Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
 
On August 22 Christianity Today posted another article on the recent debate over the doctrine of the Trinity. I won’t rehash the details of the debate. However the author of the CT piece does get a few details wrong. Notably she repeats the line that the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) maintains a neutral position regarding ESS/EFS/ERAS (I am sure that is what she was told). She also states that the CBMW website has only one article on ERAS which is by Wayne Grudem, a founder of the organization. Of course, that may now be true (more on that in a bit). 
 
The fact is CBMW has not been neutral regarding the doctrine of the Son’s eternal subordination to the Father. (As a reminder, no orthodox theologian denies that there is a kind of order in the Godhead or that the Son in his incarnate and self-humiliating state submitted his will to that of his Father as part of his identification with mankind. The error of Drs. Grudem and Ware is that they export that subordination of will from something belonging to the economic Trinity into the eternal relations of the Godhead.) It is true that some members of CBMW’s council reject that errant doctrine. However, the fact remains that CBMW has deliberately and repeatedly built its theological support for the complementary roles of men and women upon this deeply flawed doctrine of the Trinity.
 
Both Aimee Byrd and Rachel Miller have shown the strong connection between CBMW and EFS. 
 
I am now troubled by what seems to be an effort to rewrite history. In fact, things seem to be disappearing without any explanation.
 
The weight of scholarship has spoken on the issue. Even those who stepped into the debate to dismiss as cranks (and worse) the critics of the theology of Ware and Grudem were nevertheless careful to make clear that they did not agree with EFS. One wonders why they don't agree. Obviously it must be because they find EFS to be unbiblical. Now it's one thing to find a pre-tribulation rapture of the church to be unbiblical. It is quite another to conclude that professors in evangelical seminaries hold an unbiblical view of the Trinity!
 
Let us keep in mind that in his wildly popular Systematic Theology Wayne Grudem writes that the Trinity is analogous to husband (the Father), wife (the Son), and child (the Holy Spirit). It boggles my mind that so many well-known men within the broader reformed(ish) world are unwilling to refute such nonsense. I can only speculate as to why. But I believe that I can say with 100% certainty that if egalitarian theologians and pastors were drawing those same analogies the refutations would come fast and furious. 
 
One of the more peculiar features of the current debate is the men who insist on agreement in the applications of the Bible’s teaching on the roles of men and women but allow great diversity of opinion on the nature of God. As Liam Goligher has recently pointed out, the doctrine of God is not secondary. The doctrine of God is not subordinate (no pun intended) to, for instance, the doctrine of the atonement. The doctrine of God is primary. And yet some of the very men who helped lead worthy battles against attacks on Scriptural authority and substitutionary atonement seem to offer a collective shrug to views about the Trinity they themselves identify as erroneous. How is it that we must agree on women’s roles in society but not on the Son’s role in the Trinity?
 
It is clear that the leadership of CBMW now desires to distance the organization from the error of EFS. It would be a shame if their approach to dealing with these errors is to merely remove content from their website. What they must do is refute the errors of EFS and its impious speculations and analogies applied to the Godhead. They must also apologize for their lack of discernment and proper oversight in disseminating those errors to the church; errors that local pastors must now clean up. If CBMW refuses to do this then it will be clear that they continue to stand by those errors. 
 
Something is wrong with this picture. Something rotten is behind this wall of protection and it spells impending danger for reformed evangelicalism. A movement which rushes to protect those who advance error but criticizes, marginalizes, and pulls levers of power against those who shine a light on the errors is a movement not worth supporting. 
 
A big tent which gatherers together incompatible doctrines of the Trinity is too big a tent.
 
Here are a few helpful articles to help you navigate some of the theological categories and implications:
The REF21 series by Alastair Roberts (Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here).
 
 
Posted on Monday, August 08, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

Over at Theology on the Go Jonathan Master hosts an excellent conversation with Liam Goligher on why it matters so much to possess a proper doctrine of God.

 

Check it out HERE.

 

The debate over the doctrine of the Trinity is not over. So far as I can tell, those who have advanced the troubling (a kind euphamism) notion that the Trinity is analogous to husband (the Father), wife (the Son) and child (the Spirit) have not renounced their position. Given the continuing influence of these men and the organizations to which they belong it is still necessary for those who hold to historic orthodoxy to offer public push back. As Goligher points out, their errant doctrine dishonors God and diminishes his people. 

 

Posted on Monday, August 01, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
 
Last week Donny Friedrichsen offered a thoughtful and friendly response to my post entitled “I am not a complementarian.” As Donny writes in his post, he and I are friends. I point that out because neither of us are being cynical when we refer to each other as “friend.” It’s the truth. 
 
Other than his belief that the word complementarian is still helpful I can’t think of single thing Donny wrote with which I disagree. He and I agree about the Scripture’s teaching concerning the complementary roles of men and women though we may disagree on some of the applications. I am not sure. Thankfully, and more importantly, we agree that the trinitarianism espoused by Drs. Ware and Grudem (and others at CBMW) is problematic. However, Donny argues that complementarian is still an important and useful word.
 
As I wrote in my previous post, my solution when asked about my position regarding complementarianism or egalitarianism is to simply refer to myself as confessional. The confessional standards to which I am bound (the Scriptures, Westminster Standards, Book of Church Order) spell out quite clearly what I believe about the nature and roles of men and women. And I am left wondering: who can improve on those standards? Who would want to try? I suppose that second question has already been answered. 
 
Donny argues that because of the rise of the new sexual revolution and its attending gender chaos it behooves us to have ways to describe our position that are more specific than “confessional.” I do agree with him on that point. That is one of the reasons why Mortification of Spin (both the podcast and blog) has and will continue to dedicate much attention to the current cultural insanity. But it seems to me that when it comes to addressing the confusion and chaos surrounding gender and sexual ethics the word complementarian is completely inadequate. It simply cannot bear the weight of all that is required to affirm biblical anthropology and biblical sexual ethics. 
 
I understand why he desires to retain the word. As I said in my original post, complementarian is a good word. I was always eager to define myself as complementarian. But even Donny acknowledges that it now must be qualified. I suppose something like “biblically Trinitarian complementarian”? That seems a little cumbersome. Of greater importance to me however is that I do not want to be associated with a movement or organization which tolerates and even promotes error on the doctrine of the Trinity.
 
I simply do not know how the word complementarian can be separated from CBMW (Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood). The bottom line is that the bold advancement of Trinitarian error by leaders in CBMW has ruined the word for me. Until CBMW officially rejects the heterodox trinitarianism of some of its key leaders the terms complementarian and complementarianism are hopelessly compromised. 
 
Donny holds out the possibility that there may come a day when he can no longer, for the same reasons I presume, be able to call himself complementarian. For me that day has arrived. 
 
Now, allow me to shift gears a bit. This next part has nothing to do with Donny because I know he rejects the Trinitarian errors among some of the leading lights at CBMW. 
 
This entire debate has been disheartening in more ways than one. It is disheartening because there are men and women associated with CBMW who reject the Trinitarian errors that have been allowed to flourish there but who refuse to say a word publicly for fear of losing their seat at the table. So great is the fear of the top men that silence becomes the preferred posture toward significant theological error. I wish they would speak up and risk the rejection. They will sacrifice some speaking gigs, that is true. They won't be able to write for certain well known blogs anymore. But there is a great deal of freedom in the minor leagues. 
 
It is now clear that the men with seats at the table require a fundamentalist posture regarding complementarianism (“Our way or the high way!”). But when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity they become there's room for everybody big tent broadly evangelical. This intentional move to downplay the importance of the doctrine of God will yield bitter fruit. Indeed, the battles conservatives have won on such doctrines as the authority of Scripture and substitutionary atonement will prove to be short-lived because of the current disinterest to correct heterodoxy in theology proper. 
 
Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

There is a crisis at North Point Community Church. North Point is the super duper mega church in Atlanta founded and led by Andy Stanley. Stanley has enormous influence through North Point, his books, and conferences. For many, Andy is the go-to guy when it comes to effective communication and leadership. But there is a crisis at North Point. This crisis is dishonoring to God, destructive to God's people, and threatens the churches influenced by the Atlanta mega church.

If you were expecting some salacious detail or breaking news then this will be rather disappointing to you. The evidence is readily available. Indeeed it is supplied rather proudly by North Point. The sickness at the heart of North Point is on full display in the following video which captures the goings on at a recent woship service.

072416 Opener - 90s Boy Bands from North Point Web on Vimeo.

Perhaps I'm naive but "Love The Way You Turn Me On" should have been a tip off to those in leadership at North Point that something was not right (at this point I don't expect those who continue to attend to have sufficient discernment to recognize what is wrong).

Honestly, I am tired of hearing about good intentions and great results when it comes to garbage like this. This stuff does nothing, absolutely nothing to "reach" anyone. It only confuses. I would not care so much except for the fact that I once served as pastor of a church in Philadelphia where Andy Stanley had influence among some of the top leaders. And there are many other churches whose pastors, youth ministers, and children's directors are influenced by Andy Stanley and North Point. I don't know who has influence in Andy Stanley's life but I hope that among those who do, someone will have the courage to call him to repent of such foolishness. This sort of thing is destructive to the people of God. When imitation of the world is allowed to flourish in a church it is clear that the shepherds have become predators. 

As a side note, you may remember Andy Stanley famously saying in a sermon earlier in the year that people who go to smaller churches are "lazy" and don't care about their children because those churches cannot provide the same sorts of experiences as do big churches like North Point. When I watched this video one of my first thoughts was, "How lazy it is to go to a church like this."

 

Posted on Monday, July 25, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
 
I need a new way to describe myself. 
 
Since hearing it for the first time I always liked the word complementarian to describe myself in reference to how the Bible frames the differences and similarities between males and females. To the best of my knowledge the words complementarian and complementarianism came directly from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) in the 1980’s. The words were meant to help promote the teaching of Scripture regarding male/female roles (contra egalitarians and evangelical feminists). I happily affirm and teach everything the Bible says about the spiritual leadership of men within the church and the headship of the husband at home. These are important truths grounded in the doctrines of creation and the cross and clearly affirmed in the New Testament. 
 
But I have come to the conclusion that complementarian is no longer a word I can use to describe myself. It is not because I have changed. I have not changed one iota. Unfortunately it has become clear that the word complementarian is freighted with unacceptable doctrine concerning the Trinity and speculations about the roles of males and females in the new creation. 
 
So, I need a new way to describe myself.
 
The vigorous debate over the doctrine of the Trinity which was sparked on this site came about because we and others noticed that the troubling doctrine of the Son’s eternal subordination to the Father (ESS or EFS) was being actively advanced beyond the academic sphere into the realm of popular readership. It was being advanced in books meant for lay persons and even children. Indeed, our response was probably far too slow in coming. 
 
It is also clear that much of the leadership of CBMW remains committed to these doctrines and speculations. Despite appeals from church historians and systematic theologians from various parts of the world the handful of men advancing ESS remain resolute. I simply cannot be associated with those Trinitarian errors and so I cannot be associated with their word.
 
So from now on when people ask me where I am in regard to male/female roles in church and the home I will simply say that I am Confessional. That is, I am part of a church and denomination which has a substantial and clear confession of faith and Book of Church Order both of which speak to these issues. In fact, I have made solemn vows before my church and presbytery that I both believe and will teach according to those documents. Incidentally, one of the things I love about being Presbyterian is that it renders obsolete any parachurch organization dedicated to teachings regarding male and female roles. 
 
If anyone accuses me of being a “thin complementarian” or “stealth egalitarian,” then that will be a clear case of slander since the documents to which I am bound (the Scriptures, the Westminster Standards, and the PCA’s Book of Church Order) make it clear that I am none of those things. My vows will not allow it. So from now on in addition to the other things you call me you may add Confessional.
 
 
Posted on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
 
The following open letter was written by the Children's Ministry Director at the church I serve. She is a wife and mother in an interracial family. She is understandably grieved by the damaging and counterproductive "guiding principles" of the Black Lives Matter organization. I found her letter to be gracious and truthful. 
 
Dear brothers and sisters at Black Lives Matter,
 
As the mother in an interracial family, I applaud you on many of your goals. Yes! Black lives do indeed matter, as do the lives of white people, Asian people, those with Down Syndrome, Learning Disabilities, etc. In general, life matters. That is why I am so concerned, friends, when I clicked on the "Black Villages” square on your web-site to see that you are committed to "disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and villages that collectively care for one another, etc."  Oh, dear ones, the nuclear family is neither white, nor Western, but healthy and universal for centuries. How I long to see black men rise up as excellent husbands and fathers. What greater impact can the black man have on society than to lead in kindness, and to protect as he interacts with his own family? That does not go to say that the broader community is not important, but it is primarily in the context of healthy families that children and adults thrive. My husband and I have worked hard to teach our own sons that to love a child well, you must love the mother well. Sadly, they tell us that among their friends they find few examples where this is happening. TEACH THE MEN to be HUSBANDS and the community will thrive! TEACH THE MEN to be HUSBANDS and we will see strong, compassionate, wise, bold, grace-filled black leadership emerge.  Abandon, or worse yet, seek to disrupt, the nuclear family, and we will continue to see the heartbreak of our boys lacking in self- awareness, seeking identity in temporal and even dangerous things.
 
I am no fool to think that my one e-mail will change what many impassioned people have thoughtfully constructed, but I would find myself being a poor community member indeed, if I did not share this deep concern with you, hoping that somehow you might reconsider the wisdom of your stand.
 
Sincerely,
 
Lisa Updike
 
 
Posted on Saturday, July 09, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
 
"It is very shameful, and not only shameful, but very foolish, to take from things below and guess at things above, and from a fluctuating nature at the things that are unchanging..."
Gregory of Nazianzus
 
I have truly tried to be as charitable as possible to Drs. Ware and Grudem during this debate over their theology of the Trinity. But when I read passages like the one below from Dr. Grudem's wildly popular Systematic Theology I can barely keep my head from spinning.
The husband's role is parallel to God the Father and the wife's role is parallel to that of God the Son. ... And, although it is not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, the gift of children within marriage, coming from both the father and the mother, and subject to the authority of both father and mother is analogous to the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Father and Son in the Trinity. (pp. 256-257)
Come let us reason together!
 
This goes far beyond reasonable speculation. In an effort to be charitable I want to call it exotic. But that will not do. It is worse than exotic. It may well be blasphemous. 
 
I chose that word with no small amount of thought and sobriety.
 
The stubborn insistence of Drs. Ware and Grudem to force a parallel between the Father and the Son to a husband and wife is worse than troubling. And, as we can see from the passage cited above, it leads to the inevitable comparison of the Holy Spirit to the child of the divine husband (Father) and wife (Son). These parallels have far more in common with pagan mythology than Biblical theology. 
 
I am angry about this. This is a distortion of the Godhead and there is nothing helpful or beautiful about it.
 
Can the defenders of Drs. Ware and Grudem offer ANY justification for such off the rails speculation as the above passage embodies? 
 
I saw last night that Dr. Bruce Ware wrote an open letter to Liam, Carl and me. All I can say is that at this point Dr. Ware's friends are not serving him well. He continues to parse the language beyond recognition. I would direct the interested reader to read Stefan Linblad's devastating critique of Dr. Ware's misuse of the creedal language and orthodox categories. 
 
Posted on Friday, July 08, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

The following article by Stefan Linblad* is a response to Dr. Bruce Ware's answers to those who have criticized his doctrine of the Trinity. It is an important contribution to the current debate.

The Glove Doesn't Fit

by

Stefan Lindblad

A few days ago, Bruce Ware offered a substantial reply to the recent criticisms voiced against the doctrine of eternal relational authority-submission (ERAS). Others, including Mark Jones, have penned thoughtful rejoinders to the post as a whole. I wish to concentrate on Ware’s comments about the doctrine of eternal generation (EG) – not because Ware tells the reading public for the first time that he affirms this as the “church’s doctrine,” nor because he does so having once labeled the doctrine with the shibboleths of speculative and unbiblical (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 162, fn. 3). No, rather, because Ware contends that ERAS fits hand in glove with EG. This glove, however, doesn’t fit. ERAS is not only inconsistent with EG, but Ware’s suggestion to the contrary also highlights (again) the questions and concerns about ERAS’s understanding of the homoousian, the divine unity, and related doctrines. 
 
Ware says that he embraces EG as “the only explanation that grounds the Father as the eternal Father, and the Son as the eternal Son.” Though he remains concerned about biblical support, he is happy to affirm the church’s doctrine of the eternal modes of subsistence: the Father is the Father because he begets the Son, and the Son is the Son because he is begotten of the Father. Regretfully, however, he undoes these affirmations by positing that EG entails the idea that the Father “has the intrinsic paternal hypostatic position of having authority over his Son,” and the Son “has the intrinsic filial hypostatic position of being in submission to his Father.” EG entails nothing of the sort. 
 
EG is concerned with how the Son can be said to have the whole divine essence, as does the Father and the Spirit, but in such a way as the essence remains undivided (avoiding tritheism) and the persons not confounded (avoiding modalism, Sabellianism, etc.). Francis Cheynell states the doctrine succinctly: “The divine persons are distinguished by their inward and personal actions. The Father did from all Eternity communicate the living essence of God to the Son, in a most wonderfull and glorious way” (The Divine Trinunity, 188-89). Because each person subsists ad intra, within the divine essence, the modes of subsistence are necessary, eternal, and immutable. The communication of essence from the Father to the Son thus precludes any division of essence, as well as the idea that any of the three persons are “before or after the others in time, dignity, or degree” (Zacharias Ursinus, Corpus doctrinae, 136). EG rules out any distinction of “degree, state, or dignity” among the persons subsisting in the essence (Lucas Trelcatius, Scholastica et methodica, 22). 
 
To be in an intrinsic position of hypostatic submission seems to entail more than the Son’s subsistent relation to the Father, which is what EG propounds, but instead a degree or state of subsistence under the Father. If not, what does sub mean in submission? If I am reading Ware correctly, he wants to say that the Father and the Son subsist in these relative positions, states, or degrees within the Godhead. Yet, if Ursinus and Trelcatius are correct (and we could cite others saying much the same), the Son’s mode of subsistence as eternally begotten of the Father, as the consubstantial and co-equal Son of the Father, can in no way allow for a graded, ranked, or hierarchical relation under the Father ad intra. To suggest otherwise is to divide that which is indivisible, the divine essence. 
 
What, however, of Ware’s suggestion that “the eternal relations of authority and submission…flow out from and are expressive of those eternal modes of subsistence”? This seems to be saying something different than that EG entails the Son’s intrinsic position of hypostatic submission. Maybe I’m parsing too much, and Ware intends the same thing by both statements. In any case, this presents us with another quandary, since the modes of subsistence are, according to Muller, the personal works of God ad intra, in themselves immanent, “since they do not issue forth from the Godhead” (Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, 212). If authority and submission are the intrinsic outworking or expressions of the modes of subsistence, Ware is attributing to the divine persons an ad intra egress that would necessitate that the Father and the Son undergo movement from unbegotten and begotten to authoritative and submissive, respectively. If, however, authority and submission are subsistent relations in themselves, that which makes the Father the Father and the Son the Son as to their personal subsistence in the divine essence, then, again, Ware has attributed to EG the very thing EG precludes.  
 
The waters become murkier with Ware’s further claim that the Son’s mode of subsistence, and thus his position of submission, is functional and personal as opposed to essential and ontological. Although he is correct to say that the modes of subsistence are not essential divine attributes, he is incorrect to say they are not ontological. Cheynell warns, “When we describe the Divine nature, we should not abstract it from the three Persons; and when we describe a Divine Person we should not abstract him from the Divine Nature” (Divine Trinunity, 80). The Son’s mode of subsistence is concrete. He has the whole divine essence or nature, and he subsists within that essence, not outside of it. It is true that what is said of each person, concerning mode of subsistence, cannot be predicated of the essence. EG, for example, cannot be predicated of the divine essence, only of the Son. But EG is predicated of the Son concretely, in his subsistent relation to the Father within the essence. Muller explains that EG “is not…a movement of the Son from potency to actuality or from nonbeing…into existence, but an eternal and perpetual relation in the Godhead, an unchanging activity or motion that is in the divine essence according to its very nature” (Dictionary, 127, emphasis added). 
 
Both the unity of the divine essence and the distinction of the persons within that essence are matters of ontology, of the divine being. Some, like Wollebius, define the divine persons as “the essence of God, with a certain manner of subsisting” (Christianae theologiae compendium  20-21). Modes of subsistence, therefore, are not functional relations at all. They are subsistent relations in the divine nature: the Father is relative to the Son as unbegotten, and the Son is relative to the Father as begotten. Functional categories cannot be introduced into the modes of subsistence without simultaneously redefining the classical doctrines of divine simplicity, actuality, unity, omnipotence, immutability, impassibility, and the like. If the Father and the Son “function in an eternal Father-Son relationship, in which the Father always acts in a way that befits who he is as Father, and Son always acts in a way that befits who he is as Son,” does that not require some kind of change in the Godhead? If immutability is redefined only as constancy then Ware may be able to avoid incoherence, but on the terms of classical theism, the introduction of function into modes of subsistence ad intra is no small problem. 
 
This very problem rears its ugly head when Ware insists that authority and submission are personal properties of the Father and the Son, respectively. In addition to the difficulty this raises for the unity of the divine will, it poses a broader dilemma regarding the Son’s consubstantiality with the Father. If divine unity is substantial and singular, then whatever is predicated of the divine essence is necessarily predicated of all three persons. If omnipotence is an essential attribute, then the Father is omnipotent, the Son is omnipotent, and the Spirit is omnipotent; and this omnipotence is independent of any ad extra relation to creation. But if the Son subsists eternally in a position or state of submission to the Father, is he omnipotent as is the Father? Ware clarifies that the Son’s authority over creation is in no way diminished by ERAS, but what of his authority, his power, his omnipotence, as self-existent, independent God? How can the Son have authority ad extra but not ad intra? More to the point, if the Father is supreme in the Godhead (see Ware, Father, Son, and Spirit, 50-51) does the Son really have the same fully actualized divine essence as does the Father? Is there but one simple divine essence? Perhaps Ware conceives of the unity of the divine essence as generic; the three persons share in the genus God. But that raises a host of questions about Ware’s conception of the essential attributes, not the least of which is divine simplicity and pure actuality. Nevertheless, as his explanation stands, the supposition of intrinsic positions or functions of authority and submission undermines the Son’s full consubstantiality with the Father. 
 
EG, on the other hand, does nothing of the sort. EG, when left free of Ware’s entailments or expressions, upholds the homoousian. The Son is of the same essence as the Father because the Father necessarily, eternally, immutably begets the Son within the divine essence, without division of the divine essence. By virtue of this generation the Son personally possess the whole, undivided divine essence. He, therefore, subsists in the divine essence, not as submissive or subordinate, but as the fully divine Son of the Father. For which reason, despite his affirmations, despite his attempt at clarification, Ware’s version of ERAS not only remains shrouded in a cloud of theological incoherence, but contradicts the biblical and classical doctrine of EG. The novel glove (ERAS) does not fit the classical hand (EG). 
 
*Stefan Lindblad is a Pastor of Trinity Reformed Baptist Church (Kirkland, WA), and a PhD candidate in Historical and Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. He co-edited and contributed to Confessing the Impassible God: (RBAP, 2015), and his essay “‘Eternally Begotten of the Father’: An Analysis of the Second London Confession of Faith’s Doctrine of the Eternal Generation of the Son,” has been published in By Common Confession: Essays in Honor of James M. Renihan (RBAP, 2015). Stefan and his wife Jo have three children (Emily, Grace, and Owen).
Posted on Thursday, July 07, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517
 
The following are passages from Bruce Ware’s book Father Son and Holy Spirit: Relationships Roles and Relevance.
“God the Father receives the ultimate and supreme glory, for the Father sent the Son to accomplish redemption in his humiliation, and the Father exalted the Son to his place over all creation; in all these things, the Father alone stands supreme over all – including supreme over his very Son. All praise of the Son ultimately and rightly redounds to the glory of the Father. It is the Father, then who is supreme in the Godhead – in the triune relationships of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and supreme over all of the very creation over which the Son reigns as its Lord.” – p. 50
 
"The Father is supreme over all, and in particular, he is supreme within the Godhead as the highest in authority and the one deserving of ultimate praise." – p. 51
 
"...though the Father is supreme, he often provides and works through his Son and Spirit to accomplish his work and fulfill his will. I am amazed when I consider here the humility of the Father. For, though the Father is supreme, though he has in the trinitarian order the place of highest authority, the place of highest honor, yet he chooses to do his work in many cases through the Son and through the Spirit rather than unilaterally." – p. 55 
 
"In many ways, what we see here of the Father choosing not to work unilaterally but to accomplish his work through the Son, or through the Spirit, extends into his relationship to us. Does God need us to do his work? Does God need us to help others grow in Christ? Does God need us to proclaim the gospel so that others hear the good news and are saved? The answer is an emphatic no. He doesn't need any of us to do any of this. Being the omnipotent and sovereign Ruler over all, he would merely have to speak, and whatever he willed would be done.... No, the humbling fact is that God doesn't need any of those whom he calls into his service." – p. 57
 
"It is not as though the Father is unable to work unilaterally, but rather, he chooses to involve the Son and the Spirit." – p. 57
Here at Mortification of Spin we have been careful to not label Dr. Ware a heretic. Church courts make those determinations. But whatever else the above statements from Dr. Ware’s book are they are most certainly not historic Christian orthodoxy. The passages are not taken out of a context that actually shapes them into orthodoxy. Indeed, reading the entire chapter only drives home the point that Dr. Ware’s views on the Trinity veer far afield from what the church catholic has professed since at least the 4th century. 
 
At this point it is clear to me that the “tone” of those first posts by Liam Goligher and Carl Trueman which kicked off this debate were actually quite measured considering the seriousness of the errors; even restrained. I wonder if those who accused Goligher and Trueman of slander, of being stealth egalitarians, and “accusers of the brethren” will now publicly apologize?
 
I will not speculate about motives. Neither will I draw conclusions about anyone’s love for Jesus. But I need help from those who would defend the above passages. If words mean anything at all, if there are any limits to nuancing and massaging statements to death then what else can those words be but profound departures from historic trinitarian orthodoxy? 
 
I have no interest in engaging in a debate about the character or sincerity of Dr. Ware. I have no reason to doubt that he is anything other than a good and decent man. But that has nothing to do with whether or not his views are orthodox. I don’t know how Southern Baptists handle these sorts of things. Perhaps they don’t. But I can say this for sure: No man who wrote those words would be considered for ordination in my presbytery. His words would be identified as nothing better than old fashioned Arianism. Keep in mind, the way we judge a theologian and preacher is not by what we imagine he must mean but by what he actually writes and proclaims. 
 
This is not nitpicking over esoteric minutiae. This is about the nature of our glorious God and Savior. Men were tortured and exiled for the sake of such truth. In an excellent address on Athanasius delivered by Dr. Al Mohler at a pastor’s conference some years ago he made a statement which I have never forgotten. He said that “Athanasius went to war over an iota.” Indeed he did. I cannot think of a single major heresy the roots of which are not traced to an undermining of the doctrine of the Trinity. 
 
I am a pastor. I hate error. I see the damage bad theology does every day. So when serious error about the nature of God is advanced by an influential theologian published by a major publisher and promoted by a ministry that purports to advance the biblical truth of manhood and womanhood I cannot simply say, “No foul. He’s a good man.” Nor will I be satisfied any longer with the “that’s not what he meant” line. Words mean things. It is upon certain words that we stand. And I can think of no possible way that Dr. Ware’s words can be nuanced to be consistent with Nicene orthodoxy.
 
Now, we are all sinners and therefore deeply flawed. That means we all make errors that we need to later correct. But this responsibility to correct errors is exponentially more important for those who train pastors and write for the church. Therefore, if Dr. Ware no longer holds the views espoused in his book Father, Son, and Holy Spirit then it is vital that he publicly repudiate those views and pull the copies of his book. I am sure this would be a difficult thing to do. But is this not the right thing to do? 
 
Postscript:
Theologians and church historians have been pushing back against the subbordinationism espoused by Drs. Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem for years. Entire books have been written on the topic. Papers have been published. Moderated debates have been held. But all these efforts have taken place almost exclusively in a corner of the academic world rarely accessed by lay persons. We chose to speak up when we noticed how these errant views on the Trinity were being actively advanced to the laity in order to justify a view of authority and submission among men and women for which there is no biblical warrant. The fact is Drs. Ware and Grudem have for years resisted challenges to their views. The debate is nothing new. We simply decided to not sit idly by while these views were peddled to the pews. 
 
 
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2016 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

 

Dr. James Dolezal is, in my mind, quickly becoming one of the handful of indespinsible voices in the current debate over the doctrine of God. The following are a series of lectures from Dr. Dolezal on such doctrines as Divine simplicity, the unity of the Trinity, impassibility, immutibility, etc. I strongly encourage you to watch or listen to these excellent lectures. This is no dry esoteric rambling but clear and doxological theology.

I also highly recommend Dr. Dolezal's excellent book God Without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God's absoluteness