Sabellianism. Arianism. Biblical authority vs. Greek philosophy. Four evangelical scholars delivered charges and counter-charges over the Trinity during an October 9 debate before about 450 people at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS). The seminary's Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding hosted a four-man debate over the question: Do relations of authority and submission exist eternally among the persons of the Godhead?

Questions over the Trinity involve complex metaphysical matters and careful interpretation of biblical texts. Though the Trinity is undeniably crucial to Christianity's unique religious identity, church members do not always see how the doctrine relates to faith and practice. Yet the early church labored feverishly over the doctrine for centuries, with orthodoxy itself at stake in councils at Nicaea, Chalcedon, and elsewhere. Today, debates over whether the Son submits eternally to the Father have been wrapped up with questions of authority and submission between men and women, resulting in a flurry of scholarly exchange. Gender roles did not emerge as a factor Thursday night, but that did not discourage vigorous, high-stakes debate.

Former TEDS systematic theology professors Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware returned to the suburban Chicago seminary and argued the affirmative: relations of authority and submission do indeed exist among the persons of the Godhead. They pointed to a number of biblical texts that show that while the Son dwelt among us, he submitted to his heavenly Father. This was not the point of disagreement, however, so Grudem cited additional passages, arguing that they suggest the Son has submitted from eternity past and will submit for eternity future. He turned to Ephesians ...

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