Begotten, not made
We have been looking at the eternal generation of the Son. This important doctrine is misunderstood or forgotten. One of my favorite stories is the discussion between Arius, a heretic whose teaching sparked the need for the Nicene Creed. Arius was talking to ‘Saint Nicholas’ (yes, he was a real person), and Nicholas finally slapped Arius across the face. This might seem like a strong reaction. However, the topic we are talking about has significant theological implications. Is the Son truly God, or is he just similar to God? Is Jesus created or the creator? How you answer these questions places you within orthodox theology or heresy. When David went to fight Goliath, it was because Goliath was blaspheming God. At the very least, slapping people for heresy would make a very interesting Presbytery meeting.
This week’s line looks at the important word of ‘homoousios’ which means the same substance. This word (Latin) was used in the original Nicene Creed, not ‘homoiousios,’ which means similar substance. The second person of the Trinity is begotten (Eternal Generation), not made. Many heresies place Jesus Christ in the category of ‘creature,’ not the creator. In 2018, Ligonier Ministries surveyed evangelicals, asking them questions about theology. One question asked, “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God.” 78% agreed with this statement, and 18% disagreed with this statement. The second person of the Trinity was not created, but through him, all things were created (Col 1:16). Because the three persons of the Trinity are equally God in essence (same substance), all three persons are eternal, and something that is created cannot be eternal because there was a time when it was not. So, if Jesus is not eternal (as Arius argued), then he is not God. This is the argument Jesus explains to the Pharisees when he says, “Before Abraham I am” (John 8:58). The very next verse describes the Pharisees understood precisely what Jesus was saying, He is God. This is why they immediately wanted to stone him. They believed he spoke heresy.
Jesus was not made because all things were made through him. If all things were made through him and he is made, then not all things were made through him. In his prologue, John explains, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). If you would like to know if someone is teaching heresy, a simple question to ask would be, is the Son, the second person of the Trinity, created or the creator?