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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Nature of the Trinity

by Catherine Frakas 03 May 2001

Nature of the Trinity QUESTION from Tom F. on December 16, 2002 Hi Brother; in our creed we say, that Jesus was begotten, not made. A friend of mine has said that, that is proof that Jesus could not be God because God has always existed and is unchanging, and the use of the word begotten implies that God (the Father) existed before Jesus, and that if Jesus was begotten then he could not be one in being with the Father.
I have no training in theology, but I don't know how to answer him. If I knew what the word begotten means in theological terms I might be able to give him a propper answer.
Thanks for your time and consideration, I am looking forward to hearing from you. Please know that you are in my prayers and thoughts.
Peace Tom
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on December 24, 2002 Dear Tom:
Your friend is making the same mistake that most non-Catholics do -- he is thinking one dimensionally and thus putting God into a box of his own understanding.
The Catholic Church and the theology of Christianity is multi-dimensional because God, creation, and reality is multi-dimensional.
As to the meaning of begotten not made I will let the renowed late Father Hardon answer that:

The term eternally begotten means that Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father. Christ, as God, proceeds from the First Person of the Holy Trinity. God is a society, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Son proceeds from the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Unlike all other generation, the Second Person never began. He always existed. The Second Person is co-eternal with the Father. The First Person of the Holy Trinity always existed. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity always existed. God is the Being who cannot not exist. Consequently, the Second Person always existed. By His very nature, therefore, God is a social being.
The term begotten not made means that the Second Person does not proceed from the First Person by creation. When a human being is conceived, the body comes from the father and the mother; the soul is created immediately from nothing by God. The Second Person of Trinity was not created by God the Father. In theology, we reserve the verb made for what is created. God the Son was not created by the Father. The Father is not the cause of the Son.

The Second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, always existed, but came into human history through the Incarnation through the Virgin Mary. Jesus had always existed, but here he allows himself to be incarnated into the physical human world as a human while yet remaining God, the Second Person of the Trinity.
God is God. He transcends one dimensional reality. Thus He can save Mary from original sin upon the merits of the Cross, for example, even though the Cross had not happened yet.
In fact, the salvation of all Old Testament saints were on the merits of the Cross yet to come.
We cannot understand the sublime nature of God when thinking one dimensionally or in a linear fashion of before and after. God is outside of time and space. At any given moment God is in all moments at the same time.
Here God chooses to enter into human History by humbling Himself to the Incarnate human person of Jesus so that the plan of redemption can be completed.
Your friend merely misunderstands the theological terms and also limits himself to a small box of understanding.
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