Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Extent of the Subordination within the Trinity


***This paper was originally submitted for the course Systematic Theology 1 at Central Seminary in Minneapolis, MN. The footnotes for this paper are not available online. Information within the footnotes is, however, valuable to the argument proposed within this paper. If you would like a copy of the original paper in PDF, including footnotes, please email the author.***

Few doctrines, within all of theology, are as difficult to understand as the doctrine of the Trinity; however, the doctrine of the Trinity, within the minds of most theologians and believers, is one which has been settled for centuries. A number of Evangelicals have come to question whether the orthodox understanding of the Trinity is truly orthodox. Does Scripture allow and support for the Trinity to be subordinate in order and function? Does subordination of order and function necessarily mean that the equality among the godhead is not true equality? The questions regarding the relationship of the Trinity, asked within modern theology, could stretch for pages upon pages. However, one question and its answer far outweigh the thought and concern poured into the debate: what is the temporal extent of the subordination within the Trinity?

The answer to the question of the extent of the subordination within the Trinity is a debate which has generated a great deal of discussion within modern Evangelicalism. This debate has called into question the orthodoxy of both views of subordinationism: eternal and temporal. Furthermore, neither party shows any clear interaction with the opposing view's arguments. In the pages to follow, these opposing viewpoints will be examined, and their most significant arguments will be tested according to the Scriptures.

One area of differentiation between the two arguments, especially the argument of the most prominent debater, Kevin Giles, asserts that theologians most turn to the authority of tradition because of the stalemate that has developed from the differing interpretations of Scripture. As certain as this stalemate may be, no substitution can be made for the authority of Scripture within this argument. The historical understanding of the church in relationship to the subordination of the Trinity is significant and will be examined; yet the traditional understanding of the church cannot be the final arbiter in this debate. Scripture, and its careful interpretation, must be the primary basis upon which we answer this question.

The arguments to follow must be limited in their discussion to a collection of texts which contain the most significant statements regarding the Trinity. While one could incorporate numerous passages into the debate, the study to follow will only consider the Johanine references to subordination. The historical arguments must also be limited. While a historical understanding of the subordination within the Trinity must be developed, the development will not provide a complete analysis of every stage of church history, but rather those which had the greatest bearing upon the debate. In the study to follow, the context of the debate will be established by an examination of the essential views of each author, the most significant Scriptural passages pertaining to the doctrine of the subordination within the Trinity, and an explanation of the historical position of the church. A conclusion regarding the nature of the subordination within the Trinity will also be asserted.

Much of the debate between eternal and temporal subordinationists is empowered by the egalitarian debate. The conclusions made by the proponents of the various views will be examined; however, the egalitarian conclusions made by some temporal subordinationists will be assumed false on the basis of other Scriptures and studies outside of the scope of this paper. The author of this paper, though seeking to understand the nature of the subordination within the Trinity, rejects the egalitarian claims and will not support such conclusions on the basis of the overwhelming evidence against such conclusions found within the whole of Scripture.

The Views and Assertions of Orthodoxy

Eternal and temporal are the two prominent positions which are held by theologians regarding the subordination within the Trinity. A third position has been propounded and explained within an article by Michael Svigel which contains a number of valid observations which also ought to be studied.

Eternal Subordinationism

The first, and most widely held view, is the view which holds to the eternal subordination of the Son and Holy Spirit to the Father. This view, held by systematic theologians such as Augustus H. Strong, Charles Hodge, and Wayne Grudem, asserts that the Trinity is ontologically equal. Ontological equality means that each member of the godhead is equal in being and that all the members of the godhead possess all the attributes and nature that makes each member God. The view of the eternal subordinationist is best summarized by Wayne Grudem when he states, "If we do not have economic subordination, then there is no inherent difference in the way the three persons relate to one another, and consequently we do not have the three distinct persons existing … for all eternity."

The eternal subordinationists believe, however, that there is an inherent difference between ontological equality and economic equality. The Trinity is, therefore, believed to exist and function in various roles consistent with the functionality of each person of the Trinity. Furthermore, the eternal subordinationist believes that these differences in role and function have existed for all of eternity. It is further asserted that this economic subordination and difference in role is what in fact differentiates the members of the Trinity. This is made clear within an article by Kovach and Schemm when they state, "Economic subordination… means that while all three divine Persons are identical in essence, the Son is economically subordinate to the Father with respect to his eternal mission and function. The Son is no less than the Father, but has voluntarily submitted himself to the will of the Father."

Those who hold to the eternal subordination viewpoint believe that Christ and the Holy Spirit are eternally subordinate to God the Father. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are seen as beings which are obedient to the Father's commands; yet, they still function as equal members of the Trinity. The Son, therefore, was the member who gave of Himself to die on earth at the command of the Father. One important contention, held by those who hold to the eternal subordinationist view, is that this economic subordination is not equal to inferiority, or a view that Christ is somehow less important than God the Father. This view clearly claims that God the Son is equal in being, person, and importance with God the Father.

Temporal Subordinationism

The temporal subordinationist is one who believes that Christ is the only member of the Trinity who has ever existed in a subordinate role to the Father, and this subordinate role was limited to the period of the incarnation. The temporal view has only recently come to fruition within modern Evangelical theology; yet, most within the temporal subordinationist viewpoint boldly proclaim themselves as being true Evangelical orthodoxy. The temporal subordinationist typically claims that the eternal subordinationist view is a response to the feminist movement. Kevin Giles asserts this in his book stating that, "the truth is that no one before 1970 had ever spoken of eternal subordination, and orthodoxy has never endorsed the eternal subordination of the Son of God in work, operations, functions or authority that can somehow be accepted without compromising ontological equality." Furthermore, some holding this view assert that the eternal subordinationist view is actually supporting the Arian subordinationist heresy. Giles clearly makes such assertions within his book; yet, he ultimately backs down from such bold assertions within his conclusion. "Giles states, "The way Gregg and Groh described the essence of Arianism is almost identical to how contemporary evangelicals depict the divine Father-Son relationship."

The key contention between the eternal and temporal subordinationist is the understanding of the concept of role and function. The temporal subordinationist believes that to be subordinate functionally, or subordinate in role, necessitates that a being also be subordinate in being and nature. It is upon this perceived inability for God to be different in role yet equal in being that the temporal subordinationist labels much of evangelical theology heretical.

Furthermore, the conclusions of the temporal and eternal subordinationist are in constant tension because the temporal subordinationist views eternal subordinationism as the cause and reason for the subordination between men and women. The temporal subordinationism holds that no being can be both subordinate and of equal importance; therefore, the temporal subordinationist views eternal subordinationism as holding to a view which asserts that Christ is somehow less-than God. Temporal subordinationism holds that the subordination of Christ in the incarnation has typically been read back into the eternal Trinity, and therefore, the temporal has been used to define the eternal.

Created Order Subordinationism

Another view has been proposed which asserts that the Trinity must have at least existed in subordination to one another during created time. Michael Svigel argues within his article that some within the early church understood and defined the relationship of subordination within the Trinity as it relates to the created order. The created order view of the subordination asserts that each member of the Trinity is equal and eternal, but the created order view recognizes that in relationship to the created world, the Father is the head of the Trinity, and the Son and Holy Spirit act in submission to the Father's will.

The created order view, therefore, holds that the concept of "eternal functional subordination" among the members of the Trinity is a poor definition of the relationship of the Trinity. Furthermore, the created order view asserts that the common temporal view of the subordination has not accounted for the information provided within the Scripture regarding how Christ and the Spirit acted subordinately to the Father preceding the incarnation.

Orthodoxy Defined Biblically

The only means through which orthodoxy can be identified is through a study and examination of Scripture. Each of the two prominent views of the subordination within the Trinity claim that they hold true orthodoxy; yet, there has been little interaction among the two concerning their differing interpretations of Scripture. Since Scripture is the only means of identifying true orthodoxy, each group ought to identify why the opposing view has strayed from orthodoxy. While historic orthodoxy is important to the debate and will be examined below, actual, Biblical orthodoxy is of far greater importance.

The greatest amount of information regarding the relationship of the Trinity is found within the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John is, therefore, one of the most studied books in the debate over the subordination of the Trinity.

Necessity of Difference in Function (John 1:1, 18)

Christ is Equal to the Father in Being

John 1 begins John's description and explanation of Jesus' person and purpose upon earth. John, therefore, from the very outset of his book sets out to define Jesus. John is noted by every orthodox commentator to be defining Jesus, not in opposition to the monotheism of Jews but rather ascribing that Jesus is monotheistic deity. The phrase "kai. qeo.j h=n o` lo,goj" at the end of John 1:1 identifies that Jesus was God. Barrett notes that the absence of the article preceding the word qeo.j is important because it identifies that Jesus was not the only being who could be described as being fully God. Jesus is, therefore, by John ascribed equal deity among the Trinity; yet, He is not the sole possessor of the deity. It should be established that according to God's attributes, being, eternality, and equality, Christ is equal to the other members of the Trinity. Barrett thus asserts that it is upon this understanding of Christ that John desires his audience to understand the rest of his gospel.Christ's equality of being and essence is supported throughout John in John 1:1; 10:30; 17:11, 21; 20:28. It must also be recognized that orthodoxy includes an understanding of Christ as equal to the Father in being, essence, and nature. One cannot assert that Jesus is anything less than wholly God and be considered orthodox.

The three views of subordination all hold to this basic premise regarding Christ; yet, the eternal subordinationist asserts that the temporal subordinationist should not differentiate between function (or role) and being. Therefore, it is asserted by the temporal subordinationist that the eternal subordinationist does not uphold the orthodox view. This assertion that Christ cannot be in anyway differentiated by role or function is not supported by the text of John. John asserts that Jesus is equal to God and is God Himself; yet, Christ is not identified as the whole Trinity. John carefully notes Jesus, as God, allowing for the including of the other members of the Trinity. The temporal subordinationist desires to identify the different persons of the Godhead; yet, the temporal subordinationist seeks to deny that they can be identified according to what they do. If the members of the Trinity are noted by John's Gospel to be equal in being to God, how are they different persons apart from their function?

Christ is Differentiated from the Father

This differentiation between the persons of the Trinity is further understood by John to involve a differentiation in relationship to the Trinity's revelation to men. John 1:18 identifies that "no one has seen God" and John 6:46 explains that "no one has seen the Father." The Father is, therefore, identified as one whom has never before been revealed to mankind. Jesus, within these passages, is noted as being the perfect revelation of the Father. No picture or description of God is more complete than that of Jesus Christ. John 1:18, 6:46, and Christ's identification as "the Word" in John, identifies Christ as the member of the Trinity who reveals God to mankind. Christ clearly is the member of the Trinity through which God has chosen to reveal Himself. While this revelation of Him is clearly portrayed in the incarnation, the incarnation is not the first revelation of God through Christ. The preincarnate appearances of Christ further identify Christ as the primary means through which God has revealed Himself.

Furthermore, it must be asserted that Christ is identified as the Word throughout eternity. Christ is identified in John 1:1 to be one who has always been the Word, and hence, the revelation of God. Christ did not become the Word at the incarnation nor did Christ take upon Himself a new function in this regard at the incarnation. Christ has always been the person of the Godhead through which God has revealed Himself. Therefore, the Trinity can be, and must be, identified in terms of its function from man's perspective. God the Father is noted within Scripture as being one whom sinful men could not look upon; it is through Christ's differing function that humanity can now look upon and have a relationship with God.

Jesus was Sent by the Father (John 3:16-17; John 7:28-29)

Another significant point of contention between the views on the subordination of the Trinity relates to the sending of Jesus by the Father. Giles, supporting his temporal subordinationist view, asserts that the sending language found in John's Gospel reflects the Jewish Shaliach principle. Meaning that "the one sent (the Shaliach) has the same authority as the one who sends him: he is as the sender himself." Giles, therefore, states that the sending terminology stresses the unity of the Father and Son in their work. Giles believes that Jesus could not be subordinate to the Father because He was sent with the same authority. However, Giles cites this idea from the work of Kruse who uses the concept to explain how Christ was "commissioned" by God to carry out a specific task with the authority of the Father himself. Giles, therefore, uses the terminology to emphasize the equality of God the Father and Jesus in function and role. However, this concept far from proves that Christ was not subordinate to God. This concept is used to emphasize that the sent one comes with the authority of the sender, but it does not mean that the sent one is equal in role and function to the sender. The message of the Shaliach principle is a message to the receiver. The receiver of the message is to view the sent one as having the complete authority of the sender; yet, the sent one remains obedient to the sender. As Christopher Cowan states, "Dealing with the agent was considered the same as dealing with the sender;" "the sending in rabbinical agency implies subordination."

However, it should be noted that there is some debate regarding whether or not the Shaliach principle is applicable to the references of Jesus' sending. Should the Shaliach principle not be applicable, the case for Christ's subordinate role to the Father in relationship to mankind remains true. Within the passages of John 3:16-17 and John 7:28-29, the idea of being sent is clearly portrayed as an act of obedience to the will of another. Although Christ came willingly into the world, He did so in complete accordance with the Father's will. The sending language throughout John requires that Christ came at the command of the Father just as the sending of John the Baptist in John 1:6, 33 requires that John the Baptist be subordinate to God. Some temporal subordinationists desire to interpret the sending principle in multiple ways throughout the text of John, and such interpretations are not warranted by the context of the passages.

Jesus was Equal in Authority yet Subordinate to God (John 10:17-18)

Christ is Equal to the Father in Authority and Role in Relationship to Man

Furthermore John 10:17-18 describes how Jesus Christ has a unique love with the Father because of His submission and obedience in death. John 10:18 proclaims that it is not by the will of men that Jesus died, but He died in submission to His Father's will and, yet, his own choice and power. The emphasis within this chapter is placed not upon man, nor upon the authority of Christ, but rather this passage emphasizes that Christ willingly submitted to God of His own accord. In relationship to mankind, Jesus is here stated to have the authority of God; yet, in relationship to the Father, Jesus is proclaimed to be obedient. Christ is equal in authority to God; yet, Scripture clearly proclaims that Christ acts in accordance and subordinately to the Father's will.

Christ is Subordinate and Obedient to the Will of the Father

While John's Gospel is specifically referencing the Incarnation period of time, these concepts about God and Jesus Christ are clearly not bound to the Incarnation. Christ has always been the member of the Trinity who is proclaimed to be the Word. Christ existed from before the foundation of the world and was proclaimed to be the Word during all of eternity. Christ also was sent into the world by God. Although Christ freely became incarnate; He did so in obedience and in harmony with the will of God that was established before the creation of the earth. Christ gave of His life of His own accord; yet it was given in obedience to the Father. In all of these areas Christ's authority is never portrayed by John to have changed. While both in heaven and upon earth Christ has the authority of God, He yet exercises this authority in submission to the Father's will. The authority, which Christ possesses throughout the book of John, is in no way a fluctuating authority. Christ's authority is portrayed as a constant before, during, and after Christ's incarnation. Christ had the authority of God while in heaven, He possessed the authority of God while on earth, and He continues to possess the authority of God. The authority of Jesus Christ has, however, always been an authority which involved Christ's submission to become man and to die for men.

Orthodoxy Defended Historically

Scriptures are the primary means of determining true orthodoxy. Among the debate over the subordination of the Trinity, an overemphasis has been placed upon the church's beliefs in relationship to church history. Some have even asserted that the debate is so vast that Scripture alone cannot bring a solution to the debate. Such confidence in the authority of church history is both dangerous and futile. In the paragraphs to follow, church history will be used merely to provide for believers a balancing check, whereby one may weigh an interpretation in contrast to the church's stance throughout history.

Temporal subordinationists claim that the vast amount of church history supports their claims; yet, they dismiss the majority of the writings of the early church and the writing of those who predate Irenaeus stating that they "naively" held to eternal subordinationism. If church history is an important avenue of study; one must be honest with the data and proclaim the exact nature of the view of the church throughout history.


Within the early church writings, a great deal of support is given to the idea that there was subordination within the Trinity, and it is likely that they believed that this subordination existed throughout eternity. Within the early church, it was often noted that God the Father was the member of the Trinity who gave primary direction to the will, while Jesus Christ and the Spirit acted upon the will of the Father. This is noted within the Didache, a writing on the handling and ethics of the church, where it repeatedly mentions that Christ was a servant of God (Didache 9:2; 9:3; 10.2; 10.3). The Didache teaches that the early church understood there to be at least some form of subordination within the Trinity, at least in relationship to the Incarnation.

1 Clement and Ignatius of Antioch repeatedly reference the primary will of God and the action of the Son and the Holy Spirit. 1 Clement noted God to be the chief builder, while Christ and the Holy Spirit were the chief actors. Within these writings, God the Father is referenced as being the monarch within the Trinity. The early church not only supported subordination, some even an eternal subordination, within the Trinity, but they also commented on the differing roles of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The difference between the will and the action of the Father and Son mentioned above indicates the difference of role and function, as does Polycarp who notes, within his prologue, the Father as "God Almighty" and Jesus Christ as "our Savior" (Polycarp to the Philippians, 1:1).

Hermas, again notes Jesus Christ in a role of functional subordination to the Father, and the Father is once again noted as being the one who's will is primary. Hermas further explains that the Father acts through the Son, who is in submission to the Father's will. Justin Martyr similarly believed that the Son acts as a mediator between God and man in all things including, but not limited to, salvation. Justin Martyr developed a view of God that asserted that the Father was the highest being and He was the begetter of all. In Justin Martyr's belief, Jesus Christ was the bridge between God's transcendence and immanence. Justin Martyr also considered Jesus Christ to be equal to God, and Justin Martyr makes constant mention of this equality throughout his works. Justin viewed Christ and the Holy Spirit as occupying a second place; yet, they are both viewed by Justin as equal to God.

The Council of Nicaea

Charles Hodge, Augustus Strong, and Wayne Grudem all assert that the Nicene Creed, and the majority of church decisions following the Council of Nicaea, have ascribed to the functional subordination of Christ. The assertions regarding the Trinity produced at the council of Nicaea were largely a responsive movement to the Arian heresy that introduced that Christ was not equal to God in being, essence, and authority. The temporal subordinationist wrongly ascribes the label of heresy to the eternal subordinationists' view when he misunderstands that the Trinity can possess, and indeed is prescribed within Scripture as possessing, subordination in function.

Temporal subordinationists misinterpret the statements of the Council of Nicaea and ascribe that the council delineated that there can be no subordination within the Godhead, but rather the members of the Trinity are fully and completely equal in function. Giles states this repeatedly throughout his book on temporal subordination in statements such as, "the Council of Nicaea intentionally excluded all expressions of subordinationism known at that time... In both creeds the Son of God is confessed as 'of one substance of being (homoousious) with the Father,' and as coming down from heaven 'for us and our salvation.'" Furthermore, Giles proclaims that "if the Father and the Son are one in being and act, then the idea that the Son is eternally set under the Father, ontologically or functionally, is categorically excluded." In reference to the Council of Nicaea, Bilezikian remarks, "After the Arian controversy and its settlement at the councils, the western church affirmed the consubstantiality…, the coeternality, and the essential oneness of the persons of the Trinity, thus excluding any form of ontological hierarchy, order or ranking among them that would pertain to their eternal state."

However, the Nicene Creed clearly states that the Son was begotten of God from all eternity, and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. The Nicene Creed is, therefore, a carefully worded statement whereby the Arian heresy of ontological subordination among the Godhead was deposed. The concept of functional subordination of the roles of the Trinity was never explicitly stated nor denied. However, the terminology clearly conveys the concept of a functional subordination or hierarchy within the Trinity, as is evidenced by the comments of Strong and Hodge.


The assertions of heresy made by the temporal subordinationists are striking and bold assertions made against serious Bible scholars and theologians. The writings of John's Gospel explain to the reader that Jesus Christ is equal to God and wholly God. John, however, does not limit the Godhead to only Christ. John seeks to establish that Jesus Christ is one among three who are all equally one God. This equality entails that each member possesses the same attributes, essence, nature, and being. The heresy, which is proclaimed against the eternal subordinationist, is said to be a heresy which denies these claims. Yet, all eternal subordinationists uphold these fundamental tenants of the doctrine of the Trinity.

John's Gospel also identified Jesus Christ as the Word and the member of the Trinity who has always been the revelation of God to mankind. God the Father and the Holy Spirit have never manifested themselves before mankind as did Jesus Christ. John's message teaches us that this distinct characteristic of Christ is part of the very person of Jesus Christ. Christ, therefore, is eternally the Word.

Jesus Christ is also identified within John's Gospel as one who was sent into the world at the command of the Father. This command of God upon the Son does not limit the authority of Jesus Christ in relationship to any created being or object. Christ has been given the very authority of God because He is God and was sent by God the Father. Therefore, in relationship to mankind, the authority of the Son is equal to the authority of the Father. However, Jesus Christ willfully submits to the will of God the Father because Christ is subordinate to God the Father eternally. One may assert that such subordination is only evidenced within Scripture in relationship to the created time, but the very eternal nature of Christ's role as the Word seems to suggest that this function of Christ surpasses time. Furthermore, the promise and plan of redemption is one which took place in eternity past; therefore, it would seem that Christ's subordination was at least planned, and in some way active, during eternity past.

The history of the church supports the idea that Christ was likely eternally subordinate to God. The early church, though unclear at times, with one voice ascribed varying roles and function to Christ and the Holy Spirit. The early church also consistently viewed the Father as the monarch among the Trinity and viewed His will as a will of primacy that is obeyed by the Son and Spirit. The Council of Nicaea carefully ascribed to a similar view as well in response to the Arian heresy. It is, therefore, incorrect, for theologians to name eternal subordinationists of partaking in heresy.

The eternal subordination of the Son is clearly ascribed to in Scripture. Furthermore, the church has widely accepted this view from its founding. The eternal, functional subordination of the Trinity is upon this basis the most accurate representation of the relationship among the Trinity.


Sources Cited

Barrett, C. K. The Gospel According to St. John An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text. London: S.P.C.K., 1978.

Bauman, Michael. "Milton, Subordination, and the Two-Stage Logos." Westminster Theological Journal 48 (1986): 173-182. This work examines the various ways subordination can be understood. It explains when one's view of subordination becomes heresy and describes why John Milton's acceptance of the theory of the Two-Stage Logos is unorthodox. The Two-Stage Logos theory is referring to the belief that there is an "Immanent Word" and there is an "Expressed Word."

Beasley-Murray, George Raymond. John. Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A Hubbard and Glen W. Barker. vol. 36. Waco, Tex: Word Books, 1987.

Bilezikian, Gilbert. "Hermeneutical Bungee-Jumping: Subordination in the Godhead." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 40 (March 1997): 57-68. This article, in many ways, agrees with Kevin Giles' book. It explains the importance of the doctrine and also proposes problems present in the ideas of the authors of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991.

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. Vol. 1. Dallas, Tex.: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947.

Cowan, Christopher. "The Father and Son in the Fourth Gospel: Johanine Subordination Revisited." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49 (2006): 115-135. Is a clear exegetical and theological examination of the data contained in John's Gospel relative to the debate concerning the subordination within the Trinity. This paper proposes that John's Gospel contains a tension between the Son's obedience, the hierarchical authority of the Father, and the equality within the Godhead.

Dahms, John V. "The Subordination of the Son" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 37 (1994): 351–364.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1998. Erickson's theology is one of the few conservative systematic theologians who support the temporal subordination of the Trinity. However, his discussion of the topic is brief.

Giles, Kevin. Jesus and the Father: Modern Evangelicals Reinvent the Doctrine of the Trinity. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2006. This book covers the history and exegesis of the discussion of whether the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father. The book proposes that the view that asserts that there is an eternal subordination of the Son to the Father is similar to the Arian heresy.

--------. The Trinity & Subordination: The Doctrine of God and the Contemporary Gender Debate. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Green, Joel B., Scot McKnight, and I. Howard Marshall. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994. Grudem's theology is the theology which provides the clearest statements regarding the subordination of the Trinity. Grudem provides clear support for his claims, and he shows where other systematic theologians have agreed with him.

Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology. Vol. 1. New York: Scribner, Armstrong, and Co., 1873.

Hornell, J. Scott. "Toward a Biblical Model of the Social Trinity: Avoiding Equivocation of Nature and Order" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 47 (2004): 399-421.

Keener, Craig S. "Is Subordination Within the Trinity Really Heresy? A Study of John 5:18 in Context." Trinity Journal 20 (1999): 39-51. This article proposes that the condemnation and use of the term "heresy" in relationship to the subordination within the Trinity should be used extremely carefully. The author believes that the labels, which are used on both sides of the gender and subordination debate, are "inappropriate." This work contains a section which exegetes and interacts with 1 Cor. 15:28 and its role in the subordination debate.

--------. The Gospel of John A Commentary. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003.

Kovach, Stephen D., and Peter R. Schemm, Jr. "A Defense of the Doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 42 (1999): 461-476. This is an article in response to Gilbert Bilezikian's article "Hermeneutical Bungee-Jumping: Subordination in the Godhead." This article contains a good number of references to the works which debate the Subordination of the Trinity. The article also contains a response to the historical data offered by Bilezikian, and Kovach provides historical information in support of his view.

Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern, 1942.

Sanders, Fred. "The State of the Doctrine of the Trinity in Evangelical Theology." A paper presented at the 56th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, San Antonio, Tex., November 18, 2004. This paper explains the various discussions concerning the modern theology of the Trinity. This paper gives information and some implications concerning "early high Christology," "eternal generation," and "gender relations" as it relates to the Trinity.

Strong, Augustus Hopkins. Systematic Theology. Vol. 1. Philadelphia: The Griffith & Rowland Press, 1907.

Svigel, Michael J. "Power in Unity, Diversity in Rank: Subordination and the Trinity in the Fathers of the Early Church." Paper presented at the 56th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, San Antonio, TX, November 18, 2004. The paper discusses, in great detail, the writings of the early church fathers concerning their understanding of the Trinity. Svigel proposes that there was "no clear Arian ontological subordination," "no functional egalitarianism," "ontological equality and functional subordinationism," and "possible drift towards ontological subordinationism" within the early church fathers.

Tenney, Merrill C. "John." In The Expositor's Bible Commentary. ed. Frank Gaebelein, vol. 9, 3-206. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.

Sources Consulted

Boring, M. Eugene. "John 5:19-24." Interpretation 45 (April 1991): 176-181. This is an exegetical work on the passage indicated in its title. The author gives special attention to the "Father/Son language" of the passage, which is beneficial in the study of the nature of the subordination within the Trinity.

Bickersteth, Edward Henry. The Trinity. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1957.

Carey, Philip. "The New Evangelical Subordinationism: Reading Inequality into the Trinity." Priscilla Papers 20 (Autumn 2006): 42-45. This is an egalitarian's review and summary of Kevin Giles' books with special emphasis upon the book Jesus and the Father. This is somewhat less technical that Giles, but it provides a decent, "at-a-glance" discussion of the Giles' proposal.

Erickson, Millard J. Making sense of the Trinity: 3 Crucial Questions. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.

Franks, Robert S. Doctrine of the Trinity. London: Duckworth, 1953.

Grenz, Stanley. Rediscovering the Triune God: the Trinity in Contemporary Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004.

Howard, Wilbert Francis. "Father and the Son: and Exposition of John 5:19-29." Interpretation 4 (1950): 3-11.

Letham, Robert. "The Man-Woman Debate: Theological Comment." Westminster Theological Journal 52 (1990): 65-78.

McGrath, Alister E. Understanding the Trinity. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1988.

Wainwright, Arthur W. The Trinity in the New Testament. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1962.


Noah said...

Having gotten home from work a few minutes ago and needing to go to bed in a few, I was only able to glance through the paper, but from what I saw, I can't wait to read it in detail!!

Also, thanks for updating the look! I was wondering if we'd be able to change that or not. Yay!!

Adam Pastor said...


It is with delight that I noticed you remarked that
"A number of Evangelicals have come to question whether the orthodox understanding of the Trinity is truly orthodox."

Good point.
Is this so-called doctrine of the trinity, orthodox at all?? ...
seeing that Jesus never ever taught such a doctrine; and neither did his disciples!!

I truly recommend the following video, which goes into further detail about the trinity.

The Human Jesus

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

Andrew Chapman said...

Isn't 1 Corinthians 15:28 the place to start, since it addresses the matter directly and clearly, so far as I can see?

Would appreciate the pdf of your article with footnotes, if that is still available. Thanks, Andrew