Question

Dear Father Angelo,

I am passionate about theology, but as I have no opportunity to attend courses I am self learning it This inevitably leaves me with significant gaps in my knowledge.

I recently discovered your site, and I thank you and the Lord immensely for this gift.

With regards to other answers that found about the Trinity, however, I still have some doubts: if God the Father begot the Son, is there a “time before times” in which the Son had not yet been begotten? Is there anything previously?

If the Son is understood as the Word of the Father, is it correct to identify him with the word that begets? And so can his “birth” (begetting) be identified with the moment in which God’s first words “Let there be light” are uttered?

And finally, what does St. Paul mean by “When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will (also) be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him” (1 Corinthians 15:28). Is there a relationship between his initial begetting and his final subjection?

But above all, from these words the Son seems to be a person subjected to the Father: how does this idea integrate with the image of a Trinity consisting of three equal and distinct Persons?

I hope I have explained myself in an understandable way.

I sincerely thank you for the wonderful service you give and send you best regards,

Alessandro


Answer from the priest

Dear Alessandro,

1. about the first question: “if God the Father begot the Son, is there a “time before times” in which the Son had not yet been begotten? Is there anything previous?

The answer is no, because he begot him from the whole of eternity.

The Son is the divine Wisdom and that is coeternal with God.

Just as we say in the Profession of Faith: “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father”.

2. about the second question: “If the Son is understood as the Word of the Father, is it correct to identify him with the word that begets? And so can his “birth” (begetting) be identified with the moment in which God’s first words “Let there be light” are uttered?

There are many inaccuracies here.

The first: you ask if it is “correct to identify him with the word that begets”.

Well, it is correct to identify him with the word that creates, and not with the word that begets.

The second: you ask if “his “birth” (begetting) can be identified” with the moment in which he utters the words of creation.

Here too the answer is negative.

The Word, which is the Thought of God, the Wisdom of God, is begotten in the sense that it is the fulfilment of God’s thought.

We too call our thoughts concepts (i.e. conceived, begotten).

But while our thoughts are conceived in time, the thought of God is coeternal with God, it did not come out after God. It is God himself. It exists for ever and ever.

Our thoughts come to light when they are expressed and manifested in words or gestures.

It can be said in a certain sense that our thoughts are born, that is, they are conceived and then manifested.

Not so instead for God, who in himself is Thought, Word, Wisdom.

The third inaccuracy: when God said “Let there be light”, at that moment he created the light of this world. And he created it after the Heavens had already been created.

Therefore these words have nothing to do with the eternal begetting of the Word, of the Thought of God.

The Word was not born in the sense that we give to this term: i.e. that at a certain moment it appeared.

It is in fact ab aeterno, that is, for ever and ever, ever since God has been God.

3. Then you ask if there is a relationship between the initial begetting of the Son and his final subjection?

Here too you are misunderstanding.

Because the begetting (which you call initial) is the eternal begetting of the Word.

While the expression “When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will (also) be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him” (1 Corinthians 15:28) refers to the Son who became man and as such fulfilled the reason for his incarnation.

It is the subjection of the Head of the Church.

And he is the head of the Church as a man, with which he forms one body.

4. Your last question correctly finds an inconsistency in the premises.

If the Word were what you say, then it would certainly be inferior to the Father.

5. About the last question, you ask: “how does this idea integrate with the image of a Trinity consisting of three equal and distinct Persons“.

The “consisting”  expression is incorrect, because it gives the idea that the Three divine Persons are three parts that make up the whole.

Instead, the Father is as great as the Son, indeed as much as the whole Most Holy Trinity.

For this reason another expression is used in the magisterium of the Church: it is said that the one God exists in Three Persons, and not that he consists of Three Persons.

6. As you can see, theology needs rigorous concepts and a very precise vocabulary.

It is enough not to use or not to understand the precise meaning of a word to go astray or as it was said in past times to utter heresies.

I wish you a growing interest in theology and all that pertains to God, I remember you in prayer and I bless you.

Father Angelo

original post is available in Italian