What Does “Begotten” Really Mean? How Misunderstanding Words Can Lead to Unnecessary Division

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By Franco Famularo

ro.vis1b_3343.famularo.f51The English word “begotten” is problematic for Unification teaching both within the Unification family and in efforts of Unificationists to reach out beyond Unification circles – especially, but not limited to, Christians. This article seeks a mediating position.

There are too many lessons from history that demonstrate how one letter, one word or one phrase led to divisive misunderstanding, and in some historical and exceptional cases, violent conflict.

For brevity, consider that the Christian church in the third and fourth century eventually split over the use of one letter.

Was Jesus “homoousios” (ομοούσιος) or “homoiousios” (ὁμοιούσιος)?

Without knowing Greek, it is easy to miss the nuances. However one of the main issues at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. was whether Jesus was of the same substance as God (homoousios) or of a similar substance (homoiousios). The letter “i” made all the difference.

This led to the split between Arius, who believed Jesus was of a similar substance but not God himself and Athanasius and those who eventually aligned themselves with Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea and concluded that Jesus was of the same substance — God himself.  In the view of Nicean Christianity, Jesus is God.

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