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Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Beginnings

I remember when a nearly-ancient saint of our church–we will call her Rosa–brought up this passage at our weekly breakfast after prayer meeting. She had read Proverbs 8 for our Sunday School on Proverbs and felt she had finally solved the paradox of the Trinity! Her reasoning said something like, “Jesus is the Word, the Logos. The idea of wisdom is not so far from the idea of the Logos. The Son, who is the Logos, must also be the Wisdom of God. So the Son of God must be the first of the Father’s creations, enabling him to be the creative force that joined the Father in creating the rest of Creation!”


I was simultaneously proud of this living saint for her reading of the text and commitment to the Scriptures and horrified that despite our best efforts, Arianism still will not die. That’s what she had expressed, of course. The 3rd and 4th centuries (and following!) of the Christian Church were rife with the heresy of Arianism that claimed that the Son of God was created. The very best of God’s creations. The first of God’s creations. In fact, such a good creation that he was basically divine. But still a creation. Arius said things like,


"Understand that the Monad [eternally] was; but the Dyad was not before it came into existence. It immediately follows that, although the Son did not exist, the Father was still God. Hence the Son, not being [eternal] came into existence by the Father’s will, He [the Son] is the Only-begotten God, and this one is alien from [all] others."


Old Arius makes the mistake of thinking that because the begetting of the Father and the being-begotten of the Son are so alike to our human experience, they must really be like our human experience. It must be that if you really look into it, you will discover that the Son has a beginning. It could not be that the begetting we encounter in God is of a different character, and therefore can be eternal, so that the Son is always being begotten and the Father is always begetting.


It’s important to say this on Trinity Sunday because we need to know that while we are using human language and human relationships to talk about this thing that we must talk about (the Trinity), it is not as though they make the Triune God fully available to us. I know this makes people like Rosa and me and maybe you deeply uncomfortable. It means that we don’t fully have a grasp on our expressions of God. God is Father and Son and Spirit, begetter and begotten and proceeding, but God is also known as the Prover