Thursday, May 05, 2011

Link: Gospel Coalition: Trinitarian Agency and the Eternal Subordination of the Son

Although it is rather common in contemporary theology to treat the immanent Trinity as a blueprint for everything from ecclesial structures to gender relations, this use of the immanent Trinity is problematic and does not reflect the emphasis of the NT.

See, if people hadn't gone off and been idiots in attempting to force the issue of the eternal subordination of the son to make a point about gender roles in culture and marriage then there'd be no risk of either one side or the other misappropriating Augustine's writings as a way to prove their respective points on either side of a gender divide! It means people in Christian thought are making the doctrine of the very nature of Yahweh a tool for getting a particular task accomplished on the subject of ecclesiology (i.e. whether women get ordained or not, and what roles wives are supposed to play) based on how the members of the Trinity relate to each other.

Johnson points out that attempting to model human relationships after an intra-trinitarian relational pattern is impossible because we are called to forgive each other and no member of the Trinity is capable of asking forgiveness of another member of the Trinity because Father, Son and Spirit alike are all utterly holy, without sin. Surely I don't have to spell out that implications of this in, say, marriage, eh? Johnson doesn't dwell further on this point but I would say that in light of various polemics about ecclesiology and gender roles that is the heart of why this subject ever comes up.

Johnson is too nice to say what I'm about to say, that this whole fracas debating the eternal functional subordination of the Son within the Trinity is an idiotic, assasinine case of Western Christians in a post-industrial society conscripting the doctrine of the one true God revealed in the scriptures to field points about gender roles. How either side can manage to think that they are doing this wisely and not somehow trivializing one of the most mysterious and unique doctrines of the Christian faith is beyond my capacity to imagine.

Augustine gets trotted out and subjected to debate by Protestants who allegedly go with sola scriptura; post-apostolic traditions get cited to discuss whether or not this or that view can be defended and both sides in the recent debate end up being shown up as trying to stack the deck in their favor when the patristic evidence and apostolic evidence at hand strongly suggest the saints of old had other fish to fry than claiming or denying that the Son's eternally functional subordination to the Father (which they weren't really talking about because they weren't generally thinking of the Trinity in those terms) means that women can't be pastors or that husbands are always in charge.

That's the scholastic variation. Here's how I can translate the schoolyard variation I once heard exchanged between my younger stepbrother and stepsister.

Bull honkey dudesquash

But I'm running out of steam here and I don't usually blog on steam, if you understand my meaning.

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