Sunday, June 12, 2016

On the current buzz concerning Trinitarianism and Evangelical Complementarianism

Recently, there has been a buzz on the Internet over the issue of the Trinity as it regards Complementarianism and gender roles. This is interesting as, a few years back, about 4 years ago to be exact, I have responded to the "Evangelical Statement on the Trinity" and I guess it took 4 years for the issue to start a raging controversy.

After 4 years, I have of course had time to refine my position further but I still stand by my essential position on the topic as I have written 4 years ago.

Basically, my position is that there is a certain ordering within the persons of the Trinity in their relations with each other that does not however give rise to any superiority or inferiority in rank or hierarchy. The persons of the Trinity are coequal in honor and glory and one should not posit any form of disparity among them. Yet because of the ordering within the persons, there arise a functional submission of the Son to the Father (not subordination), and of the Spirit to the Son and the Father. The question is whether the submission is ontological, and it is not. The submission is the functional outworking of the difference in order in the ontological Trinity. Yet the submission, while functional, cannot be limited to the incarnation, for it is present also in the pactum salutis. In eternity, God the Son covenanted with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit to be the propitiation for the elect to save them from their sins. It is God the Son who "submitted" as the servant in this eternal covenant. As I have said, it is not as if we have three persons X1, X2, X3 who rolled the cosmic dice and whoever picked the side termed "Father" became the Father. No, God the Father is the Father by nature not by the roll of the cosmic dice. Ditto God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Thus, while I do agree that submission of the Son to the Father is of the economic Trinity, I do not agree that such a submission is merely temporal. The Covenant of Redemption is made in eternity past, and its effect extends to eternity future. Also, while disagreeing with, as it seems, some complementarians like Bruce Ware concerning reading roles into the ontological Trinity, one should not deny that there is a difference in relations among the persons of the Trinity. The Father is always unbegotten, the Son is begotten, and the Spirit proceeded, and these three relations are immutable in the nature of the Triune God. The relations are not intercheangeable, and to read egalitarianism into the Godhead should be regarded as just as heretical as reading hierarchy into the ontological Trinity. If one wishes to condemn what one sees as a new strain of subordinationism, one should also condemn its opposite error in removing any real difference within the relations of the Godhead.

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