Saturday, August 25, 2007


My mother is a CLP in the Presbytery of West Virginia. Before I decided to enter the ministry I would often travel with her to various Presbytery meetings and conferences so that I could get a feel for what Pastors did at these events. At almost every meeting there would either be a person being interviewed for either acceptance into the candidate phase of the ordination process or there would be an already ordained minister receiving a call to one of the churches in the presbytery. They would all be asked questions about their faith, about their life’s journey, and so on. Once I heard this question come up.

Now as I get ready to say the question I want you to think about how you would answer this question and how you would approach answering the question if asked by a non-believer, not just by a committee of committed Christians. The question is kind of innocuous so listen carefully. The question was this: Is Jesus Christ the son of the eternal God? Let me say it once more, a little slower this time. Listen to the words. Is Jesus Christ the Son of the eternal God? Got the question? Now think about it for a second. Everyone have an answer? Well I’ll tell you the answer here in a second. Let’s first focus on the clause eternal God. What do we mean when we say “Eternal God”. We mean that God the Father Almighty, the first substance of the trinity was, is, and shall be forever; that there was neither a time nor a place where God the Father did not exist. That God was here before the foundation of the Earth. Is present in our lives today and will be with those that he has chosen for eternity. We can all agree on that right? OK so we have established that the clause Eternal Father is within the bounds of Good Christian Doctrine or as the Westminster Confession of Faith would say, “by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture”. So what about the beginning of the quote? Is Jesus Christ-the man born at Bethlehem to the virgin Mary-the son of God? Well we-hopefully-would all say yes to that part of the question. Right? We believe as followers of Jesus of Nazareth that he was born of a virgin in the manger after the conception of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the son of Mary and step-son of Joseph was born so that we may be saved from eternal death. Right? That is the great promise of the Gospels, that we may not be held under the yoke of the law no longer, that we have been freed from the debt of sin. We believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we may not have to…. But back to the question. We have agreed that Our God, our Creator, our life-giver is forever and neither has he tasted death nor has he been born. He is the Great I am. He has been longer than there has been being. We have agreed with the first part of the question that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the Virgin Mary. That his conception being immaculate, his life perfect, and that he has died to make those who call on his saving grace free from the wages of sin. We can all agree that this is true. Right?...Right so lets look at the question again. Is Jesus Christ the Son of the Eternal God? Everyone remember their answers? Good. I promised you an answer and here it is. The answer is no. It is no because Jesus Christ is not a second order deity. He is not the son of the most high God alone. For he is the Most High God. The complete and honored 2nd part of the Trinity. Jesus of Nazareth is not just the Son of God but is the Eternal Son of God. For Jesus Christ before he descended into Mary’s Womb was with the Father atGenesis 1:1. He was with Father at Mount Sinai when the law was given to Moses. He was with the Father when he destroyed the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is the Glory of Christ that he being a full and equal member of the Godhead with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Is not just the Son of God but is God himself. How do we confess Jesus every morning in Worship? We use the words of the Apostles Creed: And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.


Gary said...

I think if you answer no, you are going to have all your opponents chuckle in delight over how easy it was to get rid of you. After all you are the pain in the %&% orthodox %$%% in a progressive presbtery. ;)

I think a better way which would get your point across while not getting you removed from the room for them to have a huge party is:

"Yes but he is not just the son of God but also the eternal God himself."

With additional material as desired.

Anonymous said...

wow, what rarified air this is! if this is level of total absorption into nuance, then every single person is DOOMED. i'm very glad that i do not have to face such questioners!
Todd Bensel
Pilot Rock, OR

Rev. Brian Carpenter said...

Nah. It sounds deep, but it's fundamentally a word game.

It would tell you nothing about a candidate that you couldn't get from playing "Queen Anne's Court" with him.

Red_Cleric said...

I can see what your point is. Instead of clarifying the question about what is meant by Eternal God. I'd want to be clear on what is meant by Son? The May/June issue of Theology Matter's cover article deals with the issue of Trinity and is very appropriated.

I especially appreciated the distinction between begotten and made. If by Son you mean Jesus was the first born creation of God then the answer is no. If by Son you mean the full essence of the Father dwells within Jesus then the answer is Yes!



Chris said...

How about flipping it and saying: no, he's the eternal Son of God, or eternally God the Son.

Now if they really want to trip you up, they can ask something like: If God is immutable, and Jesus is God, yet Jesus became man, does this mean that change entered into the Godhead?

(Quick...get a refresher course on Nicene-Constantinopolitan Christology!)

ChipB said...

So then did God die on the cross?