Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Sydney (and Others') Subordinationism

Anglicans in South Australia have an email list for news, events and some theological discussion. I recently put a link to my post on Sydney subordinationism
on sa-anglican and we had some good discussion. Here is my final reply:

Here is the theo-logic of the point I am making. [I understand you to be saying:]

· The relations are the being of God

· The Son is relationally subordinate to the Father

· And this is an asymmetrical subordination which you see as the consequence of the Father as source of Godhead

How then to prevent the subordinate relationship being predicated of the being (of God)? I know you don’t believe the Son is subordinate in being, but only subordinate relationally. But that is the point. Once the relations of Father and Son are separated from the being (your claim that relational subordination is functional not ontological) a fourth behind the persons is posited (the being of God, because being has been separated from the relations). Which is exactly why the Fathers said the relations are the being. It is not enough to say that subordination is divine. Of course, mutual subordination/ self-effacement/ and service are divine; that is not at issue. Within the Trinity if the relations of Father and Son are subordinate this has implications for the being of God. If what you are talking about is a mutual self-effacement within the Godhead, well, I wonder what all this has been about.

And finally, if the Son is eternally (and asymmetrically) subordinate to the Father, what are the implications for anthropology? Sydney is making the connections between doctrine of God and relations between men and women by claiming that, on the basis of the eternal functional subordination of the Son, women are functionally subordinate but ontologically equal. But my suspicion is that they have done it the other way. They have begun with their ideological oppression of women and played it back onto the doctrine of God. And that’s why it doesn’t work.

All those who believe the Sydney line should do this little exercise: make a list of the things that the subordination of women amounts to. Then apply this to the relationship between Father and Son eternally. And if the relations are the being, then how to stop these relations being predicated of the very being of God?

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