Trinity and women in ministry

Some influential conservative evangelicals have tried to make a case for subordination of women in the church based on a subordination of the Son to the Father.  Some very popular evangelical intellectuals like Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware seem to have re-structured their Trinitarian position so that it aligns with their personal view of women in ministry.  Their justification goes something like this.  If women are somehow subordinate to men in ministry, then our idea of the Trinity should also reflect the Son’s subordination to the Father.  The thing that would bother most classical fourth-century Trinitarian thinkers is that Grudem and Ware are misled and have tied their view of women in ministry so closely to a false view of the Trinity in such a way that if one goes against their view of women in ministry they may also be accused of going against orthodoxy. God forbid.

This is far from the truth according to classical Trinitarian theologians like T.F. Torrance, and Stephen R. Holmes of St. Andrew’s University.

All though the Son is begotten by the Father, we have hierarchically re-ordered the Trinity in such a way that the Son is now subordinated by the Father.  In other words, the Father is somehow supposed to be hierarchically above the Son in every way. This thinking is not orthodox Trinitarianism.  Actually the Trinity was never meant to inform any social hierarchies in the church. They’re completely separate issues.  This violation breaks away from the earliest Trinitarian idea established by the early Church Fathers like Augustine and the Cappadocian Fathers.  This new idea of an ontological subordination of the Son is misused in order to draw a parallel to how men and women should function in church ministry. No, God does not change, but we have somehow changed God. It seems like we’ve committed an error like Arius and it opens a new door to false doctrine… (hence, JWs).  Thus, the question for us is: “Have we conveniently misused and abused the original doctrine of the Trinity for our own purposes?”

2 thoughts on “Trinity and women in ministry

  1. Thanks Marie. Male and female complete each other. We cannot do without the other. We need each other even in ministry as well as in relationships. Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out.


  2. This post is interesting and I do agree with you. Your final question is probably the root of most disagreements between male and female- The desire of humans to have power over another. This is seen in both males and females but I think you will agree it is mostly seen in males. Jesus knew this and addressed it in many of his talks with His disciples as well as townspeople. He made it clear that male and female were equal; there is not one more endowed than the other, just differently endowed. Different does not imply better, it implies completeness. Like the different gifts of the Spirit. One is not better, they all work together for God’s kingdom. So yes, we definitely do try to mold God to our thinking. If it were not so, we would not have so much discord and different theological beliefs.
    Here is a link to an interesting site about God and women.
    I would not say that I always agree with the different writers, but I glean a lot of positive information.


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