The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (NIV)
1. There are some Trinitarians who insist that the term “Son of God” implies a pre-existence and that Jesus is God. Once the doctrine of pre-existence was propounded, a vocabulary had to be developed to support it, and thus non-biblical phrases such as “eternally begotten” and “eternal Son” were invented. Not only are these phrases not in the Bible or secular literature, they do not make sense. By definition, a “Son” has a beginning, and by definition, “eternal” means “without beginning.” To put the two words together when they never appear together in the Bible or in common usage is doing nothing more than creating a nonsensical term. The meaning of “Son of God” is literal: God the Father impregnated Mary, and nine months later Mary had a son, Jesus. Thus, Jesus is “the Son of God.” “This is how the birth [Greek = “beginning”] of Jesus Christ came about,” says Matthew 1:18, and that occurred about 2000 years ago, not in “eternity past.”
2. When the phrase “Son of God” is studied and compared with phrases about the Father, a powerful truth is revealed. The phrase “Son of God” is common in the New Testament, but the phrase “God the Son” never appears. In contrast, phrases like “God the Father,” “God our Father,” “the God and Father” and “God, even the Father” occur many times. Are we to believe that the Son is actually God just as the Father is, but the Father is plainly called “God, the Father” over and over and yet the Son is not even once called “God the Son”? This is surely strong evidence that Jesus is not actually “God the Son” at all.
3. Anyone insisting that someone is somehow God simply because he is called “Son of God” is going to run into trouble explaining all the verses in the Bible that call other beings “sons of God.” The phrase, “son of God” was commonly used of angels in the Old Testament (see Gen. 6:2; Job 1:6; 2:1 (the phrase in these verses is often translated as “angels”), and used of Israel (Ex. 4:22; etc.). In the New Testament, it is used of Christians, those who are born of God (see 1 John 3:1 and 2—occasionally, “sons” gets translated into “children” to be more inclusive, but the original language is clear). A study of Scripture reveals quite clearly that “son of God” does not in any way mean “God.”
4. Trying to prove the Trinity from the phrase “Son of God” brings up a point that often gets missed in debates about whether or not the Trinity exists, and that point has to do with words and the way they are defined. The Bible was not written in a vacuum, and its vocabulary was in common use in the culture of the times. Words that are spoken “on the street” every day have a meaning. If someone writes a letter, it is natural for the reader to assume that the definitions of the words in the letter are the definitions common to the contemporary culture. If the person writing uses the words in a new or unusual way, he would need to say that in the letter, or the reader might misunderstand what he was saying.
The word “son” is a good example. We know what the word means, and we know that if there is a father and a son, the son came after the father. God is clearly called the Father and Christ is clearly called the Son. Thus, the meaning should be simple and clear. But according to Trinitarian doctrine, the Father and Son are both “eternal.” This teaching nullifies the clear definitions of the words and makes the vocabulary “mysterious.” There is no place in Scripture where the meanings of the words describing the Son are said to be changed from their ordinary meaning to some “new and special” meaning.
To explain the problem their doctrine has created, Trinitarians say that the Son was “eternally begotten,” but that phrase itself creates two problems. First, it is not in Scripture, and leads to the erroneous teaching that the Bible does not contain a vocabulary sufficient to explain its own doctrines. Second, the phrase itself is nonsense, and just lends to the belief that the Bible is basically “mysterious” and cannot be fathomed by the average Christian. After all, “eternal” means “without beginning,” and “begotten” means “born,” which clearly indicates a beginning. The fact that the two words are inherently contradictory is why we say that combining them makes a nonsense word.
The doctrine of the Trinity has caused a number of problems with the vocabulary of the New Testament. For example, Hebrews 1:2 mentions that Jesus Christ was made “heir” by God. By definition, no one is his own heir. To say that Christ is God and then say that Christ is the heir of God is nonsense, and abuses the vocabulary that God used to make His Word accessible to the common Christian and believable to those not yet saved. It changes the simple truth of the Bible into a “mystery” no one can understand.
There are many words that indicate that Jesus was not equal to the Father. Christ was “made Lord”; he was “appointed” by God; he “obeyed” God; he did God’s will and not his own; he prayed to God; he called God “my God,” etc., etc. Trinitarian teaching contradicts the conclusion that any unindoctrinated reader would arrive at when reading these scriptures, and insists that the Father and the Son are co-equal. Trinitarians teach that the human nature (but not the God nature) of Christ was subservient to the Father and that is why the Bible is worded the way it is. We believe that teaching twists the clear and simple words of Scripture, and we point out that there is not one verse that says that Christ had two natures. Historians admit that the doctrine of the two natures was “clarified” late in the debates about the nature of Christ (actually six out of the seven Ecumenical Councils dealt in some way with the nature of Christ), and we believe that the only reason the doctrine of the two natures was invented was to support the Trinity.
The Trinitarian concept of the two natures also forces a “mysterious” interpretation of the otherwise clear verses about Jesus’ humanity. Interpreting the verses about Jesus is quite simple. He was from the line of David and “made like his brothers in every way” (Heb. 2:17). He was “the Last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45) because, like Adam, he was a direct creation of God. Over and over, the Bible calls him a “man.” However, these words are less than genuine if Christ were both 100 percent God and 100 percent man. How can anyone honestly say that Jesus is both fully God and fully man, and then say that he is like his brothers in every way? The standard “explanation” given is that, “It is a mystery and no one can understand it.” We ask the reader to consider carefully the choice before you. We are arguing for reading the words in the Bible and then just believing what they say. We assert that one cannot do that if he believes in the Trinity. Trinitarian doctrine forces the meanings of clear and simple words like “Father,” “Son,” “heir” and “man” to take on new and “mysterious” meanings.
Buzzard, pp. 155-157
Morgridge, pp. 139-142
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