|Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries||About God|
The difference between the terms Father and Maker.
The status of “inalterable” and of “acquired”
Why is being the Father NOT the same as being the Maker?
There is a huge difference between the terms “Father” and “Maker”; those who have attempted to formulate excuses by confusing these two entirely different terms (as we shall demonstrate below), have once again managed to expose themselves with their improvisations.
1. The argument regarding the Father’s inalterable status
We have repeatedly stressed in many of our articles that the Son is BEGINNING-LESS – as is the Father – contrary to the heretical Arianist arguments, which maintain that there was supposedly a time when the Son did not exist, and that the Son is a creation and not begotten of the Uncreated Father’s essence. And we have shown this, with a plethora of data and proof. Among the arguments that we have presented to indicate the correctness of the Christian position, (i.e., that the Son, as the “beginning-less” Creator of Time itself, cannot possibly have His own beginning within His creation, Time), we also elaborated on the Father’s “inalterable status”. The argument regarding the Father’s inalterable status is the following:
"Given that the Father exists BEYOND TIME, and since changeability (like every kind of change) presupposes the passage of Time, then He MUST be INALTERABLE and as such, there can be no change in Him. He is always the same, unaffected by any “change” whatsoever. So, if we were to suppose that the Son DOES HAVE a beginning – within created TIME, as certain heretical groups assert– then, we would have to accept that God IS CHANGEABLE, because that would imply that there must indeed have been “a time during which He was NOT the Father to His Son, Jesus Christ”.
But since Paternity is the characteristic of the time-less Father’s hypostasis, we are obliged to admit that the Son is likewise time-less, and that He was begotten “timelessly” by the Father; that is, the Son was begotten by the Father, without a temporal beginning. Woe betide if the Son was in fact a creation, thus rendering the Uncreated Father’s hypostasis “dependent” on something created within Time, as that would mean the Father was also within the confines of Time and as such, susceptible to change, therefore could not possibly be God.”
2. The Arianists’ counter-argument
Despite the gravity of this argument, Arianists make one last attempt wriggle out of the tight situation. But, instead of giving an answer to the quandary: “How can the Uncreated Father have a creation for a Son and yet be “dependent” on it, if He Himself is inalterable?”, they in turn pose a question that they believe will save them from the impasse that their heretical theory of “created Son” is cornering them into.
So, the heretics say:
"There must be some sort of logical error in this Orthodox argument regarding the changeability of the Father; because, if the Father were to lose His unchangeability when creating the Son – because He would have BECOME Father on account of a creation of His - then how is it, that He didn’t lose His unchangeability when He BECAME Maker, when fashioning other creatures within Time?”
This is a very shrewd (but also very naïve and improvised) argument that the Arianists put forth, NOT INTENDING TO REPLY to the question that we posed regarding the Son, but rather to accuse us, that: "You too are facing the same problem, on the matter of Creation, therefore you shouldn’t be resorting to the use of this argument”!
What escapes them however is that there are far too many parameters involved here, and that is precisely what we are going to analyze further along, in order to demonstrate once again how opportunist and makeshift the Arianist delusion is.
3. Observations on the Arianist argument
Let us first make a few observations on their above argument:
(1) We noticed that they don’t make an attempt to give an answer to this peculiar detail of their faith – which annuls the Godhood of the Father – but rather they seek to eke out weak points in Christians! This is reminiscent of Adam and Eve (who, after they sinned, chose to put the blame on each other instead of asking for forgiveness; Adam blamed Eve, while Eve blamed the serpent); this clearly reveals the Arianists’ IMPENITENCE on one hand, as well as their irresponsible attitude as (supposed) seekers of the truth.
(2) We also noticed their risky improvisations, when they confuse two entirely different meanings, i.e., between that which is created and that which is begotten of God’s nature.
(3) We noticed they don’t even realize that “Time” is also a creation of God, when they assert that “God was not a Maker BEFORE He created”. So, He BECAME Maker “after” He created??
Within the cadres of these three observations, we will proceed to respond to the Arianist counter-argument, to show that –regardless how improvised and absurd their assertions may be – we will not be satisfied with giving any kind of chance reply, or saying “you too are also mistaken, therefore everything is fine”; but, being people of the truth, we will REPLY, with logic and responsibility, but also with knowledge of the facts and truth.
4. God’s creation within Time
Let’s begin with the notion of God’s creation “within Time”. The fact that the Arianists do not comprehend the notion of “Time” at all, becomes apparent when they regard that the Son and Logos of God – THROUGH WHOM THEY TOO CONFESS that the Father created EVERYTHING (including Time!) – could possibly have His beginning …within Time!! How is it ever possible, for the Son to have a temporal beginning, when they themselves confess that He was the One Who created Time? (John 1:3, Hebr.1:2).
However, since Time per se is a creation, naturally it too has a beginning! And “when” did God create Time? “In the beginning”, of course. From the moment that “Time” began to exist, we have a temporal “beginning”, and since we have a temporal “beginning”, that was when “Time” began to exist! And it would be absurd for one to state that Time already existed… “before” the beginning of Creation (given that Creation acquired its existence with Time); which would be equally absurd if one were to assert that God wasn’t the Maker BEFORE Time had come into existence! Because, if Creation began simultaneously with space-time - ever since Time commenced - then God is the Maker and there never was a Time period during which God was not the Maker!!This alone is evidence of the improvisation and the hilarity of the heretical Arianist argument, when they speak of God’s “changeability” (which had taken place... within Time of course), when He….“became” the Maker. A “change” such as that of course never took place, given that from the commencement of Time, the Father was the Maker of Time - through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.
Nevertheless, even though we have proved how makeshift their thoughts are, we do not wish to simply rebut an argument, but to penetrate into the truth, and even to… help them express themselves (since they are obviously not in a position to correctly formulate a thought). Because, albeit their assertion is entirely absurd, they could at least have expressed it differently, in order for it to have a meaning. Therefore, the proper way they could have expressed themselves (given the above clarifications regarding Time), would have been as follows:
"If the Son was a creation, how could the Father be “dependent” on His Son, for Him to become a Father, and yet, not be “dependent” on Creation, in order to become Creator?
We shall respond to this query, in the next point.
5. The difference between “Paternity” and “Making”
In here also lies the essence of our answer. The Son, as a Son, is OF THE SAME ESSENCE AS THE FATHER. In the opposite case, when something is “made” (constructed), it is NOT of the same essence as the maker (constructor). A table is not of the same essence as the carpenter who made it. Nor is a house of the same essence as the builder who made it. But a child of the carpenter or the builder IS OF THE SAME ESSENCE AS ITS FATHER. From this first approach, it is possible to understand how it is not possible to use the words “father” and “maker” as though they both have the same value and significance. The word “father” is QUALITATIVELY SUPERIOR to the term “maker”.
So, how do we use these two words in our everyday lives?
Let’s take an architect for example. From the moment that he graduates from his studies and acquires his diploma, he "IS" an architect - even if he hasn’t yet constructed a single building!
The same applies in the case of a Civil Engineer; he “IS” a Civil Engineer, from the moment that he acquires his diploma. He doesn’t “become” one, only after he constructs a building.
And of course the same applies in each and every construction sector. From the moment that one has the necessary qualifications to create something, he is acknowledged as a CRAFTSMAN, even BEFORE he actually creates anything.
But – what about the word “father”? Does the same logic apply?
Of course not!! In order for someone to be referred to as “father”, it is not enough for him to only have the “potentials” for becoming a father. He has to ACTUALLY BEGET A CHILD FROM HIS OWN ESSENCE! Otherwise, anyone with the “potentials to become” a father could be called “father”! Behold the difference between begetting out of one’s essence and creating something apart from one’s essence. And so, the response to the Arianist argument has already begun to emerge.
And now we come to the matter regarding God – precisely where the difference lies. The Son is of the same essence as the Father; hence, if the begetting of the Son took place “within Time”, it would mean the negating of the Father’s Time-less Paternal status on account of… created Time!!
It would mean that the Father was affected by and subjected to change “within Time” and that “in Time” He “became” the Father, as though He wasn’t one “before”!! It would mean that the status of “Father” was dependent on something temporal, something created.
And of course He could not be called “Father” without having a Son.
When it comes to the created things however, which are NOT of His essence, we can no longer speak of a “pre-eternal” (timeless) begetting, but a construction “within Time”. And as we saw in the preceding examples, in order for someone to be called “craftsman”, he doesn’t need to have actually constructed something, because the POTENTIAL alone to construct it, renders him a MAKER.
Thus, NOTHING changes in God when He creates “within Time”, because He TIMELESSLY possessed the potential to create. He was potentially “Maker”, pre-eternally.
Hence, the term “potentially” applies only to the status of “Maker”, whereas the status of “Father” presupposes the per se begetting as something PRE-ETERNALLY ACTIVE, and not as a potential.And so, having responded to this Arianist heretic counter-argument, not only do the heretics’ ignorance and improvisations become apparent one more time, but also the absurdity of their man-made dogmas that consist of words of the human intellect, and not words of Divine Revelation and Wisdom, as delivered uniquely to the saints of the Christian Church.
Translation by A. N.
Article published in English on: 27-11-2006.
Last update: 22-04-2018.