A Response to "There Never Was a Time"

A Response to “There Never Was a Time”

Article by Paul Chung

“Christ is the pre-existent, self-existent Son of God.... In speaking of his pre-existence, Christ carries the mind back through dateless ages. He assures us that there never was a time when He was not in close fellowship with the eternal God. He to whose voice the Jews were then listening had been with God as one brought up with Him.”—The Signs of the Times, August 29, 1900. {Ev 615.2}

Trinitarian objection: “there never was a time” should be understood to mean, there never was a time when Christ did not existed with the Father…therefore Christ is unbegotten for He always existed alongside the Father.

"there NEVER WAS A TIME when He was not in CLOSE FELLOWSHIP with the eternal God."{Ev 615.2}

This statement would also be true even with the supposition that Christ was begotten of the Father (even if one of the persons within the "close fellowship" came into existence later than the other).

I could say, "there never was a time when my son, was not in close fellowship with myself"... even though he came into existence later than myself... this would be speaking from the perspective of my Son's relationship with me (since his birth). In other words, AS FAR AS MY SON IS CONCERNED, there never was a time when he was not in close fellowship with me.

But It would be incorrect to say, "there never was a time WHEN *** I *** WAS NOT IN CLOSE FELLOWSHIP WITH MY SON...

Do you see the difference? Latter phrase speaks to my experience before my Son came into existence. This statement would not be true because, for as it relates to myself, THERE WAS A TIME, BEFORE my son was born, where my son was not around for me to have a close fellowship with him.

In the same way, the Ev 615.2 statement is NOT saying, "there never was a time when the ***Father*** was not in close fellowship with the Son"

Consider the following statement

“The salvation of the human race has ever been the object of the councils of heaven. The covenant of mercy was made before the foundation of the world. It has existed from all eternity, and is called the everlasting covenant. So surely as there never was a time when God was not, So surely as there never was a time when God was not, so surely there NEVER WAS A MOMENT when it was not the delight of the eternal mind TO MANIFEST His grace TO HUMANITY.” (ST June 12, 1901)

Question: How long humanity must have existed in this quote if “there never was a moment when it was not the delight of the eternal mind TO MANIFEST His grace TO HUMANITY.”?

If we read the statement from 1901 like how a Trinitarian (SDAs) would read the statement from Ev 615.2, then humanity must be co-eternal with God for humanity must exist for God to manifest grace to them. Yet, it is stated that the MANIFESTING of grace is something that there "NEVER WAS A MOMENT when it was not the delight of the eternal mind" to do. Furthermore, this is linked to the fact that "so surely as there never was a time when God was not". Thus, if we read this statement from 1901 in a consistent manner with how trinitarians are reading the one from Ev 615.2, we run into trouble...

BUT... we don't read it that way. We read it as a figure of speech.

"There never was a moment" presupposes additional details not found within the statement... There is a missing parenthetical CONTEXT OF THE MUTUAL EXISTENCE OF BOTH PARTIES FOR THIS FIGURE OF SPEECH TO WORK. "there never was a moment (since the creation of man) when it was not the delight of the eternal mind to manifest His grace to humanity". I could just as easily say, that "there never was a time when I was not deeply in love with my wife". This figure of speech presupposes my having met and fallen in love with her in the first place.

When we see this as a figure of speech, which begins with the relationship two parties have, we can see that Christ CAN be begotten and it also be true that "there never was a time when He was not in close fellowship with the eternal God" (until the sundering of divine powers between Gethsemane and the resurrection).

Additionally, please note the portion where she says, “TO HUMANITY”

"so surely THERE NEVER WAS A MOMENT when it was not the delight of the ETERNAL mind TO MANIFEST His grace TO HUMANITY"… To “manifest” means to "make known" and "reveal." Thus, for God to "manifest", "make known" or "reveal" His grace TO humanity, humanity must exist to have this grace manifested, made known and revealed to!

Therefore, in Ev 615.2 statement, Ellen White is employing a figure of speech that is not meant to be taken IN THE WAY most trinitarians have taken it (Christ has always existed alongside the Father and therefore is unbegotten).

Thus, the correct way (or an alternative way) to understand the Ev 615.2 statement is to see that "there never was a time when He [Christ] was not in close fellowship with the eternal God [SINCE the Son was begotten by the Father]."

Not Measured by Figures

“Angels that were loyal and true sought to reconcile this mighty, rebellious angel to the will of his Creator. They justified the act of God in conferring honor upon Christ, and with forcible reasoning sought to convince Lucifer that no less honor was his now than before the Father had proclaimed the honor which He had conferred upon His Son. They clearly set forth that CHRIST WAS THE SON OF GOD, EXISTING WITH HIM BEFORE THE ANGELS WERE CREATED;” — (Ellen G. White, Story of Redemption, 15.2)

“Christ shows them that, although they might reckon His life to be less than fifty years, yet His divine life could not be reckoned by human computation. The existence of Christ before His incarnation is NOT MEASURED BY FIGURES.--Signs of the Times, May 3, 1899.” {Ev 616.1}

“Angels of God looked with amazement upon Christ, who took upon Himself the form of man and humbly united His divinity with humanity in order that He might minister to fallen man. It is a marvel among the heavenly angels. God has told us that He did do it, and we are to accept the Word of God just as it reads. AND ALTHOUGH WE MAY TRY TO REASON IN REGARD TO OUR CREATOR, HOW LONG HE HAS HAD EXISTENCE, WHERE EVIL FIRST ENTERED INTO OUR WORLD, AND ALL THESE THINGS, WE MAY REASON ABOUT THEM UNTIL WE FALL DOWN FAINT AND EXHAUSTED WITH THE RESEARCH WHEN THERE IS YET AN INFINITY BEYOND.” {E. G. White, S.D.A. Bible Commentary Vol. 7, p. 919} 1888

Note: Why would sister White even belabor the thought that Christ was the Son “before the angels were created”, “could not be reckoned by human computation”, “is not measure by figures” and if “we try to reason.... we may reason about them until we fall down and exhausted with research.” Something else worth noting, Ellen White did not say, Christ's pre-existence “could not be reckoned at all.” She just said, “could not be reckoned by HUMAN COMPUTATION, suggesting the possibility that it may be reckoned, just not BY HUMAN COMPUTATION. Or, she did not say, “is cannot measured by any means…” but said, “not measured BY FIGURES." Point being, She could easily have worded this so as to leave no doubt or misunderstanding—she could have said, “His divine life had NO beginning.” BUT SHE DIDN’T! Some have come to place more meaning into the words of this paragraph than what was intended by the Author.