A Third Position?
As stated in my previous post on this subject, I started out with the belief that the Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God in both His deity as well as in His humanity (a belief that the Incarnation Sonship advocates reject, in that they affirm His deity but not the Sonship of His deity). I cannot say that my stance on this matter has either changed or remained the same… I must simply claim that I have no strong conviction either way and that the subject matter is beyond me at this point (perhaps, if God leads me to come back to it, He will grant me further insight).
For now, whereas the eternal sonship position is the one that seems most right and logical to me (perhaps I’m just falling back on the familiar argument, not having really read and understood it as fully as I should), I cannot dismiss, discredit, or refute the works of Mr. Gilbert Beebe and/or Mr Samuel Trott on the matter. At this time, I have yet to find the writings of Mr. James Wells (of the Surrey Tabernacle) and Mr. John Andrew (J.A.) Jones to read their arguments on the matter, so I will focus on the writings of Mr. Beebe and Mr. Trott.
Some of the works of these two men on the matter can be found in the following links:
- Eternal Generation
- On the Sonship of Christ
- Reply to brethren: Sonship & Union
- Views on Genesis 3:22
- Three-Oneness of God
Concerning the article (On the Sonship of Christ), we read the following excerpt (which I find particularly intriguing and which I believe must be read in light of the entirety of the context to be fully understood… if any, including myself, can fully understand it):
But the scriptures I think reveal a far safer repository for the believer’s life than any created being could be, even God Himself, as I shall notice. It must then be that the new man of the believer, that by which he is manifested as the seed of Christ, is distinct both from the Godhead and from humanity. It is not earthly like humanity, but spiritual and heavenly. It is not independent in its powers of action like the Godhead. To will is present with the believer, but how to perform that which is good he finds not. But some one will hastily say, why, to represent Christ as the Head of such a distinct life, would be to represent Him as possessing a third nature distinct from His Godhead and humanity. And does this alarm you, my brother? Though you may not have thought of it in this form, yet have you not in substance believed it. Do you feel that you are as young gods? Or do you believe with the Arminian that regeneration is nothing but giving a new bias to the old nature? If so, it will be of no use to argue this point with you. But if you believe a new principle, a living principle of holiness, righteousness and love is imparted in regeneration, and that this was derived from Christ as the Head, do you not believe that it had a previous existence in Him, and that you therefore existed in Him, in this life, before the foundation of the world? Or what was the existence you then had in Him?
But to the law and to the testimony on the point. Let us come to the 1st of John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” This Word then who, whilst He is declared as distinct from one who is also God, is declared to be God, and the Maker of all things, must have been essentially life itself. When therefore it is affirmed in vs.4 that, “In Him was life,” it must refer to a life in Him, distinct from His essential existence. “And the life was the light of men.” Can there be any mistake then in understanding this life as being the life which is communicated in regeneration, and which delivers from the power of darkness? But this was in Him distinct from His essential existence as God. It is also distinct from His humanity; for it is afterwards, vs.14, affirmed of Him that He was made flesh. Need I bring any further proof to the point? We have it in vs.14, compared with vs.16, and with II Tim.1:9, as well as in other texts. That which was His glory, as the only begotten of the Father, was His fullness of grace and truth, of which all believers have received. And truly the life they derive from Christ is grace and truth compared with their life in Adam.
One point more. Does this view of the Sonship of Christ derogate from His divine and essential glory as God? Not in the least. His person is more exalted in this view of the subject, for whilst He is the Son of God, He is absolutely Jehovah, equally with the Father. This life which is the begotten of God exists in the Word or Son, as God, – it never has, nor ever will exist separate from the Godhead, either in the Son or in His people. In Him was life. And of His people He says unto His Father: “I in them and thou in me.” John 17:23. As the only begotten Son He is said to be in the bosom of the Father. John 1:18. As Christ He is hid in God, for the life of His people are hid with Him in God. Col.3:3. This life does not exist in His people without God. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” I Cor.3:16. See also I John 4:12-15,16; and John 14:15,16. Although believers are conscious of a principle distinct from nature being in them, from the holy and heavenly desires they have, and from the warfare within, which could not exist were there not two opposite principles within; yet this new principle has no independent powers of action. The believer cannot of himself exercise faith on a single promise, nor bring into exercise a single holy affection to the suppression of those which are unholy. And so we are told, “It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do, of His good pleasure.” Phil.2:13. Christ says, “without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. Herein perhaps is where some have confounded the Holy Ghost, which is God, with the spirit of Christ or the spirit of God’s Son which the believer has, Rom.8:9; Gal.4:6, because the Holy Ghost dwells with such.
I am convinced that the position put forth in the quoted text above is not the incarnate sonship stance proposed by some others (who make the Lord’s Sonship a matter of Him being the Son of Man, the Son of David, and/or the resurrected Christ). Although in my own mind I can neither affirm nor refute the position of Mr. Beebe and Mr. Trott, I can state that I reject the seemingly more popular (incarnate) sonship arguments put forth by those associated with the letgodbetrue.com website (see, for instance, http://www.letgodbetrue.com/sermons/pdf/sonship-of-christ.pdf). I strongly believe that their arguments contain far too many holes, with certain clear passages dismissed or brushed away in the most haphazard fashion. I simply do not see it as being a fully thought out doctrine in light of Scripture.
So where does this leave me as it pertains to my first post? Well, it leaves me as someone who:
- Wishes that he had the works of James Wells and John Andrew (J.A.) Jones to review (in light of Proverbs 18:13 “He that answereth a matter before he heareth [it], it [is] folly and shame unto him” and “John 7:51 “Doth our law judge [any] man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?”
- Wishes he had Mr. Beebe and Mr. Trott present to inquire of them concerning some of their views (for clarity’s sake);
- Sees the need to review the Eternal Sonship position and compare it to the thoughts/writings of Beebe and Trott; and more importantly than any of the above:
- Prays that God would give me the wisdom and understanding to rightly discern this matter, to judge between the competing sides, and to not make any hasty and undue judgments concerning it.
At this point, due to work, health, fiery trials, etc, I will most likely put this subject on the “back-burner” until I am led to pick it up again if God so wills. In the meantime, I will worry less about who is saved/unsaved (as it relates to their particular stance on the matter) and will focus more, as God enables, on the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ (and the Godhead of whom He is the fulness bodily) and that union and communion with Him, which is the only source and motivation for true Gospel love, joy, peace, reverence, and obedience. May God comfort the hearts of all of His own, in due season and in due measure, as He so righteously sees fit.