George Ide Butler (1834 – 1918) on the Begotten Son


Preaching, Theoretical and Practical
G. I. Butler Review and Herald – April 26, 1881

We may consider Christ theoretically, and have proper views of his connection with the creation, of his relation to the Father, of his connection with the church in the old dispensation and with the giving of the law, of his advent, ministry, life, and death, of his work as a High Priest, of his future coming in glory and his everlasting reign on the throne of David. No one could truly say there was not much importance attached to correct views of these important points. Yet we might have such views of him, and be lost, unless we practically lived out the principles which he observed. We must have his meekness, his patience under abuse, his love to do good, his purity of life, his reverence for God and sacred things, his integrity of character, his hatred of wrong, of hypocrisy, and deceit, his regard for the law of his Father, and his self-denial for others sake. It is possible we might have some of these graces without having a correct theory concerning his pre-existence and his agency in all parts of the plan of salvation; but it is evident that with correct views of all his work, past, present, and future, we should be much better prepared to realize his exalted character and nature, and the magnitude of his work, and the infinite love which prompted the great sacrifice for man’s salvation.

Learning Obedience by the things He suffered,
G. I. Butler, Review and Herald – December 10, 1889

When we consider the Scripture statements concerning him,— that he was the “Son of God,” MADE IN THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF HIS FATHER; he “thought it not robbery to be equal with God;” is One whom it is right and proper to call God in addressing him, since he takes his Father’s name, is MADE OF HIS SUBSTANCE; One who sits on the same throne with the Father; One to whom the Father has entrusted all authority and power, and by whom the Eternal God made the worlds above; the very personation of wisdom itself, — it seems strange, indeed, that such an one could be said to have “learned” any thing by having to do with frail man. Yet his word declares such to be the fact.

“Christ in the Epistle of the Hebrews” — G. I. Butler, Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, March 15, 1890

“His great effort was to exalt Christ before them, till they should discern the true character of his mission. He proved to them from their own Scriptures, that Christ was above the angels, above Moses, Aaron, Joshua ; yea, that HE WAS THE SON OF GOD HIMSELF, the Maker of, all worlds, the great antitype of all the sacrifices and offerings of the old dispensation, the only hope of the church and the race of man, and the Author of eternal salvation to all who would truly accept him and follow his example. …”

“When we consider the Scripture statements concerning him,—THAT HE WAS “THE SON OF GOD,” MADE IN THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF HIS FATHER; he “thought it not robbery to be equal with God; “is One whom it is RIGHT AND PROPER in addressing him, SINCE HE TAKES HIS FATHER’S NAME AND IS MADE OF HIS SUBSTANCE; One who sits on the same throne with the Father; One to whom THE FATHER HAS INTRUSTED ALL AUTHORITY AND POWER, and by whom the eternal God made the worlds above; the very personation of wisdom itself…”

“Our Saviour, Divine” — G. I. Butler, August 22, 1893 • Adventist Review & Herald

“IT is an inspiring thought to the true disciple ever to realize that our Saviour who has under taken our salvation, IS A DIVINE BEING, REALLY AND TRULY GOD, AS PROPERLY SO CALLED as the Eternal Father himself, and therefore ALMIGHTY to save. SUCH A SAVIOUR WE NEED. In such a Saviour we can truly trust, knowing nothing is impossible with him. What he has undertaken to accomplish he will surely perform. We need therefore have no fears that he will fail on his part to do all he has undertaken, all he has promised.

“… But when he asked them who he was, impulsive Peter expressed the grand truth, “Thou art the Christ, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.” This answer Christ declared WAS A HEAVENLY REVELATION TO HIM, not a mere human conception, the grand truth upon which his church is founded, which the powers of hell should never be able to overthrow. Matt. 16:13-18. WHEN THE CHURCH HAS LIVING FAITH IN THIS GLORIOUS TRUTH, Satan cannot destroy it. But to believe in him as a mere human being, or some CREATED AGENT, is quite another thing…

“This pre-existence is beautifully foretold by another prophet: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting. [Literal Hebrew, margin, ‘the days of eternity.’]” Micah 5:2. Therefore this little babe that came forth and was laid in the manger, in old Bethlehem of Judea, had a PREVIOUS EXISTENCE AWAY BACK IN THE VERY DAYS OF ETERNITY, WITH GOD THE FATHER ALONE.

“This Jesus is the first-born of every creature. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. The terms “only begotten” or “first begotten Son” are used at least eight times in the New Testament. These expressions positively imply HIS ABSOLUTE PRE-EXISTENCE TO EVERY CREATED BEING. HE WAS NOT CREATED, and therefore not a creature. HE WAS “BEGOTTEN” IN SOME MANNER NOT REVEALED, AND IS THEREFORE OF THE SAME SUBSTANCE OR ESSENCE OF THE FATHER. HIS EXISTENCE PRECEDES THAT OF ALL OTHERS EXCEPTING THE FATHER. …Christ was the maker of them all; yea, and all worlds, all elements, creatures, substances, great and small, in the vast universe of God, THE ONLY BEGOTTEN MADE THEM ALL. “He is before all things, and by him all things consist [Revised Version, margin, ‘that is, hold together’].” HIS DIVINE POWER, therefore, causes all the worlds, and our world, of course, with them, to stand firm, be preserved in order, and upheld, and kept from going into confusion and ruin. DIVINE POWER from Christ our Lord is still being exerted in the universe. Christ therefore is “the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev. 3:14) in the sense that it was HIS FIAT, HIS EXERTION OF DIVINE POWER, carrying into effect the UNITED COUNSELS OF THE FATHER AND SON, which brought the various parts of the universe into existence. He caused it to be.

“Personally he is precisely like his Father IN APPEARANCE, IN NATURE, IN CHARACTER, IN SUBSTANCE, AND ESSENCE. …

“In him all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily. NOT AN ATTRIBUTE OR POWER HAS THE DIVINITY OF THE FATHER WITHHELD FROM THE SON. WHEN HE BEGAT HIM OF HIS OWN SUBSTANCE, the infinite majesty, glory, and excellence, the supreme wisdom, omnipotence, omniscience, and SELF SUPPORTING EXISTENCE from which all the powers of the universe take their origin, was as A NECESSARY CONSEQUENCE CONVEYED TO HIM. Though TWO BEINGS, DISTINCT IN INDIVIDUALITY AND PERSON, they are one in all else, perfectly united in methods, character, love and goodness, power, prescience, and might.

FATHER. THIS IMPLIES SUPERIORITY IN DURATION AND RANK. BUT AS IT PLEASES HIM THAT “all fulness,” “the fulness of the Godhead bodily, “should dwell in the Son, IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO TELL IN WHAT OTHER SENSE THAT SUPERIORITY COULD BE PREDICATED. We have therefore a divine, a glorious, an omnipotent Saviour, full of majesty, love, benignity, who has undertaken our salvation.”

OUR SAVIOUR THE DIVINE LOGOS — G. I. Butler – Review and Herald August 29, 1893

“… The Logos dates from the ” beginning,” “the beginning of the creation of God (Rev. 3:14), and he was the one who began that vast work. He commenced it, performed it,completed it every whit. Without him was not anything made that was ever created. THE FATHER WHO BEGAT HIM FROM HIS OWN SUBSTANCE, MADE HIM A FOUNTAIN OF LIFE LIKE HIMSELF. HE IS THE LIFEGIVER IN EVERY SENSE, creating from nothing myriads of worlds, bringing all living beings into existence, and restoring, when it pleases him, the dead to life; and this Logos is our divine Redeemer.”

“But John personifies it in these and other instances, as meaning that Being—THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD,—WHOM THE FATHER ORDAINED to be his active agent in all the work of creation. … David says, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made.” Ps. 33:6. ” The word of the Lord” is constantly used as an expression of a potential – energy, A SOURCE OF DIVINE POWER, AN AGENT in performing work in God’s great scheme. …”

“… He is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the godhead bodily.” THEY ARE OF THE SAME NATURE, THE SAME SUBSTANCE, THE SAME CHARACTER, THE SAME APPEARANCE, HAVE THE SAME ATTRIBUTES. They are perfectly alike every way. The Son constantly dwells in the immediate presence of the Father. Their counsels are perfectly united. … It is Christ who dwells in the bosom of the Father, who declares him, interprets him, reveals him to his creatures, while the Father chooses not thus to manifest himself. The Son reveals him in creation, as all that has been made was created by him and for him. The infinite love of the Father is comprehended through the creative acts of the Son, WHO IS THE ALMIGHTY GOD WITH US, representing to us the omnipotency of both. …”

“THE LOVE OF THE FATHER is specially shown in the glories of redemption. The Son is his revealer, his interpreter, the divine Logos, in redemption as well as creation. AS THEY ARE ONE IN EVERYTHING BUT PERSON, all the love, tenderness, mercy, be-nignity, and willingness to suffer, even for the good of others, SHOWN BY THE SON OF GOD, WAS SHARED IN ALL ITS FULNESS BY THE FATHER who saw all the indignities which Satan and his agents heaped upon the Son of his love. … In these very acts and experiences CHRIST REVEALED AND INTERPRETED HIS FATHER’S LOVE TO US. HE ALONE KNOWS THE FATHER SUFFICIENTLY TO DECLARE HIM.” He who knows the Son, therefore, knoweth the Father.”

“The Bible is a revelation of Jesus Christ, GIVEN BY HIS SPIRIT. IT WAS HIS SPIRIT WHICH WAS IN THE PROPHETS, enabling them to reveal the Son of God. 1 Peter 1:11. The work of creation, we have seen, was his act. He spoke, and it was done. He commanded, and it stood fast. He wrought on these six days, creating the heavens and the earth and all things in them. Our beloved Saviour rested the seventh day from all his work. The seventh-day Sabbath, therefore, was made to commemorate Christ’s work of creation. … CHRIST COULD NOT REVEAL AND INTERPRET the Father to his creatures adequately unless he POSSESSED THE WISDOM AND POWER OF GOD HIMSELF. If he was inferior in these respects, that inferiority would be manifested, and a portion of that excellency and majesty inherent in the Father, would fail to be properly represented. But he says himself, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Matt. 28 :18. CHRIST IS THE PERSONIFICATION OF WISDOM, as Solomon teaches in the first chapters of Proverbs. These attributes are not those held independent of the Father, BUT THEY WERE CONFERRED IN THEIR FULNESS BY HIM, AT HIS OWN PLEASURE AND CHOICE. So there is no rivalry. . “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” THAT FULNESS EMBRACES EVERY EXCELLENCY POSSESSED BY THE FATHER. How, then, can Christ’s words, “My Father is greater than I,” be true? BECAUSE THE ONE WHO CONFERS IS GREATER THAN THE ONE WHO RECEIVES. THE FATHER MUST IN A SENSE BE SUPERIOR TO THE SON, THOUGH HE HAS CHOSEN TO IMPART EQUALITY IN ALL HIS OWN FULNESS. …”

”The Change of the Sabbath” ~A Memorial — G.I. Butler, 1904

“But would not Christ desire to change the Sabbath to the first day of the week, that he might have a memorial set apart to commemorate his own work? Many claim this. We reply, The seventh day Sabbath answered this very purpose. Who was the active agent in making this world, in calling into existence this creation? THE SON OF GOD. It was He who “made the worlds”; “for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth.” Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:16. God “created all things by Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 3:9. “All things were made” by Christ, the Word. John 1:3. Therefore the seventh-day Sabbath, which is a memorial of the work of creation, Christ himself taking six days in which to perform this grand origination, commemorates the work of THE SON AS MUCH AS THAT OF THE FATHER. We thus see beauty and propriety in the language of Jesus, when he calls himself the “Lord of the Sabbath.” The miserable perversion of the institution by Jewish traditions, from one of gratitude, mercy, and refreshment to a burdensome yoke, demanded such action from one of the founders of the Sabbath. {ChSa 49.2} 

G. I. Butler, Present Truth, Review and Herald, July 14, 1904, ; published again on Oriental Watchman, December 1904

“All truth is valuable. There is an immeasurable difference of value ‘between truth and error. There are many truths that are eternal. God is the creator of all things: Christ is his only begotten Son. His word is ever true. These and other doctrines like them always have been true and always will be true.”

“God’s Messengers” — G. I. Butler, G.C.B. – May 28, 1913

Here is a little portion from his heartfelt delivery at the conference that year regarding Ellen White:

“And I cannot help believing with all my heart that in the closing work of the gospel, preparatory to the second advent of Christ, the spirit of prophecy will ever play a prominent part. There are others who have been connected with the Seventh-day Adventist denomination longer than I have. There are two here [pointing to Elders Loughborough and Haskell] on the platform. But the Lord has given me many opportunities for observation, and as I have mingled with our dear brethren and sisters, during the years that have been passing, I have been impressed that a grave danger confronts this people. It is that, as the work develops, and tens of thousands are added to our numbers, they will never conceive or understand the difficulties that confronted the pioneers; and, THEY MAY LOSE SIGHT OF SOME OF THE FUNDAMENTALS THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THE FOUNDATION PRINCIPLES OF OUR MESSAGE. 0, how I wish some of you could have a glimpse of how the Lord wrought in those early days! And how I wish you might know more of how that blessed servant of the Lord, Sister White, worked many times – how she corrected this error, and that error; how she counseled in times of perplexity and discouragement. If you could know some of the facts we older ones know regarding

G. I. Butler
Southern Counsel at Nashville, TN
Review and Herald, February 18, 1904

“A sentiment has seemed to prevail in some quarters that this cause was going to be remodeled. THE GOOD OLD DOCTRINES OF THE EARLIER DAYS WOULD GRADUALLY DROP OUT, BE IGNORED, AND DISAPPEAR FROM VIEW, AND NEW IDEAS TAKE THEIR PLACE, NOT SO UNPOPULAR AS SOME OF THOSE WERE. THESES NEW VIEWS WOULD BE MORE ACCEPTABLE TO THE INTELLIGENT CLASSES, more consistent with new lines of thought now largely taking possession of the schools, the clergy, and the higher institutions of learning— so-called humanitarian views, wonderfully elevating, many think, in their spiritual tendency; and PECULIAR IDEAS OF THE DEITY, LIKE AN ESSENCE DISSEMINATED EVERYWHERE, IN MEN— GOOD, BAD, AND INDIFFERENT— IN ALL CREATURES, YES, IN THE TREES AND ALL LIVING VEGETATION.

”Not only were these new thoughts not accepted in this meeting, but the whole trend of the teaching and instruction given by the old pioneers was just the opposite. It was boldly said that the only salvation of this cause and people was in a return to the old landmarks of truth, to the grand doctrines which have made us a people- the coming of the Lord in this generation; the glorious messages of the first, second, and third angels; the sanctuary, with its glorious search-light, making it clear and plain that the “hour of his judgment” had really come, and the books of record were being examined, THE GREAT GOD OF THE UNIVERSE, A LITERAL, PERSONAL BEING, sitting as supreme judge in the grandest assize that ever has been or ever will be.

“Nothing can take the place of these grand messages and truths which lie at the very foundation of our work. The old pioneers propose to make them the platform upon which they shall stand as long as God gives them life. Many false and some foolish doctrines have been taught and accepted by some. These must be weeded out. And the pure, holy, grand old truths that made” us a people must be everywhere revived. The battle is on, and will never end till Jesus comes. There can be no compromise, no half-way position, no faltering. The integrity of the work as proclaimed at the beginning, must and shall be maintained to the end.”

“Man’s Relation to God,” — G. I. Butler, The Signs of the Times, February 22, 1909

“The greatest difficulty encountered in the plan of salvation is the fact that it is so natural for men to forget God and all His manifold benefits. Multitudes, multitudes, hardly realize that there is a living God in the universe. THE WHOLE TENDENCY OF MODERN THOUGHT IS IN THE DIRECTION OF IGNORING THE EXISTENCE OF A REAL, VERITABLE LIVING GOD, WHO HAS A FORM AND AN ACTUAL PERSONAL EXISTENCE, WHO RESIDES IN A REAL HEAVEN, HAS A THRONE, AND SITS IN JUDGMENT.

Many believe in an essence disseminated through space, everywhere in general, and nowhere in particular.” God is everywhere, and everything living is God. This is pantheism, Hinduism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Theosophy, Christian Science, sublimated and imaginary. This is becoming the modern conception of the great God who rules all worlds, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was Himself made in His image, the express image of His Father’s person.”



G. I. Butler Statements, 1834-1918-Compilation showing his thoughts, ideas, and concepts on his understanding about God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit by Ryan Tacklin (updated 1/15/22).