<The ChalcedonianFormula Declares the “begotten” of the Humanity of Christ>
Dated: 2016-05-24 12:06:50
(1) The Chalcedonian uses the following way to discuss the divinity and humanity of Christ:
co-essential with the Father according to the Godhead, the Self-same co-essential with us according to the Manhood; like us in all things, sin apart; before the ages begotten of the Father as to the Godhead, but in the last days, the Self-same, for us and for our salvation (born) of Mary the Virgin Theotokos as to the Manhood; One and the Same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten; acknowledged in Two Natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the difference of the Natures being in no way removed because of the Union, but rather the properties of each Nature being preserved, and (both) concurring into One Person and One Hypostasis; not as though He were parted or divided into Two Persons, but One and the Self-same Son and Only-begotten God, Word, Lord, Jesus Christ;
Please pay special attention to the following sentence: “but in the last days, the Self-same, for us and for our salvation (born) of Mary the Virgin Theotokos as to the Manhood”. I have found an English translation:
...as far as his divinity goes, begotten of the Father before the ages, but as far as his humanity goes begotten for us and our salvation of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God;
(This translation is from Jonathan Hill’s <The History of Christian Thought>, some of North American theological seminaries take it as a must-read textbook.)
“begotten” in English means “begotten”. Which is also, according to the divinity, Jesus Christ is “begotten” from Holy Father; according to humanity, Jesus Christ is also “begotten”, but through Virgin Mary.<Chalcedonian Formula> calls Virgin as “the Mother of God” (Greek Theotokos mean “The human bears God”) could easily trigger misunderstandings and arguments, but the Formula itself stress at the fact that the person born from Mary is Son of God, this is a side-protray of Incarnation, also a fight-back against Nestorianism.
However, I want the reader to recognize that the way how “begotten” is used. < Chalcedonian Formula >’s Greek text only use once of γεννηθέντα, which means begotten or is born from (English translation is begotten or born), only used for the description of Christ’s divinity in the first half of the phrase, and is absent in the later half. In order to make the later half more readable, English translators always add on the words begotten or born, such as the translation in the English Wiki:
...before the ages begotten of the Father as to the Godhead, but in the last days, the Self-same, for us and for our salvation (born) of Mary the Virgin Theotokos as to the Manhood;
In summary, when < Chalcedonian Formula > treats the origins for the divinity and humanity of Christ, it uses the same greek wordγεννηθέντα/ begotten/born, means “begotten” or “is born from”. This proofs that < Chalcedonian Formula > does not recognize the divinity of Christ as “begotten” and humanity as “creatd”, but also stresses the humanity of Christ as “begotten”.
On one hand, we confess that Christ is born from Virgin Mary, means his humanity and Mary’s humanity are con-substantial, this is a confirmation of the truth humanity assumed by Jesus; at the other hand, Mary as “Mother of God”, which is also “the human who bears God”, her Son is not just a human son, but also the only-begotten Son of God --- Heavenly Father makes conception in Mary, then, Son of God is born through Mary as son of man, processed both divinity and humanity at the same time. Under the operation and power of Holy Spirit, Holy Father “beget” the Son through Virgin. From the eternal relationship of the Trinity among the three distinct persons, Father ‘beget’ Son through the Holy Spirit; from the historical event of the Incarnation, Father ‘beget’ the Holy Son as man through Holy Spirit and Mary --- the former is the “begotten” from eternity, the later is the historical “begotten”. Mary participated into the historical “begotten”, the “begotten” Holy Son is added by a “begotten” humanity. We will discuss the resurrection of Jesus is also the “begotten” of Holy Son in the history, which is also Holy Father made the dead Jesus – who is both Holy Son and Human Son --- through Holy Spirit to resurrect. According to this, the Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus are both the extension of Holy Father’s “begotten” of Holy Son in history and time.
< Chalcedonian Formula > heavily emphasizes on Jesus’ “begotten” from Father, because the nature of “begotten” and “created” is different. Arianism claimed that Son is created, the Heresy of Witness Lee claimed that Christ is created (and sonized of the humanity of Christ) are both mistaken.
< Chalcedonian Formula > did not make up its view of the “begotten” of both the divinity and humanity of Christ, this is biblical view. Bible talks about Jesus Christ’s ”begotten”, which is not limited to “the eternal birth”, at the resurrection of Jesus Christ, bible also uses the word “begotten”. Act 13 records Paul preached at Antiach, uses the verse from Psalms 2:7:
“You are my Son, I have begotten you.”
NRSV translates as “I have begotten you”, in both Herew (יְלִדְתִּֽיךָ׃/yalad) and Greek (γεγέννηκά), both words mean “begotten”, not “created”. Paul used this verse to proof Bible did talk about Jesus’ resurrection, and connect it with the “begotten” of Holy Son from holy Father. This verse has a great theological meanings in NT, it tells us, either from the viewpoint of eternity or any moment in history, Jesus is “begotten” from God, not “created” from God. Witness Lee and his Local Church followers intentionally confuse the different of the nature of “begotten” and “created”, they believe that “begotten” is “created”, this is a violation to biblical teaching. If we equals “begotten” to “created”, then, the prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus in Psalms has to be explained as Jesus is “created” as the Son of God at the moment of Resurrection, this is of course absurd.
Under the same principle, when Bible mentions Jesus is born from Mary, Angle spoke to mary ：“the Son is going to be born, shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). We cannot confuse the “begotten” here as “created”: if the humanity pregnant by Holy Spirit in Mary is be comprehended as Jesus is created in humanity, then, the “Son of God” becomes “created”. Another verse is Galatians 4:4, Paul spoke of “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law”, the “begotten/sent forth” here cannot be taken as “created”. < Chalcedonian Formula > emphasized on the “begotten” of the humanity of Christ, which is in accord with the revelation of Bible.
Therefore, Bible reveals, regardless at the month on Christ’s birth, or at the moment of His resurrection, his relationship with Father is ALWAYS “begotten” from Holy Father, not “created” by Holy Father or (Holy Spirit). The theology generates from here is, even Christ as an human born in the world has a beginning in history and time, His resurrection also happened at a moment in the history, all these facts cannot make Jesus as a “creature” --- regardless his birth or his resurrection cannot change the fact that He is “begotten” in the humanity from the Father in the heaven.
Reader might doubt, Holy Father is not an human, how Jesus can be “begotten” in humanity from Holy Father? On one hand, we need to emphasizes again on the persons of the Holy son and Holy Father has an eternal relationship of “begotten”, the life of Son originated from Holy Father, this dynamic life will not be interrupted by the Incarnation or the Conception of the Holy Spirit, but appropriate the actions of Incarnation and Conception of the Holy Spirit into this dynamic life relationship, and manifest this relationship: it also manifest the “economic trinity” through “immense Trinity”; at another hand, we need to emphasize that Jesus is not simply “begotten” from Mary – Mary is not a ordinary mother given to the humanity of Jesus – but, Holy Father “beget” Jesus through Mary --- Holy Father “beget” Holy Son as an human by the power of Holy Spirit through Mary as a vessel, therefore, the action of assuming humanity from Mary is an action of “begotten” of Holy Son, not an action of “be created”. Jesus is eternally “first-born”, not “created”; Jesus is an unique “begotten” human, not a “created” human; the humanity of Jesus is not “created”, but “begotten”.
The “begotten” in divinity has no beginning,; His “begotten” in time has beginnings, one at birth, one at resurrection. For the birth and resurrection of Christ could be comprehended as: eternal Logos get into time, and bring time back into eternity; eternal Holy Son became man, to bring the believers back into eternity.
“Holy Son (Logos) in eternity, through the operation of Holy Spirit, beget in the eternity from Holy Father, when Holy Spirit came to Mary, appropriated the “biological process” of Holy Son’s Incarnation into the eternal “begotten” of the Holy Father, this is the “meaning” of Christ’s assumption of humanity.” (Li, Jin-Lun, <Incarnation as the Source of Salvation>, 171. Li is a Chinese/Taiwaness Reformed Theologian, who is a member of International Augustine Association. Li in fact stresses that Christ has a created humanity in the same book. :) )
In another words, Bible testifies, the humanity of Christ shall not be considered as “created” at the moment of birth and resurrection, but “begotten”. The birth of Jesus Christ shall be seen as the extension of Holy Son’s eternal “begotten” from Holy Father in the human history, only Mary participated into the action of “begotton” of the Holy Son in the history. The key is, Jesus Christ as Holy Son “begotten” eternally, and Jesus Christ as man “begotten” in a moment in history, and His “resurrection” – “begotten”, “got birth”, “resurrection” – are all inter-related, not separated and divided. There is a junction between eternity and history, which appropriate the history an eternal meaning, this junction is the incarnation of Jesus Christ and his resurrection from the dead : the inauguration of the eschatology and the interruption of the kingdom of God begun here, this is the turning point of human history and peak of soteological history.
century, the doctrine of trinity has an important advancement by receiving the view of “immanent trinity” and “economic trinity”, combine them, not separate them, and make them harmonious： “immanent trinity” is “economic trinity”; “economic trinity” is also “immanent trinity. This means that the Trinitarian God’s self-manifestation in economic works, which is in accordance with the Trinitarian life in the eternity. For example: historical incarnation, conception of Holy Spirit, all reflected the eternal “begotten” of Holy Son from Holy Father; the proceeding of Holy Spirit by Holy Father and Holy Son (or by Holy Father through Holy Son) to the disciples, also reflected the eternal proceeding of the Holy Spirit by Holy Father and Holy Son (or by Holy Father through Holy Son).
“Another important theological development is the study and re-consideration of the dynamic-eternal conception contained in the Bible by the theological circle. Church Fathers has two views about the eternity, one is to put the eternity against time, another, consider eternity contains time, the later one is the view of dynamic-eternal view. Palms’ “from eternity to eternity, you are God” speak of the eternity of God bypasses the time of created world, and time is at the same time contained in the eternity. Historical time is relatively limited compared with eternity, but, every moment of historical time – “Now”, is related to eternity --- every moment in universe all ontologically shares the eternity of God’s Life”, “because they are related to eternity, therefore, they are ontologically real.”” (Li, Jin-Lun, <Ever-Living God as Lord of Life>, 257)
We need to pay attention to the action of Holy Father ‘beget’ holy Son through Holy Spirit is an action of “eternal begotten”, it is not on any time moment: in the eyes of Arianism, the existence of Holy Son has a beginning in time, this means that Holy Spirit is created. Trinitarian God’s relationship between his three persons is not statistic, by dynamic-eternal. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternally ‘inter-penetrated’ (perichoresis), inter-communicated. In another words, according to the eternal Trinitarian relationship, the “begotten” of Holy Son from Holy Father is a eternal-dynamic relationship, there is no beginning of “begotten”, there is also not end point of “begotten”.(Therefore, “begotten or not”, this kind of question cannot be applied on “eternal begotten”). But, for the incarnated Jesus Christ, He experienced the human birth, and resurrection in humanity, therefore, regardless Incarnation or Resurrection from dead, all shall be comprehended as the extension of “eternal begotten” in a given moment in history.
“… the resurrection of Christ, is in accord with the eternal-internal Trinitarian relationship, Son is begotten eternally from Father, with help from Holy Spirit … in the process of Incarnation, the biological development of Jesus’ flesh is appropriated into eternal begotten, Holy Son lives in a flesh; the event of Jesus’ resurrection, is the resurrection inaugurated from eternal begotten … “ (Li, Jin-Lun, <Incarnation as the Source of Salvation>, 146).
Paul used Psalms 2:7 is indeed a testimony of the resurrection of Christ as fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. But this verse （“You are my Son, I have begotten you”）itself also contain the meaning of eternal begotten, therefore, it is quoted again in Hebrews 1:5, to speak out Jesus’ position and his relationship with Father far pass angles. In Collosians 1:15,18, Paul emphasize Jesus is both “first-born”, not “created”;the humanity of Jesus is assumed by Holy Son, the humanity united with divinity is different with other creatures. Jesus’ humanity, is the humanity “begotten” from Mary through the operation and power of Holy Spirit, and by the Holy Son and Holy Father. The assumption of this humanity is different with the creation of other human beings, is an unique miracle and mystery, therefore, Jesus is NOT a created man, Jesus’ humanity is NOT a created humanity. May all churches declare and testify, Jesus Christ is “become” flesh, and not be “created” as flesh. Amen！