Giles about Letham's ESS (Eternal Subordination of the Son).

On Christ’s Nature

'...Letham argues that the human nature of Christ demands His eternal submission. He reasons that if Christ was subordinated in taking flesh to become man, as all agree, He must be subordinated eternally because He continues in a hypostatic union to be God and man. In this argument Letham fails to make the theologically important distinction between the subordinate, suffering, and humiliated incarnate Son on earth and the exalted, glorified, and triumphant Son now reigning as Lord. This contrast between the two epochs in the ministry of the one Christ is a fundamental of orthodox Christology, possibly most helpfully developed in the Reformed distinction between Christ’s “state of humiliation” in the incarnation on earth and “His state of exaltation” in heaven as the reigning Lord of the universe.

What this distinction makes clear is that in returning to heaven as God and man, the Son’s divine nature was not subordinated in any way because of His human nature; rather His human nature was exalted so that as God and man the Son could rule as omnipotent God. The united voice of the New Testament states that after His resurrection and exaltation, the Son is no longer the “submissive Son,” the second Adam, who obeys the Father to win our salvation, but the Lord and head of the universe. Letham seems to miss this idea completely in this unfortunate digression in his book.'

(Kevin Giles)

It will be interesting to look at the trinity at college, which is a module I get to study soon. As an open evangelical college, we seek to be open to lots of different theological thoughts on matters but are then encouraged to wrestle with scholarly opinions and make up our own minds - no mean feat.

I know that there are lots of opinions about the trinity and the relations between the persons of the Godhead and it is the reason why many people have been brought to faith by the way in which God has spoken to them through 'The Shack', which has also received a mixed press, largely negative, in conservative evangelical churches because of how Young presents the perichoresis within the trinity. We are still attempting to fathom the mystery of the trinity, despite the Council of Nicea.

I understand Giles better than I understand Grudem. I have tried hard to comprehend the argument put forward by Bruce and Ware but it just makes my brain ache.

I am aware that PaulaFether did some work on this debate, which i hope to return to, if ever I get to write about the relations in the trinity.

Apart from Grudem and Ware and George Knight III, are there any theologians who argue that because Jesus is somehow eternally subordinate (is he?), women should be subordinate to men? Are there any other theologians whom I might find more convincing and less difficult to follow than Grudem, Ware and Knight?

For more on this debate look here


Rod said...

I cannot think of anyone beyond the ones you mention. You won't find any more that are convincing because their argument just is not convincing. A person could easily slip into an Arianism with their logic, where Christ is just a human. But their theological mistake is they all start with a philosophical view of God's power, making it incapable within the Godhead for God to be self-giving and self-humiliating by God's own nature. But I think Scripture says otherwise.

Michael F. Bird said...

Rachel, me and my colleague Robert Shillaker have an exchange with Kevin Giles in the next issue of Trinity Journal where we discuss this debate. Our contention is that the Son's eternal functional subordination to the Father is biblical and theologically sound (the Son is eternally the Son) though we prefer to speak of the Son's "obedient self-distinction from the Father" rather than use the language of subordination. However, we point out that applying Trinitarian relations to human relations is misguided and inappropriate. Our essays are, in effect, calling down a pox on both Giles and Grudem.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Very interesting - emm...on both their houses. This could be just what i need to navigate myself more smoothly through this debate, for always aware of my baggage, I have been unable to fully engage with the argument because I quickly become suspicious about what motivates its rationale ie its application to gender relations to the detriment of women in practice.

I would very much like to get hold of a copy of your article, if possible.

Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Nick Norelli said...

I'm with Mike on this one. I can agree with almost everything that he and Shillaker said in their last article on the subject in the Trinity Journal. I'm in the unique position of agreeing in part with both sides. I think that Grudem/Ware/Letham are correct about the Trinity yet wrong about gender roles. I think that Giles is correct about gender roles yet wrong about the Trinity. In the end I have to echo Mike's comment that "applying Trinitarian relations to human relations is misguided and inappropriate."

David Ould said...

thanks Michael. "obedient self-distinction" is helpful.

Thomas Renz said...

I am also with Michael Bird on this one and shall try to look at the Trinity Journal essay(s), once I am closer to a library that stocks them!

Rachel Marszalek said...

Yes, I am hoping to get hold of the trinity article myself, let me know if you have any joy.

Thanks for dropping by Thomas.


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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions