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Wells on the Functional Subordination of the Son

June 5, 2009

In continuing to read through David Well’s The Person of Christ, I stumbled across this quote, which deals with something that I normally comment on this blog site and others.  Wells is developing the identity of the Son in the Gospel of John, and he writes:

There is a note of subordination in some of Jesus’ utterances.  On the one hand the idea that he “descended” and came from “above” suggest something close to Paul’s teaching on the humiliation and self-emptying of the Son (Phil. 2:5-11).  This aspect of his subordination would therefore be of limited duration and would cease when he resumed his former glory.  On the other hand, it is implied that there is an eternal priority of the Father to the Son in which the Father appears to initiate action.  This realtional priority will reamin unchanged, presumably, even after the Son has resumed his glory (1 Cor. 15:24-28).  A functional subordination does not, however, require an ontological subordination, for in the fellowship of love, unity of being and subordination of role are entirely conpatible (pg. 50).

Even though this quote is from 1984, it certainly speaks to the present issue at hand today that the Son, though equal in essance, nature, and worth, is “functionally” subordinate to the Father.

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