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Tinkering with the Trinity

Thomas Whitley

That is the accusations that some evangelicals are making against other evangelicals.

Scholars Say Evangelicals Tinkering with the Trinity“An Evangelical Statement on the Trinity” says a generation of conservative Christian scholars is promoting “subordinationism,” the notion that God the Father is in charge of the Trinity, while Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit have subordinate roles.

Scholars at the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood often apply Christ’s “eternal submission” to family relationships. Just as the Son is coequal with yet subordinate to the Father, they say, woman is created equal to man but has a subordinate role in the home and church.

Not being a Trinitarian I don't have a dog in the fight, so to speak, but am quite fascinated by the nature of the argument. Both sides have precedent for their views and both see their side as being "biblical," whatever that actually means. One sentence really struck me, though:

“Further, the attempt to ignore the Holy Spirit and forge some sort of corresponding relationship to human gender out of the incarnational, metaphorical designations of ‘father’ and ‘son’ is at best logic fault and at worst heterodox.”

"Heterodox" here is clearly as opposed to "orthodox." Thus, what we really have here is a power struggle to determine who gets to speak definitively about the Trinity. We should also be asking who wins and who loses in this contestation. What is won? What is lost? To be sure, today I am looking at this situation through an academic lens and not a theological one and some will say that I have "missed the point" or that this is not a power struggle but is genuinely only about theology, but that perspective barely scratches the surface.

For the theological debate is, on both sides, grounded in a very real and mundane issue, that of gender roles. One is pushing for equality through their interpretation of the Trinity and the other is pushing for a gender hierarchy through their interpretation of the Trinity. The theological language merely serves as window dressing for what is really at stake.