Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Against Modalism 7: The Eternal Son 2

Romans 8:3
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh…

As far as I understand it, Modalists usually regard “the Son” as the human manifestation of God, when the Father became incarnate in the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth. This humanity is what was begotten in time by the divine power of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

However, in this passage we see the Son being sent in the likeness of sinful flesh. Clearly “the Son” is personally distinct from the Father (otherwise how could God send Him?), and the Son existed separately from human flesh and prior to His Incarnation (otherwise what does sending the Son “in the likeness of sinful flesh” mean?).

John 5:18
Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

It is in the Son’s relation to the Father as the divine Son that He is equal with God. It is this divine Sonship, not a supernatural birth produced without a human father that is the problem for the Jews (and for Modalists).

John 6:38
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, states here that He came down from heaven. This cannot refer to the humanity of Christ, yet it cannot refer to the Father as He also says that He was sent to do the will of Him who sent Him. He who sent Him and whose will He did is personally distinct from this divine being from heaven.

Galatians 4:4
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law…

Again, this passage repeats the fact that God the Father sent the Son from heaven, and that this Son was not the humanity, because why would it be remarkable to say that a human was born of a woman?

1 John 1:1-3
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus as the ”Word of Life” was ”from the beginning” and thus eternal, and yet He was distinct from the Father (”with the Father”).

Isaiah 48:12-16
”Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last. Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens. When I call to them, they stand up together.
All of you, assemble yourselves, and hear! Who among them has declared these things? The LORD loves him; He shall do His pleasure on Babylon, and His arm shall be against the Chaldeans.
I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him, I have brought him, and his way will prosper.
Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit have sent Me.


Here “the First" and "the Last”, the One who “laid the foundation of the earth” and “stretched out the heavens”, the One who speaks here in the days of Isaiah, and who says, “from the time that it was, I was there”, says, ”And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit have sent Me.”

Clearly this is the eternal God, the creator of all things, and yet He is distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit, and is sent by them. This is the eternal, divine Son, not His temporal humanity, which accords perfectly with the doctrine of the Trinity.

Hebrews 1:1,2
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds…

The Son is the one through whom the Father made the worlds. “The Son” as the Son was present at the creation of the universe and was distinct from the Father.

Hebrews 1:5-8
For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”?
But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.” But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your kingdom.”


The Firstborn is brought into the world. This clearly refers to the Son existing prior to His birth and as having an origin in heaven.

Again, to the Son the Father says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever…” The Son is not merely the humanity of Christ. This is not Thomas speaking to the God-man, but the Father referring to the Son.

(Modalists often use v. 5 to claim that the Son is born only in time. Some Trinitarians would say that the “today” is in eternity, e.g. Augustine. I would be inclined to think that it does refer to His Incarnation given the context of Psalm 2 concerning the Mediatorial Kingship of the Messiah. A temporal birth (which He clearly had) does not preclude an eternal begottenness. Trinitarians do not use the term Son to refer only to His divinity, but the totality of who the Son is: His undivided personhood as God and man in two distinct natures and one person forever. However, my focus is not on this verse, but the other ones.)

Hebrews 7:3
…without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God…

Here Melchizedek is compared with the Son in that he almost appears to be eternal. Melchizedek of course isn’t, but the Son clearly is from this passage.

1 John 5:7
For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

Although this is a disputed text, yet I am personally persuaded that it is original and thus I quote it. (See here for an example argument.) It is clear what it says.

If you reject the above reading because of a belief in the superiority of the Alexandrian text-type or eclectic considerations, then try this for an Alexandrian reading:

John 1:18
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Need I say more?

Continued...

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Polycarp said...

Timothy, I posted a response to half of this post on my site and hope to finish it hope tomorrow, but it has been a busy week!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 8:22:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Joel,

Take your time. As for me, I think I'll focus on setting forth my case for the present and then retrospectively respond to your responses.

Friday, April 18, 2008 1:51:00 am  
Blogger Adam Pastor said...

Greetings

Modalism is indeed very erroneous.
However, the doctrine of the trinity is equally erroneous.

To find out why I say this, I recommend one & all to view the video at The Human Jesus

This video goes into greater detail about the "errors" of the trinity; and the video also presents the biblical picture of
"who Jesus really is" IMHO.

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 7:50:00 am  
Anonymous Polycarp said...

Adam, I would rather be a Trinitarian than that!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 5:16:00 pm  
Anonymous Polycarp said...

Timothy, I finally finished responding to this post. Sorry it took so long. Last week was for for the record books.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 7:54:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

To confess that Jesus is not Divine is wholly contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture and the universal confession of the Church throughout all ages.

See here for typical evidence of Christ's deity.

The evidence of the pre-existence of the Son already represented in these posts also refutes your form of Unitarianism. A merely human Christ cannot exist prior to His birth.

With respect, I will not enter into a discussion on this matter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 9:04:00 pm  

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