Begotten But Made…

The very title of this article might be enough for St. Nick to scuttle down my chimney and slap my jaws. He has done it before. Well, not to me, but you get the idea.

The Libyan rabble-rouser Arius was the original recipient of those jolly love taps. St. Nicholas of Myra shook the Libyan lout like a bowl of jelly. At least, that’s how I sing the song.

Arius was prophet for profit who had been peddling lies concerning the Second Person of the Godhead. He affirmed that Jesus was “divine” but that it would be proper to use the lower-case with reference to Him. Arius held that the Lord Jesus was the first of Jehovah’s creations (sound familiar?). He said that there was a “time when he was not.” He was not, therefore, in any real way equal with the Father. The heretic held that Jesus was begotten in Bethlehem and that was when He was made; that is created. You can see how this might unsettle those of a more orthodox disposition who actually believe the Bible.

Arius had used a rather catchy pedagogical method for the dissemination of his trashy doctrines. He rewrote a few of the more bawdy bar songs of his day, those that were sung at pagan orgies, to reflect his more “progressive” view of the Faith. The songs were so crude that grown men would often blush. And Arius wasn’t even a celebrity pastor from from Seattle.

In 325 A.D., an ecumenical council met in Nicea to settle the question. The Arian party was large and influential. At a certain point in the discussion, Arius rose to his feet to regurgitate (because I am more polite than to say vomit) his drivel. He did so by breaking forth in one of his well known ditties. Historians have said that grown men ran out of the hall in embarrassment, blushing as they went. Even members of his own faction were ashamed. But not Nick. He was downright mad. He strode over to the transgressive troubadour and punched him in the face. It is here that the historians are divided. Some maintain that being faithful to his Lord, he didn’t “let his right hand know what his left hand was doing” and he “turned the other cheek” of Arius. One lick or two, it’s still a good story. Now before you get your knickers in a twist and say, “Well that wasn’t very Christ-like” let me say that I wish that the worst thing that we had ever done was to punch a heretic!

After the incident, the council went on to formally denounce Arius and his vile heresy, as well as give us the famous Nicene Creed. That creed of the Church set forth in very certain terms the essential equality of the Son with the Father.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The council affirmed that Jesus was begotten, not made. So you see why my title might raise the hackles of the Claus? The second section of the creed is definitively teaching us that Jesus was not “made” in the sense that He was not created. He eternally existed as the eternally begotten Son of the Father. So how dare I say that He was begotten but made? Well, because the creed says so.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man

Wait a minute! Isn’t this a blatant contradiction? No, not at all. The previous section says that Jesus was not “made” in the sense that He was not created. This section, however, says that He was “made” in the sense that He became something. That is, he was constituted something by virtue of the incarnation.

Think of some of the glorious statements in Holy Scripture that state this grand truth. There is a sense in which Christ, the Mighty Maker, was made.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh (Romans 1:3).

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law (Galatians 4:4).

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man (Hebrews 2:9).

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree (Galatians 3:13).

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens (Hebrews 7:25-26).

So, in a very real sense we should give praise to God because the Lord Jesus was begotten but made.

Made flesh!
Made lower than angels!
Made of a woman!
Made sin!
Made to be a curse!
Made higher than the heavens!

All of this so that we might be made Sons of the Most High God. Hallelujah! What a Savior.

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