Begetting and Making

The doctrine of the Trinity is a multi-faceted doctrine loaded with glorious truth after glorious truth. One of those truths is that Jesus Christ was begotten of the Father not made (created). Jesus was not created. If he were created and not begotten he would be a lesser being, he would not be eternal, he would have a beginning, and he would not be God, to name a few.

Now this facet of the Trinity, the truth that Jesus is begotten not made, is a mind bender, no doubt. Just chewing on it for a while presents the thinker with many questions. My goal in this post is not to attempt to answer the questions that arise (something that I will get around to at a later date in another post), but to be able to present you with a quote by C.S. Lewis that he wrote on the difference between “begetting and making”. For now I will leave you to Clive so see if he can shed some light on the subject for you.

One of the creeds says that Christ is the Son of God “begotten, not created”; and it adds “begotten by his Father before all worlds.” Will you please get it quite clear that this has nothing to do with the fact that when Christ was born on earth as a man, that man was the son of a virgin? We are not now thinking about the Virgin Birth. We are thinking about something that happened before nature was created at all, before time began. “Before all worlds” Christ is begotten, not created. What does it mean?

We don’t use the words begetting or begotten much in modern English, but everyone still knows what they mean. To beget is to become the father of:  to create is to make. And the difference is this. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers, and a bird begets eggs which turn into little birds. But when you make, you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, a man makes a wireless set–or he may make something more like himself than a wireless set: say, a statue. If he is a clever enough carver, he may make a statue which is very like man indeed. But, of course, it is not a real man; it only looks like one. It cannot breathe or think. It is not alive.

Now that is the first thing to get clear. What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Sons of God in the sense that Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind. They are more like statues or pictures of God.

Q. What does it mean that Jesus Christ is begotten of the Father?
A. The phrase “begotten of the Father” means that God the Father reduplicated himself in God the Son wholly, completely, and perfectly.

  1. i’m not sure what i think about the whole “begotten” theory. i think it’s also called “the eternal generation of the Son.” it’s something i don’t know much about and need to study more.

    i’ve recently had a couple lengthy conversations with an older man who has spent a great amount of time studying the trinity. i’m not convinced of his understanding either but i’m still relatively uncomfortable with ascribing to the “eternal generation” theory. but i do enjoy thinking about all of it and i think it is a worthy pursuit. thanks for posting it.

  2. Good to hear from you my man. Sorry I missed you when you were in our neck of the woods the other day. I was hoping to see you at LBC when you were up here, but I understand you were doing things with your new family.

    Ran into your father-in-law at the Marion game the other night. It is always a pleasure to see THE Dave Sipe.

    Yeah, am definitely going to be posting some more information on my studies of the Trinity. Hopefully you will find it interesting and worthy of conversation. I understand I put out a pretty dense subject and not a whole lot explanation.

    My next post will be on why it is absolutely necessary that God be Trinity. I think that when that topic is tackled it helps to make sense why God the Son is best described as ‘eternally begotten, not made (created)’.

    Always a pleasure to converse with a true theologian. Keep up the Baxter commentary. I love it.

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