Questions and Answers about the Trinity – conclusion

Today we conclude the discussion we started Monday regarding the Eternal Son Submission (ESS) teaching that is prevalent in our evangelical churches today.

The following was the second question posed to Cindy Kunsman and below is her answer.

If the pastors aren’t preaching it in the pulpits, where are they getting it?

The second factor involves the use of seminaries to train people with Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology which was first published in 1994.  In his book, Jesus and the Father, Kevin Giles states that Grudem’s text had then become the most widely used Systematic Theology text in the English speaking world. 

People in seminaries across the world are now trained using Grudem’s text which, while likely being sound on most other points, it also includes this aberrant view of the Trinity.

This really plays with people’s perceptions and does present a great deal of confusion.  You should be able to pick up THE book on doctrine from any given Bible School and be at least able to trust what is written there about the Doctrine of God, shouldn’t you?  With Grudem’s book, you cannot do that.  How can a foundational text like that be “a bit off” on the basic doctrine of who God is?  Yet it is. 

So as a matter of informal logical fallacy, people are mislead through the appeal to authority.  If that book is so widely accepted by so many different groups and is so widely used, how can something that basic within it be that wrong?  It must be right. 

So this was a vitally strategic measure toward selling Eternal Son Submission (ESS)  — and they’ve done so through the seminaries — nearly all of them according to Giles.  How can the average guy in the average pew in the average church somewhere have any authority or right to stand up to so many seminaries and experts and Grudem himself? 

The third factor flows from this issue of feeling intimidated.  As part of what people understand to be their local part of the Body of Christ, by standing up for their convictions, people actually have much to lose.  I believe the pressure is also worse for pastors.

People have been browbeaten and blackmailed [or blackmaled] into accepting complementarianism, simply because the Council on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood (CBMW) has acted like a big playground bully.  People are terrified of those bullies most of the time, and it seems easier to just play along or not pick a side in order to avoid the pressure of the conflict.  They play on fear.   (Note from Shirley: a group of us, including Cindy Kunsman, demanded an apology from the CBMW).

For rejecting complementarianism, people risk and fear being run out of their churches as a consequence.  They will lose their social group and their faithful friends if they cross the uncrossable line to stand against the doctrine in most churches.  (That comes from the leadership and is the tone that is set by leaders and enforced by leadership.  That plays upon the false belief that being agreeable all the time is a Christian quality — that Christians don’t act in controversial ways and should be sugary sweet to everyone all the time.)  Some people will lose their families.  This is again because people have sold out the Gospel of the Kingdom in favor of what society tells the church about who and what the church is and should be.

In many of the seminaries, making disciples means nothing more than making clones who can spout more about men’s doctrines.  They really don’t want the young men in seminaries thinking and discerning anything on their own.

I think that there are plenty of pastors that reject this doctrine, but they will be shut out of what they believe provides them with the best opportunities for what is now seen as spreading the Gospel.  And I believe that pastors grossly underestimate their witness to their congregations by way of even tacitly accepting these doctrines.

I’m not entirely sure where these doctrines are openly taught outside of the seminary systems.  When you do hear of those strongly associated with CBMW or the ESS doctrine in other churches where they are hired to speak, they talk about peripheral matters related to gender as opposed to ESS directly.  At least, this is my understanding of what these leaders teach.  They seem to reserve the discussions for academic settings, and I don’t think that the doctrine would go over very well via other venues.

I have been told by many people that the discussion of the doctrine has come up in small groups and Bible studies, and the teachers and lay ministers pull out Grudem’s text as evidence for those in the class.  Now, whether people do not challenge these things in these classes because they fear reprisal, because they lack confidence, or because the just don’t understand enough about these matters to bring them up critically, I know not.  But it is my understanding that most people who do teach these things in small groups do go unchecked.  And why would anyone challenge them if a person can produce scholarly appearing works written and accepted by vetted experts in theology? 

Much thanks to Cindy and her thoughtful answers to these questions.  Cindy talks about the Council on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood (CBMW) and was one of the signers of the Demand for an Apology from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood.

About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
This entry was posted in Demand for an Apology from the CBMW, Do Baptists Really Believe That?, Submission, The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Questions and Answers about the Trinity – conclusion

  1. Lydia says:

    I would add that when this is taught in church or church groups such as SS, bible studies, it is very subtle. The teacher if following a curriculum, probably does not pick up on it. One reason is because they use the same language they use in comp doctrine to set a false premise: Jesus is equal but different. They never say Jesus is Less.

    Another confusing aspect of this is the lack of distinguishing beten the Incarnation and eternity past and future. I always ask: Are you speaking of Jesus Christ within the Incarnation. If theysay no, then I ask them about John 5:18. This one always gets them flummoxed if they are using a curriculum. The scholars like Bruce Ware and others have a ton of
    mental hoops and verbal gymnastics for that one. They are good at what they do.

    In Cheryl’s DVD (mentioned on the last thread with a link), she has a ton of quotes by these men from their sermons and teachings that will help folks see how they are presenting this.

    Do you all know what passages they quote as foundational to ESS? 1 Corin 11 (amazing!) and Phil 2 which they mangle beyond belief.

    Grudem’s ST is more widely read in SBC seminaries than the Bible. If you are SBC, you should read it so you will know what your pastor was taught.

    In Grudem’s subsequent book on gender, he even teaches that since God is also describe as an EZER it can only mean that God “submits”to us when He helps us. (EZER means help). This is Grudem. And this is how desperate they are to prove hierarchies. Grudem is dangerous and his books are the foundation of what many seminary students are taught.


  2. kbonikowsky says:

    ESS was slipped in by a visiting leader in a Bible Study I was attending. I am thankful I was aware of it, so I could speak up and nip it. It was a study in John 1 of all places! She said something along these lines: “Jesus submits to the father. The Father has the authority in their relationship.” I answered her with a question, which she had set up for me perfectly! “So then why does Jesus say ‘All authority on heaven and earth had been given TO ME’?” Her mouth shut quickly as she thought about it. “Good point.” was her answer. I don’t believe anyone else in the study understood what the two of us were rabbit trailing on. So many women just regurgitate what they’ve heard from a study. Genuine, independent study is rare and even frowned upon.


  3. Retha says:

    Good answer, kbonikowsky.

    Doctrines like ESS and “God submit to us” crosses the line from sad to infuriating. They will rather push down Jesus and God the Father than to stop pushing down women. They are not only women-haters, but God-haters and Christ haters (hate in the bible means to put something second, not a passionate aversion) too. On the day of judgement, what will God say to Grudem?


  4. Cindy says:

    The theme of my week has been like a course in the different teachings in the Church from people who come up with extras to add on to the heart and soul of the Gospel. God Himself came and paid our ransom — He went to prison and He died in our stead so that we might share in His own righteousness and His resurrection life. We have faith in Him in our hearts, confess it with our mouths, and we are set on the journey of transformation that He begins to work in us.

    There are certainly details that more clearly define the message, but the awe and the power are simple enough for a child to wield. But for mankind, we are always looking to build a better mousetrap and to improve upon the original. We even do this with the Gospel.

    Some of these things start out seeming to make sense or they solve some problem that we’d like to make a little easier to deal with. In the past 24 hours, I’ve talked and corresponded with someone about this ESS doctrine, to another about “anointing/spiritual gift activiation” and “coverings,” and to another about how their child got caught up in a big “system” of evangelism. Knowledge of the Gospel is not enough in any of these cases. Each one of these secondary matters becomes a way for a Christian to be a superior type of Christian. It is not enough to belong to Jesus, but we also have to make some kind of magic pill available to make that better– like we are sick and we need to take a pill to cure the cure.

    ESS is different, though, because as Retha writes here, it’s not just enough to slam women, but they are so motivated by the “woman problem,” they will put Jesus in a dress and make Him out to be the eternal slave — a special purpose God. It makes me a bit angry because of the one Divine Person who actually had a physical body that was male, He is the one who is given the “role” that is synonymous with women. In that sense, they put Him in a dress. Even on that level, what sense does this teaching make? The one Man who was a man is likened by analogy to a woman. The one who is given the pre-eminence in all things is secondary in power. Why?

    I think that part of what ESS accomplishes for some is a new name and a new twist. It has been a money maker and a way to be different, helping them to stand out from the crowd of other people. That also helps them make a living, selling books and new ideas that no one ever heard before, all in a spirit of Christian epicurianism. But ESS has an ugly underbelly. Unlike a group like Campus Crusade for Christ or one of these End Time Prophet movements who are MORE aimed at helping to bring the Gospel to people, ESS does have that motive to purify and exterminate what they see as evil — the “evil” that a woman is an Image-bearer and a soul and a warrior whose instruments of righteousness and the Sword of the Spirit are just as effective as that of a man’s.

    God help us, and have mercy on us and deliver us. Deliver us from evil, but deliver us from ourselves, too. May your Word and the heart of the Gospel be enough for us. May we remember that it is in the mouths of babes that you ordain strength and perfect praise, not because the babes have power but that the power rests in the simplicity of the message of the Gospel.


  5. Lydia says:

    Cindy, I think you have summed up what ESS does. It puts Jesus in a dress because they are totally sold out to non biological gender differences. Gender differences is their idol. In fact, the foundational premise is really about sex in a way that is acceptable.

    But if I take their gender roles premise at face value, then I cannot be Christlike because Christ is a male. No wonder they have to put him in a dress.


  6. Kristen says:

    Does it seem funny to anyone else how they want the woman to be in Christ’s place in the Trinity, but the man to be in Christ’s place in marriage? They only want a woman to be Christlike in submission. They only want a man to be Christlike in authority. But that really isn’t what Jesus meant when He said, “Follow Me.”

    Also, if we were to suggest to them that they’d put Christ in a dress, they’d be indignant. They are certainly indignant when we suggest that God the Father is also a Mother. (I can quote plenty of chapter & verse for this, but I don’t have time just now.) As if it were somehow insulting to God to be pictured in terms of the feminine. It’s not. Women are just as much the image of God as men are.

    But they want to appropriate all the authority analogies for the images of God that has the Y chromosome. We images of God with XX genes, get to relate only to the submission analogies, while the Y ones are exempt from those.



  7. Kristen says:

    Whoops– typo. I meant “images of God that HAVE the Y chromosome.” Sorry.


  8. Lydia says:

    Cindy, I think you have summed up what ESS does. It puts Jesus in a dress because they are totally sold out to non biological gender differences. Non biological gender differences are their idol.

    But if I take their gender roles premise at face value, then I cannot be Christlike because Christ is a male. No wonder they have to put him in a dress with ESS!.

    And how quickly they forget THEY are describes as “Brides” :o)
    Funny how they can take some metaphors too far but some more emasculating metaphors…..


  9. Nancy says:

    Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” KJV
    I guess the ESS theory makes either Jesus or Matthew a liar!
    Also, the Apostle Paul mentioned slaves a couple of times. Will there be slaves in heaven, too?


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