The Fateful “shift” from Son of God to “God the Son”

On John 1.13
September 3, 2016
From “Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian” by Anthony Buzzard
October 4, 2016

The Fateful “shift” from Son of God to “God the Son”

By Anthony Buzzard

Professor Loofs, writing his history of dogma in 1895 (still not translated into English), spells out in detail the fateful move from Jesus as Messiah to “Jesus” as God the Son. It was the philosophically minded apologists (Aristides, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Theophilus) who invented a pre-history for Jesus, tacked on a preexistence to his existence, made two existences, and thus two different Jesuses – cutting Jesus in half, or doubling him. The Church is now saddled with this giant ecclesiastical blunder caused by forgetting the Hebrew Bible and redefining the faith in terms of Greek cosmology and philosophy. Loofs has brilliantly described the downhill path from the apocalyptic Kingdom Jesus to a strange hybrid figure supposed to be 100% God and 100% man. Would you believe it? The Church theologians then argued for centuries about this invented Jesus. Tossed him around like some rag doll, using hair-splitting and fearfully complex terminology to define “their Jesus.” No doubt it kept them in business, but what did it do for the average layman who needed to know that Jesus was the ultimate human being, the second Adam, God’s final prophet, man in perfect relation to God, his Father?

The Apologists [‘church fathers’ like Justin Martyr, mid-2nd century] laid the foundation for the perversion/corruption(Verkehrung) of Christianity into a revealed [philosophical] teaching. Specifically, their Christology affected the later development disastrously. By taking for granted the transfer of the concept of Son of God onto the preexisting Christ, they were the cause of the Christological problem of the fourth century. They caused a shift in the point of departure of Christo logical thinking – away from the historical Christ and onto the issue of preexistence. They thus shifted attention away from the historical life of Jesus, putting it into the shadow and promoting instead the Incarnation [i.e., of a preexistent Son]. They tied Christology to cosmology and could not tie it to soteriology. The Logos teaching is not a ‘higher’ Christo logy than the customary One. It lags in fact far behind the genuine appreciation of Christ. According to their teaching it is no longer God who reveals Himself in Christ, but the Logos, the inferior God, a God who as God is subordinated to the Highest God (inferiorism or subordinationism).

In addition, the suppression of economic-trinitarian ideas by metaphysical-pluralistic concepts of the divine triad (trias) can be traced to the Apologists.

(Leitfaden zum Studium des Dogmengeschichte [Manual for the Study of the History of Dogma] , 1890, part 1 ch. 2, section 18: “Christianity as a Revealed Philosophy. The Greek Apologists,” Niemeyer Verlag, 1951, p. 97, translation mine). “Polytheism entered the faith camouflaged.”

The criticism of orthodox Christology is not the property of a few people only. To a certain extent it may be considered as generally recognized by the whole German Protestant theology of the present time … At present [1911] I do not know of a single professor of evangelical theology in Germany [who thinks it right to reproduce the old orthodox formulas], All learned Protestant theologians of Germany … really admit unanimously that the orthodox Christology does not do sufficient justice to the truly human life of Jesus and that the orthodox doctrine of the ‘two natures’ in Christ cannot be retained in its traditional form.

(Lecturing in Ohio in 1911. What Is the Truth about Jesus Christ? p. 202).

For further reading: Willibald Beyschlag (1823-1900), evangelical theologian, professor at Halle, Neutestamentliche Theologie, trans. into English, 1895.