In 1916 the First Presidency of the LDS Church published this statement written by James Talmage. It might be compared to the Nicene Creed in it’s importance to Mormon thought on the nature of God. Out of consequence of this statement the doctrine of Adam-God was abandoned, Joseph Smith’s recognition of Heavenly Father being named Jehovah was contradicted and eventually the Lectures on Faith were removed from the LDS canon.
It’s interesting that this statement wasn’t presented as a revelation, nor was it added to the LDS canon. It is clearly a work of theology but it seems to have had precedence over both Joseph Smith and what was at that time scripture. The work of theologians is generally shunned by the modern LDS church but here we have an example of it shaping Mormon doctrine in rather profound ways.
“As an official document from the First Presidency, the orthodoxy of the Church regarding the Godhead was established. What Nicaea and Alexandria accomplished for the Catholic Church, this document accomplished for the Latter-day Saints. Regardless of what had been said before, this was the new standard for doctrinal accuracy.”
[Brian W. Ricks, “James E. Talmage and the Nature of the Godhead” (M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 2007), 132]”
THE FATHER AND THE SON
A Doctrinal Exposition by The First Presidency and The Twelve
The scriptures plainly and repeatedly affirm that God is the Creator of the earth and the heavens and all things that in them are. In the sense so expressed the Creator is an Organizer. God created the earth as an organized sphere; but He certainly did not create, in the sense of bringing into primal existence, the ultimate elements of the materials of which the earth consists, for “the elements are eternal” (Doc. & Cov. 93:33).
So also life is eternal, and not created; but life, or the vital force, may be infused into organized matter, though the details of the process have not been revealed unto man. For illustrative instances see Genesis 2:7; Moses 3:7; and Abraham 5:7. Each of these scriptures states that God breathed into the body of man the breath of life. See further Moses 3:19, for the statement that God breathed the breath of life into the bodies of the beasts and birds. God showed unto Abraham “the intelligences that were organized before the world was”; and by “intelligences” we are to understand personal “spirits” (Abraham 3:22, 23); nevertheless, we are expressly told that “Intelligence” that is, “the light of truth was not created or made, neither indeed can be” (Doc. & Cov. 93:29).
The term “Father” as applied to Deity occurs in sacred writ with plainly different meanings. Each of the four significations specified in the following treatment should be carefully segregated.
1. “Father” as Literal Parent
Scriptures embodying the ordinary signification-literally that of Parent-are too numerous and specific to require citation. The purport of these scriptures is to the effect that God the Eternal Father, whom we designate by the exalted name-title “Elohim,” is the literal Parent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and of the spirits of the human race. Elohim is the Father in every sense in which Jesus Christ is so designated, and distinctively He is the Father of spirits. Thus we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9). In view of this fact we are taught by Jesus Christ to pray: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”
Jesus Christ applies to Himself both titles, “Son” and “Father.” Indeed, He specifically said to the brother of Jared: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son” (Ether 3:14). Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh, and which body died on the cross and was afterward taken up by the process of resurrection, and is now the immortalized tabernacle of the eternal spirit of our Lord and Savior. No extended explanation of the title “Son of God” as applied to Jesus Christ appears necessary.
2. “Father” as Creator
A second scriptural meaning of “Father” is that of Creator, e. g. in passages referring to any one of the Godhead as “The Father of the heavens and of the earth and all things that in them are” (Ether 4:7; see also Alma 11:38, 39 and Mosiah 15:4).
God is not the Father of the earth as one of the worlds in space, nor of the heavenly bodies in whole or in part, nor of the inanimate objects and the plants and the animals upon the earth, in the literal sense in which He is the Father of the spirits of mankind. Therefore, scriptures that refer to God in any way as the Father of the heavens and the earth are to be understood as signifying that God is the Maker, the Organizer, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
With this meaning, as the context shows in every case, Jehovah, who is Jesus Christ the Son of Elohim, is called “the Father,” and even “the very eternal Father of heaven and of earth” (see passages before cited, and also Mosiah 16:15). With analogous meaning Jesus Christ is called “The Everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6; compare 2 Nephi 19:6). The descriptive titles “Everlasting” and “Eternal” in the foregoing texts are synonymous.
That Jesus Christ, whom we also know as Jehovah, was the executive of the Father, Elohim, in the work of creation is set forth in the book “Jesus the Christ” Chapter 4. Jesus Christ, being the Creator, is consistently called the Father of heaven and earth in the sense explained above; and since His creations are of eternal quality He is very properly called the Eternal Father of heaven and earth.
3. Jesus Christ the “Father” of Those Who Abide in His Gospel
A third sense in which Jesus Christ is regarded as the “Father” has reference to the relationship between Him and those who accept His Gospel and thereby become heirs of eternal life. Following are a few of the scriptures illustrating this meaning.
In the fervent prayer offered just prior to His entrance into Gethsemane, Jesus Christ supplicated His Father in behalf of those whom the Father had given unto Him, specifically the apostles, and, more generally, all who would accept and abide in the Gospel through the ministry of the apostles. Read in our Lord’s own words the solemn affirmation that those for whom He particularly prayed were His own, and that His Father had given them unto Him: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:6-12).
And further: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 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. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:20-24).
To His faithful servants in the present dispensation the Lord has said: “Fear not, little children; for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me” (Doc. & Cov. 50:41).
Salvation is attainable only through compliance with the laws and ordinances of the Gospel; and all who are thus saved become sons and daughters unto God in a distinctive sense. In a revelation given through Joseph the Prophet to Emma Smith the Lord Jesus addressed the woman as “My daughter,” and said: “for verily I say unto you, all those who receive my gospel are sons and daughters in my kingdom” (Doc. & Cov. 25:1). In many instances the Lord has addressed men as His sons (e. g. Doc. & Cov. 9:1; 34:3; 121:7).
That by obedience to the Gospel men may become sons of God, both as sons of Jesus Christ, and, through Him, as sons of His Father, is set forth in many revelations given in the current dispensation. Thus we read in an utterance of the Lord Jesus Christ to Hyrum Smith in 1829: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the life and the light of the world. I am the same who came unto my own and my own received me not; But verily, verily, I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my name. Amen.” (Doc. & Cov. 11:28-30). To Orson Pratt the Lord spoke through Joseph the Seer, in 1830: “My son Orson, hearken and hear and behold what I, the Lord God, shall say unto you, even Jesus Christ your Redeemer; The light and the life of the world; a light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not; Who so loved the world that he gave his own life, that as many as would believe might come the sons of God: wherefore you are my son” (Doc. & Cov. 34:1-3). In 1830 the Lord thus addressed Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon: “Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course is one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and for ever. I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name, that they may become the sons of God, even one in me as I am in the Father, as the Father is one in me, that we may be one” (Doc. & Cov. 35:1-2). Consider also the following given in 1831: “Hearken and listen to the voice of him who is from all eternity to all eternity, the Great I AM, even Jesus Christ, The light and the life of the world; a light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not: The same which came in the meridian of time unto my own, and my own received me not; But to as many as received me, gave I power to become my sons, and even so will I give unto as many as will receive me, power to become my sons” (Doc. & Cov. 39:1-4). In a revelation given through Joseph Smith in March, 1831 we read: “For verily I say unto you that I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the light and the life of the world-a light that shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not. I came unto my own, and my own received me not; but unto as many as received me, gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God, and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life” (Doc. & Cov. 45:7-8).
A forceful exposition of this relationship between Jesus Christ as the Father and those who comply with the requirements of the Gospel as His children was given by Abinadi, centuries before our Lord’s birth in the flesh: “And now I say unto you. Who shall declare his generation? Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin, he shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed? Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord; I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins; I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God: For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed? Yea, and are not the prophets, every one that has opened his mouth to prophesy, that has not fallen into transgression; I mean all the holy prophets ever since the world began? I say unto you that they are his seed” (Mosiah 15:10-13).
In tragic contrast with the blessed state of those who become children of God through obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that of the unregenerate, who are specifically called the children of the devil. Note the words of Christ, while in the flesh, to certain wicked Jews who boasted of their Abrahamic lineage: “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
Ye do the deeds of your father. If God were your Father, ye would love me. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:39, 41, 42, 44). Thus Satan is designated as the father of the wicked, though we cannot assume any personal relationship of parent and children as existing between him and them. A combined illustration showing that the righteous are the children of God and the wicked the children of the devil appears in the parable of the Tares: “The good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one” (Matt. 13:38).
Men may become children of Jesus Christ by being born anew-born of God, as the inspired word states: “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother” (I John 3:8-10).
Those who have been born unto God through obedience to the Gospel may by valiant devotion to righteousness obtain exaltation and even reach the status of Godhood. Of such we read: “Wherefore, as it is written, they are Gods, even the sons of God” (Doc. & Cov. 76:58; compare 132:20, and contrast paragraph 17 in same section; see also paragraph 37). Yet, though they be Gods they are still subject to Jesus Christ as their Father in this exalted relationship; and so we read in the paragraph following the above quotation: “and they are Christ’s and Christ is God’s” (76:59).
By the new birth-that of water and the Spirit-mankind may become children of Jesus Christ, being through the means by Him provided “begotten sons and daughters unto God” (Doc. & Cov. 76:2). This solemn truth is further emphasized in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ given through Joseph Smith in 1833: “And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the firstborn; And all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the firstborn” (Doc. & Cov. 93:21, 22). For such figurative use of the term “begotten” in application to those who are born unto God see Paul’s explanation: “for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (I Cor. 4:15). An analogous instance of sonship attained by righteous service is found in the revelation relating to the order and functions of Priesthood, given in 1832: “For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two Priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies: They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God” (Doc. & Cov. 84:33, 34).
If it be proper to speak of those who accept and abide in the Gospel as Christ’s sons and daughters-and upon this matter the scriptures are explicit and cannot be gainsaid nor denied-it-is consistently proper to speak of Jesus Christ as the Father of the righteous, they having become His children and He having been made their Father through the second birth-the baptismal regeneration.
4. Jesus Christ the “Father” By Divine Investiture of Authority
A fourth reason for applying the title “Father” to Jesus Christ is found in the fact that in all His dealings with the human family Jesus the Son has represented and yet represents Elohim His Father in power and authority. This is true of Christ in His preexistent, antemortal, or unembodied state, in the which He was known as Jehovah; also during His embodiment in the flesh; and during His labors as a disembodied spirit in the realm of the dead; and since that period in His resurrected state. To the Jews He said: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30; see also 17:11, 22); yet He declared “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28); and further, “I am come in my Father’s name” (John 5:43; see also 10:25). The same truth was declared by Christ Himself to the Nephites (see 3 Nephi 20:35 and 28:10), and has been reaffirmed by revelation in the present dispensation (Doc. & Gov. 50:43). Thus the Father placed His name upon the Son; and Jesus Christ spoke and ministered in and through the Father’s name; and so far as power, authority and Godship are concerned His words and acts were and are those of the Father.
We read, by way of analogy, that God placed His name upon or in the Angel who was assigned to special ministry unto the people of Israel during the exodus. Of that Angel the Lord said: “Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him” (Exodus 23:21).
The ancient apostle, John, was visited by an angel who ministered and spoke in the name of Jesus Christ. As we read: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Revelation 1:1). John was about to worship the angelic being who spoke in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, but was forbidden: “And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” (Rev. 22:8, 9). And then the angel continued to speak as though he were the Lord Himself: “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (verses 12, 13). The resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ, who had been exalted to the right hand of God His Father, had placed His name upon the angel sent to John, and the angel spoke in the first person, saying “I come quickly,” “I am Alpha and Omega,” though he meant that Jesus Christ would come, and that Jesus Christ was Alpha and Omega.
None of these considerations, however, can change in the least degree the solemn fact of the literal relationship of Father and Son between Elohim and Jesus Christ. Among the spirit children of Elohim the firstborn was and is Jehovah or Jesus Christ to whom all others are juniors. Following are affirmative scriptures bearing upon this great truth. Paul, writing to the Colossians, says of Jesus Christ: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell” (Colossians 1:15-19). From this scripture we learn that Jesus Christ was “the firstborn of every creature” and it is evident that the seniority here expressed must be with respect to antemortal existence, for Christ was not the senior of all mortals in the flesh. He is further designated as “the firstborn from the dead” this having reference to Him as the first to be resurrected from the dead, or as elsewhere written “the first fruits of them that slept” (I Corinthians 15:20, see also verse 23); and “the first begotten of the dead” (Revelation 1:5; compare Acts 26:23). The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews affirms the status of Jesus Christ as the firstborn of the spirit children of His Father, and extols the preeminence of the Christ when tabernacled in flesh: “And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (Hebrews 1:6; read the preceding verses). That the spirits who were juniors to Christ were predestined to be born in the image of their Elder Brother is thus attested by Paul: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:28, 29). John the Revelator was commanded to write to the head of the Laodicean church, as the words of the Lord Jesus Christ: “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14). In the course of a revelation given through Joseph Smith in May, 1833, the Lord Jesus Christ said as before cited: “And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the firstborn” (Doc. & Cov. 93:21). A later verse makes plain the fact that human beings generally were similarly existent in spirit state prior to their embodiment in the flesh: “Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth” (verse 23).
There is no impropriety, therefore, in speaking of Jesus Christ as the Elder Brother of the rest of human kind. That He is by spiritual birth Brother to the rest of us is indicated in Hebrews: “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). Let it not be forgotten, however, that He is essentially greater than any and all others, by reason (1) of His seniority as the oldest or firstborn; (2) of His unique status in the flesh as the offspring of a mortal mother and of an immortal, or resurrected and glorified, Father; (3) of His selection and foreordination as the one and only Redeemer and Savior of the race; and (4) of His transcendent sinlessness.
Jesus Christ is not the Father of the spirits who have taken or yet shall take bodies upon this earth, for He is one of them. He is The Son, as they are sons or daughters of Elohim. So far as the stages of eternal progression and attainment have been made known through divine revelation, we are to understand that only resurrected and glorified beings can become parents of spirit offspring. Only such exalted souls have reached maturity in the appointed course of eternal life; and the spirits born to them in the eternal worlds will pass in due sequence through the several stages or estates by which the glorified parents have attained exaltation.
THE FIRST PRESIDENCY AND THE COUNCIL OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
Brian W. Ricks’ quoted thesis: http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/ETD/image/etd2026.pdf
It’s not clear to me what discussion you hope to generate with this post. (Also, why you posted the full text instead of linking to it….) I’m sorry if I am missing the obvious.
Jesus said, “I and the Father are one”.
“If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”
“in the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God.”
It seems to me that rationalism has affected Mormon thinking, and they have attempted to resolve the unresolvable.
That’s not particularly unusual. “The Living Christ,” the Proclamation on the Family and “For the Strength of Youth” are among the noncanonical documents that haven’t claimed to be revelation but have nevertheless been accorded semidoctrinal or even quasi-scriptural status.
“It seems to me that rationalism has affected Mormon thinking, and they have attempted to resolve the unresolvable.”
Copying and pasting a few scriptures only that support your doctrine while ignoring the rest only proves the belief that we all can pick and choose those scriptures we choose to believe from the bible aka buffet style.
There is another side to this coin which has always puzzled many scholars and has driven a need for the creeds mentioned above to be made. Which could be a reason why there are so many interpretations as to the overall nature of God and the Godhead.
Let’s chat about a few scriptures that have always puzzled me.
Jesus ALSO said this to his Father: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).” Why didn’t he just say, “This is life eternal to know me who is three” Instead of distinguishing himself?
The Creator of the earth referred to himself in Plurals, “Let US make man in OUR image and in OUR likeness” Genisis 1:26
When Jesus was baptized did he do a ventriloquist act?
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”
That’d been great to be there and behold the complete God at one time split in three right?
Jesus also explained the whole “being One with god” phrase in a different way when speaking to his father “That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:21-23) One together, or purpose? Or did Christ really want the twelve to become a Trinity-like being only with twelve “a Twelvity”?
When Stephen was being stoned he saw Jesus on the right hand of God instead of Jesus being the Actual God? or did his hit on the head with a stone allow him to see double? Acts 7:56
“And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”
There are also scriptures that say that “God is a Spirit” but then When Christ is ressurected he Eats food in front of the Apostles and declares “A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39) Can God be a spirit and flesh at the same time? Where did Jesus’ body go when he was lifted up? Did his body then disappear and become spirit without flesh and bones? Or is his body up in heaven as just an action figure that represents God when coming to earth?
(Sorry that might of been too far of an interpretation but can you see my point?)
Now I’ve read a ton of different explanations/interpretations of all of these scriptures and the above mentioned and that’s really what your belief of the nature of God boils down to: you’re religion and the carefully selected scriptures and interpretations that support it.
Now there are more scriptures I can share but I’m just trying to help you see and empathize with those who believe in the same bible as you but get something else out of it. Just because you have 3 scriptures that seem to fit together it does not always prove a doctrine. Let’s seek some understanding of all biblical scripture.
Steve Martin said:
Jesus said, “I and the Father are one”.
“If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”
“in the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God.”
It seems to me that rationalism has affected Mormon thinking, and they have attempted to resolve the unresolvable.
Hi Steve. You haven’t been able to resolve the Trinity?
I believe the Bible makes clear that the Father is one person, the Son is another person.
The Son is subject to the Father (1 Cor. 15:28, NIV). (The NCV says “under God.”)
The Father is subject to no one. (Heb. 6:13).
They are one in essence, substance, spirit, & being (when “spirit” and “being” do not mean “person”). That is, they are one in love, truth, Word (as you mentioned), power over all creation, righteousness, etc. They are equally perfect in every way and are animated by or filled with the same light, eternal life, etc.
When we make Jesus our Lord, the Trinity comes into us, so their essence comes into us (John 17).
Hi Eric & Brian. Nice to see you . . . and Tim, too.
No one has been able to resolve the Trinity.
We don’t even try. We take it on faith. For now, that has to be good enough.
THe Scriptures that I choose are the ones that back up traditional orthodox Christianity. That is where the gospel is found and that is where our focus ought be. On what our God has done for us in Christ Jesus, and not what ‘we should, ought, or must be doing’. That is just Christianism and keeps us on the religion rat-wheel of spiritual navel gazing.
Steve Martin said: No one has been able to resolve the Trinity.
Where in the Bible does it say THAT? I believe you’re adding to the Scriptures.
If you don’t try to understand it, you never will. The treasures of the kingdom are for those who knock and seek.
I’m not trying to give you a hard time, Steve.
When you say “orthodox,” do you mean the teaching of the Early Church Fathers?
I know little about their doctrine, but someone who knows more, and who walks close to God, said that “church leaders who would not sign the Nicene Creed [4th century A.D.] were persecuted–for the first time, Christians were persecuting their brothers” (John Crowder, “Miracle Workers, Reformers, and the New Mystics,” Shippensburg, Penn.: Destiny Image, 2006, 207-8).
I want to go back to when “all believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2:44).
Can you, or anyone else adequately and rationally explain ‘The Trinity’?.
It’s not adding to the Scriptures to say that some things are above our being able to resolve them.
“I want to go back to when “all believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2:44).”
That would be a nice thought if it were true.
The church was a mess right from the start. People were caught up in their own fears and presuppositions from the git-go.
Steve asked, “Can you, or anyone else adequately and rationally explain ‘The Trinity’?
I can explain how they are one and three at the same time. I did this in my comment of Dec. 16, 9:01 p.m. Others have as well. It’s so simple, we miss it. To the extent that you have an awareness of the presence of God in your heart as a born-again Christian, you know how they are one because it’s that presence that makes them one! Jesus prayed to the Father, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:22).
You said, “The church was a mess right from the start. People were caught up in their own fears and presuppositions from the git-go.”
That’s true. But at least we weren’t split into 100s of denominations, and when they tried to split, they were reprimanded by Paul (1 Cor. 1:10 – 4:21).
Have a nice day, my brother.
Splitting into denominations may not be the ideal, but when you’re dealing with a sinful Church, there may be no alternative. Christ will fix all of that on the proper Day.
Thanks, Brother. You have a good one, as well.
Yes, the big Day!
You do realize this doctrine is called the eternal subordination of the Son and until recently was considered a heresy. I know that Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware have popularized this but it still does violate the traditional creeds. The words “authority” and “power” have diverged in English language meaning. The word that is getting translated to authority (or right) is the greek word (ἐξουσίαν, exousia). In the Latin Vulgate this is getting translated to the word potestas.
So for example 1Cor 11:10:
ESV: That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
Greek: διὰ τοῦτο ὀφείλει ἡ γυνὴ ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς διὰ τοὺς ἀγγέλους
Vulgate: deo debet mulier potestatem habere supra caput propter angelos
The problem of course is that for 1700 years Christians have asserted the equality with respect to potestas. Now in the creeds potestas gets translated as power:
latin: In Deitatis unitate personæ tres sunt unius ejusdemque essentiæ, potential ac æternitatis; Deus Pater, Deus Filius, ac Deus Spiritus Sanctus.” (Westminster Confession)
English: “In the unity of the Godhead head there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. (Westminster Confession translation)
or to pick another example:
non secundum imparem potestatem uel substantiam uel aliquid quod in eo patri non sit aequale missus est, sed secundum id quod filius a patre est, non pater a filio
For he was not sent in virtue of some disparity of power or substance or anything in him that was not equal to the Father, but in virtue of the Son being from the Father, not the Father being from the Son.
Your comment brings up all kinds of questions that I don’t have time to ask.
I’ll just add this one thought: Wives are supposed to be subordinate to their husbands but that does not make them unequal.
Have a Merry Christmas!
Yep playing this game is precisely why Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware are so anxious to bring this heresy back into life. Because the same word in greek is used for
The son is subordinate in authority to the father
The church is likewise subordinate to Christ
Wives are likewise subordinate to their husbands
You may have gotten this 2nd hand from John Piper who is fond of this rathole. Hey, I don’t care if you want to Arianism. However, Arian Christians have a long history of treating women well, I’m sure they don’t like their beliefs being co-opted by the girls have cooties crowd.
Don’t imply that Cal is an Arian. That is not a fair representation of anything he said.
While I think Grudem, Ware, et al. have never proved their presupposition that relationships in marriage should mirror intra trinitarian relationships (and even if they did they would still be open to accusations of illegitimate totality transfer), filial and theanthropic subordiantion are not Arianism.
I think Cal hasn’t seen the counter arguments for the Grudem/Ware position. The comment about Arianism was meant to clarify the key point. And yes I do think someone who holds to theanthropic subordiantion at least in the Grudem/Ware sense is clearly contradicting the creeds in particular preaching Arianism. I think the linguistic argument is rather clear cut.
Grudem attempts to separate the power and authority of the son, something that until 1973 was heretical. Suddenly when conservatives are worried about girls getting too much power, clear cut Arian doctrines like following the Greek and not the Latin come back into fashion.
For example translation of John 17:2:
καθὼς ἔδωκας αὐτῷ ἐξουσίαν πάσης σαρκός ἵνα πᾶν ὃ δέδωκας αὐτῷ δώσῃ αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. (KJV)
since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him. (RSV)
Then suddenly in 1973
For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. (NIV)
since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” (ESV)
BTW the not separating the two was common in evangelical translations world wide:
selon que tu lui as donné pouvoir sur toute chair, afin qu’il accorde la vie éternelle à tous ceux que tu lui as donnés. (Louis Segond)
Gleichwie du ihm Macht hast gegeben über alles Fleisch, auf daß er das ewige Leben gebe allen, die du ihm gegeben hast. (Luther)
sicut dedisti ei potestatem omnis carnis ut omne quod dedisti ei det eis vitam aeternam” (Vulgate)
I ain’t retracting. Advocating the eternal subordination of the son is in my mind clear cut, Arianism and as far as I know evangelicals prior to the 1970s would have said the same thing. It is only because power and authority in modern english are so clearly separate that this theology seems natural to the CBMW crowd.
The only way to deny theanthropic or mediatorial subordiantion would be to deny the incarnation, so color me confused. I have never understood the ink spilled refuting Grudem when the trinitarian relationship reveled is not husband/wife but father/son. It seems to me that all one has to do is point that out and his eternal subordination argument becomes moot.
If your looking to enter into a debate on translations, clearly I am not qualified to add any comment. Anything I have to say would only be a repetition of someone’s commentary.
I am not sure that Cal is aware of the Grudem position and his reference was not directed at a subordination of the essence or being.
I’ll say one last thing. Besides the fact that the Westminster Standards were written in English and the Latin is the translation…
I may disagree with Cal on 9 out of 10 theological issues, and you may not like the theology of Wayne Grudem, John Piper, Bruce Ware, and the girls have cooties crowd; you may not be particularly pleased that the PCA doesn’t have female deacons and elders and don’t look to Grudem to help explain that fact; you may think we are all a bunch of misogynistic fools…
but you don’t get to imply that someone is a heretic when they have not even come near the Arian position of the Son being a creature. Now, Cal may not have read enough Church history to know that Arianism teaches that the Son is not eternal and inferior in substance to the Father, but I have, and nothing that Cal has ever said makes me believe he would affirm the Arian Christological heresies.
There are tons of books that cover the CBMW eternal subordination heresy in lots of detail. For example Kevin Giles’ The Trinity & Subordinationism: The Doctrine of God & the Contemporary Gender Debate. Wade Burleson is another one who has called this belief, in and of itself semi-Arianism regardless of any other trinitarian assertions. Both of whom are evangelicals. Heck even Peter Schemm from the CBMW doesn’t argue that his view wouldn’t have been classified as semi-Arianism a generation ago, but he believes the opinion is incorrect and particularly argues that people preaching eternal subordination shouldn’t be excommunicated for heresy.
I agree with you that Grudem is not arguing for inequality of essence but rather an eternal inequality of authority. I’m still saying that is at least semi-Arian, holding that the son has unequal authority to the father has always been a heresy. That is the key argument in Athanasius’ Four Discourses Against the Arians. For example, Athanasius argues that the Arian notion of the Father as Unbegotten and the Son as begotten violates the biblical symmetry. The Father gets his fatherhood from the son in precisely the same sense that the son gets his sonship from the father. This is for Athanasius a key point neither divine person pre-exists the other or is the source of the other. And from this he argues that the monarche, the sole rule is shared fully and equally within the entire godhead.
The Arians made good counter points, and biblical counter points. This is why Arainism comes back into fashion regularly. If you want to agree with the Arians, fine, but lets not confuse the issue of what was claimed and what is in the creeds. The creeds exist to make Athanasius’ positions unambiguous obligatory doctrine. Such as the Father is, such is the Son and such is the Holy Spirit The Athanasian Creed is called that because it exists to exclude possibilities like the Father being the monarche of the Son and the Spirit. All 3 persons are “almighty” and fully Lord. The differentiation of the persons is exclusively their intra relationships unbegotten, begotten and proceeding. They are all 3 co-eternal and co-equal.
I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in saying that rejecting this is blatant heresy. The bullets that you frequently throw at Mormons are that they reject the historic creeds, and that those creeds define orthodoxy. (Let me just state I’ve never heard Grudem or Ware say anything about Mormonism, I suspect if I did it would be negative, but I don’t want to put words in their mouth regarding the Mormonism). I made offhand comment to Cal but I think is revealing of a basic sort of hypocrisy with regard to the all binding creeds which define Christians. When the Mormons want to reject something in the creeds that defines them out of Christianity. When Cal (or I suspect you since you are so offended) want to take the the position of eternal subordination which 1700 years has been considered an explicit Arian doctrine, the sort of thing that Calvin would have burned your at the stake for, then suddenly it is no big deal. And lets be clear here, Calvin is unambiguous that Christ is God in his own right (autotheos). Institutes, 1.13.19,21,23,25,26.
I stand by what I wrote. My position is not that Grudem is an orthodox Christian that is sexist, my position is that his sexism has caused him to adopt heretical positions.
Who said that I took Grudem’s positions? Clearly I think he is overreaching in his Trinitarian theology, looking to prove a point from an analogy of the divine nature that goes well beyond any mandate in scripture or the confessions. My point concerning Grudem is simply that I find his presupposition that relations between the three persons of the immanent Trinity serves to instruct us about the relations between men and woman is flawed. If I were arguing against Grudem’s position, this is the track I would take, because it works well with American evangelical solo scriptura and not to the distinctions of Trinitarian subordinationism, a topic that most of his readers will simply differ to his “expertise”.
There are 3 types of subordination: (1) Filial (applies to relationship of the 3 persons and is orthodox) (2) theanthropic or mediatorial (applies to the voluntary condescension and humiliation of the Son in the incarnation and is orthodox) (3) Arian/semi-Arian (applies to the essence and being and is heterodox).
Since we are both so fond of Calvin you can find in the Institutes, in the opening 2 sentences of 1.13.26 a refutation of Arianism by distinguishing filial and theanthropic subordination.
“To the objection, that if Christ be properly God, he is improperly called the Son of God, it has been already answered, that when one person is compared with another, the name God is not used indefinitely, but is restricted to the Father, regarded as the beginning of the Godhead, not by essentiating, as fanatics absurdly express it, but in respect of order.” (Filial)
“In this sense are to be understood the words which Christ addressed to the Father, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,” (John 17:3). For speaking in the person of the Mediator, he holds a middle place between God and man; yet so that his majesty is not diminished thereby. For though he humbled (emptied) himself, he did not lose the glory which he had with the Father, though it was concealed from the world.” (theanthropic)
My point has been and remains that Cal has said nothing that rises to an accusation of Arianism and your criticism of him is uncharitable.
Well first off I think the comment is made a little more lightly than you are taking it, “accusation” and so fourth is a change in tone that you are introducing to my comment to Cal. And mainly of course it is Grudem and Ware I’m accusing of Arianism. That being said, eternal subordination is the something that he said. My position is that eternal subordination is Arianism.
Imagine if Cal2 said something like. “The trinity teaches us that God the father is monarch over the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Son is a lesser being that acts as the bridge between the Father and the material world, different in both substance and person”. And I mentioned that Cal2 was preaching Arianism not trinitarianism. You wouldn’t object.
Your argument with Grudem is you think it is a bad metaphor. I don’t disagree with you there, I just go further and in addition to being a bad metaphor I think it is outright heretical.
Now lets get to your counter argument on the actual topic of heresy
I agree that (2) is orthodox. The question is whether (2) is a temporary or permanent state. The question here is eternal subordination. We also both agree that (3) is Arian. The disagreement is on (1). Athanasius could not have been clearer that the father/son relationship does not imply a subordination of authority or power. The relationship is one of asymmetric equality not hierarchy. Athanasius was unequivocal that implying hierarchy was the core of the Arian heresy. So, no I don’t agree that filial distinction is power or authority is orthodox. I don’t see anything in 1.13.26 that allows for the kind of distinction you are asserting with regard to (1). I do see it as asserting that (2) is acceptable, that Christ is perpetually and coequally God while having lowered himself to us.
I’ve given you a bunch of pretty good references that address Grudem’s position at book length. I don’t claim to be a trinity expert. My interest in this topic had to deal with the ESV, and translation choices. I am not saying anything, interesting, original or even particularly controversial. Even Peter Schemm of the CBMW would agree that the position of the CBMW is one of the positions specifically contradicted by Athanasius. CBMW’s semi-Arianism, like Federal Vision, is just a heresy that is popular with your sect. The same way that modalism is popular with pentecostals. The distinction is that your sect led the fight against Federal Vision, while pretty much embracing CBMW style semi-Arianism.
Finally in terms of sola scriptura… I don’t think scriptures are clear here at all. The 19th century Arianist movement, was in my view faithful to scripture, and arguably vastly more faithful to scripture than the trinitarian churches of their day. It is entirely possible that eternal subordination is scriptural, and is also entirely irrelevant with regard to determining what is orthodox. And just as in the 19th century, the purpose of the Arianist movement, was really to inject a new form of legalism into Protestantism. Back then a legalism having to do with sabbath, vegetarianism, non smoking, non drinking, pacifism…. Today’s new semi-Arians are fine with drinking, meat and going abroad to kill brown people… they are worried more about women wearing pants, and making sure everyone understand the 5 solas that so many heterosexuals find relief from condemnation from, were never meant to apply to gay people.
I’ll close with a post with Ben Witherington on the topic link.
If you were not implying that Cal is an Arian then I overreacted and I am sorry.
I don’t think Grudem’s position is only a bad metaphor, I think it makes assumptions that go beyond scripture and this is easier to explain than the finer points of Trinitarian subordination.
For instance filial subordination does not teach a subordination of power or authority it simply affirms that the Son is “begotten of the Father” and the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son” (in the West). But in this discussion you have now denied both filial and theanthropic subordination, both quite orthodox, neither having anything to do with a subordination of essence, power or authority. Now I am not implying that you are heterodox on any these issues but your inability to express orthodox forms of subordination brings to question your qualification to pronounce Grudem a heretic.
Who in my sect supports Grudem’s position? I ask this because as I understand it Grudem’s thesis would contradict the Westminster Standards (Confession II.3, Shorter Catechism 6, and Larger Catechism 9). I think that you may have me confused with someone who agrees with Grudem.
I agree you aren’t putting anything out that isn’t well known, but i have never thought Grudem’s argument had any merit (either in Trinitarian theology or anthropology), Grudem doesn’t answer to the courts of my denomination, he would find it difficult to pass an ordination exam, and I still don’t care about the CBMW because it doesn’t receive support from my congregation, presbytery or denomination.
I agree with you. However, that is what the whole debate is about. Grudem / Ware teach the exact opposite, that filial subordination is a subordination of authority, “There is, then, an eternal and immutable equality of essence between the Father and the Son, while there is also an eternal and immutable authority-submission structure that marks the relationship of the Father and the Son “. That is precisely the claim, that Grudem / Ware are making, “the bible teaches that the son and father are equal only in dunamis but that the son is subordinate in exousia”. They really and truly are 100% disagreeing with you on this.
And my point is that this Grudem / Ware claim, when translated into Latin is precisely the view the creeds condemn. I agree with you that Grudem contradicts Westminister. We aren’t disagreeing if you are willing to assert that.
As for your denomination and ESS… seriously? Who do you think buys Grudem’s systematic theology? To pick well known ministers, the Bayly brothers link. They pretty clearly advocate in those comments ESS and indicate that the ETS (whose theological statement quotes westminster refuting ESS), should kick to the curb believes in the economic trinity. The PCA on their own webpage says they formed to avoid: liberalism and women in ministry.
The ESVSB, which is a Grudem product, is essentially the PCA denominational translation. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in mentioning the connection. I’d agree that Pheonix and CBMW are non denominational because they want to reach beyond just the PCA. This Sunday ask 2 dozen random members about subordination, I think you will be shocked how much influence CBMW/Grudem is having. If no one listened to him, then I wouldn’t know about him.
Ah the Bayly’s… I think Berkhof is more widely read in my circles.
Pingback: Gratifying the Flesh 122211 « Mennonite Preacher
Didn’t see your response until the pingback one. Merry Christmas! Berkhof is the classic. Many a young man my age would be given his systematic theology before college, and I’ll admit I was one of them. I suspect though had that young man been a generation younger, it would have been Grudem.
Anyway see you next year, for more Mormon pro/con. 🙂
Wow, that is quite a threadjack! Interesting though.
You are right, Gundek, in saying I am not aware of the Grudem position and that my reference was not directed at a subordination of the essence or being.
Pingback: 120119–George Hach’s journal–Thursday | George Hach's Blog