The church is the pillar and base of the truth. That the doctrine which denies the eternity of the Son is based upon a corruption of the word of God is undeniable, as will be seen from what follows.
In order to produce "proof" that Christ is Son only in incarnation the words "in the bosom" in the 18th Verse of the 1st. Chapter of John are altered to "into the bosom," the alteration being attributed to the Holy Spirit while, at the same time, the authority of Liddell & Scott's Lexicon is put forward in support of it. (See "Names of Divine Persons." Pages 17 and 18 [J.T.]). After substituting the word "into" for "in" the whole of the 18th Verse must, of course, be reconstructed in order to make the passage intelligible.
The danger of tampering with the word of God is pointed out in Proverbs 30: "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar" and the present case is a striking example of the truth of this passage.
In an endeavour to awaken brethren to the seriousness of the present position and our responsibility to maintain the truth, I wrote to several pointing out, among other things, the profanity of certain statements in the above named book. In one of the replies received it is asserted that the alteration of the passage in John's Gospel is supported by the "highest scholarship," referring, I afterwards discovered, to Liddell & Scott's Lexicon. In view of this, and in order to obtain the opinion of the "highest scholarship," I wrote to a Professor of Greek at each of the three Universities:—Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin. I give below their replies on the point raised, also a copy of my letter. The replies completely expose the ignorance and folly of J.T. who has attributed his evil work to the Holy Spirit; and his supporters have not spared the flock, having "cast out" faithful men and women who have refused to give up the truth. These are solemn considerations and should be lain to heart.
Extracts from "Names of Divine Persons" Pages 17 and 18.
Verse 18 tells of the position of the Only-Begotten Son as declaring God. It is a position reached as indicated by the preposition "in" (the Greek, [eis], as is well known, meaning "direction towards, motion to, on, or into" etc., etc.,—Liddell & Scott) . . . Some would remove this important evidence against so-called eternal sonship by saying that this preposition has not its ordinary meaning here . . . the Spirit would convey by the preposition He employs that the Lord had come into the bosom of the Father.
The preposition "in" in Verse 18, according to the ordinary meaning implies, as already said, that the Only-Begotten Son had entered into the position mentioned. In the light of these considerations, . . . there cannot be a doubt in a subject spiritual mind that the sonship of our Lord is contingent on His incarnation.
The following is the correspondence mentioned above and, in view of the last paragraph of the Oxford University letter, it should be observed that no reference whatever is made to the Eternal Son in my letter.
(Copy of my letter).
3rd October, 1939.
"Will you kindly let me know whether there is the slightest warrant for the assertion that the word "in" (eis) in the original Greek text conveys the idea of movement in the following passage quoted from the Gospel by John, Chapter 1, Verse 18.
"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."
The authority of Liddell & Scott's Lexicon has been advanced in support of the assertion that the Lord moved into the bosom of the Father.
I know no Greek myself but as a Christian I am gravely concerned regarding the point raised."
6th. October, 1939.
"I think it is quite certain that in John 1:18 the word "eis" means simply "in" and conveys no idea whatever of motion."
9th October, 1939.
"Your letter with its query regarding the above verse has been handed to me by Dr.— who is Regius Professor of Greek himself but considers that the problem belongs properly to my department of study (Biblical Greek).
In this he is quite correct, and in fact the answer to your question turns largely on the difference between Classical Greek (which he teaches) and the Hellenistic or late Greek employed in the New Testament (a difference sadly overlooked by the translators of our Revised Version). The view which alarms you derives its support from pressing the classical use of the preposition "eis." It is in my opinion, with which Dr.— agrees, quite a mistake to force the idea of motion upon John 1:18."
5th October, 1939.
"Any one who thinks that the Greek words for "in the bosom" mean "into the bosom" is, let me assure you, as ignorant of Greek as he is of theology. Liddell and Scott's dictionary is of the classical language, BUT John and the other evangelists did not write classical Greek at all; they wrote more or less in the spoken Hellenistic Greek of their period.
Let your opponents consider the word before "eis ton kolpon;" it is "on" and "on" means "being," the present participle of the verb "to be." This is, of course, absolutely decisive for the meaning "in the bosom."
"Eis" here (John 1:18) certainly does not contain the idea of movement and it is a great pity that before spreading such absurdities people do not take the trouble to look up the elementary books dealing with the subject. It would save them from this sort of blundering and save other people a lot of trouble; you and me for example.
Your opponents idea that the words can mean "into” of course lands them in the Arian heresy, denying the Eternity of the Son."
Very careful reading of "Names of Divine Persons" reveals that the doctrine it sets forth is but a lie wrapped in truth. Many have been deluded because of the truth presented and have failed to discern the falsehood, although the profane references to the names of God and the Holy Spirit, which are said to be "relative," and the assertion that the names, Father, Son and Holy Spirit "imply graded relations" and that two of them are inferior to the other, should make any Christian pause. Mr. Darby referred to the doctrine that denies the eternal Sonship of Christ as "abhorrent," and godly men in the past, such as Mr. Bellett, Mr. Macintosh, Mr. Raven, Mr. Stoney and others rejected it with decision. How can those who hold it enter into the meaning of fellowship with the Father and the Son, or fellowship in the Spirit? First of all they dishonour the Son by giving Him a place of inferiority, then, having thus dishonoured Him, they measure the revelation of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) by that debased standard.
There is much in "Names of Divine Persons" which could be shown to be false but one's immediate concern is to expose its evil foundation, a foundation upon which is based the new hymn book the refusal of which by faithful men and women led, and still leads, to their being "cast out."
As bearing upon the situation the following will be found of interest. They are passages from Mr. Darby's Synopsis of the epistles to Timothy.
"To be in communion with God the conscience must be pure, must be good. If we are not in communion with God, Satan then has a hold upon us and if the intellect of one in this state is active he falls into heresy. The loss of a good conscience opens the door to Satan because it deprives us of communion with God; and the active mind, under Satan's influence, invents ideas instead of confessing the truth of God. The apostle treats the fruit of this state as "blasphemies," the will of man is at work, and the higher the subject, the more an unbridled will, possessed by the enemy, goes astray, and exalts itself against God, and against the subjection of the whole mind to the obedience of Christ, to the authority of the revelation of God."
"The assembly is not the truth: the word of God is the truth . . . The assembly as planted by God on the earth is the pillar and support of the truth . . . That which does not maintain and present the truth is not the assembly as God understands it."
"The Spirit bears witness of all things, that is to say, of all truth in the word; the love of the Father, the nature and the glory of God Himself, His character, the Person and glory and love of the Son."
"If man gives it a form it is no longer the truth given of God. Therefore to hold fast the truth in the form God has given it, the type, the shape in which He has expressed it, is of all importance."
"When faithful, the assembly receives and maintains the truth. She guards it, she is faithful to it, she is, subject to it, as a truth, a revelation which comes from God Himself. She is not the source of the truth. As an assembly she does not propagate it—does not teach it."
"The scriptures are the means which God has used to preserve the truth, to give us certainty in it; seeing the fallibility of the instruments by whom it is propagated, since revelation has ceased."
Appended are but a few extracts from Mr. Darby's writings for the benefit of those who may have been misled by the false statements that have been made about him by J.T. and the supporters of his evil doctrine which thrusts into obscurity the glorious revelation of God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—presenting in its stead three mystic divine persons, whose names are unknown. (See page 6 of "Names of Divine Persons" by J.T.)
48 Highbury, Newcastle upon Tyne.
MR. JAMES TAYLOR.
The insistence on so-called eternal sonship is marked by the spirit of error.—("The sonship of Christ." Page 8).
The Sonship of our Lord is contingent on His incarnation.—("Names of Divine Persons." Page 18).
The words "Eternal Son” have been expunged from the New Hymn Book which was altered in order to make it "consistent with the truth."—(See "New Hymn. Book Revision." Page 2).
MR. J. N. DARBY.
He was from eternity the Son of the Father. (Synopsis Vol. 5. Page 243).
The Son is also the name of the proper relationship of His glorious person to the Father before the world was. (Synopsis Vol. 5. Pages 13 and 15).
The notion of Sonship in Christ only when incarnate is destructive to the very elementary joy of the church and abhorrent to those who have communion by the Spirit in the truth.—(Collected Writings Vol. 8. Page 135).
But there are persons who take it that Christ was only Son as come into the world. The positive answer is given to this in Hebrews and Colossians, that by Him, the Son, the world was made. It is of immense import because I have not the Father's love in sending the Son out of heaven if I have not Him as Son before born into the world . . . I lose all that the Son is, if He is only so as incarnate, and you have lost all the love of the Father in sending the Son as well.—(Synopsis Colossians 1.)
"Thou Father glorify me with thyself." It was the glory He had with the Father before the world was. It was a return into His own glory in that character which He had before as Son, before the world or any creature was . . . He had it with the Father before the world was. This is a remarkable and blessed point, it proves the pre-existing Sonship, and the Son represented Him as in His bosom, yet Son down here in Manhood, and so the Son is seen in John, though in reference to his Eternal Sonship in which He was one with the Father."
"The Sonship is still the point to see as regards the association with Deity.—(Notes and Comments Vol. 7.)
"As to the relationship of the divine Persons, there is the same reducing everything to man's level in speaking of "begotten" . . . Only-begotten Son is a term of relationship, not a low, carnal, human idea of begetting, the use of which in respect of God only proves the degradation of thought of him who so uses it when referred to Godhead."—(The irrationalism of Infidelity, Collected Writings, Vol. 6. Page 80).
Copies of this pamphlet 48 Highbury, Newcastle-on-Tyne. The publications of J.T. mentioned in it are obtainable from The Stow Hill Bible & Tract Depot, 22 Paternoster Row, London,
and those of J.N.D. from G. Morrish, 20 Paternoster Square, London, E.C.4.