Resources on the Son as άυτόθεος

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Freshman
Good afternoon brethren,

I'm putting together a list of sources on the άυτόθεος doctrine, or more specifically, whether the Son is begotten of the Father according to his essence. Enjoy!
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
If you have Robert Reymond’s A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, this is the subject of his discussion in chapter nine. Many have said he erred by denying eternal generation, but as I read him, he is saying nothing different than the men you quoted on your cited page did: the Son is eternally generated in reference to his Person, not his essence.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
If you have Robert Reymond’s A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, this is the subject of his discussion in chapter nine. Many have said he erred by denying eternal generation, but as I read him, he is saying nothing different than the men you quoted on your cited page did: the Son is eternally generated in reference to his Person, not his essence.
Which edition of that volume are you reading?
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
Which edition of that volume are you reading?
The second edition.

I will say that I have not looked at the first edition to compare, so he very well could have erred in the first edition, or at least spoke with a lack of clarity that led to a warranted criticism. I just don't know.

Here is what Reymond concludes:

I would suggest...with Calvin and these American theologians [i.e., Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, and John Murray], that Christians should not believe that the Father, through an eternal act of begetting in the depth of the divine being that is always continuing, is begetting the Son’s essential being as God out of his being, which act thereby “puts this second person in possession of the whole divine essence.” They should believe, rather, that the Son, with respect to his essential being, is wholly God of himself (αὐτόθεος, autotheos). They should also believe that the Son, as the second Person of the Godhead, derives his hypostatic identity as the Son from the “generated” relation “before all ages” which he sustains to God the Father, the first Person of the Godhead (what this means beyond “order” I cannot say and will not attempt to say), and that the Father precedes the Son by reason of order. This means that there is no essential subordination of the Son to the Father within the Godhead.​
— Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1998), 335; italics original.​
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
This is where it gets a little confusing. Zondervan brought out a 2 edition (revised and updated edition) in June 2020. Is this an update on the 1998 edition?
Are you sure you’re not thinking about the update and revision to Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology that was published this year (I think actually around June, although not being sold until December)? I ask because Thomas Nelson owns the rights to Reymond’s book, not Zondervan.
 
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Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
Good afternoon brethren,

I'm putting together a list of sources on the άυτόθεος doctrine, or more specifically, whether the Son is begotten of the Father according to his essence. Enjoy!
Are you looking specifically for theologians who affirm that the Son is ἁυτόθεος, or also those who deny it? If the latter, I remember from my Arminius and Arminianism class that I took at TEDS (a fantastic class, by the way; taught by Dr. Tom McCall) that the controversy that initially got Arminius in hot water amongst his colleagues is not his soteriology or anthrolology, but his Christology. Namely, he denied a particular aspect of the Son's being ἁυτόθεος:

At a disputation held one afternoon in the University, when the thesis that had been proposed for disputation was the Divinity of the Son of God, one of the students happened to object, "that the Son of God was autotheos, and that he therefore had his essence from himself and not from the Father." In reply to this I observed, "that the word autotheos was capable of two different acceptations, since it might signify either 'one who is truly God,' or 'one who is God of himself;' and that it was with great propriety and correctness attributed to the Son of God according to the former signification, but not according to the latter."​
—Jacob Arminius (source)​
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Freshman
Are you looking specifically for theologians who affirm that the Son is ἁυτόθεος, or also those who deny it? If the latter, I remember from my Arminius and Arminianism class that I took at TEDS (a fantastic class, by the way; taught by Dr. Tom McCall) that the controversy that initially got Arminius in hot water amongst his colleagues is not his soteriology or anthrolology, but his Christology. Namely, he denied a particular aspect of the Son's being ἁυτόθεος:

At a disputation held one afternoon in the University, when the thesis that had been proposed for disputation was the Divinity of the Son of God, one of the students happened to object, "that the Son of God was autotheos, and that he therefore had his essence from himself and not from the Father." In reply to this I observed, "that the word autotheos was capable of two different acceptations, since it might signify either 'one who is truly God,' or 'one who is God of himself;' and that it was with great propriety and correctness attributed to the Son of God according to the former signification, but not according to the latter."​
—Jacob Arminius (source)​
I'm actually more focused on the issue of whether the divine essence is communicated to the Son from the Father, which some authors affirmed while still employing the terminology of autotheos. That is to say, autotheos itself isn't a very precise term. But I'm looking for orthodox folks with either position.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
I'm putting together a list of sources on the άυτόθεος doctrine . . .
Here are some patristic uses of the term, not necessarily with respect to the Son...

Origen (c. 185-c. 254) commenting on John 17:3: To such persons we have to say that God on the one hand is Very God (Autotheos, αὐτοθεὸς God of Himself); and so the Saviour says in His prayer to the Father, “That they may know Thee the only true God;” but that all beyond the Very God is made God by participation in His divinity, and is not to be called simply God (with the article), but rather God (without article). And thus the first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with God, and to attract to Himself divinity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other gods beside Him, of whom God is the God, as it is written, “The God of gods, the Lord, hath spoken and called the earth.” ANF: Vol. IX, Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book II, Chapter 2.
Greek text: Λεκτέον γὰρ αὐτοῖς, ὅτι τότε μὲν αὐτόθεος ὁ θεός ἐστι, διόπερ καὶ ὁ σωτήρ φησιν ἐν τῇ πρὸς τὸν πατέρα εὐχῇ· «Ἵνα γινώ σκωσι σὲ τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεόν»· πᾶν δὲ τὸ παρὰ τὸ αὐτόθεος μετοχῇ τῆς ἐκείνου θεότητος θεοποιούμενον οὐχ «ὁ θεὸς» ἀλλὰ «θεὸς» κυριώτερον ἂν λέγοιτο, οὗ πάντως «ὁ πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως», ἅτε πρῶτος τῷ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν εἶναι σπάσας τῆς θεότητος εἰς ἑαυτόν, ἐστὶ τιμιώτερος, τοῖς λοιποῖς παρ' αὐτὸν θεοῖς–ὧν ὁ θεὸς θεός ἐστι κατὰ τὸ λεγόμενον· «Θεὸς θεῶν κύριος ἐλάλησε, καὶ ἐκάλεσε τὴν γῆν». Commentarii in evangelium Joannis, PG 14:109A.

Eusebius of Caesarea (260/263-340): So that our Saviour Jesus Christ, is the only one ever acknowledged, by the supreme rulers of the earth, not as a common king among men, but worshipped as the true Son of God, and God himself. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, reprinted 1995), Book 10, Chapter 4, §16, pp. 134-135.
Greek text: ὥστε μόνον τῶν ἐξ αἰῶνος Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν τὸν ἡμῶν σωτῆρα καὶ πρὸς αὐτῶν τῶν ἐπὶ γῆς ἀνωτάτω οὐχ οἷα κοινὸν ἐξ ἀνθρώπων βασιλέα γενόμενον ὁμολογεῖσθαι, ἀλλʼ οἷα τοῦ καθʼ ὅλων θεοῦ παῖδα γνήσιον καὶ αὐτὸν θεὸν [αὐτόθεον] προσκυνεῖσθαι. Historiae Ecclesiasticae, Liber X, Caput 4, §16, PG 20:856A-B.

Epiphanius (310/320-403): If God remains ceaselessly in his ingenerate nature, as you have said, but the nature of God is eternal and in ceaseless possession of its rank, not because of something else but because it is God in his very essence and eternity in its very essence, then, if you call the Offspring “endless,” he must surely be coessential with God. For you have turned around and granted the Son the title on convincing natural grounds. Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80, De Fide), 76. Against Anomoeans, 21,2 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 521.
Greek text: Εἰ ἀτελευτήτως καὶ ἀπαύστως ὁ θεὸς διαμένει, ὡς ἔφης, ἐν ἀγεννήτῳ φύσει, φύσις δὲ θεοῦ ἀΐδιος, ἀτελευτήτως ἔχουσα τὸ ἀξίωμα, οὐ διά τι ἕτερον, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸ αὐτόθεον καὶ αὐτοαΐδιον, ἆρά γε καὶ τὸ γέννημα ὁμοούσιον ἔσται, εἰ παρὰ σοὶ τὸ τοῦ ἀτελευτήτου εἴληφεν ὄνομα, ὡς παλιμβόλως τῷ υἱῷ χαρίσασθαι, πιθανῶς ἐφυσιολόγησας. Adversus Haereses, Liber II, Tom. II, LXXVI, §21, PG 42:557C.

Epiphanius (310/320-403): Hence, on the exact analogy, it will make no difference if we assume this of Christ as well. For surely, even though Christ, who is mind in himself, shared the human mind as he shared flesh and blood and had the human soul, he was not the prisoner of the [human] mind. For if the apostle who had the human mind as his own by nature, and the mind [of Christ] by participation in the gift, benefit and grace, no longer lived in accordance with his own mind but was directed, by a guidance transcending nature, by the mind of Christ, how much more the divine Word! He possessed all perfection in himself and was absolute perfection, absolute God (αὐτόθεος), absolute power, absolute light, and the Completer, or rather, Perfecter, both of the mind and of the whole body, and wrought our salvation in all things by his advent in the flesh. Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80, De Fide), 77. Against Dimoerites, called Apolinarians by some, 35,1-2 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 597.
Greek text: Ἄρα οὖν οὐδὲν διοίσει ἀπὸ τοῦ κατάντικρυς ὁμοιώματος τὸ καὶ ἐπὶ Χριστοῦ τοῦτο λαμβάνειν, ὅτι Χριστὸς ὢν ἐν ἑαυτῷ νοῦς, εἰ καὶ μετεῖχε νοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου, ὡς καὶ σαρκὸς μετέσχε καὶ αἵματος καὶ ψυχὴν εἶχε τὴν ἀνθρωπείαν, οὐ πάντως ἀπὸ τοῦ νοὸς ᾐχμαλωτεύετο. εἰ γὰρ ὁ κατὰ φύσιν ἴδιον νοῦν κεκτημένος ἀπόστολος τὸν ἀνθρώπινον καὶ τὸν ἐκ συμμετοχῆς δωρεᾶς καὶ χαρίσματος καὶ χάριτος, οὐκέτι κατὰ τὸν νοῦν τὸν ἴδιον ἐπολιτεύετο, ἀλλʼ ὑπερβαινούσῃ τινὶ φύσεως ἀγωγῇ τῷ Χριστοῦ νῷ κατεκοσμεῖτο, πόσῳ γε μᾶλλον ὁ θεὸς λόγος ἐν ἑαυτῷ ἔχων τὴν πᾶσαν τελειότητα, αὐτοτέλειος ὤν, αὐτόθεος ὤν, αὐτοδύναμις, αὐτόνους, αὐτόφως, καὶ τοῦ νοῦ καὶ παντὸς τοῦ σώματος πληρωτὴς ἐγένετο, μᾶλλον δὲ τελειωτής, καὶ ἐν ἅπασι διὰ τῆς αὐτοῦ ἐνσάρκου παρουσίας ἡμῖν τὸ σωτήριον ἐξειργάσατο; Adversus Haereses, Liber III, Tom. II, LXXVII, §35, PG 42:693A-B.

Epiphanius (310/320-403): What had been passible remains forever impassible, the divine nature with body, soul, and all its human nature. He is very God (αὐτόθεος) and has ascended into the heavens and taken his seat at the Father’s right hand in glory, not by discarding his body but by uniting it to spirit in the perfection of one Godhead. Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80, De Fide), De Fide, 17,8-9 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), pp. 658-659.
Greek text: Τὸ παθητὸν ἀπαθὲς ἀεὶ μένον, τὸ θεϊκὸν σὺν σώματι καὶ πάσῃ τῇ ἐνανθρωπήσει, αὐτόθεος ὤν. Ἀνελθὼν δὲ εἰς οὐρανοὺς, ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐν δόξῃ, οὐκ ἀποθέμενος τὸ σῶμα, ἀλλὰ συνεώσας εἰς πνευματικὸν ἐν τελειότητι μιᾶς θεότητος· Expositio Fidei, Liber III, Tom. II, §XVII, PG 42:817A-B.
 

Eyedoc84

Puritan Board Freshman
Arminius argued that the Son couldn’t be considered autotheos apart from his eternal generation from the Father. That is, if he derives his aseity from none, then you end up with multiple gods. But the Son is autotheos because he derives his divine properties from the Father eternally. E.g.the Son has aseity because the Father has aseity.

If I remember correctly Berkhof makes a similar argument in his Systematic.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Are you sure you’re not thinking about the update and revision to Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology that was published this year (I think actually around June, although not being sold until December)? I ask because Thomas Nelson owns the rights to Reymond’s book, not Zondervan.
See https://www.christianbook.com/syste...e=WW&ps_exit=PRODUCT&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

I did wonder if Zondervan printed the 1998 ed, or did a revised edition. Dr Reymond died in 2013 so obviously he did not prepare a new edition in recent times.
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
See https://www.christianbook.com/systematic-theology-christian-faith-2nd-edition/robert-reymond/9780310108955/pd/0108955?product_redirect=1&search_term=robert reymon&Ntt=0108955&item_code=WW&ps_exit=PRODUCT&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

I did wonder if Zondervan printed the 1998 ed, or did a revised edition. Dr Reymond died in 2013 so obviously he did not prepare a new edition in recent times.
That is interesting. I wonder if Zondervan just bought the rights to the book this year or something. If it were an actual new edition (and I’m wondering how that would even be possible), I would think it would say “3rd Edition.”
 
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