Pristine Grace

Summer Bookshelf
Part 2
by Eileen Beckett
Summer Bookshelf

I finished my book entitled “The Trinity and Subordinationsim” by Kevin Giles, which was really a three fold book written to portray the Doctrine of God and the Contemporary Gender Debate, with a portion on Slavery, all connected in the author’s estimation with the error that the Son is eternally subordinated to the Father. It was a very well studied read and very informative to me. It wasn’t written only for the trained theologian, instead it was so well written and researched that it was understandable to the average reader, i.e., me! 

Part one of the book is ‘The Trinity Tradition’ and I was so pleased to read it. It was full of the historical development of the Orthodox Trinitarian tradition which the author embraces as do I. He discusses the forming of the doctrine of the Trinity quoting Athanasius, Augustine, Calvin, Barth to name a few and the creeds that put into words the doctrine of the Trinity as it was developed. Among those were the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, the Belgic confession and the Second Helvetic Confession of 1566. So that portion of the book alone is well worth the read, especially if you are like me and haven’t read much on the history of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity.

The author then begins to discuss the error that the Son is subordinate to the Father in any way other than his temporal subordination in what is known as ‘the economy of salvation’. He is addressing in this portion of the book how the teaching of the eternal subordination of the Son in the Trinity is used as a means to teach the permanent subordination of women. I was truly appalled at the ideas of men such as Luther and Calvin and their ideas that women are an inferior created class. The author insists that the beginning place for any discussion on men/women is Genesis 1:26-28 where we learn that men and women are both created in the image of God, not one lesser than the other. 

There is so much information in this book and I know that I will read it again a second time to glean even more. I can’t give you even a complete overview of this book; it would take pages to do that. His ideas on the current Egalitarian/Complementarian debate are very thoughtful as there are so many nuances within that debate, a debate that I just recently became aware of. But he makes an excellent point when he addresses Philippians 2:5-11 and tells us that this Scripture as penned by Paul, was not given as a refutation of the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father but was given to men and women so that both sexes might emulate Christ’s voluntary and costly self-giving and humility:

“Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God 
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave.” (Phil 2:5-7) 

His conclusion of the teaching that the Son is eternally subordinated to the Father is this:

“They are guilty of subordinatiosm, understood as the error of reading back into the eternal Trinity the temporal and voluntary subordination of the Son seen in the incarnation. Their concern for upholding the permanent subordination of women, which they believe the Bible teaches, has led them to thinking that the Son is eternally subordinated to the Father, something the Bible definitely does not teach. The Son is the co-Creator for all eternity, and after Easter he is confessed not as the obedient servant of the Father but as the Lord who reigns as “the head over all things”  

Another great read!