Sunday, 14 December 2014
Christ - the Only Begotten Son
'The Sun is not prior to its light. Because time is not involved, they are to that extent unoriginate ... for the sources of time are not subject to time.'
St Gregory highlights the Orthodox position, that the Son proceeds from the Father - however at the same time, he stresses the importance of Christ being unoriginate - in other words, existing from all eternity. Yes, the Father is the origin, but not in a timely, worldly way - rather, in a loving relational manner, that is transcendent of man's understanding. St Gregory writes that all we must know is that the Father begets the Son, but 'anything beyond this fact is hidden by a cloud and escapes your dull vision!'
'Can anyone be a father without beginning to be one?
Yes, one who did not begin his existence. What begins to exist begins to be a father..He is Father in the true sense.'
The Father is the union (ένωσις), begetting the Son, and pouring forth the Spirit, as light from light, true God from true God - such that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not separate gods, but One God; a coessential and undivided Trinity.
Many ask whether or not Christ existed from the beginning, if His Source is the Father. However Saint Gregory's reply to this question is a bold one..'What drivel?' This is a worldly question, which bears no understanding of God he argues - as 'being begotten coincides with existence, and is from the beginning.'
One of the best ways to gain theological understanding, is often by reading into the services and hymns of the Church. One of the most significant hymns we hear within the Divine Liturgy, read before the Epistle, shows us how we understand Christ as the Only Begotten Son, and Word of God:
'Only begotten Son and Word of God who, being immortal, accepted for our salvation to take flesh from the holy mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, and without change became man. You were crucified, Christ our God, by death trampling on death, being One of the Holy Trinity, glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Save us.' (Translation used by the Archdiocese of Thyateira & Great Britain)
This is the faith of the Church, the belief we have about Christ our Lord and Saviour. It is somewhat of a credal statement, that was inserted into the Divine Liturgy at the time of Justinian, so that everyone, including catechuments could hear this proclamation of faith in Jesus Christ. This holy hymn affirms that we have the very faith of the Councils, of the fathers, and of the one Orthodox catholic Church. It contains, in a very concise form, the statement of Christian faith - confessing the divinity and humanity of Christ, Mary as the Θεοτόκος (God-bearer), as the one born of her is the incarnate Word of God - crucified for our sake and salvation.