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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Incarnation and the Permanency of the Son


The theme of this symposium is the incarnation. The term incarnation is defined as: “the act of manifesting or state of being manifested in bodily form, esp human form,[1] or the “assumption of human form or nature.[2] The term incarnation is not confined to theological use. However, in the theological context the incarnation is the event in which the one true God of the Old Testament was manifest in the flesh in the New Testament for purpose of redemption.[3]

I will not attempt to give an extended and nuanced definition of the nature Son’s relationship to the Father during the incarnation, as the purpose of my paper is to demonstrate the duration of the incarnation. Suffice it to say, that the Oneness view of the incarnation differs from the Trinitarian view of the incarnation in the following way: the Trinitarian view of the incarnation is that Son of God, the second person in the Godhead, was manifest in the flesh; whereas the Oneness view of the incarnation says that the Father was manifest in the flesh, flowing out of himself as the Son.


THE INCARNATION AND THE SON

The term Son, as it relates to the Son of God, is a distinctly incarnational term. Luke 1:35 clearly makes this point:

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35 KJV


The Greek, διό[4] (dio; therefore), makes the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, and the subsequent conception, the basis for calling the holy thing that was born of Mary the Son of God. This interpretation of Luke 1:35 is not just a Oneness Pentecostal attempt at denying the Trinity. This view has been held by many notable Trinitarians, some of whom deny the doctrine of “eternal generation” or “eternal sonship.

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, although a proponent of eternal generation, recognizes the import of the language in Luke 1:35 when they say: We must neither think of a double Sonship, as some do, harshly and without all ground, nor deny what is here plainly expressed, the connection between His human birth and His proper personal Sonship.”[5]

Noted Trinitarians that espoused the “incarnational son” view of that Trinity are Adam Clarke (Methodist),[6] Albert Barnes (Presbyterian),[7] and Dr. Walter Martin (Baptist), [8] founder of Christian Research Institute (CRI). However, since Marin’s death and succession by Hank Hannegraaff, CRI has amended its official position to “eternal sonship.”[9] Also, John Macarthur was a proponent of “incarnational sonship” until his recent recant.[10] So, you can see, “incarnational Sonship” is not a concept that is exclusive to Oneness Pentecostals.

THE SON AND THE RESURRECTION

God assuming human form and nature is where actual[11] Sonship began. Assuming the term “Son” is inextricably connected to the incarnation, then as long as Christ has what he assumed in the incarnation, then He may properly be called “Son.”[12] There is a small group among Oneness Pentecostals who deny the present Sonship of Jesus Christ. Bishop S.C. Johnson, of Philadelphia, PA, formed a sect with this teaching as one of its heresies.

The scriptures, however, are clear that the Sonship of Jesus extends beyond the resurrection; in fact, there is a dimension to His Sonship that can only be fully realized by the resurrection. Paul states this in Romans 1:4: “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: The resurrection does not eradicate his Sonship, it more powerfully declares it!

Jesus is the Son of God post resurrection, because the humanity that He took on in the incarnation was raised in the resurrection. To deny the Sonship of Christ post resurrection, is to deny the Son was raised from the dead. For further reading on this concept I invite you to read John 20:21-31.[13]

THE SON AND THE ASCENSION

Not only was Jesus the Son of God post resurrection, Jesus is the Son of God post ascension; Jesus is the Son of God in heaven right now.

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” Hebrews 4:14 KJV

This verse clearly teaches that the one that is passed into the heavens, is Jesus the Son of God. Further proof that Jesus’ Sonship extends beyond the ascension is in the Apostle’s constant affirmation that Jesus “is” the Son of God.

“And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:37 KJV

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” Acts 9:20 KJV

“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” 1 John 4:15 KJV

“Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:5 KJV

Two things that the above verses have in common are: 1. Each of them are after Jesus’ ascension. 2. Each of them proclaims that Jesus “is,” present tense, the Son of God. There is no indication from the Apostles that Jesus, post ascension, ceased to be the Son of God; rather, to the contrary they constantly affirm his continued and abiding Sonship.

THE SON AND ETERNITY

Not only does the sonship extend past the resurrection and the ascension, it also extends everlastingly.

“And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.” Revelation 22:3-4 KJV


The throne of God and of the Lamb will continue into the age where there is “no more curse.” This will only be realized in the consummation of all things. God and the Lamb are described as “him” and “he:” God and the Lamb have one face and one name. The lamb, who is the Son of God, will forever be the face of the Father. The Son is God’s everlasting self revelation.

Finally, Paul demonstrates the everlasting sonship of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:

“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 KJV


This is often the proof text of Oneness Pentecostals to demonstrate that the Sonship will cease; however, it proves just the opposite. The obvious time frame discussed in this text is “the end” and beyond (vs. 24). Verse 28 says, “when all things shall be subdued unto him (Father), then the Son also himself shall be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. I conclude with a question about this text: “How can the Son be subject to the Father if he does not exist?” Jesus is the everlasting Son of God.



[1] "incarnation." Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 10 Jul. 2011. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/incarnation>.

[2] "incarnation." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 10 Jul. 2011. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/incarnation>.

[3] John 1:1-3; 2 Corinthians 5:19; 1Timothy 3:16

[4] Joseph H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1977, pg. 152. Therefore is from the Greek, dio,“on account of.”

James Strong, “For which cause.”

It is “on account of” the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary and causing conception that her child was to be called the Son of God. The title “Son of God” has inextricable causal connection to conception of the man Jesus in the womb of Mary. This is the very moment in which the incarnation was realized. Therefore the term “Son,” as it pertains to the Son of God, necessitates incarnation.

[5] E-Sword, version 9.5.1, Retrieved 07.10.11: “That Christ is the Son of God in His divine and eternal nature is clear from all the New Testament; yet here we see that Sonship efflorescing into human and palpable manifestation by His being born, through “the power of the Highest,” an Infant of days. We must neither think of a double Sonship, as some do, harshly and without all ground, nor deny what is here plainly expressed, the connection between His human birth and His proper personal Sonship.”

[6] E-Sword, version 9.5.1, Retrieved 07.10.11: His comments on Luke 1:35: “We may plainly perceive here, that the angel does not give the appellation of Son of God to the Divine nature of Christ; but to that holy person or thing, το ἁγιον, which was to be born of the virgin, by the energy of the Holy Spirit. The Divine nature could not be born of the virgin; the human nature was born of her. The Divine nature had no beginning; it was God manifested in the flesh, 1Ti_3:16; it was that Word which being in the beginning (from eternity) with God, Joh_1:2, was afterwards made flesh, (became manifest in human nature), and tabernacled among us, Joh_1:14. Of this Divine nature the angel does not particularly speak here, but of the tabernacle or shrine which God was now preparing for it, viz. the holy thing that was to be born of the virgin. Two natures must ever be distinguished in Christ: the human nature, in reference to which he is the Son of God and inferior to him, Mar_13:32; Joh_5:19; Joh_14:28, and the Divine nature which was from eternity, and equal to God, Joh_1:1; Joh_10:30; Rom_9:5; Col_1:16-18. It is true, that to Jesus the Christ, as he appeared among men, every characteristic of the Divine nature is sometimes attributed, without appearing to make any distinction between the Divine and human natures; but is there any part of the Scriptures in which it is plainly said that the Divine nature of Jesus was the Son of God? Here, I trust, I may be permitted to say, with all due respect for those who differ from me, that the doctrine of the eternal Sonship of Christ is, in my opinion, anti-scriptural, and highly dangerous. This doctrine I reject for the following reasons: - 1st. I have not been able to find any express declaration in the Scriptures concerning it. 2dly. If Christ be the Son of God as to his Divine nature, then he cannot be eternal; for son implies a father; and father implies, in reference to son, precedency in time, if not in nature too. Father and son imply the idea of generation; and generation implies a time in which it was effected, and time also antecedent to such generation. 3dly. If Christ be the Son of God, as to his Divine nature, then the Father is of necessity prior, consequently superior to him. 4thly. Again, if this Divine nature were begotten of the Father, then it must be in time; i.e. there was a period in which it did not exist, and a period when it began to exist. This destroys the eternity of our blessed Lord, and robs him at once of his Godhead. 5thly. To say that he was begotten from all eternity, is, in my opinion, absurd; and the phrase eternal Son is a positive self-contradiction... This doctrine of the eternal Sonship destroys the deity of Christ; now, if his deity be taken away, the whole Gospel scheme of redemption is ruined...The very use of this phrase is both absurd and dangerous; therefore let all those who value Jesus and their salvation abide by the Scriptures. This doctrine of the eternal Sonship, as it has been lately explained in many a pamphlet, and many a paper in magazines, I must and do consider as an awful heresy, and mere sheer Arianism; which, in many cases, has terminated in Socinianism, and that in Deism. From such heterodoxies, and their abetters, may God save his Church! Amen!”

[7] “This is spoken in reference to the human nature of Christ, and this passage proves, beyond controversy, that “one” reason why Jesus was called the Son of God was because he was begotten in a supernatural manner.”

[8] The Bible clearly teaches, then, that Jesus Christ before His incarnation was the eternal Word, Wisdom, or Logos, of God…and further, that Jesus Christ is not called by Scripture the “eternal Son,” the error passed on from Origen under the title “eternal generation,” but rather He is the Living Word of God…Let us fix these things in our minds then: (a) the doctrine of “eternal generation” or the eternal Sonship of Christ, which springs from the Roman Catholic doctrine first conceived by Origen in A.D. 230, is a theory which opened the door theologically to the Arian and Sabellian heresies which today still plague the Christian Church in the realms of Christology.
(b) The Scripture nowhere calls Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God, and He is never called Son at all prior to the incarnation, except in prophetic passages in the Old Testament…
(d) Many heresies have seized upon the confusion created by the illogical “eternal Sonship” or “eternal generation” theory of Roman Catholic theology, unfortunately carried over to some aspects of Protestant theology.”
(Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, pp. 102, 103—1977; pp. 116, 117—1985; pp. 169, 170—1997 rev., updated, expanded anniversary ed., Hank Hanegraaff, general editor [with minor additions and deletions]; pp. 138, 139—2003 rev., updated, expanded ed., Ravi Zacharias, general editor [with minor additions and deletions].)

[9] Hank Hannegraaff, http://www.equip.org/site/beliefs. 07.11.11 Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, who took upon Himself human flesh through the miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

[11] I used the word actual, instead of literal, for my friend, Bro. Nance. J

[12] Although the sonship of Christ is much more nuanced than what I am presenting here, the narrow definition that I am using is sufficient to make my claim.

[13]But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:24-31 KJV

2 comments:

  1. It is good to see but unusual someone in the Oneness camp who still holds to the Biblical fact that Jesus THE Son of God is STILL the Son of God even in 2011.I agree with most of what was said but where I would differ is Jesus is at the right hand of God on his throne while John saw God on the one throne..your seeing One [and we should} but I see the One God and I see his glorified human Son depicted as the Lamb..at his right hand..this is nothing new..Pharoah had his chariot while Joseph had his..also..1Ch 29:20 And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the LORD your God. And all the congregation blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshiped the LORD,{{{ and }}}the king. They worshiped and acknowledged the Lord and his representative..

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  2. Most Oneness Pentecostals believe that Jesus is the Son of God now. What most OP's believes is that the sonship will cease at the second coming.

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