Friday, November 03, 2006
Functional Subordination within the Trinity
Is eternal functional subordination within the Trinity a heresy? Is the Son eternally subordinate to the Father in function? In my mind there is no doubt that there is ontological equality, but I don't see a prima facie problem with functional subordination. The reason I say this is because I'm doing a review of Kevin Giles' book Jesus and the Father at ETS in two weeks time. Ben Witherington has an exert out of Giles' book for those interested (here). My initial thoughts are that this debate has been hijacked by those who are using intra-Trinitarian relations to fight the gender wars in North America. I think subordination is consistent with Phil 2.6, John 5.18 and quite explicit in 1 Cor. 15.28. But those who want to use the Son's willing submission to the Father as a theological rubric for complementarianism are barking up the wrong tree. There may be "priority" or even "rank" in the Trinity, but there is nothing from the intra-Trinitarian relations that dictates that "rank" is determined by gender. The women-in-ministry issue must be settled on other grounds and appealing to the Trinity to justify any particular view of gender or social equality is misguided.
I would add that Craig Keener has written a fine article on the subject and he comes out in favour of subordination, even though he's a committed egalitarian Is subordination within the Trinity really heresy? A study of John 5:18 in context TrinJ (1999).
There is a good bibliography of the topic at the Theology Matters matters blog and another blog, Kruse Kronicle offers some reflections on the debate too.
I think I'll stick to NT stuff after this presentation, or better yet, let the erudite Ben Myers figure it all out for me.