De Moor V:9: Eternal Generation Defended against Socinianism

By today’s Socinians; who, as they speak of Christ as a Metaphoric God, so also as the Metaphoric Son of God, for four reasons enumerated by our AUTHOR, which have regard to Him as Man and Mediator in time; and they do not admit Eternal Generation except in designation: see HOORNBEECK’S Socinianismum confutatum, tome 2, book I, chapter I, section I, pages 6, 7; Socinus’ Explicationem initii of John 1, opera, tome I, page 80a; Przipcovius’[1] Cogitationes ad initium Euangelii Matthæi, chapter 1:1, opera, page 1. Which reasons, as they depend upon the denial of the Trinity and the true Deity of the Son, both clearly confirmed in what follows; so through the same the Property of Filiation, true Generation, truly eternal Nativity, asserted in § 8, would be altogether destroyed. Only the first of these four reasons does Hobbes mention in his Leviathan, chapter XLVI, and in the Appendix to chapter I, maintaining that Christ is called the Son of God begotten by God the Father, because He was begotten by God the Father of the substance of the Virgin: and that hence He is called God and the Son of God from eternity; because God had decreed this from eternity, who, since all things are present to Him, of that which He decreed from eternity often speaks as present: see COCQUIUS, Anatome Hobbesianismi, locus XIV, chapter XXVII, § 2, 3, pages 524, 525. But, if we should inspect the passages that our Adversaries set forth for their position, we shall see that by the same are declared, not the Formal Manner of Generation; but a certain consequent evidence and argument of Generation; not the Cause of the Thing, but of the Knowledge of the thing by us. For example,

α. In Luke 1:35, it is not said that τὸ γεννώμενον ἐκ σοῦ ἅγιον, the holy thing born of thee, by means of this shall be made the Son of God, but διὸ καὶ—κληθήσεται υἱὸς Θεοῦ, therefore also shall be called the Son of God, that is, the Thing Born of thee by this miraculous Nativity shall also be manifested and acknowledged to be, and celebrated as, the Son of God, by comparison with Isaiah 66:3, 6. Of course, in Luke 1:31, the Angel had made the announcement concerning the future Nativity of the Lord from Mary more briefly in words that have respect to the prophecy of Isaiah, Isaiah 7:14, expressly cited by Matthew, Matthew 1:22, 23. He then adds a magnificent description of the Son about to be born as Immanuel, with respect to His person and office, Luke 1:32, 33, foretelling among other things that υἱὸς ὑψίστου κληθήσεται, He shall be called the Son of the Highest. But in what manner a Virgin might bear, which is the prior part of the Isaianic prophecy, Mary was not grasping; wherefore, to Mary’s question found in Luke 1:34 the Angel more plainly declares this mystery to her in verse 35a. But, because this prior part of the prophecy of Isaiah concerning a Virgin giving birth would have its fulfillment in Mary, it was necessary to extend to the Thing Born of Mary also what had been foretold at the same time concerning Immanuel by Isaiah; and so from the observation of the Angel the Son of Mary, whom he had already advised was going to be called the Son of the Highest, verse 32, from this miraculous Nativity would also be manifested clearly enough to be, and hence by each and every one attending in faith would be acknowledged and celebrated as, God and the Son of God. See ARNOLDI’S refutationem Catecheseos Racovianæ, on chapter 1, de Cognitione Personæ Christi, question 3 (where the Catechist contends that Christ, although He does not have a divine nature, is not a simple man, but one who is the Son of God by His miraculous conception and birth, according to Luke 1:35), § XI-XXII, pages 173-176: add WESSELIUS’ Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, chapter XIV, § 170-179, where among other things in § 174 is, “Also because He shall be born of thee, that Holy Thing shall be called the SON OF GOD. He is not only the SON OF MAN, but also the Son of God, because He of the Virgin would be born both; He is both God and Man, because Immanuel. It appears, therefore, that in the place of the name אֵל/El/GOD, which is in Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14[2]), the Angel has here place the name of the SON OF GOD, because it is a name of the Divine nature only, and expresses Generation eternal and natural, not metaphorical. From which it is now further gathered for what reason the Angel had said, διὸ/THEREFORE He shall also be called the Son of God, that is, He shall be known and acknowledged to be God and the natural Son of God. For, to be born of a Virgin is an Argument for Deity. Not as if a simple man was not able thus to be born; but because, according to the Prophetic sign given, God, and no other but God in humanity assumed and personally united to Himself, was going to be born of a Virgin.” And in § 178, “I readily grant that the particle διὸ/therefore here is not of bare consequence, but causal; yet it does not therefore denote the Cause of the Thing, which simply gives being, but the Cause of Knowledge, which gives knowledge of being. Just as it is manifestly taken here, because the Angel says, Not, therefore He shall Be the Son of God, but SHALL BE CALLED, that is, SHALL BE KNOWN and ACKNOWLEDGED TO BE.” However, Hobbes also thinks that Eternal Generation from the Father is not distinguished from the Generation that was performed in the womb of the Virgin, which might be called eternal because it was decreed from eternity: compare COCQUIUS, Anatome Hobbesianismi, locus VI, chapter XIII, pages 132, 133.

β. Again, in John 10:36, the Lord does not teach that His divine Filiation was to be fetched from His Sanctification and His Mission into the world to undertake the Mediatorial Office, as from a cause and formal reason. But, not declaring the true manner of His Filiation to Jews incredulous, obstinate, and not so well suited to this mystery; He only sets forth two arguments, by which He would prove that He by no unjust ttle takes to Himself the Name of God and the Son of God. 1. He argues from the lesser to the greater. The Jews accuse Him of blasphemy, because He says that He is the Son of God. This the Lord denies, making use of this argument: If the Law, that is, the Scripture, the Word of God, called them Gods and Sons of God, unto whom this Word came, πρὸς οὓς ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐγένετο, I said, Ye are Gods, etc., by a far greater right this Name, the Son of God, is applicable to me, whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, verses 33-36. For those that are so designated in Psalm 82:6 were mere men, although set above other men in some ἐξοχῇ/measure on account of the office of Magistrate discharged by them, and bearing the image of God with respect to Rule: but Jesus was appointed to discharge the Mediatorial Office and sent into the world; but that Office was certainly supposing in the Person of Jesus the divine nature, and so from this office it was proven à posteriori and was able to be known that He is God and the Son of God, by comparing Psalm 2:6-8; Isaiah 7:14; etc. Indeed, although the Lord thus teaches only à posteriori to gather His Filiation from the Mediatorial Office, it was also following from the words of the Lord that another Nature besides the human was applicable to Him, according to which He had already existed before clothing Himself in humanity; but this was not able to be anything other than divine, so that He is φύσει Θεὸς, God by nature, yet personally distinct from the Father, by whom He was sanctified and sent into the world. And indeed, the Sending of Christ into the world through the Incarnation supposes His existence before He was sent: but Sanctification through designation and separation to undertake the Mediatorial Office precedes even the Sending, since it had already from eternity fallen to this divine Person, with Him consenting. Unless we migh wish to say that this argument proceeds by similitude, so that the Lord wished to say: Ye acknowledge that those are rightly called Gods, to whom in the Law or Sacred Scripture this word came, I said, Ye are Gods; namely, because Sacred Scripture led the way. But on this same foundation ye ought to admit, that to me, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world to undertake the Mediatorial Office, it is no less agreeable to say, I am the Son of God; and that indeed in a sense that implies the Essential Equality and Unity of the Father with me, and of me with the Father. Namely, because the Ancient Scripture also affirms concerning Christ the Mediator, that He is the Son of God, and indeed in a sense more sublime and proper, through Generation and Nativity. Therefore, if the Scripture cannot be broken, it is to no purpose that ye stir up controversy with me concerning this title. 2. The second argument, likewise sought à posteriori, concludes Christ’s divine Filiation from His divine Words, for the accomplishment of which divine Power was a prerequisite, verses 37, 38.

Neither ought anyone to Insist on the prior argument set forth by the Lord, verses 34-36, that the Sanctification of earthly Judges to the Office of Magistrate is not an Argument, but the Cause of Deity and divine Filiation nominal and metaphorical; with whom Christ compares Himself in His Sanctification to the Office of Mediator, as the Cause equally of His Deity and Filiation, metaphorical indeed, but more excellent. For,

I Respond, Christ does not compare Himself with human Judges in the Cause, similar or equal, of divine Filiation, but He sets Himself above them in the Kind of Filiation. Neither was the Lord able make a comparison, which sort is set forth in His Insistence, between Himself and the princes of the people: for in this way He would make Himself an adoptive Son with them, who only a little before had clearly made Himself the Most High God and the natural Son of God, verse 30, which even the Jews were rightly understanding. He indicates clearly enough that His Filiation is already supposed in His Sanctification, when He mentions that this fell to Him from the Father, who at that time was already His Father, verse 36. And, while the college of Magistrates in the plural is designated with the title of God and Sons of God, the individual Judges in the singular are not; Christ calls Himself the Son of God in the singular κατ᾽ ἐξοχὴν, par excellence, and with the greatest emphasis.

Compare on John 10:36 WESSELIUS’ Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, chapter XXI, § 253, 254, pages 463-470; ARNOLDI’S refutationem Catecheseos Racovianæ, on chapter I, de Cognitione Personæ Christi, questions 29, § CXII-CXXV, pages 125-132.

γ. In Romans 1:4, Christ is not said to be made or constituted the Son of God by the Resurrection from the dead; but ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, by the resurrection from the dead, ὁρισθεὶς/declared, definitively indicated, and openly shown, to be such, through this real demonstration of His divine Power, ἐν δυνάμει, with power; just as the boundaries of fields are also definitively and manifestly indicated to everyone through ὅρους, landmarks, boundary-stones. Indeed, the Son of God, who was such from eternity, was not able to be made such in time; but He was well able indeed to be definitively indicated and demonstrated as such. The Lord was condemned to death as a blasphemer, because He professed to be the Son of God: it was apparent that He was falsely and unjustly condemned, when after a brief time He arose alive from the dead by His own power: see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Textuales XXXVIII, Part I; and WESSELIUS’ Dissertationes Leidenses XII.

δ. Finally, neither is it proven from the citation of Psalm 2:7 by Paul in Acts 13:32, 33;[3] Hebrews 1:4, 5; 5:5, that Christ, either through His Raising from Mary, or through His Exaltation to the right hand of the Father and glorious administration of the Priestly Office, was made the Son of God, and that His Generation from the Father consists in this.

a. Indeed, on the passage of the Psalm cited, I said, a. that there is to be a distinction, 1. Between the real argument of the Paternal speech to the Son, that is, Christ’s divine Filiation with its unique cause, namely, eternal Generation, prefaced as the foundation of the Inheritance of the Nations assigned to Him; and, 2. between the Paternal Expression of this matter to the Son.

b. Then, that the Son is found in this Psalm as the incarnate Mediator; to which Person in the concrete, because of the Hypostatic Union, was rightly to be attributed that which was agreeable to Him according to either Nature. And thus the Father might say in words, and with real proofs, to the θεάνθρωπον/God-man Mediator, to be sent into His Inheritance of the Nations, Thou art my Son, declaring Him such, and acknowledging Him as such. But, according to which Nature, and by what right, this title was applicable to Him, is signified with sufficient clarity through the addition of eternal Generation as the cause of this denomination.

c. But now, if the Father say this to the incarnate Son, 1. It was necessary that He ἀναστῆσαι, take His rise, through the miraculous Nativity from the Virgin, which very Rise of Messiah, as we saw, would furnish a manifest proof, according to which having been born, He was to be acknowledged as the Son of God. And so, treating of this Rising of the Son of God, Paul rightly alleged this Davidic saying, Acts 13:32, 33. 2. He also rightly makes use of this saying of God the Father to the Messiah in Hebrews 1:5, so that He might confirm the Excellence of the θεανθρώπου/God-man Son above the Angels from the Name of the Son of God assigned to Him, not for lesser reasons, because of which the Angels also are called Sons of God, Job 38:7, but for a far more glorious reason, namely, on account of eternal Generation; which reason added was indicating that the θεάνθρωπον/God-man Messiah, exalted to the right hand of the Father, is the Son of God according to His divine Nature, and as He is the ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως τοῦ Πατρὸς, brightness of His glory and the express image of the person of the Father, as it is in verse 3, which things are not applicable to the Angels. 3. Just as in the perfection of the Priesthood of the Mediator, and the glorious administration of the same, there was a manifest demonstration of His divine dignity and power, which the Lord, disputing with the Jews, John 10:36, was indicating; so with good reason Paul observes in Hebrews 5:5 that the Father δοξάσας γενηθῆναι ἀρχιερέα, glorifying Christ to be made a High Priest, actually also spoke in this way to Him, Thou art my son, etc., while He subjoins a more express testimony concerning the Priestly Office bestowed upon this Son out of Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 5:6. But, while the Apostle was on this, that he might represent to the Hebrews Christ’s Priesthood as more excellent than the ancient Aaronic Priesthood, and that excellence especially consists in the true expiation of sins and the actual and eternal redemption of all the elect given to Christ by the Father, through the singular oblation of Himself made by this High Priest; before all things he wished attention to be given to the Deity of the Person bearing this priestly office, upon which all the efficacy of His Priesthood and oblation depend, and which in His Priestly office is presupposed and required: hence, preparing himself to treat in detail this more excellent Priesthood, he appeals to the twofold testimony of the ancient Scripture, the former taken from Psalm 2:7, where the Person, whom God the Father made Priest, is commended on account of His true Deity, which He was having in common with the Father in such a way that at the same time He might be a Person distinct from, and begotten by, the Father, whence His prerequisite sufficiency to undertake that office was evident; as if the Apostle should say, He made Christ High Priest, which already above (namely, in Hebrews 1:5) I represented, that to Him He said, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee; from which I was teaching that His excellence above the Angels, indeed, His true Deity, was demonstrated. To which also I then joined the other out of Psalm 110:4, concerning this Son made a Priest μετὰ ὁρκωμοσίας—κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδὲκ, with an oath…after the order of Melchisedec,[4] which passage, as making directly for this, he posits as the basis of the explanation following at great length of this more excellent and eternal Priesthood. But, as Paul had already introduced the divine Filiation, and hence the true Deity, of this High Priest, as the ground of the expiation of sins by the act performed by Him, Hebrews 1:3, ὃς (υἱὸς) ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης, καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ (Θεοῦ, namely, the Father)—δι᾽ ἑαυτοῦ καθαρισμὸν ποιησάμενος τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν ὑψηλοῖς, who (the Son) being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of the person of Him (God, namely, the Father), when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; so He was made a glorious High Priest, King and Priest at the same time upon His throne, just as it was fitting for a Priest κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδὲκ, after the order of Melchisedec, in comparison with Zechariah 6:13. Thereafter, again and again, to this divine Filiation of our High Priest, as a things supposed and required in His Priesthood, and which was making Him fit for the function of this office, he wills that attention be given, namely, in Hebrews 5:8, καίπερ ὢν υἱός, ἔμαθεν ἀφ᾽ ὧν ἔπαθε τὴν ὑπακοήν, though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered: more on this soon. And again, after a most ample declaration of the Priesthood of Christ κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδὲκ, after the order of Melchisedec, as more excellent than the Aaronic Priesthood, he returns to that which was to be considered, and attended to before all things, as the foundation of the eminence and efficacy of this Priesthood of Christ, namely, His divine Filiation, which implies divine dignity and power, Hebrews 7:28, ὁ νόμος γὰρ ἀνθρώπους καθίστησιν ἀρχιερεῖς, ἔχοντας ἀσθένειαν· ὁ λόγος δὲ τῆς ὁρκωμοσίας τῆς μετὰ τὸν νόμον, υἱὸν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τετελειωμένον, for the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

b. Indeed, the Orthodox Writers, cited in § 8, who refer the words of Psalm 2:7, this day have I begotten thee, not directly to the Eternal Generation of the Son, but to those things concerning which the Apostle discourses, citing these words; still explain preceding words, Thou art my Son, of the divine Filiation of Christ, natural and eternal; and what things follow, this day have I begotten thee, they do not explain of temporal Generation, improper and metaphorical, distinguished from eternal divine Generation, and having regard to the human Nature or Mediatorial Office: but, acknowledging Christ’s unique divine Filiation and Generation from God the Father, they think that a Metonymy of adjunct for subject, or of a sign for the thing signified, is simply to be admitted here, so that this day have I begotten thee might mean the same thing as this day have I demonstrated, openly shown, that thou hast been begotten by me from eternity.

In order successfully to loose this Objection from the alleging of the saying in Psalm 2:7 three times by Paul, compare our AUTHOR’S AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Textuales XV, Part II; and WESSELIUS’ Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, chapter IX, § 134, 135, chapter XXII, § 262-270.

[1] Samuel Przypkowski (1592-1670) was a Polish Socinian theologian. [2] Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuelעִמָּ֥נוּ) אֵֽל׃).” [3] Acts 13:33: “God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up (ἀναστήσας) Jesus; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” [4] Hebrews 7:21.


Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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