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August 16, 2005

Ch. XVII. Q. 103. The Godhead of Christ

THE DOCTRINE of Christ's Godhead is that the same Jesus Christ, who submitted in His Manhood to the limitations, and conditions of our earthly life, is, and ever has been, "the only begotten Son of God, Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with His Father; By whom, all things were made."1

2. The Old Testament contains anticipations of the later and clear revelation that the divine rank in being is shared by more than one Person; and messianic prophecy indicated that the coming Deliverer was to be divine.2 The New Testament in many passages either describes Jesus Christ as divine or attributes properties and operations to Him which pertain exclusively to God.3 Furthermore His claims as recorded in the Gospels, are such that if He is not God, He is not good—not the ideal man whom many unbelieving writers acknowledge Him to be.4 The manner of the Man, the unique quality and significant value of His miracles,5 and His victory over death alike establish His claims.6 And the vitality and victories of His Church, founded as it is in belief that Jesus Christ is God, confirm the truth of that belief.7

3. It is erroneous to reduce the Godhead of Christ to an apotheosis, or post mortem deification of a righteous man.8 And the supposition that in Him a human child was so filled "with the Spirit that God made Him His adoptive Son and representative, ultimately sharing with Him His own divine majesty, is equally mistaken.9 The truth is that no Person ever existed in Jesus Christ except God, the eternal Word.

4. According to the Arian heresy, the sonship of Christ proves Him to be later in time than the Father and a creature, although the first of creatures and the agent employed in God's creation of other things. Arius erred in failing to perceive that a proper divine sonship is eternal, and that it involves neither division in the Godhead nor essential inferiority of the Son to the Father. Furthermore, unless, as the Nicene Council decided, the Son is ὁμοούσιος, of the self-same essence with the Father, He is not even ὁμοιούσισς, of like essence, but ἑτερούσιος, unlike the Father in essence.10

5. Upon the truth of Christ's Godhead depends the validity of His mediation, which cannot be effectual or absolute, as He taught it to be, if He is external to the Godhead. Thus (a) His prophetic office is that of a final and infallible Revealer, because in Him the fulness of the Godhead is revealed bodily; (b) His priestly office avails, because whatever He did and does for us, whatever He suffered and achieved, was done and endured by very God, and has infinite personal value; (c) Whatever kingly office is fulfilled by Christ is also fulfilled by God, and His rule is the Kingdom of God, of which there can be no end.11

6. The doctrine of Christ's Godhead, rightly defined, (a) protects the idea of God against deism, which separates the Creator from the creature; and against pantheism, which denies their essential difference, often, calling Christ divine, but acknowledging in Him no other Godhead than that in which all men are said to share;12 (b) reveals a plurality of Persons within the Godhead, as against bare unitarianism, and vindicates the self-sufficiency of divine personality in the face of modern critical objections;13 (c) vindicates the truth that God is, on the one hand, transcendent and unapproachable except through a Mediator, and, on the other hand immanent and accessible through the Manhood of God-incarnate; (d) declares the true dignity of human nature, as being capable of assumption without subversion by God Himself;14 (e) makes clear that Christ's example is that of God, apart from which we have no adequate guidance in becoming, as we were created to become, imitators of God; also that the moral strength which He imparts to us as rapidly as we learn by practice how to use it, and which explains His own moral victory, is really divine and invincible.15

1 Trinity, chh. ii-v, passim, vii. 5-6, and viii. 6; Incarnation, ch. iv. and passim; H.P. Liddon, Divinity of Our Lord; Bp. Pearson, Creed, fol. pp. 105-144; A.P. Forbes, Nicene Creed, pp. 126-153,; Archd. Wilberforce, Incarnation, ch. v; E.D. la Touche, Person of Christ, Lec. iii.; H.R. Mackintosh, Doctr. of the Person of Jesus, Bk. III. chh. iv-v, vii, xii.

2 For refs., Q. 61.3, in vol. I. Cf. H. P. Liddon, Lec. ii.

3 St. Matt. x. :37-40; xxviii. 18; St. Luke i. 32-33; St. John i. 1-3, 9, 14; iii. 31; v. 17, 21, 23, 26; viii. 12; xvi. 30; Rom. ix. 5; 2 Cor. iv. 4; Col. i. 13-22; ii. 9; Heb. i. 2-13, 1 St. John i. 1-4; ii. 22-23; v. 12; etc.

4 St. Matt. xi. 27-30; xii. 6; xvi. 16-19; xxv. 31-46; St. Mark xii. 6-10 (cf. St. Luke xx. 13-18); St. John vi. 47-57; viii. 46, 58; x. 30, 37-38; xiv. 6, 8-10; xvi. 15, etc. H.P. Liddon, Lec. iv; E.D. la Touche; H.R. Mackintosh, Bk. I. ch. i.

5 St. Luke vii. 19-23; St. John ii. 23; v. 36; x. 25-38.

6 St. John xx. 26-29. Cf. Rom. i. 4. Cf. G.P. Fisher, Grounds of Theistic and Christ. Belief, chh. viii-ix; A.C. Headlam, Miracles of the New Test.; Chas. Harris, Pro Fide, chh. xxi-xxii; E.D. la Touche, pp. 299-325.

7 St. Matt. xvi. 16-19; xxviii. 20; H.P. Liddon, Lec. iii; Chas. Harris, ch. xxiii.

8 H.P. Liddon, pp. 26-32, 270-276; St. Thomas, III. xvi. 7.

9 St. Thomas, III. xxiii. 4; xxxv. 5; Cath. Encyc., s. v. "Adoptionism"; J.C. Robertson, Hist. of the Christ. Church, vol. III pp. 148-157.

10 Trinity, ch. iii. 10-11; Incarnation, ch. ii. 5; J.F. Bethune-Baker, Early Hist. of Christ. Doctr., ch. xii; J.H. Newman, Arians, pp. 184-192, 201-234; H.P. Liddon, Lec. vii: H.R. Mackintosh, Bk. II. ch. iv; A.P. Forbes, Nicene Creed, pp. 144-153; W. Bright, Lessons from the Lives of Three Great Fathers, pp. 16-25.

11 H.P. Liddon, Lec. viii.

12 H.P. Liddon, pp. 452-459.

13 Trinity, ch. vii. 2; W.J. Sparrow Simpson, Christ, Doctr. of God, Lec. iii. I.

14 2 St. Pet. i. 4. H.P. Liddon, pp. 459-461.

15 K. Theory, ch. vi; Incarnation, ch. viii. 9-12; H.P. Liddon, pp. 494-504.

Posted by AKMA at August 16, 2005 12:18 PM