'And I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, begotten, not made, being if one substance with the Father.........'
Was Jesus, who was the Christ ( Messiah ), truly the only ( begotten ) Son of God, as the Bible seems to claim? Jesus claimed to be the Son of God & to be sure, that most famous of verses, John 3:16, says that Jesus was the Creator God's 'only begotten Son'. In this oft-quoted passage, as well as in many others, John used the Greek 'μονογενής', transliterated 'monogenēs', meaning, 'single of its kind, only'. In relating the metaphorical Story of the sacrifice of Issac, the author/compiler recorded that Yahweh told Abraham to sacrifice his 'only [son ] Isaac'. Now, whether he was simply reminding Abraham that he only had one Isaac, or using prophetic imagery pointing forward thousands of years to Yahweh's own sacrifice of His only ( begotten ) Son, we can rest assured that though John made the point that this Jesus was the only 'begotten' son of His Father, He was by no means the only one; Adam, In Luke's genealogy ( chapter 3 ), was called '[ the son ] of God'; although the words 'the son' do not appear in the original Hebrew, so that it should simply read, 'Adam, of God'; Luke uses the same word structure throughout, saying, for example, that Isaac was 'of Abraham'.
Most Christians will deny the Fatherhood of the Creator God to those who have not covenanted with Him & specifically claimed the name of Christ, or Christian. Although this is biblically defensible, some might argue, living in what might be called 'a post-biblical era', that when Scripture makes the division between 'the children of God' ( I John 3:1 ) & 'the children of the devil' ( I John 3:10 ), we should think, not in terms of 'us versus them', as we have been taught, but historically of those who accepted Jesus as the Messiah of Israel versus those who denied Him as such, the Jews, or Israel according to the Flesh. Biblically speaking then, in our Western tradition, even those today who do not accept Him as the very Son of God are denied His divine protection!
According to Scripture, we, as the Church, are the Body of Christ! This glorious fact, although it is easily recognizable as metaphor, should be readily acknowledged as indicative of our Oneness with the Creator God;: the apostle Paul wrote to his brethren that marriage is a picture of this Divine Union. As such then, it may be noted that we, in this sense, are the Son of God! Again, most Christians would have difficulty saying this, as they believe that Jesus inhabits His biological Body in a place called 'Heaven' ( ? ). Since we are the Son of the Creator God, then we, like Jesus was, are 'begotten' of Him & of the same substance with Him. As we are 'spirits having a physical experience', we essentially are all part of the same Energy that was used to create the universe, in actuality, the Creator God Himself!
Some have gone so far as to say that we ARE the Creator God Himself & though we ARE one with Him in both His Divinity & Essence, we are NOT Him! Just as husband & wife become One, biblically speaking, they are yet two separate & distinguishable people: we, having become One with the Creator God, are yet distinguishable from Him, though we ARE of One Essence. As creators ourselves, we even play a 'god-like' role, though on a much smaller scale, what with our intellectual & biological properties. To a somewhat limited extent, we even create life! History, too, is full of examples of the intellectual properties that men & women of old have created!
As the Body of Christ, corporately speaking, we are most certainly NOT the same biological Body in which Jesus walked this earth, almost 2,000 years ago! However, we understand that the apostle, when he wrote this in his letter to the Church, was using the allegorical language that was common to his people. Although Paul referred to the Church in a metaphorical sense, we know that, in a very real sense, Jesus, the Creator God Himself, does inhabit His biological Body, us! John, in his revelation of the Gospel ( John 14:23 ), recorded Jesus as promising, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him'. Though these words were spoken to Jews in the first century ( AD ), they are universal in impact, as true now as then!
It is widely-accepted, traditionally speaking, that Adam, in the Garden, was in covenant with the Creator God! Although this is without doubt, the first time a covenant is specially named & elucidated as such is when Yahweh instituted one such with Abram ( Genesis 15 ). The Adamic Covenant, rather than being based upon a mutual agreement, as was the Abrahamic covenant; the Creator God's covenant with Adam, on the other hand, was not like that one, in the sense that there is no record of Adam having ever acquiesced to any covenant, spoken or otherwise. The Creator God simply placed Adam into the Garden ( Paradise? ) & placed him in charge of it all & brought him a wife: no commitment, nothing, except 'do this & die!'
Much like today, there was such a thing as Natural Law ( AKA, the Laws of Nature & Nature's God ); Adam somehow broke that Natural Law, that unspoken covenant & was removed from ( the blessings of ) the Garden for his pains! We have been taught, traditionally speaking, that he ate from a tree that he had been forbidden, but the allegorical nature of this part of the Story is obvious; the true meaning, however, is not, so we can only speculate on what was meant by 'the tree of the knowledge of good & evil'
Even though Adam broke this first covenant & tried to shift the blame, in essence, to the Creator God Himself, we find that he still enjoyed Divine Protection, as did his descendants ( Genesis 4:15 )! Cain, like his father Adam, broke that Natural Law, as did many after him ( at least one every generation ) & though he suffered greatly because of it, like his father, he still enjoyed favor from the Creator God; in that He promised 'vengeance.........sevenfold'.
Scripturally speaking, there is no denying the fact that the 'sons of God' were those who accepted Jesus as their Messiah! Even in the Hebrew Scriptures, the term was often used to refer to the godly line of Seth, as opposed to the sons of Cain, or for example, 'sons of Belial'. In the Western Christian tradition, even today, we are used to observing the same distinction, referring to ourselves as 'sons of God' & to those who do not share our beliefs as somehow almost less than human!
Jesus was born according to Promise, much like Isaac, thousands of years earlier, was! Yes, the Gospel records, according to prophesy ( Isaiah 7:14 ), that the Holy Spirit would 'overshadow' Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph & that the Child would be called 'the Son of God': many years earlier, the Creator God promised Abraham, 'I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son' ( Genesis 18:10 ). It is widely accepted ( if given much thought at all ) that Isaac was the natural-born son of Abraham, yet the language here used is not unlike that in the Gospel account!
Was Jesus indeed the only begotten Son of God, as our Bibles tell us, or was He simply the Creator God Himself who took the form of a Man in order to redeem His ( covenant ) Creation to Himself? The doctrine of the Trinity makes much of the distinction that Scripture seems to make between the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit; without going to far in theorizing over this matter, suffice to say that if it was simply the Creator God Himself, the Father of all the Living, who took the form of the Man Jesus, then this doctrine seems to fall flat on its face!
Did Jesus walk the earth as the Son of God, in part to show us that human beings could indeed be sons of God? What if, rather than being 'God in Three Persons', the Creator God simply invested Himself into His Creation in order that they ( we ) might realize our innate Oneness with Him? Are we Sons & Daughters of the Creator God, our Heavenly Father, by merit of accepting the biblical Jesus as our Lord & Savior, or are we His children through spiritual generation?
Charles Haddon Shank