Next, we will see the roles of the Father and the Son in creation. We will examine the challenges of Les Burch regarding Jesus Christ as a separate being who is essentially “less” than the Father, and see if the Scriptures actually teach this Arian position. Is Jesus Christ the “created creator” of all (other) things?
The roles of the Father and the Son in creation
Mr. Burch, of course, has no problem ascribing to Jesus Christ a role in the creation of the universe. He takes a similar position to the Jehovah’s Witnesses: Yahweh is the One “by whom” all things were created, and Jesus Christ is the One “through whom” all things were created. He admits that Jesus is “[t]he very one through Whom all creation itself was made.” In other words, God the Father is the active agent in creation, and the Son is the passive agent in creation. Simple, huh?
While the trinitarian has no problem understanding that the Father and the Son acted in different roles in the creation, this understanding of the distinction between the Father and the Son in creation is not enough to rid henotheism of its problems with Scripture. Let’s look at some verses dealing with how all things were created:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;”
“Col 1:16 For by him [Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
“But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”
–1 Corinthians 8:6
We see in these verses a distinction between how all things were created both by God the Father and by Jesus Christ. It seems that Jesus Christ is the One “by/in” (en) or “through” (dia) Whom all things were created, and the Father is the One “[out] of” (ek) Whom all things were created. This seems clear: God the Father created Jesus Christ, and then through Him created everything else. Right?
The problem is that this dichotomy is not entirely universal. Let’s try another passage:
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? [see Isaiah 40:13] Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? [see Job 41:11] For of (ek) him, and through (dia) him, and to (eis) him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” [see 2 Peter 3:18; Revelation 5:12-14] –Romans 11:33-36
“All things were made by (dia) him [the Word]; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
Elsewhere, we saw the Son as the One “through” (dia) Whom all things were created as distinguished from the Father; yet, here in Romans 11:36 we see “God” and “the Lord” as the One both ek and dia Whom all things were created! The creation is both dia the Father and dia Jesus Christ. Therefore, one cannot make the case that the Son takes the exclusive role as the one “through whom” are all things. The prepositions used of both the Father and the Son in relation to creation do not prove that Jesus Christ is a created being.
The One Who created “by Myself”
Given the fact that the New Testament apostles clearly ascribe to the Father and the Son both roles in which “all things” are created, we will now look at what Yahweh Himself said in the Old Testament about how all things were created. Will Mr. Burch’s henotheism stand up to scrutiny, or is the Trinity absolutely essential for the Scriptures to be consistent?
“Thus saith the LORD [Yahweh], thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;”
As we have seen from previous posts in this series, Isaiah chapters 40-48 are full of Yahweh’s rightful claims to the category of only true God against all the false gods. One of the qualifications of being a true God is that of being the creator of the universe. In Isaiah 44:24, Yahweh says of Himself three things: He “makes all things,” He “stretches the heavens alone,” and He “spreads the earth by myself.” These claims are exclusive claims. There is no other being involved in creation. Yahweh had no partner in creation. He did it all alone! If Yahweh is the sole creator of all things, and if the Father and the Son are both said to have created all things, then both the Father and the Son must be Yahweh! Henotheism cannot make sense of Isaiah 44:24 in light of the New Testament revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ! Yes, the Father and the Son performed different roles in how “all things” came about, but Yahweh did it all alone.
Now, let’s look at a common, yet very powerful argument often given against Jehovah’s Witnesses from Hebrews 1:8-12:
“But unto the Son he [God] saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.”
Interestingly, the writer to the Hebrews quotes two passages from the Psalms directed to Yahweh and puts them as words in the mouth of the Father spoken to the Son. The first passage is from the “sons of Korah” to Yahweh in Psalm 45:
“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
The other passage is from King David in Psalm 102, describing the unique being of Yahweh:
“Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:
But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.”
Who can argue that David is contrasting the properties of all of creation to that of the Creator? He is addressing Yahweh, and what he says cannot be applied to any created being, whether human or angel. This Being is the One Who created all things (alone), and by virtue of this is eternal and unchangeable unlike what He created. Again, these statements are consistent and harmonious if the Trinity is true, but if the Father and the Son are separate Beings, we have a problem–a very serious problem!
Curiously, Mr. Burch quotes Hebrews 1:8-9 above, but makes no mention of its source from Psalm 45:6-7. He never touches Hebrews 1:10-12 and its source from Psalm 102:25-27. Both Psalms are clear references to Yahweh about Who He is and what He does, and these Psalms are painstakingly quoted as words from God [the Father] Himself to the Son! Once again, Mr. Burch’s henotheism cannot reconcile the Scriptures that clearly make Jesus Christ Yahweh. The Trinity is what the Scriptures force us to believe.
The “begotten” Son
Under a section titled “Christ and His Father Are Different Beings,” Mr. Burch quotes Hebrews 1:5, then declares the following:
“Clear isn’t it? Even the Old Testament speaks of how the Father begot the Son. And He is unique.”
I believe Mr. Burch did not look closely enough at the context. This is not about a time at the beginning of creation when the Son comes into existence. It is particularly about Jesus Christ assuming the preeminence of the role of “firstborn.” The next verse in Hebrews chapter 1 is as follows:
“And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten (or firstborn) into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.”
When was the Son “begotten”? It has to do with when He is brought “into the world.” At what point? Let’s see the context from whence Hebrews 1:5 is quoted.
“Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”
Psalm 2, like Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm, detailing in mysterious language what Messiah Jesus would do and Who He would be. It seems from the context that “this day” in which the Son is “begotten” is not at the beginning of creation, but rather when He assumes the role given by the Father as king of Israel. This is when He is resurrected from the dead; then, forty days He ascends to the throne and receives the nations as His inheritance. Let’s compare more of Psalm 2 with how it is referenced in the New Testament:
“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
“Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.”
Thus, Peter and John declare that the actions of the rulers of the world against Yahweh and His anointed has to do with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. They all conspired for their own purposes to do exactly what God ordained would happen–the perfect sacrifice of Christ.
Earlier, at Pentecost, Peter set the stage for the context of these event, declaring:
“Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Thus, after Jesus was crucified, He ascended to heaven forty days later and is seated on the throne in heaven at the right hand of the Father. He is given “all power…in heaven and in earth” (Mat. 28:18). He is reigning until His enemies are His footstool. Thus, since Jesus is reigning, and all powers are subject to the Son, Psalm 2 continues:
“Serve the LORD [Yahweh] with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
Now, those who do not bow the knee to the Son should fear making Him angry. He is now reigning as king in heaven. The day the Son was “begotten” (gegenneka) was the day He assumed the power over all things–the right of firstborn (prōtotokos). This right of “firstborn” has to do with being raised from the dead, as we will see when we look at Colossians 1:15-18.
Does this mean that Jesus Christ was less than the Father in divine power, since He was “given” it after His resurrection? No! Remember, that the Father and the Son each take different roles regarding creation, but both are equally Yahweh in creating all things. They also take different roles in the progressive revelation of the Scriptures in how they unfold the divine, eternal plan of redemption and consummation. The Father is the Person Who is primarily known in the Old Testament. Now, God Himself, through the incarnation of the Person of the Son, reveals the roles that the Father and Son assume in the authority over all things. Through the act of humility in Philippians 2:5-11, the Son “earns” the right to be the Person Who fulfills Isaiah 45:23. The Son is exalted by the Father as the Person Who now reigns and has all things under His feet. The Son “earns” the role of “firstborn of all creation” through what He did on earth in the flesh.
In the next post, we will address the notion of Jesus Christ as “firstborn” and prove that it has nothing to do with Him being the first created being.
- Les Burch, It Isn’t The Way We Think It Is: Seven Common Beliefs That Aren’t in the Bible (Mustang, Okla.: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC, 2013), 99.
- Ibid., 105.