More on the Calvinist Complementarian Divide on the Trinity

More on the Calvinist Complementarian Divide on the Trinity June 9, 2016

After yesterday’s post about the Complementarian Civil War on the Trinity, all I can say is, “Well that escalated quickly.” I received numerous messages on social media and several emails, so I thought I’d post a follow up:

First, when I say “Homoianism” I refer to the view that was common in the 350s and 60s that stressed the subordination of the Son to the Father and declared that the Son is like the Father “according to the Scriptures,” that is, it emphasizes solely the economic subordination of the Son rather than utilizing ontological language and immanent relationships of equality. Read the Second Creed of Sirmium for an account of a Homoian Creed and R.P. Hanson’s The Search for the Christian God chap. 18 for more on Homoianism.

Second, the book by Bruce Ware and John Starke, One God in Three Persons sets out their understanding of this Complementarian view. Ware and Starke have both written to me privately to stress their acceptance of the term homoousion and their deliberate intent to avoid the language of “subordination,” both of which I affirm and applaud.  In fact, Ware prefers the term “eternal authority-submission relationship” over “eternal functional subordination,” though I’m not convinced it is that much of an improvement. Even so, to reiterate, they are definitely not Arians! For more, see Stephen Holmes’s review of Ware and Starke for some robust criticism and Fred Sanders’s review for a bit more sympathy.

Third, I remain concerned of two things: (a) That the notion of authority and/or hierarchy is still being applied by proponents to the Trinity which potentially makes the God-head a Tri-archy rather than a Tri-unity, and I don’t think this can be squared with a Nicene theology; and (b) The whole debate is motivated by gender issues and not solely by a careful appropriation of biblical materials and their reception among the Nicene Fathers.

Fourth, I believe that someone from CBMW will be providing a response to Trueman and Goligher in the near future which will either shed some light on this issue or else constitute a counter-offensive and the civil war I predicted will escalate and continue.

Update: Denny Burk gives his own responses and includes the responses of Grudem and Ware.

Watch this space!

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