Not knowing where else to put this, and this the Lord’s day, a prayer request from a long-time reader.
I know this might sound weird since I’m just a reader of your blog, but I was hoping you and your family could please pray for my wife and whole family. She is struggling with *severe* mental illness and things have gotten far worse recently (the past year has not been a good one).
We have prayed and prayed to ask God to stop what is tormenting her, we have prayed with pastors and priests for deliverance, we have prayed for God to help the doctors find a medication that can help her. I have prayed for God to help us find people that can support us.
We now enter the meat of the arguments against Jesus’s divinity. It won’t be light reading.
1 Now, certain men, who perversely presumed to measure the truth of this doctrine by their own comprehension of it, conceived on the points just mentioned opinions both vain and various.
2 Some among these took into consideration Scripture’s custom of calling those who are justified by divine grace “sons of God,”, as in John (1:12): “He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name.” And Romans (8:16) says: “The Spirit Himself gives testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God.” And 1 John (3: 1) : “Behold what manner of charity the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God.” And Scripture does not hesitate to call these “begotten of God,” for it says in James (1:18): “For of His own will bath He begotten us by the word of truth”; and 1 John (3:9) says: “Whosoever is born of God commits not sin: for His seed abides in him.”
Also, to the same men, which is more marvelous, the name of “divinity” is applied. For the Lord said to Moses: “I have appointed you the God of Pharaoh” (Ex. 7:1); and the Psalmist says: “I have said: You are gods and all of you the sons of the most High” (Ps. 81:6); and, as our Lord said: “He called them gods, to whom the word of God was spoken” (John 10:35).
Notes Overloading metaphors in common in language; why some pretend otherwise when examining scripture is curious.
3 After this fashion, therefore, they formed the opinion that Jesus Christ was pure man, that He had had a beginning from the Virgin Mary, that by the merit of His blessed life He had received the honor of divinity above all others; and they thought that He was, like other men, a son of God by the spirit of adoption, begotten of God by grace, and by a kind of likens to God called God in Scripture not by nature, but by partaking in the divine goodness, just as it says of the saints in 2 Peter (1:4): “That by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world.”
4 Such was the position they were trying to establish by the authority of sacred Scripture.
5 For our Lord says in Matthew (28:18): “All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth.” But, if He were God before all times, He would not have received power in time.
6 Again, Romans (1:34) says of the Son: “Who was made to Him,” to God, namely, “of the seed of David according to the flesh”; and says that He was “predestinated the Son of God in power.” But what was predestinated and was made seems not to be eternal.
7 The Apostle also says (Phil. 2:8): “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also bath exalted Him, and bath given Him a name which is above all names.” From this it appears clear that by the merit of His obedience and passion He was given divine honor and was exalted above all things.
Notes Obedience to rightful authority may be this generation’s largest difficulty.
8 Peter also says: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know most certainly, that God bath made both Lord and Christ, this same Jesus, whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). Therefore, it seems that He was made God in time, not born before time.
9 They also bring in to shore up their opinion whatever Scripture says which seems to imply a defect in Christ: that He was carried in a woman’s womb, that He progressed in age, that He suffered hunger, was wearied with fatigue, and was subject to death; that He advanced in wisdom, confessed He did not know the day of judgment; that He was stricken with the fear of death; and other things of this sort which could not be in agreement with a God existing by His nature. Hence their conclusion: that by merit Christ acquired divine honor through grace and that He was not by nature divine.
10 Now, this position was first invented by certain ancient heretics, Cerinthus and Ebion. Later, Paul of Samosata renewed it; and later it was strengthened by Photinus, so that those who dogmatize thus are called Photinian.
11 However, those who diligently examine the words of sacred Scripture do not find in them the meaning which these men have by their own opinion constructed. For, when Solomon says: “The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived,” (Prov. 8:24), he makes it clear enough that this generation existed before all bodily things. Hence, it follows that the Son begotten by God received no beginning of being from Mary.
To be sure, they endeavored to debase these and other like testimonies by their perverse exposition.
These, they said, should be understood after the manner of predestination: that before the foundation of the world it was arranged that a Son of God should be born of the Virgin Mary, not that the Son of God had been before the world. But they are refuted by this: Not only in predestination, but in reality as well, He had been before Mary. For after the words of Solomon just quoted this is added: “When He balanced the foundations of the earth: I was with Him forming all things” (Prov. 8:29-30); but if He had been present in predestination only, He would have been able to do nothing.
One gets this also from the words of John the Evangelist, for, when he had first set down: “In the beginning was the Word” (by which name the Son is understood as was shown) to keep anyone from taking this as predestination, he adds: “All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing” (1:1, 3); and this could not be true if He had not really existed before the world. Again, the Son of God says in John (3:13): “No man has ascended to heave except He who descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven”; again in John (6:38): “I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” Clearly, therefore, he was before He descended from heaven.
Notes I hope you don’t mind my implied emphasis on debase.
12 There is more. According to the position described above, a man by the merit of his life advanced to being God. The Apostle shows, on the contrary, that when He was God He became man. For he says: ‘Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man” (Phil. 2:6). Therefore, the position described is in conflict with apostolic teaching.
13 Furthermore, among all the rest of those who had the grace of God, Moses had it in abundance; it says of him in Exodus (33:11) : “The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” If, therefore, Jesus Christ is not said to be a son of God except by the grace of adoption, like other saints, on the same grounds Moses should be called son and Christ, even though Christ was endowed with more abundant grace: among the other saints, also, one is endowed with greater grace than another, but all are called sons of God on the same ground.
But Moses is not called son on the same ground that Christ is so called, for the Apostle distinguishes Christ from Moses as the Son from the servant. He says in Hebrews (3:5-6): “Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be said: But Christ as the Son in His own house.” Manifestly, then, Christ is not called the Son of God by the grace of adoption, as other saints are.
14 One can gather a similar understanding from several other places in Scripture, in which Christ is named in some singular way and prior to others as the Son of God. Sometimes singularly and without others He is named “Son”: as the voice of the Father thundered at the baptism: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mat. 3:17). Sometimes He is named “Only-begotten” as in John: “We saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father”; and again: “The only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (1:14, 18).
If He were to be called son in some common fashion like others, He could not be called the Only-begotten. Sometimes, also, He is named “First-begotten” to show an overflowing of sonship from Him to others: as in Romans (8:29): ‘Whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son; that He might be the first-born amongst many brethren; and Galatians (4:4-5) says: “God sent His Son that we might receive the adoption of sons. On another ground, therefore, is He a Son, through likeness to whose sonship others are called sons
15 In sacred Scripture, moreover, certain works are properly attributed to God, and in such wise that they cannot be assigned to another: such are the sanctification of souls and the remission of sins; for it is said in Leviticus (20:8): “I am the Lord that sanctify you”; and in Isaiah (45:25): “I am He that blot out your iniquities for My own sake.” Yet Scripture attributes each of these to Christ, for we read in Hebrews (2:11; 13:12): “Both he that sanctifies, and they who are sanctified, are all of one”; and again: “Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people by His own blood, suffered without the gate.”
Our Lord Himself insisted that He had the “power to forgive sins,” and confirmed this by a miracle as is told in Matthew (9:16). This is also what the angel foretold of Him when he said: “He shall save His people from their sins” (Mat. 1:21). Christ, therefore, who both sanctifies and forgives sins, is not called God as they are called gods who are sanctified, and whose sins are forgiven, but as one who has the power and the nature of divinity.
16 The Scriptural testimonies by which they tried to show that Christ was not God by nature are useless for establishing their proposition. For it is our confession that in Christ the Son of God, after the mystery of the Incarnation, there were two natures; namely, human and divine. And so, things are said of Him which are proper to God by reason of the divine nature, and things are also said which seem to involve deficiency by reason of the human nature, as will be more fully explained later.
But now, for the present consideration of the divine generation, let it suffice to have pointed out in accord with the Scriptures that Christ the Son of God is also called God, not only as a pure man is by the grace of adoption, but by reason Of the nature of divinity.