Maybe Darryl Had A Point? Driscoll v. Catholic Creeds

I don’t know why people are not debating whether Driscoll should even be writing books.

—Darryl Hart, “Tribalists All

Second, the Apostles’ Creed [sic] defines the Son as “begotten, not made.” The point was that something begotten was of the same substance as the one who does the begetting. But the term “begotten” could never be defined with any clarity, so it was of little use.

Third, begotten unavoidably implies a beginning of the one begotten. That would certainly lend support to the Arian heresy that the Son is a created being and not the Creator God.

For these reasons it is best to omit the creedal terms “begotten” and “proceeds” from our definition of the Trinity. Our authority is not in creeds but in Scripture.

We stand with the universal Trinitarian definition of the church to confess that God is one God, eternally existing in three persons, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

—Mark Driscoll and Gerry Bresehears, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 27–28 (emphasis added).

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only begotten Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten not made,
of one substance with the Father….

—Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (381 AD; emphasis added)

1. Whosoever will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith:

…The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created: but begotten.
The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten: but proceeding….

He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.

—Athanasian Creed (c. 7th century; emphasis added)

I know of no informed theologian who believes that ontological subordination of the Son is historic orthodoxy, as Dahms argues. There is nothing to support his opinion. Walter Martin, for his part, argues that this doctrine should be abandoned because it has “fed the Arian heresy through the centuries,” while Driscoll and Breshears say the word “begotten unavoidably implies a beginning of the one begotten. That would certainly lend support to the Arian heresy that the Son is a created being and not the Creator God.” Dahms, Martin, and Driscoll and Breshears all exhibit a profound ignorance of what the Arian debate was all about. It was the Arians who taught the eternal subordination and submission of the Son on the basis of their understanding of his begetting, and it was the Nicene fathers who argued against the eternal subordination of the Son on the basis of their understanding of the divine begetting. The Arian understanding of the Son’s begetting was that he was contingently created in time by the will of the Father and is thus dependent and subordinated God. The Nicene fathers’ understanding was that the Son is eternally begotten not by will and is thus of the same divine being of the Father. He is not subordinated to the Father but is his equal in being, power and rank, yet other than the Father as the Son.

—Kevin Giles, The Eternal Generation of the Son: Maintaining Orthodoxy in Trinitarian Theology (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 2012), 211.

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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8 comments

  1. “I don’t know why people are not debating whether Driscoll should even be writing books” or, as a friend of mine said, “…or has ever written a book”

    The denial of the eternal generation of the Son is, as I am sure you know, somewhat common in our day.

  2. Boettner in his book Trinity (available for free at Monergism.com) has the same view. I think Robert L. Reymond did as well?

  3. I was just listening to Office Hours this morning with Kelly Kapic, who was relaying the advice given to him by Roger Nicole, i.e. don’t dare to write a ST or Dogmatics before you’re 50. Wise words!

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