Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The Strength of Submission
Since the days of Tertullian, the Church has believed that the Father, Son, and Spirit are God. They are one, but there are also distinctions among them. Jesus Christ, the Son, came to earth to complete the will of the Father. Though Jesus was obedient to the Father, He has always been viewed as equally God and equally essential to Christianity. A.H. Strong says, “The subordination of the person of the Son to the person of the Father, or in other words an order of personality, office, and operation which permits the Father to be officially first, the Son second, and the Spirit third, is perfectly consistent with equality. Priority is not necessarily superiority.”
Prior to the gender debate, most evangelicals were in agreement concerning the doctrine of the Trinity. In fact, when the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) attempted to set the margins of its doctrinal basis to capture a broad audience, they decided on the inerrancy of Scripture and basic views of the Trinity as the society’s core concerns. The ETS statement reads: "The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory."
As complementarians began capturing the illustration of gender roles and the Trinity, the views of evangelical feminists began to change. Egalitarians insist that complementarians hold the heretical view of subordination. However, complementarians do not condone an ontological difference between the Father and the Son. I Corinthians 15:28 says, “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to Him who put all things in subjection under Him, that God may be all in all.”
Jesus’ voluntary obedience to the Father did not make Him inferior in essence, but gave the Father priority of authority. Taking away equality or role differences between the Father, the Son and the Spirit essentially abandons the Trinity, which is the center of the Christian faith. Herman Bavick went as far to say, “In the confession of the Trinity throbs the heart of the Christian religion: every error results from, or upon deeper reflection may be traced to, a wrong view of this doctrine.”
Complementarians were not first to draw this comparison. I Corinthians 11:3 says, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” Paul quickly establishes three headship relationships exist between Christ and man, man and woman, and God and Christ. As Paul notes these relationships, he shows that Jesus Christ is the example for both genders, as He is submissive to the Father but also the head over man. The headship and submissive roles assigned to men and women in creation offer the ideal opportunity for both genders to apply Scripture’s teaching to strive after Christ’s righteousness.
A similar passage in Ephesians 5:24-25 says, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Christ loved the church through times of obedience and rebellion, and He died to cover all human sin. Yet, feminists frequently scrutinize these passages by saying the Bible’s “hierarchy created about the whole love life of woman an atmosphere of degradation.” In this passage, redemption resonates far above restriction, and salvation outweighs subjection. Headship and submission were never created, but have always existed in the nature of God Himself.
In Woman and the New Race, Margaret Sanger, a feminist best known for initiating the birth control movement through the establishment of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, insisted that with the world of women’s liberation: "There will come a Plato who will be understood, a Socrates who will drink no hemlock, and a Jesus who will not die upon the cross." What Sanger thought was a statement of deliverance was nothing less than condemnation of the entire human race.
The core of Christianity can be summarized by submission. If Jesus had refused to die on the cross and submit to the Father’s plan, both males and females would be left without the hope of redemption. Instead, “the ultimate and telling proof that equality and submission may coexist in glorious harmony is found in the mediatorial mission of the Son of God…who completed it in the true liberation of submission to His Father.”
Tertullian: an early church father who was the first to name the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the term "the Trinity'
Subordination: This is best referred to as putting yourself under someone else's authority (Ex - Children are subordinate to their parents, Humans are subordinate to God).
Complementarian: This is the view that I believe: God created men and women equally, but he also gave them different gender-defined roles. (Males - Husband, Father, Provider, Protector; Females - Wife, Mother, Nurturer). Check out more at http://www.cbmw.org
Egalitarian: also referred to as evangelical feminists, this group believes that one's gender does not determine role or status in life, nor does it limit spiritual giftedness and ministry opportunities. Essentially, they believe the only differences between males and females are physical. You can learn more on their website: http://www.cbeinternational.org
Headship: Humble, loving leadership, such as Christ's love and authority over the church
Submission: Humble, serving respect, such as Jesus' obedience to the Father's plan for His death on the cross for the forigiveness of sin
An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
The Hermeneutics of Doctrine by Anthony C. Thiselton,
Systematic Theology by Augustus H. Strong
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by Wayne Grudem and John Piper
Men and Women: Equal Yet Different by Alexander Strauch