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Divine Revelation and the Doctrine of the Trinity

July 29, 2009

For the last week or so, I have been preparing for a panel discussion on the doctrine of the Trinity and the relationship of the Father and Son that will be sponsored by CBMW probably sometime at the beginning of September.  Bruce Ware and Gregg Allison (both professors at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) are participating in the panel, along with one other individual yet to be determined.

There are three authors that I am mainly reading that oppose the authority/submission relationship of the Son:

Kevin Giles:

Jesus and the Father: Modern Evangelicals Reinvent the Doctrine of the Trinity

“The Subordination of Christ and the Subordination of Women” in Discovery Biblical Equality

The Trinity and Subordination: The Doctrine of God and the Contemporary Gender Debate

Millard Erickson:

Who’s Tampering with the Trinity?

God in Three Persons: A Contemporary Interpretation of the Trinity

Gilbert Bilezikian:

“Hermeneutical Bungee-Jumping: Subordination in the Godhead,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


In reading through these works, the one common and glaring shortcoming of all them is their consistent neglect of actual exegetical work of the passages concerning this topic.  I am not the only who has observed this.  Wayne Grudem makes this observation in his book Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth.  Kevin Giles comments in Jesus and the Father that this argument “is hardly to be taken seriously.  The doctrine of the Trinity does not spring immediately from the pages of Scripture.”  Giles admits that an argument can be made from Scripture for the submission of the Son to the Father from eternity; it just does not doctrinally work out.  Rather, Giles (along with Erickson) interpret the doctrine of the Trinity through the tradition of the Church.

I think this is a dismal mistake.  John Owen, in his little work The Doctrine of the Trinity Vindicated warns against such hermeneutics when dealing with the doctrine of the Trinity.  He writes, “And herin lies the preposterous course of those who fallaciously and captiously go about to oppose this sacred truth: – they will always begin their opposition not unto the revelation of it, but unto the explanation of it; which is used only for farther edification” (emphasis original, The Works of John Owen, vol 2, 380).  Now Giles and the rest are not denying the Trinity, but instead of mainly arguing from how God has revealed himself in Scripture, they deal with secondary sources of the explanation.  We have much to learn from the Patristics to the Reformers, yet, may we always keep our finger in the text!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. irishanglican permalink
    August 2, 2009 2:05 am

    Very nice! Those that move ahead of the doctrine and historical value of both Nicaea and Chalcedon are in error, just that simple! (2 John 9)

    Fr. Robert

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