June 23, 2016

More on the Trinity Debate

Over at Triablogue, Steve Hays lumped in Sam Waldron (the systematic theology professor of yours truly) with the Trueman/Golligher faction in the current dust-up over the Trinity (link). This confused me, since I remembered Dr. Waldron's comments on this issue from his Systematic Theology Overview lectures. I don't have a transcript in front of me, but, if memory serves me, he said basically the same thing in class that he writes in this blog post

In response to those who have "expressed fear that those who defend the eternal functional subordination of the Son are opening a path to Arianism for their spiritual descendants," Waldron says:
this . . . confuses two very different kinds of subordination. To put this another way, those who foster this rumor assume that there are only two kinds of subordination discussed in relation to the Trinity, when actually there are three. All Christians . . . believe that there is subordination in the economy of redemption. We may call this economic subordination. Their mistake is that they think there is only one other kind of subordination—subordination of essence or essential subordination. While they correctly see this kind of subordination to be wrong and false, they do not realize that this is not the kind of subordination implied in the Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed actually teaches a third kind of subordination. It is neither economic nor essential subordination. It is the subordination of the persons of the Son and Spirit to the Father. Since the Greek word used to describe a real, personal distinction in the Trinity is hypostasis, we may call this personal or hypostatic subordination. . . . Furthermore, since this distinction between essence and person is vital to the Trinity, there should be no logical problem for any Trinitarian in denying a subordination of essence while affirming a subordination of person. It is a subordination of person and not essence that the modern defenders of the eternal functional subordination of the Son (like Bruce Ware, Wayne Grudem, and John Piper) intend to teach. They are emphatically not guilty of the Subordinationism of Justin Martyr and Origen.
Seems like Dr. Waldron is (on this point at least) on Team Grudem/Ware. Unless Dr. Waldron has recently retracted or somehow clarified his earlier statements, Steve Hays has misrepresented him.*


*It wouldn't be the first time. When Reformed Baptists were debating the merits of John Frame's theology a year or two ago, Hays lumped Waldron in with the anti-Frame bunch. What Hays doesn't realize is that Dr. Waldron regularly quotes Frame approvingly and even assigns several of his texts. He differs from Frame on occasion but he certainly shouldn't be lumped in with Tom Chantry and the rest of the anti-Frame crowd.

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