A potential problem concerning divine immutability, the incarnation, and the new creed translation

The creed now states that the son was “born of the Father before all ages.” which is slightly different from “eternally begotten of the father.” The former suggests that the Son experienced an existence without a human nature, though the latter does not necessarily need to be interpreted this way.

If the son has experienced an existence without a human nature, and he currently has one, how do we reconcile this with the idea that God is immutable?

The Latin says: Et ex Patre natum ante ómnia sæcula. Make of that what you will. I too prefer the older phrase ‘eternally begotten,’ but ‘born before all ages’ is acceptable because ‘before’ does not refer to time (there is no such thing as time before time) but rather to ontological priority. And in any case the words don’t mean what people want them to; they mean what the Church says they mean.

As to the doctrine of God’s immutability, it refers to the divine essence in itself. The presence or absence of a hypostatic union between a divine person and a creature does not change the divine essence in itself.

I see! when you put it that way, it makes a lot more sense.

As to the doctrine of God’s immutability, it refers to the divine essence in itself. The presence or absence of a hypostatic union between a divine person and a creature does not change the divine essence in itself.

So, are you suggesting that God’s essence and nature are immutable, but that the three persons of God don’t necessarily need to be?

If the Son has gained another nature where he had one earlier, it would indicate that the Godly persons are not eternal, though the essence of God somehow is. That may pose a problem for God’s omniscience, if nothing else.

I think it is probably simplist to consider the Son as always having had two natures, which is allowed through your “ontological priority” interpretation of the creed. Thanks!

I wouldn’t put it that way. Divine Persons, too, are eternal and immutable. At the Incarnation, the Son was hypostatically united to a human nature. This did not change the Son in himself. I see what you are getting at; the Incarnation is a special case, and sort of at the fringes of change. But the council of Chalcedon (451) defined that the union of the two Natures is “without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.”

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