Thursday, March 12, 2009


There is a theological controversy at large in the SBC as well as other parts of the Body of Christ in the present day. Some people are teaching that Jesus is/has been eternally in submission to the Father and is an example of the biblical truth that women are to be submitted to men for now and eternity also. [Verses like 1 Corinhians 11:3 are used to support this.]

Dr. Kevin Giles begins his article written for the March 2006 issue of Catalyst magazine with this statement about the above mentioned concept of the Trinity. After giving a description of the historical understanding of the Trinity put forth in some recommended present day authors Dr. Giles said...... "This novel teaching [The eternal subordination of Jesus to the Father] was first enunciated by G. Knight III in his highly influential 1977 book, New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women (Baker, 1977). He argued that the God-given permanent subordination of women in role and authority in the church and the home was supported and illustrated by the Trinity. For him, the Son is eternally subordinated in role and authority to the Father, despite the fact that the Father and the Son are both fully divine. He thus spoke of a “chain of subordination” (33) in the Father-Son and the man-woman relationship, and of an eternal subordination of the Son that has “certain ontological aspects” (56)."

On Wade's blog this doctrine of eternal subordination of Jesus was mentioned with Wade expressing his rejection of it. The comment stream had some interesting responses. A woman named Wanda had this passionate and personal view to present....."This nonsense -- the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father -- is one of the reasons why my husband and I left the SBC several weeks ago. I consider it to be heresy and I'm letting others know that Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem have been using it to justify the eternal subordination of women. Once this becomes public knowledge among the average SBC churchgoer, you can kiss many more tithers good-bye!!!"

In a thoughtful and but less personal and passionate follow-up comment a young Missouri pastor offered this in support of the doctrine after admitting he didn't have all the answers but had done some personal study....."But that does not [The equality of the God-Head] mean that the functionary roles of the persons, and their relationship to each other cannot in some way possess qualities which could seem hierarchical on some level whether self-imposed or imposed by another Personage."

And so it goes with this new controversy. Do I have an opinion? You bet I do. I will present it in my next post. But in the mean time I would love to hear from some of you in the comment section of this post what you think about it all one way or another. I have taken the comment moderation off so be sure you are respectful as you've always been in the past. I know you will be.

Paul B.


Bob Cleveland said...


I think Jesus statement of " ... not My will, but Thine ... " is instructive to me in more than one area. It emphasizes His humanity, the reality and cruelty and punishing nature of the crucifixion, and it also gives me hope that I, too, can submit to God's will in my own life, and that God will be all-sufficient. It also continues His expressed principal of not doing His own work, but the work of His Father; that is also tremendously helpful in more than one way.

But, unless I'm mistaken, that work is finished now. Where's the need for submission on Jesus' part?

Also, He's now referred to as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I see nowhere men are called anything like that, so why would we expect authority over women?

Lastly, God calls Jesus "God" in TWO consecutive verses in Hebrews 1, and there aren't any adjectives or suffixes like "Assistant" or "Jr." that I can see.

And for the ESS - users who are hawking eternal submission of women, I don't know of any verses that'd be more dangerous to misuse than those describing Jesus, so I'd be REALLY reluctant to go there, myself.

volfan007 said...

Either Jesus is eternally subordinate to the Father, or else there is no Trinity, and we'll have to throw out a lot of the NT.


Bob Cleveland said...


I disagree. I sure don't see that in Scripture, and every time a preacher says Jesus is fully God, that seems to support the opposite view to that which you expressed.

Paul Burleson said...


You've both gotten us off to a good start.

Bob, you're stating something that for me is extremely significant. That is that the submission of Jesus to the Father had to do with the incarnation and that event accomplished it's purpose. If the submission is continuing in the same manner into eternity I would need some textual evidence to show it.

David, perhaps you'd supply that evidence or whatever part of the scriptures would have to be thrown out if one doesn't accept eternal subordination or perhaps someone else will help out here.

Thanks guys for joining in.

Strider said...

Seems like a lot of this turns on what 'subordination' means and how it applies. Throughout Church history we have had this logical fallacy perpetuated that says
A. Leadership in the world is not the same as leadership in the Kingdom.
B. Out of honor and respect to God women should submit to their husbands.
C. Therefore do whatever I tell you to and stop your whining!

Seems like we might be missing something here! I agree that Jesus submitted to God and His will- and that whatever it means that He is fully God and fully man (I don't understand, I just believe) that He overcame and now sits eternally on high. There is no subordination in any earthly meaning of that word because there is nothing for him to 'submit' to. He and the Father are one. You might say that well, 'ok, but if there was a disagreement then the Father has priority.' Yeah, and if black was white then it wouldn't be so dark but what is the point of such an argument. Seems like it proves the opposite side- If Jesus was under submission to the Father on earth but now they are in perfect union seems like the natural application would be that sinful women should suffer submission to sinful men but once they both become more like Jesus there is nothing to submit. Shoot, my wife says, 'Sit down for dinner' and I submit man of the house or no! We is of one mind- when it comes to good food anyway.

Steven Douglas said...

A very interesting post, to say the least. I think we need to first clearly define what we mean by subordinate. If we mean that Jesus is somehow less glorious or less authoritative, being merely a servant of God in some way, we fall into error (Col. 1:15-17; 2:9; Phil. 2:6-11). If we mean that Jesus has and will always serve the will of God, we are close to the right track. John 1:1 says that God created all things through the Word (the second person is hereby implied). Revelation describes the lamb (Jesus is implied) as reigning on the throne of the Father and leading his people for the Father. This does not make Jesus subordinate, per se. Instead, it means that there is agreement within the Godhead, of which Jesus is a part. Jesus gladly glorifies the Father as being worthy of glory. Yet we also see that Jesus is glorified by the Father (John 8:54; 13:31-32; 17:1-10)and the Spirit (1 John 4:1-3; Hebrews 10; 1 Tim 3:16; 1 peter 4:13-14). God glorifies God.

The second person of the Trinity is glorified as God, but both he and the Spirit are eternally proceeding from the Father. We say that the Son is begotten by the Father through the agency of the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son (through the Son). These things are confusing, but we clearly get the picture that the Father is source of the Godhead, even though the other two persons are eternal and have always existed. The Godhead is in agreement with one another and any submission there is is a submission within a role. This does not belittle either the second or the third persons of the trinity in any way.

We must be careful when we start talking about human roles being based on divine roles. We certainly are made in the image of God, and Paul does talk about wives submitting to husbands as the church submits to Christ, not as Christ submits to the Father. Women are to submit to their husbands because of the role God set up, not because of inherent sexuality or ability. Speaking about marriage, Jesus says that there will be no marriage in heaven and men and women will be like the angels. There will be no subserviance of women to men, then. Rather, all people will be subserviant to the Godhead.

Great post!

Paul Burleson said...


Without a doubt your argument holds more weight for me than most I've heard. That is the kind of thinking a man and woman in a marriage relationship need to understand to truly have a graceful union instead of a curseful one in my judgment. A lot of problems would be solved here on earth for sure.

Don't anyone let what I might say in response to anyone detract you from disagreeing if you truly do. I'm so use to responding when time permits I could stifle differing opinions with my responses. I certainly don't wish to at all.

Paul Burleson said...


All I'm going to say in response to you are stealing my thunder of the post expressing my opinion that I've already written to be posted later. Nuff said. :)

Paul Burleson said...


I would add a caveat or two to what you said but will wait until I post another day. As I said to you I say to all. Good stuff.

Wade Burleson said...

When you write your next post, I will link to it!

This, to me, is going to be a very hot and heavy debate in the SBC in the days to come.

ezekiel said...

A few points.

Having looked at this for quite a while I am becoming a lot more comfortable looking at this the way Athenius, Augustine, Calvin and others looked at it and addressed it.

All of them clearly used the argument that the scriptures that folk use today to prove ess are more or less the same ones Arius and everyone like him use to prove ess.

These are scriptures that have Christ being subordinate or submissive or obedient when He walked in the flesh, here on earth. At that point, He was a man. Like me and you. He suffered temptation, and we know that God can't be tempted. Jesus is referred to as the second Adam. Adam was a man.

I don't think we can honestly look at the scriptures and see anything else but subordination, submission and obedience when we look at Jesus in the time that He became flesh and dwelt among us.

But, Christ is risen. He is seated at the right hand of the Father. He is King of kings, Lord of lords. Let's look beyond that though.

Christ is the door, the gatekeeper who holds the keys to hell. See Mat 10:28 and Rev 1:18. He can is the only way to the Father and as such posesses enough power to keep you from the Father. If that doesn't show equality I don't know what does.

If we look at the Trinity as beeing linear, with Father at the top of the line, Jesus subordinate to that and the Holy Spirit subordinate under that then if the Father uses the Holy Spirit to draw men to Himself, Jesus couldn't stop it. It works a lot better if we look at it as a cirlce. They are one. God the Father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit. 3 in 1

Gen 1:26 God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth. [Ps. 104:30; Heb. 1:2; 11:3.]

Enough of what I think. Here is the crucial point that I think we see Athenius making with the Nicene Creed and many subsequent scholars seem to agree with. It all boils down to this.

"This line: "of one essence with the Father, of one substance with the Father, consubstantial with the Father," (in Greek, HOMO-OUSIOS TW PATRI) was the crucial one, the acid test. It was the one formula that the Arians could not interpret as meaning what they believed. Without it, they would have continued to teach that the Son is good, and glorious, and holy, and a Mighty Power, and God's chief agent in creating the world, and the means by which God chiefly reveals Himself to us, and therefore deserving in some sense to be called divine. But they would have continued to deny that the Son was God in the same sense in which the Father is God. And they would have pointed out that, since the Council of Nicea had not issued any declaration that they could not accept, it followed that there was room for their position inside the tent of Christian doctrine, as that tent had been defined at Nicea. Arius and his immediate followers would have denied that they were reducing the Son to the position of a high-ranking angel. But their doctrine left no safeguard against it, and if they had triumphed at Nicea, even in the negative sense of having their position acknowledged as a permissible one within the limits of Christian orthodoxy, the damage to the Christian witness to Christ as God made flesh would have been irreparable."

What high ground are you going to stand on when you face that JW guy at your front door or better yet, what are you going to tell that Muslim when you debate him? If this doctrine really becomes well accepted then your Jesus isn't really any more than the JW's Jesus or the Muslim's Mohammed. Just a messenger,angel, prophet.

So when we employ scripture to support the subordination, we need to look at it as temporary and in the past. Place the focus on the other scripture that describes His current status. He after all holds the keys to hell and is to be feared.

Psa 96:4 For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be reverently feared and worshiped above all [so-called] gods. [Deut. 6:5; Rev. 14:7.]

1Ch 16:25 For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He also is to be [reverently] feared above all so-called gods.
1Ch 16:26 For all the gods of the people are [lifeless] idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
1Ch 16:27 Honor and majesty are [found] in His presence; strength and joy are [found] in His sanctuary.
1Ch 16:28 Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength,
1Ch 16:29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name. Bring an offering and come before Him; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and in holy array.
1Ch 16:30 Tremble and reverently fear before Him, all the earth's peoples; the world also shall be established, so it cannot be moved.
1Ch 16:31 Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice; and let men say among the nations, The Lord reigns!
1Ch 16:32 Let the sea roar, and all the things that fill it; let the fields rejoice, and all that is in them.
1Ch 16:33 Then shall the trees of the wood sing out for joy before the Lord, for He comes to judge and govern the earth.
1Ch 16:34 O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!
1Ch 16:35 And say, Save us, O God of our salvation; gather us together and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to Your holy name and glory in Your praise.
1Ch 16:36 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, forever and ever! And all the people said Amen! and praised the Lord.

You can't just sit back and say that the God referred to here is the Father. Look at 16:26 and tell me that isn't the same God in John 1:3.

OK, one final point and I will move on. Leaving for spring break with the kids and I won't be able to discuss this after tonight.

If we don't agree that God is one then we will never be able to understand what it means to be one with Christ, what it means for the Church and Christ to be one and what it means for a man and his wife to be one. All things we are told in Paul's letters.

We will never get...

Joh 10:30 I and the Father are One.

Ifff we keep telling ourselves that they aren't.

I personally have witnessed what ess has done to my family and I only hope and pray that I live long enough to see Christ repair the damage it has done in my family. But it goes further than that. I think Athenius was very prophetic when he saw the potential damage, irreperable damage that this could do to the Church. You see it everywhere today with a bitter, angry, hurt bunch of women that want nothing to do with church anymore. Now if you think about it just a little, she is the nurturer of your children, the teacher and guide for your children. Is it any wonder then that your children grow up wanting nothing to do with the establishment that hurt her and told her constantly that she was inferior in some way to their father?

Athenius was right, the damage is probably irreperable. We hear them crying out for justice and I don't think Jesus is going to continue to turn a deaf ear to it all for much longer.

Repent and return to the old paths, those well charted long before us by better men than us. To say that we have been taught this stuff by Calvin or Augustine is just not right. Dig out what we have been taught and go back further than Grudem. If it proves out Grudem is right then so be it but that isn't what I have been reading. And I have been reading the WORD a lot lately.

Paul Burleson said...


It's fun seeing you here. I've stopped by your blog more times than I can possibly count. In fact, I usually get my inspiration for blogs from your posts or at least the comment section of your blog. I did that for this one as I confessed in my post.


This comment..."So when we employ scripture to support the subordination, we need to look at it as temporary and in the past. Place the focus on the other scripture that describes His current status. He after all holds the keys to hell and is to be feared." the crux of the issue.

It may be that a cultural aspect of life [woman submitted to man] has crept into the doctrine of the Trinity in an effort to scripturalize a concept [made-up word] to justify that concept being christian behavior. The sad thing is I believe it takes it out of the realm of true Grace as I will point out later and is the exact opposite of christian behavior.

ezekiel said...


Exactly. This ess teaching seems to be all geared toward bringing th majesty and the mystery of the
Trinity down to our level and apply the relationships we see there or what we think we see there to our human relationships on earth.

What we somehow fail to remember is that one of the things Christ did here on earth was to teach us how He expected us to act and what He expected us to do. Humble, self controlled service to THE FATHER.

If we imitate Christ then we will imitate the One revealed in scripture when He walked the earth as we do today. I don't really care how He relates to His Father today until folks start using what they think they see there to dominate and control others here. That is exactly the opposite of what He taught us to do when He was here.

All this ess stuff is geared toward legalizing a fleshly desire to dominate and control. I think it has Nicolaitan written all over it.

Rev 2:6 Yet you have this [in your favor and to your credit]: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans [what they are doing as corrupters of the people], which I Myself also detest.

Thank you for posting this and encouraging discussion. I would encourage everyone, especially those with the gift of discernment to dig back into what Athenius did, what Augustine did what Calvin did and anyone else in church history did to address this teaching. Test this spirit. Don't fall for the statement or position that this teaching is consistent with church history. I think you will find it more consistent with the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

WatchingHISstory said...

I ran into this issue when I talked at length (over one year) with my Jehovah Witness friend. The JW emphasis is that Jesus is a created subordinate to the Father.
Radically this means exalted angel status, Michael the arch-angel!

So I challenged him with the John passages about Christ's equality with the father. They say he is a representative or ambassador of the Father. They point to the srtatement that Christ said that he doesn't speak by his own initiative.

Naturally I could not dissuade him from the belief that that meant that he was NOT a representative because that would not represent what an ambassador does. An ambassodor has to act on his own iniative and that initiative is given by the one he represents. The one he represents creates and appoints the office.

Christ proceeded from the bosom of the Father as a son, not a creation but an eternal progression that was not subordinate. So when John says ..word was with God and was God.. means not a created 'god' but a Son.

Adam was a created man and so was the second Adam. A body was prepared for Him and from the incarnation to the crucifixion He was as Adam subordinate to God by creation so that he could represent us before the Father.
Even then, as we are admonished, He did not act own His own but did that which the Fater told Him.

Adam's sin was to act independently of God, abuse free will. Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness to do the same.

Christ is eternally equal to the Father otherwise we don't have a trinity. Yes, yes, the SBC is moving closer to a subordination in the Godhead. But rather than 'Jehovah' being head Christ will be the head with Father and Holy Spirit, replaced with men saying "come to Jesus."

Charles Page

Paul Burleson said...


Good thoughts.

A couple of things. One is I might need some further explanation of your very last sentence. My understanding is lacking there. Help me out if you would.

The other thing is in reference to your statement...."Adam's sin was to act independently of God, abuse free will. Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness to do the same."

I wonder if His temptation was not to act in the power or authority of His Divine Nature which He could have since He is truly God.

But as our stand in, the Second man or Last Adam, He chose to continue in submission. Thus His answer in Luke 4:3 "MAN shall not live by bread alone...." The same is repeated at the temple and the angels bearing Him up thing.

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

One problem(among many) that I have with the ESS doctrine is according to a video I watched, Bruce Ware said that we are only to pray to the Father, not Jesus Christ. He basis this on the Lord's prayer where Christ said we are to pray "Our Father who art in heaven..." Am I missing something?

Paul Burleson said...


Again, it is a case where their zeal to make submission eternal they make an incarnation moment relate to eternity and wind up with a legalistic point that makes something of prayer that was never intended to be in my judgment.

Cheryl Schatz said...

I too have been greatly concerned about those who want to place the Son of God in an eternally subordinate position. They place Jesus as unequal in authority and unequal in will and the consequences are that some are now teaching that Jesus cannot be prayed to. This is closer to the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses and it presents a real problem in our churches today. I have placed a preview clip of a new DVD set on youtube at

This DVD set deals with the problem of the ESS teaching and unravels all of the passages that are used to keep Jesus under the authority of the Father instead of in His being in full equality in the Trinity.

I believe that it is time that we deal with this issue head on because it is hurting our testimony especially with the cults who also hold to the eternal subordination of the son. I believe it is a watershed issue for the church today to deal with decisively. We need to lift up Jesus and not allow the church to move towards the position of the cults.

WatchingHISstory said...

As to my last statement my Calvinism leads me to the conclusion that if the non/anti-Calvinist continue their opposition they will evolve into a "Jesus only" (Sabellianism) mindset. ie Cheryl's last sentance.

JWs have a unitarianism with Jehovah as God, alone. Christ is a creation and the Holy Spirit is a mere influence.

Anti Calvinist views are moving toward a Jesus only view minimizing the functions of the Father in willing the salvation of men and the Holy Spirit in Applying the will of the Father.

There is a lot of defense of the deity of Christ, which is an important belief however there is a neglect of teaching the divinity of the Father and Holy Spirit. This is a natural outcome of Arminianism. Unitarianism is a production of Arminianism.

As to your second statement: "I wonder if His temptation was not to act in the power or authority of His Divine Nature which He could have since He is truly God."

I could not fully grasp what you meant. Let me take another stab.

In the temptation He was acting as the first Adam in resisting the temptation of Satan and not making the same error. Adam's temptation was without duress in a boundless garden. Christ's was in a wilderness under incredible duress.
Clearly the first Adam should not have failed and the second Adam should not have succeeded.

Christ did not resort to supernatural power to overcome Satan but He did resort to the most basic of knowledge availabe to the very least of us. (I assume that most of us think that none of us could resist Satan as Christ did) A child learns that his sustenance for life comes from his mother and proceeds to her masticating solid food to give to her weaned child. The childs food comes from it's parents. The mother scolds her child when it talks back and thus the child learns to not temp it's parents. The child learns that the best choice is to remain obedient to it's parents and that is it's service.

Satan came to Him with complex temptations and Christ responded, while under extreme duress, with the least complexity. He overcame Satan as Son of Man in a way the least of us should be able to do.

He could have used His divinity but didn't. He left us with the thought that "why did and how did Adam fail?"

Christ as MAN had the word of faith in his mouth not in deep complexities but in it's simplest form.

Anytime we confuse or blur the function of the persons of the trinity we open the door to unitarianism. This discussion of the eternal equality of the Father and Son and Spirit is of great importance.

Cheryl Schatz said...

WatchingHISstory said:

"As to my last statement my Calvinism leads me to the conclusion that if the non/anti-Calvinist continue their opposition they will evolve into a "Jesus only" (Sabellianism) mindset. ie Cheryl's last sentance."

My statement that Watching is referring to is:

"We need to lift up Jesus and not allow the church to move towards the position of the cults."

There was nothing in my statement that had anything to do with a "Jesus only" mindset. This is a classic overstating of one's case. Perhaps he should have asked me instead of misrepresented my view. Since I led a support group for former Jehovah's Witnesses for 16 years, I think I am qualified to know that the cults downgrade Jesus. I also know that lifting Jesus up to his proper place alongside the Father and the Holy Spirit does not remove the importance of any of the persons of the Trinity.

Watching claims that there is a neglect of teaching of the divinity of the Father. While I do not think that anyone is saying that the Father is not fully and completely and eternally God, placing the Son in a lower position with a lesser authority and lesser will does not promote the divinity of the Father. In fact Jesus himself said that we are to honor the Son just as we honor the Father. Anyone who does not place the Son in his equal position of honor with the Father is in a place of dishonoring the Father according to Jesus.

We also have to be careful that we do not confuse the nature of the manhood of Jesus with his Deity. Jesus was both 100% God just as He was 100% man. If we look previous to the time that the Word became flesh we see the preincarnate Word in his full Deity without humanity. This position of equality is where we need to start when we are looking at the Trinity, not by looking at the humility of Jesus as a man.

Watching said: "Anytime we confuse or blur the function of the persons of the trinity we open the door to unitarianism."

It isn't the "function" of the persons that makes the difference in the Trinity. After all, all three are the one Creator. Who had the "function" of Creator? It was all three just as Genesis speaks of plurality in God.

The real issue that has been a stumbling block for 2,000 years is the Lord Jesus. Every cult downgrades Jesus to be less than fully, completely and eternally God. He is the "rock" that many stumble over because God is revealed in Him. The Trinity is three persons - not person with three roles. But when we teach that these three persons are not equal in their entire essence as God, we are on the road to having "another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel".

Paul Burleson said...



Mary and I've just returned from a dinner engagement with friends a hundred miles away and it's too late for me to properly interact. I'll do so in the morning. Thanks to both of you for continuing a good conversation.

Lin said...

"The real issue that has been a stumbling block for 2,000 years is the Lord Jesus. Every cult downgrades Jesus to be less than fully, completely and eternally God. He is the "rock" that many stumble over because God is revealed in Him. The Trinity is three persons - not person with three roles"

This is what I have come to see. He is even a stumbling block within professing Christianity!

Scripture tells us there is nothing new under the sun but I can say, that at my age, I can look back and see a steady dumbed- down humanizing of Jesus in the church. I can remember when His Name was spoken with reverence and awe by believers. Now, He is mentioned less and less and in more pedantic ways.

ESS is just another attempt at this, albeit a more scholarly approach, dumbing down of His Deity and Power.

It scares me. To me, it is something to divide over. If HE is subordinate then that lessens His Sacrifice no matter if anyone says it does not. It does.

Anonymous said...

To give credence to what I said about ESS(Bruce Ware in particular) teaching that we pray to the Father and not to Christ, a quote from The Gender Blog:

The Father exercises rightful authority over all things. It is God the Father, not the Son or the Spirit, who is said to have grand authority over all things. Some texts that clearly demonstrate this truth include Psalm 2, which displays God's rightful jurisdiction over the nations and over all human kings. Likewise, it is the Father who installs His Anointed One, His Son, as the final Regent to reign over the world.

The words that open the Lord's prayer in Matt 6:9-10 are also instructive: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Jesus specifies that the prayer be made to the Father and asserts that the Father is over all.

WatchingHISstory said...


I don't think we are in disagreement however your statement "We need to lift up Jesus" was just above my previous comment box and it is a common statement I hear all the time.

The Father has done a pretty good job of lifting up Jesus and exalting Him at His right hand. How can we improve on that?

I bow to your expertise on the JWs. The way to deal with the cults, I'm sure you know, is to lift up the Word and exalt what the Word says about particulars.

My contact with my JW friend is that he lifts up the Word to me (which naturally is what the Watchtower tells him it is) I lift it back up to him, not the particulars but the whole Word of God. I have the winning edge over him!

Now I believe, in addition to the fact that I have the Holy Spirit giving me the unction to speak, is that he deals in particulars and I have the whole Word, something he doesn't have. His particulars are so conflicted and have to be corrected by the humble servants.
You know what I mean.

The slight disagreement with you is the statement: "After all, all three are the one Creator." Function is a part of the definition of the trinity. The three are one with different functions. Creation is assigned to the Son according to the pleasure of the Father. All things were created by Him and for Him. The Father assigns Him his preeminence.

Paul Burleson said...

I have to say that my concern is the loss of the uniqueness of Christ either by losing His humanity OR his deity.

His uniqueness IS the ground of our fellowship according to 1 Cor. 1 are the only thing in which we are to glory. [His person and work.]

He is the One about whom the Holy Spirit uniquely speaks and to whom He directs people.

He is the One who has the unique power/authority to judge correctly in the future where all hidden motives will be brought to light. [1 Cor. 4:3.]

My theology of Calvinism, Ecclesiology, Spiritual gifts, whatever, are all wonderful for teaching in the fellowship which I attend and may even help me in choosing that fellowship with which I will gather on the Lord's day, but my unity is with anyone who names Jesus as Lord.

Anyone who makes Jesus less than He was in the incarnation and less than He is in eternity would not be someone whith whom I would have much unity. As I said, it is the uniqueness of Christ that is our ground of unity.

So...I guess I'm saying I don't see in Cheryl's last sentence what one referred to as the "Jesus only" concept. I see in all her writing and DVDs [I've viewed some} The unique Jesus [Who He really is] and would combat any "dumbing down" of Christ along side her. She and I may disagree on some of my Calvinistic leanings but we're both leaning on Jesus in true faith. That'll do for me as a basis of unity with her.

Paul Burleson said...


I just read your comment posted late last night. It adds some light to what you said earlier. I do understand what you mean when you say that the Father has exalted Him and given Him preeminence and it can't be more that that. But I'm uncomfortable with something that may just be nuances but I don't think so.

His being exalted and having been given preeminence relates to the incarnation. Were it not for that He would have remained in His original glory to which He was post-incarnation exalted to once again.

We may have too many threads of thoughts going to continue the temptation thing. I'll just leave it there.

Your statement....."Creation is assigned to the Son according to the pleasure of the Father." a bit problematic to me. I would see the God of the bible at work in creation as the original language suggests and the single person work you suggest unsupported by the text.

But all-in-all... good discussion.

WatchingHISstory said...


I don't know Cheryl and have not said that she is "Jesus only" but that such statements have the hint of "Jesus only" and by my view down the road 20-40 years will be a popular evangelical view of unitarianism if the same course is pursued. We are seeing a popular sentiment expressed in our worship fads without any doctrinal basis but a feel good mentality.

You know my blog and my strong stand for Calvinism. I know you probably don't like me saying it but I sat thru many services at Bellevue concluded with Adrian Rogers standing at the foot of the altar in front of the congregation with outstreached hands saying over and over, "come to Jesus"

I cringe when I think of it. He was the Father issuing the plea and the Holy Spirit accomplishing the task. Neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit had a place and he stood in their stead giving Christ preeminence. Unchecked, that will lead to unitarianism which is consistent with his anti-Calvinist views. It all looks good now by vast multitudes of Evangelicals but the end is destruction.

AS you can tell I am not worried if I am not unified with Cheryl or not. I want to line up with the Word.

Paul Burleson said...


With respect, I haven't, to my memory, read your blog until yesterday. I would also say, while not speaking for Cheryl at all, I do believe she and I both would say we want to line up with scriptures too....and do. Yet we both are concerned about unity and desire to be in unity with all who name Jesus as Lord.

So I guess on this one we will need to agree to disagree and wish each other the best. That's my wish for you for certain.

Aussie John said...


I would only repeat what others are saying if I start, but it seems to me that some in the SBC would tell us that the trinity of water, ice, and steam are not essentially the one thing.

All are one and the same, two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen.

Funnily enough the first word verification on your blog, as I send this is, would you believe is "coldoldm". Maybe they left out the last two letters?

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie John,

An excellent reminder of a good illustration. You and I know no illustration is perfect but that's as good as can be found.

What some people insisting on eternal subordination are winding up with is an unbiblical concept of three wills and three minds in eternity [With Jesus submitting His will to the Father] which, in effect, would be three gods. This forgets that there is ONE God with ONE will and ONE mind in eternity pre and post incarnation.

WatchingHISstory said...

just for the record I believe in the eternal equality of Christ with the Father. At the incarnation he was both God and man. He ascended back to the Father and has preeminence in all things. He has equality with the Father and not subordinate to the Father.

While on earth as man he was as we, dependent on the Word of the Father. "man" shall not live by bread alone. He was fully God fully representing man.

I never meant to imply that you nor Cheryl were not in line with Scripture only that my goal for myself is to keep in line with it. Sorry for the wrong implication. As to being united with all who name Christ as Lord, the JWs folow 'scripture' and name Christ as 'lord'! Just ask them, "do yu follow the Watchtower or scripture?Do you recognize Christ as lord?

WatchingHISstory said...


Could it also be said that there is one God with a desire for all men to be saved and another God with a decree to save the elect?

Can these two be one, I personally think it is an impossibility! The one with a desire is inferior to the one who decrees.

Paul Burleson said...


Thank you for the spirit of your respnse It was very gracious.

I could not agree with your first two paragraphs more.

I must apologize, I know it's my fuzzy mind this morning but I don't quite get the point of your second comment. Sorry.

My answer to what I'm reading is, no there are not two gods with those two redemptive purposes, one a desire and another an elective purpose.

WatchingHISstory said...

so you are saying that there is not one God with both a redemptive desire for all men to be saved and a decree, an elective purpose.

I hope that is what you are saying!

Aussie John said...


Without doubt! Every human illustration fails in some point.

The "I AM" of the Old Covenant is the very same "I AM" of the New Covenant,who was "found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross"; and again I am confident to say,"Without doubt."

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,



I'm saying what the one true God purposed to accomplish is what He actually accomplished.

WatchingHISstory said...

I am glad to finally find someone who doesn't subscribe to the universal appeal to the sinner and believes in limited atonement!

Cheryl Schatz said...

WatchingHISstory said:

The slight disagreement with you is the statement: "After all, all three are the one Creator." Function is a part of the definition of the trinity. The three are one with different functions. Creation is assigned to the Son according to the pleasure of the Father. All things were created by Him and for Him. The Father assigns Him his preeminence."

Again you are mixing up the humanity of Jesus and His Deity. The Father indeed gives Jesus preeminence, but it is the Man Jesus who gets this preeminence. In his preincarnate state He had equal preeminence with the Father. Creation is not assigned to the Son by the Father. Rather all three participate in creation without one taking authority over the others. In the same way all three raised Jesus from the dead. The Father raised Jesus (Gal. 1:1) Jesus raised Himself (John 2:19-21) and the Holy Spirit raised Jesus (Romans 8:11). The three work in unity.

Watching also said: "Can these two be one, I personally think it is an impossibility! The one with a desire is inferior to the one who decrees."

I agree with Paul that there is One Will in God not three wills held by three persons. God acts in Unity and His Will is in Unity as He is the One God. In the Trinity, the Son never needs to submit His Will to the Father's Will because They have the same Will. This makes submission and "authority over" not a viable option in the Trinity.

The truth of the matter is that we are to lift up Jesus and His resurrection as this is the basis of the gospel. Lifting up Jesus and highlighting his authority will never dishonor the Father. Instead it honors the Father who delights in having His Son worshiped and honored in the same way that the Father is worshiped and honored.

These are the matters that should unite us as brothers and sisters in Christ. I do not seek to break fellowship with anyone who belongs to Christ Jesus and who holds to the essentials of the faith. It is not an option to love our brothers. It is required and we are given the privilege to seek unity in the bond of love.

Cheryl Schatz said...

WatchingHISstory said:

"I don't know Cheryl and have not said that she is "Jesus only" but that such statements have the hint of "Jesus only" and by my view down the road 20-40 years will be a popular evangelical view of unitarianism if the same course is pursued."

There is no reason to believe that one who is Trinitarian and who lifts up Jesus as equal in the Trinity will become a unitarian in 20-40 years. I appreciate your concern for me but you don't have to worry. I am solidly rooted in the essentials of the faith.

Watching also said:

"AS you can tell I am not worried if I am not unified with Cheryl or not. I want to line up with the Word."

I am not quite sure what you mean by these words as it seems they could be taken two ways - one positive and one negative. However be assured that I too earnestly desire to line up with the Word of God and I also desire to be in unity with each member of the body of Christ. It appears that you are such a member and as such, I desire to live in unity with you as well as the scriptures instruct me to live.

Pastor Paul,
I would allow you to speak for me any day. Your gentle ways attract me to the Jesus within you and I affirm you as a dear brother in Christ.

WatchingHISstory said...


Amen, I think.


Paul Burleson said...


I totally agree with your thoughtful/scriptural statement about the Trinity. I add.......

The Spirit created the world-- Gen 1:2 Job 26:13 Psalm 104:30

The Son created the world--John 1:3,10 1 Cor. 8:6 Col.1:16 Heb. 1:10

The Father created the world--John 5:17-23


I DO believe the gospel is to be presented to ALL sinners with whom we have opportunity in EVERY nation on earth in all ways possible as God commands ALL men everywhere to repent.

That does NOT negate for me the effectual work of redemption Christ accomplished on the Cross at all.

WatchingHISstory said...

well, I am disappointed, Paul. I thought you were Calvinist. You are a follower of the variations of Amyraut. I gues you are a hypo-Calvinist.

Paul Burleson said...



I'm sure I'm a disappointment in more ways than you know to more people than you know. But I've disappointed people in areas that give me far more concern than the one we're discussing. [Smile..again.]

I'm a little like Charles Spurgeon who said two things I'll reference.

One--"We only use the term 'Calvinism for shortness. Those doctrines did not spring from Calvin. We believe they sprang from the founder of all Truth."

My theology would never be satisfied being identified with one man or one set of doctrines systematically put together. [Though I have no problem with the famous five-points myself.]

Spurgeon also said..."My gospel is the gospel proclaimed by John Knox and may that gospel be preached to all of England."

I agree with Spurgeon.

WatchingHISstory said...

I've not read enough of Spurgeon nor Calvin to discuss the subject of Calvinism. I bow to your expertise on that.

I have slowly transitioned into a high supralapsarian from a wesleyan pentecostal providentially from my pre-teen youth. I was unconsciously a Calvinist for maybe 30 years and began to be conscious of it for the last 15-20 years.

I have been drawn by the Spirit into a state of pure theological joy derived from an intimate relationship with God. In an odyssey not thru study but providence God has brought me to this point. I am chosen of him!

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for sharing your story. I sincerely mean that.

If you wouldn't mind, from this point on, let's address the post on the Trinity. Thanks in advance.

WatchingHISstory said...

the roots of Calvinism are throughly trinitarian and the arguments against Calvinism lead to unitarianism.

Calvinism lends to a proper discussion of the place of Christ in the Godhead. Anti-Calvinism diminishes the glory of Christ's atonement.

I bow out graciously, Paul.