Some (Honestly) Bad Reformed Theology Defending Hierarchies

Some (Honestly) Bad Reformed Theology Defending Hierarchies July 24, 2013
C. Michael Patton literally has John Calvin looking over his shoulder.

One thing I like about C. Michael Patton is that he’s honest. He will write what many Reformed proponents think, but are reluctant to publicly affirm. Like, for instance, his post from earlier this month in which he posits that the Trinity is a hierarchy: God is on top, Christ is in the middle, and the Holy Spirit is on the bottom.

This is heresy, friends, albeit a widely popular heresy.

Patton writes:

While I don’t believe there is an ontological hierarchy (gradation of essence, or all that stuff I said above), I do believe there can be a hierarchy in person. In other words, one member of the Trinity can take on a different rank than another. I think we can all agree that at the incarnation, this hierarchy presented itself as Father, then Son, then Spirit. After all, even Christ said that the Father was greater than he was (John 14:28). This is sometimes called a “functional hierarchy.” This should not be too difficult to process, as we can see many analogies to this in our own world.

There, in the last sentence, you can see what leads Patton into error. To analogize the Godhead with the President of the United States (as he does in the next sentence) is wrongheaded — any analogy between the incomprehensible Godhead, particularly the trinitarian form thereof, and something earthly is predestined to lead you into error. (See what I did there?)

He goes on to write:

When it comes to the Holy Spirit, I believe the Holy Spirit is last on the divine authority totem pole. The Father sends the Son, the Son sends the Holy Spirit, and the Father is sent by none.

Ugh. A “divine authority totem pole”?!?

If you haven’t figured it out from that kind of language, let me make it perfectly clear: A trinitarian hierarchy provides theological defense for other hierarchies, like men over women, clergy over laity, master over slave, and king over subjects.

These ideas have been thoroughly debunked in many books, most notably:

By Jürgen Moltmann:

By Kevin Giles:

But don’t just take the words of modern theologians for it. Instead, read the most beautiful hymn ever written to the Trinity, the Athanasian Creed (6th century). Based on the theologies of Augustine and Athanasias, see how the ancient church understood all three persons of the Trinity to be absolutely equal in all things, both ontologically and functionally:

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;

Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.

For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.

But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.

The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.

The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.

And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.

As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.

And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;

And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;

And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord;

For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;

So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.

The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.

The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.

The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.

But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.

So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.

Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.

Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.

One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.

One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;

Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;

He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;

From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

and shall give account of their own works.

And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

So, dear friends, do not be deceived. The Trinity is not a hierarchy. Neither should the church nor the home be a hierarchy.

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  • Thanks for writing this, Tony. This very subject has come up several times lately in some online discussion in which I participate. Not only is is a heresy, it’s twisting scripture to justify bad behavior. A denial of the Resurrection, as Peter Rollins might put it.

  • tanyam

    But holy cow, what does the first line mean? “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith?”

    Or the last line. “This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.”

    Hard to pay attention to anything else in that hymn.

    • Pastor Chuck Smith

      No reason to be concerned. In ancient creeds or hymns when you see “catholic” (lowercase) it is a word derived from the Latin catholicus, from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning “universal.” This does not mean Catholic (uppercase for Roman Catholic Church). So hold the “catholic” faith means universal or accepted beliefs of the church stated in the creed — not Roman Catholic doctrine. Hope this helps.

      • tanyam

        I knew that. But am I the only one who is troubled to think that someone’s theological orthodoxy is what it takes “to be saved.” Just think how many of our ancesters have been a little off-plumb on the matter of the Trinity?

        • Marco Funk

          And then consider the thief on the cross who was saved by the very word of Jesus – did he have his trinitarianism properly hammered out?

        • You are not the only one. I thought the same thing when I read the first line.

    • Ric Shewell

      If we are saved by grace through faith alone, then what should that faith consist of?

      • tanyam

        Some would answer: trust. But what do you think? I can’t imagine the requirement is that you must wrap your head around the doctrine of the Trinity, without falling into error on one side or the other. Mind you, I’m not saying this isn’t the best possible articulation of the Trinity. I’m asking: what were our ancesters thinking?

        • Ric Shewell

          I’ve always seen the doctrine of the Trinity as protection from saying too much about God. I think you can see this in the poem. The doctrine of the Trinity keeps us from saying that there is a hierarchy, that God is 3 gods, or that the 3 are one in the same, etc. So in a weird way, we cannot be right about the Trinity (we cannot perfectly comprehend or articulate it), but we can avoid being wrong about the Trinity.

          And I agree with you, that cognitive assent to a complicated doctrine is not the linch pin of personal salvation. On the other hand, I do think that continual work and refining of our faith is necessary and has big implications to our salvation.

  • Jeremy K

    The CBMW put this in print via Elisabeth Elliot back in the 90s.

    “Instead, it is what I see as the arrangement of the universe and the full harmony and tone of Scripture. This arrangement is a glorious hierarchical order of graduated splendor, beginning with the Trinity, descending through seraphim, cherubim, archangels, angels, men, and all lesser creatures, a mighty universal dance, choreographed for the perfection and fulfillment of each participant.”

    You can still get the whole thing here:

    • James Matichuk

      Well done Jeremy K.

  • Daniel Mann

    Tony, You are assuming that there is something the matter with role distinctions. However, human thriving sometimes depends upon hierarchical structure. Take an orchestra conductor for example!

    And with your culturally conditioned assumption of radical equality you criticize the Bible. Would you also remove parent-child role distinctions?

    • Ric Shewell

      There is something wrong with role distinctions that are assumed intrinsic to the nature of the universe. And when people say that the Trinity is intrinsically hierarchical they use that as an excuse to say that other role assignments and hierarchies are intrinsic as well.

      I would also say that most moments of progress in history have been moments when hierarchies and role distinctions have been broken down. King and subjects, master and slaves, provider and homemaker, priest and parish, teacher and student, etc, etc. History seems to be bending towards a diffusion of authority. Is this good? I think so. I think God is pulling us towards this kind of future.

      • Some role distinctions are intrinsic to the universe.

        • Ric Shewell


      • Daniel Mann

        Would you rule out parent-child role distinctions? On the basis of what?

        • Ric Shewell

          As a society, we take away parental rights all the time. That is really progressive when you think about it. As a society, we do not say that creating a new life necessarily makes you a parent. That’s kind of mind blowing. In our society, if you create a child, you do not have to take care of it. If you do bad things, you can have your role taken from you. So, I guess we are saying that the parent role is not intrinsic, God-ordained, or inalienable. Wow.

          • Daniel Mann

            Ric, If the parents are not to have authority over their children, then this responsibility falls upon the State, and the State – think National Socialism and Communism – has a horrible tract record.

            As the wise Solomon pointed out, it is the parents who have the love and commitment towards their children that no one else will have. Consequently, they will provide the best nurture.

            I am actually shocked that so many young people have placed their hopes in the State! May God help us!

            • Ric Shewell

              Parents can have authority over their children, but not absolute authority. They can’t sell them to prostitution or use them as drug mules. We live in a world where we can take children away from rapist fathers and mothers. This is not something that we could have said 200 years ago. That’s progress. That’s a good thing. That’s a breakdown of absolute power and authority in the parent/child relationship.

              So who does the parent answer to? When I say “society” you interpret “state.” So when I say “public” you interpret “government.” If you vote and use public goods, then you my friend are a part of the State. So yes, parent’s answer to society. And we as a society have said that there are limits to parental power. And we will take away parental rights when it is necessary. Thank God!

              Now I agree that foster care and state run programs are not ideal! But they are preferable to many situations that children have suffered in under their biological parents. I don’t trust the state to raise the children of the future. I trust the people. I trust good people, inspired by God, to step up and create better programs, step up and foster children, step up and adopt children.

              God is working through the people. No one’s right to parenthood is inalienable. That is a good thing.

              • Daniel Mann

                Ric, I certainly agree with you that parental authority shouldn’t be absolute. However, I believe that only under the most egregious circumstances should the State have the right to override parental authority.

                However, now the balance is tilting strongly in the direction of the State. Home-schooling is under attack. This is predicated on the assumption that the State knows and can do what is best. This represents insipient totalitarianism – something we cannot afford to be near-sighted about.

                • aricclark

                  Rampant militarism, state secrecy, spying, disregard for rule of law… these things are the signs of totalitarianism. Recognizing that society has an interest in every child receiving a good education and Home-schooling is challenging to regulate to ensure high standards – that is rational democracy.

            • aricclark

              Parents do not always have the love and commitment towards their children that children deserve and require. That is a simple, if tragic fact observable in the high rates of abuse, abandonment, and neglect among families. You posit the “State” as the sole alternative. What about society? The church? Community? There are more ways than one to imagine how we collectively take responsibility for the welfare of children.

              And Solomon’s famous wisdom about parenthood was actually insanity. Any human being, parent or no, ought to have vehemently objected to the plan to cut the baby in half, so it would only work as a test of true parenthood if the world broke down neatly into binary categories of “parent” and “psychopath”.

              • Daniel Mann

                Aricclark, Any smart parent pursue the help of others, whether doctors, lawyers… However, it is another thing for the doctor or lawyer to come and IMPOSE his “help.”

                Who must have the last say of the children? The parents, unless there are criminal and egregious circumstance.

  • Jim Wood

    You’re not really the person to call something heresy. With the things you have claimed and currently preach, no, you’re no one to call anything someone else says heresy.

    • Rebecca Trotter

      Tony didn’t label it a heresy; he’s just reporting the results of a great deal of prayer, study and argument by the ancient Christian church. They are the ones who applied the label of heresy, not Tony.

      • PAUL RACK

        I think he did call it a heresy. And he’s right.

    • Ben Hammond

      He used the word in a classical sense — the way that it should be used. What does he teach that falls into that classical category?

      • Jim Wood

        Seriously? What doesn’t he teach that isn’t heresy? A man who has denied, derided, scoffed at, mocked, and questioned just about every tenet of Reformed theology and you have to ask what he has taught that is heresy?

        • Ben Hammond

          Well, the only historic heresy he says that he may be guilty of is denial of impassibility (though people like Moltmann nuance this in a unique way).

          “questioned just about every tenet of Reformed theology…”

          Ok — that helps me to understand where you are coming from. I use the historic definition of “heresy” (to be clear, I’m not trying to use the word “historic” as a clobber word against the way you are using it). I’m sure you are familiar with this, but the historic usage of the word is as a technical term that identifies those who don’t affirm the classic creeds that were created by the earlier councils in which the vast majority of the diverse church at the time was present. I don’t affirm or recognize additional definitions of heresy that have been created since the great schism. Does that mean that I think Reformed theology is wrong? Not necessarily. It just means that I don’t give it individual authority over being able to redefine how the term is used. That sort of undertaking would require the whole church to be present in the process, which at this point is really not possible.

          So, it sounds like we are using the same term, but not saying the same thing.

  • Rebecca Trotter

    It is rather mindboggling how people who claim that their theology is the most super faithful have so little understanding of the historical faith. The subordination of the son to the father is an old, much battled over heresy and in fact played a central role in the church’s east-west schism.

    One of the main proofs against hierarchies that I hold to is that hierarchies among humans depend on the goodness of the people involved to avoid descending into abuse and power-plays. God’s ways don’t depend on the goodness of humanity to work at all. Once introduced into the system, they have a power all their own. Since hierarchies depend on human goodness, they are self-evidently of man and not of God.

    The trinity as a relationship between equals is not only historically orthodox, it plays a vital role in illustrating an equality between people humanity has always viewed as unequal – parent and child, creator and helper, incarnate and spirit. This is exactly what all that first shall be last, servant to all, the least are as Christ stuff is about. In the orthodox trinity, we have a beautiful illustration of the heart of Christ’s teachings. To reject that and argue for hierarchy is nothing less than rejecting the heart of Jesus’s message in favor of “a way that seems right to a man”.

    • Daniel Mann

      1 Cor. 11:3 “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

      There are many compelling Scriptural arguments for role distinctions.

      • Rebecca Trotter

        Gee, I’ve never read that verse before! And you mean to tell me that there are others? (Deep sarcasm.)

        Proof texting is usually a very bad way of understanding scripture. And frankly, it’s insulting and ignorant to quote a verse at someone as if they weren’t aware of it and hadn’t thought and studied long and hard on the matter. The reality is that a faithful reading scripture can both support and argue against hierarchies between gender roles. So, you can proof text a few scriptures at me and I can make arguments back relying on scripture, context, history and the narrative of scripture. At the end, there’s an impasse. Neither of us are just ignoring or in violation of scripture. So there’s a choice to be made – will we embrace one understanding or the other?

        I have, after decades of careful study, prayer and walking with God chosen an understanding which I believe best reflects God’s ways as revealed in scripture. You have chosen to hang onto an understanding which is common to men across religions and has been the source of abuse and suffer for more people than it ever brought life to in practice. There are scripture verses which can be understood to back up your choice. I get that. But it’s not a necessary reading of scripture. Nor is the idea in the least bit uniquely or primarily a Christian one. So, quote away! But don’t think you’re making an actual, convincing argument. It’s not like I, and others who have embraced the uniquely Christian and radical notion of the full equality of all people aren’t already familiar with those clobber verses and haven’t already deal with them ourselves.

        • Daniel Mann

          Rebecca, Truly there are dangers in proof-texting – taking Scripture out of context. However, it would have been more constructive for you to respond, “Well, here’s how this verse is meant to be understood…” than to demonize any quotation of verses.

          Instead, you appeal to your own experience and the experience of the church as maximally authoritative. However, I think that there are far greater dangers if these become our authority!

          • Rebecca Trotter

            I made no claims to my own authority. You have chosen one way of interpreting the bible and I have embraced another. I didn’t bother providing an exegesis on the verse you quoted because I it’s highly improbable that you haven’t already heard an egalitarian exploration of the verse/issue. Which is what’s maddening about having a verse quoted at me by someone who is a complimentarian. Obviously I know the verse and like many others have studied the matter myself. What is the goal? Am I going to be shocked into “right”thinking to discover that a sentence like this is in scripture? Is it for the benefit of others who will see it and say, “well then – case closed! I guess he showed her” .

            But if you really want a response to 1 Corinthians 11:3 (and Ephezianw 5:23), here’s what I wrote about it a couple of months ago:


            Now, if you have some explanation for why the verse supports hierarchy (as opposed to, say, pointing to the example men should follow for helping their wives come out from under the oppression which has been common to women through out humanity), that’s fine. But just throwing a verse out, unexamined, as if it obviously refutes those you disagree with is crap.

            • Daniel Mann

              Rebecca, Here’s why I charged you with appealing to your own experience:

              “I have, after decades of careful study, prayer and walking with God
              chosen an understanding which I believe best reflects God’s ways as
              revealed in scripture.”

              After rereading this, I’d say that my charge wasn’t accurate, and I’m sorry about that. However, it does sound like you are quite committed to your understanding. If there is room for some discussion, I’d be glad to read your paper and get back to you.

              • Rebecca Trotter

                Daniel, I have to be honest with you. The issue of the unique subordination of women is something which I generally do not allow myself to get into discussions about because I have a very hard time being decent in them. As a writer, I sometimes get messages from mostly young women asking about specific bible verses pertaining to women. Always, they explain how they are trying to follow and honor God and understand these verses as somehow demonstrating God’s love for them. But over and over, they keep coming back to a question they can’t shake: “why does God hate me?” Sometimes they specifically say, “I wish God hadn’t made me a woman” because trying to follow what they had been taught God requires of women is killing their spirit. It breaks my heart because I used to feel exactly the same way.

                But as I found the courage to embrace other ways of understanding these verses, I was granted an enormous peace – the sort of peace that only God can bring to us. I started understanding that the enormous pain I and other women feel under the teaching of the unique subordination of women didn’t come from my rebellion. It is actually the rebellion of the Holy Spirit in me refusing to accept a teaching that I wasn’t made for. Along with peace came freedom. The freedom that Jesus came to give us. Freedom to be the person God created me to be.

                So when someone tries to explain to me how the old ideas about women’s position in Christianity are right and biblical, it sounds like someone trying to convince me to go back into a soul-killing, painful prison that God set me free from. And I have a hard time being decent and gracious about it. So the truth is, there really isn’t room for discussion on the issue with me. I am very committed to my understanding because through it, God gave me peace to follow him in freedom and wholeness.

                • Guest

                  Rebecca, Thanks for your candid response. I am grieved that for you and others like you interpret the Bible’s hierarchical male/female, husband/wife role distinctions provide the question, “why does God hate me.”

                  I’m wondering whether we must all be head-honcho in order to think that God love me. Would this also pertain to being a pastor or an elder? Must the church rid itself of all role distinctions so that everyone might conclude “God loves me?”

                  Perhaps this is the way of the world? I worked for years as a probation officer and resented the fact that I was passed over for supervisor. Finally, I got the position and for the next six years I was absolutely miserable.

                  I had erroneously equated social rank with my value as a person. I also equated my rank with the degree that God loved me.

                  Please understand that I too regard it as tragic when Christian women lament, “”I wish God hadn’t made me a woman,” but I wonder if this is because of the biblical role of the woman or because of the negative appraisal society has placed on this role.

                  • Rebecca Trotter

                    Yeah, no. TOTALLY not the issue. Hierarchy, social status power and control are the play things of fallen humanity and unfit for Christians to take worth or identity from. The Spirit in me certainly isn’t concerned with such things. But it is very concerned with replacing the enemy’s kingdom ways with God’s Kingdom ways. Christianity and it’s unique claim of radical equality of all humans – regardless of class, gender, ethnicity or role is what I choose to embrace over the sort of oppression, suffering and abuse which is the hallmark of societies created under human regimes built on hierarchy, power and control. My life didn’t change in any outer way when I rejected the common human notion of women as uniquely subordinate. It wasn’t a concern for or reaction to my personal circumstances which made me miserable. It was the idea that the God I love wasn’t on my side. That his desire for me was to be dependent on the goodness of men and for me to perpetuate human habits which have never, ever in all of human history created the sort of peace, righteousness and loving kindness which ought to be the hallmark of God’s Kingdom. Rather than try to explain away the expressed pain the teaching of the unique subordination of women causes them, why not actually listen and consider the implications of a supposedly godly teaching causing such distress for people who are genuinely and fervently seeking God? “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” was Jesus’s claim. Did he not know what he was talking about? Was he lying? Women who love God rejecting the very gender and feeling hated by God is about as heavy a burden and as bad a fruit as there is. Please do not add to the burden by placing the blame for it on women rather than listening and learning from their heart felt words.


    Yes. You can’t get hierarchy out of perichoresis. And hierarchy isn’t the same as having role distinctions. And radical equality is clearly what God intends in the scriptures. From the Torah on God opposes, or at best grudgingly tolerates, kings and other hierarchical institutions. Jesus talks about leadership not hierarchically but in terms of service.

    I find Ken Wilber’s use of the term “holarchy” more descriptive of the way all wholes are parts of other more inclusive wholes. That jettisons the power baggage of “hierarchy.”

  • Clearly Mr. Patton does not understand the logical inferences made in his hierarchical structure. He is either confused about the ontological structure of the Trinity, or he doesn’t understand the difference between ontology and function. In either case the result is creating three gods. Whooops! Though, I am sure he doesn’t understand the “whooops”.

  • After reading Patton’s post again, I can’t say I really agree with the idea of a functional hierarchy. I also think the wording of a “rank” structure was poorly chosen given his ending seemed to point more toward the fact that the Spirit serves in humility to testify of Christ and point people to Jesus. Whether this be done through conversion or conviction, I think that’s something we can all get behind.

    The thing I don’t understand about this post:
    “If you haven’t figured it out from that kind of language, let me make it perfectly clear: A trinitarian hierarchy provides theological defense for other
    hierarchies, like men over women, clergy over laity, master over slave,
    and king over subjects.”

    I’ve grown up in church all my life and this is the first time I’ve ever even heard of a view like Patton’s. But I’ve always heard complementarianism and the Pastors shepherding the Church.

    Before I keep going, I will say that any abuse of authority is anti-gospel. The idea that all women submit to all men is just bonkers. The idea that all laity submit to all clergy is just as crazy.

    That said, one of the most beautiful examples, and one of the reasons complementarianism rings true for me, is that even though Christ had the same dignity, value, and worth and the Father, Jesus submitted His will to the Father’s. And how the Spirit doesn’t seek glory for Himself, but to point people to Christ and glorify the name of the Son. Yes, when we glorify the Son because of the work of the Spirit, we do indeed give glory to the Spirit. But it’s the selfless nature that is important.

    That’s why when Scripture says for a wife to submit to her husband, it doesn’t really shock me. It’s not making a claim about her worth or value. It’s commanding her to be like Christ in that submission. The same for the way a husband is supposed to treat his wife: with honor and respect, not abusing the position of being head of the home, but rather laying down his life for her.

    I realize I’m probably in the minority on this view on this blog, and that you’ve probably heard all of this before and still disagree. No love loss there. What I want to make clear is that the roles laid out in Ephesians are supposed to be roles of submission because of what Christ has done and modeled for us, not roles of power to be sought by either gender.

    The moment gender roles become about power, we don’t understand them in light of the gospel.

    Grace and peace.

  • Paul Roberts

    Jesus is refereed to as the second Adam. This would be a reference to the idea that Adam was created out of dust as a new creation in the story. Jesus was given birth to by Marry, but was he “of” Mary? We know that a child gains chromosomes from the father and the mother. Did Jesus get half of his chromosomes from Mary? If so where did the other half come from? Supplied by the Father? Was it more of a holy insemination, and not being “found with child”? Science and the reality of God cannot clash right? So, Jesus, it would seam from the term “second Adam” would be a new set of DNA. Not one passed on with the curse of the first Adam. Death was not in Jesus DNA, but instead he submitted to death, even death on a cross. So the “uncreated” son was a new creation, and we are promised to be a new creation in him as well, one that death does not have final claim over. Sometimes the vocabulary used to describe Jesus…Father…Ghost fails to represent the reality of who Origin The Life Giver is. Hierarchy is one of those terms. It is true that it does not best represent the “Trinity”, but to discount submission in the mix is to miss the heart of God. The All became nothing for those that were only part. The I AM became the temporary. The All Over And Everywhere set aside the right to rule out of love and tells us to do the same, to not lord authority (characteristic to the understanding of ancient discipleship) over others but to serve (which is submission). And how many people cringe over the term submission? Jesus did not do what was in him alone, but only what the Father was doing, for what the Father was doing Jesus was doing also. In that he submitted to the Father not to choose a route of self indulgence, as the temptations tried to accomplish, but service and submission.

  • Daniel Mann

    1 Cor. 11:3 “Now I want you to realize that the
    head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of
    Christ is God.”

  • Mark Kirschieper

    I partially agree with Tony’s concepts. I do agree that there is absolutely not a Divine Trinitarian hierarchy. However, we must not confuse hierarchy with ontology. The reason there can’t be a Trinitarian hierarchy, is because the three persons have one ontology. However, mortal humanity DOES have a sequential ontology. Adam, the husband, was created first (biology unknown), Then, the wife Eve was created, which enabled the first “marriage” (Gen. 2:24). Too often the word “hierarchy” is associated with negative ideas of power, and control. However, unless we toss out Genesis 2:7-25, and 1 Timothy 2:13, we must admit that there is a human sequential ontology (creation order). In both Genesis 2:24, and 1 Timothy 2:13, the husband is the “founder” of the marriage, just as Christ is the “founder” of the Church universal. This does not mean that the husband is the boss of the wife, any more than Christ is the boss, of the Church. [Also, in my unconventional paradigm, a husband can be a biological male or female, and likewise, for a wife.] Ephesians 5:21-33 defines the spiritual responsibilities of husbands and wives, without using any of the Greek nouns for biological form. In Ephesians, we also again see Christ, as founder and edifier, of the Church. Therefore, Divine hierarchy no; human creation order/role differentiation, yes.

  • Joshua Whipps

    What makes you think Michael is Reformed?

  • Laura Lee

    There is no love apart from submission. God the Son submitted Himself to God the Father and thus was entirely sanctified. I think many are not honest with themselves about their pride, sin, and rebellion. They despise authority and don’t want to submit equating God’s authority with tyranny out of their own darkened souls. God’s authority is love… and refusal to submit is rebellion, pride, and sin. Jesus reverently submitted to God the Father. To refuse to do so is the pride, sin, and rebellion of Satan. God sanctifies with His Spirit as we are in right relationship with Him… submitted in love. We are not God’s equals. We are His subordinates… and we are lost in sin, pride, and rebellion until we humbly submit. Search your soul… because this article is not one of humble submission in knowing God’s Love.

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