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).