Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Order in the Trinity (1)

At last I return to something I said I would do, offer further comment on the question of order in the Trinity, sparked by some previous postings re the notion of 'eternal subordination' in the Trinity (e.g. here), and with an eye on questions of 'order in creation' (whether or not this is linked to order in the Trinity). In this post I will say nothing about the Trinity per se, but attempt to say something about 'order' in our experience of everyday life!

Does order in a group imply subordination of one member of an ordered group to another according to that ordering?

Not in every instance. A cricket team publishes its batting order at the beginning of an innings. The no 1 batsman is not necessarily either the best batsman in the team nor the captain. (Though it is normally the case in a cricket team that the no 11 batsman is the worst batsman - NZ cricket over the years producing some particularly egregious examples!!) We might also note that the best batsman is not necessarily made the captain, nor the most valuable player (on average) to the team, who might be the all rounder or the spinner.

Sometimes in parliaments the member who has been a member for longest is accorded great respect as the 'most senior' member, but that person may have no role of power as, e.g., speaker, prime minister, leader of the house, leader of the opposition. Similarly in some church governments: in ACANZP, for example, the most senior bishop by date of ordination is not automatically elected Archbishop/Primate, yet should a vacancy occur in that role, the senior bishop fills that automatically until a new election is carried out.

Is a role definitive of order?

It can be, but roles are not everything in a relationship, especially when they change according to context. Suppose my doctor were my opening bowler when I am the captain of the cricket team. I would expect him to bowl as I direct (albeit with consultation) and when setting a field to accept, ultimately, my judgement. But if I twisted my ankle chasing a ball and he said I should go off the field to put ice on it, I should do what he says! Or, as a father of teenage children I expect them to do what I say (albeit in vain at times); but one day, should I reach old age, I expect I shall need to do what they say ("OK, I give in - I will go into the rest home!")

Does order change through achievement of success in a role?

It often does. A coach of a sports team is normally in charge of the team and its strategies and tactics. But ultimately the most successful players at the highest level become equal to the coach in certain respects, for they not only acquire as much, if not more learning of the technicalities of the sport and its rules, but they also accrue mana through hard-won experience, as well as knowledge of something the coach may know nothing of, experience of playing the sport in the most demanding of conditions, against the toughest of opponents, at this present time (acknowledging that many coaches have themselves played the sport, but by definition, in a previous era).

Does order tell us who is in charge and who is not?

Sometimes. To continue with the sporting world. When a game is played involving coached team sports, who is in charge? Is it the captain, the coach, the owner and/or manager of the team, the umpire or the match officials? Actually modern sport is very complex around the question 'who is in charge?' for that also includes the shadowy world of negotiators of broadcasting rights, sponsorships, and marketing of the game, individual players and equipment they use in the game. Indeed, it might even be that we the "viewing public" may be deemed to be in charge, at least according to our perceived interests around what constitutes a "good game" and our preferred style of participating as spectators of the game. Ditto, in various respects, other aspects of life. At your local college or school, for example, who is in charge? Is it the principal, the board of management, the staff, the students, the accountants, the government and the various authorities it institutes to order education in the community? Sometimes it is clear, sometimes it is not, and sometimes a right royal conflict rumbles through a college or school until clarity is achieved.

All this is far from the Trinity, but raises interesting questions around the nuances and subtleties of the concept of 'order'!

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