Friday, 14 March 2014

ATHANASIAN CREED TORPEDOES SHEFFIELD SMEAR

The accusation that conservative evangelical Anglicans hold a 'recent' view of the Trinity denying the equality between the divine Persons of the Godhead reared its ugly head at Sheffield Diocesan Synod during last week's debate on women bishops.

But this charge of 'subordinationism', which included the grave allegation that conservative evangelicals are in breach of the Church of England's 39 Articles of Religion, is thoroughly torpedoed by the Athanasian Creed.

This ancient Creed, published probably in the mid-5th century AD, affirmed by Article VIII as 'proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture', and included in the Book of Common Prayer, clearly expresses the complementarian view of the Trinity upheld by 21st century conservative evangelicals serving the Church of England. It declares:

The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is, according to the received teaching of the Church, a complementary, 'economic' ordering of relationships within the Trinity, which does not vitiate the 'ontological' equality of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as divine Persons. The Father is not begotten, but the Son is. The Holy Spirit is not begotten but proceeds. It is therefore quite legitimate and indeed necessary to argue that the complementary nature of the Trinity is reflected in the way in which God has ordered the relationships between men and women in the family and in His church.

Will a retraction be forthcoming? The youth group, none of whom (your curate is confident) is a gambling man or woman, would be ill-advised to put money on it.

A couple of other thoughts emerging from the Sheffield debate:
  • Is it wise to predict that the Church of England will lose conservative evangelical candidates for ministry if women are made bishops? That may be true but the revisionists are equally able to say that it will lose their candidates if women are not. Would it not be better to point out that our conservative evangelical constituency has a responsibility to deploy confessing Anglican candidates whom God is calling into Word ministry? That should not be used as a threat but presented as an urgent spiritual and moral  responsibility incumbent on our UK constituency in partnership with the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.
  • The tone of the Sheffield debate showed the limitations of the declaration of love in the women bishops' measure for opponents. There may be some in the institutional hierarchy who genuinely want our churches to 'flourish'. But the unrebuked smear at Sheffield Diocesan Synod against conservative evangelicals is surely indicative of deep hostility towards our constituency amongst the revisionist power-brokers.
At least, that shows the kind of bowling we are called to face in Christ's service.

32 comments:

  1. Well, OK, Julian, but is this citation from your post "It is therefore quite legitimate and indeed necessary to argue that the complementary nature of the Trinity is reflected in the way in which God has ordered the relationships between men and women in the family and in His church." part of the ancient reception of truth or a recent 20th century insight? For instance, where in Scripture or tradition is there some kind of analogy between Father/husband/father and Son/wife/mother?

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  2. 1 Corinthians 11:3 'But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.' Surely it is obvious from this verse that there is a similarity between the relationship of the Father to the Son, and that of man to woman - as well as of Christ to man.

    Andrew

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  3. Peter, please consider...

    Ephesians 5:22 following 5:21 - why does a wife submit to a husband out of reverence for Christ? What interest does Christ have in her submission? Answer: Christ submitted to the Father for our salvation (Ephesians 1:3-5. It's the logic of the epistle.

    1 Peter 3:1-6: again why should wives submit to husbands, even if they're not believers? Because Jesus gave us that example - he submitted to the Father's will for our salvation.

    In both these examples, the issue of submission bears directly on salvation. It is not just a cultural preference, that is tangential to the Christian message.

    That starts to address the question of why CC's point is both legitimate and necessary.

    BTW Peter, you asked for 'some kind of analogy'. But the issue is determined by more than just ad hoc arguments or analogies. I'd suggest there's a deeper, sustained argument from creation order. At least this seems to underpin the Apostle Paul's account of male headship.

    Actually, come to think of it, what verses or passages indicate that we ought to overturn 2000 years of alternative practice? Are there any??? Or is there any similar conciliar tradition? Answer: no.

    One might therefore ask, no just to be cheeky, Peter, although I grant you, it is a bit cheeky, what's the problem with submission anyway?

    As for me, I'm proud of submitting to Jesus, my Lord.

    I'm proud of submitting to my boss at work, to police officers when they tell me to 'pull over' (3 times in one day last week), and other government representatives, to my bishop (gulp)...

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  4. Article VIII says nothing which bears on the male headship/female subjection issue.

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  5. Hi Andrew and Tim,
    Yes, good texts to cite in response, though none is specific along the lines of 'as the Son submits to the Father so the wife should to her husband' rather there are inferences. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 is ever interesting with the strength of his assertion re headship, the proposing of an argument re hair length (mostly not observed these days, I note) and the weakness of his insistence at the end of the passage.

    There is nothing wrong with submission. It has been a signal contributing factor to the success of my marriage and I have never met a husband who says otherwise about their own marriages.

    What your responses lead me to is a further question (or clarifying of my original question) re Trinitarian language and subordination. It is a question asked from genuine ignorance as I am no expert on Patristics: was Trinitarian exposition among the Fathers accompanied by clear linkage to exposition about the relationships between men and women, and husbands and wives?

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  6. Hi Simon,
    um, your language, not mine. ie. I said submission, you're talking about subjection. I think of them as very different animals.

    But in answer, I'm not sure, to return to the Sheffield issue, that that was the charge. The point of that charge, I gather, was that even to argue for the son's submission to the father was to invoke 'subordinarianism'. The point of invoking article VIII is to demonstrate credal assent to the son submitting to the father and at the same time being of one substance.

    Have I intuited your comment a bit too far?

    The implication, from that credal position, for men and women, is that it is not at all illegitimate to argue that submission implies inferiority.

    Forgive me if I've missed your point.

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  7. Peter Carrell asked whether this was a 20th century insight. Here is Bishop Ellicott from his commentary of 1887 on 1 Corinthians at 11 v 3:

    '‘The meaning of κεφαλὴ must not be unduly limited or extended. The general idea is that of supremacy or pre-eminence (compare Ephesians 5:23), but the particular character of that supremacy or pre-eminence must, in each case be determined by the context, and by the nature of the things specified. Thus, in the first member, the supremacy or pre-eminence is in regard of nature and of headship of the whole human family; in the second, in regard of divinely appointed order and authority (Genesis 2:22, 23, 3:16: see below, vv 8,9); in the third, in regard of priority and office, – the pre-eminence of the Father, as Bp. Pearson says, ‘undeniably consisting in this that He is God not of any other but of Himself, and that there is no other person who is God but is God of Him’ ..

    .. it is true biblical doctrine to ascribe this headship to the holy mystery of the eternal generation of the Son, and to the blessed truth, ‘that the Father has that essence [which is common to both] – of Himself; the Son, by communication from the Father’ (Pearson)..

    .. if the woman stood in a relation of subordination to man, and man to Christ, and Christ (in the sense above explained) to God, the ceremonial relation of the woman to God in the services of the Church might well be marked by some outward token which indicated her true position in regard to man..’

    Andrew

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  8. Hi Andrew
    We are making progress ... to the 19th century!
    Thank you.

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  9. The 19th century was an era of great evangelical advance, including the time of revival in the 1860s and then CIM etc etc. And the founding of the Evangelical Alliance a bit before that. There was a willingness to submit received doctrines to the light of scripture, and there was a high standard of scholarship with much better knowledge of Greek (at least) than is commonplace now (I think). See Henry Alford also, and probably others, on this issue.

    In an article on Fulcrum (http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/articles/the-hidden-issue-behind-the-debate-on-women-bishops/) Ian Paul cited Kevin Giles as saying that the idea dates from 1977, so this is not a small difference.

    One must remember that the Christians of the 4th and 5th centuries had a huge battle with Arianism on their hands, so it is not surprising if they bent over backwards to avoid anything that might seem to speak against Christ's deity. So they tended to claim that the scriptures that show Jesus's submission to the Father pertained only to His manhood - without any real scriptural justification so far as I can see.

    My impression is that the Christian writers of the earlier period did not make this mistake. See 'Power in Unity, Diversity in Rank: Subordination and the Trinity in the Fathers of the Early Church' by Michael Svigel.

    Andrew

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  10. Hi Andrew, I would be interested to see citations to passages from pre-4th century church fathers which show they accepted eternal subordinationism. I expect that the vast majority are consistent with subordination while Christ was in the flesh.

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  11. Peter, in answer to your question, I think firstly the original point has to be understood correctly. Those who attacked the Sheffield evangelicals proceeded on the basis that the church fathers who taught against subordinationism did so in a way that denied exclusion of women from the priesthood.

    The absurdity is manifest. Athanasius, Chrysostom and Augustine to name a few did not admit women to the priesthood, nor to the diaconate except on a non-ordained basis.

    Now to the fathers, I suggest having a look at Chrysostom's commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:3. The on-line Catholic Encylcopedia has a good copy at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/220126.htm.

    Note that in section 3, Chrysostom holds to temporary subordinationism, i.e. while Christ was on earth: "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."

    Then he agrees (as of course he would) with Paul's linking of Man's headship over woman with Christ's headship over Man, and the Father's (earthly) headship over Christ. But he makes the same point which is implicit in Fr Julian's reference to lines 21-23 of the "Athanasian" Creed, that the nature of the headship has similarities (else Paul would not link it) but is also different:

    "But do you understand the term head differently in the case of the man and the woman, from what thou dost in the case of Christ? Therefore in the case of the Father and the Son, must we understand it differently also. How understand it differently? says the objector. According to the occasion. For had Paul meant to speak of rule and subjection, as you say, he would not have brought forward the instance of a wife, but rather of a slave and a master. For what if the wife be under subjection to us? It is as a wife, as free, as equal in honor. And the Son also, though He did become obedient to the Father, it was as the Son of God, it was as God. For as the obedience of the Son to the Father is greater than we find in men towards the authors of their being, so also His liberty is greater. Since it will not of course be said that the circumstances of the Son's relation to the Father are greater and more intimate than among men, and of the Father's to the Son, less. For if we admire the Son that He was obedient so as to come even unto death, and the death of the cross, and reckon this the great wonder concerning Him; we ought to admire the Father also, that He begot such a son, not as a slave under command, but as free, yielding obedience and giving counsel. For the counsellor is no slave. But again, when you hear of a counsellor, do not understand it as though the Father were in need, but that the Son has the same honor with Him that begot Him. Do not therefore strain the example of the man and the woman to all particulars.

    For with us indeed the woman is reasonably subjected to the man: since equality of honor causes contention."

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  12. Thanks Michael.
    "since equality of honor causes contention" is interest and tantalising.

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  13. Hi Michael,

    'I would be interested to see citations to passages from pre-4th century church fathers which show they accepted eternal subordinationism. I expect that the vast majority are consistent with subordination while Christ was in the flesh.'

    I wonder if this debate has been delineated in the most helpful way. I don't think it's possible to establish eternal subordinationism with complete certainty - after all, what do we know, we are mere men - although 1 Corinthians 15:28 seems to me to teach it quite definitely - but a more accessible question is whether the Lord Jesus is in submission to the Father now, and whether He was in submission to the Father before His incarnation, for example in the time of the Old Testament.

    He always lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7 v 25; Romans 8 v 34). He is at the right hand of the Father (Romans 8 v 34, Hebrews 1 v 3 etc). So how can it be said that He is not subordinate to the Father? I really don't understand how anyone who believes the bible can say otherwise.

    Andrew

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  14. Hi Andrew
    The two texts you cite lead to two reasons to doubt eternal subordinationism. First, 'always lives to make intercession' can be understood as an extension of his earthly role, an extension which ceases at the end of all things when judgment is made and (presumably) no further intercession is required. Secondly, the throne imagery as a guide to eternal subordination is undermined in Revelation 3:21 where Jesus talks about being seated with 'my Father on his throne.' The deeper one goes (incidentally) into christology in Revelation the messier things become re relationship between Father and Son as language used, especially "I am" statements, emphasises identification between Father and Son, consistent with where later Trinitarian theological reflection will go in the run up to Nicea.

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  15. I have been waiting to see if any of you theologians provided an exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15:28. Certainly a simple understanding of it seems to teach the submission of the Son to the Father at the end of all things . . . . ?
    But then I am only a 'ploughman priest'!
    Blessings
    Terry

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  16. Hi Peter, if you concede that the Lord Jesus is in submission to the Father now, while still of course being equal to the Father (John 5:18); would you agree that this provides support for the idea that a woman can be in submission to her husband, while at the same time being equal to him? I don't think the complementarians and conservatives think that the subordination of women to men is necessarily eternal - we just don't know, so far as I can see, even less than is the case with the submission of the Son to the Father. So it seems to me that it is enough to demonstrate the present submission of the Son to the Father, to provide some support for the present submission of women to men - not that the conservative case rests mainly upon this, rather than upon the direct teaching of scripture.

    Andrew

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  17. Andrew, my earlier comment appears to have been lost (my fault). I will try again:

    I agree with Peter Carrell's response on those two verses. If its important, I can add more comments. I will respond on 1 corinthians 15:28 later tonight when I get home.

    You wrote:
    "So it seems to me that it is enough to demonstrate the present submission of the Son to the Father, to provide some support for the present submission of women to men - not that the conservative case rests mainly upon this, rather than upon the direct teaching of scripture."

    Quite. I don't see a need to replace one error with another.

    "Submission of women" is a rather vague concept anyway - all Christians are to submit to each other, if it comes to that. What are we really talking about? If it is the admission of women to the priesthood, then the main reason I reject that is because the apostolic church didn't practice it.

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  18. "But then I am only a 'ploughman priest'!"
    How Lollard of you... :)

    "I have been waiting to see if any of you theologians provided an exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15:28. Certainly a simple understanding of it seems to teach the submission of the Son to the Father at the end of all things . . . . ?"

    I am not a theologian nor a theologian's son. However I will quote a few in what follows. I hope everyone can stay awake.

    First, four things to note:

    (1) The words "will be made subject to him" (Gr. hypotagesetai) in verse 28 do not necessarily indicate a continuing state. It is possible that they do, but the future indicative can just as easily indicate a single action in future. The sense then would be that Christ "will be obedient to" the Father at the time that he hands over the kingdom to him, which is a valid translation of Gr. hypotasso in the passive voice.

    (2) The passage in 1 Cor 15:24-28 relates to Christ's human nature. This is shown by verse 25 (He must reign until he puts [Gr. hypotasso] everything under his feet). This is a direct quote from Psalm 8, which refers to putting everything under the feet of MEN, those who are lower than angels.

    (3) In verse 24, Paul tells us "Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power." Due to the way the verses are linked, I suggest it is clear that Christ's subjection to the Father in verse 28 is the same thing as his handing over the kingdom to God the Father in verse 24.

    (4) Finally, note the final words of verse 28: "so that God may be all in all". The end result of the handing over of the kingdom to God the Father and the subjection of Christ the ruler of that kingdom to God the Father is that God the trinity will now rule, in unveiled glory. The reign of Christ as Lord (in the sense that that title is applied to him alone) will cease at that point.
    To be cont...

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  19. Cont...
    In order to avoid sending everyone to sleep, here are just two theologians:

    First, Augustine, on the passing away of the intercessory role of Christ after he hands over the kingdom to God the Father:

    "When, therefore, He “shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father,” [1 Cor 15:24] —that is, when He shall have brought those who believe and live by faith, for whom now as Mediator He maketh intercession, to that contemplation, for the obtaining of which we sigh and groan, and when labor and groaning shall have passed away,—then, since the kingdom will have been delivered up to God, even the Father, He will no more make intercession for us." [St Augustine, "On the Trinity", 1.21]

    Second, Calvin makes the point that Christ relinquishing his roles as king and mediator does not mean a lessening of his authority and glory, but rather, a restoration of his authority and glory to what they were before the incarnation. In other words, the opposite effect to what the subordinationists contended:

    "But when, as partakers of the heavenly glory, we shall see God as he is, then Christ, having accomplished the office of Mediator, shall cease to be the vicegerent of the Father, and will be content with the glory which he possessed before the world was. Nor is the name of Lord specially applicable to the person of Christ in any other respect than in so far as he holds a middle place between God and us. To this effect are the words of Paul, "To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him," (1 Cor. 8:6); that is, to the latter a temporary authority has been committed by the Father until his divine majesty shall be beheld face to face. His giving up of the kingdom to the Father, so far from impairing his majesty, will give a brighter manifestation of it. God will then cease to be the head of Christ, and Christ's own Godhead will then shine forth of itself, whereas it is now in a manner veiled." [Institutes, Book II, Chap 14, 3]

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  20. Hi Andrew
    I think I once read a complementarian line which asserted the eternal subordination of women to men!!

    No, I do not concede the point you make re John. One of the interesting things about John's Gospel is that it presents women in gospel mission in such a manner (the Samaritan woman, Mary as apostle of the resurrection) that if we had John's Gospel as our only Christian scripture we would not derive the subordination of women to men from it.

    Where I suggest care is taken is to avoid speaking of the subordination of women to men as an isolated proposition (as you do in your comment). The New Testament teaches about relationships between women and men in such a manner that to speak of women being subordinate to men is necessarily to speak of men loving women with the sacrificial love of Christ. That combination, along with Michael's reminder of teaching on mutual submission to one another, means there is no teaching on women being subject to men which can be discussed apart from the context of sacrificial love between husband and wife. Whether that leads to 'different but equal' and/or 'subject to but equal' is moot point because that is not the language of the NT. How a marriage relationship is to be worked out in practice is, to me, pretty unclear from the NT which does not go into detail (e.g. Giving the husband the casting vote in 'board' meetings!). But what I am confident about is that Priscilla and Aquila worked together in mutual love and submission as heirs together of grace and coworkers in the service of Christ.

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  21. Michael - thank you for your reply, it is most helpful and I am sure I will return to it from time to time for further study.
    I have found this whole thread very interesting, so thank you all for your input.

    Blessings
    Terry - The Lollard :-)

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  22. Peter, can I press you a little bit more to see if you believe that the Lord Jesus is in submission to the Father now, at the present time. I wasn't arguing that from John but from Hebrews and Romans regarding His current ministry of intercession.

    Regarding the present subordination of women to men, I see that as a general principle from 1 Corinthians 11:3, and Genesis 2:18 combined with 1 Corinthians 11:9 - 'for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake' [NASB]. Of course, that doesn't mean that every woman should be in submission to every man - the scripture is clear that a woman, a wife, should be in submission to her own man ie her husband. (αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν - Ephesians 5:22, 24)

    Andrew

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    1. Hi Andrew
      No, I do not believe that 'the Lord Jesus is in submission to the Father now, at the present time' because it is difficult to understand what that claim means since (a) the Lord Jesus is in a much more complex relationship with the Father than 'submission', being co-equal, co-eternal, and consubstantial with the Father; (b) what does 'present time' mean in respect of the heavenlies? I have no idea!

      In respect of the subordination of women to men, a question to ask is what Paul himself thought because in the same passage in 1C11 he goes on to say, ''neither is the woman without man nor man without woman in the Lord; for as the woman of the man, so also the man through the woman but all things of God" [fairly literal (and wooden) translation] (v. 11-12).

      In other words, not withstanding Paul's recitation of a (so to speak) Genesis-perspective in 1C11:8-9, has he begun to think through the implications of being 'in Christ' as he gets to verses 11-12? His whole argument in 1 C11:1-16 seems to tale off quite weakly in v. 16. Moreover, along the way he has proposed things about hair length and covering of hair which (in my experience) are notoriously no longer observed (at least since the 1960s when have a photo of our parish church in which every woman is wearing a hat!!).

      I do not want to suggest that raising questions re 1C11 settles debate over the subordination of women but I am proposing that the debate has not a few subtleties to reckon with, including the possibility that if we do not insist on women being veiled in church then we should hesitate to assert the subordination of wives to husbands/

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    2. 1. “it is difficult to understand what that claim means since (a) the Lord Jesus is in a much more complex relationship with the Father than 'submission', being co-equal, co-eternal, and consubstantial with the Father;”

      Peter, I agree that its difficult, but then its also difficult for a human being to conceptualize a God who is three and yet one at the same time. We can indeed say, “This is a hard teaching; who can accept it?” [John 6:60] but that doesn’t mean that the teaching is incorrect.

      Re your point about co-equal etc, I don’t know if you accept that the Athanasian Creed has any relevance. It was once required to be read in churches by the Book of Common Prayer, and that used to mean something to Anglicans all over the world, but times have changed. At any rate, it states at line 33:

      “Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.”

      Why is that any different to Andrew saying that Christ is in submission to God the Father, at least during the period of his incarnation?

      2. “what does 'present time' mean in respect of the heavenlies? I have no idea!”

      I can’t answer for Andrew, but patristic and classical protestant teaching (see e.g. excerpts from Chrysostom, Augustine and Calvin above) read in the scriptures that Christ is in a form of submission to the Father during the period between his incarnation and his glorious return. So I suggest that period is a good indication of what “in the present time" means.

      3. “In other words, not withstanding Paul's recitation of a (so to speak) Genesis-perspective in 1C11:8-9, has he begun to think through the implications of being 'in Christ' as he gets to verses 11-12?”

      This seems to be implying that Paul was so intellectually incompetent that he couldn’t hold the thread of an argument over a few verses! ;)

      Shouldn’t we at least consider the possibility that the apostle knows exactly what he is talking about all through this chapter, and to the extent we can’t follow it, it may be our inadequacies and preconceptions that are the problem?

      Chrysostom certainly didn’t have a problem with it – he understood Paul to be teaching that men and women were equal in some ways, and in submission to each other in some ways, but that in other ways woman was in submission to man. I don't know wh that should be a difficult concept to grasp?

      4. “Moreover, along the way he has proposed things about hair length and covering of hair which (in my experience) are notoriously no longer observed”

      Well I for one would not expect them to be. Paul’s comments about the veil made the point that Christians should not flout a cultural sign of woman’s submission to man. If we then insist that women should wear a veil in a culture where it does not have that significance, wouldn't we be perverting the teaching of Paul?

      5. “that if we do not insist on women being veiled in church then we should hesitate to assert the subordination of wives to husbands”

      Shouldn't you then be insisting on both? We don't want to be in a position where we simply use one part of Paul's teaching as a convenient excuse to avoid his teaching on another subject. Is that the way we should be dealing with God’s revealed truth?

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    3. Thank you Michael for well made points (also for comment below re eternal subordinationism).

      In response (and perhaps a last response from me here because of some time-and-motion restrictions for the next few days):

      - I particularly note what the Athanasian Creed says. It is relevant.
      - My point about the course of Paul's argument in 1C11 is not intended to imply some kind of lowering of his normally high intellectual standards but of recognising the possibility that a great thinker might think out loud. I think that a plausible explanation of 1C11:16 where he acknowledges that what he says may not be agreeable to all readers.
      - is a 'cultural explanation' re hair/head covering a little too easy? In 1C11:14 Paul invokes 'nature' rather than culture. If we take 'nature' as some kind of synonym for 'culture' then (as I know you will recognise) we have some interesting implications to consider for debates over Romans 1!

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    4. About the 'present time', I was going to suggest the period between the Lord Jesus's ascension and His glorious return, so am happy with Michael's suggestion. I don't see any indication that we can't use the (no doubt limited) view of time that we have to understand God's economy.

      I agree with Peter that there is no indication that head covering is cultural. We are exhorted to keep the traditions, and I see no reason for abandoning them. My wife covers her head to pray and prophesy, according to the scriptures.

      Andrew

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    5. Hi Peter, I won't complain about you withdrawing, not least because I value the time you put into maintaining your own blog!

      However, your withdrawal does emphasise to me that there is no point starting a debate about Romans 1 now. So I will just make the following points in clarification, which can sit there until we do debate it at some other time:

      1. I am not suggesting that the word physis ("nature") in 1 Cor 11:14 equates to "cultural". However I am suggesting that its use makes clear that Paul is not giving a divine (i.e. apostolic) command about women having their heads covered in church.

      2. I am further suggesting that Paul states the wearing of head-coverings as an example of the general principle that he does utter by divine command, that women are to submit to men. By inference, the example is based in the views of the Corinthians themselves (and other Greeks) about the world and how it works.

      3. I also suggest that the real problem for the pro-gay-marriage position in Romans 1 is not the use of physiken/para phusin (“natural”/”unnatural”). Those are terms which were used by pagan stoic philosophers and they don’t particularly imply divine disapproval. Rather, the problem for the gay lobby are other words used in Romans 1:25-27 – (i) atimia (translated “shameful” in our versions, but the real meaning is closer to “dishonour done to the Gods” and “deserving of extreme punishment”); (ii) aschemosune (also translated “shameful”) and (iii) the bit about “exchanged the truth about God for a lie”.

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  23. With regard to 1 Corinthians 15:28, which gives a glimpse of something far too wonderful for us poor men to fully comprehend, allow me to quote Henry Alford (The Greek Testament 7th ed, 1877:

    ' “The interpretations, that subjection is only an hyperbolical expression for the entire harmony of Christ with the Father (Chrys., Theophyl., Śc[67]):—the limitation of it to His human nature (Theodoret, Aug[68], Jerome, Est., Wolf, al.), with the declarative explanation, that it will then become plain to all, that Christ even in regard of His kingship, is, on the side of His Humanity, dependent on the Father (Flatt)—and the addition, that Christ will then in His divine nature reign with the Father (Calv.:—‘regnum—ab humanitate sua ad gloriosam divinitatem quodammodo traducet’);—the interpretation (of αὐτὸς ὁ υἱός!) as referring to Christ’s mystical Body, i.e. the Church (Theodoret),—are idle subterfuges (leere Ausfluchte).” De Wette. The refutation of these and all other attempts to explain away the doctrine here plainly asserted, of the ultimate subordination of the Son, is contained in the three precise and unambiguous words, αὐτὸς ὁ υἱός [The Son Himself].'

    Andrew

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  24. 1. “With regard to 1 Corinthians 15:28, which gives a glimpse of something far too wonderful for us poor men to fully comprehend,…”

    Andrew, that sounds very like Peter Carrell’s argument that the teaching on submission is “difficult to understand”!

    Everything in the Bible in some sense is “far too wonderful for us poor men to fully comprehend” but the fact remains that all of scripture was put there for our edification, so we need to work to comprehend each passage as well as we may.

    2. I note you are still trying to argue an eternal subordination position, and now cite Henry Alford. I suggest the weaknesses in his arguments are plain:

    (a) Alford completely misstates the position of Chrysostom and other patristic authors as “subjection is only an hyperbolical expression for the entire harmony of Christ with the Father”. That’s not remotely close.

    (b) Its not even clear that Alford has read the patristic authors, since he quotes the liberal theologian Wilhelm de Wette about them instead of giving his own opinion.

    (c) He asserts his trump card as the words “autos ho huios” (“the son himself”, or, “even the son”) in 1 Cor 15:28, but it isn’t a trump at all – none of Chrysostom, Augustine, Calvin et al would have had any problem with that argument. The real issue is whether 1 Corinthians 15:28 is saying that the Son’s subjection when he hands over the kingdom is eternal or continuing. That is not what it says, and with that goes the only direct biblical support for the eternal subordination position.

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    1. Thanks, Michael. I did check out Chrysostom on 1 Corinthians 15:28 (Homily 39, NPNF), and it seems to me that he is saying that Paul over-stated his case -used hyperbole, one could say - to make sure that there could be no thought that the Son was mightier than the Father, and to show 'His great concord with the Father' - so De Wette seems to be accurate, so far as I can see.

      I agree that the future tense doesn't specify verbal aspect, but I find it very forced to say that ὑποταγήσεται simply means that the Son will be obedient in handing over the kingdom to the Father, and doesn't imply that He will be in obedience beyond that point. The ἵνα seems to show that the Son being in submission results in God being all in all. Thus Heinrich Meyer: 'The object aimed at in the Son's becoming subject under God is the absolute sovereignty of God: "in order that God may be the all in them all," i.e. in order that God may be the only and the immediate all-determining principle in the inner life of all the members of the kingdom hitherto reigned over by Christ'. Plummer on 15:28 'The passage is a summary of mysteries which our present knowledge does not enable us to explain, and which our present faculties, perhaps, do not enable us to understand. .. the purpose of the ultimate subjection of the Son to the Father [is] "is that God, and God alone, may be everything in everything,"..'.

      My purpose here is not to try to prove the eternal subordination of the Son - as I said before, I am inclined to think that we can not be quite certain about that. I am trying to show that it is not a recent innovation as some have been suggesting, or even heretical, as Julian recounted, and was taught by mainstream commentators in the nineteenth century.

      Andrew

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    2. Hi Andrew, I will add a further comment on this aspect because I think some useful points are illustrated by your last. You wrote:

      1. “and it seems to me that he is saying that Paul over-stated his case -used hyperbole, one could say - to make sure that there could be no thought that the Son was mightier than the Father”

      Like De Wette, you appear to have concentrated on just one part of several points made by Chrysostom about 1 Corinthians 15:28. If anything could be said to be Chrysostom’s main point, I suggest it is that which appears earlier in section 7 of the discourse:

      “What then is Paul's mind, and what is his custom? He speaks in one way when he discourses of the Godhead alone, and in another when he falls into the argument of the economy [i.e. of Christ become flesh]. Thus having once taken hold of our Lord's Flesh, he freely thereafter uses all the sayings that humiliate Him; without fear as though that were able to bear all such expressions. Let us see therefore here also, whether his discourse is of the simple Godhead, or whether in view of the incarnation he asserts of Him those things which he says: or rather let us first point out where he did this of which I have spoken.”

      This is the same point I made above, and the same made by the patristic authors as well as by Calvin: In scripture, the language of Christ being subjected to God the Father is applied to him in his incarnation only.

      2. “I agree that the future tense doesn't specify verbal aspect, but I find it very forced to say that ὑποταγήσεται simply means that the Son will be obedient in handing over the kingdom to the Father, and doesn't imply that He will be in obedience beyond that point.”

      Why? Future tense is regularly used in Greek to mean a single action yet to take place. Its only “very forced” if there is some reason to think that a continuing state was meant. But it doesn’t follow from the grammar of the passage, nor is there anything in the context to make us believe so, and the parallelism with handing over the kingdom points the other way.

      3. “The ἵνα seems to show that the Son being in submission results in God being all in all. Thus Heinrich Meyer:…”

      Precisely. It doesn’t lead to the Father being all in all, but to God being all in all. Since the only submission that we are told about is Christ handing over his kingdom to the Father, the logical construction is that the Trinity are from that point co-equal as they were before the incarnation.

      4. “I am trying to show that it is not a recent innovation as some have been suggesting, or even heretical, as Julian recounted, and was taught by mainstream commentators in the nineteenth century.”

      Whether anything is heretical will be judged on scripture - I wouldn't use that word to apply to a simple and genuine disagreement over the meaning of scripture. And I hope it is clear that I have not at any point disputed that your position has not been around since the 19th century!

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