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Words of a Fether

Opinions on Faith and Life

Trinity Debate Assessment, Part 5

Under “5. Final Comments”, Affirmative

Again the assertion is repeated that since the Bible uses names for God like Father and Son, then it must indicate a hierarchal relationship. And again they insist that permanent subordination does not mean inferiority of being. And yet again, they insist that without hierarchy of roles there is no way to distinguish the Persons of the Trinity. The examples given to claim support for equality of being with inequality of role are fundamentally different from their view of the Trinity. Human authority relationships that are not based upon a person’s essence cannot be compared with those that are. The only possible illustrations that would match would be prejudice on the basis of race, sex, or social class, which make the people underlings for life on the basis of intrinsic qualities of being. And again, they completely ignore the Spirit in this.

Under “5. Final Comments”, Negative

If the Son is subordinate to the Father, then they cannot share an identical essence. The Persons can be differentiated simply because they exist; no hierarchy or roles are needed for this. The fact that the Father says “You are my Son; today I have become your Father” speaks clearly of the incarnation and not a role from eternity past.

My Conclusion

Without knowing the names of the debaters for the Affirmative, one could easily mistake them for apologists for the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other aberrant groups that also see everything, even within the Godhead, in terms of hierarchy and authority. They use the same arguments. Our inability to fully grasp the concept of the Trinity should at least temper the rhetoric of those who insist upon dissecting it. I see no practical difference between a chain of command in the Trinity and that of three levels of deity, or even three gods. This attempt to probe the inner workings of the Godhead has given birth to many cults and been fodder for many critics of Christianity. But there is no danger in teaching that the Persons are all fully equal and fully divine.

And if we were to use the same tactics as the Affirmative in questioning motive, we could easily ask them exactly why this hierarchal view of the Persons of the Trinity is so vital to them. What is the practical necessity of this belief? Truth to tell, there is one sinister motivation: the subordination of women to men. If they can prove that Jesus can be permanently subordinated to the Father’s will while still being equal in essence, then they can claim that women can be made subordinate to men without saying women are inferior in essence.

Yet even then their plan fails, because the relationships between men and women are never, ever compared to that between the Father and the Son. It’s not even remotely implied. Jesus modeled the father/son relationship for all believers; all are to follow him in laying privilege aside to stoop down and help the weak. “Not so among you” is a command for men as well as women. The humility and service of Jesus in his incarnation gives no exceptions to anyone.

Passages that speak of Christ being the head of the church speak of unity of flesh, and the analogy of bride and groom is to represent that between the church and Christ. It is a joining, a picture of unity and sacrificial love. And that is the model for married couples. A man is to leave his parents to join to his wife, just as Christ left his Father to join to his Bride. It is specifically the love of Christ for his Bride that the husband is charged with emulating, never the authority of Christ as God.

So all of this is a wasted effort on the part of the Affirmative, and it is destructive to many believers as well as to our unique view of God. It does much damage for no other purpose than to justify male supremacy. It is a shameful display of pride in the flesh.

(back to Part Four)

Posted 2008-10-28 under Bible Text, Jesus, Nature of God, trinity, Apologetics, subordination, hierarchy