Saturday, July 16, 2016

The third side of the Trinitarian debate

Readers of my recent posts would have known that I have by and large taken the EFS side of the debate. That said, my position has always been that of the economic submission of the Son from eternity. As the controversy continue on a slower pace and after much thought, I think it would be better to stake out as a third side to the entire debate.

I have acknowledged the biblicist paradigm of many of the EFS proponents. While an error, I do not see it as heresy. Neither do I think that their biblicist paradigm necessarily invalidates their teaching on any biblical issue, and I have always found CBMW's advocacy of biblical complementarianism helpful even if I do not necessarily agree with them on everything. That said, when clarity was demanded and not given, it is difficult to avoid some taint that they are suspect even though I do not necessarily think they are. Bruce Ware's recent open letter to Liam Goligher, Todd Pruitt and Carl Trueman is a case in point. In the letter, Ware I think has helped to clarify his views on certain issues. I think there are still concerns over how he expresses glory as being ultimate to the Father, but this ties into the main problem with his letter: his failure to interact with the ad intra/ ad extra categories. I understand he probably doesn't think in those terms, but since the critique is fundamentally on those terms, it would be helpful for Ware to interact with that main issue.

The failure of major EFS proponents to address the concerns of their critics has only fueled charges of error. While I do believe their writings can be interpreted in an orthodox manner, would it not be better for them to make their writings more precise and less liable to be interpreted as error? I know the confessional paradigm is different from the biblist paradigm, but surely time and effort can be made to attempt to understand the critique? It is this failure of understanding and failure to interact that does not help the EFS proponents' case, and because of that, I feel that I cannot continue being on their side.

But if for these infractions I am distancing myself from the official EFS position, what has transpired on the other side is nothing less than reprehensible. Charges of heresy, of embracing subordinationism, are not to be thrown lightly, but they have been, for charging people with denying Nicea is equivalent to charging them of heresy! Mark Jones especially has been outrageous with his skewed idea of "will" tending towards functional modalism. The blatant insistence on reading EFS according to confessionalist lenses instead of regarding the authorial intent of the EFS proponents (here and here) is scandalous from those who insist and teach that we ought to interpret the text of Scripture always in context. I guess for Scripture, we must take into account genre and immediate context, but we can discount those entirely when reading EFS proponents? Where is the consistency? Where is the charitable reading of one's opponents? Or is "charitable reading" to be extended only to "super saints" like Cornelius Van Til, and not to the biblicists? After all, if confessionalists can go after Ware and Grudem for their revision of the Trinity, why aren't they using the same tone in going after Van Til's view of God as being one person? Hypocrisy much?

So, until and unless either side deal with how they are going about this debate, I see no reason why I should tether myself to either side. Go duke it out all you want, and talk past each other all you wish, but I'm going to wash my hands off the whole lot of you.

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