Christianity,  Theology/Bible

Fred Sanders on the obedience of the Son

Russell Moore recently said that Fred Sanders is a gift to the church. I couldn’t agree more. Sanders wrote a review last year of a collection of essays on the Trinity edited by Bruce Ware and John Starke. He closes his review with a brilliant summary of the obedience of the eternal Son. He writes:

What’s eternal, and essential to the divine being, is Sonship, which means eternal generation and the filial generatedness that it entails. Is the obedience of the Son’s will to the Father’s commanding authority also eternal? That seems to me to be a fairly small question, and also one that needs an answer so nuanced it’s practically a change of subject.

There is, in the relations of origin of the triune God, an irreversible taxis to which the obedience of the incarnate Christ corresponds in human form. It’s an eternal procession that reaches its strangely logical final conclusion in the sending of the Son. As for his submission to the Father, I don’t know what they call it in the happy land of the Trinity, but when it lives among us it is rightly named obedience.

This is another way of saying (I think) what Swain and Allen said in the article I wrote about yesterday. It also happens to be the perspective reflected in some of the essays in the book. I think there is much more common ground here than some of the recent controversy would indicate. I hope parties to this debate will see that (Psalm 133:1).

I mentioned this yesterday, but I think it worth saying again that Sanders has an important volume forthcoming from Zondervan on the Trinity: The Triune God. The release date is December 6, but it is available for pre-order now.


  • Adam Omelianchuk

    That’s pretty good stuff, and I say that as an egalitarian who, following McCall, is critical of the Grudem-Ware model. Sanders is reliably helpful in navigating this issue and everyone on all sides can benefit from his work.

  • Rob Wells

    I’m one who is in the early stages of studying the trinity beyond what I’ve been told since becoming a Christian in 1981. I’m finding that a lot of scripture regarding Christ and his relationship with the Father as well as how the holy spirit fit in was really confusing me when I just saw them as three manifestations of the same literal being. Now that I see them as separate agents within the same “agency”, it all makes sense.

    But even that wording doesn’t quite cover it. A good way to put it would be when Christ said “I and the Father are one” was similar to when I say I and my wife are one.

    Again, it all became clear when I viewed it that way.

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