Akbarally Meherally challenges the rendering of monogenes as only-begotten by translations such as the King James Version. He asserts that this rendering was actually the result of Jerome having translated the Greek as unigenitus in his Latin Vulgate version of the Holy Bible. After mentioning a letter he sent to the department of the New Testament at George Washington University and the subsequent response, Meherally states:
The above illumination is based upon the work of a scholar of international repute, Dr. Raymond Brown. It informs us that the innovated concept of Jesus being the"only begotten son" of the Father was developed in the fourth century. It was injected by Jerome into the Latin Bible to refute the claims made by Bishop Arius (d. 336) and his associates that Father alone was really God and Jesus was made (created) and not begotten. For further information it is suggested to read the detailed text written by Dr. Brown in the 'Anchor Bible' Volume 29, 'The Gospel according to John (i)', published by Doubleday Inc., Garden City, N.Y. (1966), p. 13-14. Apostle John had acknowledged Jesus to be an "unique son" of God but not the "only begotten son" of God. It is quite understandable that since Jesus was born to Virgin Mary he was indeed unlike others and therefore unique. However, in that respect Adam the son of God (Lk. 3: 38), was more unique being born without a father ad a mother.
Consequences of the 4th Century Heresy:
The translators who usethe Original Greek text written by Apostle John, as their source document to translate this controversial verse 3: 16, do mention that Jesus was a "unique son" or "one of a kind son" of God. Those who opt to translate that verse from the secondary document in Latin, known as The Vulgate, created by a scholar and apologist named Jerome (c. 347-420), do try to maintain that Jesus was the "only begotten son" of God. These strange inconsistencies within the translated texts for Jn. 3: 16 can be visualized from the reading of various translations reproduced below from the 'Gideon Bible'.
To begin with, John doesn't call Jesus AN unique Son of God, but THE unique Son of God sent to save the world from sin:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son (ton huion ton monogenee), that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God (tou monogenous tou huio tou theou)." John 3:16-18
"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son (ton huion autou ton monogenee) into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins... And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God." 1 John 4:9-10, 14-15
John, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, used the Greek definite article (ton, tou) to affirm that Jesus is THE unique or only Son of God. John also affirmed that eternal life comes through the Lord Jesus since he is the One whom God sent to make atonement for sins, to propitiate or satisfy the Father's righteous anger.
Second, Meherally has erroneously assumed that Jesus' uniqueness is the result of his virgin birth, that the virginal conception and birth by Mary is the reason why he is God's unique Son. The virgin birth has nothing to do with Jesus' unique filial relationship, but is the result of Christ being the unique Son of God. In other words, it is precisely because Jesus is the unique Son that God deemed the virgin birth to be the appropriate manner by which Christ would take on human flesh, that the Father planned this way for Christ to enter time and space as a man since it befitted his eternal majesty.
Third, the comparison with Adam fails for several reasons:
a) According to the Holy Bible, Jesus existed before the creation and was the Agent that created all things which have been made:
"And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed." John 17:5
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." Colossians 1:15-18
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world." Hebrews 1:1-2
Not only does this show that Jesus existed before Adam according to God's true Word, but it also demonstrates that Christ is Adam's Creator!
b) Jesus is God's Son by nature, meaning that he shares the very same uncreated Being of his Father:
"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily," Colossians 2:8-9
Paul says that the whole fullness, not just some, of the Deity, of the Divine essence, is dwelling in Christ bodily!
"He is the radiance of the glory of God and the EXACT IMPRINT of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high," Hebrews 1:3
Jesus is said to be the exact imprint, the exact copy of God's infinite and eternal substance. In other words, Jesus has the very same exact, uncreated nature of God.
Adam was God's son in the sense of God being his life-giver, the One who created and sustained him. He is also God's son by virtue of being created in God's image to reflect God's moral perfection and sovereignty:
"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:26-27
"Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!-- assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." Ephesians 4:17-25
c) Adam's circumstances necessitated the manner in which he was created. In other words, since Adam was the first man it was not possible for him to have a father and mother. Christ, however, came at a time when there were literally millions of people and could have been conceived through the normal process of sexual intercourse. Yet he didn't enter time and space through this manner, and the reason is because he is the unique Son of God:
"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, 'Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!' But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.' And Mary said to the angel, 'How will this be, since I am a virgin?' And the angel answered her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the chil to be born will be called holy--the Son of God.'" Luke 1:26-35
d) Being the Son even before creation, Christ was/is the object of God's infinite and eternal love:
"At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'" Mark 1:9-11 NIV
"After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three sheltersone for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: 'This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!' Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus." Mark 9:2-8
"Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world." John 17:24
"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love," Colossians 1:13 NKJV
Fourth and finally, long before Arius ever came on the scene the early Church fathers were already calling Jesus God's only-begotten Son. For the quotes demonstrating this please read an earlier rebuttal to Meherally.
We do agree, however, that monogenes is more properly translated as "unique" or "the only one of his/its kind", a rendering which does very little to support Meherally's position as we saw.
"My Father and your Father"
Apostle John, in his Gospel records that when Jesus appeared before Mary Magdalene, outside of the empty tomb, she tried to cling him. There upon Jesus told Mary not to hold him because he had yet to ascend to the Father. Jesus then instructed Mary to go and tell his disciples:"I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Mary Magdalene went and conveyed that Message to the disciples. (John 20: 16-18). This conclusively proves that the term "My Father" used by Jesus simply meant that the Almighty God was the Father of him as well as that of his disciples. In other words, this unequivocally recorded verbatim authenticates that the relationship of Jesus with "his Father" and "his God" were akin to the relationship his disciples had with the Heavenly Father and God.
Again, several responses are in order so as to set the record straight. First, Jesus' Sonship is not at all identical with the believers' filial relationship with the Father. As we had already mentioned, Jesus is the Son who existed before creation and later came down from heaven to accomplish his Father's will:
"The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth... No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." John 1:9-11, 14, 18
"No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." John 3:13-15
"Jesus then said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.' ... Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst... For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.' ... So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven.' They said, 'Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, "I have come down from heaven"?'" John 6:32-33, 35, 38, 41-42
"This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh... As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever." John 6:50-51, 57-58
"Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?" John 6:62
"Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me... Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.' So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.' So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple." John 8:42, 56-59
"do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?" John 10:36
"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God," John 13:3
"for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father." John 16:27-28
Believers, on the other hand, are sons by adoption through faith in Jesus Christ the Lord:
"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12-13
"Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:34-36
"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:30-31
Basically, it is because of what Jesus did for the redemption of mankind that individuals can now enter into a relationship with God as heavenly Father. Putting it simply, Christ procured our adoption as children of the Most High God.
Second, the very same chapter of John 20 identifies Jesus as the God of believers much in the same way that the Father is their God:
"Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord.' But he said to them, 'Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.' Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you.' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.' Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God! (ho kyrios mou kai ho theos mou)' Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" John 20:24-29
Thomas acknowledges Jesus as his Lord and God, with Christ blessing all those who would make this same profession of faith! Yet Christ clearly affirmed that there is only one God:
"How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?" John 5:44
"And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." John 17:3
And the Hebrew Bible identifies Yahweh as the believers' Lord and God:
"Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord (ho theos mou kai ho kyrios mou)!" Psalm 35:23 (34:23 LXX)
With the NT concurring with this point:
"Worthy are you, our Lord and God (ho kyrios kai ho theos hemon), to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." Revelation 4:11
Moreover, Jesus is presented as someone who is personally distinct from the Father:
"'Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I ALONE who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the testimony of two men is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.' They said to him therefore, 'Where is your Father?' Jesus answered, 'You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.'" John 8:16-19
When we add all the above data together we are forced to conclude that the one true God exists as more than one Person, namely the Father and the Son (as well as the Holy Spirit). Note how this all works out:
A) There is only one God, namely Yahweh.
B) Yahweh is the believers' Lord and God.
C) The Father is the God of believers.
D) The Son, Jesus, is the Lord and the God of all believers.
E) Therefore, both the Father and the Son are Yahweh God.
F) Yet the Father and the Son are personally distinct.
G) Therefore, the one God Yahweh exists as more than one Person.
Third, the reason Jesus could refer to the Father as his God is due to the fact that he became a true human being. At the moment which Jesus became man, thereby becoming part of his creation, he entered into a new relationship with his Father. It wasn't simply a Father and Son relationship anymore, but also a Master and Servant situation. In other words, the Father began relating to the Son as God the moment that Christ became part of creation through his Incarnation.
Here is the Whole Truth!
Meherally then asks, "What is the Whole Truth?" and lists these serious questions:
1. To be a BEGOTTEN son of God, there has to be an act of BEGETTING performed by the God.
2. Who was the other party to this act?
3. That party must have existed before the Begotten Son...
All of these "questions" and "problems" have been answered many times before (e.g. *, *, *, *, *, and these pages are not really hard to find, since one only needs to follow the links given in our Index to Islam entry BEGET, BEGOTTEN), but certain Muslim polemicists never tire of asking the same "questions". Nevertheless, let us deal with them yet again.
The underlying assumption behind Meherally's questions is that God begets in the same manner that human beings do, i.e. humans begat children through sexual procreation which requires two parties. It furthermore assumes that if God begets then, much like humans, the thing or person begotten must necessarily be later in time. In reality, God's begetting is nothing at all similar with the way creatures beget their offspring since there is nothing like God:
"There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God." Psalm 86:8-10
"Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?" Psalm 89:6-8
"To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?... To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One." Isaiah 40:18, 25
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9
We should therefore expect that God's begetting of the Son will be completely unique and unlike anything in creation.
Moreover, it is not the case that every act of human begetting requires two human parties, or involves a sexual act since there is one exception to this general rule, namely Mary. Even Meherally affirms with Christians that Mary begat Jesus without a man while still a virgin. Thus, Mary is an example of a human who begat a child without requiring another human party.
Yet since Meherally is insisting that begetting necessarily requires two parties, then we need to ask Meherally: Who was the other party to Mary's act of begetting? We know that there was no human involved, so this leaves us with either angels or God. As a Muslim, Meherally must reject angels from begetting Jesus which leaves him with only one other alternative: God was the other party involved in Mary begetting Jesus, a fact which the Quran affirms:
When the angels said, 'Mary, God gives thee good tidings of a Word from Him whose name is Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary; high honoured shall he be in this world and the next, near stationed to God. He shall speak to men in the cradle, and of age, and righteous he shall be.' 'Lord,' said Mary, 'how shall I have a son seeing no mortal has touched me?' 'Even so,' God said, God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing He does but say to it "Be," and it is. S. 3:45-47 Arberry
And mention in the Book Mary when she withdrew from her people to an eastern place, and she took a veil apart from them; then We sent unto her Our Spirit that presented himself to her a man without fault. She said, 'I take refuge in the All-merciful from thee! If thou fearest God ... He said, 'I am but a messenger come from thy Lord, to give thee a boy most pure. She said, 'How shall I have a son whom no mortal has touched, neither have I been unchaste?' He said, 'Even so thy Lord has said: "Easy is that for Me; and that We may appoint him a sign unto men and a mercy from Us; it is a thing decreed."' S. 19:16-21 Arberry
Since God assisted Mary in the creation of Christ he must be Jesus' begetter and therefore his Father according to Meherally's logic. For more on this please consult these articles (*, *).
Note that this is the consequence of applying Meherally's logic to the texts of the Quran, since we do not believe that Jesus' virgin birth made him God's Son. As we stated, it is because Jesus is God's Son that he was born from the virgin by the Holy Spirit.
4. Where was Jesus, before this act?
Jesus was existing in eternity with the Father, being eternal by nature because he is God in essence:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:1-5
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." 1 John 1:1-3
5. If Jesus is regarded co-equal and co-eternal, as professed by the Trinitarians, and if the Begotten Son came after the act of BEGETTING, that Negates the Doctrine of Trinity.
6. If Jesus was co-eternal in time with the God, then that Negates Jesus being a "Begotten Son of God"...
To begin with, Meherally is attacking straw man since no informed Trinitarian says that Jesus as the Son came after the act of begetting. On the contrary, the Creeds make it a point that Christ is eternally begotten and not made. Note for instance the following Creedal statements:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father BEFORE ALL AGES. (God of God) light of light, true God of true God. Begotten NOT MADE, consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made.- Nicene Creed (Source)
6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
22. The Son is of the Father alone; NOT MADE NOR CREATED, but begotten.
30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.
32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.
36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
Athanasian Creed (Source)
As the foregoing statements show, the early Christians clearly affirmed that Christ is eternal, uncreated and yet begotten before the ages in eternity. This means that they did not believe the act of begetting implied that Christ came into being at some later point in time. What the Son's begetting means is not that Christ came into being, but that the Father is the source of the Son's Divine attributes, his Deity. Basically, this view holds that Jesus is God by virtue of his eternal union and relationship to the Father, that the Father is the Source from which both the Son and the Spirit derive their Deity. Some of the Scriptures which support this include:
"In him was life, and the life was the light of men." John 1:4
"For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself." John 5:26
The Father granted the Son life within himself which he already had in eternity according to John 1:4. This shows that the Father doesn't give Jesus in the sense that the latter didn't have something and only received it later on, but in the sense that he is the Source of Christ's Divine life.
"He is THE RADIANCE of the glory of God and the EXACT IMPRINT (charakter) of his nature (hupostaseos), and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high," Hebrews 1:3
Jesus is the very exact imprint, the very exact copy, the perfect reflection of Gods own substance, nature, essence etc, which is the meaning of the Geek word charakter. The implication here is that the Father is the underived Source or Origin of the Divine essence which the Son perfectly duplicates. This means that if Gods substance is eternal and infinite then Christ must be eternal and infinite as well since he is the exact imprint and copy. Hebrews is essentially saying that the Lord Jesus is eternally God and that he is such because of his eternal union and reflection of the Fathers very own eternal Being. For more on this we recommend this article.
This concludes our rebuttal. By the grace of the sovereign God we continue to remain in the service of the risen and immortal Lord, Jesus Christ, God's eternally begotten and beloved Son. Amen.
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