Dr. Wayne Grudem – The Interpersonal Relationship among the Members of the Trinity

This lecture is from an Academic Conference at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Grudem’s presentation is the 5th lecture of this series and it is titled:

Troubling Doctrinal Deviations in Evangelical Feminist arguments about the Trinity.

Several recent evangelical feminist authors have denied that the Son is eternally subject to the authority of the Father within the Trinity. These authors include Gilbert Bilezikian, Rebecca M. Groothuis, Kevin Giles, Millard Erickson, Phillip Carey, Linda Belleville, and Dennis W. Jowers.

In reading these arguments, I noticed that they contained important doctrinal deviation either in what is said, or what is implied in the form of the argument. The argument deviated from the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, in some cases and they rejected the authority of Scriptures, it seems to me, in other cases. So, those are going to be 2 parts of my paper:

  1. Evangelical feminist arguments that deviate from the orthodox  doctrine of the Trinity,
  2. And, Evangelical feminist arguments that reject the authority of Scripture.

Arguments that deviate from the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity

1. Denying the Trinity by denying any eternal distinctions
between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Essential to the doctrine of the Trinity, as affirmed by all four previous speakers, and is taught in the Bible is the idea that the distinctions between the persons of the Trinity- the Father is not the Son. Father is not the Holy Spirit, and the Son is not the Holy Spirit. They are 3 distinct persons. They’re equal in deity, and there’s only one God. But, within the being of God Himself, there are three distinct persons. Several recent evangelical authors are unwilling to specify any distinction between the persons. For example, rather than agreeing that the names Father, and Son indicate a distinction between the persons , a number of evangelical feminist authors argue that the names only show that the Son is like the Father, not that He is distinct from the Father in any way.

And sadly, the most prominent writer in this regard is Millard Erickson, whom I respect in many ways for much of what he has written. Erickson says, „There is considerable biblical evidence that the primary meaning of the biblical term Son as applied to Jesus is likeness, rather than subordinate authority. So, for example, he says the jews saw Jesus’s self designation as the Son of God as a claim to deity or equality with God. I should say in parenthesis- I agree that Sonship does imply equality of Being, because, just as a human son is human and the father is human; so, in the Trinity, the Father is divine, therefore, the Son of God is divine. That’s true. But, the question is whether that is all that is affirmed.

Similarly, Kevin Giles objects: ‘The name Father and Son are not used in the New Testament to suggest the divine Father always has authority over the Son. He said, these names speak, rather, of an eternal correlated relationship, by intimacy, unity, equality, and identical authority.

My response: If intimacy and identical authority were all that Jesus wanted to indicate by calling Himself a Son, calling God His Father, He could have spoken of ‘My friend in heaven‘, or ‘my brother in heaven‘, or even ‘my twin in heaven‘. These images were ready at hand. But, He did not. He spoke of ‘My Father in heaven‘. Emphasizing likeness in deity only, while failing to specify the distinctions between the persons of the Trinity is a failure to affirm the distinctions between the 3 persons, which is one important aspect of the doctrine of the Trinity. It seems to me that is a significant doctrinal deviation.(6:00)

2. Denying the Trinity by claiming an act of any one person
is actually an act of all three persons

Even more troubling is the tendency of evangelical feminists to claim that any action, taken by any person in the Trinity is an action of all three persons of the Trinity, when faced with many biblical texts that show that the Son is always subject to the Father (I have over 30 texts that I will allude to, later), and that the Father is not subject to the Son. When faced with many of these texts, Millard Erickson produces a different solution to suggest that the act of any one person in the Trinity is actually an act of all three persons. Here is what Erickson says is an overall principle. I’m quoting from his book ‘Who’s Tampering With The Trinity‘, pp 137-138. Erickson says this, „Although one person of the Trinity may occupy a more prominent part in a given divine action, the action is actually that of the entire Godhead‘- I would agree with him, up to that point. Then he says, ‘and the one person is acting on behalf of the three,” I would agree with him to that point. But then, listen, „This means that those passages that speak of the Father predestining, sending, commanding, and so on, should not be taken as applying to the Father only, but to all members of the Trinity. Thus, they do not count as evidence in support of eternal supremacy of the Father and eternal subordination of the Son.’

How does Erickson argue for this? The way he argues for it is to point out that some of the actions of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are done by more than one person. For instance, the Father and Son are involved in sending the Spirit into the world. The Father and Son are both involved in judging the world. Both the Son and the Holy Spirit intercede before the Father. The Father  and the Son both love the world. Both the Father and the Son receive prayer. Erickson concludes, „The various works attributed to the various persons of the Trinity are in fact works of the Triune God. One member of the Godhead may in fact do this on behalf of the three, and be mentioned as the one who does that work; but, all participate in what is done.’

But, these verses that he quotes, hardly prove Erickson’s point. Yes, it is true that both the Father and the Son sent the Spirit into the world. But, the Holy Spirit does not send the Holy Spirit into the world. And yes, both the Son and the Holy Spirit intercede before the Father. But, the Father does not intercede before the Father. As for actions that are directed toward people in the world, such as loving, judging, indwelling people, it is true that all three persons are involved in a way in these activities, but, that does not prove Erickson’s point because the real issue is the relationship between the Father and the Son in the Trinity. In that issue, the testimony of the Scripture is clear: The Son continuously, throughout eternity, submits to the will of the Father. This is clear, even in some of the passages that Erickson appeals to. At one point, he says, „It is not only the Father who predestined some to be saved, but Jesus also elects some to salvation. As Jesus said in John 5:21 ‘Even so, the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it and  no one knows the Father except the Son. And those to whom the Son chooses, reveal Him (John 5:21 and Matthew 11:27). Erickson concludes, „It appears that Jesus chooses those whom He reveals to the Father.” What he is saying, is, „The Father predestines. Yes, but the Son also predestines. They both do this action.”

It is remarkable that  Erickson mentions John 5:21 and Matthew 11:27, because the very context of both of them, Jesus attributes supreme authority to the Father. In John 5:21, he says, „Yes, He gives life to whom He is pleased to give it, but 2 verses earlier, Jesus says, „The Son can do nothing of His own accord. But only what He sees the Father doing. For, whatever the Father does, so the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and show Him all that He is doing.” Nine verses after this, Jesus says, „I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge. Judgment is just cause I seek not my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” Erickson did not mention these verses, although they occur in the very same context. Therefore, the Son only chooses, in conjunction with what has been shown of the will of the Father.

As for Erickson’s other verse, Matthew 11:27, the beginning of the verse, which Erickson does not quote, says, „All things have been handed over to Me by My Father.” And then Jesus goes on to say, „No one knows the Father, except through the Son, and those whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” The testimony of Scripture on this matter is consistent. When the Son chooses people for salvation, He is simply following  the directives of the Father. He’s not acting independently of the authority of the Father, yet, both the Father and the Son participate in their choosing, yet their actions are not identical, but distinct. The Father chooses, the Father shows the Son who has been chosen, the Son chooses those who have been given Him by the Father.

What is even more troubling about Erickson’s argument is he seems to be denying that there is any difference between the persons of the Trinity. He’s arguing against the idea that we can say that the Son has eternally been subject to the authority of the Father. Erickson is trying to nullify that idea, by denying that we can say anything that is done by the Son is not also done by the Father and the Spirit. Erickson wants to make that kind of discussion impossible. But, in order to make his point, he is apparently saying that the actions of any one person of the Trinity are the actions of not just the whole being of God, but of every person in the Trinity. And to say that is to deny what is taught by really hundreds of passages of Scriptures that speak of different actions, carried out by different members of the Trinity.

For example: At the baptism of Jesus, God the Father was speaking from heaven, „This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” God the Son was not speaking from heaven in those words, nor was the Holy Spirit speaking from heaven and saying those words. God the Son was being baptized, the Holy Spirit was descending like a dove coming to rest upon Him. God the Father was not being baptized, nor was the Holy Spirit being baptized. The Father was not descending like a dove, nor was the Son descending like a dove. It simply confuses the teaching of Scripture to say or imply that all three persons of the Trinity are doing any one action. But that is what Erickson seems to be saying.  (12:35 min mark – with 44 minutes remaining)

Reclame

Biola University – The Trinity and Gender: The Recent Debate Among Evangelicals

This video is a must see. Make some quiet time to watch it, as it is a bit extensive, duration is 2 hours, but, very well worth your time. Not only will you hear a deep, theological discussion about the role of women, which has come to the forefront as never before in the history of mankind, but, you will also hear some outstanding insights into the trinity and how both egalitarians and complementarians have used it to support their arguments, and arguments against using the trinity in order to support arguments on either side of the debate.

This dialogue is between Dr. Kevin Giles (egalitarian) & Dr. Fred Sanders (complementarian).

Dr. Kevin Giles position (notes – first 30 minutes):

the doctrine of the trinity should not be appealed to to ground subordination of women or the equality of the sexes. The doctrine of God should not be confused with our teaching of the relationship of men and women. 

Dr. Giles, however, does not teach that „the trinity is a coequal trinity of persons.”

He also states that: „When we come to an important issue like the relationship of men and women, we should go directly to the Bible. We should follow the normal rules of biblical theology, where the Bible begins on this issue. In this case, it is Genesis chapter 1 and (we should) successively read through the Bible starting with the Gospels in the New Testament, then the Book of Acts, and Paul’s epistles.”

His 7 reasons why the trinity cannot be used to „appeal …to the hierarchical ordering of the sexes” and be the „ground for the subordination or the equality of the sexes”. Further he makes a global argument when he states, „The eternal and immanent trinity, that’s God as He is in heaven is not, and cannot be the ground for the social ordering on earth of any kind. The trinity does not set our social agenda. His 7 objections are:

  1. The idea that the trinity prescribes human relations on earth is a very modern idea.
  2. The idea that the divine life in heaven prescribes life and relations on earth is implausible. Why, we must ask is God’s perfect relationship in heaven prescribed for flawed relations on earth?
  3. Specifically, in regards to the man-woman relationship, to argue that the three fold relationship in heaven prescribes the two fold man-woman relationship on earth, I think is illogical.
  4. 1 Corinthians 11:3 offers no convincing basis for this appeal to the trinity.Some believe where Paul says (that) God is the head of Christ, and man is the head of woman justifies the trinity argument.
  5. The idea of the trinity speaks of the Father ruling over the Son is the denial of the full divinity of the Son and the unqualified Lordship of Christ.
  6. To argue that the Son’s eternal and necessary functional subordination does not imply ontological subordination is unconvincing.
  7. The idea of the Son as eternally subordinated to the Father is rejected by most contemporary trinitarian scholars.

Dr. Fred Sanders position (notes from min 30-min 60):

The evangelical gender debate has basically a two party profile:

  • Those that are interested in the foundational doctrine of the trinity and
  • Those whose primary interest is in the gender discussion and who annex the doctrine of the trinity fin order to provide greater doctrinal or rhetorical leverage.

The trinity is more interesting than the partisan question of whose side it is on and it is worth thinking about for its own sake rather than for its relevance to gender heirarchy… Contrary to widespread presupposition, it is not at all self evident that a theology of the trinity and the theology of human community should be doctrines which impinge on each other. These are two doctrinal tracks which are widely separated from each other in a total theological system which must be articulated according to internal logic. (in answer to Dr. Giles point #2).

The doctrine of the trinity is the highest point of the doctrine of God, occupying a place prior to all the perfections of the divine nature, so that none of the divine attributes can be parceled out among the trinity. None of the divine perfections  can be described in a merely unitarian way without reference to the Father, Son, and Spirit, who are the three who hold each divine perfection.

…The doctrine of the trinity has two poles, in its logical structure, the economic involvement of the Son and Spirit in the history of salvation and the eternal, immanent trinity. Confessing God’s triune being and act in these two ways can doctrinally secure respectively, the divine giving on the one hand, and the divine freedom on the other. So that God is really with us in the incarnation of the Son and the out pouring of the Spirit, and yet, God in Himself is eternally Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

A theological account on gender, on the other hand, properly situated, far away from the doctrine of the trinity, across the great divide that distinguishes God from everything else. It is located  in the story of creation, deep inside the territory of theological anthropology , and it is a doctrine which must provide explanatory value for our daily experience of the empirical fact of being human. Theological anthropology is necessarily involved in the drama of good creation, disastrous fall, reconciliation in Christ, eschatological fulfillment.  The doctrine of humanity has to be constructed in a way that makes logical sense in a narrative sequence. Good creation, bad fall. Events that must be recognized in human dignity- good creation. And human misery- bad fall. In our indissoluble relation to our Creator and in our alienation from right relation with Him.

God the trinity is of course also involved in the story. In fact, the same story and the doctrine of the trinity must be constructed from this economic story. But, unlike man, God is the sovereign Lord of His own story. Therefore, the narrative identification that shapes the doctrine of God is not constitutive of the being of God, in the way that the human narrative is constitutive of the human being. Gog would be God without that story of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation.

Though the doctrine of the trinity is widely confessed to be a mystery, a theological account of human gender must also grapple with its own mystery. Seeking makes sense out of humanity’s puzzling coexistence in these two basic forms of male-female. These are two basic doctrines that stand in need of being connected…. It’s gonna take work to relate the doctrine of the trinity, in any way to the doctrine of gender. So, easy, quick answers need to be called under suspicion.

Using the Image of God as an appeal to gender issues

The answer that’s been the largest in the history of theology is that they can be related through the doctrine of the image of God. Now, that’s probably right. But, when you do the work of filling out the image of God in a biblical and theological argument, we discover that instead of this being a direct and self evident route from trinity to human community, it is instead a doctrinal complex of its own, following its own logic and therefore functioning not as a direct  link between God and man, but a very indirect one, involving a long and fascinating detour, if we had time enough in the world. However, when the doctrine of the image of God is misconstrued in a direct line from God to the human community.

It becomes a very abstract appeal. They think they’re being concrete when they make this appeal, but, it is actually very abstract. It’s an appeal of this sort. Divine and human community are related to each other by imaging. Ontologically, by reflection, or ethically speaking, by imitation. As above, so below is the nature of that appeal. And when applied as an abstract principle it has a sort of a mythological structure. It explains the seen in terms of the unseen, by mythological structure- appealing to something unseen as the explanation for something that is seen.

It is the doctrine of God in general, but, the doctrine of the trinity in particular which has suffered a great deal in a direct appeal to an imaging relation between divine and human community. Theologians who start with the assumption that the trinity has an image and that we can identify it in a created structure are constantly running the risk of unchecked projection.

An imaging structure- „as above, so below”, exposes us to the danger of projecting human traits on God. Here are a few examples from recent years:

  1. Theologians have appealed to the image of the trinity to support their view of social, political, and economic order. Latin American theologian Leonardo Boff has elaborated in his book ‘Holy Trinity Perfect Society’, a social vision of equality and mutuuality, which he explicitly grounds in a free, equal, and mutual community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  2. Less well known is the work of Michael Novak, who briefly suggests that the dialectic of unity and plurality in God’s triune being shows in a dim and distant way, the ( –word unknown)  of a political economy, differentiated, and yet one. Or in short, democratic capitalism.

Boff and Novak famously operate with different socioeconomic vision. And, when one of them looks into the mystery of God, he sees socialism, while the other peers into the same mystery (of the trinity) and sees a free market. Perhaps the mystery is serving as a mirror… If one is wrong and the other right, how would we make that judgment? What are the controls and limits that we should urge on these two thinkers who have found mutually contradictory images of the trinity, which ground mutually contradictory social visions to which they were committed to before they began doing trinitarian theology.

Another example, really briefly, is the application of the doctrine of the trinity to the order of the church. This is a pretty famous discussion by big shots such as Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, who wrote on the trinity that he perceived a kind of a headship or monarchy in there that really sounds very similar to the structure of the pope as the head of the church, which also, of course, includes other bishops, but, must be in communion with the Pope. Who is responded to by John Zizioulas, who said, „No, no, it’s much more like a network of –(word unknown) patriarchs, sort of how we have in orthodoxy. Then, Miroslav Wolf came along and wrote a great book, detailing exactly how these two arguments were made, ending up with the trinity being either catholic or orthodox, and he said, „No, no it is all baptistry in there, it is all about free association. Catholic theologian, Dr. Anne Hunt spoke very clearly about the danger of projection that emerged from Miroslav Wolf’s project, and from the arguments of his chosen interlocutors, Pope Benedict and Zizioulas. Dr. Anne Hunt says, „One cannot but observe that the conclusions reached bear close correspondence to the particular ecclesial tradition or understanding from which each interlocutor from our survey come to their conclusion….we should be very wary of appropriation of God language in support of our  structures and systems, be it ecclesial, political, or social.

So socialist peer into the trinity and find socialism, capitalists capitalism, the catholics see hierarchy, the orthodox see communion among equals, baptists see baptists, egalitarians see equality, and complementarians see complementarianism.

When we use the image of the trinity strategy, we tend to find what we want to find. Furthermore, there is a notably arbitrary character to which of our convictions and values we decide to locate in the trinity. Why do we find authority structures, but not threeness? Why do we not find relations of origins? That’s what a lot of older christians found. What serves as the criterion, what let’s us know whether the human thing we admire is properly to be understood  as the point of similarity with God, or a point of difference? Because, even in the doctrine of the image of God, you’ve got to recognize similarity and difference, however you parse that.

Perichoresis is this really great trinitarian word, it’s the mutual indwelling which the persons of the trinity have their being in each other constitutively. It’s the way the three are one. The persons in the trinity indwell each other and would not be themselves without such mutual indwelling. But, it’s frequently appealed to as a point of similarity. The wonderful instance of interpersonal unity, which either shows us how human personhood is solely constituted, or serves as a model for wihch we ought to strive for. But, perichoresis, it seems obvious it ought to name the difference between the unity of God and the created unity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one with a unity more absolute than we encounter among created phenomena. They are one with a category bursting unity of mutual insideness that cannot be captured on a venn diagram

Venn diagram or set diagram is a diagram that shows all possible logical relations between a finite collection of sets(aggregation of things). Venn diagrams were conceived around 1880 by John Venn. They are used to teach elementary set theory, as well as illustrate simple set relationships in probabilitylogicstatisticslinguistics and computer science (see logical connectives).(Wikipedia)

…that cannot be captured on a venn diagram, that cannot be replicated using the laws of physics and cannot be applied to non physical, created spiritual realities. When Jesus prays, „Let them be one, as we are one,” to interpret this as being perichoretic unity should characterize the church is a serious misunderstanding.

So, I hope it’s obvious how this relates to a conflicting vision of the theology of gender relations of evangelicalism. Both sides do seem open to the charge of having looked into the trinity and found their own image looking back. The complementarians have been the most explicit about the normative character of imaging. And, Dr. Giles is probably right that they pushed first. The complementarians have been most explicit about the normative character: The wife should submit to the husband as the eternal Son submits to the eternal Father (as Grudem-Ware have stated).

But, the egalitarian pdepiction of the inner life of God always sounds suspiciously like a thriving, vibrant, egalitarian community. Take these phrases from the recent Evangelical Statement on the Trinity (see website here and see the reponse here by Daniel Chew and from the Evangelical Theological Society here):

God excercises perfect, cooperative relationships. God models perfect love, respect, cooperation. God exemplifies a unity in diversity that we should emulate between the genders and practice in the global, multi cultural, mutual submission and respectful cooperation of humans…. Deference between the trinity is mutual. All mutually honor and defer to one another.

It seems to me that while some complementarians have been boldest about directly connecting inner trinitarian structure to human power relations, some egalitarians have been most thorough and uncritical in allowing their assumptions about power to dictate the very plausibility structure of what simply must be the case. In both cases we are trapped in a hall of mirrors. You may pretend to model your social vision on what you already know about God, but, as your opponents are glad to point out to you is you’re really more likely to be modeling your notions about God’s inner life in the image of your vision of a just social order.

How is it that such a reversal has come about in out theological thinking? And who will deliver us from this death by anthropological projection? Trinitarian theology can avoid the dangers of projection by eschewing a direct appeal to a created phenomenon as the direct image of an immanent trinity. The immanent trinity can be visualized, because it has provided for us an image of itself. The immanent trinity, God’s eternal existence  as Father, Son, and Spirit has been made known in the economy of salvation. The eternal Son condescended to become the subordinate Son. And the eternal Spirit has been poured out on all flesh by the Father on the basis of the finished work of the Son.

The special, personal presence of the Son and Spirit in the history of salvation, that is the economic trinity, is the one exclusive foundational image of the immanent trinity. Whoever sees the Son has seen the Father, because the incarnate Son lives out among us, a life of identical Son like response as the eternal life of  filial response. He lives with the Father in communion  with the Holy Spirit, above all worlds. There, as here, the Son is the Son. As George MacDonald poetically puts it, “When he died on thecrossHe did that, in the wild weather of his outlying provinces, in the torture of thebody of His revelation, which he had done at home in glory and gladness.

God is not different in our midst, from how God is in the eternal, divine life. The immanent trinity has its own proper image, and its own proper gracious presence in the history of salvation. It is the economic trinity which is the vision of the immanent trinity.

There is a relative independence of these two regions of doctrine, but there is also a relationship.  between the immanent trinity and all manner of human social structures, including the structure of male-female relations in family, and in church. That relationship, though, is not direct and it is not an image. It is the salvation historical reality established by the direct personal presence of the Son and Spirit in the economy of the redemption. The economic trinity, and only the economic trinity is the image of the immanent trinity. This exclusivity cuts in two directions. No other image of the trinity is admissible as a source of revelation, as a basis of theological construction. The psychological analogy of the trinity, the structures of community life, hierarchical or non hierarchical organization of human relations need not apply here. They may have continued relevance as illustration, or apologetic gambit, or pedagogical aid, maybe. But, they cannot used to generate theological accounts of the trinity.

The image of the trinity is not the human soul or the human family. The only image of the immanent trinity is the economic trinity. To elucidate God’s triunity in itself, theology should not turn anywhere, but to the economy of salvation. The exclusivity of the salvation historical image, that is presence of the Son and Spirit also cuts in another direction, calling into question the idea of imitating the trinity and undercutting the many current projects which offer the immanent trinity as the  model society which human societies could imitate. The projects presuppose that christian social ethics should emerge form transforming our common lives into a kind of picture of the immanent trinity.

The immanent trinity, however, already has a picture: the economic trinity. The economic trinity, which is to serve as the model of any mimetic method we might undertake. (As Dr. Giles said: Imitate Jesus, don’t imitate the trinity). God does not rule the world through a formal principle such as: „As above, so below”. He rules the world „as the kingdom comes to earth”: „as it is in heaven, brought by the eternal Son, who makes one identical movement. One filial response to the Father: „On earth, as it is in heaven”. (min 55)

The relation between the eternal Son and the eternal Father:

Is it complementation or is it egalitarian?

Processions in the life of God, procession of the Son and of the Spirit, from the Father, in the life of the trinity are going out- procession. But, they don’t get further away. The Son proceeds from the Father, comes from the Father, but, doesn’t get further from the Father. In fact, the more perfectly He proceeds, the more perfectly He is unified. Which means, every diagram I have ever drawn of the trinity is wrong, because the arrow has to come out from the point of origin and get progressively further from the origin as it goes. But, the relation of the trinitarian life of the living God is weirder than that. I don’t know of any analogies for it. And, that’s another thing that undercuts the image strategy.

Let me try to connect the dots here to our understanding of who Jesus Christ is. So, moving from getting the immanent trinity right, to understanding what this has to do with reading the Gospels and coming to know Jesus Christ, as He is portrayed in Scripture. It says He is the Son, here below, among us on earth, as He is in heaven. And the reason Jesus introduces us to His Father and tells us to pray to His Father is because He is handing over, or He is opening up to us a created participation in a relationship that He has, has always had, He wouldn’t be Himself if He hadn’t always had, and that He is bringing to earth. And so, when He tells us to pray, „Hallowed be the name of God on earth as it is in heaven,” it’s because He is the Son who hallows the name of God. He is the Son on earth, as He is the Son in heaven. Because He is the Son in heaven. The eternal Son becomes the incarnate Son in order to redeem us and make us adopted sons.(min 58:18)

I want to quote Austin Farrer, theologian and pastor who was C.S.Lewis’s priest for awhile. Here’s what Farrer says in an essay on incarnation: We cannot understand Jesus as simply the God who was man. If we do, we have left out an essential factor: The Sonship. Jesus is not simply God manifest as man. He is the divine Son, coming in manhood. What was expressed in human terms here below was not bare deity. It was divine Sonship. God cannot live an identically God like life in eternity and in the human story.” I think what he means by that is: if Jesus were merely just God showing up as man, He would have to have everyone worship Him immediately or He wouldn’t be being God. Right? There would be no hiding it or concealing it, that would be no revelation at all. For God to show up as an identically God like life where He lives on earth exactly the life He lives in heaven, would be for Him to be God on earth in a direct and open way.

But, the divine Son can make an identical response to His Father, whether He makes it in the love of the blessed trinity, or in the fulfillment of an earthly ministry. All the conditions of action are different on the two levels. But, the filial response, a Sonly response is one. Above, the appropriate response from the Son to the Father is cooperation and sovereignty and an interchange of eternal joy. Then the Son gives back to the Father all that the Father is. Below, in the incarnate life, the appropriate response of a Son to a Father is an obedience to inspiration, a waiting for a direction, an acceptance of suffering, a rectitude of choice, a resistance to temptation, a willingness to die. For such things are the stuff of our existence. It is in this very stuff that Christ worked out the theme of heavenly Sonship, proving Himself on earth the very thing He was in heaven. That is, a continuous, perfect act of filial love. (1 hour mark)

At the 1 hour mark starts the egalitarianism vs. complementarianism debate.

Video Published on Dec 10, 2012 by BiolaUniversity

BIOLA’s description on Youtube: A Dialogue between Dr. Kevin Giles (egalitarian) & Dr. Fred Sanders (complementarian).

These two Trinity scholars – with different perspectives on the evangelical gender debate – discuss recent arguments that an eternal „authority/subordination” relationship exists between the Father and Son, and that it is intended as a model for male-female relations.

For the most recent example of this argument, see the chapters by Drs. Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware in „The New Evangelical Subordinationism?: Perspectives on the Equality of God the Father and God the Son”

Kevin Giles (Th.D. Australian College of Theology) served as Anglican rector/pastor for forty years, and now writes, lectures, and is an associate in his present parish in Australia. He has been a member of Christians for Biblical Equality since its inception. His publications include „The Trinity and Subordinationism: The Doctrine of God and the Contemporary Gender Debate” (IVP Academic, 2002); „Jesus and the Father: Modern Evangelicals Reinvent the Doctrine of the Trinity” (Zondervan, 2006); and „The Eternal Generation of the Son: Maintaining Orthodoxy in Trinitarian Theology” (IVP Academic, 2012). Kevin’s views on the Trinity and Gender are summarized in CBE’s „Priscilla Papers” 26.3, Summer 2012.

Fred Sanders (Ph.D. Graduate Theological Union) has served as Professor of Theology in Biola University’s Torrey Honors Institute since 1999, is a popular speaker and blogger (www.patheos.com/blogs/scriptorium/author/fredsanders), and an active member of the Grace Evangeiical Free Church. His publications include „The Image of the Immanent Trinity” (Peter Lang, 2005); „Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective: An Introductory Christology”, F. Sanders and K. Issler, eds. (B&H, 2007); and „The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything” (Crossway, 2010). Fred has produced many scholarly articles, book chapters. and academic presentations on the Trinity, in which he argues for both „order and equality” in the Godhead.

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