|Only Begotten and
the Deity of Christ
A Review of Hugo McCord's paper
IV. THE UNIQUE SON
[Hugo McCord's Paper is in the smaller type.]
IV. THE UNIQUE SON
To redeem the world the Father did not send a son (both angels and humans are sons of God,
Job 1:6; 38:7; Luke 3:38), but the special Son, the only one of his kind, the only one virgin-born.
This distinctive paternal-filial syndrome, with God as "his own Father" (John 5:18) and Jesus as
"his own Son" (Romans 8:32), is figurative, but so appealing and meaningful. It is an
unparalleled, and incomparable mystery: Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23; 1 Timothy
This is the point where brother McCord makes his most dangerous
statement: "This distinctive paternal-filial syndrome with God as 'his own
Father' (John 5:18) and Jesus as 'his own Son' (Romans 8:32), is figurative,
but so appealing and meaningful." Is the statement that Jesus is the Son of
Figurative is defined: "1a: representing by a figure or resemblance:
EMBLEMATIC ... 2. expressing one thing in terms nornally denoting another
with which it may be regarded as analogous: METAPHORICAL (Webster's
Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). Does God merely resemble the
Father of Jesus? Does Jesus merely resemble the Son of God? Is God
called Jesus' Father metaphorically because He is analogous, or similar, to
His Father? Is Jesus called the Son of God metaphorically, or because he
is analogous, or similar, to His Son?
At this point it would be good to review how one determines whether
language is literal or figurative.
Hermeneutics, by D.R. Dungan, states:
Sec. 50 Rules by which the meaning of words shall be ascertained.
Rule 1. All words are to be understood in their literal sense, unless the evident
meaning of the context forbids. -- Figures are the exception, literal language
the rule; hence we are not to regard anything as figurative until we feel
compelled to do so by the evident import of the passage. And even here great
caution should be observed. We are very apt to regard contexts as teaching
some theory which we have in our minds. And having so determined, anything to
the contrary will be regarded as a mistaken interpretation; hence, if the literal
meaning of the words shall be found to oppose our speculations, we are ready to
give the words in question some figurative import that will better agree with our
preconceived opinions. Let us be sure that the meaning of the author has
demanded that the language be regarded in a figurative sense, and that it is not
our theory which has made the necessity.
Principles of Interpretation, by Clinton Lockhart, in Chapter VII.
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE states:
Nature and Use of Figures
Defintions. When a word has been appropriated by usage to one thing and is
transferred to another, it is said to be used figuratively. When a word is used in its
primitive or most usual sense, it is said to be literal. A figure, therefore, is a
departure or deflection from the primitive or usual meaning of a word, or the
usual manner of expressing ideas. In all languages figures are necessary to
express adequately some of the thoughts of intelligent people. Literal terms may
be readily found in almost any language to express such ideas as, cold iron,
stony pavements, hard wood, soft clay, and the like; but there is probably no
language capable of expressing literally the ideas cold heart, stony heart, hard
heart, and soft heart. As applied to the heart all these adjectives must be
figurative. This is due to the face that literal meanings are given to words as
applied first to material things, and when conceptions of immaterial things arise,
they can be expressed only by analogous uses of the words at hand.
Close Relations. It follows from the foregoing that the figurative meaning of a
word is necessarily a secondary sense. If this latter sense should become very
usual, and especially if the primitive meaning should be obsolete, the secondary
sense will be regarded as literal. Accordingly, it is not always easy to fix the
exact boundary line between the literal and figurative. This will require a careful
study of language, a vigilant observation of the usage of words and a good
judgment and training in literary matters.
Consistency the Test. It may be often important to distinquish between the
literal and the figurative; and therefore a reliable test will be desirable. Perhaps
no absolute test can be applied; but is is usually sufficient to inquire in any case
of doubt, Does the literal make good sense? If the literal proves to be absurd, or
in any way inconsistent, either with other parts of the sentence or with the
nature of things discussed, we may conclude with tolerable certainty that the
language is figurative. This test will require a careful study of the adjuncts
associated with any word that may not seem to be literal, a careful examination
of the general context, and perhaps a comparison of parallel passages.
Sometimes a knowledge of the subject treated or of historical or doctrinal
matters related to it, will reveal the inconsistency which marks a word or
sentence as figurative. Great familiarity with all kinds of figures, so that the
reader will readily recognize and classify them when he meets them, will often
save much hesitancy and doubt. Moreover, the custome of a writer or class of
writers in respect to a free use of figures or their employment inthe discussion of
particular subjects, will prove a valuable guide in distinguishing between the
literal and the figurative.
RULE XXXI. -- Preference for the Literal
Since the literal is the most usual signification of a word, and therefore occurs
much more frequently than the figurative, any term will be regarded as literal
until there is good reason for a different understanding ...
RULE: --The literal or most usual meaning of a word, if consistent, should be
preferred to a figurative or less usual signification.
How To Read The Bible, by John Allen Hudson, sates under General
Rules for Determining the Sense of Scripture:
1st. The most simple sense, the obvious sense, is the genuine meaning in almost
all instances ...
2nd. A simple and safe rule, nay, an indispensable rule, is never to read into a
passage, from our own thinking, what it does not say ...
3rd. Unless there is something in a passage that is repugnant to reason and
common sense, it is to be taken in its most obvious sense ...
4th. The plain and obvious literal meaning of a Scripture must not be abandoned
unless something in the text makes it absolutely necessary. Fanciful
interpretations are too much the interpretation of the day, when ill-advised
scripturians, rashly take some conjectyural meaning while ignoring entirely what
the text would say. Such persons are convinced in advance that the text does not
mean what it says, but means something else, It is like the case of the traveling
man from Louisiana who asked N.B. Hardeman in Dallas once whether Christ
meant water when He said water, that one must be born of water and the spirit.
Brother Hardeman said, "No, He meant buttermilk. Since He did not mean what
He said, but meant something else, and since He said water, He must have meant
That, of course, was answering a fool according to his folly.
How To Study the Bible, by Earle H. West, in "Lesson 11:
UNDERSTANDING WHAT WE STUDY (2)," says:
Since the Bible contains both figurative and literal language, one major problem
of interpretation is that of recognizing figurative language and learning what it
means. Figurative language is languae in which the words have other meanings
than their usual meaning but in which there is some similarity between the
common meaning and the special meaning ...
RECOGNIZING FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE
Ordinarily it is assumed that words are used in their normal, literal sense. Good
evidence is required before we treat words as figurative. Many figures of speech
are so labeled by the writer as being parables, allegories, fables or the like.
Sometimes we recognize words as figurative because their literal meaning would
involve an impossibility or a contradiction, or be contrary to known fact.
Certain types of literature are more marked for figurative language than others.
Thus we would naturally expect figures of speech to be more abundant in the
Psalms (poetry) or in the prophetic books than inthe historical books. Common
sense, enlighted by a good general knowledge of the Bible and the context of the
passage, must be used ...
The question is: "Is there sufficient reason, because of the context or
contradiction, in the New Testament to assume confidently that 'this
distinctive paternal-filial symdrome' (the Father'Son relationship) of God
and Christ is figurative and not literal"
Following is a listing of the 110 times (by my count) in the New Testament
that Jesus is called the Son of God: Matthew 2:15; 3:17; 4:3, 6;
8:29;11:27; 14:33; 16:16; 17:5; 26:63; 27:40, 43, 54; 28:19; Mark 1:1,
11; 3:11; 5:7; 9:7; 13:32; 14:61; 15:39; Luke 1:32, 35; 3:22; 4:3, 9, 41;
8:28; 9:35; 10:22; 22:70; John 1:18, 34, 49, 51; 3:16, 17, 18, 35, 36;
5:19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26; 6:40, 69; 9:35; 10:36; 11:4, 27; 14:13; 17:1;
19:7; 20:31; Acts 8:37; 9:20; 13:33; Romans 1:4, 9; 5:10; 4:4 6;
Ephesians 4:13; Colossians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Hebrews
1:2, 5, 8; 4:14; 5:5, 8; 6:6; 7:3, 28; 10:29; 2 Peter 1:17; 1 John 1:3, 7;
2:22, 23, 24; 3:8, 23; 4:9, 10, 11, 14, 15; 5:5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 20; 2 John
3:9; Revelation 2:18; Acts 3:13, 26.
Now, what is there in the context of these 110 verses that demands a
figurative interpretation of the word Son? Does Peter's confession
demand a figurative interpretation? Does the confession of faith by the
Ethiopian eunuch demand a figurative interpretation? Does the voice from
heaven either at the baptism of Jesus, or at the mount of transfiguration
demand a figurative interpretation? Or more appropriately, why do all of
these verses demand figurative interpretation?
When Peter made his confession of faith in Matthew 16:16, he said,
"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." That would have been a
perfect time for Jesus to set Peter and the rest of the disciples straight as to
the fact that he was not literally, or actually, the Son of God. This would have
been a most appropriate time for Jesus to tell Peter and the apostles that
he was merely represented as the Son of God -- It was not meant to be
taken literally. But, what did Jesus say? "Blessed art thou, Simon
Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my
Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17). Does that demand a
figurative interpretation? By what standard?
God, the Father, Himself, has stated in the voice from heaven upon two
different occasions: "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well
pleased" (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). 110 times in His written revelation unto
mankind of salvation in Jesus Christ, God has referred to Jesus of Nazareth
as His Son. Who has the right to say, "No, He isn't, not really?" Who can,
speaking as the oracles of God, relegate this language to the realm of the
figurative in each and every occasion?
Brethren, if we can accept the Sonship of Jesus as figurative in scripture,
upon what basis can we accept anything the scriptures say as literal? Do
not object to a figurative interpretation of creation; do not object to a
figurative interpretation of the flood; do not object to a figurative
interpretation of the crossing of the Red Sea; do not object to a figurative
interpretation of the virgin birth; do not object to a figurative interpretation of
any historical and/or miraculous event if you accept a figurative
interpretation of Jesus as the Son of God. If you can accept Jesus as the
figurative Son of God, you can accept any figurative interpretation of
scripture, and you might as well. For if Jesus is not actually the Son of God,
"you faith is vain; ye are yet in your sinsl. Then they also which are
fallen asleep in Christ are perished" (1 Corinthians 15:17,18). The
entire gospel is based upon the fact that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew
16:16-18; 1 Corinthians 3:11).
The August 15, 1988 issue of TIME magazine ran cover stories on Jesus
because of the oontrovery that was raging over Martin Scorsese's film
adaption of Nikos Kazantzakis' best-selling novel, The Last Temptation of
Christ. One of the articles ("Who Was Jesus? The debate among scholars
is as heated as the one in Hollywood." by Richard N. Ostling) refers to the
weird and unorthodox views the "higher criticism" of Rationalism (better
known to us as Liberalism or Modernism) which radiated out from Germany
int the last century. Among these are: 1) Jesus did not claim to be the
Messiah; 2) the Gospel of Thomas is authentic and of equal or greater
authority than Matthew, Mark, Luke or John; 3) Jesus did not rebuke the
Pharisees; and, 4) Jesus may have been crucified by mistake. However,
what is important, and revealing, concerning our present discussion is the
following point, placed between number 1) and 2) above n Ostling's article:
"When Jesus said he was the 'Son of God,' he did not mean to be taken
literally. New Testament language of this kind, as in reference to Jesus as
the 'Lamb' or 'Word' of God, is metaphorical."
Brother McCord's position is liberal and modernistic. It is the position of
those who deny the Bible. It brings to mind the statement of the apostle
Peter: "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as
there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in
damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and
bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their
pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil
spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words
make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time
lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not" (1 Peter 2:1-3).
Not only human sons of God, but angelis as well, are now subservient to this vested authority
(Matthew 28:18; 1 Peter 3:22). A heavenly edict was proclaimed. "Let all the angels of God
worship him" (Hebrews 1:6). In a sense never spoken of an angel he proclaimed,in anticipation
of resurrection Sunday, April 9, 30 A.D., "My Son are you! Today I have begotten you" (Psalm 2:7;
Acts 13:322-34). And the same figurative Sonship of Psalm 2:7 was fulfilled again on the day
Jesus was anointed King of kings and Lord of lords, and was anointed High Priest, Sunday
morning, May 28, 30 A.D. (Hebrews 1:5; 5:5; Revelation 17:4).
For comments on Psalm 2:7 and Acts 13:32-34 see pages 15-16.
In one sense God could say of Solomon, "I will be a Father to him, and he will be my son" (II
Samuel 7:14), but behold! "A greater than Solomon is here" (Matthew 12:42), and with deeper
meaning the same words were spoken of Jesus, "I will be a Father to him, and he will be my
Son" (Hebrews 1:5).
It was not any son (human or angelic), but "the Son," the highest of the high, whom the Father
designated as deity: "Your throne, God, is forever and ever, and the sceptre of righteousness is
the sceptre of your kingdom" (Hebrews 1:8).
Never has the Father said to a human or angelic son of God, "Sit at my right hand until I make
your enemies your footstool" (Hebrews 1:13).
My mind falter! The only one of his nature, the sui generis, the yahid, the monogenes, the
unbegotten, unparalleled, irreplacaeable, incomparable, peerless, matchless, unequaled,
non-deuplicable! Singular, unique, and alone in his prophetic credentials, his virgin birth, his
sinless life, his going about doing good, his dying for me, his being raised never to die again,
his glorious ascension into the heaven of heavens, and his coronation as King of kings and
Lord of lords! It is no wonder that his father exalted him to the hightest, and gave him a name
above every name, so that at Jesus' name, every knee should bend, of the ones in heaven,
and of the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue should confess, to the praise of God
the Father, that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11).
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"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and
wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing"
(Revelation 5:12). All of the words at the command of the English
language sould not, and would not, adequately assign and ascribe praise
tot he Savior of the world, Jesus of Nazareth. To all that brother McCord or
any other may correctly say in praise of Jesus, we readily say, Amen!
Jesus said, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him
will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But
whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my
Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32,33).
The confession of the Ethiopian eunuch which Philip required of him was, "I
believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:37).
John wrote: "And many other signs truly did Jesus int he presence of
his disciples, which are not written inthis book: but these are written,
that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and
that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:30,31).
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting
life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;
but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:16,17).
Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess; but, some do not and
will not do it willingly prior to Jesus' return.
Brother McCord cannot make the confession of the eunuch without
qualification, for he denies (by implication) that Jesus is literally, or actually,
the Son of God. Neither can brother McCord any longer, in good
conscience, quote or preach the KJV rendering of John 3:16, for he
believes it to teach serious error. All of the words of praise of the
characteristics of Christ he may wrote do not change the fact that he denies
that Jesus is literally THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD. He denies
he is only begotten; and, he denies he is the Son of God.