God from God
The next line in the creed is “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God.” This line addresses one of the teachings of Arius. Arius taught that God the Father was eternal, and Jesus was the firstborn of creation (created). Jesus was like God, but not God. The major term he used was ‘homoiousios,’ which means a similar substance. However, the term ‘homoousios’ means the same substance. We will talk about this more when we get to the next line in the creed. However, this week we will be expanding on the eternal generation of the Son. Eternal generation teaches us two important doctrines, the essence of God the Son and his precise relationship to God the Father.
First, the essence of the Son; The second person of the Trinity is not less than the first person of the Trinity, but they are equal. They are the same in substance, equal in power and glory. We see this in the similarities in the line we are looking at today God/God, Light/Light, and true God/true God. The Son is not less than the Father, nor is the Spirit is less than the Son or the Father. They are all the same God. Each person of the Trinity has the same essence.
Secondly, the relationship of the Son to the Father; The second person gets his essence from the Father. This is the generation in eternal generation. We need to be reminded that our fallen and finite brains cannot comprehend eternity, and for us, everything happens within time. We need to remember that there was not a time when Christ the Son was not. He is God the same essence as God the Father and then has always been. The Son is eternally begotten by the Father. The Son is not subordinate to the Father in eternity (The error of Eternal Subordination of the Son). Many heresies do not understand this line of the creed (hence why the creed was written). They seek to minimalize the Son’s divine or human nature. This line teaches us that Jesus was truly God.
Some Heresies about the natures of Christ:
Monarchianism/Modalism – Denial of the Trinity
Docetism – Jesus was not truly a man
Arianism – Jesus was not truly divine
Adoptionism – Jesus was made or became divine after baptism, transfiguration, or ascension.
Nestorianism – Two natures, but underemphasized the union, so two separate persons
Monophysitism – One person but only one nature, not two.
- Apollinarianism – Jesus had a human body but a divine mind (so not truly human)
- Eutychianism – the divine nature took over (so not truly human)