Friday, January 2, 2009

The Holy Trinity, gender and subordination

I've been sort of half-heartedly following the discussion of a debate on the Trinity held at TEDS recently. The reaction has been typical with the Religious feminist side cheering the non-subordinationists (Tom Mccoll and Keith Yandell) and the complementarians cheering Ware and Grudem.

CBMW has done a series reviewing the debate which you can access through their Gender Blog at www.cbmw.org (I apologize that I have yet to learn how to make links look pretty). What I want to highlight, though, is a paragraph from John Starke's blog entry of 29 December where he reviews some presuppositions. Here is the relevant paragraph:

The Trinity is diverse in person. I am not implying [that] McCall and
Yandell think that the Trinity is neither diverse nor personal. My point is that the fundamental place of diversity in the Trinity is in personhood. The diversity is not merely that one is called the Father, one the Son, and the other the Spirit. But that each one is functionally a different Person. It is only within an understanding of function that the names Father, Son, and Spirit are insightful and carry meaning. If we disregard function as a distinction within in the Godhead, the names Father, Son, and Spirit are simply arbitrary and could have been given to either of the Three.

I think this little paragraph goes a long way to explaining the matter and I want to make note of some things. First, I have never thought it a good thing to make human relationships contingent upon the sort of relationships that exist within the Trinity. In other words, whether or not there is a sort of permanent hierarchy/subordination/submission between the members of the Trinity has no necessary bearing on whether or not there is or should be the same sort of relationship between the human male and female (particularly within marriage).

Second, the denigration of functional differences that can happen with religious feminists who argue against eternal subordination can skate dangerously close to the heresy of modalism or Sabellianism, as Starke illustrates above. When we confuse the differences, confusion of persons closely follows. It matters that the Father is father and the Son is Son and the Spirit is the spirit.

Last, if Starke is correct about the disregard of functional distinctions leaving us with arbitrary names, it is easy to see how Religious Feminism, Inclusive language and even calling God "Mother" or, in the words of one religious feminist, "Our Great Creatress" go hand in hand in hand. This disregard also does directly lead to the acceptance of perversions of God's created order for the sexes - recent experience makes this all too clear.

1 comment:

alaiyo said...

Good post, Kamilla.

For links, first copy the link that you want to send your readers to. Then highlight the word(s) in your post where you want the link to appear, and click on the "link" button, up by the text and color buttons. It will bring up a box into which you can paste the link and voila! it will turn the word you have highlighted into an active link.

Hope you had a blessed Christmas, and your new year is lovely.

Beth