29.10.08

Trying to fathom how people can suggest Jesus is eternally subordinate to God

I haven't read through all the trinity stuff yet just reflecting a little on the basics. I understand how the incarnate Christ was obedient to the father God. I don't understand how the pre-creation and post-creation Christ is subordinate to the father. I know as a child that I derived from Christ sitting at the right hand of the father in Heaven, that perhaps God was more in charge and as a child I think I understood God before I understood Jesus. Perhaps 'understand' is the wrong word. Replace with 'had a relationship with'. This could have simply been down to my lack of appropriate education. I have now developed an understanding that Christ is not subordinate to God. I don't know quite how I've come to this conclusion. Perhaps I am just failing to understand quite what the ESS advocates are really saying (I need to do my reading) but it makes me feel uncomfortable - this complete obsession some theologians seem to have with a chain of command - it seems so worldly. I understand that through Jesus we see the father that dwells within him and the father or God became incarnate as Jesus the son- there is an equality in essence. I think it for the following reasons.

Isaiah 9:6 calls the Son the everlasting Father. Jesus is the Son prophesied about and there is only one God (Malachi 2:10; Ephesians 4:6), so Jesus is (equal to) God.

Colossians 2:9 proclaims that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus.

Jesus taught that He was the God. Jesus said to the Pharisees 'You neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also" (John 8:19). Jesus went on to say, "I said therefore unto you, if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24).

he in the verse was not in the original Greek showing that Jesus was really identifying Himself with the "I AM" of Exodus 3:14. "They understood not that he spake to them of the Father" (John 8:27). Jesus tried to tell them that He was God: the I AM, and that if they did not accept Him as God they would die in their sins.

In John, Jesus said "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30) "And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me." (12:45) and again in John 14:7 Jesus told His disciples, "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him." Upon hearing this statement, Philip requested, "Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us" (John 14:8). In other words, he asked that Jesus show them the Father and then they would be satisfied. Jesus' answer was, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake" (John 14:9-11).

Jesus said, "The Father is in me, and I in him" (John 10:38).

Jesus promised to be the Father of all overcomers (Revelation 21:6-7).

In John 14:18 Jesus said, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."
"I will not leave you as orphans" (NIV), or in other words - I will not leave you fatherless: I will come to you. Jesus promised that He would not leave His disciples fatherless and so he sends the Holy Spirit, the third beautiful aspect of the mysterious trinity.

Always learning and reflecting... excuse any inaccuracies and lack of technical terminology, fellow theologians...I'm just thinking out loud.

4 comments:

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rachel
You might also consider why Jesus speaks about sitting down on the Father's thrown after he conquered (Rev 3:21); and the significance of the "I am" language in Rev 1:17 and 22:13, where Christ identifies himself with God.
(I am not so sure that Rev 21:6-7 supports what you say re Christ being a 'Father' etc).
Overall it is hard to see how Revelation supports notions of Christ being subordinate for eternity! Indeed part of the point of the bride of the Lamb talk is that heaven is the reunion of Creator and creation: the bride is at one with the Lamb who is at one with the Father ... one might even go so far as to think of the Trinity including the church as a fourth member in the eternal mutual indwelling of Father Son and Holy Spirit.
Subordination is a sad limitation of vision of the purpose of God!

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Just quickly, on the submission of the Son to the Father you do need to be a bit more careful in your thinking / writing. Primarily to distinguish between 'Subordinationism' the heresy that the Holy Spirit or Son are of lesser being or status than the Father, and 'Modalism' which some of your language, though perhaps not thought, seems to tend to. All the churches that hold to the creeds, whether Orthodox, R.C., Anglican, Presbyterian etc would object to 'Jesus is the Father and the Father is the Son'. There is one God, so the Son is fully God without any bit 'missing', as is the Father and Holy Spirit. But there are also 3 persons which we musn't confuse. Thus the Son is NOT the Father or the Holy Spirit: that would be the modalist heresy of there being One God in one person who just changes roles / hats depending on whether he's feeling like being the Son, Spirit or Father.

Not sure a blog comment is the place to go much further! Try the Athanasian Creed for a (thorough!) statement of Biblical Trinitarian belief. Robert Reymond has also written a great book 'The Holy Trinity' which probably leads the field amongst those who would still hold to the Bible as being the Word of God. Though I warn you he will argue for the economic or relational submission of the Son, (as has been orthodox belief for 2000 years, though lately disputed by Moltmann and some Feminists ).

Hope that's of some help!
The wonders and mysteries of the nature of God are indeed profound!

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good-except God alone.

There are many such subordinate statements throughout the gospels and it is why early Unitarians, who were biblical literalists (the biblical critics came later) took a Reformation Arian view of John's gospel and a Unitarian view of the synoptic gospels.

Rachel said...

I understand the hypostoses are not to be confused and yet they share the same essence. The three in one ness is a mystery but I subscribe to the Nicene Creed as the best articulation of the trinity that the Church has been able to articulate to date.

Didn't mean to sound like a modalist. I also understand the economic subordination - that the incarnate Logos was obedient to the father but the eternal subordination of Jesus is something I feel uncomfortable about. The eternal subordination of Jesus has me imagine Jesus as a creature, something created by God, made after God but Christ was always there with the Holy Spirit.

It is also that the submission within the trinity idea is used to reinforce gender submission.

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