Irenaeus Highlights

Irenaeus of Lyons, unlike many church fathers, is one relatively well known to modern Christians. The second century bishop of Lyons is famous for his staunch opposition to the various pseudo-gnostic heresies that faced the church in his day, and especially for the multi-volume work Against Heresies that he authored to combat them. He also authored a lesser-known work summarizing an orthodox understanding of the Christian faith and proving its tenets from the scriptures called Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, which I highly recommend.

Here I want to briefly examine some quotes from his writings that highlight his strongly held and clearly-articulated belief that the one God of the Christian faith is the person of the Father in particular.

“And others of them, with great craftiness, adapted such parts of Scripture to their own figments, lead away captive from the truth those who do not retain a stedfast faith in one God, the Father Almighty, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Against Heresies, Book I. Chapter III. 6.)

Due to the clarity of these quotes, comment is largely unnecessary. While Irenaeus is writing against the heretics of old his words still hold a strong rebuke for the modern semi-modalists who have taken up their mantle.

“The Church, though dispersed through our the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God” (Against Heresies, Book I. Chapter X. 1.)

“These have all declared to us that there is one God, Creator of heaven and earth, announced by the law and the prophets; and one Christ the Son of God. If any one do not agree to these truths, he despises the companions of the Lord; nay more, he despises Christ Himself the Lord; yea, he despises the Father also, and stands self-condemned, resisting and opposing his own salvation, as is the case with all heretics.” (Against Heresies, Book III. Chapter I. 2.)

“Since, therefore, this is sure and stedfast, that no other God or Lord was announced by the Spirit, except Him who, as God, rules over all, together with His Word, and those who receive the Spirit of adoption, [3805] that is, those who believe in the one and true God, and in Jesus Christ the Son of God; and likewise that the apostles did of themselves term no one else as God, or name [no other] as Lord; and, what is much more important, [since it is true] that our Lord [acted likewise], who did also command us to confess no one as Father, except Him who is in the heavens, who is the one God and the one Father;–those things are clearly shown to be false which these deceivers and most perverse sophists advance” (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter I. 1.)

“And therefore it is right first of all to believe that there is One God, the Father, who made and fashioned all things, and made what was not that it should be, and who, containing all things, alone is uncontained.” (The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching)

“This then is the order of the rule of our faith, and the foundation of the building, and the stability of our conversation: God, the Father, not made, not material, invisible; one God, the creator of all things: this is the first point of our faith. The second point is: The Word of God, Son of God, Christ Jesus our Lord, who was manifested to the prophets according to the form of their prophesying and according to the method of the dispensation of the Father: through whom all things were made; who also at the end of the times, to complete and gather up all things, was made man among men, visible and tangible, in order to abolish death and show forth life and produce a community of union between God and man. And the third point is: The Holy Spirit, through whom the prophets prophesied, and the fathers learned the things of God, and the righteous were led forth into the way of righteousness; and who in the end of the times was poured out in a new way upon mankind in all the earth, renewing man unto God.” (Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching)

Highlights from Hilary of Poitiers

Hilary of Poitiers is not much of a household name today, but in the fourth century he was an important figure in the church. After opposing Arianism in Gaul, Hilary was banished to Asia Minor for a time by the magistrate. His interaction with Greek-speaking Christians there, and careful theological interaction with them, made him an important bridge between orthodox theologians on both sides of the East-West linguistic/cultural divide in the fourth century.

While upon his return from exile he may have eventually given into the semi-modalistic tendencies of his native region, prior to this he authored a work of great historical and theological importance On the Councils of the Easterners. In this work he did much to try to bridge the growing east-west divide in the church by carefully communicating the various eastern regional councils’ decisions against Arianism.

While there is much that could be said on this work, and I strongly recommend it to the interested reader, here I hope to briefly examine a few quotes from Hilary that show his belief that the one God is the Father in particular, contra modalism and semi-modalism.

“God is One on account of the true character of His natural essence and because from the Unborn God the Father, who is the one God, the Only-begotten God the Son is born, and draws His divine Being only from God; and since the essence of Him who is begotten is exactly similar to the essence of Him who begot Him, there must be one name for the exactly similar nature. That the Son is not on a level with the Father and is not equal to Him is chiefly shown in the fact that He was subjected to Him to render obedience, in that the Lord rained from the Lord and that the Father did not, as Photinus and Sabellius say, rain from Himself, as the Lord from the Lord; in that He then sat down at the right hand of God when it was told Him to seat Himself; in that He is sent, in that He receives, in that He submits in all things to the will of Him who sent Him. But the subordination of filial love is not a diminution of essence, nor does pious duty cause a degeneration of nature, since in spite of the fact that both the Unborn Father is God and the Only-begotten Son of God is God, God is nevertheless One, and the subjection and dignity of the Son are both taught in that by being called Son He is made subject to that name which because it implies that God is His Father is yet a name which denotes His nature. Having a name which belongs to Him whose Son He is, He is subject to the Father both in service and name; yet in such a way that the subordination of His name bears witness to the true character of His natural and exactly similar essence.”

Here we see Hilary skillfully explain several things, including the communication of the divine nature to the Son in eternal generation (which you can read more about here: https://nicenefaith.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/does-teaching-the-father-is-the-one-god-undermine-the-divinity-of-christ/), the equality of the Son’s nature with that of the Father, the Son’s personal subordination to His Father, and not least of all, he expressly defines the one God as the Father (“from the Unborn God the Father, who is the one God, the Only-begotten God the Son is born”).

Next we see Hilary quote a statement made by one of the Eastern Synods, and then his commentary on it.

““If any man says that the Son is incapable of birth and without beginning, speaking as though there were two incapable of birth and unborn and without beginning, and makes two Gods: let him be anathema. For the Head, which is the beginning of all things, is the Son; but the Head or beginning of Christ is God: for so to One who is without beginning and is the beginning of all things, we refer the whole world through Christ.

  1. To declare the Son to be incapable of birth is the height of impiety. God would no longer be One: for the nature of the one Unborn God demands that we should confess that God is one. Since therefore God is one, there cannot be two incapable of birth: because God is one (although both the Father is God and the Son of God is God) for the very reason that incapability of birth is the only quality that can belong to one Person only. The Son is God for the very reason that He derives His birth from that essence which cannot be born. Therefore our holy faith rejects the idea that the Son is incapable of birth in order to predicate one God incapable of birth and consequently one God, and in order to embrace the Only-begotten nature, begotten from the unborn essence, in the one name of the Unborn God. For the Head of all things is the Son: but the Head of the Son is God. And to one God through this stepping-stone and by this confession all things are referred, since the whole world takes its beginning from Him to whom God Himself is the beginning.”

Hilary’s explanation here is helpful in giving us an understanding of how the ancient orthodox Christians understood there to be only one God, Who is the Father, and yet also confessed the divinity of the Son and Spirit without somehow ending up being tri-theists (believing in three gods). The fact that the Father alone is unborn and uncaused, and is the Cause and Begetter of the Son before all time, was understood to logically explain why the Son’s divinity did not pose any problem to the Father being the one God. Although both the Father and Son are of the same divine nature, yet one (the Father) possesses is without cause and of Himself, while the Son was begotten of the Father and so given His divine nature by Him. Hilary explains that because everything can be referred to back to only one unoriginate first cause, the Father, there is still only one God, although the Son and Spirit also possess the same divine nature as He.

In our last highlight Hilary again responds to the common modalist argument against orthodoxy, that it presents a plurality of Gods, and finishes with some strong comments showing the falsehood of modalism.

“Kept always from guile by the gift of the Holy Spirit, we confess and write of our own will that there are not two Gods but one God; nor do we therefore deny that the Son of God is also God; for He is God of God. We deny that there are two incapable of birth, because God is one through the prerogative of being incapable of birth; nor does it follow that the Unbegotten is not God, for His source is the Unborn substance. There is not one subsistent Person, but a similar substance in both Persons. There is not one name of God applied to dissimilar natures, but a wholly similar essence belonging to one name and nature. One is not superior to the other on account of the kind of His substance, but one is subject to the other because born of the other. The Father is greater because He is Father, the Son is not the less because He is Son. The difference is one of the meaning of a name and not of a nature. We confess that the Father is not affected by time, but do not deny that the Son is equally eternal. We assert that the Father is in the Son because the Son has nothing in Himself unlike the Father: we confess that the Son is in the Father because the existence of the Son is not from any other source. We recognize that their nature is mutual and similar because equal: we do not think them to be one Person because they are one: we declare that they are through the similarity of an identical nature one, in such a way that they nevertheless are not one Person.”

I would like to especially point attention here to Hilary’s statement: “because God is one through the prerogative of being incapable of birth”: as we have seen, this refers only to the Father, Who is unbegotten. The Son, we have seen Him say, is born of the Father. We see him then clearly articulating that the unborn Father in particular is the one God.

Semi-modalism as the Greatest Problem Facing the Church Today

Church history is riddled with problems. Sin has left much of church history to more closely resemble the ancient Jerusalem of the Old Testament than the heavenly Jerusalem we look forward to. The problems the church has faced are about as varied as could be imagined, from practical issues, to sin among leadership and laity, to heresies in every generation. But which problems present the greatest danger?

I would suggest that the most dangeroues errors that face the church are those that go unnoticed. When a problem is recognised as such, the table is set for efforts to be made to recify it. But when problems go unrecognised, especially if they are unrecognised for a long time, the extent of damage they cause can be extreme, and rectifying them becomes more difficult.

Church history is full of examples of this exact sort of thing. Consider the church in the Southern United States- for two centuries sinful racism against blacks was not only tolerated but also endorsed by Southern churches. For only a relatively small portion of that time did they even face outside opposition from Christians in other regions, since most Northern Churches were equally rascist, and while they often decried slavery, they rarely focused on the great sin of hating and prejudicing others on the basis of race.

Because most white Christians did not even catagorically think of racisim as sin, there was no real effort to correct the problem for a long time. The effects of this are readily visible today as many black and white Christians still meet in seperate churches. There still remains work to be done.

Semi-modalism is a similar problem in terms of its going largely unnoticed as being a problem. But semi-modlaism also surpasses other errors in other ways as well, which, combined, make semi-modalism one of the greatest problems the church has ever faced.

Semi-modalism is a variation of the ancient heresy of modalism that keeps the fundamental principle of modalism unchanged -namely, that the person of the one God is all three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- but unlike classical modalism does not teach that he takes turns manifesting himself as each of the three persons. Instead semi-modalism teaches that the single person who is the one God eternally exists as the three real persons of the Trinity- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- simultaneously. This stands in contrast to the Bible’s teaching that the one God is the person of the Father in particular, with the Son standing in relation to the one God as His only-begotten Son, and the Spirit as His Spirit. The idea that all three persons of the Trinity constitute a single person is foreign to the teaching of scripture.

Firstly we must note that semi-modalism is among the most serious errors the church has ever faced simply because of the centrality of the doctrines it attacks. The ancient church regarded the confession of one God Who is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ as the first and most fundamental article of the Christian faith, and for good reason. There is little more fundamental and more crucial doctrinally than the very identity of the one true God.

Its an especially grevious error when we consider that the purpose of all history and creation is to make known the glory of God- Who He is. Semi-modalism works to obscure that truth. It works against the very purpose for which Christians are to live. By presenting God fictitiously as though he is a person who is three persons instead of acknowledging Him as one person, the Father, this dangerous heresy undermines the very foundations of the Christian faith. So fundamnetal was this doctrine that the famous Nicene Creed began by affirming this truth, saying “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty…” and afterwards going on to discuss the Son as His Son and Holy Spirit as His Spirit.

Not only is scripture abundantly clear on this basic point of doctrine, but the early church also labored to defend it against various heresies that arose in the first few centuries of church history. For an extensive list of historical testimony to the truth that the one God is the person of the Father in particular, and proof from the holy scriptures, see here: https://nicenefaith.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/i-believe-in-one-god-the-father-almighty/.

Another factor that makes semi-modalism in particular, out of all the varied and serious heresies the church has faced throughout history, one of the most dangerous and damaging of all is its long history. It can first be seen in the late fourth century, creeping in without much notice amid the doctrinal chaos and confusion caused by the Arian controversy. Shortly thereafter the highly influential fifth century theologian Augustine popularized it with his books on the Trinity, and ever since it has been accepted nearly unopposed in Western Christianity.

Many have blindly followed this false teaching without question, and without realizing that they were fed a counterfeit doctrine of the Trinity, not that taught in scripture, articulated by the Nicene Creed, and defended by great theologians of the early church like Athanasius and Irenaeus. Like any error that has gained wide and largely unopposed acceptance, semi-modalism is made especially dangerous to those who hold it because of its long history, which gives it a sense of normality, and a special appeal to those who place favorite theologians who have fallen into this error above the scriptures. Rather than heeding scripture’s command to “test everything, and hold fast to that which is good”, many today would rather take the word of a favorite theologian they are impressed with over and against the clear teaching of scripture on this issue.

Finally, semi-modalism is made especially dangerous by the fact that most people simply do not recognise it at all. It wraps itself in language so similar to orthodoxy, and shares so much in common with orthodoxy, that many fail to make a distinction. It has blended just enough error in with a great deal of truth to make it seem palatable, like poison hidden in something sweet to cover its taste. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he doesn’t exist, it has been said.

But however well semi-modalism blends in, it is fundamentally different than orthodox trinitarianism. There is a vast conceptual difference between thinking of the Trinity as being a person who is himself three persons and thinking of the Trinity as a group of three distinct persons, namely, the one God Who is the Father, His one only-begotten Son, and His one Holy Spirit, as the Nicene Creed confesses and the scriptures teach.

Rather than give way to this false teaching, we must strive to think rightly of the one true God, thinking of Him as He has revealed Himself in the scriptures, not according to the imaginations of men. And the scriptures clearly reveal Him as the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, not as a person who is multiple persons. Until semi-modalism is widely recognised as being incompatible with the truth scripture teaches, this problem will continue to do great harm both to the church herself and to the cause of God’s glory.

God’s ‘Preferred Pronouns’

As the world constantly strives to become more and more politically-correct, the issue of “preferred pronouns” has been receiving increased attention, especially in light of an increased societal focus on gender identification. In some states in the U.S. it is now punishable by law for a caregiver to knowingly and repeatedly continue to use pronouns that signify a person’s biological gender if they choose to identify as being another gender.

Although usually the recent crusade for using ‘preferred pronouns’ is one that accompanies sexual immorality and personal confusion as to an individual’s God-given biological gender, it is interesting to note that increasingly radicals of various stripes have also begun using pronouns for God that differ from His obvious ‘preferred pronouns’. God of course, being without a body by nature, and not composed of parts as we, does not have a biological gender.  But He has chose to reveal Himself, and His Son, in scripture using a particular pattern of human pronouns nonetheless, that does carry with it meaning. That is what I hope to briefly examine in this article.

Pronouns serve as a placeholder for proper names grammatically. Instead of constantly repeating a name every time we want to refer to an individual, pronouns allow us to refer to an individual by an often shorter fill-in for their proper name. Pronouns can carry various sorts of grammatical significance, including possession, gender, and number. When it comes to God’s ‘preferred pronouns’ I want to specifically examine both gender and number.

Starting with gender, we have already noted that since God is by nature incorporeal and without parts, when God refers to Himself by terms that signify gender these cannot be understood in a literal way so as to imply that God does have a body with some sort of biological gender. That God always uses masculine pronouns for Himself, however, does carry significance. In scripture, the male gender is associated with headship, authority, and strength. Scripture expressly says that “man is the head of woman” (1 Cor 11). It also refers to the woman as a “weaker vessel” than man (1 Pet 3). So when God chooses to reveal Himself using masculine pronouns, we should see those associations with headship and power, although obviously God as being infinite and transcendent is far beyond man’s power and authority.

That is why it is wrong to use feminine pronouns for God. God has not revealed Himself that way for a reason. It is because submission and weakness are naturally and biblically associated with the female gender.

Next we examine number. Personal pronouns break down into plural plural pronouns like “they” and “them” and singular pronouns like “he” and “him”. God’s usage of pronouns in scripture show us a pattern: when plural divine persons are spoken of, plural pronouns are used. And when God speaks of a single person, singular personal pronouns are used.

This may sound too simplistic to need to be made a point of, but unfortunately, semi-modalists have set out to twist this pattern of preferred pronouns to distort the truth. Although God uses plural pronouns for plural persons in scripture, such as when He said to the Son “Let Us make man in our image” in Genesis, these semi-modalists, based on their unbiblical presupposition that all three persons of the Trinity are ultimately a single person, prefer to use a singular pronoun. You will hear them say things like “He is Father, Son, and Spirit.

This usage of pronouns not only breaks with the biblical pattern that God has given us in His infallible word regarding how He ought ot be spoken of, but carries with it an obvious false implication: that the three real persons of the Trinity are all one person.

Just as the radical feminists and liberals who have taken to referring to the Father as “she” need to repent of their blasphemy and false teaching, so also those who would refer to the persons of the Trinity together as though a single person, using “He”, and “Him” for all three persons together, must repent likewise of their blasphemy and tacit false teaching.

Eternal Generation Proved from the Scriptures

It is important for the sake a sure knowledge of the truth to really see every point of doctrine proved from scripture. Our beliefs, after all, must rest in something greater than the mere opinions of men.

It is for that reason that I’ve decided it would be good to put together a brief demonstration of the doctrine of eternal generation from the scriptures below.

The doctrine of eternal generation states that the Son was begotten of the Father before and outside of time, and is therefore a distinct and inseparable person from the Father, eternally of the same divine nature as He. Now lets see each part of this definition proved from the infallible scriptures:

The Son was begotten of the Father:

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 KJV)

“ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18 KJV)

“The Lord made me the beginning of His ways for His works. From everlasting He established me in the beginning, before He had made the earth, and before He had made the deeps, before the springs of the waters had issued forth, before the mountains had been established. Before all the hills He begets me.” (Proverbs 8:22-25)

The Son was with the Father prior to creation:

“Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:5 NAS)

Time is created (thus the begetting of the Son is atemporal, having taken place before time):

“in these last days did speak to us in a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He did make the ages;” (Hebrews 1:2 YLT)

The Father communicated His divine nature to the Son while Himself remaining unchanged:

“for, as the Father hath life in himself, so He gave also to the Son to have life in himself,” (John 5:26 YLT)

The Son is a distinct person from the Father:

“And God saith, `Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over fish of the sea, and over fowl of the heavens, and over cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that is creeping on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:26 YLT)

“Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;” (Genesis 19:24 KJV)

“If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.””And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” (John 5:31, 37 KJV)

The Son is inseparable from the Father:

“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:21 KJV)

“But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” (John 10:38 KJV)

Athanasius Highlights

Especially in light of the misnamed “Athanasian Creed” and its consistent usage by semi-modalists to sum up their belief, it would perhaps not be difficult to suppose that Athanasius believed that version of pseudo-trinitarianism that passes for the doctrine of the Trinity since the time of Augustine: the variant of modalism I have taken to calling semi-modalism.

But actually, Athanasius very explicitly supported the biblical doctrine that the one God is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. This should not surprise us at all when we consider that Athanasius not only helped frame, but also spent his life defending the Nicene Creed, which very explicitly defines that the identity of the one God is the person of the Father.

In truth if there is really a creed that deserves the label “Athanasian”, it is the Nicene Creed, given all that Athanasius sacrificed to defend and champion it. But here are several quotes from various writing of Athanasius in which his belief in this point of doctrine can also be seen. Let’s examine some highlights from among them:

“He it is who through His Word made all things small and great, and we may not divide the creation, and says this is the Father’s, and this the Son’s, but they are of one God, who uses His proper Word as a Hand, and in Him does all things. This God Himself shews us, when He says, ‘All these things hath My Hand made;’ while Paul taught us as he had learned, that ‘There is one God, from whom all things; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things.” (Defense of the Nicene Definition, Chapter III.)

Here we see Athanasius argue that all creation cannot be divided up into what was created by God versus what what created by His Son, but that rather we must understand that all creation is the work of the one God- the Father- through His one Son, His Word. Notice that he explicitly speaks of the Word here as the Word of the one God, clearly equating the one God and the Father, using the names “one God” and “Father” as synonymous.

”But if this is not to be seen, but while the creatures are many, the Word is one, any one will collect from this, that the Son differs from all, and is not on a level with the creatures, but proper to the Father. Hence there are not many Words, but one only Word of the one Father, and one Image of the one God.” (Against the Arians, Discourse II.)

Here again we see a direct equation made between the “one Father” and the “one God”. The following quotes are also clear on this:

“For there is One God, and not many, and One is His Word, and not many; for the Word is God, and He alone has the Form of the Father.” (Against the Arians, Discourse III.)

“For the Word, being Son of the One God, is referred to Him of whom also He is; so that Father and Son are two, yet the Monad of the Godhead is indivisible and inseparable. And thus too we preserve One Beginning of Godhead and not two Beginnings, whence there is strictly a Monarchy” (Against the Arians, Discourse IV.)

“For the one God makes and creates; but Him He begets from Himself, Word or Wisdom.” (Against the Arians, Discourse IV.)

“The Triad, then, although the Word took a body from Mary, is a Triad, being inaccessible to addition or diminution; but it is always perfect, and in the Triad one Godhead is recognised, and so in the Church one God is preached, the Father of the Word.” (To Epictetus)

If you would like to see more of these quotes from not only Athanasius himself, but many other church fathers, please see my extensive collection of them available for viewing here: https://nicenefaith.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/i-believe-in-one-god-the-father-almighty/

Does teaching the Father is the one God undermine the divinity of Christ?

A potential misunderstanding of the matter easily leads a person to think at first glance that teaching the doctrine that the one God is the Father somehow undermines the doctrinal truth of the Son’s full divinity. While I hope to show below that this is absolutely not the case, I first want to acknowledge that the objection can be brought up with a certain amount of apparent validity.

Many heretical sects teach that the Father is the one God to the denial of the Son’s divinity. The most notorious of these would be Arians and others who follow variations of Arius’s teachings, such as modern JWs. The various sects of the Jews and Muslims also tend to make use of passages in the scriptures that teach the identicality of the one God with the Father to argue against the fact that the scriptures teach the divinity of the Jesus Christ. These false teachers’ misuse of the biblical data to argue against the truth gives an understandable reason for some to be hesitant when they hear a trinitarian speaking the same way.

But we must also remember that it is the ordinary tactic of false teachers to blend their errors with truth, as one might hide poison in something sweet, in order to make their error seem palatable. There is a danger then to be acknowledged in disregarding everything that a given heretic believes as automatically being false. Were we to take this to an extreme, in most cases we would even be required to reject the scriptures because the heretics make use of them in addition to true Christians.

We must not, then, throw out the baby with the bathwater. The truth that the Father is the one God does not in truth undermine the doctrine of the Son’s divinity at all: rather, when properly understood, it implies it and serves as a doctrinal support for it.

That reasoning goes something like this: The Father is the one God. Therefore, the Son is the Son of the one God. Therefore, the Son must be God in nature just as the Father is, eternally of the same divine nature as He.

Now allow me to break that down a little more. Here we are dealing with the historic trinitarian doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son, the implications of which are enormous. In plain English it is the doctrine that Christ is the Son of God, not in name only, nor as a figurative “Son”, nor because He has been adopted by the Father, but because He was begotten of the Father before creation. This is what scripture is referring to when it speaks of Jesus Christ as the “only-begotten” Son of God. Its telling you what kind of Son Jesus is: an only-begotten one.

That stands in contrast to us as creatures. Believers are indeed called children of God by the scriptures, which reveal Him as our adoptive Father. But we remain of a creaturely, human nature. We aren’t somehow of the same divine nature as God because we are adopted as God’s children. But Christ isn’t adopted; He is Son because He was begotten by God, before and outside of time (this should remove all thought of chronological sequence from our understanding of this event). The fact that He is begotten logically necessitates that we understand Christ to be of exactly the same divine nature as the Father.

To prove this point, let us merely consider fatherhood in creation, which scripture tells us is modeled after God’s own fatherhood of the Son (Eph 3:14-15). Everything begets after its own kind. Birds beget birds. Men beget men. There is always necessarily an identically of nature between that which is begotten and that which begets. “What is begotten of spirit is spirit and what is begotten of flesh is flesh” Jesus taught in John 3:6.

This concept has historically been referred to by theologians using the philosophical language of “consubstantiality”, or “co-essentiality”, which each mean the same thing. The Greek word behind this term, “homoousias”, was used by the Nicene Council in the Creed they composed to indicate the exact identically and sameness of the divine nature of the Son with that of the Father (Who they call the one God). They grounded that teaching in the eternal generation of the Son:

“And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before the ages; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of the same essence [homoousias] as the Father, by whom all things were made.”

This doctrine of eternal generation is crucial to rightly understanding the doctrine of the Trinity. This is in large part because it teaches us that if the Son is truly begotten of the Father, He must necessarily be of the same divine nature as Him. This is certain proof for the Son’s eternal Godhood. So let’s bring this back to the one God being the Father: according to this paradigm, the Son being the Son of the one God, by means of eternal generation, logically necessitates that we understand the Son to be of the exact same divine nature as the one God Who begat Him.

This doesn’t then undermine the Son’s divinity at all. In fact if the one God is eternally Father, which He is, then He must eternally have a Son. And the fact that this Son was eternally begotten of Him proves that He is eternally of the very same divine nature. The real question to ask the one who believes that the one God is the Father and yet denies the divinity of the Son is this: in what sense do you really believe that the one God is Father? In name only? Or is He really, eternally Father because He begat the Son before the ages, as the Nicene Creed teaches? If this is so (and it is), then His Son must necessarily be divine, of no other nature than that of the one God Who begat Him. The fact is, you cannot reasonably believe that the one God is the Father without also believing the full and eternal divinity of the Son as well.