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Passages: Season 1, Episode 7: We believe in the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father… begotten, not made

April 22nd, 2021 | 3 min read

By Joshua Heavin

In the Nicene Creed we confess that “we believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made…”

Previously, in episode 6, we were introduced to Gregory of Nazianzus, historically known as ‘Gregory the Theologian.’ After getting to know something of Gregory’s life, struggles, relationships, and poetry, episode 7 now explores some of Gregory’s most important contributions to Christian theology. By learning from Gregory’s Five Theological Orations, we can have a much better appreciation for what we are confessing when the Nicene Creed declares that the Son of God is eternally begotten of the Father, begotten but not made.

In this episode we read excerpts from some of the most beautiful sentences in the history of Christian theology. We learn how early Christian theologians read Scripture to understand the person and work of Christ, such as partitive exegesis, which Gregory used to understand how the two natures are united in one person.

On the doctrine of the Trinity, we especially focus on how Gregory described the relationship of the Father to the Son, and the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son. Because there has been no shortage of confusion over the eternal generation of the Son in the last few centuries, and controversies in recent years over the supposed eternal subordination of the Son, we spoke with Dr. Fred Sanders and Dr. Scott Swain to learn about more and less helpful ways to understand the doctrine of the Trinity.

We conclude by reading from Gregory’s letters. Like Athanasius, Gregory writes that Christ became human that we might share in his incorruptible and divine life; Christ assimilated to the fullness of our low condition, that we might be healed in our entirety; otherwise, that which Christ did not assume would remain unhealed.

But more than anything, this episode directs listeners to share wonder and awe at the inexhaustible glories of Jesus Christ himself. We hope we pique your interest to read Gregory Nazianzen’s Five Theological Oration’s for yourself. But mainly, we invite you to marvel at the mystery of the Son of God himself, through whom God’s incorruptible life and love have secured our only hope for the restoration of all things. In Christ, God is “for us and for our salvation,” in the words of the Nicene Creed.

Next time on Passages, we will continue learning from the Cappadocians, turning to Basil of Caesarea, as we begin to explore what the Nicene Creed confesses about the Holy Spirit. Passages is available on most podcast platforms.


To support those who made Passages, please consider donating to Mere Orthodoxy.

Joshua Heavin serves as the lead writer and host of Passages, while Caleb Wait serves as the lead producer and co-host. Original music by Aaron Feeney, who welcomes inquires.

Follow Passages and Joshua and Caleb on Twitter for more news and updates about the show.

Joshua Heavin

Joshua Heavin (PhD, Aberdeen) is a curate and deacon at an Anglican church in the Dallas area, and an adjunct professor in the School of Christian Thought at Houston Christian University, and at West Texas A&M University.