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CBMW Trinity Panel

August 18, 2009

Here is some breaking news.  On September 9th, on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood will host a panel discussion on the Trinity and Gender with Dr. Bruce Ware and Dr. Gregg Allison.  Here is the blurb that will be sent out concerning this event:

The Trinity and Gender Panel Discussion

CBMW and the School of Church Ministries are sponsoring a panel discussion that will include Dr. Bruce Ware and Dr. Gregg Allison on issues concerning the Trinity and Gender.  The panel will discuss the authority-submission structure of the Father and Son and how it relates to current gender debates.  The panel discussion will take place on September 9, 2009, 10-11:00 am, Heritage Hall.

The audio and video will be available through SBTS and CBMW’s websites.  This issue is hotly debated within seminary campuses, churches, and theological societies.  You can read Bruce Ware’s article “Equal in Essence, Distinct in Roles: Eternal Functional Authority and Submission Among the Essentially Equally Divine Persons of the Godhead” for a good summary of the arguments.

Why is this event happening?  God’s revelation of himself is at stake.  Much ink has been spilled and many debates have occurred over the past decade.  Most recently, on the campus of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, a debate occurred between Bruce Ware (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Wayne Grudem (Phoenix Seminary) versus Drs. Tom McCall (TEDS) and Keith Yandell (University of Wisconsin-Madison).  Both Grudem and Ware have written extensively on the subject.  The following publications have been released contra Ware and Grudem:

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


There many other publications on both sides that contribute to the debate.

Here is what specifically is at stake in this debate:

  1. Historical Theology – Which side can claim orthodoxy and the early church fathers.
  2. Systematic Theology – Doctrine of God, christology, and his God’s revelation of himself, which effect every other major areas of systematics.
  3. Exegesis and Hermeneutics
  4. Gender – Scripture applies this very doctrine to the home. “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (I Cor. 11:3).

More updates will be given when they are available.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. apokalypsisioannou permalink
    August 19, 2009 3:43 am

    very, very interesting 😉

  2. August 21, 2009 6:22 am

    I hope Ware will discuss the fact that Augustine wrote that there is no difference in potesta/exousia between the Son and the Father.

    I also wonder if either of these men will clarify why the husband has authority over the wife, when church fathers did not say that the Father had authority over the Son.

    But, conversely, the church fathers note that the difference is that the Father remained in heaven and the Son was sent to earth to die as an offering for sin, but this does not relate to the marriage relationship.

    That is, how come in marriage the husband protects the wife, supposedly at least, but in the trinity, the Father exposes the Son to suffering and death?

    Is this really a useful comparison?

    • jbstarke permalink*
      August 21, 2009 11:48 am

      Sue,
      I am assuming that you will probably be disappointed in this panel. It will not answer all your questions. Ware will probably not talk about the Latin texts of Augustine. Also, I think you make connections between the Father and Son’s /Husband and Wife relationship that nobody makes.

      This sort of relationship or revelation can be understood better in light of Calvin’s doctrine of accommodation – not that he says anything about this issue at that point. But, he makes clear how God accommodates himself (truthfully, no less) to image bearers. This doesn’t mean that everything that is said about God can be said about his image bearers. This seems to be clear in what we are saying.

      Also, everybody (Ware and Grudem included) says that Jesus has the authority of God. We would agree with Augustine. The issue that Augustine is dealing with is distinguishing between Creator and creature, not between Persons. The larger argument of BK 2, 4, and 5 looks at distinctions that are beyond the God/Servant categories that Augustine introduces in BK 1.

  3. August 21, 2009 10:59 pm

    I am assuming that you will probably be disappointed in this panel. It will not answer all your questions. Ware will probably not talk about the Latin texts of Augustine.\

    Not dealing with the texts in their original language renders his discusson of Augustine as unscholarly and with a very limited validity. Ware essentially is saying that he will not interact as a scholar. That is his perogative.

    Also, I think you make connections between the Father and Son’s /Husband and Wife relationship that nobody makes.

    I am hoping no one makes the connection that Augustine’s view of the trinity is related to the husband and wife. It is simple. In Augustine’s view, Christ was sent to be an offering, to suffer and to die. How can Ware cherrypick from Augustine, reinterpret him, and turn out something that supports his views on the subordination of women.

    Why not discuss prelapsarian sex in Augustine? It is much more relevant to gender issues than Augustine’s view of the trinity.

    This doesn’t mean that everything that is said about God can be said about his image bearers. This seems to be clear in what we are saying.

    The law that God has laid down for humans is to love your neighbour as yourself, not to set up mini hierarchies in each and every relationship on earth.

    Also, everybody (Ware and Grudem included) says that Jesus has the authority of God. We would agree with Augustine. The issue that Augustine is dealing with is distinguishing between Creator and creature, not between Persons. The larger argument of BK 2, 4, and 5 looks at distinctions that are beyond the God/Servant categories that Augustine introduces in BK 1.

    So, man and woman, both human, would have equal authority. Is this what you mean?

    – or are you saying

    Creator to creature
    God to servant
    man to woman

    Is this the paradigm?

  4. August 21, 2009 11:01 pm

    I have to admit that I was unable to understand your last paragraph. Sorry about that.

  5. jbstarke permalink*
    August 22, 2009 1:49 am

    Sorry. Here are the categories I am proposing Augustine is giving:
    Creator/creator – God and us
    God/Servant – Eternal Son/Incarnate Son
    Essence/Persons – Unity and Distinctions among the Godhead

    I’ve mentioned this before. I don’t think Grudem is as clear when he says the relationship of the Father and Son is “parallel” to the relationship of Husband and Wife. He says “parallel” and many think he is saying exact. That is not what he is saying, nor is Ware. It is God accommodating (if I can use a Calvin word) himself to those who are in his image. We are analogous. There is no redemptive plan from the husband to send his wife, like the Father and the Son.

    Can I just be honest? Ware and Grudem, as much as their written words may grate against you, are godly and caring people. I wish you knew them. I know I will never change your mind on these issues. But these men care deeply about what they feel is the biblical truth and health of the Church. I know you probably have some rebuttal to this about the irreparable damage they have caused, but I wish you could see them interact with people and care for their families. I’m rambling now.

  6. August 22, 2009 4:33 am

    John,

    Think about the woman who needed permission from her husband to go to the bathroom. Think of her life. She might have lived a lifetime of trivial belittlement. Now think that she might have had the same intellectual gifts as Ware and Grudem. But all her emotional energy has gone into timing her bathroom needs.

    This is a terrible and dangerous doctrine. W

  7. August 22, 2009 4:42 am

    Okay, that was John Piper but the same thing could happen to other women.

    But to get back to the argument, Ware and Grudem say that the husband has authority and the wife has submission, just as the Father never submits and the wife always submits. WHat about people who try to live like this?

    Augustine teaches that the Son has no disparity in authority with the Father, and the only difference is that the Son is sent to die and the Father is not.

    Ware and Grudem say that the wife is not sent to die, but the husband has authority and the wife does not.

    How is this analogous?

  8. August 22, 2009 4:46 am

    Sorry, can you not post the last comment.

    I meant to say that according to Grudem and Ware, the husband is like the Father who NEVER submits, and the wife is like the Son who ALWAYS submits. Do you think two people could live like this? What would happen if they tried? She would lose her mind. He would have a totally distorted view of reality. This is ungodly.

  9. Lydia permalink
    August 26, 2009 5:02 pm

    Caring and loving Christians do not twist or add to scripture to gain preeminance over others. They are humble servants not looking to elevate themselves.

    They are promoting an interpretation of scripture that paints them them as ‘godlike’ in their earthly relationships. Very dangerous for their very own souls.

    I do wonder if a wife who is not submitting to her husband as they think she should would find them as caring and loving as you, a fellow male, does?

    My biggest concern is that the foundational verse for all of this is 1 Corin 11:3. This is concerning because the Holy Spirit would have Inspired a clear word(s) for authority, but did not.

    It is also concerning because it does NOT read, “The head of the Son is the Father.

    We all agree that Christ gave up His Glory and humbled himself to come as the Son. To teleport that submission of the Incarnate
    Son to the Lord of Hosts in say, Isaiah 6 or even the descripion of Him in Isaiah 9 as Everlasting Father, is an exegietical stretch.

    What do they do with John 5:18? Seems the Pharisees understood it pefectly.

  10. jbstarke permalink*
    August 26, 2009 5:16 pm

    Lydia,
    This is one concern of your interpretation of I Cor. 11:3. You completely separate the Person of the incarnate Christ and the eternal Son. Orthodox Christians have always believed that the human and divine nature are held together in one person – the Eternal Son – 2 natures, 1 Person.

    One major argument in the church fathers is that the nature of the eternal Godhead is “simple” or even predicate. Therefore, for the Son to enter into some sort of kenosis, whether it be relationally or in essence, you still have a formula that is not Chalcedonian. So if you want to simply say that this is talking about the incarnate Christ (though this is post-resurrection), that is fine. Chalcedonian Christians (or orthodox Christians) will still apply the relationship of the two natures in One person. But if you say that relation must also be a comment on essence and hold to only a temporal submission, then you hold to kenotic Christianity, which is not Orthodox.

  11. jbstarke permalink*
    August 26, 2009 5:19 pm

    By the way, Lydia. No one on the complementarian side of this argument is saying that Jesus does not have the authority of God. This is not an issue that is distinguished between Creator and creatures, but eternal Father and Son. So we would of course agree that Jesus held the full authority of God before the pharisees. That is because he is fully God with the full authority of God that he has had from eternity and will forever more.

  12. August 26, 2009 5:42 pm

    “By the way, Lydia. No one on the complementarian side of this argument is saying that Jesus does not have the authority of God.”

    I’m not so sure of that , jbstarke.

    When Ware and Grudem go from the relationship of Christ and the Father in the Trinity and use it to say that the husband has all authority and the wife has all submission, then they are in fact promoting a loss of authority in the Son in order to link the Trinity and marriage together.

    Also, when they attempt to link the relationship of the Messiah (as creator, savior, and God) and the church to the husband, they imply a godlikeness to the husband/man that the wife/woman does not have.

    It’s complicated. But I see some things in the Ware/Grudem philosophies that I think would have been anathema in the early church…. even though their world view held women as inferior.

  13. jbstarke permalink*
    August 26, 2009 6:13 pm

    believer3 –
    what you are describing is actual heresy that both Grudem and Ware would never hold to nor do they teach. The argument always includes equal in essence and worth because we are both (men and women) created in the image of God. I’m sorry, you are simply mistaken on that point. You are putting words in their mouth that they would never say.

  14. August 26, 2009 6:16 pm

    A further thought…

    IMO Ware and Grudem would be on safer theological ground if they just admitted that like the cultures 2000 years ago, they also view women as inferior to men. Trying to cloak this concept with confusing words of ‘equal but different’, when they do not fully embrace women’s equality as humans, does no one any good.

  15. August 26, 2009 6:19 pm

    “The argument always includes equal in essence and worth because we are both (men and women) created in the image of God. I’m sorry, you are simply mistaken on that point. You are putting words in their mouth that they would never say.”

    I’ve been reading Grudem and CBMW since before they became CBMW. I’m not mistaken.

    Equally confusing to the average person is the idea that one can be fully equal in essence and worth, yet fully unequal in essence and worth because their subordination is based on their essence.

    • jbstarke permalink*
      August 26, 2009 9:04 pm

      I wrote that article and Bruce Ware is not saying “man” as in gender male, but as in mankind – both male and female. Both male and female display the image of God is what I was saying, not simply male. Please adjust this since that is not what I said nor is it what Ware said.
      Thank you,
      John Starke

    • jbstarke permalink*
      August 26, 2009 9:05 pm

      I am referring to the recent post at compegalitarian.

  16. August 26, 2009 9:11 pm

    jbstarke, please comment on complegalitarian about that. Too confusing to try to carry on two different conversations.

    FWIW I believe you when you say you don’t believe he meant “man as in male” in that particular quote.

  17. Lydia permalink
    August 26, 2009 9:35 pm

    Well, I don’t know big words…just a simple Christian not of noble birth…but I can assure you that I belive this:

    God is God
    Jesus is God
    Holy Spirit is God

    The ONE true God in 3 persons.

    BTW: Who does the Holy Spirit report to in your formula of ‘equal essence’ and a chain of command Trinity?

    “he argument always includes equal in essence and worth because we are both (men and women) created in the image of God. ”

    Actually, Ware teaches that women are made in the ‘indirect’ image of God…a derivative is how he described it.

    Which is confusing because that would mean creation materials are where we receive the image of God.

  18. August 26, 2009 9:44 pm

    BTW jbstarke, where are parts 2 & 3. I would be interested in reading them also.

Trackbacks

  1. Important Event: CBMW Panel on the Trinity « owen strachan
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