The Son Really, Really Is The Son: A Response To Kevin Giles -- By: Michael F. Bird

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 30:2 (Fall 2009)
Article: The Son Really, Really Is The Son: A Response To Kevin Giles
Author: Michael F. Bird


The Son Really, Really Is The Son: A Response To Kevin Giles

Michael F. Bird

Robert Shillaker

Both authors teach at the Highland Theological College/UHI Millennium Institute in Dingwall, Scotland.

I. Introduction

In an earlier issue of Trinity Journal the current authors proposed that recent attempts to use the Trinity to bolster a particular view of gender roles are misguided and inappropriate.1 Much of the recent debate has focused on whether the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father while remaining ontologically equal to him. Some affirm this and reason that just as the Son is equal in being yet subordinated in rank to the Father, so too do human beings exhibit a similar pattern of equality and subordination in their relations. Women are, thus, ontologically equal with men, but subordinate to them in role. The equality of being and differentiation of rank between persons within the triune God is replicated in the equality and differentiation of men and women who bear the image of God.2 Understandably, this line of argumentation has prompted no shortage of replies, including the allegation that any form of subordination of eternal relationships in the Trinity is tantamount to Arianism (see esp. Kevin Giles).3 In light of that, the burden of our earlier article was twofold: (a) to demonstrate that the eternal functional subordination of the Son is biblically and theologically sound; and (b) to deny that the Son’s eternal functional subordination is really a compelling argument for “complementarianism.” In the article our primary interlocutor was Kevin Giles who has no problems with (b), but he sharply contests (a) in the preceding essay. Therefore, the aim of this study is to respond to Giles’s criticism of our earlier paper and to establish the

theological coherence and credibility of the Son’s eternal functional subordination to the Father as intrinsic to his eternal sonship.

II. Response To Giles’s Criticism

Three preliminary remarks open our discussion. First, Giles alleges that we distort and misrepresent his view.4 These are criticisms that we simply do not recognize as indicative of our work. As to whether or not we have fairly described Giles’s own position, that will have to be for readers of the debate to adjudicate.

Second, we acknowledge and support Giles’s claim that views of women’s subordination or social equality should n...

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