Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Contemplating the Trinity

[Revised February 2019]

Please visit the new Under Much Grace companion site which presents an apologetic for the Trinity, demonstrating that I am not misinformed and have not made unwarranted statements against Bruce Ware and other notable subordinationists.  Such was the opinion of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions when the Southern Baptists decided that they didn't like what I had to say when I delivered the peer reviewed presentation in March of 2008.

I would think that with a simple reading of Bruce Ware and others who are affiliated with the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood would build my case for me, but I am apparently mistaken. I expect Biblically literate Christians to quickly identify the problems with these teachings that claim that Jesus has less power and authority by stating that God the Father has supreme authority which supersedes that of the Son.

I have listed some recent Blog Articles and have begun to work on refuting problematic passages from Bruce Ware's work, but this will take some time for me to get through due to time constraints and due to the frustrating nature of the topic. It is very emotionally disturbing and makes for much grief as I go through these things. Currently, in the section pertaining to Bruce Ware's book, I only display the passages that are problematic for me in terms of sound Bible doctrine. I hope to revisit this and add my observations and refutations. It seems that Augustine has done all my work for me, but it is just a matter of typing these things out and evaluating them. But it is quite frustrating and will take some time.

There is a new web directory at the very bottom of the archive site called "Against Subordinationism" which contains several single pages in that subdirectory addressing different aspects of this debate. Most are still in development but have some information.

Please review the index here and follow embedded links to the archive site:

When I last spoke to the President of the ENMR apologetics organization in April of 2008, I was told that I should consider posting information online that corroborates my information concerning my citing of Bruce Ware's teachings on the Trinty within a Workshop I presented at MBTS in March of 2008 concerning the Patriarchy Movement.

At the time of this writing (Mar 09), Dr. Ware serves as a theology professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and is an avid advocate for the Theory of the Trinity NOW known as the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS). Ware argues that the Father has a supreme position within the Trinity, the logical conclusion or understanding of which suggests that Christ the Son would by necessity have a non-supreme position within the Trinity. Ware also teaches that the Father has supreme authority within the Trinity, and as a consequence, the Son is constrained by virtue of the Father's greater will, therefore because of the hierarchical structure perceived within the Trinity, Christ must always do the will of the Father.

Ware maintains that this relationship was not a function of the kenosis and Christ's incarnation, but was the Son's ETERNAL state from before time and for all eternity: the Father commands and the Son obeys, and thus there is a template for human relationships found within the very Trinity itself. Notably, Dr. Ware mantains that only the Father hears and has the authority to answer prayer, so it is a point ambiguity and of some error if we pray directly to the Son who only has authority to deliver prayers to the Father. Subsequently, the Holy Spirit follows hierarchically and is subordinate to the will and authority of the Father and the Son.

An author, Kevin Giles, an Anglican Vicar and Bible Professor in Australia has written two books critiquing Bruce Ware's teachings, arguing that by requiring a lesser authority than God the Father with the related constraints as specified in the theory, Ware has inadvertently fallen into a type of Arian heresy. Giles argues that the subordinate role that Ware assigns to Christ defines the Son as ontologically subordinate, of lesser essence, than the Father. Christ then becomes something of a lesser God which is inconsistent with Biblical orthodoxy.

The issue became an interest of my own related to the patriocentricity and the patriarchy movement because the advocates of this movement appeal to the this hierarchical view of the Trinity in order to support their hierarchical view of gender. As God the Father rules and reigns over the Son within the Trinity, so human fathers and husbands should likewise reign over and care for their familes, particularly over their wives. Women are to likewise look to Christ as an example, submitting unto their husbands in a manner like unto the Son's submission to the Father. Women are also defined as ontologically subordinate to men, because the advocates of this belief system maintain that woman is only the "indirect" or "derivative" image of God, because the substance from which she was created came from man and not from the earth. From this foundational belief, many aberrant beliefs spring including "militant fecundity" (a type of "spiritual eugenics" by which Christianity advances through demographics), physical discipline of wives, and other rigid limitations on vocations, occupations and roles for women.

During the 2008 counter-cult apologetics workshop I presented, I cited the ESS theory and Bruce Ware as the individual I identified as the most vocal advocate of the theory, very briefly mentioning Giles general argument as a matter of record. I also spoke critically about the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood as the other most active vehicle for advancing the concept of the ontological subordination of women and an hierarchical view of genders as opposed to mutual submission within marriage. Dr. Ware is also quite active within the CBMW organization. The Southern Baptist Seminary community reacted quite intensely and negatively to my citing of these teachings as contributing factors to the abuses within the patriarchy movement, intensely offended that I found their teachings to be remotely related to the patriarchy movement, something a member of the press related that Ware and Dr. Russell Moore (Dean of Theology and SBTS) described as a "fringe" group.

The board of the apologetics organization, despite much ongoing requests for guidance from the president and the Board's approval which included the material addressing both CBMW, Ware, and what is now commonly referenced as ESS (it was not an accepted term at that time), they would no longer stand behind those aspects of my presentation or work. The Board declined to review any of Ware's abundant materials regarding the teaching, and I was advised to post a defense of my beliefs online.

So I am in the ongoing process of doing just that, though I originally planned only to present the sources, but I fear that people will just read them and have no change of heart. I also plan to add additional information concerning the implications of ESS, as I was cited for criticizing Ware later in 2008 for a June presentation he made in 
DentonTX wherein he argued that men resort to domestic violence because of lack of submission on behalf of wives so that men have little other recourse.

I will continue to post additional information here pertaining to both the ontological subordination of women as well as ESS. I’m not doing so because I believe that I must “prove” myself in the wake of being unjustly maligned regarding the apologetics workshop, but because I wish to expose these teachings for what they are. I would have done so prior to the lecture that I delivered in March of 2008, but I never anticipated that the powers that be would have taken any issue with what I presented as it is factual, true and abundantly clear from the material!

~  CMK
updated 28Mar09


Eternal Procession Does Not Equate To Eternal Priority

(A critique of Bruce Ware’s CBMW audio mp3 entitled “Tampering with the Trinity: How the Trinity Relates to Gender Roles,” a good overview of the problems with the view)


Bruce Ware's "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" Book

(Long review of 2 chapters in Ware’s book on the topic with my own responses and quotes from several sources that conflict or contrast with Ware including James White, Calvin, Cary of CBE, Giles of CBE, and Augustine)


Thoughts on the Theories of the Trinity

(Very thorough review of the theories of the Trinity from sources like Moreland and Craig’s “Philosophical Basis for a Christian Worldview,” an examination of the differences between Social and Antisocial Trinitarianism, A review of Leftow’s Trinity Taxonomy, and some correspondence with Robert K McGreggor Wright)


Critique of the Concept of Divided Power and Authority Within the Trinity

(An article by Kevin Giles, hosted on the CBE website)