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 Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon 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. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

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

    • 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


      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.


    • 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


      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.

    • Ed Kratz

      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?!?”


      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


      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.”


      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


      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


      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


      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.”


    • 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.


      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.


    • Sue


      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


      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.


    • 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


      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.”


    • 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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