More common arguments against Jesus’s divinity and their refutation. This chapter may be of service of those in the Muslim faith.
1 Since, of course, the fixed mental conception of all who think rightly about God is this: There can be but one God—certain men, conceiving from the Scriptures that Christ is truly and naturally God and the Son of God, have confessed that the one God is Christ the Son of God and God the Father; and that God, nevertheless, is not called Son in His nature or from eternity, but that He then received the name of sonship when He was born of the Virgin Mary in the mystery of the Incarnation.
Thus, all the things which Christ bore in the flesh they used to attribute to God the Father: for example, that He was the son of the Virgin, conceived and born of her, that He suffered, died and rose again, and all else which the Scriptures say of Christ in the flesh.
2 They attempted to strengthen their position by Scriptural authorities. For it says in Exodus (i.e., Deut. 6:41): “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord”; and in Deuteronomy (32:39): “I alone am and there is no other God besides Me”; and John (14:10, 9, 11): “The Father who abides in Me, He doth the works”; and again: “He that sees Me, sees the Father also… I am in the Father and the Father in Me.” From all these they used to conceive that God the Father was being called the very Son incarnate of the Virgin.
3 This was, of course, the opinion of the Sabellians, who were also called Patripassionists because they confess that the Father suffered, holding that the Father Himself was Christ.
4 Now, the latter position differs from the one just described with respect to Christ’s divinity (for the latter confesses that Christ is true and natural God which the first denied); nevertheless, with respect to generation and sonship, each of the two opinions conforms with the other: for, as the first holds that there was no sonship and generation by which Christ is said to be Son before Mary, so the latter also maintains.
Therefore, neither of these positions relates the generation and sonship to the divine nature, but to the human nature only. The second position has this special feature: that when one says “Son of God” one designates not a subsisting person but a kind of additional property of a pre-existing person, for the Father Himself, in that He assumed flesh from the Virgin, received the name of Son; it is not as though the Son is a subsisting Person distinct from the Person of the Father.
5 The authority of Scripture makes the falsity of this position quite manifest. For Scripture does not call Christ merely the Virgin’s son, but also the Son of God. We made this clear before. But it cannot be that one be his own son, for, since a son is begotten by a father, and he who begets gives being to the begotten, it would follow that he who gives is identified with him who receives being-and this is entirely impossible. Therefore, God the Father is not Himself the Son, but the Son is other than He, and the Father is other than the Son.
6 Then, too, our Lord says: “I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me”; and: “Glorify Me, O Father with Yourself” (John 6:38; 17:5). From all, of these and similar sayings the Son is shown to be other than the Father.
7 Of course, it can be said within this position that Christ is called the Son of God the Father in His human nature only; namely, because God the Father Himself created and sanctified the human nature which He assumed. Thus, then, the same one is in His divinity called His own Father in His humanity. Thus, there is also no objection to saying that the same one in His humanity is distinct from Himself in His divinity.
But in this fashion it will follow that Christ is called a son of God as are other men, whether by reason of creation, or by reason of sanctification. It has, however, already been shown that Christ is called the Son of God for another reason than other holy men are. It cannot, therefore, be understood that the Father Himself is Christ and His very own son.
8 There is more. Where there is one subsisting supposit, it does not receive a plural predication. But Christ speaks of Himself and the Father in the plural; He says: “I and the Father are one (John 10:30). The Son, therefore, is not the Father Himself.
Note It is odd to think of God being one, while also three, the Father, Son & Holy Ghost. I was discussing these mathematical results the other day with a friend. We have 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + … = -1/12, which can be proved. We also have 1^2 + 2^2 + 3^2 + … = 9; and we have 1^3 + 2^3 + 3^3 + 4^3 + … = 1/120.
And there are many other like this. All series head off to Infinity, which we might say is where God lives, or Is, yet all have different manifestations or results. Infinity is a strange place. God is unfathomable.
9 Furthermore, if it is by the mystery of the Incarnation alone that the Son is distinguished from the Father, there was no distinction whatever before the Incarnation. In the sacred Scripture, however, the Son is found to have been distinct from the Father even before the Incarnation. For it says in John (1:1): “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So, the Word who was with God had some distinction from Him. This is our usual manner of speaking: one is said “to be with” another.
In the same way in Proverbs (8:30) the Begotten says: “I was with Him forming all things.” Here, again, an association and some distinction is designated. It says also in Hosea (1:7): “I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God,” where God the Father is speaking of saving the people in God the Son, as of a person distinct from Himself, who is held worthy of the name of God. We read, also, in Genesis (1:26): “Let us make man to our image and likeness”; and in this the plurality and distinction of those who make man is expressly designated. Yet Scripture teaches that man was made by God alone. Thus, there was a plurality and distinction of God the Father and God the Son even before the Incarnation of Christ. Therefore, the Father Himself is not called the Son by reason of the mystery of the Incarnation.
10 Furthermore, true sonship relates to the supposit of the one called son, for it is not a man’s hand or foot which receives the name of sonship properly speaking, but the man himself whose parts they are. But the names of “paternity” and of “sonship” require a distinction in those to whom they are applied, just as “begetting” and “begotten” do. Necessarily, then, if one is truly called son he must be distinguished in supposit from his father. But Christ is truly the Son of God, for we read in 1 John (5:20): “That we may be in His true Son, Jesus Christ.” Necessarily, then, Christ is distinct in supposit from the Father.
Therefore, the Father Himself is not the Son. Furthermore, after the mystery of the Incarnation the Father proclaims of the Son: “This is My beloved Son” (Mat. 3:17). Such a designation is a reference to a supposit. Christ is, therefore, as a supposit other than the Father.
11 The points by which Sabellius attempts to strengthen his position do not prove what he intends to prove. We will make this clear more fully later on. For, by reason of the truth that “God is one,” or that “the Father is in the Son and the Son in the Father,” one does not bold that the Father and the Son are one in supposit; there can be a unity of two who are distinct in supposit.