Eternal Sonship

From BelieveTheSign

An example of William Branham's lazy theology is his approach to the concept of the eternal sonship of Christ.

William Branham's Position

William Branham ridiculed the idea throughout his ministry as being a Catholic doctrine:

Not eternal Sonship, 'cause the words don't go good together. That's Catholic doctrine, but... Eternal, how could it be a Sonship and be eternal? If He's a Son, he'd had to have a beginning of time. Eternal's forever. See? So eternal Sonship, there's no such a word to make that sensible. But it was the Logos that went out of God. And there He was playing out there in space just like a child before the door. I can see Him draw the whole picture in His mind of the Kingdom and what it might be. [1]
Want to ask you, some of you precious Catholic people who call that the eternal sonship of God. God, eternal sonship of Jesus Christ with God, how can you say such a word? I'm a dummy with a seventh-grade education, but I know better than that. The word "Son" has to have a beginning. So how can He be eternal and be a Son? Eternity has no beginning or end. So He can't be a son, an eternal son, and then have a beginning, 'cause there is no such a thing as a eternal son. A son had a beginning, so he can't be eternal. You see, He is the eternal God, not the eternal son... [2]
A Son, as the Catholic puts it, "Eternal Son," and all the rest of the churches; the word don't even make sense. See? There cannot be Eternal, and then be a Son, 'cause a Son is something that's "begotten from." And the word Eternal, He cannot be an Eter-... He can be a Son, but He cannot be an Eternal Son. No, sir. It cannot be an Eternal Son. [3]

However, while he states that the concept doesn't even make sense, he provides no scriptural support for his position.

He also makes repeated statements that can only be considered confused given his position as stated above:

I've always thought that Jairus was a secret believer. He believed in his heart, kind of a borderline believer. He believed in his heart that that truly was a Man of God. He believed that that was God's eternal Son, His Prophet, Priest and King... [4]
If they've been all mixed up and their minds so confused, may they look back and take the reliable. Jesus said, "These signs shall follow them that believe." How much more reliability could we place upon anything than the Words of the eternal Son of God. [5]
Give Him praise now, and bless His holy Name. We love Him. We praise Him. We adore Him, the matchless One, the Eternal One, the Son of the living God.[6]

The Problem with his Reasoning

When a person uses non-Biblical reasoning in approaching an issue, they open themselves up to the very same argumentation.

This would be illustrated as follows:

William Branham believed the Father was Eternal

Grant it, immortal and eternal Father God. [7]
We're so thankful for this, that You are a universal Father to all of us, an eternal Father. [8]
God became, from God, to become me, to take my sin upon Him, that He might make me Him, amen, back to His great purpose of sons and daughters of God, for He is the Eternal Father. [9]

O Eternal Father, send the Gospel Light across this city, through this coming week of convention. [10]

How can a Father be Eternal?

Can a father be a father without a son? To use William Branham's own reasoning, how can a father be eternal? How could he be a father before he had a son? However, if the Father is eternal, then why can't the Son be eternal likewise?

The Scriptural Reasons for the Church's Historical Position

While William Branham also ridicules those that rely on the Greek language for their understanding of the Bible, the plain truth is that the New Testament was originally written in Greek and, therefore, those that rely on an English translation are relying on the ability of the translators to convey the appropriate meaning of the Greek words in their context.

IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. [Isa. 9:6.] He was present originally with God. [11]

It is critical to understand in this passage the meaning of the simple word "was" (ἦν in the Greek). The verb εἰμί (eimi) means "to be" and in its imperfect tense (ἦν or "en"), refers to continuous action in the past. You could compare this to saying "I was eating" in contrast to "I ate" or "I had eaten". Specifically and most importantly in this context, the verb does not point to a specific point of origin or beginning in the past.[12]

There never was a time when the Word was not. There never was a thing that did not depend on him for its existence. The verb “was” is most naturally understood of the eternal existence of the Word: “the Word continually was.” John is affirming that the Word existed before creation, which makes it clear that the Word was not created. It is fundamental to John that the Word is not to be included among created things. [13]

Since the late 4th century, commentators have recognized that each of the three uses of “was” in John 1:1 has a different connotation: existence, relationship, and predication respectively. “The Word was” is akin to the “I am” statements of Jesus in the Gospel proper. There can be no speculation about how the Word came to be, for the Word simply was.[14]

The Greek words ginomai (to become) and eimi (to be) have similar nuances, but John frequently uses them together to make a point. For instance, in john 8:58 Jesus says, “Before Abraham was [ginomai], I am [eimi].” The first verb suggests “coming into being,” such as Abraham’s birth; the second implies ongoing existence. Thus in John 1:6, John writes, “There came [ginomai] a man sent from God.” In John 1:1, John carefully writes, “In the beginning was the Word”—“the Word was with God”—“the Word was God.” In each case he uses eimi in its imperfect form (en). John is making an absolute affirmation about the eternal existence of the Word. It did not come into being nor was there ever a time when “the Word was not.” Whatever we can say about God, we can and must say about the Word.[15]

When the writer to the Hebrews asserted that our Lord was a priest after the order of Melchisedec rather than of Aaron, it was only to claim for Him an existence that had “neither beginning of days, nor end of life” (Heb. 7:3). [16]

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. John 17:5

The reference here is before creation, before the beginning. The use of παρά (para) twice in this verse looks back to the assertion in John 1:1 that the Word (the Λόγος [Logos], who became Jesus of Nazareth in John 1:14) was with God (πρὸς τὸν θεόν, pros ton theon).[17]

This is also echoed in the Old Testament:

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”[18]

The major problem with William Branham's reasoning is that he puts God into time and space and, therefore, assumes that the Son had to have a beginning. But based on the proof's above that the Son is eternal, then he exists outside of time and space, in fact, he created time and space and exists outside of both. Beginnings and endings make no sense either in reference to God in the context of the Father or the Son.

Questions & Answers

For Q&A on this issue, please see our article - Q&A on the Godhead


Footnotes

  1. SHOW.US.THE.FATHER.AND.IT'LL.SATISFY.US_ CONNERSVILLE.IN WEDNESDAY_ 53-0610
  2. THE.REVELATION.OF.JESUS.CHRIST_ JEFF.IN ROJC 9-67 SUNDAY_ 60-1204M
  3. CHRIST.IS.REVEALED.IN.HIS.OWN.WORD_ JEFF.IN V-4 N-10 SUNDAY_ 65-0822M
  4. JAIRUS A SECRET BELIEVER MACON.GA 55-0604
  5. A TIME OF DECISION LA.CA 59-0418
  6. SPIRIT.OF.TRUTH_ PHOENIX.AZ FRIDAY_ 63-0118
  7. THIRSTING.FOR.LIFE_ INDIANAPOLIS.IN THURSDAY_ 57-0613
  8. ABRAHAM_ LONG.BEACH.CA SATURDAY_ 61-0211
  9. CHRIST.IS.THE.MYSTERY.OF.GOD.REVEALED_ JEFF.IN V-3 N-7 SUNDAY_ 63-0728
  10. ONE.IN.A.MILLION_ LA.CA V-18 N-1 SATURDAY_ 65-0424
  11. The Amplified Bible, John 1:1–2 (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1987).
  12. James White, The Forgotten Trinity, Bethany House Publishers, 1998
  13. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 65-66 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995).
  14. Raymond E. Brown, vol. 29, The Gospel According to John (I–XII): Introduction, Translation, and Notes, Anchor Yale Bible, 4 (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008).
  15. Gary M. Burge, John, The NIV Application Commentary, 54-55 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000).
  16. Clarence Herbert Benson, The One True God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Biblical essentials series, 58 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004).
  17. Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes, Jn 17:5 (Biblical Studies Press, 2006).
  18. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Mic 5:2 (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).


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