For the past two decades, evangelical theologians have debated over one specific aspect of the relationship between members of the Trinity. One group insists that the Father is eternally the supreme member of the Trinity, necessarily and always possessing authority over the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are thus subordinate to him. The other view contends that the Son eternally possesses equal authority with the Father, but that for the period of his earthly ministry, he voluntarily became subject to the Father’s will. Similarly differing views are held regarding the authority of the Holy Spirit, although the discussion has not dealt extensively with the status of the third person. Both parties agree that all three persons are fully deity, and thus equal in what they are. Biblical, historical, philosophical and theological arguments have been presented on both sides, without reaching agreement. Whether or not the subordination itself is eternal, some have begun to wonder whether the debate over it might be.
There can be no denying that we have starkly opposing doctrines of the Trinity. Dr. Grudem and Dr. Ware argue on the basis of creaturely analogies for a hierarchically ordered Trinity where the Father rules over the Son, claiming this is historical orthodoxy and what the church has believed since AD 325. I argue just the opposite. On the basis of scripture, I argue that the Father and the Son are coequally God; thus the Father does not rule over the Son. This is what the church has believed since AD 325. You could not have two more opposing positions. There is no middle ground.
Etienne Gilson spoke of medieval theology as an attempt to build great “cathedrals of the mind,” mental constructions meant to bring glory to God and to inspire worship as soaring stone cathedrals across Europe have since the same time period. Like any architectural achievement, these mental cathedrals brought together the many pieces of Christian doctrine into coherent and often beautiful structures of thought, building idea upon idea until great theological and philosophical systems emerged from scriptural foundations. This architectural analogy implies something important—it is rarely possible to shift the ground floor of a building without the entirety of the construct tumbling down. Only with great caution and preparation, whereby new supports are carefully constructed before the old are removed, can such a change go smoothly. Unfortunately, evangelical theology finds itself today in a situation where a great shift in a foundational doctrine of Christian theology has occurred—in the doctrine of the Trinity. This shift threatens several important Christian teachings and compromises the basic orientation of Christian ethics. As complementarian theologians increasingly speak of the eternal functional subordination of the Son (hereafter EFS), they move a central pillar of the cathedral of Christian doctrine, unaware that such a change could bring down the entire edifice of Christian theology.
St. Luke tells us that the women who followed Jesus to the cross “were beating their breasts and wailing for him” (Luke 23:27 NRSV). Some feminist and womanist theologians still wail at the sight of the cross—they reject traditional theories of atonement that regard the torture and death of an innocent man as a good intended by God. Many feminists and womanists find God’s saving activity hidden beneath this senseless and tragic brutality. Our goal in the present article is to analyze what feminist and womanist theologians have to say about the cross of Jesus, and from this, to examine our understanding of God’s saving activity in light of their helpful critique.
The doctrine of the Trinity is the primary doctrine of the Christian faith. It expresses our distinctive Christian understanding of God. Sadly, many contemporary evangelicals are inadequately informed on this doctrine, and the evangelical community is deeply and painfully divided on this matter. In seeking to promote unity among evangelicals by establishing what is to be believed about our triune God, I outline in summary what I conclude is the historic orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and then provide a biblical and theological commentary on my summary in a second and longer article, which follows.
Is there a way forward beyond the dominant complementarian discourse at this nexus where a predominantly white North American evangelical Christianity has met racial and ethnic others, especially East Asians in the contemporary milieu?
Hispanic marriage is all about tradition. Generation after generation, we honor the traditions passed down to us. To question them would be to dishonor our culture, our family, our identity. But what if a pattern is wrong? What if it’s not the pattern our designer wants us to follow?
Every fall, I pick apples alongside many Americans. For the last few years, I’ve been fortunate to go to the orchard with my nieces. We pick apples, drink cider, eat apple crisp, go on hayrides—and we take dozens of pictures to document the fun! On one such outing a few years ago, I had an epiphany: I pick apples to relax with my friends and family, but apple picking is the back-breaking work of many immigrant Latinxs in this country, particularly those without formal education and/or legal documentation.
Recently, someone asked my thoughts on racial segregation in the US church on Sunday mornings: “How will we ever move forward together, as a unified church, if people of color don’t forgive us for the past?”
It’s Thursday and I am four hours from home at my daughter, Shauna’s, house. I sit at my computer with my four-month-old grandson, Henry, on my lap.
While he grabs at the keypad I search the web for the most recent updates on the situation in Darfur. I find only bad news: escalated violence has led to another major withdrawal of international aid workers and supplies, leaving hundreds of thousands of refugees without food, water, blankets.