Are Calvinism & Complementarianism Related?

A couple of weeks ago, we noted Molly Worthen‘s piece in the New York Times about Mark Driscoll and about the revival of Calvinism among evangelicals. In a letter to the editor in yesterday’s New York Times magazine, Douglas Groothuis took umbrage with one aspect of Worthen’s description of Calvinism. Here’s his complaint in his own words:

“Mark Driscoll’s emphasis on gender hierarchy in the church is not a logical implication of his Calvinist beliefs, as your article states. Calvinism argues that women and men are equally depraved and unable to save themselves from God’s wrath. While many Calvinists teach that women are restricted in their opportunities to serve through leadership in the church (because of a bogus interpretation of biblical texts), there is nothing intrinsic to Calvinism that leads to female subordination. Women are no more alienated from God than men, no less redeemable by God’s grace through faith and no less able to lead wisely in the church.”

As a Calvinist and a Complementarian, I can think of at least a couple of words in response.

First, Groothuis is probably correct to say that “gender hierarchy” is not a necessary implication of Calvinism. But that does not mean that a Calvinist’s views have no relation to a hierarchical view of gender. Most any evangelical Calvinist would insist that Calvinism is the necessary implication of his commitment to sola scriptura. In other words, Calvinists tend to be bibliocentric souls with a keen commitment to the authority of scripture. It is that same commitment to scripture that drives so many Calvinists to a complementarian view of gender roles. That being said, I do not mean to imply that all Calvinists with a high view of scripture come to a Complementarian view (think Roger Nicole). But it would be wrong to imply that there is no connection between the two. Scripture is the link.

Second, the last line strikes me as totally irrelevant both to Worthen’s article in particular and to the evangelical gender debate in general. I am a Complementarian, and there’s nothing in that last line that I would disagree with—even the “no less able to lead” part. The evangelical gender debate has never been about whether or not females have leadership abilities. Both sides agree that they do. The debate centers upon what the Bible teaches about the appropriate exercise of those abilities. Complementarians believe the Bible to teach that a woman’s leadership abilities must be exercised in deference to male headship in the home and in the church. Egalitarians argue that there is no such limitation on gifted female leaders. At bottom, the debate is about what the authoritative scriptures teach. On that question, there is still a great difference of opinion, but on the question of female leadership ability there is not.

Douglas Groothuis has an engaging blog. Although we are on opposite sides of the evangelical gender debate, I really appreciate his consistent support for life. If you haven’t visited his site before, here it is: http://theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com.

46 Responses to Are Calvinism & Complementarianism Related?

  1. Pete January 26, 2009 at 12:58 am #

    This is going to be long for a comment. Sorry.

    A friend and I were discussing the “Do relations of authority and submission exist eternally among the Persons of the Godhead?” debate at TEDS last October, and Kevin Giles’ accusation of Ware and Grudem as Arians. I think that I made I made a similar comment as you did, that there doesn’t seem to be a theological connection between complementarianism and Calvinism, then he commented about the logical order of God’s ordinance of the fall and speaking creation into being. For a Calvinist, it goes God ordained the fall, then He formed all creation. Piper usually refers to Revelation 13:8, “all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.”

    But if Christ was the slain Lamb before the foundation of the world, it implies that God the Father in eternity past ordained sending His Son to take the cross. So, the Father must have had authority in eternity past. This immediately sounds like 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 egalitarians say that the Son only became functionally subordinate in His incarnation, not in eternity past.

    Here’s a summary: If a Calvinistic, then God the Father ordained sending His Son to the world to die on the cross happened in eternity past. This implies eternal roles of authority in the Godhead. These eternal roles of authority are imaged by husband and wife being equal, yet there being authority-submission relations, i.e., complementarianism.

    So being a consistent Calvinist implies being a complementarian. The converse is not necessarily true; Arminians can have God in eternity past foreknow (without ordaining) the fall (prior to creation), and ordain Christ to go to the cross.

    Again, sorry for the length. What do you think?

  2. D Groothuis January 26, 2009 at 2:49 am #

    There is no reason to restrict women from being pastors unless they are somehow inferior in that position. That is the logic of it in a nutshell. See the discussion of this by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis in “Discovering Biblical Equality.”

    I hold to Sola Scriptura as well. I simply to not interpret Scripture as teaching gender hierarchy.

  3. Julie McClung January 26, 2009 at 9:17 am #

    Excellent post, Denny. Thanks!

  4. Matt Svoboda January 26, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    Yeah, great post Denny.

  5. John January 26, 2009 at 12:30 pm #

    First, why am I always modified? Second, why do you always delete all my posts?

  6. Denny Burk January 26, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

    John and others,

    Please post using your last name.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  7. Peter Eddy January 26, 2009 at 7:16 pm #

    Sorry. I will include my last name from now on as well.

  8. Darius T January 26, 2009 at 8:26 pm #

    Pete, I don’t think it is necessary for you to post your last name since it is included in your blog, which is linked to your name. As long as your last name is available, I believe that fulfills the spirit of Denny’s “law.”

  9. Sue January 27, 2009 at 12:41 am #

    Then I hope that I also meet Denny’s law. 🙂

    1) It is important to remember that Calvin studied from the Vulgate and his understanding of Gen. 3:15 was,

    et sub viri potestate eris et ipse dominabitur tui

    And you will be under the authority of your husband and he will rule you

    Calvin believed that woman was subjugated to her husband by the fall and must remain under the rule of her husband because of the fall. Complementarians believe something quite different. AFAIK.

    2) Calvin also believed that Eph. 5:21 enjoined Christians to mutuality and complementarians believe that Eph. 5:21 teaches that some should submit to others.

    I appreciate that you are talking about Calvinism and not Calvin but I don’t know how great the difference is.

    3) Another issue is that the Westminster Confession stated that,

    “In the unity of the Godhead head there be three persons, of one substance, power(authority), and eternity: God the Father, God Son, and God the Holy Ghost.1

    In Deitatis unitate personæ tres sunt unius ejusdemque essentiæ, potential ac æternitatis; Deus Pater, Deus Filius, ac Deus Spiritus Sanctus.”

    Since potestas and potential mean “authority” (they translate exousia in the NT Greek) how can the Godhead be “of one authority” and at the same time, the Father be supreme over the Son in authority?

    These are just a couple of differences that I see between Calvin and current complementarians. I only know Calvin, but not Calvinism, so I am completely ignorant on some of this history.

  10. S. McCarthy January 27, 2009 at 1:12 am #

    1) It is important to remember that Calvin studied from the Vulgate and his understanding of Gen. 3:15 was,

    et sub viri potestate eris et ipse dominabitur tui

    And you will be under the authority of your husband and he will rule you

    Calvin believed that woman was subjugated to her husband by the fall and must remain under the rule of her husband because of the fall. Complementarians believe something quite different. AFAIK.

    2) Calvin also believed that Eph. 5:21 enjoined Christians to mutuality and complementarians believe that Eph. 5:21 teaches that some should submit to others.

    I appreciate that you are talking about Calvinism and not Calvin but I don’t know how great the difference is.

    3) Another issue is that the Westminster Confession stated that,

    “In the unity of the Godhead head there be three persons, of one substance, power(authority), and eternity: God the Father, God Son, and God the Holy Ghost.1

    In Deitatis unitate personæ tres sunt unius ejusdemque essentiæ, potential ac æternitatis; Deus Pater, Deus Filius, ac Deus Spiritus Sanctus.”

    Since potestas and potential mean “authority” (they translate exousia in the NT Greek) how can the Godhead be “of one authority” and at the same time, the Father be supreme over the Son in authority?

    These are just a couple of differences that I see between Calvin and current complementarians. I only know Calvin, but not Calvinism, so I am completely ignorant on some of this history.

  11. S. McCarthy January 27, 2009 at 1:12 am #

    I’m working on the correct format here. 🙂

  12. MzEllen January 27, 2009 at 7:51 am #

    Denny, I also do not include my last name…single women often do not feel comfortable with that on the web. I know of two women who have left blogging because they used their last names online and were targeted by those who disagree with them.

    D. said, “There is no reason to restrict women from being pastors unless they are somehow inferior in that position. “

    As long as you realize that you are arguing a straw man, and not what complementarians believe.

  13. S. McCarthy January 27, 2009 at 10:07 am #

    I do include ny full name
    on my site and I just take the punches which have been many. Unlike other women, I have never been anonymous – except on one site, yours Ellen. Thank you.

    Yes I have been targeted and there is sexism in the blogosphere but women just have to be tougher than everyone else.

  14. Matt Svoboda January 27, 2009 at 11:27 am #

    Well, Sue you are always welcome at Evangelical Village. I appreciate your kindness in debate and the fact that you are smart helps!

  15. S McCarthy January 28, 2009 at 1:30 am #

    Matt,

    You guys are a lot of fun. That often happens on a group blog, I find. More banter, etc.

    Here is my question for Denny and I feel that he is uniquely qualified to answer it.

    He agrees with the doctrinal statement of the ETS, I assume,

    “God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.”

    Now here is a statement from the Westminster Confession from which this was taken,

    “In the unity of the Godhead head there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God Son, and God the Holy Ghost.1

    In Deitatis unitate personæ tres sunt unius ejusdemque essentiæ, potential ac æternitatis; Deus Pater, Deus Filius, ac Deus Spiritus Sanctus.”

    And here is a statement from Augustine,

    For he was not sent in virtue of some disparity of power or substance or anything in him that was not equal to the Father,

    non secundum imparem potestatem uel substantiam uel aliquid quod in eo patri

    Now look at the bolded word “power” which is potestas and potentia in Latin. This word uniquely translates the Greek exousia. Augustine and the Westminster Confession are unequivocally stating that Christ is NOT unequal to God in exousia, which is translated into English as “authority.”

    Now, I want to know how someone can agree to the ETS doctrinal statement, which must mean that Christ is equal in power/authority to God, but still claim that God is supreme in authority over Christ.

    I do know that there are egals who believe that Christ is under God in authority, so this is not about that. I just want to know if Latin is a required subject at evangelical seminaries, and has someone responded to this issue in writing, and can I read it.

  16. S McCarthy January 28, 2009 at 1:54 am #

    You guys are a lot of fun. That often happens on a group blog, I find. More banter, etc.

    Actually Denny is a great host as well. I did not mean it the way it came out.

  17. Don Johnson January 28, 2009 at 9:32 am #

    Thanks for linking to Douglas’ blog. This helps people study both sides on the gender debate.

    As I see it, as Paul wrote all may teach, it is not a question about whether a woman might teach, it is a question about who might choose to learn from her. If you choose not to learn from females, I think this impoverishes your understanding. Does the truth somehow become untruth if it comes from a woman? Is not the church based on truth?

    Yes, there are a few verses that are puzzling but are not required to be understood as comps understand them. So being comp is a choice and one can make another choice.

  18. Brian Krieger January 28, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    Yes, there are a few verses that are puzzling but are not required to be understood as comps understand them.

    Interesting way to phrase it. I would say the complenetarian view is a recurring example, thought and theme throughout scripture and not, as you say, a few verses or an isolated example with nothing surrounding it. But then again, the debate has been hashed and rehashed many times.

  19. Sue January 28, 2009 at 8:59 pm #

    I would say that reinforcing the authority and submission relationship is in direct opposition to “love your neighbour as yourself.” The way I read complementarianism is, “We assign to ourselves the role of authority in the home, and to you other human beings, of a different shape from our kind of human being, we assign to you the role of submission in the home.”

    Hard to reconcile.

    On the trinity and many other passages, complementarianism has cut itself adrift from traditional Christianity.

  20. Peter Eddy January 28, 2009 at 10:24 pm #

    For the record, Nicea was fought over ontological subordination, not functional subordination.

    The authority relations in the Godhead are not a result of inferiority in power or worth of a person (i.e., Jesus is not valued less than the Father by virtue that He submits to the Father). It is willing submission.

    As for gender, if it’s wrong now for men to lead their wives, as their wives are to submit, then it would seem that Paul was wrong to say, “Wives, submit to your husbands” (Col. 3:18; cf. Ep. 5:22). I don’t think that’s the case.

  21. S McCarthy January 28, 2009 at 10:32 pm #

    Peter,

    Thank you for responding. My sense is that Christ was stated as being equal to God in exousia/poetestas/authority.

    How can he now be under the authority of God.

    This does not mean that Christ did not submit, but it does mean that he is equal in authority to God.

    I hope you see the difference. This has the virtue of remaining within the bounds of orthodoxy.

    Regarding gender, there are two options,

    One can either say that submit and sacrifice are a balanced pair which create mutuality, OR, we can understand unilateral submission in marriage as something in the same class as slavery, a practice to be disposed of by the church.

  22. S McCarthy January 28, 2009 at 10:32 pm #

    exousia/potestas/authority

  23. S McCarthy January 28, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    Peter,

    What I am trying to say is that in Eph. 5:21 the submission is to be mutual. It is not submission to an authority. So the injunction to “submit” does not tell us anything about authority.

    That is, one person can submit to another person who is a peer or friend. The one person can say, “Okay, whatever you like.”

  24. Peter Eddy January 29, 2009 at 12:06 am #

    Did you look at Colossians 3:18? It doesn’t say anything about the husband submitting to the wife. In Genesis 3, when Eve was tempted and gave the fruit to Adam, why did God go to Adam first? Furthermore, Paul said that “they [older women] are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands” (Titus 2:3-5, emphasis obviously added). There’s no hint of a husband submitting to his wife there.

    In regards to your alternative, that authority-submission relationships in marriage be dismissed by the Church as it has dismissed slavery, I think it’s a false parallel to say that wives being required to submit to their husbands is the same thing as slavery being okay. A more accurate parallel, as far as I see it in that passage is wives should submit to their husbands as slaves should submit to their masters. If I were a slave today I would still be required to submit to my master, even if he were not honouring me as having been made in the image of God. One other thing, surely you wouldn’t say children should not be required to submit to their parents. That’s in the same context of relationships with authority structures in Ephesians 5:22-6:10.

    As for Christ submitting to His Father, as I quoted before, 1 Corinthians 11:3 seems very clear: “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.”

    I hope this helps. Thanks for not storming out of the discussion.

  25. S McCarthy January 29, 2009 at 1:36 am #

    No, I am not going to storm out. At this point, I have a fair bit of curiosity.

    It is interesting but I did not say that the husband should “submit” but simply that the mutuality can be made of the pairing of submission and sacrifice, or submission and service.

    Throughout church history Eph. 5:21 has been interpreted as mutuality. Chrysostom remarked that Christ served by washing the disciples feet. Calvin told everyone to submit to their neighbour and did not except rulers. Clement also said that each was to submit to their neighbour.

    So the concept of submission itself does not entail a matching authority. This is not factual.

    Now coming back to Christ and God, we can fervently confess that Christ submitted to God without stating that God was the supreme authority over Christ.

    When the creeds use the word translated into English as “power” the Latin word was potestas or potentia, which is the Latin translation for exousia (authority.) I am suggesting that the evidence points to all creeds saying that Christ was equal in potestas (authority) to God.

    So as Christians we best maintain a traditional orthodoxy if we confess Christ as equal to God in authority, but the one who nonetheless submitted himself to come as a human and take on mortality.

    We do not need to posit an authority and submission framework.

    I suggest that although historic Christianity has on the one hand supported earthly authorities, it has also undermined them by doing away with the one visible church on earth, absolute monarchies, empires, and slavery. Now Christians should extend this same franchise to women, instead of keeping women in a special category with children.

    (Children, I might add, grow out of their subordinate status, at least if they are male.)

    I am concerned with an overall framework through which history can be viewed with some clarity and which shows Christianity as being beneficial by ending slavery and contributing to democratic reforms.

  26. Peter Eddy January 29, 2009 at 2:35 am #

    Indeed, Calvin says that Ephesians 5:21 is talking about mutual submission, but then when you read him on 5:22, he’s clear that the husband has a special authority over the wife. He wrote, “He begins with wives, whom he enjoins to be subject to their husbands, in the same manner as to Christ, — as to the Lord. Not that the authority is equal, but wives cannot obey Christ without yielding obedience to their husbands” [emphasis in the commentary]. It’s right here if you’d like to read it for yourself.

    Anyway, I have no problem with the idea that a Christian who’s ruling a nation should submit in a mutual fashion with other believers. It doesn’t contradict hierarchy in marriage.

    This time I’ll deal more closely with 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”). If you say that a man being head over his wife does not imply she should submit to him as her leader, what implication does that have for how people should submit to Christ?

    I think that the hermeneutic used to interpret away passages which imply submission on the wife’s part is danger because it can be used to eliminate much of the other teaching in Scripture.

  27. Peter Eddy January 29, 2009 at 2:36 am #

    oops, I meant “dangerous,” as opposed to “danger” in that final paragraph

  28. S McCarthy January 29, 2009 at 3:02 am #

    I am quite familiar with Calvin’s commentary. But thanks. However, you write,

    Indeed, Calvin says that Ephesians 5:21 is talking about mutual submission

    Therefore, technically “submission” does not prove that the one submitted to has authority over the one submitting. You agree with that?

    So, the creeds could be right that Christ was equal to God in authority, but still Christ submitted to God. This is possible, and I suggest that this is orthodoxy.

  29. Don Johnson January 29, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    As Sue points out, the pairing in Eph 5 is (submit/sacrifice) not (submit/lead). I think lead is fabricated from a false notion of submit. One might submit to an authority/leader, but the idea of submission does not require an authority/leader.

  30. Peter Eddy January 29, 2009 at 11:27 am #

    Ephesians 5:23 says, “the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church.” Who leads the Church? Christ. The parallel then implies that a husband should lead his wife. I’m not disagreeing that the husband’s leadership should take the form of sacrifice.

    Her submission does not mean that she’s the husband’s slave to be bossed around. Maybe saying that will help us see more eye to eye. The husband’s leadership takes form of taking responsibility. He makes sure that his wife and children are fed (i.e., that there’s food on the table). He makes sure that they’re praying together.

    Sue, what do you think headship means? And if submission is not to her husband’s leadership, what is a wife’s submission? Maybe we’ll make progress through those questions.

  31. Don Johnson January 29, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    Peter,

    The head metaphor is a head/body metaphor of unity. Part of the problem is that head in English metaphor naturally means leader as a first choice, but not in the 1st century with kephale.

    The examples given in Eph 5 of Christ as head are all serving examples, not leading examples. Christ is both savior, Lord, rabbi, etc. but in this metaphor the mapping is to savior. That is why the husband is called explicitly to sacrifice and not called explicitly lead.

  32. Peter Eddy January 29, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

    Hi Don

    That’s not looking at the whole of Ephesians 5:22-33. I disagree with your use of kephale, but putting that aside, what does it mean for a wife to submit if it’s not to her husband’s leadership? Look at the parallel again in verse 24, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” The Church submits to Christ in a way that He does not submit to the Church. Christ does not submit to the Church.

    Furthermore, even if you dismiss Ephesians 5:22-33 by letting 5:21 drive your interpretation (which I think is invalid because you wouldn’t do the same thing for 6:1-9), you can’t do that in Colossians 3:18 (“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord”) or 1 Peter 3:1 (“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives”).

    I’ll quote Wayne Grudem to respond to your comment on kelphale:

    —Begin Grudem Quote—
    The evidence to support the claim that kephale¯ can mean “authority over” is substantial.
    a. All the major lexicons that specialize in the New Testament period give this meaning, whereas none give the meaning “source.”
    b. The omission of the meaning “authority over” from the Liddell-Scott Lexicon is an oversight that should be corrected (but it should be noted that that lexicon does not specialize in the New Testament period).
    c. The search of 2,336 examples turned up forty-nine texts where kephale¯ had the meaning “person of superior authority or rank, or ‘ruler,’ ‘ruling part’”; therefore, this was an acceptable and understandable sense for kephale¯ at the time of the New Testament.
    d. The meaning “authority over” best suits many New Testament contexts.
    —End Grudem Quote—

    I would suggest going to that chapter and reading his full argument.

  33. S. McCarthy January 29, 2009 at 5:03 pm #

    I think we have established that the use of the word “submit” does not entail authority.

    Since you bring up the kephale study, let me outline some of the examples, and see if we can find ones that we find useful to demonstrate “leadership.”

    In the LXX, the only person that was called kephale of a tribe was Jephthah. This makes up a certain number of the 49 texts.

    However, the question is why kephale is not used for any other leader of a family, tribe or nation in the LXX. Jephthah is the only one. This story has the honour of being the only passage in the Hebrew Bible that is not read in the synagogue AFAIK so I suggest that we follow Grudem’s example and not cite it as proof.

    Which other examples from this study would you like to discuss?

    I have to break now but would welcome any suggestions regarding useful evidence.

  34. Don Johnson January 29, 2009 at 5:47 pm #

    Per the mutual submission principle established in Eph 5:21 submission does not imply authority, it might be to authority or it might not, but it certainly does not require there to be authority.

    All 6 examples in the Eph 5-6 pericope are examples of submission in 1st century culture, they are all subordinate clauses.

    Jesus served the disciples by washing their feet, which is a form of submission, but that does not mean the disciples had authority over Jesus, rather the opposite was the case.

    On the head metaphor, I will even grant that leader is in the range of meaning of kephale, but there are many other possibilities and one needs to assess what the metaphor intends. I think it is a head/body metaphor of unity as unity is a major theme of Eph.

  35. Peter Eddy January 29, 2009 at 6:42 pm #

    I can see how you think that submission doesn’t imply leadership. And I think that we’re going to have to agree to disagree on kephale’s meaning in Ephesians 5:23.

    Don’s explanation that master’s being good to their slaves is a form of submission is interesting. I don’t find it compelling, though. Ephesians 5:21 could read, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” [KJV] (e.g., wives to husbands, children to parents, slaves to masters), where the modern translations add literary elegance to it by translating it “one another.” I think that the former is how it must be understood given the context.

    Anyway, one of the difficulties with the discussion that I’ve found so far is that it’s been isolated to Ephesians 5:21-6:9. I’ve brought up other passages, specifically 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Colossians 3:18, which don’t have a context of mutual submission, and you haven’t dealt with them.

    Stepping aside, I’d like to ask what it means for a wife to submit to a nonbeliever, which Peter commands in 1 Peter 3:1? And his command is for both wives who are married to believers and to nonbelievers: “even if some do not obey the word” (1 Pt. 3:1). Peter is saying that wives need to submit to the leadership of their husbands as (i.e., “likewise” [1 Pt. 3:1]) “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect” (1 Pt. 2:18).

  36. Don Johnson January 29, 2009 at 6:55 pm #

    It is not submiting to leadership, that is inserting into the text, which we are not to do. It had better NOT mean obey all the time, as the husband is disobedient-to-God, even tho that was the 1st century cultural expectation. One needs to see the contrast.

    It is just to submit and the husband is told the same with the likewise in 1 Pet 3:7 when the opposite is the case, believing husband, disobedient-to-God wife.
    The theme is submission, I agree and Peter discusses some of the members in a household code.

  37. Peter Eddy January 29, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    Let me ask another question, then. Why is it always the woman who’s told to submit or be in subjection to the man? It’s never the opposite.

  38. S. McCarthy January 29, 2009 at 7:23 pm #

    Peter, I feel the conversation is digressing. My concern is with whether Christ is equal to God in authority or not.

    So far, it seems that the word “submit” does not require the other person to be an authority over the one who submits. However, I recognize that certain verses say that the wife or slave must submit. I am not arguing against that. I am just suggesting the word “submit” by itself does mean that there HAS TO BE a ranking in authority.

    My undertanding of Augustine is that he said that the Son was not unequal to God in potestas which means authority, but is translated into English as “power.” I am claiming that in the creeds, when it says “power” in English, this means “authority” or exousia.

  39. S. McCarthy January 29, 2009 at 7:24 pm #

    Peter,

    I think Don’s main interest may be gender at this point, but I am curious about the ETS doctrinal statement. I don’t feel it is appropriate for me to always be arguing the marriage thing ad infinitum on the internet. 🙂

  40. Don Johnson January 29, 2009 at 8:11 pm #

    Peter,

    A husband is told to submit, are you not a believer? Does not Eph 5:21 apply to you?

    In not the sacrifice a husband is commanded a form of submission?

  41. S McCarthy January 31, 2009 at 3:11 am #

    Peter,

    I wasn’t perhaps clear about the point I was questioning. You wrote,

    If a Calvinistic, then God the Father ordained sending His Son to the world to die on the cross happened in eternity past. This implies eternal roles of authority in the Godhead. These eternal roles of authority are imaged by husband and wife being equal, yet there being authority-submission relations, i.e., complementarianism.

    But Augustine wrote,

    For he was not sent in virtue of some disparity of power or substance or anything in him that was not equal to the Father, but in virtue of the Son being from the Father, not the Father being from the Son.”*

    non secundum imparem potestatem uel substantiam uel aliquid quod in eo patri non sit aequale missus est, sed secundum id quod filius a patre est, non pater a filio.

    However, because postestas means authority, Augustine is saying that Christ IS NOT unequal to God in authority. There is no difference in their authority.

    Since all the creeds ever since have been based on this statement of Augustine’s I have presumed that complementarians do not believe the creeds and are not orthodox Christians. So far, no complementarian has explained why they differ so greatly from the creeds they claim to uphold.

    I have not read Kevin Giles, nor Groothuis so I would not have any idea what their argument against subordination is. In my view, the subordination of Christ is not a traditional Christian doctrine.

  42. Peter Eddy January 31, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    I’m going to give you guys the last word. I won’t respond after this post.

    Don, Let me make my question more clear: Why in Colossians 3, Titus 2 and 1 Peter 3, is it always the wife who’s told to submit to the husband and not the reverse?

    Furthermore, I still don’t buy your claim that Ephesians 5:22-6:9 gives six examples of submission. If they are to clarify mutual submission (supposedly, 5:21), then there’s nothing clarified by repeating the command to submit to the woman, while giving a real clarification to the man. It’s like saying, “Here’s what it means to submit: submit.” I doubt that’s what Paul’s doing.

    Also, it doesn’t explain how in the examples in 6:1-9 have one authority and one who is to be in obedience (the command to obey the other is one-way in those two examples). The husband-wife example fits the following parallels of 6:1-9 (i.e., of one way obedience) if you read 5:22-33 as saying a wife is to be obedient to her husband who is in authority.

    On top of that, I’ve given an adequate translation of 5:21, “…one to another…” which fits the context.

    Sue, all of the creeds are referring to the ontological equality within the Godhead, as I said before. The point is that Jesus was in essence worthy to have the same authority as the Father. But, He willingly and joyfully submitted to the Father.

    I haven’t read these sources, but Dr. Bruce Ware said in the debate on eternal relations of authority and submission in the Godhead (that I linked to above), that the following figures all affirm functional subordination:

    Nicene Creed (325/ 381 A.D.)
    Chalcedonian Creed (451 A.D.)
    Athanasian Creed (4th–5th century AD)
    Thirty-nine Articles (Church of England, 1571)
    Westminster Confession of Faith (1643–46)
    Philadelphia Confession of Faith (1742)
    Geoffrey Bromiley (1984)
    Novatian’s Treatise Concerning the Trinity
    Hilary of Poitiers
    Augustine, in De Trinitate
    Anselm (1033-1109)
    Thomas Aquinas (1224–1274)
    John Calvin (1509–1564)
    Charles Hodge (1797-1878)
    Augustus H. Strong (1836–1921)
    B. B. Warfield (1851–1921)
    Louis Berkhof (1873–1957)
    Philip Schaff (1819–1893)
    J. N. D. Kelley
    Francis Hall
    A. M. Hills
    William Pope
    P. T. Forsyth
    Colin Gunton
    Gerald O’Collins
    John Frame
    J. Scott Horrell

    The opponents only objected to Calvin and Aquinas.

    The Arians knew that the Father was an authority over the pre-incarnate Son, but their rationalism forced them to conclude that implied the Son couldn’t be ontologically equal with the Father. So Athanasius was fighting to preserve the Son’s full deity while holding that, yes, He was in submission to His Father.

    Do you not think that the Father sending the Son (John 4:34; 5:23; 6:29; Galatians 4:4) implies authority? What does it mean otherwise?

    You know where I stand. The “sent” passages, coupled with 1 Corinthians 11:3 are the primary reasons I think there were functional roles of submission and authority in the Godhead. Refer to the link in this comment, specifically Grudem and Ware’s position, for more details.

    All my cards are on the table.

    By the way, Sue. Sorry for not going back to this earlier. I forgot, I wasn’t dodging your response. When I asked earlier why God went to Adam first in Genesis 3:8-10, when it was Eve who accepted the fruit and gave it to her husband to eat (3:6), and she was the one deceived (1 Timothy 2:14; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:3), I was implying that God went to Adam because Adam was responsible for His wife. The way Christ took responsibility for His bride, the Church–dying for her and protecting her from Satan–Adam was to do for his wife and family, but he failed. (I think it’s obvious, but I disagree with Calvin.)

    Thank you both for the conversation.

  43. S McCarthy January 31, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    The Westminster Confession

    In the unity of the Godhead head there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God Son, and God the Holy Ghost.1

    In Deitatis unitate personæ tres sunt unius ejusdemque essentiæ, potential ac æternitatis; Deus Pater, Deus Filius, ac Deus Spiritus Sanctus.

    Here once again potential means authority. Christ is “of one authority” with the Father.

    The Athanasian Creed says,

    But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.

    Sed Patris, et Fili, et Spiritus Sancti una est divinitas, aequalis gloria, coeterna maiestas.

    Majesty means sovereignty. Christ has “coeternal sovereignty” with the Father.

    I have not heard the debate, but I hope it took place in Latin. Otherwise it does not relate to historic Christianity.

    I hope some day to meet a complementarian who will explain how their belief could be consistent with the Latin creeds.

  44. Lydia Winchester January 31, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    “Do you not think that the Father sending the Son (John 4:34; 5:23; 6:29; Galatians 4:4) implies authority? What does it mean otherwise?”

    Peter, What do you do with John 5:18?

  45. Don Johnson January 31, 2009 at 8:58 pm #

    Peter asked: “Why in Colossians 3, Titus 2 and 1 Peter 3, is it always the wife who’s told to submit to the husband and not the reverse?”

    We do not need to wonder about this, the Bible gives the reason.

    ESV Tit 2:4 … and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,
    Tit 2:5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

    The reason is that the word of God may not be reviled (or not be discredited – NET).

    The culture taught and the laws assumed that a wife OBEYED her husband, Paul never endorses this, but tells wives to act in such a way in THAT 1st century culture so as to allow the gospel to spread, in other words, gospel first, social change second.

    Paul is using the 6 nouns of Aristotle’s household code, but changing 4 of the verbs, this is deliberate and the contrast needs to be seen. It subverts Aristotle while seeming to conform to him and it subverts his hierarchy from the inside out, with Spirit led change of the inner person and freedom.

    Your interpretation of Eph 5:21 would damage all the other “to one another” verses if applied consistently to them, such as love one another and be kind to one another, so I hope you reconsider. Also Eph 5:21 is paired with Eph 5:19 in a chiasm and 5:19 is an “everyone to everyone” verse. So Paul by the structure of his letter is making sure that “some to others” is not a viable choice.

  46. S McCarthy January 31, 2009 at 9:10 pm #

    Lydia,

    I am not presenting what I think.

    I am trying to find how complementarians present their beliefs as being consistent with the church fathers and the creeds.

    Bruce Ware supports his thesis that the Father and Son are in an eternal authority and submission relationship in Father, Son and Holy Spirit (page 80), by citing Augustine,

    Augustine affirmed, the distinction of Persons is constituted precisely by the differing relations among them, in part manifested by the inherent authority of the Father and inherent submission of the Son.

    And this is the citation from Augustine,

    “In the light of this we can now perceive that the Son is not just said to have been sent because the Word became flesh, but that he was sent in order for the Word to become flesh, and by his bodily presence to do all that was written. That is, we should understand that it was not just the man who the Word became that was sent, but that the Word was sent to become man. For he was not sent in virtue of some disparity of power or substance or anything in him that was not equal to the Father, but in virtue of the Son being from the Father, not the Father being from the Son.”*

    Ware then comments on this quote,

    If the “Son” is sent by the “Father,” and if the “Son” comes to do the will of the “Father,” does it not stand to reason that God wishes by this language to indicate something of the authority and submission that exists within the relationships of the members of the immanent trinity?

    Lydia,

    You are in good company here, perahps you are citing Ware.

    This is how Ware claims that Christ is equal to the Father in “power” but less than the Father in “authority.”

    But I am sure that anyone who knows Latin will be aware that “power” and “authority” were, in fact, the same word in Latin – potestas.

    Therefore, what Augustine said was,

    “For he was not sent in virtue of some disparity of authority or substance or anything in him that was not equal to the Father, but in virtue of the Son being from the Father, not the Father being from the Son.”

    It appears that Augustine believed that the Son was from the Father, but still equal in authority to the Father.

    Here is the citation in Latin,

    Secundum hoc iam potest intellegi non tantum ideo dici missus filius quia uerbum caro factum est, sed ideo missus ut uerbum caro fieret et per praesentiam corporalem illa quae scripta sunt operaretur, id est ut non tantum homo missus intellegatur quod uerbum factum est, sed et uerbum missum ut homo fieret quia non secundum imparem potestatem uel substantiam uel aliquid quod in eo patri non sit aequale missus est, sed secundum id quod filius a patre est, non pater a filio. Verbum enim patris est filius, quod est sapientia eius dicitur.

    The fact is that Ware’s teaching that God is supreme in authority over Christ, (Father, Son and Holy Spirit page 131) cannot be reconciled with traditional theology.

    *St. Augustine, The Trinity, trans. Edmund Hill, vol. 5 of The Works of St. Augustine (Brooklyn, NY: New City Press, 1991) IV. 27

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