Charles Buck's Theological Dictionary

8 Eternal Generation


Is a term used as descriptive of the Father’s communicating the Divine Nature to the Son. The Father is said by some divines to have produced the Word, or Son, from all eternity, by way of generation; on which occasion the word generation raises a peculiar idea: that procession which is really affected in the way of understanding is called generation, because, in virtue thereof, the Word becomes like to Him from whom he takes the original; or, as St. Paul expresses it, the figure or image of his substance; i.e. of his being and nature.–And hence it is, they say, that the second person is called the Son; and that in such a way and manner as never any other was, is, or can be, because of his own divine nature, he being the true, proper, and natural Son of God, begotten by him before all worlds. Thus, he is called his own Son, Rom 8:3. his only begotten Son, Jn 3:16. Many have attempted to explain the manner of this generation by different similitudes; but as they throw little or no light upon the subject, we shall not trouble the reader with them. Some, however, suppose that the term Son of God refers to Christ as mediator; and that his Sonship does not lie in his divine or human nature, separately considered, but in the union of both in one person. See Lk 1:33. Matt 4:3. Jn 1:49. Matt 16:16. Acts 9:20,22. Rom. 1:4. It is observed, that it is impossible that a nature properly divine should be begotten, since begetting, whatever idea is annexed to it, must signify some kind of production, derivation, and inferiority; consequently, that whatever is produced must have a beginning, and whatever had a beginning was not from eternity, as Christ is said to be, Is 9:6. Col 1:16,17. That the Sonship of Christ respects him as mediator will be evident, if we compare Jn 10:30. with Jn 14:28. In the former it is said, “I and my Father are one;” in the latter, “My Father is greater than I.” These declarations, however opposite they seem, equally respect him as he is the Son; but if his Sonship primarily and properly signify the generation of his divine nature, it will be difficult, if not impossible, according to that scheme, to make them harmonize. Considered as a distinct person in the Godhead, without respect to his office as mediator, it is impossible, that, in the same view, he should be both equal and inferior to his Father. Again: he expressly tells us himself that “the Son can do nothing of himself; that the Father showeth him all things that he doth; and that he giveth him to have life in himself,” Jn 5:19,20,26, which expressions, if applied to him as God, not as mediator, will reduce us to the disagreeable necessity of subscribing either to the creed of Arius, and maintain him to be God of an inferior nature, and thus a plurality of Gods, or to embrace the doctrine of Socinus, who allows him only to be a God by office. But if this title belong to him as mediator, every difficulty is removed. And lastly, it is observed, that thought Jesus be God, and the attributes of eternal existence ascribed to him, yet the two attributes, eternal and son, are not once expressed in the same text as referring to eternal generation.

Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.

Charles Buck on the Biblical Covenants (Complete)
Charles Buck's Theological Dictionary