To what extent does the Son submit to the Father? How does that relate to marriage roles?

Cheers LM77.

I have also replied to Roger to clarify a few points. Hoping not to repeat myself too much.

1 Like

Yes, ESS is the advocacy of the Eternal Subordination of the Son as proposed by Grudem and others.
I would concur with everything you say here. Perhaps only to pick up on a few points for further clarification from my perspective.

Athanasius won his case by insisting that Jesus HAD to be fully God and fully Human to be the Savior. God cannot be subordinate, God must be independent, so the One Who died upon the Cross for our sin was not subordinate. He did not have to do it, but chose to do it for our sake. All the language on the NT that proclaims that Jesus and the Father are One is about the Incarnate Son, so it is all wrong if ESS is right.<

I think it important to consider the the Arian controversy was a protracted debate which lasted over many years. It probably needed to take place for the church, historically, by arguing over two diametrically opposing viewpoints, as the church had not yet collectively worked through these matters in a fully meaningful way to arrive at a consensus position. In a sense, Arianism did become the default orthodox position for some time and as such Athanasius was the ‘bad boy’ in the corner for a while during this period. The overall period which may have lasted over 50 years or so. Even the decision at Nicaea did not immediately end the controversy. The church wavered internally for what may have been a hundred years overall.

From what I gather, the Council of Ariminum (359) all but reversed Nicaea (325), and the emperor in Constantinople turned the Athanasian majority into a minority.

When the church finally settled down into the position that the Eternal Son is in fact of the same substance as the Father from all eternity and therefore co-equal, certain scriptures needed to be addressed i.e. those which imply a subordination of the incarnate eternal Son in his role in redemption. i.e.-

It is the Father who sent the eternal Son (implying a subordinate role of the Son to the Father in the incarnation)

It is the Son (in Jesus) who defers to the will of the Father (implying a subordination in the role of redemption)

So it becomes of necessity to distinguish between the ontological ‘non-subordinate’ relationship of the eternal Son to the Father and the apparent ‘economical subordination’ of the Son in what has become to be known as ‘the covenant of redemption’ when, as it were, eternity breaks in to space/time, which is all part of the eternal plan.

There is a failure to make this kind of distinction within the modern day anti-Trinitarian ‘Jehovah’s Witness’ theology which indeed would appear to be a kind of latter day Arianism.
They elevate the apparent subordinate role in space/time over and above the co-equal ontological nature of the Son in eternity and in the unity of the Godhead and therefore fall into serious error. Heresy if we will.

I think RC Sproul said it right in his article ‘What’s the Difference between the Ontological and the Economic Trinity’?

‘So even though the Father and the Son are equal in power, glory, and being, and even though there is no eternal subordination within the ontological Trinity, nevertheless there is a subordination of the Son to the Father in the economy of redemption’.

The so-called ‘Economic Trinity’ of the title of the article, should not therefore be seen as disrupting or destroying the doctrine of God who is essentially One God in Three co-equal Persons. Although perhaps the term ‘Economic Trinity’ should be regarded as a misnomer and should rather be regarded an economy of roles within the historic plan of redemption to which, as you say all three persons are in full willing accord, and that within the overall unity of the Godhead.

There is only one other thing to say regarding the ‘begetting’ of the Son. It is Berkhoff who refers to this ‘begetting’ as a ‘necessary act’ of the Father and it is due to the necessity of this ‘act’ that renders the Son co-equal. There are very few things that God actually ‘needs’ to do, the creation of the universe and other ‘beings’ comprising only a few of them.

However, not so the eternally begotten Son who is the exact image or representation of the Father. The eternal Logos.

I have read others who would decline from describing the ‘Begetting’ of the Son as an ‘action’ with regard to the eternal generation of the Son by the Father as this may seem to imply a beginning and a ‘doing’ which also implies derivation and dependence of being. They therefore only speak in terms of one in ‘substance’ (monogenes) as we have covered above. I used to think of eternal generation in this sense as the sun generates light, i.e. the Father generates the Son eternally out of necessity, but I’m not sure about this now. It is beyond grasping .

In the end we are using human language and scriptural anthropomorphism which perhaps cannot get anywhere near the reality. But this is all we have at present.

1 Like

You are right in saying that the Arian conflict needed to take place until the Early Church resolved certain issues that are unique to Christianity. In reality these issues have not really been resolved in that the Trinity is both Three and One, not Three or One.

The problem was in reconciling or bringing together two every different ways of seeing Reality, .the Hebrew way of faith and the Greek way of philosophy. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Generally in the West we have a dualism of Greek science and Hebrew religion. Together they make a whole of sorts, but in my estimation the contradictions today are making it impossible to maintain the unity of two different systems.

We need a new worldview which really reconciles science and faith. The problem with this is that novelty is opposed by both science and faith.

John 3:16 "God so loved th3 word that He sent… "

Luke 9:48 “…whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One Who sent Me.,”

John says that the Father sent the Son because He loves humanity. You say that some people imply God sent Jesus to save humanity because God had the power to compel Jesus to go, because He was under the power, subordinate, to YHWH.

Do you really think that the Bible teaches that Jesus saved humanity because He had to, and not because He wanted to out of love. This is what happens when you take apart the Trinity as ESS says. And based on what a very vague implication, which is not based on any facts, but at best speculation.

Here again it is clear that Jesus is acting out of love for humanity, not compulsion from the Father. Do you really think that the Father would send the Son on this difficult mission without telling Him the probable ending of the Cross? Do you think that the Son did not agree to this ending, even though He know the price which is far beyond we can imagine? Jesus was being honest, not rebellious.

If you have a two tier universe between God and the world, you do need some sort of explanation on how the eternal God and temporal humans coexist, but Jesus is God with us. He breaks down these barriers through Love, the Holy Spirit, which is missing in ESS.

We cannot put ideas into the mind of God. God is YHWH, God is WHO GOD IS.

The problem was in reconciling or bringing together two every different ways of seeing Reality, .the Hebrew way of faith and the Greek way of philosophy. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.<

This is the case in many respects. Although in many ways the two ways of approaching reality are not that far apart. For example it was Heraclitus who first established the ‘Logos principle’ within western philosophy as meaning both the source and fundamental order of the Cosmos. Plato also reflects this in his ideas concerning ‘eternal forms’.

This coincides really well with John 1:1-3 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. Which echoes Genesis chapter one.

'Generally in the West we have a dualism of Greek science and Hebrew religion. Together they make a whole of sorts, but in my estimation the contradictions today are making it impossible to maintain the unity of two different systems.<

We need a new worldview which really reconciles science and faith. The problem with this is that novelty is opposed by both science and faith.<

I think you might be interested in the work of Wolfgang Smith and the Philo-Sophia Initiative where many of these issues are worked through from a philosophical, theological and scientific perspective. Particularly with reference to the dualism of Descart i.e. res cogitans and res extensa. He proposes that this is where modern ‘science’ largely becomes unstuck, as these Cartesian ideas concerning reality and perception are adopted quite often by scientists perhaps without even thinking and thereby affect how they have a tendency to dismiss the ‘qualities’ of the corporeal world as unreal and thereby make the scientific approach to reality rest upon only that which can be measured.

https://www.facebook.com/PhilosSophiaInitiative

John says that the Father sent the Son because He loves humanity. You say that some people imply God sent Jesus to save humanity because God had the power to compel Jesus to go, because He was under the power, subordinate, to YHWH.<

Hmmm… I don’t think I meant that. I don’t think I implied that. Please give me the quote to which you are referring and I will try to clarify.

Do you really think that the Bible teaches that Jesus saved humanity because He had to, and not because He wanted to out of love. This is what happens when you take apart the Trinity as ESS says. And based on what a very vague implication, which is not based on any facts, but at best speculation.<

No, I don’t think that the Son became incarnate because he ‘had to’. I don’t take the ESS position regarding eternal subordination. I think there may be some misunderstanding here if you took it that this was my own belief. I would totally agree with you that this would be speculation based on faulty theology.

Here again it is clear that Jesus is acting out of love for humanity, not compulsion from the Father. Do you really think that the Father would send the Son on this difficult mission without telling Him the probable ending of the Cross? Do you think that the Son did not agree to this ending, even though He know the price which is far beyond we can imagine? Jesus was being honest, not rebellious.<

I would agree with the Athanasian Creed:
That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

Neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance.

For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost.

But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost.

The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate: and the Holy Ghost uncreate.

The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal.

And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal.

As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated: but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.

So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty.

And yet they are not three Almighties: but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God.

And yet they are not three Gods: but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord.

And yet not three Lords: but one Lord…

In a similar manner, I would believe that as the Father is omniscient, the Son is omniscient and the Holy Spirit is omniscient yet there are not three ‘Omniscients’ but one ‘Omniscient’.

We cannot put ideas into the mind of God. God is YHWH, God is WHO GOD IS.<

Yes- you said it.

Thank you for your response, although I think that we have gone off topic. Maybe the moderator will separate this into its own topic.

To be sure both theology and philosophy affirm the unity or oneness of Reality through the Logos. However, philosophy is based on “being,” which is impersonal, and Christianity bases the unity of Reality on God, Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, Who is personal. This is a very important difference, that persists to this day.

You used 2 Biblical citations to explain why evangelicals use the word “subordination” to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son. I was trying to explain why this was not really appropriate, even though that maybe traditional.

A subordinate is a person who must obey the authority over her or him. Jesus was never in that position. The Father is not His superior. That is the whole meaning of the Trinity.

We do not know exactly how Jesus prepared for His ministry. If it began when He was 30, then He must have studied the scripture under the tutelage of the Father and the Spirit, but that is not subordination. That is communication.

I would say that the NT indicates that the Son and the Father were always acting as partners in the task of salvation. The Son often deferred to the Father, but not because He was subordinate, but out of Love and Respect, which is the way we are to treat everyone.
The Athanasian Creed is a good creed although I would argue with some of the wording. I do not think God needs or has a Godhead, nor a substance that might be divided. There is a problem with saying that God is omniscient, which is Greek, not Hebrew.

My approach to reconciling theology, philosophy, and science is to use the ancient One And the Many paradigm. Please see my paper on Using the One And the Many on Academia.edu. if you are interested. The material you cited looks interesting, but for me the Trinity must be the foundation for understanding reality. This is of course why I am so concerned about ESS.

There is voluntary subordination, a voluntary humbling (which is also what we are told Jesus did), where the ‘subordinate’ chooses to obey.
 
And I think this puts the question of Jesus’ motivation to rest:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
 
Hebrews 12:2

 
That is the reason God created in the first place, to increase his joy.

The problem with this is that Jesus is and never was a “subordinate.” A subordinate by definition does NOT have the choice of choosing to obey or not. Jesus choose to agree with the Father, not to be subordinate to the Father. To be subordinate means one does not have the freedom to choose. Jesus always had the ability to choose to agree with the Father.so He was never subordinate to the Father.

That’s why I put ‘subordinate’ in scare quotes.

Yes- no real problems with that. Only that I think that we may have a different understanding of the word ‘subordinate’. I think various dictionary definitions would allow for a voluntary subordination of roles. Like yourself I don’t take it that there was something Jesus had to do and I take it this is your main concern.

However, it was the will of the Father he was obeying. As he said not my will but thy will be done.

One definition of subordinate is someone who works for someone else. Or shall we say does the will of someone else. So we are not talking about inferiority of personhood. Only the order of roles which is only a logical order.

Mirriam Webster : Subordinate: One who stands in order or rank below another : one that is subordinate.

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Phillipians 2:5-8

To be subordinate means one does not have the freedom to choose.<

If you can give us a dictionary link with this definition saying this is the only definition then the point is yours. Game set and match. :blush:

BTW Thanks for the link. I will have a look at that.

2 Likes

:slightly_smiling_face: Yes. Jesus voluntarily subordinated his will (making himself a subordinate) with his own future joy in mind, making a choice. That is not unlike laborers – they can always quit (but it may not be a good choice).

1 Like

Which raise the question- could Jesus have possibly quit?

It is rather like asking the questions-

Could Jesus have sinned?
Could Jesus have disobeyed?

Peccability vs Impeccability etc.
There’s another possible thread.

Not on this one though. :grinning:

2 Likes

…a rhetorical question? :slightly_smiling_face: His nature disallows it and we are talking about two things that are mutually exclusive.

A workers who quit are no longer subordinate. A soldier who disobeys is insubordinate. Government officials who refuse to obey orders quit before they are fired.

God by definition cannot be under authority and Jesus is God. Philippians 2 is not about Jesus ceasing to be God. It is about Jesus revealing that God is Love. If it were about Jesus ceasing to be God then God is not Love.
Matthew 20:28
28 Even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

Dale, please tell me that you do not think that Jesus, Who is God, is not free, How can you say that God is not free? Why would He bring the possibility up that there might be another way if He had no choice in the matter?.

Of course Jesus did not want to die on the Cross. No one in his right mind would want to do that. No one in his wrong mind would want to do that. And Jesus was in His right mind. He knew very well what He was doing.

Please remember that He predicted His death after Peter confessed that He was the Messiah, and then strongly rebuked Peter when he tried to say that it would not happen.

Jesus did not do it for Himself, even for His Joy. Jesus did not do it for the Father, even though it was the plan of the Father and the Son. Jesus did it for you and me – period. When you take Love out of the Cross, you lose the Good News of Jesus. Please do not allow the Legalists like Wayne Grudem do that.

41 posts were split to a new topic: Is Enlightened Self-Interest Biblical?

Good grief. He is not free to not be God, is he? Neither then is he free to act contrary to his nature, not that he did not struggle, especially in Gethsemane.

Good grief! Who determines what God does? Some people seem to think that they can define what God can do and what God can’t. Gethsemane should tell you something. God is free to do what God chooses to do. God is responsible to no one, but Godself. Who or what can compel God to be God? I AM WHO I AM.

1 Like

God is free to not be not be God and we know nothing about his attributes. I understand. Thank you.

Agreed that Phillipians 2 is not about Jesus ‘ceasing to be God’ which would be kenosis theology.

It is about the eternal Son who is God taking up humanity. It is true that he is fully God. However, as history has shown, this statement alone needs further qualification in that he
has two distinct natures (human and divine) united in one Person.

I’ve only heard critics of kenosis theology describe it that way. Kenotic theology is another way of explaining how God can cast off certain things without ceasing to be God. Usually kenotic theology insists that the freedom to set abilities aside or “wear a blindfold” is inherent in God’s nature (not only in Jesus) rather than a contradiction of that nature.

To someone who defines God by those attributes, this would seem to be becoming less than God. But kenotic theology insists this is the wrong way of defining God – that God is fundamentally a personal being rather than a collection of attributes.

4 Likes

Marshall: Marshall Janzen:

I would prefer to say that what is inherent within in God’s nature is that he possess all the attributes of deity. Without one of these attributes, deity ceases to be what it essentially is.

The divesting of divine attributes would surely render him (Jesus) less than God. I’m sure that the ancient credal statements did not refer to ‘divinity’ as meaning anything less than ‘fully God’ including all of the attributes belonging to deity. To do so would have been to make a complete nonsense. From what I understand, Kenotic theology as stating Jesus is less than fully God is comparatively new.

Usually kenotic theology insists that the freedom to set abilities aside or “wear a blindfold” is inherent in God’s nature (not only in Jesus) rather than a contradiction of that nature.<

Even if God could wear a blindfold (I don’t really know what that means) it would really make no difference. Blindfolds are of no effect where God is concerned. God is not contained by anything. Only He is unlimited. Someone put it this way:

"What Jesus did was set aside His heavenly glory. And He voluntarily refrained from using His divinity to make His way easier. His miracles were not done to benefit Himself but to help others. During His earthly ministry, Christ completely submitted Himself to the will of the Father (John 5:19). John Walvoord explains it this way: “The act of kenosis . . . may . . . be properly understood to mean that Christ surrendered no attribute of Deity, but that He did voluntarily restrict their independent use in keeping with His purpose of living among men and their limitations”

If this was the only definition of ‘Kenosis’ then I think I could accept that. Although I believe that many kenoticists go much further in imposing limitations upon the divine nature in Jesus.

Rather:
If the Father is almighty, then so is Jesus.
If the Father sees everything, then so does the Son.
If God is upholding the universe by the word of his power, then so is Jesus.
If the Father is LORD, then so is Jesus.

I take the Christ’s ‘emptying’ of Himself to mean the laying aside of the privileges of divinity, not divinity itself.

Thanks for sending.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.