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Rob Bowman

In what sense is Jesus the Son of God?

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Lehi,

The other thread has already had a number of side discussions, so I thought I would start a fresh thread to respond to your three posts about Jesus being the Son of God.

I had written: Most Christians do not agree that Jesus is literally the Father

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1. The term translated

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The only thing those verses describe is that Christ came from God, that he did exist in heaven prior to birth on earth. There is no declaration that Christ is unique in that way, or that man specifically did not exist before birth on this earth.

You are absolutely correct. :P;)

John 3:31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;

John 16:28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

It seems that Rob has a way of seeing things that aren't really there.

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JDave,

Your statements are shown as boxed quotations, with my responses following.

Relying on extrabiblical sources to give you a "Biblical Christian" doctrine seems a bit suspect.

Of course, I did no such thing. Even without any reference to extrabiblical uses, the evidence of Hebrews 11:17 proves that the word monogen?s does not mean only begotten.

While both of these points make sense from a viewpoint of ex nihilo creation, they pose no problem to LDS theology which believes in a premortal existence. So at best these arguments require an additional belief in an ex nihilo creation, and thus require imposing a viewpoint on the scriptures before deriving a "Biblical doctrine" out of them.

You're not following what I said at all. My point was that if Jesus was already the monogen?s Son before he came in the flesh, then the term monogen?s does not denote his coming in the flesh. I do hold to creation ex nihilo, but that issue does not come up here.

The doctrine of Jesus being literally a son does not require any different reading of the scriptures than you have presented here. I would surmise that most LDS agree with your reading that Mary became pregnant through 'supernatural' means, and still profess that those means allowed Christ to be the literal Son of God.

I realize "most LDS" today would like to have their cake and eat it too; that is, they would like to affirm that Jesus is the literal only begotten son of the Father in the flesh, while denying that the Father literally performed an act of begetting. Be that as it may, the fact that Matthew uses wording with regard to the Holy Spirit's role that we would expect to be reserved for the Father's role--if the Father is a literal man who literally begat Jesus in the flesh--is very good evidence against the LDS doctrine.

It is true that some things in the Bible are figurative and some are literal. Ascribing such a property to particular verses, with the only motivation for it being to justify a preexisting conception of what they should mean, is arbitrary and at best circumstantial.

Again, this is an inaccurate assessment of my motivation or reasoning. I told you I was only summarizing my position (in response to a question). The evidence of the context of Colossians 1:15 flatly disproves the idea that Paul means that Jesus is the first creature born among all creatures. Paul goes on immediately to state that all created things were created in, through, and for him (v. 16). He cannot be one of those things if all of those things came into existence through and for him.

The only thing those verses describe is that Christ came from God, that he did exist in heaven prior to birth on earth. There is no declaration that Christ is unique in that way, or that man specifically did not exist before birth on this earth.

I think you responded too quickly on this one. You should go through them again and reflect on what they are saying in context.

As much as I might like to adopt my dog, it will never transform it into something that I could term a child.

Your statement assumes that the adopted being must fit the description of "child" literally.

Also this is an argument that other human beings are not literally children of God.

Indeed.

Is there some verse describing how Christ was also adopted to become the Son of God? Otherwise your comparison to Christ is somewhat strained in addition to the internal inconsistencies of this argument.

I don't see any such problem. The one and only real Son of God by nature became a human being in order that those who believe in him might become adopted, Spirit-transformed brothers and sisters of that one divine Son. The statement does not in any way imply or require that the divine Son also be adopted.

By the way, there are a lot of biblical texts I cited on these points that you are simply missing or ignoring.

To deny an infinte, all powerful God the ability to sire a son seems presumptive and contradictory.

I am concerned with what the Bible says that God is and that God has actually done, not what you argue God might do. If God is infinite, transcendent, omnipresent Spirit, then the LDS reasoning (if God is an exalted Man then it makes sense for him to be the literal father of Jesus in the flesh) falls apart.

Please explain what aspects of the earthly father/son relationsip are held by Christ and God the Father.

Okay:

* equality of nature

* mutual love and honor

* the Son acting as the agent of the Father

Those would be the main ones, off the top of my head.

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Vance,

You wrote:

It seems that Rob has a way of seeing things that aren't really there.

In this case, the problem is that you are not seeing things that are there.

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It

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Vance,

In this case, the problem is that you are not seeing things that are there.

Please feel free to show me in those verses where it ACTUALLY says what you are claiming.

Specifically, where they clearly and plainly say "Jesus is the only human being who existed in heaven prior to his human life".

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1. The term translated

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Actually, it does!

monogenous (John 1:14) literally means "OF-ONLY-generated".

Clearly "only begotten" conveys an accurate meaning of "only-generated". You are straining too hard to get away from it.

Rob is right on this. Oddly enough, I was research the same for a rebuttal to a fundamental's post on facebook.

I don't hold that he is right that God the Father is not the literal father of Jesus, but he is spot on with regards to monogenes.

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The term translated

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Actually, people from a Semitic background were more than likely to use it figuratively, especially in the context of one intended for sacrifice.

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Rob,

Since "monogen?s" literally means "only generated", how can it be applied to the pre-mortal Christ in any other way than to mean the generation of the physical body (flesh) of Christ.

In other words, if Christ (the Word) was in the beginning with God (John 1:1), in what way was He the "only generated" one? In what way was He "generated" at all?

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Rob is right on this. Oddly enough, I was research the same for a rebuttal to a fundamental's post on facebook.

I don't hold that he is right that God the Father is not the literal father of Jesus, but he is spot on with regards to monogenes.

New International Version (

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In biblical theology, God is not an exalted, immortal, deified man.

Let's see, Christ is an exalted, immortal, deified man, is He not God?

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By the way, there are a lot of biblical texts I cited on these points that you are simply missing or ignoring.

I simply choose not to play any my verse vs. your verse discussions. They can be valid, but most often are futile and incendiary.

Of course, I did no such thing. Even without any reference to extrabiblical uses, the evidence of Hebrews 11:17 proves that the word monogen?s does not mean only begotten.

The only thing that might prove is that it is not only begotten, the text still refers to the literal offspring of a parent, even if one of many. And Christ is one of many in a broad sense.

You're not following what I said at all. My point was that if Jesus was already the monogen?s Son before he came in the flesh, then the term monogen?s does not denote his coming in the flesh. I do hold to creation ex nihilo, but that issue does not come up here.

You state that if Jesus was the Only Begotten before birth, then it all falls apart. First, the scriptures do at times refer to future events as if they had already happened. Second, I see no problem with Christ being chosen as the Only Begotten before this world, and then fulfilling that calling when he came to earth. If you want to claim that Christ was already begotten before his mortal birth, then you will need to explain what symbolism is being portrayed.

I realize "most LDS" today would like to have their cake and eat it too; that is, they would like to affirm that Jesus is the literal only begotten son of the Father in the flesh, while denying that the Father literally performed an act of begetting. Be that as it may, the fact that Matthew uses wording with regard to the Holy Spirit's role that we would expect to be reserved for the Father's role--if the Father is a literal man who literally begat Jesus in the flesh--is very good evidence against the LDS doctrine.

What are you trying to insinuate about the specific actions the Holy Spirit took? Let's not let this degenerate and remember that it cuts both ways.

Again, this is an inaccurate assessment of my motivation or reasoning. I told you I was only summarizing my position (in response to a question). The evidence of the context of Colossians 1:15 flatly disproves the idea that Paul means that Jesus is the first creature born among all creatures. Paul goes on immediately to state that all created things were created in, through, and for him (v. 16). He cannot be one of those things if all of those things came into existence through and for him.

Indeed He cannot be one of those things since there is this inherent difficulty in instantiating oneself. But then the phrase "all things" is already lacking one thing, and it isn't literally all things. So there isn't much of a proof there. You are not proving it is figurative, you are claiming it is. Thus it is arbitrary.

I think you responded too quickly on this one. You should go through them again and reflect on what they are saying in context.

You are going to have to explain yourself here. The context you are seeing is not transparent.

Your statement assumes that the adopted being must fit the description of "child" literally.

Or at least that it makes some sense to be called a child. The imagery of even becoming a child is stripped of all meaning if one argues that it really only means a really favored piece of property, or at best servant.

I don't see any such problem. The one and only real Son of God by nature became a human being in order that those who believe in him might become adopted, Spirit-transformed brothers and sisters of that one divine Son. The statement does not in any way imply or require that the divine Son also be adopted.

You are trying to refute Christ being a son of God by undermining the idea that human beings are the children of God. You refer to the description of humans as children of God as being simply symbolic, and one of adoption more than kinship. But if you want to use this argument to extrapolate to Christ, then you are claiming his Sonship is not one of kin, but also some other form like adoption. So if you want to tie this argument together you are going to need to show how it relates to Christs relationship as a son of God.

I am concerned with what the Bible says that God is and that God has actually done, not what you argue God might do. If God is infinite, transcendent, omnipresent Spirit, then the LDS reasoning (if God is an exalted Man then it makes sense for him to be the literal father of Jesus in the flesh) falls apart.

Then you are requiring a viewpoint of God as some immaterial transcendent thing to be held in order to make the position of Christ as a Son of God fall apart. One might interpret the Bible this way, but one shouldn't use that interpretation as evidence in support of an additional interpretation of the Bible.

Okay:

* equality of nature

* mutual love and honor

* the Son acting as the agent of the Father

Those would be the main ones, off the top of my head.

I don't really have an argument here. I was mostly curious what aspects you considered viable here. Really you didn't have an argument either, more of a summary of what sort of explanation could make any rational sense in the absence of a true parental relationship.

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]The evidence of the context of Colossians 1:15 flatly disproves the idea that Paul means that Jesus is the first creature born among all creatures. Paul goes on immediately to state that all created things were created in, through, and for him (v. 16). He cannot be one of those things if all of those things came into existence through and for him.

Not sure this follows. If I am the inventor of SuperRobots, and I make first SuperRobot Prime, and then utilize SuperRobot Prime in the making of all other SuperRobots, can I not say both that SuperRobot Prime was chronologically the first of all created SuperRobots, but that also all SuperRobots were made through SuperRobot Prime? Would not the rational listener assume that SuperRobot Prime did not create himself, and was rationally except from the inclusivity of that statement?

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Rob is right on this. Oddly enough, I was research the same for a rebuttal to a fundamental's post on facebook.

I don't hold that he is right that God the Father is not the literal father of Jesus, but he is spot on with regards to monogenes.

I also don't see an issue with Rob's usage here. I have seen it as more of a title for Christ anyway, hence the repetition that Vance pointed out. See especially Moses chapter 1.

Edit: noted that Vance's repetition was different translations, not different verses. It is still a repeated name-title in the scriptures.

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Lehi,

You wrote:

I reject this position because it is unnecessary. God does not call Jesus anything but His son.

Actually, he does. In the very context in which John introduces the term monogen?s in reference to Jesus, John also calls Jesus the Logos (Word). But you don't think Jesus is a literal word, do you? Of course not.

In other figurative (or analogical) uses, there is always something that tells us it is not straightforward. Yet we have both Old and New Testaments telling us that God is the biological Father of Jesus:

You then quoted the NT references that quote Psalm 2:7 (Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5). But Lehi, these texts themselves prove that the language is not literal. These texts all apply this text in the context of Jesus' resurrection--not, as LDS doctrine would have it, in the context of his conception.

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Vance,

You wrote:

Actually, it does! monogenous (John 1:14) literally means "OF-ONLY-generated".

Clearly "only begotten" conveys an accurate meaning of "only-generated". You are straining too hard to get away from it.

You might want to consult a lexicon or other standard reference work on this point. Something like 99.9% of biblical scholars agree with what I am saying. I'm not even breaking a sweat on this one.

You wrote:

Let's see. A descendant of Isaac is saying that Isaac is Abraham's monogen?s (ONLY-generated) and this is supposed support your supposition? Of all the sons of Abraham, who was the only one that received the promises? See verse 18 for context.

I'm all for context. But Vance, you are now reinterpreting monogen?s to mean "only son that received the promise," not "only son that was begotten literally in the flesh." So you're now inadvertently agreeing with me that it doesn't mean "only begotten"--a thought that will probably send you screaming to the showers. :P

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Lehi,

You seem to have missed Thayer's first definition.

Words often do not mean the combination of their etymological components. For example, the meaning of "butterfly" will not be elucidated by breaking the word into "butter + fly." The word "nice" derives from the Latin nescio, which meant ignorant. That one's good for all sorts of jokes.

In any case, lexical scholars disagree with the older etymological analysis you provided of monogene?s. It does not derive from monos (only) plus ginomai (come to be), but almost certainly from monos (only) plus genos (kind). Hence, most scholars today agree that the word means "only one of its kind," not "only begotten."

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Vance,

You wrote:

Let's see, Christ is an exalted, immortal, deified man, is He not God?

Your premise is incorrect. Christ is not a deified man. Even in LDS theology, Christ was a God before he became a man.

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Rob is right on this. Oddly enough, I was research the same for a rebuttal to a fundamental's post on facebook.

I don't hold that he is right that God the Father is not the literal father of Jesus, but he is spot on with regards to monogenes.

David Larsen has an interesting post that mentions the parallels between Isaac and Jesus.

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Rob is right on this. Oddly enough, I was research the same for a rebuttal to a fundamental's post on facebook.

You'll have to show me, because it doesn't make sense to claim that a figurative interpretation should take precedence over a literal one when the literal is both possible and more reasonable.

Lehi

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Although a reasonable interpration for God being the literal Father of Jesus can be made from the bible, I think when it comes to the LDS faith other scritpure is used and it is much more plain. I see nothing here that Rob has shown that offers a contradiction to the idea that Jesus is a literal physical son of God teh Father.

What I mean by a contradiction is something stated with in the text of the bible that says that he is not the physical offspring from God the Father.

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4. In the one biblical text that speaks of a personal agent in Christ

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