Definition of the generation of the Son

It is that eternal and necessary act of the first person in the Trinity, whereby He, within the divine Being, is the ground of a second personal subsistence like His own, and puts this second person in possession of the whole divine essence, without any division, alienation, or change.


Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co., 1938), 94.

Common Statements of the Emanation of the Divine Essence

The common statements in the patristic trinitarianism respecting this emanation of the essence are the following: The Son is from the Father, not as an effect from a cause; not as an inferior from a superior; not as created finite substance from uncreated infinite substance; but as intelligence is from intellect, the river from the spring, the ray from the sun.


William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, ed. Alan W. Gomes, 3rd ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2003), 246.

Calvin and the Full Equality of the Divine Three

Calvin's insistence that the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son spoke not of the Father deifying the Son and thus of his subordination but rather of the full equality of the divine three in being and power and of their eternal divine self-differentiation became a characteristic of Reformed orthodoxy, maintained by Beza and by most Reformed theologians in the seventeenth century.