Monday, May 15

Functional Subordination Discussion

I spent my blogging time this morning commenting on this post on the Trinity at Intellectuelle. I don't do this sort of thing very often anymore, mostly because I'd rather pick my own subjects to think and write about. Besides, those sorts of responses take an incredible amount of time, at least for me, and once I'm in the discussion, I feel obligated to continue it, regardless of the time it takes. However, I do think this is an important subject, so I responded.

Here's what I said in response to the challenge to support my claim that Christ is eternally functionally subordinate to the Father:
I'd rather use a more scriptural terms, and say that the Father has authority over the Christ eternally, or that the Son is eternally submitted to the Father, which, to my mind is what [functional] subordination means.

Part of my support for that would come from the fact that Christ is the eternal Son, and the Father is eternally the Father. This speaks not of different origins, because the Godhead is eternal, but of different eternal roles within the Godhead.

Then there are all the statements that say that Christ came to do the Father's will, or that he was sent by the Father, or that God is the head of Christ. Not only was Christ in submission to the Father within the incarnation, but he was sent by the Father, showing prior submission to the will of the Father. His very coming itself was in submission to the authority of the Father.

We also have the statements about Christ being finally exalted, and even in them, we have Christ being subject to the Father, or the final glory in Christ's exultation going to the Father: for instance, 1 Corinthians 15: 28, where it says that God will subject everything to Christ, but Christ himself will subject himself to God; and Philippians 2, where the one ultimately glorified when Christ is exalted is God the Father.
In response to the idea that functional subordination is not the historical view of the church:
Historically, in the creeds, you have Christ "eternally begotten" of the Father, and "seated at the right hand" of the Father; The Son being "from the Father alone", but the Father is not "from the Son". In other words, the creeds affirm the full equality of the Son to the Father, but at the same time, they affirm that the son is eternally "from the Father" in that he eternally does the Father's will.
And in response to statements that the distinction between functional and essential subordination is a false one:
And here's how I would explain the difference between functional and essential subordination. The Son's submission to the Father is a willing submission. He chooses to submit himself voluntarily. This submission is not owed to the Father, which if Christ were essentially subordinate, would be the case.
[I don't think I explained this last bit well enough. I meant that Christ submits to the father not as somone who owes submission as someone unequal as a person, or in his diety, but as one who has a different role. Just like a boss is not an authority over his/her employees because he/she is of more worth or value or better or more human than his employees, but because his role gives him authority over them. ]

Update: I'm adding something else here that I thought of while I tidied up this morning. The Son intercedes on our behalf to the Father. We can have confidence because the Father always gives the Son what he asks on our behalf. Nevertheless, this picture of Christ as intercessor (or high priest) makes God the Father the one with priority of authority within the Trinity.

What say ye?

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