Thursday, June 9, 2016

No, the Homoians v Complementarians is not War Between Aliens [Updated]

Michael Bird offers a follow up post to the one cited below, after some correspondence with some of the field marshals. Everyone is very anxious not to be covertly or overtly on the side of the Arians :)

LATER: And now "Sydney" is responding. If I understand things correctly (and I may be wrong) this is kinda Sydney Anglicanism lining up with Eastern Orthodoxy's hierarchalism. Do tell me if I am wrong :)

Yes, I know "Homoians v Complementarians" sounds like a couple of opposing armies lined up against each other on the planet Zorg, but Michael Bird draws attention to a theological war breaking out among conservatives in this post on Euangelion.

Michael offers the following summary of the skirmishing to date:

"One wing of that movement has been arguing for a while that the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father and importantly the way that the Son submits to the Father is mirrored in the way that wives submit to their husbands. So the hierarchy in the Trinity is said to provide grounds for a hierarchy in gender relationships. Since this trinitarian debate is not really about the Trinity but about gender and equality, it is no surprise that Complementarians have been arguing for the subordinationist view (e.g., Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem) over and against the Egalitarians who have been arguing for an equality of persons view (e.g., Kevin Giles, Gilbert Belizekian).

Yet it is worth noting that many Calvinistic Complementarians, especially one’s that know their patristic theology and doctrine of the Trinity, have always balked at the idea of postulating the Son’s eternal subordination and questioned the wisdom of using the Trinity to bankroll a particular view of gender. In their mind, Calvinist Orthodoxy is Nicene, it affirms the eternal equality of the divine persons, which rules out any hierarchical subordination. They are still complementarian in regards to marriage and ministry but they reject perceived tinkering with the Trinity by the Subordinationist Calvinists. This group of Nicene Calvinists has always been rather silent and never really offered vocal protest against the Subordinationist Calvinist. However, I think that is about to change."

He then posts a couple of thoughtful excerpts from theological bloggers and makes a few more comments of his own. In the comments to date on the post a link is made to a very erudite and challenging review of a recent book on (so to speak) Trinitarian complementarianism. This review is by Steve Holmes who draws this conclusion re bad Trinitarian arguments for complementarianism:

"If I wished to defend ‘complementarianism’, I would abandon the Trinitarian argument completely; there is a potential Christological argument available in Eph. 5; I do not think this works, for reasons I have explored elsewhere, but it is less obviously wrong than the Trinitarian position explored in this book. 
I reflect, however, that these continually-shifting arguments to defend the same conclusion start to look suspicious: by the time someone has offered four different defences of the same position, one has to wonder whether their commitment is fundamentally to the position, not to faithful theology. Judging by his essay in this book, Grudem is ready to throw the Nicene faith overboard, if only he can keep his ‘complementarianism’; other writers here are less blunt, but the same challenge may be presented. How many particular defences of a position need to be proved false before we may assert that the position itself is obviously false? 
In the case of the sort of Christian ‘complementarianism’ it defends, this volume makes me wonder seriously if we have reached that line."
The comments below that post are well worth reading and include comments from one commenter frequently read here! At risk of implying other comments are not quotable, I will quote just one of the comments here, by Gerald Bray (well known evangelical theologian, and frequent visitor to these shores):

"I have never understood what the connection is (or is supposed to be) between the Trinity and gender-complementarity and think that most of the discussion about this is wrong-headed to begin with. But at the same time, we should admit that all relationships are complementary by nature. This is not a denial of equality, but in many ways, an affirmation of it. As long as it is assumed that ‘complementarianism’ means that one party in the relationship is subordinate (and inferior) to the other, and that ‘egalitarianism’ means that all involved are interchangeable because that is what being equal means, we shall get nowhere. The church fathers worked out that the Father and the Son are equal and complementary. The Bible teaches the same thing, in a different context, about male and female. Can we not come to terms with this?

Steve Holmes has a good reply there.

So, a war in which shots are being fired but no one is dying, though perhaps some are feeling wounded?

For myself, I am very pleased to see the link between a particular understanding of the Trinity and a specific understanding of gender relationships broken. I think it reasonable to generally see an analogy between the "diversity-in-unity" of the Trinity and "diversity-in-unity" of humanity (imago dei, etc) but unreasonable to draw analogies re hierarchies (not least because the imago dei theology of Genesis 1 is precisely a theology which posits male and female as equal participants not subordinated participants in the imago dei).


Rosemary Behan said...

Well said Gerald Bray, of course common sense is not very acceptable with folk who keep trying to twist what the Bible says.

Bryden Black said...

For those who object to Latin ... IV.32. “For the moment, however, it has been sufficiently demonstrated, so I think, that the Son is not less than the Father just because he was sent by the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit less simply because both the Father and the Son sent him. We should understand that these sendings are not mentioned in Scripture because of any inequality or disparity or dissimilarity of substance between the divine persons, but because of the created visible manifestation of the Son and the Holy Spirit; or better still, in order to bring home to us that the Father is the source and origin of all deity. For even if the Father had chosen to appear visibly through the creation he controls, it would be quite absurd to talk about him being sent by the Son he begot or the Holy Spirit who proceeds from him.” (Edmund Hill translation)

What Augustine has been doing throughout this Book Four and previous ones is twofold: he answers how we are to understand the theophanies in Scripture - who is it that is appearing; and he maps the relations between the persons we see in the narrative of Scripture, in the economy of salvation, with the eternal relations/processions of the Trinity. And he does this in order to establish the very identity of the divine persons as being a function of their relations of origin.

What is amusing about our present debates Peter is directing us to in this thread is that we’ve a church which is woefully ignorant of things trinitarian in the first place. And then when we try to dive into the trinitarian debates of old (to ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ current gender politics), where exactly in the time-line of their debates we amass the ‘evidence’ becomes really rather critical. It took quite a while for the Church to settle upon key arguments and terms of debate. Trying to clinch a current argument by means of (a series of) fluid positions would seem to be rather precarious!

But one thing is worth more serious consideration: the logic behind the “monarchy”, or as Augustine would say, the principium, of the Father, an assumed position of the Tradition. Two major participants in the contemporary revival of the doctrine of the Trinity among the Academy, Wolfhart Pannenberg (RIP) and Robert Jenson, would categorically refute this logic, by insisting upon the fully reciprocal relations among the triune Godhead. They “flow” not only from the Father through the Son to the Spirit/through the Spirit to the Son; they also “flow” from the Holy Spirit through the Son to the Father. The Holy Spirit is as every bit as much as the Father a “divine pole” of the triune God’s dynamic Life. In fact, eschatology would be impossible without such! And ceteris paribus [sic], so is the Son. Mediation would be impossible without such! (which too Augustine addresses in Book Four.) And if such views are seriously countenanced, as Scripture would warrant, I suggest, then the subordinationists have even less of a leg to stand on!

Father Ron Smith said...

Something meaty here for you academic theologians to chew on? in the meantime we more simple folk can just get on with our appreciation of our credal Faith paradigm - in ways that do not interfere our practical engagement with the everyday realities of life on earth today. Happy philosophising! Meanwhie the work of prayer goes on.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
In my experience academic theologians become restless without some meat to chew on. When only vegetables are available all sorts of heresies are unleashed :)

Bryden Black said...

Ron says: “... in the meantime we more simple folk can just get on with our appreciation of our credal Faith paradigm - in ways that do not interfere our practical engagement with the everyday realities of life on earth today.”

Well Ron; I do hope I might have a surprise for you! (Even if perhaps in the first instance it might also be construed to be self-serving ...) For should you feel so inclined and wish to follow the link below, you will find a “Look Inside” option, which allows you to scan quite a number of pages. There you will see that this book addresses two things.

In the first place, it constructs a straight forward and simple model of the triune God by means of which we may get exactly what you seek - “practical engagement with the everyday realities of life on earth today.” The sad thing about much trinitarian ‘teaching’ is that it has been reduced in people’s minds to precisely what you allege - “philosophizing” by “academic theologians”. But it need not be. I’d be even more specific: read just the Preface, the Intro, and the first two chapters.

Then secondly, and again precisely on account of the subsequent need to engage with the best that human thought may throw up, I do introduce - but only introduce - the reader to certain key moments in Christian history which address major philosophical concerns - and not only philosophical concerns; they have key, lively consequences (viz. some of the Questions). As you yourself have made most obvious on ADU, you don’t wish to swim in such supposedly ‘heady’ waters - fine! For all that, the Franciscans did throw up the likes of a Bonaventure ...!


PS Thanks Peter; I'm no vegan to be sure!

Bryden Black said...

Hi Rosemary,

You might find this additional link from Steve Holmes insightful - notably re what our very Bible might be saying:


Rosemary Behan said...

Bryden, from a woman's point of view .. chuckle, as a man of course, yours will be VERY different .. Wesley has the right answer in the comments. I find that the 'curse' is too often forgotten, and my experience of course is always that men slip from dominion into domination. Never quite believing that a 'mere' woman ought to be listened to.. other than when they [women that is] are leading them [men] down the Devil's pathway!!!!!

Father Ron Smith said...

" As you yourself have made most obvious on ADU, you don’t wish to swim in such supposedly ‘heady’ waters - fine! For all that, the Franciscans did throw up the likes of a Bonaventure ...!" - Dr. Bryden Bl;ack -

Dear Bryden, as I'm sure you are already aware, Blessed Francis himself held little store by scholarship among the Brothers. He always preferred doing over thinking, e.g., worshipping God rather than wonder why one should spend time in this activity. I guess he had the sort of relationship with Christ that was all-embracing - leaving no room for philosophical disputation. The marks of the Stigmata evidenced contemplation and experience rather than restless searching. Something like the old Shakers' Song:

'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free,
'Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be.
And when you find yourself in a place just right -
You'll be in the valley of love and delight.

Peter Carrell said...

So, Ron, you don't want a first edition of Barth's Church Dogmatics for your Christmas present this year?

Father Ron Smith said...

No, thanks, Peter. We met up with Tubingen Scholar, Ernst Käsemann, while I was at St. John's (with bishops Phil Richardson and Kelvin Wright - before they assumed the Purple) and he was much more approachable. Mind you, I also escorted Bishop John Robinson on my prison rounds at Mount Eden. However, despite all this celebrity closeness, I never did absorb the academic bug. I guess I'll have to be content with L.Th. 11th grade. Still, I do love God!

Brian Kelly said...

"So, Ron, you don't want a first edition of Barth's Church Dogmatics for your Christmas present this year?"

I'll take it, then, Peter - provided by 'first edition' you mean 'Kirkliche Dogmatik'. Barth makes more sense in German than he does in English.

Bryden Black said...

Tis a gift to be simple: indeed Ron! And if you'd only follow the link you'd see too that the triune God offers precisely said Gift. But as that other simple proverb puts it: you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. And water too is God's Gift - ala Jn 4 & 7. Enjoy!

Jean said...

I have to say the connection between gender relationships and the trinity allude me.

I understand there is scripture connecting elements of relationships between married couples with the relationship between Christ and his bride the church. I don't recall ever seeing scripture providing a corelation between tthe trinity and the relationship of married couplles.

Father Ron Smith said...

The problem with allusion, is that it may be a cross between elusion and delusion

Anonymous said...

Why does this allude you, Jean?
If you can see the connection between Christ and the pope, cardinals, bishops and priests as connecting to being like a married couple, surely you can make the obvious connection between two men and a bird as modelling marriage?!
What's not to get?!
Fr Ron clearly gets it.


Rosemary Behan said...

Elusion .. the act of eluding something or someone.

Delusion .. an idiosyncratic belief or impression maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder.

Allusion .. an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
The question is whether the diversity of male and female being made in the image of God and uniting in one flesh in marriage is itself a reflection of the diversity-in-unity of the Three Persons of the Trinity?

By no means are all theologians united on this matter.
Indeed, some it would appear have never thought of the possibility!

Father Ron Smith said...

Here we go again: People trying to plumb the depths of the Mystery of God. We need to remember the scriptural allusion: "Where are your wise men, where are your philosophers now?" When one seeks to find out whether Jesus was 'subordinate' to the Father, we need to look into the context of how scripture speaks of this. The first thing we note is that, in the flesh, Jesus was limited to our common human state - a situation that he chose to enter into. It ought to be understood that, during the 33 years of his incarnate human existence on earth, Jesus was, indeed, subject to the Father's will, but of his own choice. That's surely sufficient for any of us to understand - without wishing to pierce the Mystery of life within the Triune Godhead.

Bryden Black said...

Well Jean, Ron, and some others. Firstly, we might follow the cue of Janet Martin Soskice:
“We must also say that sexual difference is not, or should not be, a matter of theological indifference. Genesis 1 suggests that sexual difference has something to tell us, not just about human beings, but about God in whose image they are made, male and female. The unresolved question then is: where, why, and how does sexual difference make a difference?”
Soskice, The Kindness of God: Metaphor, Gender, and Religious Language (OUP, 2007), 45.

Then famously Barth:
“The first and typical sphere of fellow–humanity, the first and typical differentiation and relationship between man and man, is that between male and female. In theological ethics it deserves special consideration if only because, in its crucial expression called marriage, it is shown in the Old Testament to correspond to the relationship between Yahweh and His people and in the New to that between Jesus Christ and His community. Furthermore, the description of the first man [adam] in the two creation stories points decisively to this differentiation and relationship. By the divine likeness of man in Gen. 1:27f. there is understood the fact that God created them male and female, corresponding to the fact that God Himself exists in relationship and not in isolation ... the God who is no Deus solitarius but Deus triunus."
CD III/4, 117; the entire section, 116–240, “Freedom in Fellowship, Man & Woman”, is seminal.

And finally perhaps:
“The relationship between the summoning I in God’s being and the summoned divine Thou [ref Father & Son] is reflected both in the relationship of God to the man whom He has created, and also in the relationship between the I and the Thou, between male and female, in human existence itself. There can be no question of anything more than an analogy. The differentiation and relationship between the I and the Thou in the divine being, in the sphere of the Elohim, are not identical with the differentiation and relationship between male and female.” (emphasis added) CD III/1, 195.

Enjoy! But also Nota Bene ...

Father Ron Smith said...

Bryden, perhaps your understanding of the subject under question here might be extended by a recent learned publication recommended by our own Bishop Kelvin Wright, on his blog 'Available Light'

'God, Sexuality and the Self' (an Essay on The Trinity) by Professor Sarah Coakley. In a rare approach to the consideration of human sexuality as related to the Mystery of the Trinity, Sarah offers some interesting modern observations.

Bryden Black said...

Many thanks Ron for bringing Sarah Coakley into the frame. She is indeed a significant contemporary figure, whose work I have been trying to follow for quite a while. (I was mildly amused at your designation “modern”. For Janet Martin Soskice is also “modern”. In fact, they are presently together at Cambridge ...) So let’s play - but buckle up ...!

One of the more important things to appreciate about any of us - you, me, Bp KW, Peter C, Prof SC - is what might drive one. I’d start for our purposes here with Coakley’s being the Guest Editor of a Special Issue of the journal Modern Theology back in October 2002. It was subsequently published the following year as Re-thinking Gregory of Nyssa. Her introductory article sets the scene for both the collection and, more importantly for us here, much of her work. For the key is this: her use of and reliance upon Gregory’s ideas in much of what she writes. Gregory himself, one of the Cappadocian Fathers of the second half of the 4th C, is battling in his own day and way with how to appropriate the perennial thought forms of the day, both for theology and for the practice of Christian discipleship. Coakley similarly is battling in her material with how to appropriate the likes of contemporary notions of evolution, of feminism, of power, etc, but also, and vitally for us Christians, while seeking to integrate all this with ‘the Christian Tradition’ - and especially the likes of Gregory - if at all possible. But how possible is it ...?!

You refer me/us directly to God, Sexuality, and the Self. I know it well. I’d also refer us to Eugene Rogers, et al., who heads up a book symposium collection of reviews in Modern Theology, 30/4 (2014) 552–99. And here’s my own tuppence worth.

Contemplation of the divine and the practice of an authentic human life sub specie aeternitatis is the heart of the matter of the human quest. YET, what if the tables get turned? What if EVERYTHING gets turned around when the DIVINE SETS OUT TO SEEK US, TO DESIRE US?! That is the Story of Israel and its climax in the Messiah, Jesus. This is the Christian claim. And along the way, and crucially, the very ‘idea’ of ‘the divine’ gets changed - into the Trinity.

Now; it’s also vital to realise that this notion was forced upon the NT Christians, the very first generation of disciples, by the sheer pressure of their experiences: Jesus was and is ‘somehow’ on a par with Yahweh, the Lord of all the world and all peoples; the Holy Spirit, issuing directly as a consequence of Jesus’ mission into the lives of all the Church, brings into the very present ‘something’ of the ultimate purposes of God [the Spirit is the arrabōn of human and even creation’s redemption]. Fast forward to Gregory - and Coakley. How to appropriate elements of the neo-platonic scheme of ‘reality’ - but also to seriously re-mint them - that’s Gregory’s task. Along the way, he therefore proposes to seriously refashion/subvert (pervert?) the very categories by means of which we practise and assess human-being-and-the-divine. Including of course matters of gender ... For after all, the Incarnation and the Trinity (together NB) have thrown these together like nothing before. Yet there is a huge temptation: monism. It afflicts many an attempted human scheme. And at root it diverges from the Judeo-Christian view of creation. Time will tell [sic] whether Coakley too succumbs/has succumbed to this temptation via her grappling with our ‘modern’ concerns of evolution and feminism especially. My suspicion is that Gregory of Nyssa is a real mixed blessing when trying to reframe these concerns. His propensity to ‘subvert’ chimes in nicely and well enough with our postmodern desire for ‘plasticity’. It’s ‘easy’ to ‘desire’ his views. BUT at what cost?

Still with me Ron? And now you’ve both this comment and the last one to actually answer, to actually engage with ... Enjoy!

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
In haste, and in error I published a comment by you last night which contained more than one ad hominem. You MUST focus on issues within comments, not your evaluative perceptions of commenters. The following is all I can "rescue" from your comment.

"Thank you, Bryden for your detailed assessment of Sarah Coakley's contribution to the current discussion. [].


I guess that, with the expanded knowledge of the make up of the Cosmos that is ours today, goes the responsibility of trying to make sense of both the Bible and the Early Church's understanding of how it related to the Christian ethic, in an ongoing exercise of the logical convergence of both tradition and reason in an evolving social and spiritual universe. I believe S.C. has a valuable contribution to make, today."

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
In response to a comment you have submitted in response to the above redacted comment: I will "purge" any comment by anyone that I deem to be "ad hominem" about another commenter.

Some comments here are critical of non-commenters (e.g. of theologians past and present, of church leaders past and present): I will review comments of that kind on a case by case basis, on their merits (e.g. I do not consider it ad hominem to speak of Pelagius as a heretic or of Luther as anti-semitic, because bother such judgements are "fair comment" and widely shared judgments).

Jean said...

Okay, okay : ) allude, elude....

I appreciate the clarification Peter, and the humour Jane!

Thanks for the references Bryden, yes I can see the theology involved in gender between male and female in the OT relationship of God and Israel, and Jesus and the church; just not so much between the trinity and gender relationships or not more than a somewhat fragile analogy highlighted in your last quote.

Mostly I guess because I have always viewed male and female as creeated in the image of God as each having different aspects of the Godhead; not representative of the persons of God but of the characteristics/nature of God. Also the sense of one-ness in the trinity - God glorifies the Son, the Son gives glory to the Father and the Spirit glorifies the Father through the Son... - is perhaps a type of relationship which will not be known to us as humans (male and female together) until having become one with Christ, we at the end are through the Son submitted to God and He becomes the all in all.

All being said we have a hint of that relationship now through being made one with Christ through his death - as the verse in John illustrates; that they may be one with me just as you and I are one, alludes we already have a taste of this type of relationship. And with a thread you can connect this as an analogy to how two become one in marriage. The other human analogy - of the love of the Father for his Son I can't see as having much to with gender relationships.

But I am no expert theologian, in fact some of these things do my head in!!

Bryden Black said...

What a delightful use of a key Johannine line of thought, Jean, of each Person glorifying the Other. In addition, we can/should link this up with that other key and earlier witness from Phil 2:6-11, the Hymn to Christ which Paul incorporates into his overall section, 2:1-13 (we’ll come to the reason).

Sometimes this passage has been made to demonstrate Christ’s subordinationism, and even deemed to prove it. Yet this kenotic or self-emptying character, displayed by Jesus in the Hymn, reveals rather the divine nature itself. [The rationale for this I assemble briefly in LDL.] Kenoticism is an essential trait of God’s love. That is why the surrounding verses, 2:1-4 and 12-13, are what they are. Paul wishes to see our concrete Christian relationships reflect this trait. Just so, verse 5 (NEB): “Let your bearing towards one another arise out of your life in Christ Jesus - who ...” And just so, trinitarian theology, properly construed and appreciated, has profoundly practical consequences.

One last thing to note here. It was Hans Urs von Balthasar (d. 1988), a giant among 20th C Christian thinkers, who exploited this notion of divine kenoticism among the divine Persons. He pushes it further than anyone else I have come across - and with delightful results. A place to start would be with his reflections on Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday: Mysterium Paschale: The Mystery of Easter (T&T Clark, 1990). Enjoy!

Jean said...

Hi Bryden

I haven't yet had time to thank you for your post above and your recommendations, so thank you! I hope you are keeping warm.

Blessings Jean

Bryden Black said...

A. I came across this rather nice series of remarks recently re “Jesus’ Filial Identity and Divine Agency”, from Andreas Köstenberger and Scott Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel, New Studies in Biblical Theology 24 (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2008), pp.122-4, which sheds some light on this entire debate:

This filial conception of Jesus’ agency, with its particular configuration of equality and order that exists between sender and sent one, explains several textual phenomena relevant to Johannine Christology. Space permits commenting on only two of those phenomena. [second omitted here!]
First, as Barrett notes, the situation in John’s Gospel is not that we have certain texts that stress Jesus’ equality with the Father while we have other texts that stress his dependence and obedience such that the challenge facing interpreters concerns how to reconcile these different sets of texts. In fact, the case is just the opposite:
[T]hose notable Johannine passages that seem at first sight to proclaim most unambiguously the unity and equality of the Son with the Father are often set in contexts which if they do not deny at least qualify this theme, and place alongside it the theme of dependence, and indeed of subordination.42
We might conclude from this phenomenon that John is apt to making inconsistent assertions about Jesus in the same contexts without realizing the contradiction. But this is highly improbable, especially when there exists ‘a more satisfactory explanatory model’ for reconciling the apparent ‘tensions’ in the text.43 John’s Gospel suggests another way of ‘configuring’ the paradoxical identity of Jesus as the sent one.44 When sender and sent one are father and son, we are no longer dealing with a relationship between a superior and an inferior, where, among other things, the will of the former is imposed upon the latter. When sender and sent one are father and son (at least in the case of the triune life) we are dealing with a relationship between equals, between those sharing the same ontological status. Thus, when sender and sent one are father and son we are dealing with a relationship where the action to be undertaken involves not the imposition of the will of the one upon the other, but where the action to be undertaken must be understood as a common cause, and a common cause because it is family business.
Nevertheless, inasmuch as the analogy holds, equality and engagement in a common cause in no way rule out the relationship of command and obedience that holds between a father and a son, biblically conceived.45 This explains, for example, why Jesus can say in John 10:18 that, on the one hand, he has received a ‘charge’ from his Father that, on the other hand, consists in having the ‘authority’ to lay down his life on his own accord (freely, as Lord) and to take it up again. The Son’s obedience to the Father’s charge does not compromise the Son’s authority to act but rather establishes it.46 He is the free Lord of all—including his own death—as the Son who obeys the Father.
Jesus’ filial relationship to the Father also explains the enigmatic statement ‘the Father is greater than I’ (14:28), a statement that bears similarities to Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 15:27–28:

Bryden Black said...

B cont.
For he ‘has put everything under his feet’. Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.47
The Father enjoys personal priority in the taxis (order) of the triune life, not ontological superiority, for the Father and the Son hold all things in common: one divine name (17:11), one divine power (5:19, 21–22), one divine identity (10:30).48
The balance between the unity of being and purpose prevailing between Father and Son (e.g. 10:30) and the affirmation of the Son’s filial submission to the Father (e.g. 14:28), so carefully maintained by the fourth evangelist and other biblical writers such as Paul, suggests that the resolution of the apparent tension between these two aspects of biblical teaching must not be found by pitting one against the other, affirming one aspect while denying the other, but by probing more deeply, and seeking to understand more fully, both dimensions of the Father–Son relationship.49
In the light of the present discussion, it is clear that Giles poses a false dilemma on this point. According to Giles, either one member of a relationship stands in authority over another and ‘prevails’ over that other, who is ‘under compulsion’ to do as commanded,50 or both members share a relationship of equal standing where one may, if he or she wills, ‘dispose’ him or herself or ‘defer’ to the other.51 However, understanding John requires that we consider another alternative. The Father commands; the Son obeys. But the Son does not obey because he is inferior to the Father or ‘under compulsion’ to do so. He obeys the Father because the Father’s will is his will (homoousios) and because obedience to the Father is the truest personal expression of his filial unity with the Father. In this sense, the Son is equal in authority to the Father as the Son of the Father, whose will is always to obey the Father’s will.52
Along similar lines, it should be noted that a construal of the Father–son relationship which focuses primarily on the Father’s rule inadequately considers the fact that, properly understood, the Jewish notion of the father’s place in the family focused not so much on patri-archy (father-rule; though this notion is certainly not absent) but on patri-centrism (the father’s central role in the life of the family in terms of nurturing the life of, and providing for the needs of, the extended household under his care).53 This ‘configuration’ further seems to mitigate Giles’s concern that a rigid understanding of authority and submission provides an improper model for male–female relationships.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bryden!
There is a lot to consider there ...