“The Subordination of Christ and the Subordination of Women” (Ch 19) by Kevin Giles -- By: Peter R. Schemm, Jr.

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 10:1 (Spring 2005)
Article: “The Subordination of Christ and the Subordination of Women” (Ch 19) by Kevin Giles
Author: Peter R. Schemm, Jr.


“The Subordination of Christ and the Subordination
of Women” (Ch 19) by Kevin Giles

Peter R. Schemm, Jr.

Editor, Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Dean, Southeastern College at Wake Forest
Associate Professor of Christian Theology
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina

Introduction1

Author Kevin Giles’s contribution to Discovering Biblical Equality is a rebuttal of the doctrine of the eternal subordination of the Son and Spirit to the Father. It is a chapter-length exposition of a thesis he develops in full in his The Trinity and Subordinationism.2 He seems to assert, as most complementarians do, that the eternal relationships within the Godhead do have some theological and practical bearing for how the husband-wife and man-woman relationships should be viewed. For Giles, though, subordination in role necessarily entails inferiority in being; this leads him to reject the equal-yet-different paradigm of gender roles.

This review will survey the chapter’s contents, and then provide some thoughts on critical mistakes Giles makes in his thesis, theological method, usage of important terms, representation of a few key theologians.

Content of the Chapter

Purpose and Thesis

Giles’s purpose is to explain what he calls the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, compared with an unorthodox view that is championed by many evangelicals today. He asserts that “to teach the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father in being or role, person or function, is to teach contrary to the way the best theologians have interpreted the Bible across the centuries and to reject what the creeds and the Reformation confessions of faith affirm” (336). 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.

By rejecting the doctrine of the eternal subordination of the Son in any form or fashion, Giles hopes to dismiss the argument made by those he calls “conservative evangelicals.” They believe

this doctrine contributes to a biblical understanding of the ontological equality of women and men in the home and in the church, while preserving functional subordination. He argues, to the contrary, that personal equality cannot be reconciled to permanent role subordination.

Giles begins his argument by outlining the ...

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