The Eternal Subordination of the Son Controversy: 11. Concluding Reflections (Part 2)

1. The Debate So Far
2. Survey of Some Relevant Material
3. Subordination
4. The Need for Trinitarian Clarity (Part 1)
5. The Need for Trinitarian Clarity (Part 2)
6. The Tension Between Bible and Doctrine
7. Reconciling Scripture and Dogma
8. κεφαλή in 1 Corinthians 11:3
9. Indivisible Divine Authority in Mutually Defining Relations
10. Concluding Reflections (Part 1)

The concluding post in my long-running series on the debate surrounding the eternal subordination of the Son has just been posted.

The emergence of the ESS position in its current form is in large part an attempt to provide a ‘deep structure’ for a complementarian position. It seeks to demonstrate that the biblical teaching concerning the complementarity of the sexes is not arbitrary, but is grounded in something beyond itself.

Unfortunately, this quest for a deep structure is, I suspect, often the flip-side of an ideologization of complementarity. What was once an organic part of Christian social teaching, practice, and imagination, recognized as naturally grounded and inseparably bound up with the broader fabric of Christian and human existence–a creational and empirical reality–has been reframed as a theory, ideology, or social programme. In the process it has been uprooted from the broader creational and scriptural context to which it belongs.

Having abandoned or lost much of its proper grounding–not least as people have sought to restrict its import as much as possible to the pulpit and the marriage bed–this more abstract ideology has needed to discover a new theological rationale for itself. In a context where it is under threat, it must defend itself against the charge that it is contrary to the general tenor of Christian teaching and imposes arbitrary expectations. ESS looks like a promising solution to this problem, yet ends up causing more difficulties and provoking more contention than it resolves. In the past, teaching about the complementarity of the sexes wasn’t an ‘ism’ or ideology. Even when ESS was referenced in connection with it, considerably less weight was placed upon the analogy, and certainly not the sort of weight that would press theologians more in the direction of univocity.

Read the whole thing here.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Bible, Controversies, Creation, Doctrine of God, Guest Post, NT, NT Theology, The Triune God, Theological. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Eternal Subordination of the Son Controversy: 11. Concluding Reflections (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: The Eternal Subordination of the Son Controversy: 11. Concluding Reflections (Part 2) — Alastair’s Adversaria @zugzwanged | Talmidimblogging

  2. David Reimer says:

    And another one to add to the bibliography (hot off the presses!): Stephen R. Holmes, “Classical Trinitarianism and Eternal Functional Subordination: Some Historical and Dogmatic Reflections”, Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 35.1 (2017): 90–104.

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