The subject of the nature of the trinity is something that continues to interest me. I believe that it is becoming more and more important in conversations about the nature of the church. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is something the Spirit of God is impressing upon the church today.
You can read my earlier thoughts in the original Neo-Orthodox post.
I was first introduced to the discussion of hierarchy in the trinity in this post by BWIII in which he presented Kevin Giles’ thoughts on The Eternal Subordination of Christ and Women. Since then, I have read arguments on both sides of this issue. Arguments for hierarchy are typically used to support patriarchy and/or authoritarian structures.
When BWIII reviewed Pagan Christianity and Re-Imagining Church, he argued for functional subordination. I was actually surprised at this because it seemed a switch from his previous position. In my opinion, functional subordination is a semantic game used to veil what is actually permanent subordination.
As I said in the original post, hierarchy within the trinity is actually the more unorthodox position. It is really too bad that it has been re-introduced as doctrine in the church.
What difference does it make?
There are a lot of doctrinal issues where difference of opinion really does not matter. However, I do not think that this is one of them (not that I expect the differences will be resolved). The reason that I believe that this issue matters is because the church is to reflect the nature of relationship modeled in the trinity. If our image of those relationships is skewed, our reflection becomes skewed.
One of the strengths of Frank Viola’s latest book, Reimagining Church, is the emphasis on trinitarian themes throughout the book. It makes sense that this would influence so many aspects of being the church – community, leadership, mutuality, participation. The nature of the trinity and our invitation to join in their relationship is fundamental to our identity as the people of God.
From The Becoming of G-d by Ian Mobsby:
“The Holy Trinity is beckoning the emerging Church to model a way of being a spiritual community that reflects the very nature of the Trinitarian Godhead. The Holy Spirit is drawing those seeking missional and contemporary expressions of church for our postmodern consumerist context, to experiment with forms of church drawing on a perichoretic model.
I love the idea that this may be the Holy Spirit beckoning us on, transforming our imaginations, and helping us re-imagine another way of being.”
Both of these books have remarkably similar thoughts concerning the church being re-imagined in ways that reflect the nature of relationship and community in the trinity. They also both heavily quote Stanley Grenz and Miroslav Volf.
In my opinion, both the emerging and missional movements reflect aspects of adapting the church to become a more accurate reflection of the image of God.