No Longer God
20 August 2018
Inter-Trinitarian relations can only be described by analogy. Relations within the Godhead among the persons of the holy Trinity are not susceptible to our explanation. The Son is begotten of the Father. The Father is begotten of none. And yet the differences of relation among the persons of the Trinity do not imply any differences of essence in the persons. All three persons are coequally divine. When we say that the Son is begotten and the Father is not, we do not mean to imply that there is any essential difference between them. How that can be we may never explain, we may only describe the relations between them in such a way that we never deny the full divinity of the Son.
Of course, there are those who do deny that this description comports with reality. All anti-Trinitarians, such as anti-Trinitarian Pentecostals, the (so-called) Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Unitarians, simply presume that those who are described as begotten and unbegotten are of a different nature. They claim that we may not say that the only-begotten Son is fully God of the same substance as the Father, if the Father is unbegotten. The argument is that the Unbegotten may not beget, unless it is to beget that which is inferior to Himself. Even if His Son is god-like, his god-like nature is more like our own; possessing as it does the divine spark (or so they think). The Son then becomes the pre-eminent creature having more of the nature of god than any other creature. But still being a created being, a mere creature. If we speak of more or less in the divine nature, then we are no longer speaking of God.
Yet there is a case of the unbegotten begetting another who fully shares his nature. Adam was unbegotten, having been created by God. Yet he begot his sons Cain, Abel, and Seth. In fact, they specifically bore the image of Adam their father, and therefore shared his nature and his image, although he was unbegotten. Thus even in the most basic human analogy, the unbegotten may beget another who shares his nature. Now while this does not solve the problem of number, that is, that Adam and his sons did not share the same essence in the same way the Father shares His essence with His only-begotten Son, it does put the lie to the anti-Trinitarian objection to the impossibility of the Unbegotten begetting His Son of the same substance. Once again, despite the power of analogy we are left contemplating the mystery of the holy Trinity while confessing the Begotten and the Unbegotten as One God, forever. Why should we be surprised that God can be something more or greater than we are capable taking in, explaining, or rightly describing? That which we could control by our own explanation would no longer be God.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Gregory of Nyssa
"As for those who say that the begotten is in its nature unlike the unbegotten, let them learn from the example of Adam and Abel not to talk nonsense. For Adam himself was not begotten according to the natural generation of men; but Abel was begotten of Adam. Now, surely, he who was never begotten is called unbegotten, and he who came into being by generation is called begotten. Yet the fact that he was not begotten did not hinder Adam from being a man, nor did the generation of Abel make him at all different from man's nature, but both the one and the other were men, although the one, Abel, existed by being begotten, and the other, Adam, without generation. So in the case of our statements as to the divine nature, the fact of not being begotten, and that of being begotten, produce no diversity of nature. But, just as in the case of Adam and Abel the manhood is one, so is the Godhead one in the case of the Father and the Son." 

Gregory of Nyssa, 
On the Faith
Genesis 5:1-8

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh. Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died. (ESV)
O holy blessed Trinity, You are greater than we are capable of taking in, explaining, or rightly describing. Grant that we would believe the mysteries we cannot explain. Amen.
For Bob Schreiner, that the Lord of the church would grant him strength and confidence in his salvation
For Sue Marsh, that she would recover fully from cancer surgery
For all those seeking employment, that God our Lord would grant to them vocations in keeping with their God-given abilities
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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