As the name implies, The Begotten Son Controversy refers to misunderstandings over the Godhead and most particularly, concerning God’s only begotten Son. Shortly I would like to share a recent experience I had with some friends that influenced me to write this article. Firstly consider where the controversy begun. As Adventists most of us are familiar with the “Great Controversy” between Christ and Satan over God’s government and law, but sometimes we fail to see the other age-old controversy. In heaven Lucifer was jealous of the supremacy of Christ and therefore he was determined to misrepresent and politically attack this exalted position of God’s Son. In Christianity, the controversy is doctrinal in nature and origin yet for decades, and even centuries, this has left huge negative ramifications upon church members. The theological misrepresentations and promulgation of error, even though it is assumed to be an unquestionable protestant truth, have distorted not only the beautiful relational identities between the Father and Son but the Holy Spirit as well.
After years and months of defending the trinity doctrine and resisting non-trinitarian concepts from my “deluded and deceived” friends, to my surprise and astonishment one day I realized I was wrong! For years I had been following a theological tradition and to make things worse, I had been following these traditions as a Seventh-day Adventist! Coming from a background of Sunday observance some years ago, I had wrongly assumed the current SDA beliefs were flawless. The validity of the trinity was an unquestionable foregone conclusion in my mind and anyone opposed to it was really loopy and “off the rails” spiritually. I had all the typical objections to the non-trinity teaching that many people have today. (Interestingly I have observed most objections that are asserted are usually snippets from a half a dozen misunderstood Spirit of prophecy quotes and three or four grossly misunderstood Bible verses.)
It was only when someone approached me with the subject for about the 3rd or 4th time that I reluctantly, yes, reluctantly reconsidered it. This happened through a new friend at church around 4 years ago. One Sabbath while in conversation he passed over a paper for me to read entitled “Does God have a Son?” I could tell he was a little inwardly frustrated about something and it seemed whatever he wanted to share with me was of real value to him. Although he was very tactful and discrete, without him saying, I immediately picked up on the cues and knew where the topic was headed. Oh no I thought to myself not the Godhead issue again!!! Why in the world would he be caught up in this? But because I wanted to retain his friendship and felt he was a genuine spirited well balanced guy not the slightest bit dogmatic or pushy, for these reasons, and for these reasons alone I decided to repress my feelings of resistance and read it purely for his sake. (Yet today I understand it was for my sake!!) I am forever glad I did because sparked a desire to study it more closely. This revolutionized my thinking about the Godhead, and filled me with greater wonder and adoration for the Father and Son than ever before. But little did I know this was to be the beginning of a tough road.
Around this time when I was inspired by these things, a Pastor happened to be invited to speak one Sabbath at my local church. And of all topics, he preached a strong trinity-based sermon indirectly damming the non- trinity believers. For me that was it. I was a little challenged that Sabbath and I decided I must thoroughly examine this doctrine to be absolutely sure in my own mind as to whether or not what I was believing was true! One year later I was convinced that I had in fact discovered the truth and prior to that believed a lie for over 20 years. I wont go into the subsequent trials and challenges I faced that are an inevitable consequence when one decides to follow such a so called “damnable heresy” but each time my belief concerning the Godhead had been challenged by either friend or foe I would review my conclusions from Scripture and only come out more firmly settled than before! This has happened repeatedly, and in fact very recently. Here is what happened. (Please understand in order to protect their privacy I can’t disclose all the details some of which I would like.)
At Christmas I was invited to go and stay at the home of a couple of close friends for the weekend. As soon as we had finished a delightful lunch one of them asked me, “Jeff, what’s your thoughts concerning the subject of the trinity?” Bombshell! I consciously refrained myself from pouring out a conversational monologue and so rather than indulging in this opportunity I thought it best to ask her what her thoughts were concerning it. Short pause. Not surprisingly, she responded with, “Jeff I don’t think it is an issue”. Hmmmm. Her, and his, response could have been a lead balloon had I not learned from my previous mistakes and failed expectations in hoping people would simply “see it”. Furthermore I was VERY aware of the many years of my own blindness and resistance so I could completely identify with them. Anyway, I wont turn to chapter two here with all the details but fast forward and say, that from a whole day leading way into the night of listening, answering questions the best way I could and sharing my convictions with them, our heads were left spinning with concepts not yet contemplated. A few days later I was to be challenged. My very dear friend who I consider to be warm, genuine, inquisitive, spiritual, quite intelligent and discerning told me in all sincerity __e was putting together a list of “burning questions” for me to consider and was keen to have me respond.
When those 8 pages of questions, observations and comments were emailed to me, at first it was a little daunting and I felt maybe its possible I am partly wrong on this topic after all! People that know me may notice that I am the kind of person who is a peacemaker, quite trusting and one who likes to give people the benefit of the doubt. (I have learned through life that this is not always a sensible thing to do, we need boundaries, we need discernment and we need to be honest with people even if it costs us!) However, as I went back to study the subject again to put together a response to my friends excellent burning questions I was not only affirmed in the Father and begotten Son truth but blessed beyond measure!!! What began as a challenging, almost “not this again” task, soon ended up being truly enjoyably satisfying as I dug deep to discover a few new gems of truth and veins of gold hidden beneath the surface of God’s Word. Most importantly it has made God more real and personal to me.
In respect to my friends I am keeping their reaction to my study private and confidential. Fortunately we are still on very good talking terms and I am so happy this has not created emotional barriers as, unfortunately, is so often the case.
I decided the material may be of value to others therefore I simply depersonalized my response material and hence you have before you a modified version of, “Answers to _____’s “Burning Questions” which I entitled “The begotten Son Controversy”.
I truly hope you will be personally blessed with the read.