I have been listening through the debate that James White had with Robert Sabin. I had to exercise quite a bit of self-denial to even make this blog length because of how many angles I could have taken at this. James White has demonstrated to me the abject failure of low-ecclesial Anabaptistism. There were so many gaping holes in both White’s and Sabin’s constructions you could drive a Mack Truck through this whole debate. Neither White nor Sabin spoke as if they were aware or had any commitments to any kind of Ontological or Philosophical structure whatsoever. The entire thing was a typical Anabaptist Smörgåsbord of an endless array of dis-connected ideas and structure-less polemics that will never end. Baptist religion has failed and will continue to fail and produce thousands upon thousands of never ending divisions within Christianity just like Samuel Rutherford warned us of in the 17th century with his masterpiece Free Disputation.
So let’s begin. This debate came in 5 different audio files from Aomin.org and you will notice that I will make reference which as I proceed. I wrote this article once and then it bombed out in my jump drive and I am writing it again in a much more brief edition. Enjoy!
James defines his view, at 11:00 to about 12:30
“Within the one Being that is God there exists eternally three co-equal and co-eternal persons namely, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit…three persons that fully and completely share that one divine being…We recognize that distinction everyday. We recognize the distinction between being and person when we look out over this audience. We are all human beings. We have that in common, and yet each one of us is a different person…we use the same distinction when discussing the nature of God.”
1. To say that the three persons share a single nature, he has to be saying that the One God is composed of three parts, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. James Anderson seems to think that William Lane Craig holds to this position and if he is right then I commend Craig for his clarity and his consistency. In this case one would have to deny Absolute Divine Simplicity and therefore abandon any kind of Thomist or Van Tillian Epistemology as I have demonstrated here: https://eternalpropositions.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/taking-steve-hays-to-task-on-archetypalectypal-knowledges-dependency-on-divine-simplicity/
2. With White’s admission that “We recognize the distinction between being and person when we look out over this audience. We are all human beings. We have that in common, and yet each one of us is a different person…we use the same distinction when discussing the nature of God”, he is admitting that Generic unity among the divine persons is the correct view and not the Numeric unity view as I have demonstrated was the Nicene view that the West and the East later rejected:
This is devastating to his position of one numerical being and to Latin Theology in general.
At 29:22 Sabin mentions Psalm 2 and Heb 1 where it says that Christ is begotten. The same can be read in Acts 13:33. Sabin says this implies a created Sonship.
James white says Psalm 2 is applied to Christ in a messianic sense and then he denies the Son has any origination. At 30:29 White says, “…if you’re saying begettal is some sort of creation concept I would strongly disagree with that, especially in light of the fact uh, that Monogenes does not mean created. Uh, but is in fact is an emphasis on the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.”
Sabin responds 30:44, “The creeds always say however, ‘begotten before all worlds’, not that his is a unique Son…How do you reconcile that with the fact that uh, that he is begotten in time?”
White responds 31:05, “Again I think that has to do with his Messianic role not with his being as a person.”
Did you catch that folks? The generation of the Son, in the context of the Nicene Creed’s affirmation “begotten before all worlds” on White’s view does not pertain to his being as a person but his uniqueness and his created messianic role. This is complete heresy. This is heresy even on the Latin Theology that the Westminster Divines believed. Rutherford says,
“There be two parts (as it were) of the Covenant of Redemption. 1.) A covenant of Designation. 2.) Of actual Redemption. The former is eternal…the other part , the Man Christ , until he should be Man and have a man’s will, he could not in two wills close with the covenant of actual redemption.” [Samuel Rutherford, The Covenant of Life Opened, (Originally published in Edinburgh 1654, Andro Anderson. Reprinted by Puritan Publications and edited by Matthew McMahon, 2005), 438]
Just as there are two aspects to Christ’s Sonship divine (eternal) and human (temporal), so there are two aspects to this covenant (The Covenant of Redemption), one eternal and the other temporal. The Son, comprehended by both aspects of his Sonship obeys the decree of the Father. People who think it is contingent often cross their language later in their writings when they admit the COR cannot be broken (as contrasted with the covenant of grace) because of the nature of the parties. I prefer the wording “Terms of the Covenant” rather than a condition. The work of Christ is a term of the covenant that will be fulfilled. This can hold the same meaning when someone says that his work is conditional if one who says so makes clear that there are no contingencies in God.
The Sum of Saving Knowledge states,
“2b The sum of the Covenant of Redemption is this: God having freely chosen to life a certain number of lost mankind, for the glory of his rich grace, did give them, before the world began, to God the Son, appointed Redeemer, that, upon condition he would humble himself so far as to assume the human nature, of a soul and a body, to personal union with his divine nature, and submit himself to the law, as surety for them, and satisfy justice for them, by giving obedience in their name, even to the suffering of the cursed death of the cross, he should ransom and redeem them all from sin and death, and purchase to them righteousness and eternal life, with all saving graces leading there to, to be effectually, by means of his own appointment, applied in due time to every one of them. This condition the Son of God (who is Jesus Christ our Lord) did accept before the world began, and in the fulness of time came into the world, was born of the Virgin Mary, subjected himself to the law, and completely paid the ransom on the cross: But by virtue of the foresaid bargain, made before the world began, he is in all ages, since the fall of Adam, still upon the work of applying actually the purchased benefits of the elect; and that he does by way of entertaining a covenant of free grace and reconciliation with them, through faith in himself; by which covenant, he makes over to every believer a right and interest to himself, and to all his blessings”
Moreover in Westminster Confession 2.3 we read, “The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.”
We read the same in the London Baptist Confession of 1689, 2.3, “the Son is eternally begotten of the Father”.
All of these documents affirm that the begotten-ness of the Son pertains to his being as a person eternally, not with reference to his incarnational activity. With reference to the Psalm 2, Hebrews 1, Acts 13:33 passage, Samuel Clarke says in his Modest Plea,
“There are indeed figurative and metaphorical senses, wherein persons may very elegantly be said to be begotten or generated into a New State when they are invested with some extraordinary New Powers, Thus God is said in Scripture to have Begotten us unto a lively Hope by the Resurrection of Christ from the Dead [1 Pet 1:3-DS]. And to Christ himself, upon his being raised from the Dead, he saith, (Acts xiii;, 33,) Thou art my Son, This Day have I begotten thee. But never was That, stiled in any senfe a Generating or Begetting, before which the person generated was Every thing he could be after it; A Generating, which implied in it “- No Change at all, no not so “much as in any Mode of Existence; “No Change “more,” than there is in “God the Father “ himself, upon Every ” New Act”‘ or Exertion of his Power. What the Writers before and at the time of the Council of Nice, call the Generation of the Son ‘, always means a Real Generation…by which he was really…generated from the Father by his Power and Will.”
The point that he is making is that the term ‘begotten’ can have a figurative or spiritual meaning that a person has been transformed into a new state of being, not into being, but into a new state of being with new qualities or powers. However, eternal generation refers not to a person being brought into a new state but the generation of a person absolutely.
The word “today” or “this day” refers to the day of the resurrection where Jesus did not ontologically generate from the Father, but spiritually received a new state with new powers just like the elect do in 1 Pet 1:3 (same greek word-gennaō).
This is the man that rules Reformed Apologetics. Lord have mercy.