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

Boy, Peter was really laying it on thick for the women if “mutual submission” was his ulterior motive…

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.

and on this point, i have no disagreement, but i don’t think it is the point under discussion? If husbands continued to see themelves as lords of thier households whose wives submitted to them, even while they treated their wives the way Christ loved his church, then Paul’s message would likewise have succeeded.

i have no dispute there… but the question under discussion is whether or not there remains a hierarchical relationship or not, not whether or not it is characterized by husbands who, while remaining “lords”, also lay their lives down for their wives as Christ loved the church, viewing their wives with the full honor deserved as co-heirs, no?

LOL I give you much evidence why love and submission do not really mix and you come back with a tired proof text that doesn’t prove anything.

We aren’t talking about the end of time. We are talking about now. We are talking about families and women who are really hurting, while Grudem is fighting political and cultural wars which are a disgrace to the Church.

The Trinity is now. Jesus Christ is not subject to the Father now. If you think that the God of the Bible is not the God of eternity, that is if you think that the God we worship is not the God Who existed before the Beginning of time and will exist after the End of time, I strongly disagree, but that is not what we are talking about.

“LOL.” Appropriate, I guess, because we cannot take that seriously.

I guess I couldn’t have both loved my earthly father and submitted to him, either. It rather looks like godly submission is because of love, hardly that they don’t mix.

Is it not fair to say though, that that particular section of 1 Cor 15 is highly contested with respected theologians within, and across, a range of spectrums and traditions disagreeing over how it might be understood? That should make us cautious about using it to argue for any particular position, whether that be ESS or any other.

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The Ten Commandments tells us to Honor our Father and Mother, not to them. It looks to me as if you are using the Bible/theology to justify your earthly relationships rather than to use the Bible to learn how God’s way might be better than ours.

I am glad you loved your father. I am not criticizing you or your father because of this relationship. Are you saying that this is the only Godly parental relationship?

How do you distinguish between Godly submission and other kinds of submission? Which is better, submission to or honoring? If you submit because you love, then what is the real basis of the relationship, love or submission? Can one love without submitting?

If I respected and loved my father, but did not submit myself to him, was I wrong?

Legalism, [Content removed by moderators] is the faith of submission. Please do not confuse it with Christianity, the faith of Love.

My wife is a bit more literal in her we tend to argue a bit over this:

“I’m submitting to your will…”she exclaims.
“No! No! I forbid you to do so!” I reply.
“I must, and you cannot stop me!”
“If you insist…”


Roger - this is key, and something you wrote somewhere above made me realize why you probably see submission so differently on this than nearly everyone else here. If I’m not mistaken, your impression of submission is that it means to entirely “lose one’s own will - simply replacing it with the other.” Sort of like one might almost imagine “possession” (if seen in a negative or demonic sense) or just losing oneself and one’s own desires entirely to God’s will (in an ostensibly more positive version of the same thing.) It makes me think of the bumper sticker: “If God is your co-pilot, you need to switch seats.”

While all of that (latter) sense may sound quite laudible, I’m pretty sure it’s highly problematic. It’s also not at all what (any of?) the rest of us are probably talking about when we speak of submission. One’s individuality - one’s dreams and wishes do not just “go away” just because they submit to somebody else. The word “defer” is probably much closer to what we’re talking about than what you are thinking, though “defer” is probably not quite strong enough. I can submit to my wife’s wishes in a ‘deferral’ sense if we go eat at the place she preferred rather than what I suggested. But I suggest that submission is a more profound thing than trivial daily choices, though those are certainly part of that larger package; and yet submission is less than (or perhaps more than?) the total abandonment of one’s own will as you seem to think of it. I don’t think Christ or Paul, either one, could rightly be seen to promote the extreme abandonment of ‘self’ except by carefully extracting an isolated passage or two and ignoring most of the rest of scriptures.

But meanwhile - as long as you think of submission in such extreme terms, you will fail to grasp much written about it here.

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But of course…! i would hardly use that as a sole prooftext for my position were i making a full apologia… But just so you know where I’m coming from, I don’t personally have any significant issue with anyone who demurs from the concept of the Son’s eternal subordination…

But what I am astounded by is the idea that people who all of a sudden want to claim that the idea is a dangerous Arian heresy. The fact that it was so clearly expostulated in Packer’s “Knowing God” just a few decades back and nary a concern was raised… but all of a sudden, the evangelical world is " shocked, shocked! to find this teaching happening among evangelicals!" (“Your copy of Berkhof’s systematic theology, sir…” “Oh, thank you very much…”)

People are free to responsibly interpret relevant scriptures however they see the data, of course… but the idea of Christ having a subordinate will and position to the father is pervasive and beyond dispute (“not my will but yours”, “I have not come to do my will but the will of him who sent me…”)…

but as you’ve noted elsewhere the question is to whether this extends to eternal nature… but there are various passages where Christ’s temporal earthly life is clearly not in view. (e.g., “h e raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. ”)

Now if that is unconvincing to some, then that is their responsibility and prerogative before the text. What i object to, though, is this feigned horror or shock that such a doctrine is being taught, or this absurd claim that it is some form of Arianism. it has been embraced and taught for ages by the most respected of theologians. And more significantly in what i quoted above, it has with some obvious evidence from scripture.

this evidence may or may not be convincing to some, and different interpretations may or may not exist, but let’s not suggest that it came entirely out of some heretics imagination.

I liken it to how it would sound if I, as a presbyterian, started going around acting shocked that people were embracing the ancient anabaptist “heresy” of denying baptism to infants and not baptizing by sprinkling, claiming that doing so was resurrecting an ancient Marcionite heresy, and shocked that anyone could claim that their position could be defended biblically.

Rather, while i remain unconvinced, i recognize that 1) there are various passages that i can very well understand (even though i disagree) how a sincere believer could understand them to imply a believers baptism by immersion 2) i also recognize that there have been good people throughout the ages who have embraced this position without embracing other true or serious heresies, and that 3) our disagreement on that topic doesn’t descend into one that would demand some kind of major break in larger evangelical fellowshipl it is a “familial” disagreement.

I wish the same courtesy would be extended to those of us, like Packer, Edwards, Berkhof, myself (or even perhaps Wayne Grudem?), who have embraced this doctrine, based on substantial biblical evidence, all while avoiding anything even remotely close to Arianism or any other actual trinitarian heresy.

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Why is that even a question? There is willing submission and there is unwilling submission. There is also childlike trusting submission, which would be a subcategory of willing transmission, as in “I don’t know why you want me to do this, but I trust you that it is good, even if I don’t understand why right now.”

Is the childlike submission just described unchristian or legalistic? There is a difference between love and saccharine love.

Oh of course, my principle issue (as I have noted) is how ESS has been applied to relationships between men and women. I have no problem with the doctrine itself, although I do not personally hold it.

My history of the Grudem debate is a little fuzzy now, but I believe that Grudem and Ware departed from historic ESS (a la Calvin, Edwards, Packer, Berkhoff, et al) by saying there was an ontological basis for ESS. That the Son had to submit eternally because his nature required it. If memory serves, that was the basis for the neo-Arian charge.

Though of course, those kinds of nuances often get lost in the wider debate. Even then, I wonder whether such labels are even helpful since they often, instantly, shut down lines of communication.

Also, in hindsight, I realise I may have implied that you didn’t have more in your scriptural quiver than the 1 Cor 15 passage. Apologies, that was not my intent.

First of all you are placing submission in a very personal setting. We have been discussing submission in theological setting. Namely, Did God the Son submit or subordinate His Will to God the Father? Secondarily, should wives submit themselves to their husbands as Jesus allegedly submitted Himself to the Father.

If I or anyone else, even Jesus, is to submit oneself to God, we cannot just submit part of our selves, We are to love God with All of our heart, All of our mind, All of our soul, and All of our strength. Whether that is extreme or not, that is God’s way

Submit- “to accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person.” internet definition.

A basic aspect of the definition of the word submit is the phrase superior force or authority. Jesus Christ is God. There is no superior force or authority or will to God’s. Therefore Jesus cannot submit Himself to anyone, even the Father, because He is not inferior to the Father. That is why the Church rejected Arianism in 325.

Wayne Grudem & Co. have decided today what while the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal under the letter of the Law, the Son and the Spirit are subordinate and thus not equal under the Spirit of the Law. “The letter of the Law kills…”

What is shocking is that Grudem & Co. are using strange, non traditional understanding of the Trinity to enforce a most regrettable understanding of marriage ethics. It is just not true that the Eternal Subordination of the Son has been “taught for ages by the most respected theologians.” Saying that it is true does not make it so. No theologian qualifies for that description.

This is not an ad hominem discussion. This is about the facts, like How can you say that E.S.S. is not about subordinationism, when there it is in its name?

There is no more evidence for ESS than there is Arianism. If you maintain that the Son is de facto subordinate to the Father then that is de facto Arianism. If you say that the Son died upon the Cross not of His own Will, but because He submitted Himself to the Will of the Father. If you say that somehow the Second Person of the Trinity is fundamentally different on earth than He is in heaven, that too is false doctrine as defined by the Church.

Maybe you do not know that Arius was a Legalist, like the proponents of ESS.

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God the Son and God the Father are very personal. Childlike submission is extremely relevant and apropos.

Please elucidate.

We are supposed to be childlike. We are supposed to be Christlike. I wonder if there’s a connection.

God the Father and God the Son are the archetype of a parent-child relationship.

Only because that’s where I found it. What else would submission possibly be if not personal?

You also seem to be conflating voluntary (Christian) submission with compulsion - by noting the presence of potentially coercive elements, such as superior force or authority. To the extent that coercion or compulsion is involved is the extent to which loving submission is not in play.

Submission such as what I speak of - is 100% voluntary. Just like love. It isn’t love otherwise.

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I still struggle to understand how that is different than Packer or anyone else previously noted… the Son is ontologically different than the Father, no? and insofar as one understands the role or relationship between this father and son to have some inherent deference or authority, while at the same time being absolutely the same in essence as emphasized in the Athanasian Creed, i don’t see any basis for any claim of arianism whatsoever.

In other words, what about Packer’s words, exactly, would not open him to the same charge that this different level of authority was not “ontological”, inherently related to their very identity and nature?

It is the nature [ontos?] of the second person of the Trinity to acknowledge the authority and submit to the good pleasure of the first. That is why he declares himself to be the Son and the first person to be his Father. Though coequal with the Father in eternity, power and glory [i.e., not Arian?] it is natural [i.e., ontological?] to him to play the Son’s part and to find all his joy in doing his Father’s will, just as it is natural to the first person of the Trinity to plan and initiate the works of the Godhead and natural to the third person to proceed from the Father and the Son to do their joint bidding. Thus the obedience of the God-man to the Father while he was on earth was not a new relationship occasioned by the Incarnation, but the continuation in time of the eternal relationship between the Son and the Father in heaven. As in heaven, so on earth, the Son was utterly dependent upon the Father’s will.


Fair point, it does seem to be that Packer is saying that their is something in the Son’s nature that drives or requires the eternal submission.

As you know (or may have surmised) I think ESS goes beyond what we can glean from scripture though respect that weightier voices than I say otherwise. Were I, however, to accept ESS I would feel more comfortable if it were framed as a choice that the Son has made from eternity past, continuing through the present, and into eternity future. To say it is in the Son’s nature to submit to the Father… I cannot see that such a view cannot be proven from Scripture. Though again, clearly, weightier voices say otherwise (ie. Packer).

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

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