Summary Against Modern Thought: The Son Of God

Summary Against Modern Thought: The Son Of God

Previous post.

We begin with the metaphors, Son and Father.


1 Let us take the beginning of our study from the secret of the divine generation, and first set down what one must hold about it according to the testimonies of sacred Scripture. Then we may set out the arguments against the truth of the faith which unbelief has invented; by achieving the solution of these we will be pursuing the purpose of this study.

2 Sacred Scripture, then, hands on to us the names of “paternity” and “sonship” in the divinity, insisting that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. One finds this most frequently in the books of the New Testament. Thus, Matthew (1: 27): “No one knows the Son but the Father: neither doth any one know the Father but the Son.”

With this Mark begins his Gospel, saying: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” John the Evangelist also frequently points to this, for he says: “The Father loves the Son and He hath given all things into His hand” (3:35) and “As the Father raises up the dead, and gives life: so the Son also gives life to whom He will” (5:21). Paul the Apostle also frequently inserts these words, for he calls himself in Romans (1:1-3) “separated unto the gospel of God, which He had promised before by His prophets in the holy scriptures concerning His Son”; and says in Hebrews (1:1): “God, who, at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all in these days hath spoken to us by His Son.”

3 This is also. given us, although more rarely, in the books of the Old Testament. Thus, Proverbs (30:4) says: “What is His name, and what is the name of His Son, if you know?” One reads it also in the Psalms (2:7; 88:27): “The Lord said to me: You are My Son”; and again: “He shall cry out to Me: You are My Father.”

4 To be sure, some would like to twist these last two sayings into another sense, so as to refer “The Lord hath said to Me: You are My Son” to David; and so as to ascribe “He shall cry out to Me: You are My Father” to Solomon.

Nevertheless, the additions in each instance show that this cannot be quite the case. For David cannot be fitted into this addition: “This day have I begotten You” (Ps. 2:7); nor into this one: “I will give You the Gentiles for your inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for your possession” (2:8); since David’s kingdom was not extended to the utmost parts of the earth, as the history of the Book of Kings shows.

No more is the saying: “He shall cry out to Me: You are My Father” fitting to Solomon, since there follows: “I will make His rule to endure for evermore: and His throne as the days of heaven” (Ps. 88:30). Hence, one is given to understand that because some of the things joined to the texts mentioned are suitable to David and Solomon, some absolutely unsuitable, what is said of David and Solomon in these words is said, as customarily in Scripture, figuratively of that other in whom the whole is fulfilled.

Notes Don’t forget we often (or used to, in days gone by, and still in many languages and cultures) refer to those much younger as “son” and those older as “father”, “uncle”, and “grandfather”. But everybody knew what was, and wasn’t, meant.

5 However, since the names of “Father” and “Son” follow on a generation, Scripture has not been silent about the very name of “divine generation.” For in the Psalm (2:7), as was said, one reads: “This day have I begotten You.” And Proverbs (8:24-2.5): “The depths were not as yet and I was already conceived: before the hills I was brought forth”; or, according to another reading: “Before all the hills did the Lord beget me.” And Isaiah (66:9, 8) also says: “Shall not I that make others to bring forth… Myself bring forth, says the Lord? Shall I that give generation to others be barren, says the Lord your God?”

We grant that one can say that this text must be related to the multiplication of the children of Israel returning from captivity into their own country, because earlier this is said: “Zion has been in labour and has brought forth her children.” But this does not defeat our purpose. For, however the essence of it be adapted, the essence of it which is given from the voice of God remains fixed and stable thus: If He Himself grants generation to others, He is not sterile. Nor would it become Him who makes others generate truly to generate Himself not truly but by a likeness. For a thing must he more nobly in its cause than in that which is caused, as was shown. Again, it says in John (1:14): “We saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father”; and later: “The only-begotten Son ho is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared him” (1:18). And Paul says: “And again when He brings his first-begotten into the world He says: ‘And let all the angels of God adore Him’” (Heb. 1:6).


  1. Michael Dowd

    Modernist Catholicism would not agree with St. Thomas that Jesus was the actual Son of God.

  2. Some things I figure are above my pay grade.
    I try to understand as much as I can in the context of my ability to understand.
    Jesus is undoubtedly the “only begotten” Son of God.
    The prophetic is overwhelming.
    The mechanism, I can only guess at within the bounds of Scripture.

  3. Ye Olde Statistician

    Mr Dowd, Then why is St Joseph called only the foster-father of Christ? We are not Arians, after all.

    One cannot give what one does not have, at least in an eminent sense. So, since God had bestowed intellect upon us, there must be something in God that is eminently like intellect. The operation of the Intellect is to Know, its object is the True, and its products are called ‘Conceptions.’ So, when God knows Himself, he is both conceiver and concieved, hence Father and Son.

  4. Captain Candor

    If Modern Catholicism does not agree than the moniker is a misnomer. There really isn’t such a thing as Modern Catholicism. It is heresy. The Truth does not evolve. One might say that our understanding of Truth could evolve but that would require revelation.

  5. brad tittle

    I put the following link into YouTube today . I received a “Comment Failed To Post”

    After putting it in the comment, I couldn’t post anything else on that video.

    I opened another video. I posted a plain comment. Works. I Posted a link to a different site. Works. I post the link to wmbriggs… “Comment failed to post”

  6. brad

    further research discovers the theblaze is also blocked. Might cause conservative warning bells to go off. But Huffington post also triggers the failure.

  7. Darren R. Cole

    The only resolution is our own death. That is the only time that we will find the actual truth. We can debate all that we want on this plane but it cannot be proven in any manner.

  8. D. Bagwill

    Re: D. Cole’s post: I think you are spot-on in that statement.
    My concern is, since we cannot know the actual truth on certain matters: Incarnation, dual nature, Trinity – We should not bar fellowship to those who can justifiably take a different position.

  9. Darren R. Cole

    I do agree. We cannot just live closed to possibilities but the argument is pointless. I am good with debate and research but when it turns to insults and belittlement it is going too far. There are so many times that non-believers will just call all of us things like dumb sheep and even worse because we choose to believe in a higher power. We see the signs of a higher power including in their science. How often in science do they get to a point where they just say we can’t explain how this works/happens. Things like dark matter and the fact that they keep finding smaller and smaller particles that can’t be seen or explained actually by their own words often show signs of intelligent design.
    As I said I like to fellowship with Christians as well as scientist because then I see multiple points of view. I believe 100% in one of them and less in the other but get a lot out of both. Fellowship right now is so hard but I keep trying to keep it going.
    Thank you for your great reply!

  10. Chao

    Dr Briggs,

    I am a Catechumen and have not made decision when to receive baptism. I wonder if you could help me with the following question.

    I grew up in China and never really heard about the gospel or had enough motivation to learn about them until the my fourth summer living in NYC. My question is about the authority of the Sacred Scripture. I have not read all of your posts on Summa contra Gentiles, but it seems to me that Saint Thomas Aquinas has always assumed the authority of the Scripture. But for someone like me who pretty much just read the Gospels for the first time it seems natural to question Its authority. I have been reading books on the historicity of the Gospels and gradually became more convinced about Its genuineness. I certainly do not have trouble believe in miracles (at least I believe they can happen). But I wonder if reading these historical studies even necessary? Is my doubt justified in the first place? If not, why should I trust the Scriptures? Has Saint Thomas Aquinas addressed similar questions in his work?

    I hope these questions make sense. Many thanks!


  11. Briggs


    Great questions. No, Aquinas does not, at least for the first Book, assume the authority of scripture. He makes his arguments from first principles, only later showing how scripture accords with these deductions.

    We start the books from the beginning. Use the “Top Categories” at the bottom and select SAMT. The go back to the beginning, which is here: the beginning.

    Indeed, I had your same sort of wonderings many years ago, and it was works like this that brought me back into the Church.

  12. Chao

    Dr Briggs,

    Thank you for you reply. I have been reading this series from the start and I understand the basics of the five ways and Divine attributes, etc (even though I do still have a lot of questions and confusions about them). I was wondering here that even I am convinced that God sustains this reality at very instant, how can I be sure that Jesus is the Lord. To me this is a question of epistemology, specifically how can we justify the belief in what the disciples have told us or that the Scripture is the Word of God. I should read this series more carefully and slowly but I was kind hoping for a shortcut here since I am longing to get baptized asap and want to find a way to get rid of the annoying doubts.

    In any case thank you for making these posts. They have been very helpful!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *