I’m reading Kevin Giles’ new book The Eternal Generation of the Son. I’ve been eagerly waiting for this book because I’ve always held to this doctrine in spite of the encouragement of some of my favorite authors (including three of my former professors at Trinity) to abandon it. Giles sees the move to expunge the doctrine from the modern creedal formulations as a serious error. He could not be clearer when he states that removing the clause “eternally begotten of the Father” from the creeds “opens the door to the Arian error and excludes what the Nicene fathers inserted to safeguard the two absolutely essential elements in the Nicene trinitarian doctrine of God: the full divinity of the Son and his distinct personal identity as the Son of the Father.” (27) So who wants to get rid of this doctrine? I’ve assembled a chart showing who wants to eliminate the doctrine and those who advocate keeping it.
Let’s Get Rid of It
Let’s Keep It
|J. Oliver Buswell
John S. Feinberg
William Lane Craig
Jung S. Rhee
Keith E. Johnson
Giles gives credit to Korean theologian Jung S. Rhee who argues that Charles Hodge, his son A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield laid the ground work to abandon the doctrine as they expressed serious questions and doubts about the it. (30-31)
Why does such a distinguished list of Evangelical thinkers want to get rid of this doctrine? Giles offers a summary of objections:
1) It has no ‘biblical warrant.’ This is their first and most important objection.
2) It reflects Neo-Platonic thinking about God more than Christian thinking.
3) It makes no sense.
4) Nothing theologically important is lost if it is abandoned.
5) There are better ways to eternally differentiate the Father and the Son.
6) It implies or necessarily involves the eternal subordination of the Son, even the Arian heresy. (36-37)
Giles says that while the book is not structured around these objections he “will address them all.” (37) This looks to be a very promising read.