Friday, December 09, 2016

Christmas, the Trinity, Husbands and Wives

I have written before on the doctrinal error of the eternal subordination of the Son, but my father (Paul Burleson) has recently written an excellent post that shows how one's view of the Trinity affects your understanding of both Christmas and marriage! Read ... and enjoy!

Image result for Christmas garland

Christmas, the Trinity, Husbands and Wives
Paul Burleson

Christmas is coming. It's a celebration of Jesus coming to do a redemptive work. It's a mystery, but some things can be ruled in OR out of that mystery.

Some Christians have mistakenly applied a subordinate relationship to the persons of the Trinity in their eternal nature. I.e., even before the Logos became incarnate as Jesus born in Bethlehem, He was subordinate [they say] to God the Father, though the Persons of the Godhead were equal in essence or nature. Thus, [they say] a relationship of authority and submission, a kind of chain of command if you will, is present within the Trinity by nature. If the Son IS eternally begotten by the Father, then, they would say, His very existence in some way depends on the Father, thus the submission.

So the concept of eternal subordination would seem to be a natural corollary with this kind of thinking. And, for them, this leads to an interpretation of marriage that would make the husband LIKE the Father, ruling, and wives LIKE the Son, in submission, because [they say] the Son's submission is an ETERNAL thing. [But they're also forgetting that marriage has no eternality about it as there is no marriage in heaven.]

In my judgment this is NOT a correct understanding of the Incarnation. The many passages that could be cited that certainly do show the subordination of Christ to the Father are to be understood as a reference to the role of SERVANT which the Logos VOLUNTARILY assumed as a result of the incarnation. [Which, by the way, is to be the role of BOTH husband and wife to each other, SERVING one another. See Ephesians 5:21 resulting from the imperative in 5:18] There is no relationship of subordination among the three Persons of the Trinity before the Incarnation to be found in the scripture. It has to be ASSUMED because of our human view of Parent/Child relationships transferred on to an eternal level.

Assumptions cannot be allowed that would present a Son or Spirit with anything LESS [even authority] than the Father. Thus, the subordination of the Son to the Father is to be seen as FUNCTIONAL ONLY and ONLY for His earthly sojourn and not ONTOLOGICAL at all. [Within the nature of the Trinity] It has to do with the Son’s office and work on EARTH and not his PERSON in pre-time or post-time. [Eternity]

What we have in scripture is an Eternal-Sonship that is totally UNLIKE any sonship we have on planet earth. So whatever "submission" Jesus experienced on this earth to the Father was assumed and limited to His earthly sojourn. Jesus Christ the God-man, as the Son of Man, is the Father’s servant, and he does the will of the Father; but this is an aspect of the humiliation that he freely chose to endure for the sake of our salvation. It is NOT a testimony to His Eternal Nature OR FUNCTION as there is Eternal Equality in the Three Persons of the Godhead.


Bob Cleveland said...

It seems quite common for man to attempt to conform God to the image of man. Subtle things like Jesus must have been angry when he drove the money changers and merchants out of the temple. My reasoning tells me that people think something like "We'd never do that unless we lost it.....", and we try to apply that to God and Jesus.

Same thing for anything we say after "God can't.....". God can do anything He wants to. There are simply no limits.

I suppose it is a reflection on the ego of man, that we think we can really understand and explain God. All we can do is to tell what God has said. And as someone once wrote "He told us everything we know, but He didn't tell us everything HE knows."

RB Kuter said...

I agree with Bob in saying that we "created beings" can only marvel at the infinite nature of our Creator-Father. Still, we do have the advantage of having His living Spirit indwelling us so as to give us much insight into His divine nature and works. At the same time, we strive, appropriately I believe, to understand more and more of Him. This enriches our relationship and service to Him. So I too strive to understand the nature of this "triune" aspect while recognizing how essential it is not to distort it for the sake of gratifying my own satisfaction in understanding (as the Jehovah Witnesses and other cults do).

For me, it helps to consider the "burning bush" encountered by Moses. God manifested Himself as the "bush" for His purpose of engaging Mose and giving a sign of His presence, reality, supernatural power. God caused the "bush" to be limited in that it was in one place; but God still simultaneously maintained His universal presence. The "bush" was physical in nature but maintained a divine spiritual nature. God was in the "bush" momentarily to serve His mission.

This is indeed an awkward attempt to explain how God did choose to enter the physical realm as a man, Jesus Christ. He chose to limit aspects of Himself in that form of manifestation. He used this form to achieve His objectives of engaging mankind,modeling how mankind should relate to God, redeeming mankind, and communicating His Plan, nature and intentions. So, like "the bush", God chose to form Himself as a man who was limited, yet without compromising His infinite nature, presence and works.

Like Bob and Mr. Burleson, I recognize we will never be able to grasp all of the essence of God and I am content with that. But this one illustration at least helps me in my thirst to better understand.

Shari England said...

Love your inference of the burning bush.