I returned from vacation on Monday night, June 6, only to find that an article on Mortification of Spin, a website of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, had accused me of presenting “a different God than that affirmed by the church through the ages and taught in Scripture.” I was surprised to read that I was “constructing a new deity,” that I was “reinventing the doctrine of God,” and that my view was “more like Islam than Christianity.”
In addition, I discovered that to hold my view of the Trinity is “to move into unorthodoxy” and “to verge on idolatry” and to advocate belief in “a different God.” The author recommended that holding my view of the Trinity should “certainly exclude” me and any who held my view “from holding office in the church of God.” Apparently those who had entrusted me to serve as a professor of Bible and theology for the last 39 years had made a dreadful mistake! (Read the whole article here)
Anyone who has read Grudem's works knows his tendency to gloss over facts that do not support his views. In Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, the compilation work he edited with John Piper, Grudem spends a lot of time discussing the word kephale (head), but his real evidence is limited to a few non-Christian sources, such as Philo and Plato. He does exactly the same thing in the above article when attempting to show that other theologians have agreed with his Trinitarian views: there is a glaring gap between the Council of Nicea and John Calvin. This is a serious omission because the Christian writers that fit in this gap are none other than Augustine, Jerome, Chrysostom, Ambrose, the Cappadocian Fathers, among many others. Grudem appears to thinks they are irrelevant because a few select Reformed theologians support his views:
I could go on, but there is no need at this point to multiply quotations from theologians throughout the history of the church and many others more recently. If Bruce Ware, Wayne Grudem, CBMW, and the Gospel Coalition are outside the bounds of Trinitarian orthodoxy, then so are John Frame, Louis Berkhof, A. H. Strong, Charles Hodge, John Calvin, and even the Nicene fathers themselves! At this point, their accusation simply collapses into nonsense
Does it? Not if the bloggers are right. At this point, Grudem decides to challenge the authors of the blogs to prove their case:
What I am asking for is a quotation from any major theologian in the history of the church who has claimed precisely what Goligher and Trueman are claiming, namely, that it is unorthodox to affirm both the full deity of the Son and the eternal submission of the Son to the Father in terms of relationship.
“But the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Here the heretics rush upon us with a certain declaration of inferiority, which out of these words they contrive against the Son. But they stumble against themselves. For if “the man be the head of the woman,” and the head be of the same substance with the body, and “the head of Christ is God,” the Son is of the same substance with the Father. “Nay,” say they, “it is not His being of another substance which we intend to show from hence, but that He is under subjection.” What then are we to say to this? In the first place, when any thing lowly is said of him conjoined as He is with the Flesh, there is no disparagement of the Godhead in what is said, the Economy admitting the expression. However, tell me how thou intendest to prove this from the passage? “Why, as the man governs the wife, saith he, “so also the Father, Christ.” Therefore also as Christ governs the man, so likewise the Father, the Son. “For the head of every man,” we read, “is Christ.” And who could ever admit this? - Chrysostom, Homilies on First Corinthians, XXVI.
Who is it Who says: The Lord God hath sent Me and His Spirit, except He Who came from the Father that He might save sinners? And, as you hear, the Spirit sent Him, lest when you hear that the Son sends the Spirit, you should believe the Spirit to be of inferior power. So both the Father and the Spirit sent the Son; the Father sent Him, for it is written: “But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name.” The Son sent Him, for He said: “But when the Paraclete is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth.” If, then, the Son and the Spirit send each other, as the Father sends, there is no inferiority of subjection, but a community of power. - Ambrose,, Three Books on the Holy Spirit, Book III, Ch. I, 7-8.
We see, then, that the Scripture states that He is not yet made subject, but that this is to come: Therefore now the Son is not made subject to God the Father. In what, then, do ye say that the Son will be made subject? If in His Godhead, He is not disobedient, for He is not at variance with the Father; nor is He made subject, for He is not a servant, but the only Son of His own proper Father. Lastly, when He created heaven, and formed the earth, He exercised both power and love. There is therefore no subjection as that of a servant in the Godhead of Christ. But if there is no subjection then the will is free. Ambrose, Three Books on the Holy Spirit, Book V, XIII-XIV
For if He were made subject through His nature, He would always remain in subjection; but since He is said to be made subject in time, that subjection must be part of an assumed office and not of an everlasting weakness: especially as the eternal Power of God cannot change His state for a time, neither can the right of ruling Fall to the Father in time. For if the Son ever will be changed in such wise as to be made subject in His Godhead, then also must God the Father, if ever He shall gain more power, and have the Son in subjection to Himself in His Godhead, be considered now in the meantime inferior according to your explanation. - Ambrose, Three Books on the Holy Spirit, Book V, XIII-XIV.
When all things are subjected to Him, says He, then must He be subjected to Him, Who subjects all things to Himself; and by this ‘then’ he means to denote the temporal Dispensation. For if we put any other construction on the subjection, Christ, though then to be subjected, is not subjected now, and thus we make Him an insolent and impious rebel, whom the necessity of time, breaking as it were and subduing His profane and overweening pride, will reduce to a tardy obedience. - Hilary of Poiters, Book XI, 30.
For as these low earthly minds make the Son subject to the Father, so again is the rank of the Spirit made inferior to that of the Son, until both God and created life are insulted by the new Theology. No, my friends, there is nothing servile in the Trinity, nothing created, nothing accidental, as I have heard one of the wise say. - Gregory of Nazianzen, “Oration XL, The Oration on Holy Baptism,” Orations, XLII.
Since therefore he [Marcion] is obliged to acknowledge that the God whom he does not deny is the great Supreme, it is inadmissible that he should predicate of the Supreme Being such a diminution as should subject Him to another Supreme Being, for He cases (to be Supreme), if He becomes subject to any. Besides, it is not the characteristic of God to cease from any attribute of His divinity – say, from His supremacy. - Tertullian, Five Books Against Marcion, Book I, IV.
If freedom of action is better than subjection to control, and a man is free, while the Son of God is subject to control, then the man is better than the Son. This is absurd. And if he who is subject to control cannot create free beings (for he cannot of his own will confer on others what he does not possess himself), then the Saviour, since He made us free, cannot Himself be under the control of any. If the Son could do nothing of Himself, and could only act at the bidding of the Father, He is neither good nor bad. He was not responsible for anything that was done. Consider the absurdity of the position that men should be free agents both of good and evil, while the Son, who is God, should be able to do nothing of His own authority! - Basil, On John V. 19. The Son Can Do Nothing of Himself
The Apostle tells us also of the special reward attained by this subjection which is made perfect by the subjection of belief: Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the works of His power, whereby He is able to subject all things to Himself. There is then another subjection, which consists in a transition from one nature to another, for our nature ceases, so far as its present character is concerned, and is subjected to Him, into Whose form it passes. But by ‘ceasing’ is implied not an end of being, but a promotion into something higher. Thus our nature by being merged into the image of the other nature which it receives, becomes subjected through the imposition of a new form. Hilary of Poiters, Book XI, 35.
For we shall then contemplate God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, when the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, so as no longer to make intercession for us, as our Mediator and Priest, Son of God and Son of man; but that He Himself too, in so far as He is a Priest that has taken the form of a servant for us, shall be put under Him who has put all things under Him, and under whom He has put all things: so that, in so far as He is God He with Him will have put us under Himself; in so far as He is a Priest, He with us will be put under Him. And therefore as the [incarnate] Son is both God and man, it is rather to be said that the manhood in the Son is another substance [from the Son], than that the Son in the Father [is another substance from the Father]. Augustine, On the Trinity, Book I, Ch. 10.
“If any man says that the Son is incapable of birth and without beginning, saying as though there were two incapable of birth and unborn and without beginning, and makes two Gods: let him be anathema. For the Head, which is the beginning of all things, is the Son; but the Head or beginning of Christ is God: for so to One who is without beginning and is the beginning of all things, we refer the whole world through Christ. To declare the Son to be incapable of birth is the height of impiety. God would no longer be One: for the nature of the one Unborn God demands that we should confess that God is one. Since therefore God is one, there cannot be two incapable of birth: because God is one (although both the Father is God and the Son of God is God) for the very reason that incapability of birth is the only quality that can belong to one Person only. The Son is God for the very reason that He derives His birth from that essence which cannot be born. Therefore our holy faith rejects the idea that the Son is incapable of birth in order to predicate one God incapable of birth and consequently one God, and in order to embrace the Only-begotten nature, begotten from the unborn essence, in the one name of the Unborn God. For the Head of all things is the Son: but the Head of the Son is God. And to one God through this stepping-stone and by this confession all things are referred, since the whole world takes its beginning from Him to whom God Himself is the beginning” - Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia (359) The Creed according to the Council of the East.Council convened at 359, On the councils, or the faith of the Easterns, XXVI, 59-60)