JOINT STATEMENT BY THE ELDERSHIP OF STROUD GREEN CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLY, STRANGERS REST EVANGELICAL CHURCH AND CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE MINISTRIES CONCERNING THE ERRONEOUS DOCTRINE OF INCARNATIONAL SONSHIP
Anton Bosch, pastor of Sun Valley Community Church in California, USA, has visited the UK at our invitation to speak at conferences and at our church services on five occasions since June 2014. We have greatly appreciated his ministry. During his most recent visit it emerged that Anton believes that, while the Word of God has existed from all eternity, the Word only became the Son of God at His incarnation and that he became the Son of God by office rather than being begotten as Son. We believe this teaching is false and presents another Jesus. Ken Smythe, who has preached at Stroud Green Christian Assembly and Strangers Rest Evangelical Church, and whose ministry and fellowship has otherwise been appreciated, also believes that The Word only became the Son at His incarnation into the world. Both deny that the Lord Jesus is the eternally begotten Son of God.
The Bible reveals to us that there is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4) in Three Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Each person of the Godhead shares the same essence each being uncreated, eternal, unchanging, omniscient and almighty. Each Person is God and therefore each Person of the Godhead is equal.
Scripture teaches that God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit, were present with the Father at the creation of the world (Genesis 1:1-3, Proverbs 30:4, Colossians 1:13-17 and Hebrews 1:2). Comparing John 1:1 with John 1:18 demonstrates that the Word and the Son are interchangeable names for the Second Person of the Trinity.
The Lord Jesus said Himself in John 16:28 that “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world”. This verse plainly implies that the Lord Jesus was the Son of the Father before He came into the world and that the Father was the Father of the Son before He came into the world. In John 17:5 the Lord Jesus prayed that the Father would glorify Him with the glory that He, the Lord Jesus, had before the world was. The implication again is that the Lord Jesus was glorified as the Son of the Father before the world was. John 3:16, Romans 8:3, Galatians 4:4 and 1 John 4:5 all speak of God sending His Son into the world. The clear implication of these verses is that God sent His Son as His Son, into the world and did not send the Word, that subsequently became the Son, into the world. The Word and the Son are interchangeable titles.
The coming of God’s Son was expected by the Jews. Nathaniel immediately exclaimed to the Lord Jesus that he was the Son of God in John 1:49. Martha was expecting the Son of God to come into the world (John 11:27). It was therefore not something new but instead it was understood by believing Jews that the prophesied Messiah was the Son of God. Scriptures such as Genesis 3:15 (the Messiah would be born of Eve’s seed) Isaiah 7:14 (the Virgin birth of the Messiah) and Isaiah 9:6 (the baby who was to be born would have all the titles of the Godhead) and Micah 5:2 (is begotten eternally from the Father) apply to the Son of God as He was before He was born into the world. This is consistent with Job’s declaration made long before the incarnation, “I know that my redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25).
The Spirit of Christ, as the Son, spoke through the prophets concerning His earthly walk and the accomplishment of His atoning death and resurrection which establishes His unique person as the Son before His earthly incarnation (for example, 1 Peter 1:11, Psalm 16:10 and Acts 2:31). Furthermore Christ was with Israel in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:3) and Moses suffered for the reproach of Christ (Hebrews 11:26). Yet if Incarnational Sonship is right these events preceded Christ being God’s Son.
God, The Father, is defined by His relationship to God, The Son. The Son is the Father’s only Son and is unique because He shares the Father’s nature and being (John 3:16, Hebrews 1:3 and Colossians 1:15).
The Father-Son relationship implies that the Son, being uncreated and without beginning or ending, is come forth from, or is begotten by the Father in eternity. He could not have been brought forth in time because then He would not be eternal. If He was not begotten He would not be God’s unique Son sharing His essence or Being. Only human beings are adopted by The Father, being created beings who are not of the same essence as God, whether Jew or Gentile (Romans 8:23, Romans 9:4, Galatians 4:5 and Ephesians 1:5). Furthermore John describes the Lord Jesus as God’s only begotten Son using the Greek word monogenes which has traditionally, and we believe correctly, been translated as “only begotten” (1 John 1:18, John 3:16, 18, 1 John 4:9, 1 John 5:1 and 18. That God, the Son, is begotten in eternity is consistent with Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah in Micah 5:2, Proverbs 8:25 and Psalm 2:7.
If the Word of God only became the Son of God at His incarnation by the Spirit then this would make the Holy Spirit The Father (Luke 1:35) which would confound the Persons of the Godhead by attributing to the Holy Spirit (The Third Person of the Trinity) the title of Father which is the identity of the First Person of the Trinity.
One of the attributes of God is His unchanging nature. In Malachi 3:6 the Lord says, “I am the Lord, I change not”. Hebrews 13:8 confirms that this attribute of Godhood also belongs to the Son: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today and forever”. The doctrine of incarnational sonship brings change to the Godhead. The First Person adopts the title of Father only at the Lord Jesus’s birth and the Second Person only adopts the title of Son at His birth into the world. This, in our judgment, is a denial of the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22). Furthermore the distinction between the Three Persons of the Godhead is removed which is a disguised form of modalism (where there is one God in one person, and that God takes on three different modes or forms on earth).
It is for these reasons that we have concluded, with sorrow, that our fellowship with Anton Bosch and Ken Smythe must conclude at this time until reconciliation can be achieved which we earnestly desire.
6th February 2017