De Moor V:8: The Generation of the Son

Gisbertus Voetius

Like the Production of the Spirit together with the Father, Generation by the Father applies to the Son as His characteristic Property. The Generation of the Son by the Father, I say; for Essence does not beget Essence: for, as one is begetting, another is begotten, so, if Essence beget Essence, in this very thing the divine Essence would be multiplied and a plurality of Gods introduced; neither the Unity of Essence, nor the Incommunicability of the characteristic Properties, would remain intact. But, according to the Scriptural manner of speaking, Person begets Person, the Father the Son, just as actions are of supposita. Although in Generation, as also in Spiration, the entire Essence, as indivisible, is communicated to the Person who is begotten, so also to the Person who proceeds. VOETIUS,[1]in his Notes ad Gomari Diatriben de Christo Αὐτοθεῷ, Disputationum Theologicarum, partI, page 456, “In the divine Essence neither begets, nor is begotten, as our men, following the Father, unanimously teach with the Scholastics on Lombard’s Sentences,[2] book I, distinction V.” Again, page 457, “Joachim Abbas,[3]in the year 1195, was contending against Lombard, that Essence begets Essence, just as God begets God: concerning which, de Summa Trinitate, chapter damnamus Extravagantiam.” Again, page 461, “In the divine Essence does not beget, nor is it begotten, but rather a Person. The Father begets in, of, and out of His own Essence, which is the same with the Essence of the Son.” Compare ECKHARD’S Fasciculum Controversiarum cum Calvino, chapter II, question V, pages42-44, with NICOLAUS ARNOLDI’S Scopis dissolutis Eckhardi, chapterII, question V, pages 10, 11, and SPANHEIM’S Decadum TheologicarumV, § 2, opera, tome III, column 1220, whom see in addition, summarily discussing this Generation of the Son of God, § 5, 6, columns1221, 1222.

According to our AUTHOR, this Generation of the Son by the Father is not a Passive expression with respect to the matter: which Theologians prove from this, 1. that passive potency is proper to matter, from which is produced the thing begotten; hence active and passive generation obtain in material things: but in God material generation has no place, since He is a Spirit without matter: 2. because, where generation is active and passive, there the thing begotten is in the potency of the one begetting. But in God, what is begotten, namely, the Son, is not in the potency of the begetting Father: for, what is in the potency of the one begetting, that has not always existed in act; but the Son has always existed in act, for He is from eternity. Then, what is in the potency of the one begetting, that is able to be, or not to be: but the Son is not able not to be, because He necessarily, not contingently, exists, no less than the Father. Therefore, if with respect to the Son the passive expression also occurs in Scripture, in this the Scripture speaks according to our manner of understanding by συγκατάβασιν/ syncatabasis;[4]passive potency in the Son thence follows no more than the other imperfections that the generation of creatures draws after itself: compare HEINRICH ALTING, Theologia problematica nova, locus III, question XXXVI, pages 233, 234, who, questionXXXV, pages 232, 233, also weighs carefully, Whether the Father is able to be said Voluntarily to beget or to have begotten the Son? concerning which see also MARESIUS, Systemate Theologico, locus III, § 29, and Defensione Fidei Catholicæ adversum Curcellæum, DissertationI, Section X, numbers 184-197, pages 197-201.

[1]Gisbertus Voetius (1589-1676) was a Dutch Reformed minister and theologian. In 1619, he attended the Synod of Dort as its youngest member. Some years later he was appointed as Professor of Theology at Utrecht (1636-1676). [2]Peter Lombard (c. 1096-c. 1164), although of relatively humble birth, became a renowned theologian in Paris. His Four Books of Sentences served as a standard theological text at medieval universities. [3]Joachim of Fiore (c. 1135-1202) was an Italian theologian, Biblical scholar, and founder of the monastic order of San Giovanni in Fiore. He is most remembered with his interpretation of the Book of Revelation and eschatological thought. [4]That is, condescension.

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