Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there any verse in the Bible or a logical construction disproving the "physical" position on Christ's being the Only Begotten Son?

I had a conversation with a Mormon and he told me that Lucifer was a brother of Christ. When I referred him to these verses:

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him (1 John 4:9, KJV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16, NKJV)

he said that when the Bible says that Christ is the Only Begotten Son, it must be understood in terms of His physical birth, however both Lucifer and Christ had been born of God spiritually even prior to Christ's physical birth.

share|improve this question
4  
Are you asking in the context of Mormonism, or is this open to all theological backgrounds? –  Richard Sep 9 '11 at 14:32
    
@Richard - Of course, my question is open to all theological backgrounds. –  brilliant Sep 9 '11 at 20:48
    
@brilliant you have now rolled back community improvements to your post several times without the courtesy to at least retain the typo corrections that people made for you. If you didn't like my title suggestion that's one thing, but please take the community's effort to improve the overall quality of your question into consideration. If a detail is important, maybe leave a comment about why. –  Caleb Sep 17 '11 at 21:43
    
@Caleb - Okay I have just done some revision to retain the changes to the body of my question that had been done by you and Filmzy. As for the title, I am sorry, but I feel that the words ""physical" interpretation" still must be there. –  brilliant Sep 18 '11 at 2:02
2  
It seems to me that the real question needing to be addressed to disprove the Mormon theory is "Who is Lucifer? What was his origin?" I personally believe that Christ is God's only Son, however, I have read Isaiah 14:12-21 and although my Bible notes say he was a fallen angel due to an overblown ego, the scripture doesn't actually say angel. You guys are smarter than me. I come here to ponder and learn from your postings, not to expound. –  Sandi Sep 27 '11 at 18:38

7 Answers 7

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Christ is God's begotten son, which to relate it to human terms means he was born of God.

Lucifer, on the other hand, is a fallen angel who was created by God as were the other angels, just as man was.

Colossians 1:15-17 NIV
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

These verses tell us that Christ was the firstborn, and all things were created through him. This includes all things in heaven such as the angels.

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you, a_hardin, so far, as I can see, your answer is the strongest one in terms of logic and relevance to my question. –  brilliant Sep 10 '11 at 4:37

I guess this is why the Nicene Creed says that Jesus "was begotten not made." If Jesus was made, then there is the possibility that God could make other sons.

To hold that Jesus was made in the same sense that Lucifer was made can thus be safely at least declared "non-orthodox" and out of keeping with orthodox Christianity, at least as it has been defined since 325 AD.

A Mormon, of course, will object that the Nicene Creed wasn't given by revelation. That may be true, but it still puts them at odds with 1700 years of Christian scholarship, and so in my mind, at least raises the bar / puts the ball in their court to prove otherwise.

Ask: Who made Lucifer

Let's digress for a second and ask who made Lucifer.

As John 1:3 reminds us, there was nothing made that Jesus did not make. Thus, the question is "Is Lucifer a created being?" If the answer to that question is yes, then Jesus (via 1:14) made Satan and not God. As such, John 1:3 must be wrong or they are.

If Jesus made Satan, Jesus is Satan's father - not his brother.

God would at best be his grandfather, although as stated above, orthodox Christianity states Jesus was begotten not made. In any event, Jesus and Satan can't both have been made by God, since all things that were made were made by Jesus.

If they say 'No, Lucifer was not a created being," then ask them how Satan is not co-equal to God. If they assert that he is, they are Gnostics, as evidenced by their dualism. Paul clearly calls Gnostics heretics. I think you are on safe ground then calling them the same.

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you! Your constructions here are very logical. "God would at best be his grandfather..." - this phrase made me laugh :) –  brilliant Jan 3 '12 at 20:24

What does 'begotten' mean in the context of John 3:16 and 4:9? According to the dictionary we have only two meanings:

  • A. Procreate or generate offspring.
  • B. Cause to be produced.

We have a logical issue in relation to Jesus' eternal nature. If A, then he is not eternally existing, and did not exist before bring born to Mary and God. If B, he is a caused entity and therefore did not exist before being caused to exist by God, and hence not eternally existing again.

Better minds may have an answer to this conundrum. We have the same logical issue if we take the Greek text of John 3:16 and 4:9 (as others have shown above) to mean 'only Child' or 'only Son' and look at the definitions of Child or Son.

Of course we could avoid the question by saying our languages are incapable of explaining Jesus' nature, but it seems such a crucial matter of faith ought to be explainable in words and not be so semantically and logically difficult.

share|improve this answer
1  
Welcome to Christianity.SE. Just a note about this answer however: The English dictionary isn't a good way to build a case about the meaning of an ancient Greek word. It's usage in the text of John in no way produces the logical contradiction you're trying to draw here. In fact the historical understanding of their meaning can be seen through things like the creeds with sometimes read "eternally begotten" to clearly indicate that an "origin" is not being referenced, only a relationship. –  Caleb Jan 3 '12 at 16:58
    
I agree, but I used the dictionary as a lay starting point. How did you arrive at the assertion that begotten does not indicate an origin, if I may ask? –  Probe Deeper Jan 3 '12 at 17:07

The question seems to hinge on the source of Jesus' begotten-ness. Is he the only son of God who was begotten by Mary, or is he the only son of God, who was begotten by God himself?

As Caleb points out, the Greek word in question is μονογενῆ, which is a compound word from μόνος (only) and γένος (child), and modern translations do not use the word 'begotten'.

This is already a problem for the LDS interpretation, I think. It relyies on a distinction between the source of Jesus' sonship (God) and his begotten-ness (Mary), when the Greek does not really allow for that distinction.

But let's press on. We still need to ask: what is the source of Jesus' uniqueness, his one-and-only-ness? Consider John 1:14 NIV:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This is a pretty straightforward rendering of the Greek (μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, literally "only son from the father"). It seems clear to me from this verse that Jesus' uniqueness comes from his relationship to the Father.

But the most convincing argument, to me, is what is not said. Mary is not mentioned by John until chapter 2, and is not mentioned in the surrounding context of any of John's only-son passages - which seem to emphasize (1:14 in particular) Jesus' divinity rather than his humanity.

share|improve this answer

The LDS belief goes beyond just Christ and Lucifer being brothers; they believe that all of us are spiritually siblings of Christ too. Their doctrine isn't restricted to the Bible, but there is a supporting passage:

Romans 8:16 (KJV)

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God

If Christ is the only son of God, then how are we also children of God?

a_hardin quoted Colossians 1:15-17 to show that Christ was created differently than Lucifer and we were, however a passage in Revelations seems to say otherwise:

Revelation 3:14 (ESV)
14 "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: 'The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

share|improve this answer
    
Of course, Romans 8:14 says that we are co-heirs with Christ. There is clearly a hierarchy of heirs, and Jesus is #1. (Usually a safe statement :)) –  Affable Geek Jan 3 '12 at 17:06

If you listen to LDS teachers or read their doctrines you will see the very conscientiously worded phrase "the only God and his Son" rather than "God and his only Son." It's the same set of words but the dots are connected differently.

The difference seems to hang on the word "only". What does it connect to?

It appears that the operative phrase in John 3:16 is τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ (ton huion ton monogenē). Perhpas somebody with some real Greek knowledge could expound on this specific verse, but the the "only" bit seems to really indicate that he was an only son Son, not just by that method. In fact many translations1 don't even addd the word "begotten" although the original word is a compound that includes something about being a child, presumably in order to clarify in modern language what the adjective only is modifying. The meaning of the phrase in "King James English" which is retained in many English translations does not help us understand exactly what the verse is emphasizing. (See this answer for another example.)

John 3:16 (ESV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Some English translations go so far as to add extra emphasis to the fact that he is an only son by stating that bit twice without using the word 'begat'.

So it looks like we need to look farther than just this verse. So let's follow that word to some other usages in the Bible. In the following verses (and also Luke 9:38):

Luke 7:12a (ESV)
As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, ...

Luke 8:42a (ESV)
for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.

... the context is quite clearly that of an only child, not an only child "that had a physical birth" rather than some other means. The word is also used by the same author earlier in John to refer, not to a child at all, but just to emphasis the "only" bit. In fact is used used of God himself:

John 1:18 (ESV)
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

Another way to approach this issue is to show the other aspects of the relationship between Jesus and God. In John just a few chapters later we find Jesus making this statement:

John 10:30 (ESV)
I and the Father are one.

This (and a myriad of other verses indicating this unity of identity (see proof texts for Jesus being God)) lead us to a special understanding of who Jesus was in relation to God. We also find that this relationship between the three persons of the trinity is exclusive of other persons. When it comes to Lucifer, we find no similar references of a unity relationship with the father. In fact he is referenced as an angel, a created being.

1 ESV, HCSB, NIV, NLT, ISV, GW, BBE, WEB, and others...

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you very much, Caleb, for all these points and verses, but the problem is that if I present all these points to that mormon he will in fact agree with them because he will put all of them (except for John 10:30) into the category of physical birth: both the only son of the widow and the 12-year-old daughter of that man were born physically and, thus, were the only begotten ones in the physical sense. In the same sense, that mormon would say, Jesus was also the only begotten Son, that is in the physical sense, yet not in spiritual sense (he would say). –  brilliant Sep 10 '11 at 4:07
    
As for "I and the Father are One", he will say that Jesus is one with his Father in purpose (or in will), however, it doesn't disprove the fact that Lucifer, who is not one with the Father, is also a spiritual son of the Father. –  brilliant Sep 10 '11 at 4:11
    
@brilliant: I see your point. This is at least an argument from lack of evidence to the contrary. a_hardin does have a more concrete assertion. I can think of a couple more angles on this. I'll edit it a couple days. –  Caleb Sep 10 '11 at 6:21

The Bible clearly says that Jesus is God's only begotten son. You've quoted some of the main passages in your question. However you should note that more modern translations render "only begotten" as "one and only", so not too much evidence should be placed on the 'begotten' aspect. It is of course true that all Christians are adopted sons of God.

So the real question is about Lucifer being a son of God. That's essentially a Mormon belief, and it's sole justification is from the Mormon scriptures. There is nothing in the Bible to support it.

share|improve this answer
    
I can't find from here: eom.byu.edu any references on Lusifer being son of God. Can you help me find one reference from Mormon dogma? –  laovultai Jan 8 at 20:45

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.