I have been teaching theology now for over ten years. Teaching theology carries the burden of not only education, but one of correction. When it comes to heresies about the doctrine of the Trinity, there are two that stand out more than any other as being common among average Christians: subordinationalism and modalism. I will talk about modalism soon, but here I want to devote our time to subordinationalism.

We need to be careful as subordinationalism comes in two varieties, one orthodox and the other heretical. The orthodox version is called “functional subordinationalism,” while the unorthodox version is called “ontological subordinationalism.”

Ontological Subordinationalism

To subordinate something is to distinguish and lessen the value of that which is subordinated. The word “ontological” comes from the Greek, ontos meaning  “essence,” “stuff,” or “substance.” So, Ontological Subordinationalism is to lessen the value of the substance. When it comes to the doctrine of God, Ontological Subordinationalism is the belief that there is a hierarchal subordination among the members of the Trinity in their essence.

For example, many people think that God the Father is the greatest and most powerful among the members of the Trinity. Christ comes in second and the Holy Spirit third. In order to do this, the Ontological Subordinationalist must distinguish between the members of the Trinity in their essence. Orthodox Christianity finds this heretical due to the fact that the Trinity is united in essence. Each member of the Trinity, though distinct in person, shares in the same substance. This sharing makes it impossible for any member to be less in any way in their essence. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all equal in essential power, authority, and dignity. There cannot be one that is subordinate to the other in their essence since this would divide the essence making three Gods. The Bible is clear that God is one in essence (Deut. 6:4; 1 Tim. 2:5), but three in person. Therefore, the Father is not more powerful than the Son, nor the Son more powerful than the Holy Spirit. All three are equal and eternal.

Functional Subordinationalism

While orthodoxy does not allow for any hierarchy in the essence of the members of the Trinity, it does allow for a hierarchy in function or role among the members of the Trinity. Jesus tells us in John 14:28 that his Father is greater than he is. The greatness of which he speaks is tied to Christ’s role as redeemer and, possibly, as Son. While on the earth Christ submitted to the Father in everything in order to qualify to be the representative of mankind on the cross. The same is true of the Holy Spirit as he is sent by the Father and the Son and is in submission to their guidance (John 16:13-15).

One may ask how it is that one can be subordinate in role yet equal in essence. Yet we have many examples to which we can compare this relationship. While a king enjoys a role or function that is greater than his subject, the essential humanity of the both is equal. An officer who pulls you over for a traffic ticket has greater authority and power than you, yet his essential being is no greater. In the marital relationship (for those who hold a complementarian theology), the husband is the head of the wife, but they share equal value and dignity before God. Among the members of the Trinity, at least for the purpose of redemption, their is a functional hierarchy, even though there is not an ontological hierarchy. There is legitimate disagreement throughout church history about whether this functional hierarchy is temporary or eternal, but we wont go there now.

Any time we make Christ or the Holy Spirit a lesser God than the Father, we have fallen into the heresy of Ontological Subordinationalism. It is important for us to understand that there is one God who eternally exists in three persons, all of which are fully God, all of which are equal.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    139 replies to "Heresies: Subordinationalism – A Lesser Christ"

    • Lucian

      If the Son listens (hearkens) to the Father, it follows that He is of a lesser or different nature than Him; yet when sons listen (hearken) to their fathers, no-one in their right mind believes that that makes them of a lesser or different nature than that of their fathers. — so their heresy is based on double-standard, internal incoherency and inconsistency, and is thus self-contradictory.

    • Carol

      Your analogies aren’t comparable to the Trinity because a husband and his wife are not the same being. By comparing members of the Trinity to multiple people (kings/subjects, policeman/public, husband/wife) you are in effect making them into three Gods, each with their own individual substance and not a shared substance.

    • C Michael Patton

      True and thanks for noticing that!

      However, my analogy is not one of the Trinity, but how relationships can be subordinate even though the beings are of equal value and dignity.

    • Sue

      Here is Augustine on this topic,

      “In such wise that, whereas four things are to be considered in every sacrifice—to whom it is offered, by whom it is offered, what is offered, for whom it is offered,— the same One and true Mediator Himself, reconciling us to God by the sacrifice of peace, might remain one with Him to whom He offered, might make those one in Himself for whom He offered, Himself might be in one both the offerer and the offering. 8

      He was not sent in respect to any inequality of power, or substance, or anything that in Him was not equal to the Father; but in respect to this, that the Son is from the Father, not the Father from the Son; for the Son is the Word of the Father, which is also called His wisdom. What wonder, therefore, if He is sent, not because He is unequal with the Father, but because He is “a pure emanation (manatio) issuing from the glory of the Almighty God?” For there, that which issues, and that from which it issues, is of one and the same substance. For it does not issue as water issues from an aperture of earth or of stone, but as light issues from light. For the words, “For she is the brightness of the everlasting light,” what else are they than, she is light of everlasting light? For what is the brightness of light, except light itself?”

      http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/130104.htm

      I don’t think that this presents a view of two separate people of differing authority. There is NO disparity of power/authority.

    • Paul

      One cannot adequately address this subject without reading Millard Erickson’s Who’s Tampering with the Trinity in which he takes on the likes of Grudem and Ware showing that “functional subordinationism” makes little philosophical, biblical, or historical sense.

      Seems that C. Michael Patton has committed the same errors here that Erickson points out.

    • Richard Worden Wilson

      “Tampering with the Trinity” in the mode of Millard Erikson at least assumes that doctrine is biblical in general. I have been increasingly impressed with the way in which almost every distinctive aspect of the doctrine is based on arguments beyond scripture, as apparently even Athanasius acknowledged. It seems as though the Apostles themselves couldn’t have thought to present the arguments themselves, so some putative “church father” has to bring them himself, or collectively themselves. C. Michael does basically the same thing, mounting arguments and analogies to conclusions that the Apostles didn’t find necessary, or more likely, appropriate. Kevin Giles argument as referred to by Millard Erikson is one that tacitly affirms the necessity of relying on tradition to show us what the scripture says is true. In other words, orthodoxy is what orthodoxy says orthodoxy is.

      As concerning the question of subordination, however conceived or stated, I’ve recently been struck with the implications (though I’m unwilling to bring strongly tendentious arguments along with it!) of Paul’s conclusion of the matter: I Cor. 15:27b, f.: “Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” Distinguishing God from Christ seems of no small significance in these questions. Merely functional? “Heresies,,, correction”? Hummmm? A weighty obligation and task. So, may God bless, and forgive, those called by Him to such tasks.
      All the best to all in Christ.

    • Stuart

      Hi Michael, I found this post excellent. You really have a way of clearly articulating complex issues very succinctly, so that even a simple mind such as my own can grasp the concepts…no easy task.

      Anyway, I’d like to request permission to cross-post, and if acceptable, also your upcoming post on modalism, as these are important issues in my mind that need to be addressed widely.

      No worries if not acceptable…..

    • pinklight

      I have some questions for comps who are willing to answer.

      In 1 Co 11:3 the term “God” is used. The question is does it refer to the Godhead or the Father?

      Throughout the rest of the passage when Paul uses “God”, how is he using it? Does the context support Paul using “God” for the Father or the Godhead? And why?

      1) Is Christ the Creator and all things come from him or is he excluded? All things come from only the Father?
      2) Do the churches not belong to Christ? Do they belong alone to the Father?
      3) Was Paul speaking of women only praying to the Father?

      “3…the head of every man is Christ,”
      “7A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God;”

      4) Is Christ also God in this passage or not?

    • pinklight

      I’ve another question to add to comment #8.

      5) Where does Paul show his usage of “God” to mean “the Father” in 1 Co 11, like he does in 1 Co 15:24?

    • pinklight

      6) How come Paul speaks of God and Christ and also the Son and Father relationship in 1 Co 15, but not in 1 Co 11?

    • Phoebe

      I find it helpful to remember that it took our Lord almost 200 years to teach the Church about His divinity.

      Without the co-equal, co-eternal Trinity, there is no Gospel.

    • Abel

      I am confused.

      You make the statement, “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all equal in essential power, authority, and dignity.”

      You then use the example of a police officer and a member of the public and explicitly state that the police officer “has greater authority and power than you”.

      This completely negates the first statement.

      Are you saying that the different parts of the godhead are pretending to have greater authority and power than each other when they are actually identical?

      To use your own analogy – are they playing cops and robbers?

      You’ve honestly lost me.

    • Nick Norelli

      Paul: Erickson’s hardly the first to attempt that! I’m quite sure he won’t be the last. From the reviews I’ve read and from Kevin Giles’ own characterization of the book in a recent article in the Trinity Journal it doesn’t seem that Erickson has provided anything substantially new to the debate. I’ll reserve final judgment on the issue until I’ve read the book though but from what I do know about it I feel confident that I can adequately address the subject without having read Erickson’s book.

      Richard: Distinguishing God [the Father] from Christ [the Son] is exactly why Trinitarians are Trinitarians and not Modalists. It’s of huge significance! Without this distinction we have no doctrine of the Trinity!

      pinklight: Unless there’s reason to think differently (like in Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13) Paul usually uses “God” as his designation for the Father and “Lord” as his designation for the Son.

    • Phil McCheddar

      Pinklight,
      You are asking questions that have been bugging me for a long time. I am a trinitarian and I have asked a number of trinitarians why the NT writers often used the word ‘God’ to refer exclusively to the Father when mentioning both the Father and the Son in the same sentence. For example:

      No immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)

      May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God . . . (2 Cor.13:14)

      James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ . . . (James 1:1)

      By this usage, the NT writers seemed to imply that they did not believe Jesus is included in the being of ‘God’. Why didn’t they speak of “the Father and Jesus” or “God the Father and God the Son” instead?

      But no trinitarian can give me an answer. I sure hope someone here can offer some help with this.

    • JohnCW

      This is the same argument you guys use to oppress women.

      Not buying it

      functional subordination is subordination

    • Nick Norelli

      Phil: If you’re asking why the NT writers commonly refer to the Father as “God” then the best answer you’ll get from anyone (Trinitarian or not) is “because they did and because he is.” From this you can’t get that they didn’t believe Jesus to be God. To start, being God entails more than simply being called God; but even Jesus is called God a few times in the NT (e.g., John 1:1, 18; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13; 2Pet. 1:1; et al.). But look at the manner in which certain NT authors apply OT YHWH texts to Jesus (e.g., Rom. 10:13 cf. Joel 2:32 [3:5 MT/LXX]; John 12:38-41 cf. Isa. 6:9-10; Phil. 2:10 cf. Isa. 45:23; et al.) or the many “I Am” (εγω ειμι) statements of Jesus in John’s Gospel that correspond to YHWH’s many “I Am” (אני הוא/εγω ειμι [LXX]) statements in Isaiah (e.g., John 4:26 cf. Isa. 52:6; John 13:19 cf. Isa. 43:10; John 8:24 cf. Isa. 43:10-11; et al.). Jesus is depicted as the recipient of worship which is alone reserved for God (Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14; et al.); he’s prayed to (Acts 1:24; 7:59; 1Cor. 1:2; et al.); he creates (John 1:3; 1Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2); YHWH’s various titles such as “Lord of lords” (Deut. 10:17 & Psalm 136:3 cf. 1Tim. 6:15 & Rev. 17:14; 19:16) and “First and Last” (Isa. 44:6 & 48:12 cf. Rev. 1:11, 17; 2:8) are applied to Jesus. These are just a few lines of evidence but I think you get my point.

      JohnCW: Yes, functional subordination is subordination; the functional kind! Jesus being subordinate to his Father in some way has no bearing on the oppressing of women.

    • Rick

      Michael,

      Where I think you err is in placing “authority” as part of the essence of God. I believe Biblically that authority is part of the role, not essence. Just as Christ is the Redeemer so is the Father the “sender”. Humanly we see the issue of authority as given to the Apostles and Elders in the church. But they are not greater in essence, just role.

      Comments?

    • TL

      Rick, how would you define authority for this discussion.

    • Sue

      I guess some people want to talk about this topic without subordinating women.

      However, it does seem that Michael wants to use this discussion in order to justify the functional (but life long and across all domains) subordination of a woman to her equal in the privacy of the home. Very poor taste.

      I would love to see the discussion broken into components. I don’t see Augustine relating the Father-Son dyad to marriage. I don’t think we can look at the church fathers as comparing the trinity to marriage. Why would they?

      I would love to see a discussion of this topic without referring to women.

    • C Michael Patton

      I have not read many of the comments here. However, I just read Sue’s. Although I could not understand it (maybe some typos?), I could tell that it was going in the comp/egal direction.

      Folks, please don’t spoil this thread by turning it in that direction. If you are not a comp, then don’t regard the illustration I gave and use the others.

    • Paul

      Let me put it another way.

      1. For Persons A and B to be ontologically equal, they both must share in the same essential attributes.
      2. The Son’s essential attributes include being eternally subordinate [so goes the classical argument].
      3. Therefore the Son and the Father are not ontologically equal.

      Problems? Uh…YEA!!

      However, if the Son was temporally subordinate to the Father, then he may indeed be ontologically equal to the Father, since his subordination was an accidental rather than essential attribute during his Incarnation only.

      Granted Erickson may not add anything new to the arguments, but he nicely summaries of the issues and shows the absurdity of Grudem and Ware’s positions. Giles requires a careful, thoughtful reading for depth and breadth.

    • Sue

      Michael,

      No typos that I can see. As I said, I would love to discuss this issue without referring to women.

      You suggest then that I ignore your clear reference to a complementarian marriage and focus on your other illustrations.

      We don’t have monarchies anymore, so the illustration that is left is comparing the father – son dyad in the trinity to the relationship between a police officer and a wrong-doer. Is that correct?

    • Sue

      You suggest that I have made a typo –

      Dyad:
      a. two persons involved in an ongoing relationship or interaction.
      b. the relationship or interaction itself.

    • C Michael Patton

      Sorry Sue. I just read it too fast originally.

      You said, “I would love to see a discussion of this topic without referring to women.” Good. The comment was merely illustrative and qualified as being only for those who are comps. All non-comps can ignore it.

    • C Michael Patton

      All Trinitarians accept some form of functional subordinationalism. Whether it is eternal or not is a very very small issue? It is unfortunate that people have turned it into something significant only for the gender “political” purposes. I have been very sicked by how all that has played out in the last ten years personally. Please don’t extend that to this blog! Please. 🙂

    • Rick

      TL,

      I think that the use of the word in regards to government or military is appropriate. It is directive by nature and others are only subordinate to it in its sphere. From John 6-8 and others it is clear that God the Father gave direction to the Son to be carried out – “not My will but Thine be done”. Essence is equality. Authority is role or function specific.

      It is clear Christ became “obedient” (Phil 2) which means He submitted His will to a higher Authority.

    • Paul

      Michael:
      “All Trinitarians accept some form of functional subordinationalism. Whether it is eternal or not is a very very small issue?”

      Agree that all Ts accept some form of S. However, are you asking whether it is a small issue? [apologies for my thickness, here]. If so, I would argue it is NO small issue as would Erickson who appeals rather strongly at the end of Tampering. Moreover, logic necessitates that either a) Christ is eternally subordinate or b) he is temporally subordinate. He cannot be both. As I laid out, if Christ is eternally subordinate, that is tantamount to him not being ontologically equal with the Father. So….[if you’re asking] it is VITALLY IMPORTANT.

      P.S. Sincere appreciation to you, brother, for posting such provocative topics! I pray they’re useful to all in building up Christ’s Body.

    • Sue

      Michael,

      I would not have brought up gender if you had not introduced it. But when I read that marriage is like a police officer giving an offender a ticket, it feels humiliating to be a woman. It is hard to ignore. But I will try.

      Earlier I provided a quote from Augustine which had nothing at all to do with gender. I find his discussion of light from light, rather than water from water to be interesting and NOT to do with gender. He is really saying that they are not two separate beings in the way that two people are. He calls Christ the emanation of God.

    • Nick Norelli

      Paul: Re. comment #21 — The problem is with your second premise. Why should the Son’s subordination (I much prefer to speak of his obedience given the negative connotations that the word subordination carries) be viewed as an essential attribute rather than a personal property? I recently criticized this line of argument when reviewing Tom McCall’s Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism?. As McCall sees it, if the Son is subordinate to the Father at all times and in all possible worlds then the result is a denial of the Father and Son being homoousios because the Son would necessarily (= essentially on McCall’s reading) have a property that the Father doesn’t have. But if personal properties and essential attributes are conflated in such a way then even the person who denies eternal functional subordination runs into problems since the Father, Son, and Spirit are Father, Son, and Spirit from all eternity, i.e., each person has a property that the others don’t. I suppose the solution to this is to say that there is a possible world in which the Father could be the Son and the Son could be the Spirit and the Spirit could be the Father but that’s tantamount to modalism and I doubt many would find that an attractive solution to the problem.

      BTW, I’ve read both of Giles’ books and a few articles that he’s written on the subject and if I never read him again it will be too soon. I have to imagine that Erickson is much less polemical than Giles. Can you confirm this? And for what it’s worth, I disagree with Ware and Grudem’s application of the doctrine of the Trinity to the gender debate, but I still believe that they’re on firm footing when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity.

    • Sue

      Putting aside the gender debate, are we to dismiss Augustine on the topic of the trinity? What do we do with his work on this topic.

      Augustine says that,

      “He was not sent in respect to any inequality of power, or substance, or anything that in Him was not equal to the Father;”

      Power here is the same word as “authority.” If there is no difference in authority between father and son, according to Augustine, then do Grudem and Ware have a different position than Augustine, or an adaptation of Augustine’s position?

      Nick,

      Do you generally hold to Augustine’s position as a trinitarian? Or could you point out for me where he is not orthodox? Thanks.

    • Rick

      Paul – It seems to me that the issue of subordination (obedience) was that the second person of the Godhead temporarily took a role that required submission (subordination). This is not an issue of essence. It is an issue of role.

      A clumsy human example might be twin brothers who ran a family business as equal partners. They also play football together. One brother is the QB, the other a tight-end. The tight-end, in this football role is subordinate to his brother. But in all other activities (roles) in life they are equal.

      Clearly Christ “did not consider equality with God (the Father) “a thing to be grasped”. In His role as Redeemer He became (volitionally) subordinate. It had nothing to do with essence.

    • Nick Norelli

      Sue: I can’t speak for Grudem or Ware although I’d imagine that they’d make a distinction between power (δυναμις) as an essential attribute and authority (εξουσια) as a personal property (I don’t know if Augustine’s Latin term is the equivalent to one, the other, or both of these terms). I’d have to look through their books to be sure.

      As for me, I understand Augustine to be making his case from the causal personal relationships. The Father sends the Son not because he’s greater in power or being but because he is the Father of the Son. The Father begets while the Son is begotten; the Son is from the Father, not the Father from the Son. I’m in complete agreement with Augustine here as I think most Patristic Trinitarian theology is. In fact, my personal view of eternal functional subordination is rooted precisely in this eternal Trinitarian taxis. The Father sends the Son and the Son obeys the Father in coming precisely because the Son is from the Father and not the other way around.

      As for Augustine not being orthodox, well, I could point out some stuff that I have problems with but that wouldn’t be related to this post! Oh, but he’s orthodox, even if not always as like-minded as I’d like him to be. 😉

    • Sue

      “I can’t speak for Grudem or Ware although I’d imagine that they’d make a distinction between power (δυναμις) as an essential attribute and authority (εξουσια) as a personal property (I don’t know if Augustine’s Latin term is the equivalent to one, the other, or both of these terms). I’d have to look through their books to be sure.”

      Thanks Nick,

      Augustine’s Latin was potestas, which is the term in the Latin Vulgate which is used exclusively as a translation for εξουσια, and never for δυναμις. So we must understand Augustine to be saying that the son has no disparity in εξουσια (as a personal property?) from the father. This appears to conflict with Grudem and Ware.

      So I am open to having someone explain how

      a) the father and son are equal in all ways in authority (Augustine)

      b) the son is under the father’s authority (Grudem and Ware)

      I do see that one emanates from the other. One is able to come into the world and the other is not. But I understand from Augustine that they had one will. It was not a case of command and obedience, but of sending and being sent, with only one will motivating this action.

    • Nick Norelli

      Sue: I just saw that Ware discusses the very passage in Augustine that we’re discussing in his chapter “Tampering with the Trinity: Does the Son Submit to His Father?” in Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood (ed., Wayne Grudem; Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002), 246-47. I know that this chapter has been published elsewhere but I can’t recall if it was changed in any way. You might want to check that out. If you don’t have access to it then let me know and I’ll email it to you.

      If Augustine conflicts with Grudem and Ware then so be it; I’m not personally bothered by that one way or the other. Also, Augustine was a great theologian, but he takes a backseat to Scripture. Scripture shows us the Father’s authority in the Father-Son relationship so that has to be our basis for judging this issue. With regard to sending & being sent vs. command & obedience I think it’s just semantics. The Father sends the Son and not vice versa, right? I’m sure everyone agrees on that. So from this how can we imagine that the Son did not obey the Father in coming?

    • Sue

      Nick,

      Thanks for a thoughtful response. I am familiar with Ware on this topic. He does not, however, respond to the fact that Augustine says that there is no disparity in authority between the Father and the Son, as far as I can remember.

      I don’t see that Augustine has to be considered correct on this topic, in any case. It would not bother me if anyone rejected what he wrote.

      However, Augustine distinctly describles the Son as light and not as water. That is, the Son is ONE essence with the Father, not a separate but equal essence. So in that sense, the Father-Son relationship can never be applied to a relationship between two human beings.

      For example, if we look at Michael’s post, could we say that the subject is the WISDOM of the king, or the offender is the WISDOM of the police officer, or is the wife the WISDOM of the husband? We couldn’t easily relate Michael’s illustrations to Augustine’s description of the relationship.

      At some point, this breaks down, for me, earlier rather than later. I don’t think we can take a human relationship of authority and submission, even one in which the submissive never expressed an independent thought in his or her life, and compare that to the Son as an emanation of the Father. The Son is one essence with the Father, rather than a separate but obedient individual. Or perhaps he is not. I don’t know.

    • Sue

      “describles” – okay, that was a typo!! 🙂

    • Nick Norelli

      Sue: I’m not fond of any analogy of the Trinity since God’s uniqueness really renders them all useless so I’m with you on finding fault in the analogies drawn from human relationships.

    • C Michael Patton

      I agree Nick. When it come to describing the Trinity proper, analogies only serve the purpose of negation. However, I do think that what I did in the post was proper since it is merely showing how two individuals can have equal dignity and power in their essence yet have roles that regulate the usage.

    • C Michael Patton

      Stuart. U r more than welcome to repost.

    • Sue

      Michael,

      “two individuals can have equal dignity and power in their essence yet have roles that regulate the usage.”

      Are the Father and Son two “individualals?” I would argue that according to Augustine they are not. He says explicitly that there is no disparity in their authority, so the “roles” only refer to the fact that the Son is the emanation of the Father.

      The notion that the Son is to the Father as the offender is to the police officer poses an additional moral problem. When Christ stands in for sinful humanity, is he really a sinful offender?

      And are you also arguing that police and offender, king and subject are both cases of two individuals with equal authority, like Father and Son?

      In brief, do Father and Son have equal authority, or differing authority? Are they two individuals or one essence? I feel that there should be some clarity on this.

    • C Michael Patton

      Yes, equal in authority in their essence, but subordinate in their roles.

    • Sue

      Michael,

      You mean that authority is both of one’s essence and of one’s function. There are two different ways of having authority. Is this doctrine articulated anywhere?

      Is the Son equal to the Father in essential authority, but not equal to the Father in functional authority? Are these two specific kinds of authority. Or does the Son simply not function in accordance with his essence?

      If this were compared to humans, would this mean that some humans function according to their essence, like a king, but other humans, the subjects, do not function according to their essence?

    • C Michael Patton

      Sue,

      exactly. That is phil 2. Equal with God yet took a subordinate role.

      Sue, do u believe in the doctrine of the trinity? I don’t know u so I am trying to figure out where u r coming from.

    • Sue

      I always was taught about Christ that he was God in the sense that light is from the sun. That is, according to the wave/ particle duality. That is, certain concepts from physics were always used to explain how Christ was one essence with the Father, but separate in action.

      However, this framework was never used for two discrete human entities. The comparison of the two persons of the trinity were never compared to two human beings in a relationship before the 1970’s to my knowledge. We can see in Augustine how foreign this would be. And some people, now, like Nick, for example, are committed to a study of the trinity without making any comparison to humans or using this concept to subordinate one class of human beings.

      Going back to physics, I felt comfortable, and I am sure many others did as well, holding two separate models in tension. It was not necessary to understand how two beings, the Father and the Son, both were, and were not, two separate beings. That was considered a concept which would be veiled to the finite human mind.

      But, regarding humans, the king and his subject, simply are two discrete concrete entities. If the king executes his subject, then the dynamic cannot be compared to the Father sacrificing his Son. The subject is a human life, deprived of life by a tyrant. This is immoral.

      I simply feel that comparing the Father Son dyad to two human beings poses a very serious moral dilemma. I don’t see this ever done in theology throughout history until very recently, certainly I was an adult before I ever heard of this doctrine.

    • Sue

      So, in short, I don’t know if I believe in the trinity in the same way that you do, because I always used the wave/particle analogy as a framework, and not the king/subject analogy.

      My belief in the trinity did not impinge on my ability to believe in the law of Christ, that other human beings are to be our neighbours, and not our masters or subjects.

    • C Michael Patton

      Well, the sun illustration is bad when speaking about the Trinity proper. In fact, no illustrations are good when the Trinity is the direct object of the illustration. I have written about this before. The ancient church used the Spirit, soul, body. They also used a crowd of people. The sun was another. These all present Tritheism.

      Again, my illustrations are not
      about the trinity proper, but about how we have conceptions that allow
      for equal power yet subordinate roles.

      Sorry to keep asking, but do u believe in the doctrine of the Trinity?

    • C Michael Patton

      One other illustration is that I have authority over people with regard to their posts here on the blog. Does not mean I am, in my essence more powerful than anyone here!

      My point is that these type of relationships are very common and we should not have trouble grasping it.

    • Sue

      Michael,

      I have asked some very factual and straightforward questions from someone who has taught theology for over ten years. I sense that you are now trying to change the subject. I don’t think that is beneficial to this discussion.

      In fact, I would suggest that you are trying to use an ad hominem attack on me. Thanks for your little dialogue box off to the right of the post for making me realize how you are trying to shift the focus.

      I think we ought to return to discussing the evidence or the substance of the argument as your little box suggests!

      If we now agree that the Son is equal to the Father in essential authority, and only different in functional authority, is this clearly taught in most theology classes. Do you teach this?

      And if your human illustrations are not about the trinity, then why would they influence our Christian behaviour?

    • Sue

      “One other illustration is that I have authority over people with regard to their posts here on the blog. Does not mean I am, in my essence more powerful than anyone here!”

      Of course, the blog owner is always more powerful in essence than any commenter! 🙂

    • C Michael Patton

      Sue,

      Directly speaking to the subject of the post, do u believe that christ yeilded to the will of the Father, surrendering his own will, while on the earth?

    • Sue

      “Directly speaking to the subject of the post, do u believe that christ yeilded to the will of the Father, surrendering his own will, while on the earth?”

      Establishing what I believe opens me up to ad hominem attacks. (Someone might try to excommunicate me again!! 🙂 )

      However, speaking to the scriptures – and what they teach – as a human, Christ surrendered his will to the will of the Father, in order to become the mediator and sacrifice, both in one.

      So, I think, as much as one can be sure about this, that the Son and the Father had one single volitional will, throughout eternity, but as a human, Christ’s will was subordinate to the Father, specifically to function as mediator between God and humans.

      So, I just don’t see this as having any carry over to how to human beings ought to treat each other. I think it is definitely pathological if one human says to the other, “I will play God to your Christ.” I would feel the nails in my hands. I think Christ came to die as a human, and that was the function of his human life, of his surrendered will. I would not want to think of this as a model for the way I relate to my children or my employees, or to the commenters on my blog.

    • Michael T.

      CMP,
      While Jesus was on Earth were God and Jesus’ wills ever necessarily opposed?? I mean there is the passage in the Garden, but this could easily be explained away by various two wills theories or even just competing desires (i.e. I wish I didn’t have to mow the lawn, but I will mow the lawn because it is required under city code to own and house and I desire to own a house more then I desire to not mow the lawn = I don’t want to go to the cross, but will because it is the only way to redeem humanity which I desire more).

    • Sue

      The essence of Christ’s surrendered will is seen in the Abraham and Isaac story. The father sacrifices the son, the fruit of his own life.

      Somehow, it seems okay to us that God sacrifices his Son, but it would not be appropriate for any human to sacrifice or demand sacrifice on the part of another human being. It only seems okay to me that God offers his son as a sacrifice if I believe what Augustine wrote,

      “In such wise that, whereas four things are to be considered in every sacrifice—to whom it is offered, by whom it is offered, what is offered, for whom it is offered,— the same One and true Mediator Himself, reconciling us to God by the sacrifice of peace, might remain one with Him to whom He offered, might make those one in Himself for whom He offered, Himself might be in one both the offerer and the offering.”

    • C Michael Patton

      Sue, it is hard for me to have a conversation when basic questions bring such accusations. This is a blog that has a very wide variety of people. I don’t know where people are coming from so I ask questions to better know how to engage.

      When christ says “the father is greater than I” what does he mean? Is the father greater in essence or in role. If u say in essence then u are falling outside of Christian orthodoxy with regard to the trinity. This is ok, it just helps to know where u r coming from. If you say that the father is greater in role then u have fallen in line with traditional understanding, no matter what illustration u use.

    • Sue

      I like what Augustine wrote. This quote seems to express the essential beliefs very well. I just don’t know how this carries over to essence and role.

      Christ is an emanation of God. God is the one from whom Christ emanates, so in this respect the Father is greater than the Son. But I am not sure that emanation is a “role.”

      I also do not see how this can ever be compared to two human beings. A subject does not emanate from a king, nor does a wrong-doer emanate from a police officer.

      So, there is a framework of belief about the Father and the Son which falls within historic orthodoxy and does not relate at all to how two human beings interact.

    • Michael T.

      Sue,
      Just going to be honest here. Never thought I’d see you quoting, much less agreeing with Augustine (I’m personally not a fan of him – I think he created more problems then he solved theologically – though he at least was right about Pelagius being wrong).

    • Sue

      I have a lot of sympathy for the guy. He quit teaching in his 30’s since he couldn’t discipline his students, his mother sent his partner packing, he couldn’t bring himself to marry the teenager she picked out for him, his teenage son died, and then he wrote some disgruntled stuff about women mixed in with his very worthy thoughts on prelapsarian sex. Why shouldn’t I cite Augustine – especially on the trinity?

      Michael, are you sure you are not trying to change the subject? 😉

    • […] Cross-post by C Michael Patton of Parchment & Pen: […]

    • C Michael Patton

      This is off topic:???

      “When christ says “the father is greater than I” what does he mean? Is the father greater in essence or in role. If u say in essence then u are falling outside of Christian orthodoxy with regard to the trinity. This is ok, it just helps to know where u r coming from. If you say that the father is greater in role then u have fallen in line with traditional understanding, no matter what illustration u use.”

    • Michael T.

      CMP,
      I think she was talking to me not you about changing the subject.

    • Hodge

      Here’s how one person emanating from another relates to the the role of men and women (if you take this view): The woman is taken out of the man. She is a part of his essence and is brought forth from it. The difference, in this view, therefore, might be one of finite versus eternal persons. The one being brought forth from the other, however, creates a distinct role for each within the relationship. Of course, any finite analogy is going to fail at some point. Does the love of a man for a woman really approach the depth of the love of Christ in every way? Probably not, but it gives us some picture of it nonetheless.

      I don’t necessarily ascribe to this view, but it is relevant.

      “I think it is definitely pathological if one human says to the other, “I will play God to your Christ.””

      How about, “I will play Christ to your Church”?

      The relationship of the human couple is compared to Christ and the Church, not the godhead. Michael’s point is that what we know takes place within the godhead concerning the nature of equality and role tells us that one can have equality in essence, but have a role subject to the other. This is clear, Sue. You just don’t want to give an inch because you don’t want a single point made against your egal position. But this isn’t appropriate. You might as well deny that there is any biological difference between the man and woman if you are going to try and nip every concept that contradicts egal in the bud. I find it interesting that you have to mess with the godhead in order to get what you want out of it. You can say that it was His human person that was in subjection to the Father, but you are confusing person and nature. His nature isn’t in subjection to the Father. His Person, which has two natures, is. So the divine Person of Christ is in subjection to the Father on earth. Either way, you get a subordination of the divine Person of Christ at some point (whether from eternity or temporarily).

    • Dale

      Phil: “I have asked a number of trinitarians why the NT writers often used the word ‘God’ to refer exclusively to the Father when mentioning both the Father and the Son in the same sentence.”

      The answer is simple, and really obvious when you mull it over. “God” was the normal term for YHWH, the one true god of the OT. (This name or title could also be used of others, in various contexts – but this is the dominant usage.) They used the term interchangeably with “the Father” because they assumed them to be one and the same (numerically identical). When mentioning the Father/God they use another term for the Son, because they assumed him to be numerically distinct from the Father, and normally, we try to give things unique names, to avoid confusion.

      Is this consistent with trinitarianism? Depends. If the trinitarian identifies God with the whole Trinity, then no – because the Father is not identical to the whole Trinity. But 2nd-3rd century trinitarians or proto-trinitarians (if they are rightly so called – maybe just, “catholic theologians” is better) are what we’re wondering about, they all identified God with the Father. They held Christ to be divine in various senses that fell short of being numerically the same as God. And when people objected that this isn’t monotheism (two beings which are in some sense divine), they didn’t argue that there’s one Trinity (which is id to God) or even, in many cases, that Father and Son shared numerically one nature/essence. Instead, they argued that there’s only one Father – only one being with that ultimate status – being the ultimate source of all else (including the Son), being divine-in-himself (not because of another), being along “Almighty”, and so on.

      That doesn’t go through all the options, but I hope it is helpful.

    • Michael T.

      Dale,
      Isn’t that basically subordationalism?? Also who all among the Early Church writers held this?? I know Origen did for instance, but I’m not sure who else did.

    • Sue

      Hodge,

      A few thoughts.

      First, Augustine wrote,

      “Himself might be in one both the offerer and the offering. ”

      This is what “emanation” refers to. The one who offers is sacrificing the one who is the emanation of himself. The purpose in Christ being sent is for God to become human, to lower himself to human mortality and to die as a sacrifice.

      There is no way to use this as an analogy for the wife and husband unless the husband remains in safety sending the wife into the world, to be lowered, to die, to be sacrificed? Or to put it differently, is the wife the word of the husband and the wisdom of the husband. Is she the logos of her husband?

      I am having logical difficulties with this comparison.

      Second, you wrote,

      “The relationship of the human couple is compared to Christ and the Church, not the godhead.”

      This seems more clear. But in this case, there is no equality. Christ is divine and the church is human. In what sense is the husband greater than the wife? At that time, in financial and legal power, the husband was stronger.

      But in nature, the argument seems to be that both people in the relationship are equal in essence. I would take this to mean equal in nature. Surely you and Michael P are saying then that the man and woman are equal in nature, equal in essential authority. Surely the wife is equally equipped with the intelligence to make decisions, and bear full responsibility.

      But you say that the husband is to fulfill the role of authority, acting in accord with his essential authority, but the wife is to fulfill the role of submission, not living in accord with her essential authority, since her essential authority is equal to that of her husband? Isn’t this what you and Michael have agreed is so?

      Christ fulfills the submissive role, as a sacrifice for our sins, and this is appropriate because he is the emanation of God. But among humans, the husband cannot offer the wife as a sacrifice.

    • C Michael Patton

      No more talk about the complementarian issue. I will not let this thread get hijacked due to an agenda that is ancillary (at best) to the subject of the post.

    • C Michael Patton

      I am now exercising my deligated (not essential!) authority and deleting posts that smell of comp/egal stuff.

    • cherylu

      From Hodge, # 61 above: His Person, which has two natures, is. So the divine Person of Christ is in subjection to the Father on earth. Either way, you get a subordination of the divine Person of Christ at some point (whether from eternity or temporarily).

      I Corinthians 15:28 says this, When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

      From that verse, it sounds to me like Jesus will have a subordination of roles to the Father for all of eternity.

    • Hodge

      Cherylu,

      Yes, my comment about temporality and eternality was in terms of the past. The Son has eternally placed Himself under the Father to unite humanity with God forever. So it is everlasting. I was simply pointing out that the divine Person of the Son is subject to the Father whether one believes this is from eternity past or has come about since creation for the purpose of saving mankind.

      Sue, I’d answer you’re comments, but Michael has made the executive decision on that one, and he has that authority (although equal in nature with us). All I can say is that your main problem is that you don’t know how an analogy functions. It’s never complete. It’s always to some degree partial. Hence, your objections miss the mark.

    • Sue

      “your main problem is that you don’t know how an analogy functions”

      Let’s work on the policeman and the speeder in that case. Is the speeder Christ and the policeman God? Is that analogy close enough?

    • bethyada

      Let’s work on the policeman and the speeder in that case. Is the speeder Christ and the policeman God? Is that analogy close enough?

      Seems reasonable. The motorcyclist wants to travel at 200 km/h to enjoy wind thru his hair and the acceleration of the curves. The officer informs him that the roads are used by others and this would add unnecessary risk to their lives. The cyclist obliges and stays within the limits.

      Even though the cyclist and officer are equal in their humanness, the cyclist is obedient to the law enforcing of the officer.

      It seems similar to Christ when he was hungry but submitted the pleasure of eating to reaching the lost which was his Father’s will.

      Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (John 4)

    • Sue

      But the motorcyclist does not encounter the officer in Michael’s scenario unless he has committed a transgression. The interaction between the officer and the cyclist is brought about by the cyclist speeding. Otherwise they do not have to interact.

      The laws which the cyclist obeys are not made by the officer. As law abiding citizens they are both equal. As transgressor and officer they enter into a relationship of sorts. It is this relationship of transgressor and officer which Michael used.

      I shall, however, relish the analogy of the motorcyclist going 200 K down the freeway without a helmet on his head! 🙂

    • Dale

      Is isn’t necessarily “subordinationism” to hold that the Father and Son numerically differ. Why couldn’t they numerically differ, and be qualitatively equal in every way?

      But the other stuff, e.g. the idea that Jesus was divine because of the Father (even if this is an eternal dependence) – yes, that’s subordinationism, at least as I use the term. On these views, the Son exists because of the Father.

      “Also who all among the Early Church writers held this?”

      In different ways, all the logos theologians – Justin, Hippolytus, Irenaeus, Tertullian.

    • C Michael Patton

      It is not only that they are equal in every way, like identical twins who can both bench 250 and have an equal iq. The members of the Trinity share in the exact same substance. Their substance is one and the same. Otherwise, you have tritheism. That is why they are NECESSARILY equal in their ontos.

    • Sue

      Hi Michael,

      My comment has been deleted. I was wondering if you are saying that since God and the Son are of the same substance, they are reversible. Could they trade places, as your twins could?

    • C Michael Patton

      Same substance, different hypostasis (person). Substance is one and the same, therefore to speak of reversal of substance is not relevant. There has to be more than one to reverse. Very important point as a failure to recognize this lies at the heart of Ontological Subordination.

      Can their persons be reversed? No. Can their roles change and the subordination reverse? I don’t know. Debatable. Some argue for eternal subordinationism. Some for temporary. All orthodox Christians accept some form of functional subordination. It is not really debated since the Bible seems so clear on the subject.

      Point being once again: Equal in power, authority, dignity. Distinct in function (temporary or not).

    • Sue

      Michael,

      The Father and the Son cannot reverse since they participate in one single divine essence. But the twins can reverse, and the officer and the speeder could also, presumably.

      Could the relationship of subordination in the trinity reverse? I would say absolutely not. The Son is always the logos of the Father, for eternity. But the Son is not a discrete essence from the Father.

      The Father and Son are distinct in function in that they are eternally of the one essence, or substance. But two individual humans are never of the same substance. There are always two separate physical entities.

      I am wondering if there are examples in the church fathers of a human analogy for the Father and Son.

    • Sue

      I thought that Gregory of Nyssa said that there could be no human analogies of the trinity since human individuals enact separate actions but the works of the trinity are indivisible.

    • C Michael Patton

      Sue, if you are asking for analogies to the Trinity, I got none. If you are asking to explain how something can be one in essence, yet distinct in person, I got nothing. Hence the mystery of the Trinity. Yet there are all kinds of necessary mysteries that are true yet transcend comprehention. The most readily available is creation ex nihilo. No way to comprehend it or illustrate it, yet it is necessary.

    • C Michael Patton

      Here is what I wrote about trying to illustrate the Trinity: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/08/the-trinity-is-like-3-in-1-shampoo-and-other-stupid-statements/

      However, as I have said over and over, the illustrations in the post above is not an attempt to illustration the Trinity proper, only how we have parallels in our everyday world where two individuals can be equal in essence, yet distinct (and sometimes subordinate) in function.

    • Sue

      Thank you, Michael,

      I agree with you on this. I feel that it is disrespectful to the trinity to use human analogies.

    • Sue

      “we have parallels in our everyday world where two individuals can be equal in essence, yet distinct (and sometimes subordinate) in function.”

      But in the trinity they are not two individuals, they are God and logos, two persons, one essence.

    • Sue

      I have no doubt that there are relationships of equal individuals where one is subordinate to the other. The question is whether this is parallel to God.

      For example, Christ the logos, always enacted the will of God. He never enacted a separate action. But if two individuals lived like this, would it be honourable. What if a master had a slave that never enacted a separate action in his life, would that be moral?

    • C Michael Patton

      Sue, I cannot debate the synonyms used for “person.” Individuals, consciousnesses, hypostasis, modes (Barthian version), substantia (early Western version), or even persona. All do their job and all fail to some degree. All can and have been debated. I, like Calvin, am satisfied when one says that all three members of the Trinity are one God, yet they are not each other.

    • Sue

      I understand. But Gregory of Nyssa was adamant that you could not compare three men to the trinity. And I also do not believe that you can compare the officer and speeder, or the king and subject to the trinity. Christ is not God’s subject, he is God’s manifestation. Quite different.

    • Sue

      I think, Michael, that no progress can be made without defining the terms. The word “person” (for persona) may appear to be a synonym for “individual” but it is not. “Persona” was a translation of either prosopon or hypostasis. It means either “face” or “role” or “manifestation.” The trinity is not comprised of three “individuals” That would be a heresy.

      Therefore, comparing the trinity to two or three human individuals could be, IMO, heretical. I think this is what the church fathers taught.

    • C Michael Patton

      Again, no need to debate the legitimacy of any of those terms. They are all good and bad. “Person” in English is really not what it meant before. Stick with the definition I gave and you will be good in applying it to any of the above terms.

      However, no reason for this post to go in that direction as it is way too tangential. If you don’t think it is, fine. But for this post it is.

    • Sue

      I never think that defining terms is tangential to a post. However, looking back, I see that Carol in #2 has basically said it all. Its taken me this long to get to where she started.

    • Hodge

      Me: Sue, you’re a peach.

      Sue: But peaches are a fuzzy piece of fruit and I am a human being. Hence, I’m not a peach.

      Me: I meant that you’re sweet like a peach.

      Sue: But peaches are sweet because they have a high amount of glucose. My glucose level is notoriously low.

      Me: The analogy is a loose one to demonstrate a point.

      Sue: But this analogy can’t work because I’m not exactly like a peach in every way. Hence, it is disrespectful to call me a peach because it takes away my human dignity and distinctiveness.

      Me: (Slaps hand to forward).

    • Vladimir

      Sue wrote:

      “Of course, the blog owner is always more powerful in essence than any commenter! ”

      Might I suggest, Sue, that you do a little more research in your Greek word studies. Your understanding of dunimis and eksousia is faulty. It is evident in this comment of yours.

      Vladimir

    • Vladimir

      Further thoughts –

      The use of the word ’emanates’ is inadequate to describe the “sending” of the Son. It is only used by heretics. The word “proceeds forth from” is used to describe the ‘sending’ of the Holy Spirit.

      The analogy of the sun’s rays is used by Calvin to describe the real union with and reception of the means of grace found in the partaking of the Lord’s supper of believers. It is not used to describe the ‘essential’ (ousia) relationship of the persons of the Trinity in orthodox Christianity.

      It should be remembered that God is incomprehensible, yet knowable. Yet, He is knowable only in so far as He himself has revealed himself.

      God will not make himself into a lier so that you can be right in your surmises and conceptualizations. The Trinity still remains a mystery, yet an objective reality of the Christian faith.

      Vladimir

    • Sue

      Oh wow, all my usual flirts are back. Hodge, I can tell that you would be quite soured by my denying that I am a peach so I won’t say how objectified I feel by this comment. 😉

      Vlad,

      “Your understanding of dunimis and eksousia is faulty.”

      My claim is that when Augustine wrote the following, he used the Latin word potestas, which at the time was a translation for εξουσια and not for δυναμις in the Latin Vulgate.

      “For he was not sent in virtue of some disparity of power or substance or anything in him that was not equal to the Father, but in virtue of the Son being from the Father, not the Father being from the Son.”

      “non secundum imparem potestatem uel substantiam uel aliquid quod in eo patri non sit aequale missus est, sed secundum id quod filius a patre est, non pater a filio.”

      What correction would you like to make regarding this?

    • Sue

      Vlad,

      Augustine wrote,

      “What wonder, therefore, if He is sent, not because He is unequal with the Father, but because He is “a pure emanation (manatio) issuing from the glory of the Almighty God?”

      Does this make him a heretic? I am being honest here. Is there some way to tell when Augustine is a heretic and when he is orthodox. Is there some way to tell when words like “emanate” and “person” and “power” mean what they normally mean in English, and when they mean only what the original Latin meant.

    • Frank Spinella

      I’d like to get back to C. Michael’s original post, and in particular his comment: “One may ask how it is that one can be subordinate in role yet equal in essence.”

      I am asking. Rather than try to come up with human analogies for this subordinate-yet-equal question (I don’t want to risk offending Sue!) can someone attempt an answer that does not entail considering Father and Son to be two individual entities? I’ve read through this thread’s predominant focus on the subordination side; I’d like to see more discussion of the equality side. So let me try to recast the question: Does the concept of “equal” require there to be two distinct entities?

      I fear the answer might be Yes. What do people think?

      Two things can be the same; can one thing be “the same”? As what? As itself? That’s rather uninteresting! Two things can be equal; can one thing be “equal”? To what? To itself? That’s rather uninteresting too!

      So here’s the functional subordination challenge as I see it: come up with a non-human analogy that illustrates a common essence yet distinct functions.

      Help!

    • Vladimir

      I fear that my observations are going to be lost to the camel. Augustine is not a heretic. However, I do not accept all of his musings. In Latin and addressing a Latin speaking audience, St. Augustine’s use of manatio is not a heretical perversion of the biblical teaching – especially in the larger context of knowledge of St. Augustine’s writings themselves (including his retractions). He could have and probably should have simply quoted St. Paul ‘s “in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead (i.e. essence not persons) bodily,” or more simply quoted the Scripture “God with us.” The incarnation of God is what St. Augustine is highlighting.

      However, in ante (pre) Nicene Greek speaking theology the use of emanation or emanates is avoided and even anathematized due to the confusion and perversion with its association with foreign pagan Greek philosophies and their conceptualizations.

      Since we speak English here, perhaps the use of responsibility, ability and capacity would be more suitable than either the Greek or Latin counterparts.

      Since both present day Pentecostal theological conceptualizations and even Egalitarian ecclesiological expressions have difficulties with both, if not all conceptual expressions involving these terms we still need to be crystal clear in our own understandings. Why? Did not Christ himself say: Unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins.”

      Vladimir

    • Vladimir

      Further:

      When God the Son became Jesus of Nazareth, He did not become two persons, but remained one individual – i.e., the second person of the Trinity in unity, the God man Christ Jesus. He was and is still very man and very God.

      When the Holy Spirit regenerates and indwells a believer, that person does not become another person, but remains that self same individual although now partaker of the divine nature (essence) itself (2 Peter 1:3).

      Vladimir

    • Vladimir

      One further remark compliments of Charles Hodge:

      “If we take away the properties of a spirit, we no longer have a spirit.”

      Vladimir

    • Sue

      Vlad,

      It is my humble opinion that no one should be labeled as unorthordox unless the interrogation takes place in either Latin or Greek.

      Frank,

      “Does the concept of “equal” require there to be two distinct entities?”

      The trinity is considered to be indivisible. To me, this suggests that the trinity is one individual and cannot be divided. However, we do say that the trinity is composed of three “persons” but this does not relate to the word “person” in contemporary English. The trinity is not made up of three “people”.

      “Persona” in Latin, meant mask or face, and was a translation of prosopon, “face.” However, the word hypostasis, seems to drift in meaning from subtance to person.

      I am suggesting that in order to remain within historic orthodoxy, one cannot talk about the trinity as being divisible into two or three “individuals” or “people.”

      I hope that this is germaine to the post.

    • Hodge

      Sue,

      Nor should anyone think that persona means mask or face in the sense of modalism. God is not one being with three faces. He is one being consisting in three persons (i.e., distinct personhood–the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, etc.).

      Frank,

      What exactly does a non-human analogy look like? We’re discussing beings and persons. The only analogies we have are human and angelic, and both of those do not compare exactly to God (e.g., “To Whom/What shall you compare Me?”). God uses human analogies of Himself all throughout Scripture. There is nothing degrading of His nature to use one, since God gave us revelation and minds to know that analogies have only singular and limited value. God is a father, but isn’t He better than a father? God didn’t really cohabit with anyone like a father does to get a child, so He’s not exactly like a father. Human analogies, because they use living, thoughtful beings and persons are the best analogies we’re going to get. If you want the best inanimate object analogy, then you can use the pie analogy that will fail on more fronts than human ones will (i.e., one pie made up of the same ingredients, indented at the top to show three distinct pieces, one piece adds whip cream to itself). I suddenly feel hungry for dessert.

    • Hodge

      Biblically speaking: distinct and subordinate to the Father, equality with God–

      John 5:18 For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal (isos) with God.

      Son – Father analogy of subornination
      Equality with God — of the same nature as God (since He is the Son of God)

      John 14:28 “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I (ho pater meizon mou estin).

      John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with (pros, i.e. a relational preposition of some sort) God and God was the Logos.”

      The text then goes on to speak of His subordinate position in creation (through Him all things came to be). Both equal in essence and subordinate in role.

    • Sue

      Hodge,

      I agree that it is hard to find a point that falls between modalism and tritheism. But I do want to establish that the Latin and Greek in which this trinitarian belief was originally written is not well understood to most English speakers.

      It is interesting that the one human analogy which the early church fathers did use was that of Abraham and Isaac. Isaac was the seed of Abraham, and in a patriarchal society, the sacrifice of Isaac would compare to the sacrifice of one’s own self. There is a symbolic analogy.

      However, this analogy breaks down if one ever thinks that it is just for a father to kill his child. This is surely the most heinous human crime imaginable. This human analogy can never be a model for human behaviour.

    • Sue

      In response to your further comment, if we were to use a human analogy of Christ being the son, subordinate in role, this does not mean that we can import this subordination back into human relationships, without considering if it is not as heinous as the sacrifice of Isaac would have been.

      Is it right to keep a son subordinate for his entire life? Must a son be subordinate to his father until his father dies? Or is the subordination of a human son only moral as long as he is in fact lesser in his essence (immature) than his father? Isn’t the goal of raising a son to see him become financially and legally indepedent?

    • Hodge

      Sue,

      I wouldn’t import anything back onto human relationships without further revelation to do so. The godhead only provides an illustration of what Michael was originally talking about. Two who are equal in essence can function in hierarchical roles. Hence, such a subordinationalism is perfectly orthodox, but mess with this and you go off into Arianism et al.

      I would argue that the original Greek and Latin authors did not understand what each other was saying with those words either. Hence, numerous disagreements, among heretical ones as well, that did not need to take place between the Eastern and Western Church. This is because the terms are inadequate in describing God’s Triunity. Ergo, I would not assume that the words contain the theology of the Fathers within themselves. You need instead to look at their larger contexts. Otherwise, heresy is the surest result of defining God with imprecise terminology (something that could not be helped, as there simply were not words that adequately expressed God’s Triune nature). Simply follow basic lexicography and take in the entire discourse, and there won’t be as much of an issue.

    • Sue

      “The godhead only provides an illustration of what Michael was originally talking about. Two who are equal in essence can function in hierarchical roles.”

      I have a very honest question. Do you think that the godhead provides an illustration for unequal functions among humans, or do you think that unequal functions among humans is an illustration of the godhead?

      Michael says the latter but you say the former. In this post, is Michael trying to teach something about the trinity, as he says, or about how Christians should function on the basis of inequality?

      I feel that he is providing justification for treating others as unequal in function. It is odd to me that Christians sometimes admit that they doubt the existance of God, but they never doubt the appropriateness of subordinating some members of the human race.

      Personally, I think we would discover much more about God if we did not link belief in the trinity to the need to subordinate some members of the human race. I simply do not find any of the doctrine of the trinity, as articulated by the church fathers to be related to subordinating others. There may have been some other rationale, but it seems to have been kept out of dicussions of the trinity.

      The way I read the church fathers, God on the level of the trinity, is indivisible. And humans, on the level of each distinct person, are indivisible. The two situations cannot be compared.

    • Hodge

      Yes, Sue. Let me rephrase, since my wording sounds contrary to what I meant. “The godhead exists in the manner Michael was originally suggesting: two who are equal in essence can function in hierarchical roles.” I wasn’t attempting to suggest that it was meant to apply this to human relationships. These human relationships already exist. What we can do, however, is see that there is nothing inherently evil about two who are equal in essence functioning in hierarchical roles. Otherwise, we say that the Father’s relationship with the Son is evil. So say goodbye to the postmodern yellow brick road that leads you to that false theology. You can argue that particular hierarchical relationships, due to other factors, may be evil, but not that they are evil within themselves. But we’re digressing from the point of the post again, so I’ll stop there.

      Sue, in regard to your last comment, I would once again suggest some basic study on the nature of analogies. You cannot claim a false analogy because it doesn’t compare at every point. It only needs to be comparable in one. That was the purpose of my whole illustration above.

    • Vladimir

      Sue wrote:

      It is my humble opinion that no one should be labeled as unorthordox unless the interrogation takes place in either Latin or Greek.

      Historic Christian belief is already well spelled out in Greek and Latin and Russian and German and English and ….

      The fact of the matter is that the conceptualization of and the facilitation in understanding of the Christian faith and creed is already well articulated, accepted and believed – in whatever language one wishes to come to expression.

      Vladimir

    • Sue

      “These human relationships already exist. What we can do, however, is see that there is nothing inherently evil about two who are equal in essence functioning in hierarchical roles.”

      Nor is there anything inherently good about it either. We cannot make the analogy, because we cannot demonstrate that the trinity is composed of three individuals. Therefore, we cannot say that the trinity presents a hierarchy of two individuals who are equal in essence but function in hierarchal roles.

      I notice that you restrain yourself from putting a word in after the “two.” I am not sure that you are saying anything about that applies to humans.

      That these unequal human relationships exist, does not indicate that they are morally good. Many hierarchical relationships have been done away with by Christianity – monachy, and slavery, for example. The child is still in a hierarchical relationship because the child is not equal in essence, but growing to be equal.

      But in every other instance, there are checks and balances, mutual responsibility. In government, the government is answerable to the people. In employment, the employer is answerable to the workers for issues of their safety and well-being. Only one class of individuals is expected to remain in a relationship which deprives them of their basic humanity. To experience this is to know something that no human being should know. Even Paul stood up for his citizens rights. He had legal rights. He enjoyed being human under the law. How sad that this was not clearly extended to all classes of human beings in more exact language. How sad that Christians were able to use the Bible to justify slavery.

    • Sue

      “The fact of the matter is that the conceptualization of and the facilitation in understanding of the Christian faith and creed is already well articulated, accepted and believed – in whatever language one wishes to come to expression.”

      I profoundly and seriously disagree. I have seen many misunderstandings that have never been dealt with. Here are a few.

      Power and authority in English mean two different things but are both of them translations of the Greek word exousia, one from the Latin Vulgate potestas, and the other from Erasmus NT Latin, auctoritas. Power has now become the translation of dunamis, but it is not understood that power used to be the translation of exousia. it still is in the creeds. This creates doctrinal statements which do not accord with Bible translations.

      Person in the trinity is from persona, which is from prosopon, the Greek word for “face.”

      Dominari is the Latin translation of authentein. This Greek word was not associated with authority until Erasmus Latin translation of the Bible, where he wrote auctoriatem usurpare.

      Tyndale translated Gen 3:16 with lust, but he took that from the German word meaning appetite or desire, longing, not sexual lust. But Keil and Delitzsch talk about women being diseased with lust, from Gen. 3:16.

      The virtuous women in the OT were described in Hebrew as being women of valour, the same word as was used for mighty men. They were in Hebrew mighty women. Then in Latin virtutas which meant manly, but then came to be translated as virtuous. These women were called “mighty” and “manly” but then in English virtuous.

      In fact, I hardly think the English Bible is worth reading at all except as an historical curiosity.

      If someone wants to be a Christian they can understand the life and death of Christ in any language, and they can understand the law of Christ in any language. But the doctrines relating to the subordination of women are composed of a mosaic of mistranslations

    • cherylu

      In fact, I hardly think the English Bible is worth reading at all except as an historical curiosity.

      My goodness Sue, do you really believe that??

    • Sue

      Yes, I do. I think that the narrative of the life and death of Christ is crystal clear in translation. I believe that the law of Christ, the basic moral code, that you should treat others as you would be treated, is also crystal clear.

      I do not believe that many doctrinal statements today reflect the original language.

      Are you aware that the Holy Spirit was first designated as a “he” in the English Bible in the 19th century? But everyone now thinks of the HS as a he. I suspect that the HS was a “she” in the original teaching of the NT, that is the underlying Aramaic. Well, I don’t suspect it, we know it is.

      Yes, I firmly believe that in order to discuss doctrine and orthodoxy, you have to know Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin. French, German and King James English are also a big help.

      Few people are aware of how word meaings have been transformed since the original.

    • cherylu

      Well, guess most of us just basically had better give up then! I have no chance of learning Hebrew, Aramiac and Greek. What I would like to know is why people have spent years, basically given their lives for translating the Bible so the common person could understand God’s word if all they are doing is confusing the issues anyway.

      And, if I remember correctly, it was you and Hodge that spent days and multiple comments discussing the meaning of one, just one, Greek word and as far as I remember, you never did come to agreemment on it. So I wonder how many lifetimes I have to live before I can trust that the people who know all of these languages are going to be able to give it to me correctly?!?

      I’m sorry if I sound extremely frustrated, but that is the exact truth of the matter–I am.

      Guess I will just go now and toss out all of my translations of the Bible in English and sit back and wait for you guys to come to agreement on all thngs and then let the rest of us know exactly what is what!!

    • Sue

      Cherylu,

      Honestly, don’t you find it just a little bit odd that the woman in Proverbs 31 was called “mighty” in Hebrew and “manly” in Greek, and “strong” in Latin, but virtuous in English? Isn’t it odd that this is not well known?

      Isn’t it odd that Phoebe was called by the same name as Christ in the prayers of the ancient church – that is, guardian and defender? How come we don’t know that women were called strong defenders in the ancient languages?

    • Hodge

      “The child is still in a hierarchical relationship because the child is not equal in essence, but growing to be equal.”

      1. I think we are talking about different things when we discuss humans and God, but children are equally human as their parents, and different/subordinate in role.

      2. I think our definitions of persons differ because you seem to think that the three Persons of the Godhead do not have some of the needed characteristics that individuals have in order to exercise authority over one another. I profoundly disagree, since the Father’s will can be imposed over the wills of the Son (although we might say that the divine will of the Son is in perfect harmony with the Father’s, the point is that the Son subjects Himself to the Father’s will). The Persons don’t need to be individuals in order to have distinct personhood and the exercise of one will over the other.

      3. Sue, you are in serious need of a class on exegetical fallacies. You can’t get what a theologian/Bible translator believes by a word that they use, unless that word is clearly defined with the entire context of what is being said. The word doesn’t tell you what a person believes. Words don’t carry theology and entire ideologies with them. If a word just has some sort of base meaning of authority, what kind is determined by the context of what is being said. Simply quoting words like dominare, exousia, etc. and tying one meaning among many to them is BAD lexicography. Your methodology is purely etymological and eisegetical in that you import archaic and/or contextual meanings into texts that speak otherwise. Discourse, not an individual word, determines the nuances the term takes upon itself.

    • C Michael Patton

      Since comment 103, the tide is turning to comp/egal again.

      Sue, I know you want it to go there, but this thread is not about that. Your entire theology turns on how it effects the subordination of women issue. That is fine, but it does not help bring about intellectually honest conversation. We seek to do more than that here.

      This is the last warning. I will have to start banning if it continues.

    • Hodge

      “Are you aware that the Holy Spirit was first designated as a “he” in the English Bible in the 19th century? But everyone now thinks of the HS as a he. I suspect that the HS was a “she” in the original teaching of the NT, that is the underlying Aramaic. Well, I don’t suspect it, we know it is.”

      Sue, you are committing one of the most basic fallacies in biblical interpretation there is, i.e., that a grammatical gender refers to the actual gender of the word described. Animals are usually all feminine as well. Does that mean that no male animals exist in the Bible?

    • Hodge

      “And, if I remember correctly, it was you and Hodge that spent days and multiple comments discussing the meaning of one, just one, Greek word and as far as I remember, you never did come to agreemment on it. So I wonder how many lifetimes I have to live before I can trust that the people who know all of these languages are going to be able to give it to me correctly?!?”

      Cheryl,

      Exactly. This is what I was trying to communicate with Sue. This debate has nothing to do with whether you know original lexical terms. It has to do with reading the context and letting the words be molded by them. This is something Sue does not employ in her methodology. Hence, she lingers on words that can have numerous meanings and nuances. Take her last comment for example:

      “Honestly, don’t you find it just a little bit odd that the woman in Proverbs 31 was called “mighty” in Hebrew and “manly” in Greek, and “strong” in Latin, but virtuous in English? Isn’t it odd that this is not well known?”

      That because hayil has numerous connotations, and proverbs (whether they be Sumerian, Egyptian, Hebrew, etc.) are notoriously without much context. Hence, you are going to get numerous translations. The real question is not what a term can mean, but what does it most likely mean in that particular context. Sometimes we can say with more certainty than other times, but we don’t assign massive amounts of meaning to one word.

    • Hodge

      Sorry, Michael. I missed that last comment. I do think the lexicography and analogy discussion is important for the original post though. The comp/egal arguments I’ll stay away from.

    • Sue

      Hodge,

      You are right that grammatical gender doesn’t tell us much. Curious that the ESV sees the need to retain it in other places. There is no indication in the scriptures that the spirit is masculine that I know of. Just curious as to why grammatical gender is retained in many other places but not for the Spirit.

      Regarding the woman in Proverbs, I think that matter has now been righted with the translation, “woman of valour.”

      The matter of power and authority has puzzled me. in the ETS doctrinal basis, it says,

      God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.

      We know that when it says “power” it is a translation of exousia, that is, authority. And Michael has rightly said that the Son is equal to the Father in essential authority, and is one essence with the Father. So, my question is whether the Father can really be said to exert authority over the Son. (As Bruce Ware says) Is that possible if they are equal in authority? It makes it sound as if the Son does not submit voluntarily.

      It is not that I disregard context, but that context provides the evidence for interpretation. However, the trend has been to use a literal Bible translation, one that retains the same meaning for a word in different contexts, so as to translate the very words of God. Have you read the preface of the ESV?

      “Every translation is at many points a trade-off between literal precision and readability, between “formal equivalence” in expression and “functional equivalence” in communication, and the ESV is no exception. Within this framework we have sought to be “as literal as possible” while maintaining clarity of expression and literary excellence. Therefore, to the extent that plain English permits and the meaning in each case allows, we have sought to use the same English word for important recurring words in the original;”

      But who says that the woman in Proverbs 31 is not mighty? It is specifically said that she is strong in her arms. The context suggests strength.

      Michael, I hope this is okay. This passage in Proverbs 31 is particularly interesting and now corrected by many theologians like Waltke and Wolters, who recognize that this woman was strong or valourous.

    • Sue

      Regarding the gender of animals. I do think that we use the female terms “cows” because that is the biological sex of the cows. I am not sure which animals you are referring to but farms do have a majority of female animals for some purposes.

    • Sue

      “Animals are usually all feminine as well.”

      Hodge,

      You mean that the word for “animal” in Hebrew is feminine? Like the word for “person” in French is feminine? I always wondered why the ESV put so much emphasis on translating grammatical gender. Do you have any idea. I find it rather distorts the English.

    • Hodge

      Sue,

      Yes, the word for animals in Hebrew is feminine. The Spirit (ruah) in Hebrew is feminine. But in any case, the grammatical gender has no relation to the gender of the object it identifies. Hence, Spirit (pneuma) in Greek is neuter. Did the Spirit change genders? Of course not. The Spirit is identified with wind in both the OT and NT, so since wind is grammatically feminine in Hebrew and grammatically neuter in Greek, “Spirit” is grammatically feminine in Hebrew and grammatically neuter in Greek. It has nothing to do with the actual gender, as if God had a gender, of the Spirit. We call the Spirit “He” because “it” is what we use for lower entities, and “she” is used for the woman who is typically in a subordinate role (obviously you disagree with this as being appropriate). “He,” as reflective of a man, the one in the highest position of authority, then, is the pronoun chosen for the Spirit as God. If we had a more accurate pronoun that reflected someone in greater authority than man, then we would use that for the Spirit in translation. The only reason that grammatical gender is sometimes retained is because it sometimes corresponds to the actual gender, something we know about the object itself from other extra-grammatical factors.

    • Hodge

      I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you say the ETS statement concerning power is from the Greek exousia. Can you elaborate on that? The statement is regarding their essence, but Phil 2 is clear that Christ gave up His right to exercise that authority and place Himself in subjection to the Father’s.

      5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, [and] being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

    • Sue

      I did not mean to be obscure. I was just mentioning the Evangelical Theological Society’s doctrinal basis, that all three persons are equal in power. Since this means authority, it seems odd that Bruce Ware is adamant that the Son is under the authority of the Father and that the relationship is one of submission and authority with the Father exerting his leadership over the Son. It just sounds odd, and I used this example because I am aware that in this doctrinal basis the word “power” is a translation of exousia.

      This is just an example to Cherylu of why it is better to know Latin and Greek to understand that the word “power” and “authority” are in this case both translations of the same Greek word exousia, and not translations of two different Greek words, exousia and dunamis. It is just an example.

      Regarding gender, I am wholly with you on your excellent explanation. I would not translate gender. But once again, this is a reason why I stress the need for knowing the original languages.

      However, I wonder if many readers of the Bible know that the Spirit is feminine, and in spite of the subordinate role of the Spirit, she can still not be represented by a feminine pronoun in English. That is, being subordinate in the trinity does not relate to gender at all. The philosophical ins and outs of this one are curious.

      I just wanted to mention that the English Bible used “it” for the spirit in its translation until the 1870’s. The insertion of masculine pronouns into the English translation is rather late. It is one of those things that I think is better understood if one reads the original languages as you do.

      I have no desire to disagree with your interpretation, but I simply remark that it is difficult to discuss these things with only a knowledge of English. I often wondered if Christ did not think of the spirit as the Comforter, as a female entity. I don’t think it would further any agenda that I might have, it doesn’t appeal to me…

    • Sue

      My only point in all this is to show how many things need to be debated with reference to the original languages. I often wonder why there can be so much debate and openness to some theological discussions, and other things are just assumed as being so. Some issues, which you might think are peripheral, people are so sure about, and cannot entertain discussion on.

      Why don’t we put those things that we are sure about in the centre? That would surely be the nature of relationships between Christians. We know from dozens of verses that it is to be reciprocal and composed of mutual deference, love, and esteem. Why so hard to put that at the centre?

    • cherylu

      Sue,

      I do not understand what you are saying at all in your next to last comment. You tell Hodge that you agree with him totally in his explanation of gender in the Bible. But then you turn right around and refer to the Holy Spriit as feminine and refer to the Spirit as she. This is totally not what Hodge said and goes against the explanation that he gave of gender.

      Very frankly Sue, listening to the two of you that both say you know the original languages can be nothing short of extremely confusing!

      Maybe I should hurry out and learn Greek–then I could throw a third idea into the mix! (I can’t make the smiley icon work, so please try to imagine one here.)

    • Vladimir

      Sue

      I have noticed that you have a foundness for and an emphasis on the use of “face” and “emanation” in your understanding of how the Trinity should be conceptualized and “as You suggest” understood. Your proposal is not that of a theophany but that of a heretical, pagan in nature emanation.

      The problem is that you focus and offer as evidence only one (among many) possible semantic definitions for either persona (Lat), prosopon (Grk) and equate these words in a single possible definition as an emanation from God and as a representaion and effect from him.

      But the Greek word hupokriths means “an actor on the stage”, “one who wears a mask” According to you, your emanations are hupokritai of God. I hold you before that your Greek word studies were fallacous. Prosopon can equal hupostasis. In fact hupostasis is a word used in the Scriptures refering to Jesus the Christ – a real person, a distinct individual and entity.

      But context determines the meaning of any word. Examples abound. I will confine myself to one. Five hundred or so years ago the English word conversation meant “manner of life.” It is hardly understood as such today. The same might be said for the English word “intercourse.” Forget the KJV and use the ESV or NIV. More people will understand God’s written word nowadays.

      Wayne Grudem wrote a little book years ago entitled “Exegetical fallacies.”
      Might be worth a look. The Bible says: “A wise man will hear and increase in understanding.”

      Vladimir

    • mbaker

      While it is interesting to discuss the meanings of words in the Greek and Hebrew language, as Vladimir pointed out, (and I did also on the head pastor thread), context determines the meaning of any word. I would just add ‘word usage’ instead.

      An example I would give would be inserting a word like Holy Spirit in a sentence regarding the announcement of a grand opening of a new store. It might certainly be appropriate usage if it were say, a Christian book store. However, although most folks would certainly know who the Holy Spirit is, they would be puzzled as to why that word was inserted in an announcement of a grand opening of a secular store.

      That’s why I don’t think we need to get too hung up on one word’s meaning. Certain more obscure parts of the Bible are best interpreted by taking the whole of it in proper context. Otherwise we can wind up making the mistake of building an entire doctrine around the use of one word, or one or two verses by indulging in cafeteria style Christianity, as my husband calls it.

    • Hodge

      Sue, Cheryl is right, you misunderstood what I said. Christ would not have perceived the HS as a she simply because ruah is feminine. If ruah were masculine in Hebrew, one could not say that He perceived of the HS as a he either. In the same way, hayot “animals” might be grammatical feminine, but that does not mean that ancient Israelites didn’t think that there were any male animals. In fact, the term is broken in to zakar and neqeba, “male and female,” so they did not perceive all animals as feminine. Hence, one cannot argue that Christ may have perceived the Spirit as feminine from the gender of ruah. Nor can one say that John perceived the Spirit as an inanimate force simply because pneuma is neuter (a fallacy repeated by many cults during the past couple centuries). God is not male or female. The Spirit is God. Ergo, the Spirit is not male or female. The pronoun assigned has to do with our current religious culture’s view of respect and clarification from those who wrongly thought that translating the Spirit as “it” meant that the Spirit was not the third divine Person of the Trinity.

    • Sue

      Christ must have used a feminine pronoun for the HS, which is what I was referring to. In addition, when he talked about the Comforter, many believe that this refers back to the bride in Wisdom. That is why the HS might be perceived as feminine.

      But my point is that if you read only English, you would not be aware that using the pronoun “he” is only a decision made recently in translation, and has no origin in the Greek or Hebrew. Using a certain pronoun, making a certain translation choice, is always dependent on human interpretation, and this is why there is such a wide variety of translations.

      Hodge,

      I really appreciate how you have put it here,

      “The pronoun assigned has to do with our current religious culture’s view of respect ….”

      That is very articulate, and shows how culture dependent our view of God and gender really is.

      Once again, referring to “person” we know that “person” when it applies to the trinity does not have the same meaning as “person” when applied to humans. There are not three people in the trinity. The issue is far more complex, as you point out.

      “those who wrongly thought that translating the Spirit as “it” meant that the Spirit was not the third divine Person of the Trinity.”

      It is too bad that people have thought that “person” when applied to the trinity, and “person” when applied to humans are the same word.

      I think we agree on most things, that there is a lot of room for interpretation in translating these words. That is why women must understand that they are not bound by interpretation. They are only bound by the core of the gospel. The centre of Christian faith depends on the narrative of Christ and the law of Christ.

      For women to act on the basis of equal authority is essential and morally right, in order to provide for and protect their family. They need equal authority to work, retain a job, forward plan, guide the children and be fully responsible for their own welfare and that of the family. In the scriptures there are many cases of single men and women, acting with full authority for their families and others. This is not the case with the trinity. It cannot be divided.

    • Vladimir

      Sue wrote:

      “Once again, referring to “person” we know that “person” when it applies to the trinity does not have the same meaning as “person” when applied to humans. There are not three people in the trinity. The issue is far more complex, as you point out. ”

      But the Scriptures state otherwise. Are you a Muslim? If so, your abstract idea of God can never be called “Daddy (abba) ho pathr.”

      Thank God that the church has never had a problem understanding the personhood of the three persons of the Trinity in unity with any lasting ill effect.

      Sue, if I may, I think you are a single mom with children and an absent father. If so, your inherent right and responsiblity for yourself and family are from God and God given. Do you need and even seek Civil justification? If so, you have it. Do you seek religious justification? You have it already as a simple believer in Christ and as such within his social order in which He has ordained and over which He reigns.

      Vladimir

    • Sue

      Vlad,

      I would suggest that we can think of God in human terms as the scripture teaches. But we cannot consider the sending of Christ by his father to die on the cross, as an illustration of human relations.

      Regarding my personal authority – thank you. I sense your sincerity. My children are young adults now.

      I wish that I had known as a young woman that I had full responsibility and full authority for my children, joint with their father. But I was hoodwinked by the church into believing that one parent had more authority than the other. What a shame. (And I do accept personal responsibility for this.) But I deeply regret this now reading some blogs where women say that since they have reduced authority, they also have reduced responsibility. How terrible! The church should take up this heresy and turn the tide on it.

    • Vladimir

      Sue,

      I would suggest that you, as well as I and all the rest, please come to the realization that inherent authority – God given – is not sacrificed by the context of either a situation context or relationship. Let this example suffice. You are not my God. Whoever you are and whatever you might be is not compromised by God being who he is or his imposing of his perfect and holy will upon us. In fact it is liberating and joyous.

      Vladimir

    • Sue

      “In fact it is liberating and joyous.”

      Thank you, Vlad. I feel your sincerity and desire for others to live a whole life. For me, it has meant that I must distance myself from every complementarian belief I was ever taught. I grieve for my former self. Recognizing inherent authority is liberating and joyous. I am sad to say that I never had that experience before these recent years which have been very joyous. I grieve here for the former self, who, in real life, has ceased to exist. But that person that I was, under such terrible teaching, lingers like a ghost haunting the halls of human subordination. Forgive me for not being able to put this ghost to rest. God has not given complete rest yet. As others give expression to their distress and depression, I have this sliver of grief which writes itself out on the internet.

    • Vladimir

      Sue,

      Remember earlier I spoke of the use of the words responsibility, ability and capacity. Well, within the Godhead, the triune God is quite all that – and then some. The Scriptures either describe Him as or liken Him to everything good and wholesome, such as love, patient, merciful, forgiving, compassionate, omniscient, omnipotent, ever present, etc.

      But, unlike our God, the true and living God, there are those who pretend and pretend and pretend. They reek havoc in the psychies and hearts of men (both male and female) everyday and at least since the time of Cain and Abel – if not before. The seed of the serpent still persecutes the seed of the woman even unto this day.

      Such individuals, whether Complementarians or Egalitarians, whether they are bridging Heaven and Hell or not, are hell themselves to many. Their number is many. From incompetent and cavalier husbands to careless and reckless wives they neither show nor demonstrate responsibility, ability or capacity according to God himself or as He has decreed and ordained.

      You will find their impudent and arrogant selves at all levels, whether in flaming liberal denominations such as the Episcopal Church USA or the PCUSA. They are there among the Southern Baptists and the PCA. Their attire is that of self importance and self worth draped in self conceit – whether clad in a $3000.00 dollar suit or not.

      The world and its brood/horde has encroached upon the Church and even breeched her walls. But…

      He has promised and faithful is He who has promised “to wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

      Vladimir

    • Karen

      I was so glad to find this article and messages below it. I believe I was exposed to this teaching for some time. I was so perplexed as prior to that I never heard the word Trinity used much, perhaps occasionally. Because of my anguish I quested after Truth. And the Lord has shown me much through the Word over the years.

      I do perceive that everyone I have ever known who has talked about the Trinity has a different view or take on it. I remember reading somewhere that even St. Augustine had made some statement that if one tried to understand the Trinity they would go crazy. Perhaps that applies to me 🙂

      Perhaps, per above comments, one should ask…
      Is Jesus in the Godhead, or is the Godhead in Jesus?

      Of course the answer is both!
      I could write much on this topic.
      But here are some thoughts I have currently pertaining to the all of this…
      1. What did Jesus mean when HE said at the Last Supper…as the “Father” loved Me? (In view of what HE said there in those verses.)
      2, Is there more than One I AM?
      3. Does Jesus have One Uncreated I AM Soul and One Created Human Soul, or just One Soul? And we know that He was Conceived by the Holy Spirit and Begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit came upon Him at Baptism, and Jesus said that Unless HE go away the Holy Spirit cannot come and James 2:26 said a spirit cannot live in a dead body.
      So when we see the Holy Spirit, are we seeing a manifestation of Jesus and the Father, The Spirit of the Father and the Son, and the Human spirit of Jesus. I take it that the Soul is manifested by the Spirit and/or the Body.
      4. Why does Wycliffe have in Phil 2:11…Lord Jesus Christ is in the Glory of the Father, and seems to be supported in the Greek software I have and why it continues to be translated in all the current Bibles…Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of the Father?

      Current ramblings.
      God bless you all.

    • Karen

      Pardon me. In my previous message, I made a typo in #3. and/or the Body. I turned that around. It is the spirit that can live without the body. I am sorry.

    • Daniel

      If the Son is not equal in authority to the Father, then the Father is/holds more power than the Son.

      I think Subordinationism is pretty sound doctrine.

    • Karen

      Current take on:
      Ontological Subordinationalism, (the belief that the Son or the Holy Spirit is less or less powerful or less God than the “Father”)…

      Ridiculous to even reconcile it per: Isaiah 9:6

      But for me, deeply rooted, heavy-hearted, I just have to believe in Only One God (the Same Who Came to Earth, the Same to live in us, the Same to Fill the Universe, even the Lamb that sits in the midst of the Throne, the One Who Speaks from Heaven – The Word, the One Who Speaks on Earth, The Word), or I would perceive the Bible to be a lie…just take the many, many verses, I heard something like “70” declarations of such in the Old Testament alone–that God is One or such type statements.

      Blessings to you all in Jesus’ Name, Karen

    • James-the-lesser

      Michael, by golly, I think you are orthodox. Kudos on such clear expression of thought. 🙂

    • […] not really. It was still subordinationist (both ontological and functional) unitarian theology, but they foisted the controversial new term homoousios onto the bishops and […]

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