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Michael Haykin – The Trinity and the Church Fathers

December 17, 2009

Dr. Michael Haykin was kind enough to sit down with me  and tackle some tough issues concerning how the early Church Fathers, in particular the Cappadocian Fathers and Augustine, understood the relationship among the Persons of the Godhead.  This is not a light topic, but it is an important and heated one on seminary campuses and theological societies.  The video is about 8 minutes long.

[Update: Spelling error has been corrected for all of you who noticed.]

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2009 2:30 am

    Very good!

    • John Starke permalink*
      December 18, 2009 2:36 am

      Thanks, Steve. I appreciate your comment.

  2. Sue permalink
    December 18, 2009 8:57 am

    Haykin argues,

    1. the eternal generation of the Son IMPLIES an element of the authority of the Father over the Son

    2. the very fact that the Son is the one who is sent into the world and that he comes at the bidding of the Father IMPLIES the authority of the Father over the Son.

    I claim rather, that Augustine, De Trinitate iv:20, affirms that the Son is equal in authority to the Father, since he writes,

    because He was not sent in respect to any inequality of authority (potestas=exousia), or substance, or anything that in Him was not equal to the Father; but in respect to this, that the Son is from the Father, not the Father from the Son; for the Son is the Word of the Father, which is also called His wisdom.

    So Augustine argues that while the Son is from the Father, and is sent by the Father he is not unequal in either substance OR authority.

    How does Haykin account for this discrepancy?

    • John Starke permalink*
      December 18, 2009 10:24 am

      Haykin would say you are misunderstanding Augustine. The context of that quote, which I have argued before, is that Augustine is arguing about essence, not Person. You must take into account that Augustine believes and argues for equal in essence – so that the Essence of the Son is equal in all things – even authority. The Son has all the authority as God. But there is a difference in Person. This is an entirely different category which you fail to distinguish.

  3. Sue permalink
    December 18, 2009 3:15 pm

    You mean to say that there is an authority of essence and an authority of function and the Son is equal to God in his authority of essence but not in his authority of function.

    So then the woman is equal to man in her authority of essence but not in her authority of function.

    Doesn’t this mean that the woman is not allowed to function in accordance with her essence, while the man is allowed to function in accordance with his essence.

    I would understand this about Christ, that he emptied himself and became human. He voluntarily gave up his authority of function to humble himself and become mortal and die on the cross for humanity. I am dubious that God designed woman to imitate this role of being sent by the man to suffer and die.

    I don’t see how the kenosis can be made to apply to woman specifically as her function, and not to man as his function.

  4. Sue permalink
    December 18, 2009 3:28 pm

    I also wonder if you could point me to any writing or resources which outlines these two different kinds of authority. In this video, Haykin contrasts authority and submission.

    But logically, you seem to be saying that:

    man has ontological authority and functional authority
    woman has ontological authority and functional submission

    Would this be an accurate way to represent the complementarian teaching? And is this presented in a doctrinal fashion by any theologian? Thanks.

    • John Starke permalink*
      December 18, 2009 4:32 pm

      No I am not applying this to men and women. Men and women are not the same essence in exactly the same way as the Father and Son are. We are created in his image.
      I would say that men and women are equal in value and worth in our essence – since we are both created beings in the image of God. We simply have functional differences. But God is the same essence in a way the people are not. Peter, Paul, and James are not the same essence with each other as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are with each other.
      I also would not hold to any sort of kenotic understanding of the Person of Christ – in authority or essence. He “added” on human nature to his Personhood. There is no subtraction at the incarnation. I want to be careful and not blur the distinctions between his divine nature and human nature. There are things that are true of one and not of the other. But they have the same Person in the eternal Son where he remains God.

  5. Sue permalink
    December 18, 2009 9:10 pm

    I want to be able to explain what complementarians believe in a fair way. Would this be accurate?

    1. The Son has equal authority to the Father in his essence, but does not have equal authority to the Father in his function.

    2. Women do not have equal authority to men in either their essence or their function.

    3. While the Son is equal to the Father in authority in his essence, women are not equal to men in authority in their essence.

    (I thought you said that women were equal to men in authority in their essence, but now I forget.)

    4. Therefore, the relationship between the Son and Father is not comparable to the relationship between men and women with respect to authority.

    Are these accurate statements? (If so, how is the essence of women different in authority? What characteristics are women missing in their essence to bear authority?)

    • John Starke permalink*
      December 18, 2009 9:34 pm

      Sue-
      The Son and the Father are one in that they are ONE GOD. Same essence. The essence has no disparity in power or worth. Yet, among their Persons, there is a relationship of authority and submission. At the level of Person, there are properties that pertain peculiarly to one Person that do not pertain to the other.

      In a way that is analogous – women and men are equal in worth. I don’t know how to compare them in essence because they are not “equal” in the same way that the Persons among the Godhead are. They have equal dignity in that they are created in God’s image. They have equal worth, etc. They are not the same essence in the way God is the same, however. That is unique to the Godhead.

      The difference between men and women in the home and in the church has nothing to do with human essence (as far as I can tell). But rather, God ordained that in the home and in the church (strictly), he has put the authority in the hands of men. I would not word points 2-4 the way you did.

  6. Sue permalink
    December 19, 2009 4:23 am

    The Son and the Father are one in that they are ONE GOD. Same essence. The essence has no disparity in power or worth.

    Would you agree then with Augustine that in essence there is no disparity in authority between the Father and the Son?

    But, in essence, you do believe that there is a disparity between men and women with respect to authority?

    The difference between men and women in the home and in the church has nothing to do with human essence (as far as I can tell).

    Are you saying that the difference between men and women in the home and church is not related to their design?

    But rather, God ordained that in the home and in the church (strictly), he has put the authority in the hands of men.

    Are you saying here that authority is something that God gives to men but it is not related to their design? Do you mean to say that authority and submission are not related to the design of men and women?

    • John Starke permalink*
      December 19, 2009 4:38 am

      I think its pretty clear what I’m saying. You are beginning to twists things. Men and women are equal in dignity before God because they are created in the image of God. It is God’s design for men and women to have a structure of authority and submission in the home and in the church. This has nothing to do with the dignity or worth of the gender.
      Would you agree then with Augustine that in essence there is no disparity in authority between the Father and the Son?
      This is no disparity in essence at all in any shape. The difference between the two lie in their Personhood.

  7. Sue permalink
    December 19, 2009 6:39 am

    John,

    I’m sorry. I do acknowledge that you think that women are of equal worth and value and dignity. But this is not quite the same as being “equal in essence.”

    It is God’s design for men and women to have a structure of authority and submission in the home and in the church.

    Would this be accurate? Are you saying that women in their essence and by God’s design have equal capacity to bear authority in all situations, home, work and Bible teaching – if there are no men around.

    But God has designed the relationship between men and women so that men bear authority over women, and women do not bear authority in the presence of a male in which she is in a headship relationship?

    Would this be true to what you believe? Is it the relationship that of authority and submission that is designed by God? Women are designed by God to bear authority – they can be the leader in gov’t. or a single mother, or an executive or a university president or the head of a women’s missionary society – but they cannot bear authority in relationship to a man that they are in a relationship with.

  8. December 20, 2009 7:04 am

    John,

    Are women “equal worth and value” to God or to men?

  9. December 20, 2009 7:12 pm

    John,

    I think what is missing in your presentation is what is meant by “different by design.” Does this mean that women are not designed to bear authority?

    As we saw, Christ is the same as the Father in his design, but women are diferent from men in their design. What does this difference consist of? Are you teaching that men are designed for authority and women are not? Or are you only saying that the relationship ordains differences that are not associated with our design? I think you need to reach some clarity on this. I honestly do not know how to explain what you believe in a short paragraph without appearing contradictory.

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