We Need a New Name

In the 1980s, a new group was formed to combat the rise of egalitarianism in the church and the home. The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), in their early meetings, chose a name for their new movement: complementarianism. While there is debate over the origin of the name, the movement defined itself as the conservative answer to egalitarianism. The complementarian movement has done some good things in affirming the complementarity and equality of men and women. It is good to affirm that husbands are to lead their wives sacrificially and that wives are to submit to the leadership of their husbands. It is also good to affirm the ordination of qualified men.

However, over time, there has been increasing concern about some of what is being taught in the name of complementarianism. Many authors, myself included, have spoken out about these abuses. The recent debate over authority and submission in the Trinity has highlighted a very strong rift within the complementarian movement. The doctrine of the Trinity is of such vital importance to the faith that this divide is not a simple matter of agreeing to disagree.

Recently I have begun to wonder if it’s time for a new name and a maybe a new movement. Let me explain my reasoning. Whether or not CMBW came up with the term complementarianism, they are the public face of the movement and have defined what it means to be complementarian. Many of the CBMW leadership have written affirming Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS/EFS/ERAS) and grounding their view of complementarity in the hierarchy of authority/submission that they see in the Trinity. But they have also gone further than that. As the following quotes illustrate, they believe that ESS is necessary and inextricably linked to complementarianism.

Dorothy Patterson in her essay in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

But subordination is also possible among equals: Christ is equal to God the Father and yet subject to Him (Philippians 2:6-8); believers are equal to one another and yet are admonished to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). In fact, one can be called to subordinate himself to someone who is inferior, as Christ submitted to Pontius Pilate, making “no reply, not even to a single charge” (Matthew 27:11-14). The mere fact that wives are told to be subject to their husbands tells us nothing about their status. It is the comparison of the relationship between husband and wife to the relationship of God the Father with God the Son that settles the matter of status forever. (Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 379)

Wayne Grudem in the Appendix of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

At this point we must object and insist that authority and submission to authority are not pagan concepts. They are truly divine concepts, rooted in the eternal nature of the Trinity for all eternity and represented in the eternal submission of the Son to the Father and of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son.(464)

And,

Such an attempt to shift the understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity as it has been held through the history of the church does not appear to be accidental, however, for the fact that God the Son can be eternally equal to God the Father in deity and in essence, but subordinate to the Father in authority, cuts at the heart of the feminist claim that a subordinate role necessarily implies lesser importance or lesser personhood. (475)

Mary Kassian and Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth in True Woman 201:

Submission is a concept that goes hand in hand with authority. Like two sides of a coin, the two are inseparable. Both find their origin and meaning in the Godhead – in the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. The concepts cannot be properly understood apart from each other, nor apart from the context of this divine relationship. (227)

Mary Kassian in The Feminist Mistake:

The feminist practice of inclusive Trinitarian language obscures the intra-Trinitarian relation between the Son and the Father. The Son was obedient to the Father though He is equal to the Father. The Father, in love, sacrificed the Son. The Son, who had the right to refuse, submitted to the Father. Denial of the Trinitarian relationship denies the concept of equality and hierarchy that is evident in the Godhead and throughout Scripture. (171)

And,

Male-female relationships also teach us something of the inter-Trinitarian relationship within the Godhead itself: Christ submits to and yet is equal to the Father. A wife submits to and yet is equal to her husband. When the male-female relationship functions according to God’s design, it illustrates inherent truths about God. Remember the creation account in Genesis? In the beginning God said, “Let us …” Note the plural “us” – this is a conversation between members of the Godhead: “Let us make man in our image. … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:26-27, emphasis added.) Ultimately, therefore, who God created us to be as male and female has very little to do with who we are – and very much to do with who God is. That’s why it’s so important that we honor His design. (298)

Elisabeth Elliot quoting Kathy Kristy in Let Me Be a Woman:

We know that this order of rule and submission is descended from the nature of God Himself. Within the Godhead there is both the just and legitimate authority of the Father and the willing and joyful submission of the Son. From the union of the Father and the Son proceeds a third personality, the Holy Spirit. He proceeds from them not as a child proceeds from the union of a man and a woman, but rather as the personality of a marriage proceeds from the one flesh which is established from the union of two separate personalities. Here, in the reflection of the nature of the Trinity in the institution of marriage is the key to the definition of masculinity and femininity. The image of God could not be fully reflected without the elements of rule, submission, and union. (51)

Wayne Grudem in a discussion on Revive Our Hearts:

The equality and differences between men and women reflect the equality and differences in the Trinity. There is much more at stake in this issue of manhood and womanhood than just how we relate as men and women. … The idea of headship and submission began before creation in the relationship between the Father and Son in the Trinity. The Father has a leadership role and authority to initiate and direct that the Son does not have. That means the Father was Father and the Son was Son before the world was created. When did the idea of headship and submission begin? The idea of headship and submission never began. The idea of headship and submission never began. It has existed eternally in the relationship between the Father and Son in the Trinity. It exists in the eternal nature of God himself.

Leslie Basham: That’s Dr. Wayne Grudem, helping us understand that biblical marriages are important. When you accept your role in marriage, you are reflecting the nature of the Trinity.

As the recent Trinitarian debate has shown, ESS/EFS/ERAS is simply not compatible with orthodox, confessional Christianity. I had hopes that CBMW would move to distance itself from the ESS teachings. When Owen Strachan resigned as President of CBMW, I hoped they would take the opportunity to bring in someone who was not a proponent of ESS. With the appointment of Denny Burk this week as Strachan’s replacement, it’s clear that they are not moving away from ESS. This is a shame and a wasted opportunity.

So here’s my argument:

  • CBMW defines complementarianism
  • CBMW leadership teach Eternal Subordination of the Son
  • Confessional Christians explain that ESS is contrary to orthodox, Nicene Trinitarianism
  • CBMW leadership (Owen Strachan) says there is room for both Nicene and ESS views of the Trinity within the complementarian movement
  • CBMW leadership/authors say ESS is the foundation of complementarianism
  • CBMW picks new president who also affirms ESS

Given these points, as a confessional, orthodox, Nicene Christian, I don’t believe the name complementarian defines me or my position on the Trinity or gender roles. We need a new name. We need a name that reflects our beliefs that

  • God made man: male and female in the image of God
  • In Christ, male and female are equal before God
  • Husbands are called to servant, sacrificial leadership of their wives, loving them as Christ loves the church
  • Wives are called to willing submission to their husbands, obeying them as the church obeys Christ
  • Ordination is restricted to qualified males in the church
  • Marriage is between one man and one woman
  • Men and women need each other and depend on each other (1 Cor. 11)

Earlier this week, I read Wendy Alsup’s post on nomenclature and doctrine. What she said really resonated with me and how I’ve been feeling for some time:

Many evangelicals claim the name complementarian. I have myself identified that way since the time I first became aware of the term about fifteen or so years ago. For many who identify as complementarian, they use it simply to mean that they are not egalitarian. They believe that Paul’s instructions to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5 and on male-only elders in I Timothy 3 transcend time or culture and remain relevant for today. However, I have come to realize that the term complementarian was coined by a group of people with a very specific agenda related to evangelical feminism. The outworking of some of their agenda has been seen in the recent debate on the Eternal Submission of the Son. I personally have some big differences with those who founded the conservative complementarian movement and would love for there to be a different word to identify non-egalitarians.

It’s time for a new name. Instead of saying, “I’m not that kind of complementarian,” we need a new name. So, let’s open up the discussion. What name would you choose?

The NIV Zondervan Study Bible: A Comparison of Study Notes

After my post on the ESV Study Bible notes and the Eternal Subordination of the Son, several people asked me about how other study Bibles compare. I was asked about the study notes in the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible was edited by Dr. D.A. Carson. Below are the same Bible passages as in the previous article followed by the study notes from the 2015 NIV Zondervan Study Bible. I used an online version, so there are no page numbers. Eternal functional subordination (EFS) does appear in the notes.

Matthew 11:27: All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Cf. John 14:6. Jesus is the only way to the Father, and God reveals himself to his chosen people through Jesus.

Matthew 28:18: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

As a result of his faithfulness to his mission, Jesus once again has returned to his exalted position as divine Son of God with “all authority in heaven and on earth”

Mark 10: 40: but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared

Though James and John will follow Jesus in the ultimate expression of cross-bearing discipleship (8:34-38), this will not earn them the places they seek.

John 1:3: All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus was God’s agent in creating all that exists (v. 10; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:2; Rev 3:14).

John 3:35: The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.

The Father loves the Son. See 5:20; 10:17; 15:9; 17:23-24,26. placed everything in his hands. See Matt 11:27; Luke 10:22. (emphasis original)

John 5:18-19: This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

by himself. On his own initiative. The Son cannot act independently of the Father. can do only what he sees his Father doing. Their Father-Son relationship is not reciprocal; Scripture never says that the Father does only what he sees the Son doing. They have distinct roles: the Father initiates, sends, commands, commissions, grants; the Son responds, obeys, performs his Father’s will, receives authority. The Son is the Father’s agent, though much more than an agent. whatever the Father does the Son also does. This is why (“because”) it is impossible for the Son to act independently and set himself over against the Father as another God. It is also another claim that Jesus is God (see note on 1:1). (emphasis original)

John 12:49: For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.

See notes on 5:16-30; 8:28b-29.

5:16-30 The Authority of the Son. Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath (vv. 1-15) triggers some opposition that he quickly transforms into a teaching about the nature of his sonship to the Father (see “Sonship,” p. 2664). The Father has granted the Son authority to raise the dead (see “Death and Resurrection,” p. 2670) and to judge (see “Wrath,” p. 2681).

8:28b-29 Restates Jesus’ argument in v. 16; 3:34; 5:19-30; 6:38.

John 14:28: You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

The Father in his undiminished glory is greater than the Son in his incarnate state. That is the primary thought here, for the context shows that Jesus anticipates his departure precisely because it means he will return to that glory (17:5). This does not imply that Jesus is less than fully God because “greater than” does not refer to their being and essence (see notes on 1:1; 5:17-19,23; 8:24; 12:41). Yet “the Father is greater than I” also echoes 3:17; 5:19-30. The difference in roles between the Father and the Son means the Father sends his Son into the world and the Son obeys (v. 31); the Father “shows” him what to do and the Son performs it (5:20). The functional submission of the Son reaches back into eternity. (emphasis added)

Acts 1:7: He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.

In line with Jewish expectations of their day, the disciples are thinking of the kingdom of Israel in nationalistic terms. While Jesus does not deny the future consummation of the kingdom, the “times or dates” are not to be their concern (cf. Mark 13:32; 1 Thess 5:1). Their role is to complete Jesus’ mission (v. 1) by taking the message of salvation to the ends of the earth (v. 8).

Acts 2:33: Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

Jesus’ faithfulness to his Messianic role resulted in his exaltation “to the right hand of God” and a return to the glory he had before the incarnation (Phil 2:6-11). The Spirit guided and empowered Jesus during his earthly ministry (Luke 3:21-22;4:1,14,18), and now Jesus directs the Spirit.

Ephesians 1:4: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

In vv. 3-14 Paul emphasizes God’s eternal decision to grant salvation to believers in the following ways: “he chose us” (v. 4), “he predestined us” (v. 5), and “we were also chosen, having been predestined” (v. 11). Since this divine election of believers occurred “before the creation of the world” (v. 4), it is based solely on God’s gracious decision and not on any human merit (cf. God’s choosing Israel to be his treasured possession in Deut 7:6-8, or God’s choosing of Jacob over Esau before they “were born or had done anything good or bad” in Rom 9:11).

1 Corinthians 11:3: But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Figuratively, what is most prominent, preeminent. Every person has a relationship to another person who has a preeminent status: for men (and women) this is Jesus Christ; for wives it is their husband; for Christ it is God the Father. The first pair references only men because the following discussion (vv. 4-16) gives separate directions for men and women. Paul is concerned about the proper relationship between husbands and wives in the church, not between men and women more generally.

1 Corinthians 15:28: 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.

The subordination of the Son to the Father is not one of divinity or dignity but one of function: God the Father is supreme, not subject to anyone; Jesus the Son, fully divine, carries out the Father’s will; the Spirit (not mentioned here) communicates the reality of God’s presence, truth, and salvation. (emphasis added)

Eternal Subordination of the Son and Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology

After I posted my article on Eternal Subordination of the Son and the ESV Study Bible notes, a few friends sent me quotes by Drs. Ware and Grudem from other books. Today I’m looking at what Dr. Wayne Grudem has written in his Systematic Theology. First published in 1994, Dr. Grudem’s Systematic Theology has sold over 300,000 copies. It is a frequently recommended resource.

All quotations from “Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine” Wayne Grudem, Zondervan, 1994. HT: Persis Lorenti 

Dr. Grudem teaches in his Systematic Theology that eternal subordination is necessary in the Trinity and is part of Nicene doctrine since the 4th century:

If we do not have ontological equality, not all the persons are fully God. But if we do not have economic subordination, then there is no inherent difference in the way the three persons relate to one another, and consequently we do not have the three distinct persons existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for all eternity. For example, if the Son is not eternally subordinate to the Father in role, then the Father is not eternally “Father” and the Son is not eternally “Son.” This would mean that the Trinity has not eternally existed.

This is why the idea of eternal equality in being but subordination in role has been essential to the church’s doctrine of the Trinity since it was first affirmed in the Nicene Creed, which said that the Son was “begotten of the Father before all ages” and that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” Surprisingly, some recent evangelical writings have denied an eternal subordination in role among the members of the Trinity, but it has clearly been part of the church’s doctrine of the Trinity (in Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox expressions), a least since Nicea (A.D 325). (251.)

At first glance, it would seem that Dr. Grudem is affirming the orthodox teaching of ontological equality and economic submission. However, when he explains that the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father because He is the Son, Dr .Grudem is making a statement about the nature (or ontology) of the Son and the Father. The Nicene teachings of eternal generation of the Son and eternal procession of the Spirit are not about subordination or hierarchy. That is a misrepresentation of Nicea and a misunderstanding of the definition of the terms.

Dr. Grudem demonstrates his misunderstanding of the terms eternal generation and eternal procession in the following quotes:

Some systematic theologies give names to these different relationships: “paternity” (or “generation”) for the Father, “begottenness” (or “filiation”) for the Son and “procession” (or “spiration”) for the Holy Spirit, but the names do not mean anything more than “relating as a Father,” and “relating as a Son,” and “relating as Spirit.” (254)

And,

eternal begetting of the Son: Description of the eternal relationship that has existed with the Trinity between the Father and the Son in which the Son has eternally related to the Father as a Son. (1241, emphasis original)

Eternal generation is not simply the Son “eternally related to the Father as a Son.” And eternal procession is more than “relating as a Spirit.”

A.A. Hodge defines eternal generation this way:

an eternal personal act of the Father, wherein, by necessity of nature, not by choice of will, He generates the person (not the essence) of the Son, by communicating to Him the whole indivisible substance of the Godhead, without division, alienation, or change, so that the Son is the express image of His Father’s person, and eternally continues, not from the Father, but in the Father, and the Father in the Son. (Outlines of Theology, 182.)

And eternal procession as:

the relation which the third person sustains to the first and second, wherein by an eternal and necessary, i.e., not voluntary, act of the Father and the Son, their whole identical divine essence, without alienation, division, or change, is communicated to the Holy Ghost. (Outlines in Theology, 189)

The terms speak to the unity of the Godhead and also the distinctions, but this is not about authority and submission or hierarchy. The Westminster Confession of Faith says:

In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: the Father is of none, neither begotten, not proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son. (WCF II.3)

The Athanasian Creed explains:

The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.

The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.

The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.

But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.

So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

Dr. Grudem’s reduction of eternal generation to Father and Son relating eternally as Father and Son is related to his view of eternal subordination in the Trinity. He teaches that just as a human father has authority over his son, God the Father has eternal authority over God the Son. From his article,  “Biblical Evidence for the Eternal Submission of the Son to the Father”:

Therefore, what is everywhere true of a father-son relationship in the biblical world, and is not contradicted by any other passages of Scripture, surely should be applied to the relationship between the Father and Son in the Trinity. The names “Father” and “Son” represent an eternal difference in the roles of the Father and the Son. The Father has a leadership and authority role that the Son does not have, and the Son submits to the Father’s leadership in a way that the Father does not submit to the Son. The eternal names “Father” and “Son” therefore give a significant indication of eternal authority and submission among the members of the Trinity.

This understanding of authority and submission in the Trinity also appears in Dr. Grudem’s Systematic Theology:

Between the members of the Trinity there has been equality in importance, personhood, and deity throughout all eternity. But there have also been differences in roles between the members of the Trinity. God the Father has always been the Father and has always related to the Son as a Father relates to his Son. Though all three members of the Trinity are equal in power and in all other attributes, the Father has a greater authority. He has a leadership role among all the members of the Trinity that the Son and Holy Spirit do not have. In creation, the Father speaks and initiates, but the work of creation is carried out through the Son and sustained by the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:1-2; John 1:1-3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Hebr. 1:2). In redemption, the Father sends the Son into the world and the Son comes and is obedient to the Father and dies to pay for our sins (Luke 22:42; Phil. 2:6-8). After the Son has ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit comes to equip and empower the church (John 16:7; Acts 1:8; 2:1-36). The Father did not come to die for our sins, nor did the Holy Spirit. The Father was not poured out on the church at Pentecost in new covenant power, nor was the Son. Each member of the Trinity has distinct roles or functions. Differences in roles and authority between the members of the Trinity are thus completely consistent with equal importance, personhood, and deity. (459)

Eternal generation and eternal procession are not about authority and submission. They are statements about the unity and distinctions within the Trinity.

One of the applications of the Eternal Subordination of the Son doctrine is to explain the relationship between husband and wife. Dr. Grudem teaches that the relationship between God the Father and God the Son mirrors the relationship between husband and wife:

In fact, in the relationship between man and woman in marriage we see also a picture of the relationship between the Father and Son in Trinity. Paul says, “but I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3). Here, just as the Father has authority over the Son in the Trinity, so the husband has authority over the wife in marriage. The husband’s role is parallel to God the Father and the wife’s role is parallel to that of God the Son. Moreover, just as Father and Son are equal in deity and importance and personhood, so the husband and wife are equal in humanity and importance and personhood. (256-257)

When I first started reading about Eternal Subordination of the Son and the parallels being drawn between Father/Son and husband/wife, I wondered what those who teach ESS did with the Holy Spirit. It seemed to me that He was left out of the analogy. I jokingly wondered if the husband is the Father and wife is the Son in the analogy, then were the kids like the Holy Spirit? It seemed so farfetched to me, but that is exactly what Dr. Grudem teaches in his Systematic Theology. Continuing on from the last quote:

And, although it is not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, the gift of children within marriage, coming from both the father and the mother, and subject to the authority of both father and mother is analogous to the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Father and Son in the Trinity. (257.)

This last quote is perhaps the most troubling of all that I’ve read. Todd Pruitt at Mortification of Spin has done an excellent job of explaining the danger here:

This goes far beyond reasonable speculation. In an effort to be charitable I want to call it exotic. But that will not do. It is worse than exotic. It may well be blasphemous.
I chose that word with no small amount of thought and sobriety.
The stubborn insistence of Drs. Ware and Grudem to force a parallel between the Father and the Son to a husband and wife is worse than troubling. And, as we can see from the passage cited above, it leads to the inevitable comparison of the Holy Spirit to the child of the divine husband (Father) and wife (Son). These parallels have far more in common with pagan mythology than Biblical theology.
I hope that those who have read and recommend Dr. Grudem’s Systematic Theology will go back and reconsider what is being taught. The doctrine of the Trinity is key. It’s not adiaphora. We really can’t agree to disagree on this one.

The Reformation Study Bible (ESV): A Comparison of Study Notes

After my post yesterday on the ESV Study Bible notes and the Eternal Subordination of the Son, several people asked me about how other study Bibles compare. In particular, I was asked about the study notes in the Reformation Study Bible (ESV). Below are the same Bible passages as in the previous article followed by the study notes from the Reformation Study Bible. Quotes and page numbers are from the 2015 edition.

The Reformation Study Bible was edited by Dr. R.C. Sproul. Dr. Wayne Grudem was one of the New Testament contributors. While I have not read all of the study notes in this edition, from what I’ve seen, the study notes appear much better than those in the ESV Study Bible.

Matthew 11:27: All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Jesus makes extraordinary claims. He claims that God’s sovereign disposition of all things has beeen committed to him. As in Dan. 7, the Son of Man has received all power and dominion (anticipating Matt. 28:18). He alone knows the Father and can reveal the Father to others (John 14:6). The Father alone knows Him, so Peter’s later confession that Jesus is the Christ can only be through the Father’s revelation of the Son (Matt. 16:16-17). Jesus’ knowledge is equal to the Father’s, and His sonship is unique. (1691, emphasis added)

Matthew 28:18: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Jesus now has “all authority.” The Son of Man has come before the Ancient of Days and has received everlasting dominion over “all peoples, nations, and languages” (Dan. 7:13, 14). The last stage of history has begun, as will soon be seen and  heard when Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit from His heavenly throne (Acts 2:32, 33, 26:64 note). It will not be completed until Christ comes again in glory (Rev. 1:7). (1726, emphasis added)

Mark 10: 40: but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared

Jesus recognizes areas where only the Father has authority (13:32). His humble submission is a rebuke to His disciples self-centered ambition. (1757, emphasis added)

John 1:3: All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

This verse also emphasizes the deity of the Word, since creation belongs to God alone. See also v. 10; Col. 1:16, Heb. 1:2. (1851, emphasis added)

John 3:35: The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.

The “all things” that the Father has entrusted to the Son whom He loves (5:20) include the power to give life (5:21, 25, 26) and to judge (5:22, 27-29). (1859)

John 5:18-19: This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus represents Himself as One who has the same authority over the Sabbath as the author of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5), which authority goes back to the creation order itself.

This does not express personal inability, but emphasizes the complete unity of purpose among the persons of the Trinity (1862, emphasis added)

John 12:49: For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.

The close relationship of Jesus with the Father (cf. 17:21-23) is stressed in three respects: to beleive in Christ is to believe in the Father; to see Christ is to see the Father (v. 45); to hear Christ is to hear the Father (v. 50). On the other hand, rejection of Christ and His words is also a rejection of the Father and His words (Luke 10:16). This rejection results in judgment, although the leading purpose of Christ’s incarnation is the salvation of His own and not the condemnation of those who do not believe. (1882, the note is on John 12:44, there is no note for vs. 49 specifically)

John 14:28: You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

This statement must be understood in light of the witness of this gospel to the full deity of the Son and His equality and oneness with the Father (v. 9; cf. 1:1; 10:30). While equal in substance, the three persons of the Trinity have different roles in God’s works of creation, providence, and redemption (the “economic” distinctions among the divine persons). The Father purposes, the Son accomplishes, and the Spirit applies. Hence, the Son came to do the Father’s will (6:38) and, as the God-man, voluntarily veiled His divine glory to follow the way of humble obedience (Phil. 2:6-11). (1886, emphasis added)

Acts 1:7: He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.

The specific years or dates (which some in all ages try to predict) of the second coming of Christ (cf. 1 Thess. 5:2). Jesus made the same point before His death (Mark 13:32). Here Jesus shows how wrong their assumption is that they could pinpoint that the end-time completion of the kingdom is imminent. Rather, only the Father knows the timing of such things. Furthermore, the following context reveals an “already and not yet” eschatology, the idea that the last days have already been inaugurated (Acts 2:17-21 note), but not yet brought to their consummation or final end. (1910)

Acts 2:33: Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

God’s plan goes beyond the resurrection of His Son, who must be exalted to a position of sovereign authority at the right hand of God (cf. Ps. 110:1). The Son is now glorified with a glory He had before the world existed (John 17:5).

The doctrine of the Trinity is implied. Peter shows how the Father (vv. 32, 33) worked in the life, death, resurrection, and exultation of Jesus, His Son, and the Holy Spirit produced the miracle of causing His servants to speak in tongues. Thus, Pentecost constitutes the fulfillment of John the Baptist’s announcement that Jesus would baptize people with the Holy Spirit (1:5; Luke 3:16). (1915, emphasis added)

Ephesians 1:4: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

Paul rejoices that God chooses people for a relationship with Himself. Som suggest that “in him” means God foresaw who would have faith in Christ and on that basis elected them. Not only does this suggestion add a thought that is not in the text, but elsewhere Pul teaches that the very state of being “in Christ” is something to which one is elected (1 Cor. 1:26-31). Paul says explicitly that the sole ground of God’s predestinating love is His own good pleasure, not anything the elect have done or will do. “In him” means that God’s choice always had had in view a fallen people in union with their Redeemer. (2091)

1 Corinthians 11:3: But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

The significance of this metaphor has long been debated by scholars – it may indicate leadership and authority, or source and origin. The two ideas should probably not be regarded as excluding each other. In two other contexts where Paul speaks of Christ as head (Eph. 4:15; Col. 2:19), the notion of “source” may be present (cf. v. 8). Elsewhere, Paul uses the metaphor with explicit reference to authority or submission (Eph. 1:22 5:23, 24; Col. 1:18, 2:10). Here the stress probably falls on authority rather than source (cf. v. 10). (2031)

1 Corinthians 15:28: 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.

Paul’s statement that the Son “will also be subjected” to the Father (v. 28) does not mean that the Son is inferior in dignity and being. Rather, in His messianic work, the Son subjects Himself to the will of the Father “when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father” (v. 24). The climax of Christ’s submissive, messianic work is this total conquest over His enemies, “that God may be all in all,” when His absolute rule is universally acknowledged. (2040, emphasis added)

Eternal Subordination of the Son and the ESV Study Bible

Over at Mortification of Spin, Todd Pruitt has highlighted a handful of quotes from Dr. Bruce Ware’s book, Father Son and Holy Spirit: Relationships Roles and Relevance. These quotes show very clearly how troubling and how far from orthodoxy the teaching on Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS) is:

“God the Father receives the ultimate and supreme glory, for the Father sent the Son to accomplish redemption in his humiliation, and the Father exalted the Son to his place over all creation; in all these things, the Father alone stands supreme over all – including supreme over his very Son. All praise of the Son ultimately and rightly redounds to the glory of the Father. It is the Father, then who is supreme in the Godhead – in the triune relationships of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and supreme over all of the very creation over which the Son reigns as its Lord.” – p. 50

“The Father is supreme over all, and in particular, he is supreme within the Godhead as the highest in authority and the one deserving of ultimate praise.” – p. 51

“…though the Father is supreme, he often provides and works through his Son and Spirit to accomplish his work and fulfill his will. I am amazed when I consider here the humility of the Father. For, though the Father is supreme, though he has in the trinitarian order the place of highest authority, the place of highest honor, yet he chooses to do his work in many cases through the Son and through the Spirit rather than unilaterally.” – p. 55

“In many ways, what we see here of the Father choosing not to work unilaterally but to accomplish his work through the Son, or through the Spirit, extends into his relationship to us. Does God need us to do his work? Does God need us to help others grow in Christ? Does God need us to proclaim the gospel so that others hear the good news and are saved? The answer is an emphatic no. He doesn’t need any of us to do any of this. Being the omnipotent and sovereign Ruler over all, he would merely have to speak, and whatever he willed would be done…. No, the humbling fact is that God doesn’t need any of those whom he calls into his service.” – p. 57

“It is not as though the Father is unable to work unilaterally, but rather, he chooses to involve the Son and the Spirit.” – p. 57

In 2008, Crossway published the ESV Study Bible. Dr. Wayne Grudem was the General Editor, and Dr. Bruce Ware was one of the 95 contributors to the project. When I began researching into ESS doctrine being taught by Drs. Grudem and Ware, I looked at some passages in my ESV Study Bible to see how they were explained. I used several of them in my posts on ESS: Continuing Down This Path, Complementarians Lose and Does the Son Eternally Submit to the Authority of the Father?

Given the recent debate over ESS/EFS/ERAS, I thought it would be worthwhile to demonstrate the influence this teaching has had in possibly unexpected places. The following are quotes from the ESV Study Bible study notes on various Bible passages. The page numbers are from the ebook version. The Scripture passages are all from the ESV translation.

Matthew 11:27: All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

All things have been handed over to me by the Father. This reveals the profound divine self-consciousness of Jesus, as well as the supreme authority of the Father within the Trinity, by which he has delegated authority over “all things” to the Son. “All things” probably refers to everything needed with respect to the carrying out of Christ’s ministry of redemption, including the revelation of salvation to those to whom he chooses to reveal the Father.(6026, emphasis added)

Matthew 28:18: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

In his risen state, Jesus exercises absolute authority throughout heaven and earth, which shows his deity. His authority has been given by the Father, which indicates that he remains subject to the Father. (6113, emphasis added)

Mark 10: 40: but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared

is not mine to grant Though Jesus is fully God, yet there are differences of authority within the Trinity and the Son throughout Scripture is always subject to the authority and direction of the Father, who will ultimately determine who exactly receives such positions of honor. Jesus both defers authority to his heavenly Father and implies that he will himself be exalted. (6259-6260, emphasis added)

John 1:3: All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Made through him follows the consistent pattern of Scripture in saying that God the Father carried out his creative works through the activity of the Son. (6738, emphasis added)

John 3:35: The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.

The Father … has given all things into his hand indicates supreme authority for the Father in the counsels of the Trinity, and a delegated authority over the whole created universe for the Son, as is indicated also in many other NT passages. Yet at the same time, the Father, Son and Spirit are fully God in the unity of a single divine being.(6754-6755, emphasis added)

John 5:18-19: This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus’ claim that the Son can do nothing of his own accord, taken with vv. 17-18, affirms two themes: (1) Jesus is equal to God, i.e. he is fully divine; (2) the Father and the Son have different functions and roles, and the Son is subject to the Father in everything he does, yet this does not deny their fundamental equality. (6769, emphasis added)

John 12:49: For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.

Not … on my own authority indicates again that supreme authority in the Trinity belongs to the Father, and delegated authority to the Son, though they are equal in deity.(6809, emphasis added)

John 14:28: You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

In saying that the Father is greater than I, Jesus means that the Father as the one who sends and commands is “greater” (in authority or leadership) than the Son. However, this does not mean that Jesus is inferior in his being and essence to the Father. (6816-6817, emphasis added)

Acts 1:7: He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.

the Father has fixed by his own authority. Ultimate authority in determining the events of history is consistently ascribed to God the Father among the persons of the Trinity.(7012, emphasis added)

Acts 2:33: Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

The interactive and differentiated relationship among the persons of the Trinity is clearly evident in this verse. Thus God the Father first gave the promise that the Holy Spirit would come in a greater, more powerful way to accomplish his work in people’s lives (as indicated in Peter’s quote from Joel 2 in Acts 2:17-19). Then, when Christ’s work on earth was accomplished, Christ was exalted to the second highest position of authority in the universe, namely, at the right hand of God, with ruling power delegated to him by God the Father. Then Christ received authority from the Father to send out the Holy Spirit in this new fullness. (7020-7021, emphasis mine)

Ephesians 1:4: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

He chose us in him means that the Father chose Christians in the Son (Christ), and this took place in eternity past, before the foundation of the world. This indicates that for all eternity the Father has had the role of leading and directing among the persons of the Trinity, even though Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal in deity and attributes.(7579, emphasis added)

1 Corinthians 11:3: But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

The head of Christ is God indicates that within the Trinity the Father has a role of authority or leadership with respect to the Son, though they are equal in deity and attributes. (7366, emphasis added)

1 Corinthians 15:24-28: 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.

the Son … will also be subjected. Jesus is one with God the Father and equal to the Father in deity yet functionally subordinate to him, and this verse shows that his subjection to the Father will continue for all eternity. (7385-7386, emphasis added)

 

Which is it?

Today, in the continuing discussion over the Trinity,  Dr. Albert Mohler has weighed in to defend the orthodoxy of Drs. Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware.

Recent charges of violating the Nicene Creed made against respected evangelical theologians like Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware are not just nonsense — they are precisely the kind of nonsense that undermines orthodoxy and obscures real heresy. Their teachings do not in any way contradict the words of the Nicene Creed, and both theologians eagerly affirm it. I do not share their proposals concerning the eternal submission of the Son to the Father, but I am well aware that nothing they have taught even resembles the heresy of the Arians. To the contrary, both theologians affirm the full scope of orthodox Christianity and have proved themselves faithful teachers of the church. These charges are baseless, reckless, and unworthy of those who have made them.

While I respect Dr. Mohler and I appreciate his desire to defend both orthodoxy and his associates,  I have to wonder if he’s aware of statements by Dr. Ware that deny the Nicene creed on eternal generation and eternal procession:

The Western church adapted the Nicene Creed to say, in its third article, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father “and the son” (filioque) and not merely that he proceeds from the Father (alone). While I agree fully with this additional language, I believe that this biblical way of speaking, as found in John 15:26, (But when that Comforter shall come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth of the Father, he shall testify of me.), refers to the historical sending of the Spirit at Pentecost and does not refer to any supposed “eternal procession” of the Spirit from the Father and the Son. The conceptions of both the “eternal begetting of the Son” and “eternal procession of the Spirit” seem to me highly speculative and not grounded in biblical teaching. Both the Son as only-begotten and the Spirit as proceeding from the Father (and the Son) refer, in my judgment, to the historical realities of the incarnation and Pentecost respectfully.

(Ware, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, pg 162, footnote 3, emphasis added)

I agree with Dr. Mohler that Nicene doctrine is extremely important and that charges of being outside Nicene orthodoxy are equally serious.  Those who have made the charge that Drs. Grudem and Ware are outside Nicene orthodoxy have not done so lightly.  I believe their own words are strong evidence to support the charges.

In addition,  the charge is not that Drs. Ware and Grudem are Arian. The charge is that they are subordinationists. In his book Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, Dr. Grudem writes:

For all eternity there has been a difference in authority, whereby the Father has authority over the Son that the Son doesn’t have over the Father, and the Father and Son both have authority over the Holy Spirit that the Holy Spirit doesn’t have over the Father and Son. (p. 433)

And,

If we didn’t have such differences in authority in the relationships among the members of the Trinity, then we would not know of any differences at all. (p. 433)

All Arians were subordinationists, but not all subordinationists are Arian. To teach,  as they do, that there is an eternal subordination structure in the very nature of God is the very definition of subordinationism. While the Nicene Creed was specific in addressing the Arian version of subordinationism, all forms of subordinationism are denied as well.

The Grand Design: A Review

Continuing some research I’ve been doing, I recently read a new book, The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them, by Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock. I didn’t read the book intending to review it. However, given the recent debate over the Trinity, I decided it was a good example of why this debate is so important. All of our beliefs and doctrines are interconnected, and necessarily so. What we believe about the Trinity will influence other aspects of our theology, and that is clearly illustrated in this book.

The book blurb on Amazon describes The Grand Design:

The world has gone gray-fuzzy, blurry, gender-neutral gray. In a secularist culture, many people today are confused about what it means to be a man or a woman. Even the church struggles to understand the meaning of manhood and womanhood. In The Grand Design, Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock clear away the confusion and open up the Scriptures. They show that the gospel frees us to behold the unity and distinctiveness of the sexes. In Christ, we have a script for our lives. Doxology, we discover, is in the details.

The authors are Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock. Owen Strachan is Associate Professor of Christian Theology, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, President of the Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), and son-in-law to Bruce Ware. Gavin Peacock is a former professional soccer player, Pastor of Calgary Grace Church and Director of International Outreach for CBMW.

This last month there has been an important debate going on over the Trinity and specifically over the nature and roles of the persons of the Trinity. On one side of the debate there are those who hold to the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS), also called Eternal Functional Subordination (EFS) or Eternal Relationship of Authority and Submission (ERAS). These would include Bruce Ware, Wayne Grudem, Owen Strachan, Gavin Peacock, and others.

On the other side of the debate are those who hold to the formulations found in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. These would include Carl Trueman, Aimee Byrd, Todd Pruitt, Liam Goligher, and many others. There have been many articles written the last two weeks. There is a helpful list at Bring the Books if you would like to read up on the topic.  I’ve written before about ESS and why I think it’s wrong: here and here.

At the heart of the debate is whether it’s correct and appropriate to speak of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son as one of eternal authority and submission. While orthodox theologians have traditionally taught that there is equality in the nature of the persons of the Godhead, they have also taught that there is a voluntary submission of the Son to the Father in the Son’s role as Mediator. This is the distinction between the ontological (the nature of who God is) and the economic (the roles each person plays in the work of creation, salvation, etc.).

Those who teach ESS/EFS/ERAS believe that authority/submission is an eternal aspect of the very nature of God. This is a departure from the historical, orthodox formulations of the Trinity as explained in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds and Westminster Confession of Faith.

This is important because what we believe and teach about the Trinity is foundational to our faith and understanding of the gospel. But it is also important because of the applications being made from this foundation. Hannah Anderson and Wendy Alsup explain in their article, “The Eternal Subordination of the Son (and Women),” that authority/submission in the Trinity is being used to ground authority/submission of men and women.

This is where The Grand Design comes in. In The Grand Design, Strachan and Peacock ground their understanding of the complementarity of men and women on a relationship of authority and submission in the nature of the Trinity. The result does damage to the doctrine of the Trinity, distorts the gospel, and damages the understanding of men and women and how they should interact.

In The Grand Design, Strachan and Peacock teach that God the Son is by nature subordinate to God the Father:

The Son does the Father’s will: “I do exactly as the Father commanded Me,” Christ said in John 14:31. He submitted himself to the Father’s will (John 6:38). This posture of submission to fatherly authority did not begin the day Jesus came to earth. The Father is the authority of Christ, and always has been. The Son joyfully carries out the plan of his Father. The persons of the Godhead are not impersonal, with only titles to differentiate them. They are living persons, and their own love has structure and form. The Father as Father has authority; the Son as Son obeys his Father. (71, emphasis mine)

And

The Father is the Father because he sends the Son. The Son is the Son because he submits to the Father’s will. The Spirit is the Spirit because the Father and the Son send him. There is no Holy Trinity without the order of authority and submission. (89, emphasis mine)

This is dangerous because if the Son is by nature subordinate to the Father then He is not equal to Him, and if the Son is not fully divine, we’re all lost.

Having explained the authority/submission structure that they believe is inherent in the Godhead, Strachan and Peacock move on to apply this structure to men and women. The purpose is to be able to say that women are equal in value to men but also subordinate to them.

Just as there is equality of value but difference in authority and role in the Trinity, so it is with husband and wife. (71)

And,

Husbands are called to exercise leadership over their wives patterned after Trinitarian order (God the Father’s authority over the Son): God –> Christ –> Husband –> Wife (1 Cor. 11:3). A husband also exercises this headship due to creation order: the woman was made from the man (1 Cor. 11:8-9), thus giving the man primacy of leadership in the Garden as he names her “woman” and “Eve” (Gen. 2:23; 3:30).( 91)

In both of these quotes, the book mentions husbands/wives, not men/women, but as I’ll demonstrate later, Strachan and Peacock expand these ideas to encompass all men and women. Now to be clear, I believe that husbands are called to sacrificial, servant leadership of their wives and that wives are called to submit to their husbands. I also believe that ordained leadership of churches should be male.

The difference between what I believe and what this book teaches is one of essence versus relationship. It’s one thing to teach that a wife should submit to her husband. It’s another thing to teach that men are by nature leaders, and women are by nature submissive to male leadership. When you teach that women are by nature submissive to men, it has a profound effect on how you view men and women and how you expect men and women to behave.

According to The Grand Design, men were created to be:

Leaders

Men are called to be leaders by very virtue of the fact that they are created male. This is not a competency issue. It is an issue of God’s design. (46)

Providers

Men were made to work and physically provide. A lazy man who is not alert does not deserve to eat (2 Thess. 3:10), and those in his care will suffer. And he who stays home and watches the children while his wife goes out to work is not fulfilling his manly mandate. It doesn’t matter if she has more earning power; it’s about God’s design for manhood. There may be a season where a wife must step in to help, or a man may have disabilities that preclude him from certain labour. For men in general, however, the inclination to provide should be there. The biblical man’s job is physical provision. (50)

Protectors

Biblical manhood protects women, loving them through gracious leadership. Instead of taking from women as unsaved men do, godly men provide for women in appropriate ways, with the apex of this duty coming in marital provision (1 Tim. 5:8). (45)

Women were created to be:

Submissive

As we have seen, however, biblical submission is beautiful. It is a central feature of biblical womanhood. It is vital to understand that a woman’s role as a helper, her reverent attitude and her submissive response are tied together in God’s sovereign purposes from creation (as we’ve seen) but also in redemption. (82)

Respectful

Women are called to a posture of deep respect. (79)

Quiet and Gentle

Wives, for example, know that they are uniquely called to have a “gentle and quiet spirit,” a spirit that takes special expression in a marriage (1 Pet. 3:4). This teaching certainly applies most directly to married women, but we cannot miss the fact that any woman training her daughter in a godly way—knowing that marriage could be in her future—would teach her to develop by the Spirit’s power such a posture. We cannot think that it is only when a woman gets married that she seeks to exhibit such godliness. (146)

Helpers

What specifically was the woman created for? She was a “helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18, 20). This was the unique role given by God to Eve. Adam was not created as a helper for Eve (Gen. 2:18-22 cf. 1 Cor.11:9-11). As noted in Chapter One, God created male and female equally in his image. He made Adam first but it was not good for him to be alone (Gen. 2:18). He needed someone to help him to complete the commission to be fruitful and multiply and rule over creation (Gen.1: 28). The woman was to help him do this by producing children with him and filling the earth with the presence of God’s image bearers. She was the man’s second in command. So Eve functions as Adam’s helper by virtue of creation. (65)

Life-givers

For their part, women are life-givers. Women give physical life to humanity, a task so great and so significant it cannot be quantified. God has highly esteemed women by making the survival of the human race hang on their care and nurture. There is immense fulfillment and meaning for women in this truth.( 69)

Again, I do not disagree that in the economy of marriage husbands are called to lead, provide, and protect. I also agree that in the economy of marriage wives are called to submit to their husbands’ leadership, to be helpers for their husbands, and to be life-givers, if the Lord sends children. However, I do not believe that it is Biblical to use these marriage roles to define the nature of men and women. If you doubt that this is what Strachan and Peacock are doing, please consider these quotes.

Whether a man is single or married, this biblical vision for manhood stands. (44)

And,

Manhood and womanhood are not limited to the home and church because they are not states you can switch off when you step into in a secular world. (113)

And,

Christian women have a far higher goal than that which our world sets for them: to glorify God as a woman. This involves being a helper—first in the context of marriage, and then as a principle to apply in her broader life. (76)

And,

In the bigger and everlasting family (household) of the church we all relate to each other as brothers and sisters meaning that gender-specific behavior is relevant. When we train men and women in same-sex settings, we help them understand better the very nature of manhood and womanhood. We call men to lead like Christ and we call women to respect and trust like the purified church (Eph. 5:22-33). (111)

The problem with teaching that the roles of husband and wife are actually the nature of men and women is that it stereotypes men and women, and it is contrary to Biblical examples of what men and women should be. The Biblical picture of men and women is much fuller and much harder to reduce to bullet points.

Deborah was a leader. Lois and Eunice lead Timothy to the faith. Ruth provided for Naomi. Believing women are told to provide for the widows in their families (1 Timothy 5). The Hebrew midwives, Jochebed, Miriam, Pharoah’s daughter, and Zipporah all protected Moses.

All believers all called to submit to God, to our church leaders, to civil authority, and to each other. Believers are also called to respect their church leaders and all those to whom respect is owed (1 Thess. 5:12, Romans 13:7). Psalm 131:2 encourages us all to have a calm and quiet soul. The Lord describes himself as “gentle” using the same word as the 1 Peter 3 passage (Matt. 11:29), and gentleness (same root word) is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). God describes Himself as our helper in many places. Appropriately fathers are also considered life-givers (Prov. 23:22). It does take two to bring life into this world.

Because Strachan and Peacock believe that the authority/submission structure is inherent in the Trinity and in men and women, authority and submission become the lens through which they understand Scripture. This shows up in their understanding of the Fall:

Adam should have protected his wife, rebuked the serpent, and exercised his God-given dominion over a beast that creeps on the ground. He was given this powerful role in Genesis 1. But he does no such thing. He hides instead of leading and protecting his wife. As a result, the beast takes dominion of mankind, and then Eve leads Adam. The order of creation instituted by God is reversed, and the man and woman sin against the Lord, and death enters the world.( 34-35)

And,

He abdicated his responsibility to lead his wife when the serpent usurped the created order by approaching her first and not Adam. The roles reversed. She bit, he was passive, they both fell, creation was fractured, and relational crisis ensued. (43)

It also distorts the application of the Bible to believers. Verses that are clearly for all believers are applied to either men or women depending on how it fits their paradigm. It’s the Procrustean bed of theology: what doesn’t fit, gets chopped.

His words in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 apply to all believers, to be sure, but they have special significance for men, who are called to lead God’s people, and thus are called to lead in exhibiting the five traits we explore below. (47-48)

And,

Even as he calls all believers to maturity, Paul recognises that there is a specific way that a man should act, with manly bravery. (54)

And,

A reverent woman is not assertive, loud and obnoxious. She is appropriate, meek, modest, and self controlled, bringing honor to God, not attention to herself. (77)

Because they believe the characteristics of authority and submission are part of the very nature of men and women, Strachan and Peacock don’t restrict their understanding of the complementarity of men and women to the church and the home. They believe that there are certain jobs in the workforce that a woman shouldn’t do because she’s a woman.

Christian womanhood should have meaning in the workplace as well as the home and church. This means you express your femininity in all of life in all relationships. So young women should think carefully about what kind of job they might be working towards. Will it demand a masculine, directive aggression that goes against the grain of femininity? A woman’s challenge is to avoid a thin, quasi-womanhood, which doesn’t embrace the fullness of her feminine vocation and presents what Elisabeth Elliot calls a “pseudo-personhood.” … Surely, there are ambiguities on the matter of women in the workplace. I would suggest, though, that there are certain jobs which would at some point stretch biblical femininity to such an extent that they would be untenable for her (or reversely a man). An army sergeant for instance—barking orders and directing men or a female referee in a football match. (74)

They also believe the length of our hair is important:

Women and men should grow their hair different lengths, according to the Apostle Paul. “Long hair,” he teaches, “is a disgrace” for men but the “glory” of a woman (1 Cor. 11:14-15). The man and woman united in marriage must not look the same or blur their roles in marriage. The man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man (1 Cor. 11:9). (123)

And they give descriptions of what it means to them to be masculine and feminine that have more to do with Western, middle-class cultural constructs than Biblical teaching.

We want our boys to pursue strength, to look adults in the eye when they talk, to shake hands with a firm grip, to welcome physical challenges, to take responsibility in the home, to wear clothes that are not feminine, to play games that are masculine, to jump to their feet when a woman needs assistance and offer it discreetly and courageously, and to appropriately and within reason pursue personal appearance and behavior that is not feminine. We do not want boys to talk to girls like they are are “bros,” to embrace other boys as if they are their wives, to be snarky and passive aggressive in their humor, and to shirk from responsibility and leadership. (138)

And,

We want our girls to pursue femininity, to develop a sense of social grace and decorum, to avoid being catty or enticing in their demeanor, to welcome opportunities to develop domes tic skills, to wear clothes that are not masculine but are modestly feminine, to welcome physical exertion but avoid manly com petition, and to appropriately and within reason pursue personal appearance and behavior that is not masculine. We do not want girls to treat boys like they are “girlfriends,” to look to boys for meaning and self-worth, to be aggressive in their approach, and to shirk from a uniquely feminine manner. (138-139)

Lastly, the view of complementarity taught in The Grand Design distorts the gospel. Strachan and Peacock teach that complementarity, as they define it, is an essential doctrine. “[C]omplementarity cannot be ‘take it or leave it'” (142). They teach that if you understand the gospel, you will agree with them on their version of complementarity. They teach that their understanding of complementarity IS the gospel.

The gospel creates a passion for and understanding of complementarity. You cannot divorce the two; you cannot separate one from the other. If you are to love the gospel, you cannot help but love the Christ-shaped vision of manhood and womanhood that the gospel creates. The two are one. (166)

This is extremely dangerous. While I believe that the Bible clearly teaches that Christ in His role as Mediator voluntarily submitted to the Father, that husbands are to be Spiritual leaders in the home, that wives are to submit to the leadership of their husbands, and that ordained leadership in the Church should be male, I do not believe that complementarity is equal to the gospel.

I believe that the view of complementarianism taught by Strachan and Peacock in The Grand Design is a dangerous distortion of Biblical truth. They start with a faulty and unorthodox understanding of the Trinity. They build on that foundation a narrow and unhelpfully limited view of the nature of men and women. They elevate their understanding of gender roles to the level of a first order doctrine. They distort the gospel.

I’m so very thankful for the light that has been shed on the bad doctrine being taught regarding the Trinity. It is imperative that our teaching on the Trinity be orthodox. I hope that there will be continued scrutiny of how ESS/EFS/ERAS teaching has trickled down through the complementarian movement. Men and women are hurting. Families are hurting. Churches are hurting. It’s time to pay attention to what’s being taught in the name of complementarianism.

Innocence Lost … and Regained

The young couple, with stars in their eyes,

Walks hand in hand with joyful hearts.

A day of excitement and wonder awaits.

What will the future bring?

A boy full of energy and laughter?

A girl with bright eyes and sweet smile?

Anxiously they wait for their turn,

Surely only a few minutes more.

 In their minds are pictures of a nursery

With soft blankets and toys on the floor.

Then it’s time, the wait’s almost over.

The tech starts to measure and scan.

But what’s this? She seems worried and tense.

Why won’t she answer?

“The doctor is coming to talk,” she says.

The sweet couple sits in silence.

The tears begin falling,

The first of so many to come.

His arm around her, She sits on his knee,

That small comfort keeping her from falling apart.

The doctor looks sad,

“Your baby is dying.”

“You did nothing wrong. It just happens sometimes.”

The young couple leaves heartbroken and shocked.

The poor tech is in tears as they walk by,

Sympathy etched on her face.

The young couple, with tears in their eyes,

Walks hand in hand with sorrowful hearts.

——————-

And the baby? A girl.

Born still and too soon.

Their hearts grieve, but with hope.

They will see her again,

And never be parted.

——————–

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21: 4-5 (ESV)

“Rules for Thee and Not for Me”

A few years ago Mark Driscoll got into trouble over plagiarism in his books. One of the books, Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1-2 Peter, had paragraphs taken from New Bible Commentary, edited by Gordon J. Wenham, J. Alec Motyer, Donald A. Carson, and R. T. France . The book was eventually pulled because of the plagiarism. 

After the plagiarism was discovered and before the book was taken off the market, Doug Wilson wrote a blog post with his thoughts on the controversy. Wilson said:

All that said, at an objective minimum, there is a gross citation problem in Driscoll’s book Trial, which needs to be acknowledged, owned and corrected. Looking at the two relevant sections, side by side, we know that there is a citation problem. What we don’t know is why or how it got there, about which more in a little bit. But regardless, however it got there, it needs to get out of there. The problem should be owned and corrected, in public, by the author and the publisher. The same goes for anything comparable. (emphasis added)

He also said:

The production of a book involves numerous people who handle the words prior to publication, unlike a term paper. How could something bad get in? Well, think about research assistants, copy editors, copy editors who think they should have been the author, copy editors who think they should have been the fuehrer, content editors, politically correct content editors, and so on. Just a few weeks ago I had the experience of opening a book I wrote only to have my eyes light upon something that I could never have possibly written, and which some helpful editor (or gnome in the printing press) had inserted for me. It was quite embarrassing, but I didn’t do it, although this leads to the next point. I am nevertheless responsible for it. My name is on the cover.

And:

This is a good argument for only using researchers who are extremely honest, competent, and reliable, and with a system of cross checks in place. But with all said and done, the person whose name is on the cover of the book is responsible to put things completely right if a problem surfaces.  (emphasis added)

Given the nature of his comments one could easily suppose he was talking about the plagiarism in the Omnibus. Unfortunately, these quotes are considerably different from his current response to the plagiarism in the Omnibus volumes.

But maybe the examples from Driscoll’s book, Trial, were more extensive or different in some way? Well, here are the examples of the plagiarism that I could find.

MD2

MD1

These are certainly strong examples of plagiarism. You can see that the examples are mostly word for word, but with some modifications. In fact, these examples are very similar to many of the examples of plagiarism from the Omnibus volumes. Consider these:

Volume I page 526

James, pg 526 (Bruce Etter) This is from the text of the Omnibus essay on James. The material is from the commentary in the NKJV, The Open Bible’s introduction to James, page 1269.

Volume II, page 113

The Rule of St. Benedict, pg 113 (Gregg Strawbridge) This example is from the text of the essay on The Rule of St. Benedict. The original source is an entry in the Catholic encyclopedia, New Advent.

Volume III, page 155

Reflections on the Revolution in France, pg 155 (Douglas Wilson, Natali H. Miller) This example comes from the text of a session following the essay “Reflections on the Revolution in France.” The material was taken from the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The French text of La Marseillaise is public domain, but the history here and the English translation are copyrighted. The copyright information says, “No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook. © Paul Halsall Aug 1997.”

Volume IV, page 366

Gospel of Mark, pg 366 (Bruce Etter) This example comes from the text of the essay on Mark. The source is from an article, “The Use of εὐθύς (“immediately”) in Mark,” by Professor Rodney J. Decker. It was published in the Journal for Ministry and Theology in 1997.

Volume V, page 17

The City of God, pg 17 (Douglas Wilson, Graham Dennis) This example is from an image caption. The image and the text come from a book, Light at Ground Zero: St. Paul’s Chapel After 9/11, by Krystyna Sanderson. The Omnibus volume gives image credit to Sanderson as the photographer.

Volume VI, page 342

The Sun Also Rises, pg 342 (Nathan Tillman) This is from the text of a session after the essay on The Sun Also Rises. The English translation of the German text is by Mimmi Fulmer and Ric Merritt and is copyrighted. Neither author was cited in the Omnibus text. The copyright says, “To reprint and distribute this author’s work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you must ask the copyright-holder(s) directly for permission. If you receive no response, you must consider it a refusal.”

These are merely six examples, one from each volume. Each of these examples is mostly word for word. None of these are from open sources like Wikipedia. The only difference between the Omnibus examples and the Driscoll ones is that there are more of them from the Omnibus. I’m honestly not sure why the “rules” that applied to the Driscoll plagiarism don’t apply to the Omnibus.

I’ll close with a quote from Wilson regarding the plagiarism from A Justice Primer:

In such circumstances, when plagiarism is detected, the one who finds it has every right to look at the cover and decide right on the spot who is responsible. The names on the cover are the ones with the authorial responsibility, which is the primary responsibility according to contract, and the editorial imprint is the one with the publisher’s responsibility, also specified by contract. Further investigation might reveal where particular culpability lies, but the responsibility for the project flows (according to God’s design) to the names on the cover.

 

Wilson Responds

Doug Wilson has written on his blog regarding the plagiarism in the Omnibus. I will quote his points and give my response below.

Omnibus

And a controversy about alleged plagiarism in the Omnibus textbooks just occurred, so some of these observations may be expanded and modified as we learn more. I know Veritas Press takes such allegations very seriously and they are looking into them as appropriate. For the present, we can say this much:

1. The overwhelming number of these alleged instances occurred in captions and inserts, which were included in the textbook in the production process, after the edited manuscripts were submitted and edited. Thus the attachment of particular names to these problems was entirely reckless.

I am glad to hear that Veritas Press is taking this seriously. Doug Wilson confirms what I stated in my note yesterday. The captions and inserts were added to the textbook after the authors wrote their essays. The authors’ names listed in my post are there for citation purposes, as I said from the start. Proper citation is not reckless, but a requirement of publication:

How to Cite an Essay Online in MLA

This is similar to a chapter in a book or anthology. Cite the author of the essay, the name of the essay, the name of the collection, the editor of the collection, the publication information, and the page number(s) of the essay. (emphasis added)

Moving on to Wilson’s second point:

2. The process used by Miller to tag such problems is unreliable, and is prone to false positives. If Wikipedia says “Columbus discovered America in 1492,” we are not much edified by a color coded “America was discovered in 1492 by Columbus.”

I think Wilson is saying here that the highlighted sections were merely similar and not word for word because some words occasionally were put in different order. This might be worth noting, except for the fact that most of the examples in my post are line after line of text taken from other sources with almost no alteration and no citation.

As I noted in my post on the definition of plagiarism, if you move the words around some, but the words still clearly reflect the original, and you don’t cite the source, it’s still plagiarism. From Harvard University’s website on plagiarism:

Inadequate paraphrase

When you paraphrase, your task is to distill the source’s ideas in your own words. It’s not enough to change a few words here and there and leave the rest; instead, you must completely restate the ideas in the passage in your own words. If your own language is too close to the original, then you are plagiarizing, even if you do provide a citation.

Wilson’s 3rd point:

3. It appears many of the tagged problems were from open-source sites. Since Wikipedia is constantly changing, we will have a hard time determining what came from what. In other words, did an Omnibus contributor lift something from Wikipedia in 2005, or did an Omnibus graduate contribute to a Wikipedia article in 2012? Second, even assuming a problem in the production of the textbook, with open source material it would be more a problem with terms of use, and not copyright. More background information can be found here, here, or here.

Let me take these one by one. First, of the almost 70 original sources cited in my post, fewer than 20 of them are from Wikipedia or other “open source” sites. When I cited Wikipedia as the source, I was careful to use the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine to verify that the Wikipedia information existed before the publication of each Omnibus volume. You can click on any of the Wikipedia links to take you to the archived page from a particular date that is older than the Omnibus publication date. So, unless time travel is an option, the Wikipedia sources predate the Omnibus volumes.

Second, the rule of citation is: Did you write it? No? Then you have to cite it. While I don’t recommend Wikipedia as a source for academic work, it still has to be cited. From Wikipedia’s terms of use:

Re-use: Re-use of content that we host is welcome, though exceptions exist for content contributed under “fair use” or similar exemptions under copyright law. Any re-use must comply with the underlying license(s).

When you re-use or re-distribute a text page developed by the Wikimedia community, you agree to attribute the authors in any of the following fashions:

i. Through hyperlink (where possible) or URL to the page or pages that you are re-using (since each page has a history page that lists all authors and editors);

ii. Through hyperlink (where possible) or URL to an alternative, stable online copy that is freely accessible, which conforms with the license, and which provides credit to the authors in a manner equivalent to the credit given on the Project website; or

iii Through a list of all authors (but please note that any list of authors may be filtered to exclude very small or irrelevant contributions).

And from Wikipedia on how to cite Wikipedia:

MLA style

Citation in MLA style, as recommended by the Modern Language Association:

“Plagiarism.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004. Web. 10 Aug. 2004.

As to whether Wikipedia holds copyright, Wikipedia says the following:

The licenses Wikipedia uses grant free access to our content in the same sense that free software is licensed freely. Wikipedia content can be copied, modified, and redistributed if and only if the copied version is made available on the same terms to others and acknowledgment of the authors of the Wikipedia article used is included (a link back to the article is generally thought to satisfy the attribution requirement; see below for more details). Copied Wikipedia content will therefore remain free under appropriate license and can continue to be used by anyone subject to certain restrictions, most of which aim to ensure that freedom.

Wilson’s final point is:

4. Any genuine citation problems that Veritas Press confirms will be dealt with honestly and with full integrity.

Plagiarism as extensive and pervasive as the examples from the Omnibus volumes are much more than “citation problems.” I hope that Veritas Press will continue to take this seriously.