoting these verses out of context. Please stop using the Jews’ sinful accusations as if they were superior to Jesus’ rebuttal of their blasphemy charge.

  16. Jon Says:

    Groups have always been around who have neglected or denied the doctrine of the Trinity. Yet Scripture seems awfuly clear that God is triune.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: