Birth of God From God
Wednesday of Epiphany 1
11 January 2017
What we moderns know about human procreation should support the Bible's teaching of the eternal begotten-ness of the Son of God from the Father. Heretics presumed that birth implied the creation of an entirely new thing; the coming into being of different substance. So Christ had to have a beginning, and therefore could not be eternal. And there is a spiritual sense in which every person is a new and entirely different being so that although they share genetic traits with their forbearers, they are unique persons as well. However, they are not nova; not entirely new things created out of nothing.
In procreation the genetic material of two persons recombine to make a third person in conception. This is not a creation out of nothing. We call conception procreation because our heavenly Father always participates with us humans in the union of husband and wife. However, this is not creation strictly speaking. The result of the union of husband and wife in the flesh is another human. Nothing else would be expected. Genetically speaking, the human child shares traits with parents and of course, common humanity. Humans give birth to humans because they are not creations out of nothing.
So it is for our heavenly Father. He "gives birth" to a Son. He does not create Him out of nothing, any more than parents conceive a child out of nothing. However, a human conception is a genuine beginning. Human life has a beginning by conception and birth. This is not the case with "birth" of the Son of God. He is begotten in such a way that that has neither a beginning nor an end; it is eternal. We are at a loss to say how this can be, for we humans know of no such thing. We are forced to confess God's wisdom is greater than our own.
Yet it should not surprise us that in the begotten-ness of God there is not a creation or a beginning, but rather an essential coming forth, not in a recombinant relation, but in an identity of essence. Because humans share characteristics from shared genetic material I can be said to be the very image of my earthly father. But we mean this only analogically, by a comparison of traits. In the begetting of the Son of the Father, the Son is the very image of the eternal God, essentially; not analogically. He is not God in comparison to the Father, but He is substantially divine. This is what the Nicene Creed means by "God of God."

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
"God is not begotten from God by the ordinary process of a human childbirth. This is not a case of one being issuing from another by the exertion of natural forces. That birth is pure and perfect and stainless; indeed, we must call it rather a proceeding forth than a birth. For it is One from One; no partition, or withdrawing, or lessening, or efflux, or extension, or suffering of change, but the birth of living nature from living nature.
"It is God going forth from God, not a creature picked out to bear the name of God. His existence did not take its beginning out of nothing, but went forth from the Eternal; and this going forth is rightly entitled a birth, though it would be false to call it a beginning. For the proceeding forth of God from God is a thing entirely different from the coming into existence of a new substance. And though our apprehension of this truth, which is ineffable, cannot be defined in words, yet the teaching of the Son, as He reveals to us that He went forth from God, imparts to it the certainty of an assured faith." 

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 6.35
Psalm 2

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us."  He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.  Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill." 
I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you.  Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."  Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (ESV)
Lord Christ, God of God, You have been eternally begotten of the Father. You have known a relation of Father and Son so close because it is substantial. Your Father knows what it is to have a Son and You know what it is to have a Father. Give all Christian parents this knowing by grace, that they might love their children as Your Father has loved You. Amen.
For Serafin Cruz, who is suffering from cancer, that the Lord would grant the gifts of health and strength
For all teenagers, that loving parents would guide them and they would show proper honor and submission to their parents
For Ellen Brda, who is undergoing chemotherapy, that the Lord would grant her peace and spiritual comfort
Art: DAVID, Gerard  Triptych of Jean Des Trompes (1505)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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