Does The Father Submit To The Son? A Critique Of Royce Gruenler -- By: Randy L. Stinson

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 06:2 (Fall 2001)
Article: Does The Father Submit To The Son? A Critique Of Royce Gruenler
Author: Randy L. Stinson


Does The Father Submit To The Son?
A Critique Of Royce Gruenler

Randy L. Stinson

[Executive Director, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Louisville, Kentucky]

Today, in the theological realm, there is a renewed interest in the study of the Trinity. In fact, it has been called one of the “most important developments in the field of theology.”1 In the last nine years alone, Catherine Lacugna, Thomas F. Torrance, Colin Gunton, Millard Erickson, Christoph Schwobel, Donald Bloesch, and Alvin Kimmel have authored or edited significant works dealing with the doctrine of the Trinity. According to Thompson, “Feminists, liberationists, process thinkers, and more traditionalist Catholic and Protestant theologians as well as Eastern Orthodox,” are concerned to present an understanding of the Trinity that will increase its affect on the practical aspects of the Christian life.2

In recent years, those involved with the gender role debate have been appealing to the Trinity in various ways in order to assist in articulating their view, thus intertwining two of the major movements in theology today.3 One evangelical feminist in particular, Royce Gruenler, has appealed to the Trinity in order to teach that there is some sort of mutual submission between males and females in the home and in the church. The novelty of his view is in the claim that within the Godhead, not only does the Son submit to the Father, but the Father also submits to and is dependent upon the Son, hence, for Gruenler, there is mutual submission/dependence among the eternal triune relations of the divine persons..

Gruenler’s Presuppositions and Theological Assertions

Royce Gruenler, in his Trinity in the Gospel of John: A Thematic Commentary on the Fourth Gospel, has attempted to evaluate the Gospel of John as it explicates the interrelationality of the persons of the Godhead.4 Gruenler is upfront from the outset of this work that he sees the Trinitarian teaching of John as supporting an egalitarian viewpoint. Understanding the issue of authority and submission within the Trinity and its meaning with regard to human relationships is of crucial importance. He states, “if one wishes to say, using the language of Jesus in the fourth Gospel, that within the inner relationship of the eternal Trinity the Father always commands and the Son and the Spirit always obey, that only the Father authoritatively speaks and the Son and Spirit always passively listen, but never the other way around, and yet at the same time neither ...

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