Friday, March 11, 2016

The Unbegottenness and Aseity of God the Father

Excerpt from Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy;  Volume 4: The Triunity of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 252–253.

"The initial proprietas distinctive of the Father is the negative property “unbegottenness” (agennesia) or as it is sometimes called “self-begottenness” (autogennesia), according to which his subsistence “non est ab alia persona, sed Filius & Spiritus ab ipso”—“is not from another person, but the Son and the Spirit are [both] from Him.” Even so, Scripture generally places the Father first in references to the Trinity (cf. Matt. 28:19; 1 John 5:7) not because of temporal precedence or greater dignity—for all three are eternal and possess the same perfections—but rather because “he is represented as begetting the Son and as sending the Holy Spirit” and is not himself begotten or sent by any. The Father, therefore, is traditionally identified as the principium, the “source” (sometimes the “cause”), and the “origin of all divinity” (originem totius Deitatis).

Thus, the primary positive personal property of the Father is that he is a se, of or from himself. This aseitas, moreover, is not merely the essential aseitas common to all persons of the Trinity, it is also the personal property of the Father: the Father is utterly self-existent, not only as God but also as Father—nor does the Father ever work by the power of another. The Father, unlike the Son and the Spirit, has no principium: he is ἄναρχον, whether according to essence or according to person. (The Son and the Spirit can be considered as existing a se only according to essence, given that their persons proceed from the Father as the principium of the Godhead.)"