Only Begotten

Ellen White has often been accused of denying the divinity of Christ in the beginning of her ministry. This is because statements in her writings speak of Jesus being begotten of the Father in eternity.

We do not know which statements have been referred to, but perhaps the following may be one of them. “The Eternal Father, the unchangeable one, gave His only-begotten Son, tore from His bosom Him who was made in the express image of His person, and sent Him down to earth to reveal how greatly He loved mankind.” Review & Herald. Jul 9. 1895.

Did Ellen White deny Christ’s divinity? 

Of course not.

You see, it is a cardinal belief of Christendom that unless Christ is eternal and without beginning, He cannot be divine. The Roman Catholics do not have a problem as their Son is “eternally begotten”, without beginning.  Creed of Athanasius 

The various branches of the Arians were called heretics because they believed Christ had an origin, although they differed in their understanding of His nature. This is when the accusation first came into being -- not eternal, not divine.

But think it through.

God created fish, birds and animals to reproduce “after their kind”. Genesis 1:21.24.25.  Like is designed to beget like. He created plants to produce their own kind – tomatoes produce tomatoes. Even in the area of the mind, “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7. 

What is true in nature is also true of human beings.

God created Adam and Eve as human beings, and being our parents, we received their nature. This is not strange to us. We are born with a human nature because our mother and father were human beings.

So it is with God. When He gave birth to a Son in eternity, His Son received the same nature as His Father -- a divine nature. It is not difficult to understand.

God’s Son inherited divinity by birth, and was given the name Michael --  מִיכָאֵל. (mee-cha-ayl) He was not a co-equal and co-eternal God, but a begotten Son, “the brightness of His (Father’s) glory, and the express image of His (Father’s)person…” Hebrew 1:3.

Unfortunately, the false idea persists, bringing with it another thought – the Son of God was created.

Bishop Alexander said, “Arius, in direct opposition with the truth, affirmed that the Son of God is merely a creature or created being, adding the famous dictum – there once was a time when He was not…” Alexander 4th century. 

We do not know for certain if Arius believed the Son was created, however, Catholic writers accuse him of it over and over. Two thoughts are combined -- * the Son is a created being and * there was a time when the Son was not -- the latter proving the former.

You may think the Catholic writers prove that Arius believed Jesus was created, however, there are historians who believe it was a false charge against Arius by the Catholic Church. 

Adventist author, Benjamin G. Wilkinson stated, “An erroneous charge was circulated that all who were called Arians believed that Christ was a created being.” Truth Triumphant p92. 1944.

The present writer agrees with this brother because the very same words are repeated in our day, not by Catholics, but Seventh-day Adventists. 

No matter how many times brethren are told -- I don’t believe Jesus was created – we continue to be misrepresented as saying He was created.

Why is this?

It is strange. Probably it is because they are unable to divest from their minds the thought that God’s Son had an origin, therefore He cannot be divine and must be created. It may seem logical, but the premise is not correct. 

The question was asked in 1883, and answered in the Review & Herald. 

Question: Will you please favour me with those Scriptures which plainly say that Christ is a created being?

Answer: You are mistaken in supposing that S. D. Adventists teach that Christ was ever created. They believe, on the contrary, that he was ‘begotten’ of the Father, and that he can properly be called God and worshiped as such. They believe, also, that the worlds, and everything which is, was created by Christ in conjunction with the Father. They believe, however, that somewhere in the eternal ages of the past there was a point at which Christ came into existence. They think that it is necessary that God should have antedated Christ in his being, in order that Christ could have been begotten of him, and sustain to him the relation of son. They hold to the distinct personality of the Father and Son, rejecting as absurd that feature of Trinitarianism which insists that God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit are three persons, and yet but one person. S. D. Adventists hold that God and Christ are one in the sense that Christ prayed that his disciples might be one; i.e., one in spirit, purpose, and labor. Review & Herald. Vol 60. No.16. p250. Apr 17. 1883.

In 1888 at Minneapolis, Elder E.J. Waggoner had to deal with Jesus being created.  He said, “No one who holds this view can possibly have any just conception of the exalted position which Christ really occupies… The Scriptures declare that Christ is ‘the only-

begotten Son of God’. He is begotten, not created. As to when He was begotten, it is not for us to inquire, nor could our minds grasp it if we were told… The point is that Christ is a begotten Son, and not a created subject. He has by inheritance a more excellent Name than the angels; He is ‘a Son over His own house’. (Hebrews 1:4. 3:6)” Christ and His Righteousness p27.29.

The Word who “was with God… was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” John 1:1.14.

The Greek word for begotten in this text is monogenes, which means, (mono) ‘single, sole, alone, only, by themselves’, coupled with gennao, meaning ‘to be’. Thus it means ‘only born, only child, only begotten, single born child’. 

Four verses speak of God’s “only begotten Son” as monogenes. John 1:18. 3:16. 3:18. 1 John 4:9. Another verse says “only begotten of the Father.” John 1:14.  One other verse refers to Abraham’s “only begotten son”, Isaac. Hebrews 11:17. 

The word monogenes is also translated ‘only’, but it still refers to an ‘only begotten’ child. The widow of Nain had a son who was “the only son of his mother.” Luke 7:12. Jairus had “an only daughter” who was sick and died. Luke 8:42. The father with the epileptic son said “he is mine only child.” Luke 9:38. 

The translators of the King James Bible understood the true meaning of monogenes and translated it correctly. In 1611 they wrote, “For God so loued y world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne, that whosoeuer belieueth in him should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.” John 3:16. (The spelling is old English; the word for ‘the’ is a strange letter, a bit like a ‘y’)

It is important to understand what monogenesreally means, as it is fast being eliminated in Christendom, including the Adventist Church.

Why is this so?

It is purported that the Greek really means ‘unique’.

The question was asked of a Greek friend some time ago, What does monogenes mean?  As a Trinitarian, he said, To a Greek it means ‘only begotten’. 

So why are people anxious to eliminate “begotten”?

Not being privy to the minds of the one who came up with the idea, it is not possible to say. Perhaps it was to counter truth!

If Jesus was not begotten of the Father, and does not have His origin from Him, He cannot be truly considered a Son. 

You see, Mary did not just give birth to a child who was born of the Holy Spirit – a human mother and a divine Father. If this is all that took place, we could certainly say Jesus was a completely new person, begotten of a divine Father and a human mother.

However, this is not the truth of Scripture.

“In the councils of heaven, before the world was created, the Father and the Son covenanted together that if man proved disloyal to God, Christ, one with the Father, would take the place of the transgressor, and suffer the penalty of justice that must fall upon him.” MS 145. 1897. Ellen White. 6 Bible Commentary p1070.

When it came time for the incarnation, Michael, God’s only begotten Son, entered the human family. It was not a co-equal person called God the Holy Spirit simply providing seed for the child Jesus to be conceived. 

The Bible says, “… that which was conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” Matthew 1:20. This text, if taken alone, can be seen with a Trinitarian understanding as God the Holy Spirit working the miracle of conception upon Mary. But how then did God the Father become the Father of Jesus? 

If each person of a Trinitarian God is co-equal and co-eternal, and the Holy Spirit was the divine Agent involved in the conception, what part did ‘God the Son’ play in the whole process? 

The relationship between the Father and the Son becomes confusion.

The truth is that God’s divine Son clothed Himself with a body through the Spirit in the womb of Mary in a way we do not understand. The Psalmist says, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire…” Psalm 40:6. The apostle Paul, when speaking of Christ, added the words to his quotation of the psalm, “but a body hast thou prepared me.” Hebrews 10:5.

Ellen White said, “Christ, at an infinite cost, by a painful process, mysterious to angels as well as to men, assumed humanity. Hiding His divinity, laying aside His glory, He was born a babe in Bethlehem.” Upward Look p90.

The prophet also said that Christ “gained in a new sense the title of the Son of God” when He took on humanity.  “While the Son of a human being, He became the Son of God in a new sense. Thus He stood in our world – the Son of God, yet allied by birth to the human race.” 1 Selected Messages p226.227.

If Jesus became a Son in a ‘new sense’, He must have been a Son prior to coming to this earth. It is not possible to understand the words any other way. 

The last sentence in the quotation makes clear the truth. “He stood in our world – the Son of God, yet allied by birth to the human race.” The Son of God and the human race existed separately, yet they have been joined together (allied) ‘by birth’. The little word ‘yet’ is the key that links together two realities.

God asks us to accept this truth and rejoice in it.

“Let us drink in this love, that we may know by experience what a real, tender, joyful, experience there is in a realization of the Fatherhood of God.” Spalding and Magan p69.There's much to see here. So, take your time, look around, and learn all there is to know about us. We hope you enjoy our site and take a moment to drop us a line.