A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Eternal Submission of the Son (ESS) Digest

Classic trinitarian theology says that the Father is unbegotten, the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

But there are some influential people in the visible church who maintain that there is no Holy Trinity without the order of authority and submission. These people believe that in His Incarnation the Son submitted to the Father, but they also believe in the eternal submission of the Son to the Father. Their doctrine is known as ESS (Eternal Submission of the Son, or Eternal Subordination of the Son). It goes beyond scripture. It is not orthodox classical theology. It diverges from one of the most ancient creeds of the church, the Nicene Creed.

Here is a short blog post by Ps Sam Powell which explains ESS: God in three persons.

What follows is a list of posts on this site which contest the doctrine of ESS, name some of its most well known proponents, and discuss how it impinges on the way churches mishandle abuse.

It’s vital to talk about motivation in the debate about “Eternal Submission of the Son”

The ceiling came down, so it’s time to inspect the whole building.

Bruce Ware teaches that a wife’s lack of submission threatens her husband’s authority, and he responds to this threat by abusing her

Why I think Wayne Grudem is unwilling to accord full respect to women

An open letter to Dr Wayne Grudem

The change of Genesis 3:16, ESS, the colonial code of relationship, and a call to bystanders

Are there strong parallels between Mormonism, Islam, and ESS?

 

2 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    Thanks for the information and all the links, TWBTC.

    I had read some of the ESS discussions, both before and after finding ACFJ. While I could understand the importance of the discussion and the gist of the matter, the finer points needed to be set aside to cope with all the other healing / processing work.

    I followed the link to the Nicene creed and started to trigger, so will have to pursue the history at a later date. The bit I read was interesting.

    I was surprised a creed I knew so well would trigger me, and I keep having to edit my comment. From the Wikipedia bit I skimmed, I learned the Constantinople (later) version – my mind started to automatically sing it, stuck like an “ear worm” in my head.

    The trigger leads to one of those emotional boundary blank spots, and the light, non-physical pressure sense is warning me I cannot trust the creed to lead me closer to God. In the past, I had dissociated the Triune God into three separate individuals, relating to the abusers in my life.

    God – the abusive father
    Jesus Christ – the sexually abusive sibling
    The Holy Spirit – my Friend and Anchor

    Shortly after I re-integrated myself, almost two years ago today, I was led by the Holy Spirit to understand I needed to re-integrate God. And reciting the Nicene creed defeats the re-integration of God.

    Maybe further down the road to healing I can pursue the history of the creed.

  2. Helovesme

    The first words caught me right away (from Pastor Sam’s blog); it’s what I understood for years: “Equal in being, but subordinate in role.”

    No one would DARE say (out loud, at least) that a woman was a lesser being (we all have the same Creator. But then you “slip in” that God has a certain “order” in mind to reduce chaos and form a chain of command.

    It has caused me and so many others so much suffering. And yet it’s very acceptable, very popular—but very, very harmful.

    Pastor said it so, so well: “False doctrine always leads to bondage.” Please keep that in mind concerning anything and everything. No issue is too small to be inflated into a huge heresy of some kind.

    The Lord gives us room to have personal opinions and preferences, but when it comes to the rock solid Word of God—don’t mess with that!

    Pastor did such an amazing job in describing the Lord as fully human (except for sin) and fully God. It is heresy to minimize either.

    I will confess that sometime heresies can be confusing to understand. Deception often is!

    Pastor described it so simply: “The problem with ESS is that it takes that submission, that belongs to the incarnate Christ, and moves it into his divine nature, into eternity, apart from the incarnation. This makes the divine nature submissive. That is, not divine at all.”

    Pastor also mentions how the divine is something of a mystery to us. That can be frustrating, as humans by nature tend to be very curious and want to unlock and solve mysteries. Accepting that there are many things we simply cannot quite understand with our limited minds is hard.

    I once asked my spouse why the Lord make more plants in our solar system, if Earth was the only one that could support life. He suggested that the Lord knew man would be curious, and want to explore—so He gave us plenty to dive in.

    It’s only a theory of course! Never mind the rest of the universe—with everything else that exists out there that w will probably never be able to fully explore!

    Christ is unique, through and through. How He lived His life on earth as fully man and fully God is (for me) still something of a mystery—but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because He added humanity to His fully divine nature, we have a perfect Savior and a permanent High priest. We don’t need anyone else to mediate or step in the gap for us.

    Having full, free access to the Lord because of Christ did for us is amazing. No husband or pastor or authority figure is needed, and it’s an insult to the Lord’s full divinity to believe that.

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