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Author Topic: The Trinity - Begotten before all ages?  (Read 1578 times) Average Rating: 0
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88Devin12
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« on: July 23, 2008, 06:54:35 PM »

I've been reading Timothy Ware's book "The Orthodox Church" and have reached the part about "God and Humankind". I usually never care to even think about the Trinity or the nature of the Trinity. But after reading part of his chapter on it (it's a long chapter and i'm only part through), I've had difficulty when he brings up where we refer to the Son as "begotten before all ages".

I thought that the the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have ALWAYS existed as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, even outside of the reality of time. There has never been a point where the Son was not the Son as he is now, and thus the same for the Father and the Holy Spirit.

So what do we mean when we say "begotten before all ages?" Because in our typical definition of begotteness (shown at the bottom of the post), wouldn't that imply that he came from the Father? Even if we say he wasn't created, doesn't begottenness imply maybe that he was once in the Father and was not the Son in the way that he is now the Son?
Wouldn't it also imply that he was begotten before time even existed? But how can something that is uncreated, ever-existing and forever the same be begotten (not in the sense of the begottenness of the incaration) at ANY point, even outside of time?

I thought that the Holy Trinity has ALWAYS (even into enternity outside of time) been the Trinity and have ALWAYS been the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as they are now.

So what do we mean by "begotten before all ages?" I cannot seem to read much of his chapter on God and Humankind without being extremely confused, dismayed, etc... I had the same problem when I tried to listen to Fr. Thomas Hopko's podcast on the Trinity.
Wouldn't it just be better if we don't try to explain it rather than send ourselves or others into despair and confusion over trying to explain it?

What does this "begotten before all ages" mean?

Quote
be·get   Audio Help   /bɪˈgɛt/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[bi-get] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–verb (used with object), be·got or (Archaic) be·gat; be·got·ten or be·got; be·get·ting. 1. (esp. of a male parent) to procreate or generate (offspring). 
2. to cause; produce as an effect: a belief that power begets power.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2008, 06:59:43 PM by 88Devin12 » Logged
PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2008, 10:03:23 PM »

Fortunately, Devin, this subject has been discussed rather recently.  Unfortunately, that thread is in the Private Forum, so you'll need to petition Fr. Chris for access to the thread if you don't already have this permission.  I'm not allowed to quote anything from that thread here in the Public Forum, but I can post a link, since access to the linked thread is governed by the same access permissions that govern the rest of the Private Forum.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14798.0.html
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Tzimis
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2008, 11:56:44 PM »



What does this "begotten before all ages" mean?

You have to love Athanasios the Great. Wink  God can only exist in trinity and has bin proven by the fathers of the church.

Quote
When saying about the Son “It is also possible that He may not have always existed”, it would be disrespectful and would also be reaching the point of daring to touch on the essence of the Father, inasmuch as that selfsame essence could ever possibly have not existed at some time.  For it would be the same as saying “the Father is not benevolent”. Thus, just as the Father is perpetually benevolent by nature, likewise is He perpetually birth-giving by nature; When saying that “the Father wants the Son” and “the Son wants the Father”, it does not indicate the one’s preceding will to want the other; it is in fact a veridicality of His nature and a feature of His essence, and a acknowledgement of the likeness. Just as when one similarly speaks of the brilliance of light (inasmuch as the brilliance does not have any precedent will, inside the light), that by nature it is a birth, willed by the light which gave birth to it, and not through any thought of volition, but only by nature and veracity, likewise, when speaking of the Father and the Son, it is correct for one to say that the Father loves and wants the Son, and the Son loves and wants the Father.
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2008, 12:30:07 AM »

I think you're getting too hung up on how our language defines "begotten".  Following the generally accepted definition of "begotten" as indicative of an action occurring within time, you're trying to apply this to the Holy Trinity, who is outside of time, as you recognize already.  However, when we apply the term "begotten" to the interrelationship of the Father and the Son (the Father begets the Son), it is necessary to strip the word of its temporal connotation and recognize that the Father begets the Son outside of time, where there are no such things as "before" and "after".  Maybe a better way to think about it is to say that the Father is eternally begetting the Son.
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Sophie
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2008, 03:38:57 AM »

I think you're getting too hung up on how our language defines "begotten".  Following the generally accepted definition of "begotten" as indicative of an action occurring within time, you're trying to apply this to the Holy Trinity, who is outside of time, as you recognize already.  However, when we apply the term "begotten" to the interrelationship of the Father and the Son (the Father begets the Son), it is necessary to strip the word of its temporal connotation and recognize that the Father begets the Son outside of time, where there are no such things as "before" and "after".  Maybe a better way to think about it is to say that the Father is eternally begetting the Son.

I second that and I´d also like to point out - without any other further knowledge - that the very names "Father" and "Son" denote exactly the relationship that exists between these two persons of the Holy Trinity. How would the Son be a son if He was not begotten in some way by the Father?
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"Thoughts are like airplanes flying in the air. If you ignore them, there is no problem. If you pay attention to them, you create an airport inside your head and permit them to land!" (Priestmonk Christodoulos Aggeloglou, Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain Mount Athos, Greece, 1998,pp. 29-30, 48)
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