Sunday, March 15, 2009

Subordinationism and the Trinity Doctrine

A member of the evangelicals-jws yahoogroup named Jason has attempted to impugn my scholarship by arguing that I am simply wrong in contending that subordinationism and Trinitarianism are incompatible. Jason writes:

So, in that I have demonstrated sufficiently that Foster's contention that trintarianism is incompatible with ANY form of subordinationism WHATSOEVER is manifestly ABSURD (surely the great 'Minstrel of the Trinity', St. Gregory Nazianzen, was NOT a 'non-trinitarian'!), I have - in the very act of doing so - also demonstrated sufficiently that Foster's contention that the ante-Nicenes were non-trinitarians is also manifestly ABSURD, and hence FALSE. Nevertheless, I WILL - in future posts - offer positive PROOF that Foster has grossly misinterpreted St. Justin, Athenagoras of Athens, St. Theophilus of Antioch, St. Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Novatian, and Lactantius: the eight ante-Nicenes whom Edgar appeals to for the perverse purpose of attempting to overthrow Holy O/orthodoxy.

Jason evidently fails to understand the technical denotation of subordinationism. Fortman defines "subordinationism" as the belief that God's Son is a creature or inferior in essence vis-a-vis the Father. Leonard Hodgson also writes: "Subordinationism, as I have indicated earlier, attempts to preserve the [divine] unity by making one person ultimately the real God and the others divine because of their relation to him" (The Doctrine of the Trinity, 100).

Based on these definitions, which have been included in my studies, how could Jason get his analysis of my work so wrong? Let him tell me how Trinitarianism is compatible with subordinationism when Trinitarianism both denies that the Son is a creature and it contends that the Son is not inferior in essence to the Father. Furthermore, according to the Trinity doctrine, one divine person is not the real God while the others are only divine in relation to him. I believe the problem is that Jason fails to understand the terminology being used in this discussion. For if he comprehended the terminology employed in discussions of this kind, he would not have made such an egregious mistake respecting my scholarship. As for his contention that the pre-Nicenes were Trinitarians, I will address this misleading statement in other posts. I just wanted to establish the error contained in Jason's statements before demonstration other mistakes committed by him.


David Waltz said...

Hi Edgar,

Try directing Jason to the following two books:

Jesus and the Father
By Kevin Giles

The Trinity and Subordinationism By Kevin Giles

You might also mention to him my ongoing series on subordinationism:

Articuli Fidei – Subordinationism series

Grace and peace,


Edgar Foster said...

Hi David,

I will recommend these works and your site to Jason. I am not a member of the evangelicals-jws forum, but I have someone who conveys my messages there.