Kevin Giles’s The Trinity and Subordinationism: A Review Article -- By: Peter R. Schemm, Jr.

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 07:2 (Fall 2002)
Article: Kevin Giles’s The Trinity and Subordinationism: A Review Article
Author: Peter R. Schemm, Jr.

Kevin Giles’s The Trinity and Subordinationism:
A Review Article1

Peter R. Schemm, Jr.


Recently Thomas R. Schreiner, a respected complementarian scholar, made this comment about the proliferation of books written by egalitarian authors:

Sometimes I wonder if egalitarians hope to triumph in the debate on the role of women by publishing book after book on the subject. Each work propounds a new thesis that explains why the traditional interpretation is flawed. Complementarians could easily give in from sheer exhaustion, thinking that so many books written by such a diversity of authors could scarcely be wrong.2

Schreiner goes on to ask, “Is the goal of publishing to write what is true or what is new?”3 This is a crucial question and one that this article bears in mind in reviewing Kevin Giles’s recent work, The Trinity and Subordinationism.

The first half of this review article examines Giles’s thesis and theological method, then surveys the content of the book’s three parts: “the Trinity tradition,” “the woman tradition,” and “the slavery tradition.” The second half evaluates Giles’s understanding of the issue, his thesis and method, his usage of terms and trinitarian concepts, his representation of a few key theologians, and his trinitarian model for gender relations.

Content of the Book

Purpose and Thesis

Giles’s primary purpose in writing The Trinity and Subordinationism is to explain the orthodox view of the doctrine of the Trinity and then show its significance for male-female relations. The thesis of his work is built largely around the rejection of what some believe to be a legitimate expression of the doctrine of the Trinity, the concept of the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father. Specifically, Giles’s thesis may be put this way: tradition plays a formative role in the development of three critical theological issues each related to the concept of subordination and each developing in a unique cultural context (6–8). Arguing that tradition is on his side the author claims that orthodox expressions of the Trinity reject every form of the eternal subordination of the Son. To ignore theological tradition in this case is to step out of the boundaries of orthodoxy. The opposite is the case with regard to the issues of gender and slavery. The traditional views of male-female relations and slavery ought to be rejected. Proposing a “contextual evangelical hermeneutic” (249), Giles suggests that the reason one should affirm a nontradition...

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