The doctrine of the Trinity has been the cause of much theological controversy over the centuries. In the fourth century, a preacher named Arius argued that Jesus was less than God the Father. In response, the council of Nicaea developed a comprehensive statement of faith upon which subsequent doctrine and theology has been measured for centuries. The Nicene Creed affirmed the divinity of Jesus and the co-equal, co-eternal nature of members in the Trinity.
For centuries, Christians sang a hymn that affirmed this creed.Tantum Ergo Sacramenetum was written by St. Thomas Aquinas and was part of the communion celebration. Two verses read:
"Procendenti eb utroque,
camper sit laudation."
"Proceeding from each other,
Equal may they be praised." *
From early on, theologians set up no hierarchical pyramid of authority within the Trinity. Yet, in recent years, evangelicals have reshaped the accepted teachings of the Trinity, importing hierarchy—the very issue the early church worked to eradicate! Here is what one scholar says:
"In his new book, Jesus and the Father: Modern Evangelicals Reinvent the Doctrine of the Trinity (Zondervan, 2006), Giles shows how a whole generation of conservative evangelicals has embraced a new-fangled version of the ancient Trinitarian heresy of subordinationism. They do not hide their motives. They are determined to see in God what they wish to see in humanity: a subordination of role or function that does not compromise (they insist) an essential equality of being. Therefore, they teach that just as woman is created equal to man but has a subordinate role at home and in church, so the Son of God is coequal with the Father in being or essence but has a subordinate role in the work of salvation and in all eternity. They even think—quite mistakenly, as Giles shows—that this is what the Bible and Christian orthodoxy have always taught."—Phillip Cary (PHD Yale University), professor of philosophy at Eastern University, St. Davids, PA.
Concerned about such developments, evangelicals from both sides of the gender conversation stand together in publishing "An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity," written by William David Spencer in consultation with Aída Besançon Spencer, Mimi Haddad, Royce Gruenler, Kevin Giles, I. Howard Marshall, Alan Myatt, Millard Erickson, Steven Tracy, Alvera Mickelsen, Stanley Gundry, Catherine Clark Kroeger, and other theologians, exegetes, philosophers, and church historians.
You too are invited to add your name in support of "An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity" by signing at www.TrinityStatement.com/sign. Stand with us and help us hold up the measuring stick, crafted so faithfully by early church leaders, to this new doctrine.
Translation courtesy of Dorothy Irvin.