Open Letter to Dr Ronnie Floyd: 3 boats and a helicopter

Dear Dr. Floyd,

I can hear your heavy heart in your Presidential Postings of September 8, 2015.  “We need a breakthrough.”

My heart also hurts for our nation, our world, and for our Christian faith.

Only God can send the breakthrough, but God works through people, through leaders such as yourself. God works through laypeople such as who I am. As Great Commission people, we must find a way to be what Jesus commanded us to be. Jesus himself led the way, and it is to him that we must look.

You said, “And yes, we also need pastor-leaders by the thousands to rise up and lead forward toward gospel advancement beginning in their towns, cities, across America, and the entire world.”

Jesus said the same thing when he saw the crowds of people needing a shepherd, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

I offer you the breakthrough.

Women are here, called and seminary trained and are ready to be sent into the harvest as pastors and leaders.

A religious man is on top of a roof during a great flood. A man comes by in a boat and says “get in, get in!” The religious man replies, “no I have faith in God, he will grant me a miracle.” Later the water is up to his waist and another boat comes by and the guy tells him to get in again. He responds that he has faith in God and God will give him a miracle. With the water at about chest high, another boat comes to rescue him, but he turns down the offer again because “God will grant him a miracle.” With the water at chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and they tell him to get in, mumbling with the water in his mouth, he again turns down the request for help for the faith of God. He arrives at the gates of heaven with broken faith and says to Peter, I thought God would grant me a miracle and I have been let down.” With tears in his eyes, St. Peter responds, “I don’t know what you’re complaining about, we sent you three boats and a helicopter.”

Dr. Floyd, if you are serious about wanting a breakthrough to reach the masses, you’ll take who God has sent.

Signed: Shirley Taylor, street evangelist for women’s equality

(Note from Shirley: This letter was sent to Dr. Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, on October 5, 2015. I believe Dr Floyd to be a man of prayer and of faith. However, he is praying for men and boys to be raised up as leaders/pastors. God answers prayers, but often not in the way we expect. God is calling leaders and pastors, but because they are women, we keep praying because we expect God to answer our prayer the way we want it. There is a song we used to sing – “Have Thine Own Way, Lord. Have Thine Own Way. Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.”)

Will you pray that our religious leaders will accept God’s own way?

My new book “Dethroning Male Headship: Second Edition” is available on Amazon and Kindle. All my books can be found on

DMH Second Edition

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Tim Keller, Sex, and Eternal Submission Doctrine: Summing up the Sexualization of the Trinity with Shirley Taylor

Tim Keller, Sex, and Eternal Submission Doctrine: Summing up the Sexualization of the Trinity with Shirley Taylor

Read more in my book “Dethroning Male Headship: Second Edition” just published.

This series of posts started with a simple reference to my great disappointment in the statements that Tim Keller has made concerning the Trinity.  Someone at Spiritual Sounding Board asked for more information regarding the specifics of what Keller teaches, not realizing how significant I found this question.  I couldn’t just quote him without demonstrating that his peers also taught and said the same kinds of things, and I wanted an opportunity to refute them.  As this meme demonstrates, Keller is not some odd example who made a few poorly communicated statements.

These doctrines argue that husbands rule and reign over their wives because, as the teaching asserts, Christ is subordinate to God the Father who rules and reigns over His Son.  The Father is the exemplar for men and the Son is the exemplar for women within this paradigm.

Why it’s problematic

If someone’s belief enhances their ability to love God and love others as they love themselves, making them good neighbors and with whom most can all live peaceably, it wouldn’t matter.  But I believe strongly that the belief system that Keller and his colleagues share deters both the understanding and love of God for the Christian and results in many varieties of harm to all people, especially to women.  The teachings also foster a cruel, gnostic elitism that I’ve called “survival of the spiritually fittest.”  Though we Christians are called to be known by our love for one another, I am still often left speechless at the high degree of cruelty that the gender debate still fosters.

Ideas have consequences, and I find two most troubling consequences that result from these teachings claiming that marital sex concerns and mirrors the life of the Three Divine Persons in the Trinity.  Some engage in this debate because these ideas hinder women from participating in ministry which is troubling enough, but these same ideas are used to dehumanize women which can also result in abuse.  In terms of theology, I’m deeply disturbed by the theological implications.  In effect, they result in a sub-Christian understanding of God’s identity which robs Christ of His full deity

An Index to Posts on the Sex and Trinity Connection

The posts that address these issues concerning sex and the way that the developed are explored in the following posts in Five Parts.  They center around Tim Keller’s statements, and most include commentary from Shirley Taylor — both from her books and from some of our private exchanges:

I:  Tim Keller on the Meaning of the Sex Act in Marriage

II:  Sex, Tim Keller, and the Replacement of Salvation by Faith

III:  The Genesis of Eternal Subordinationism

IV:  Is the Trinity a Sex Orgy?

V:  The Connection between Marriage and Holiness  (The meaning of Ephesians 5:22-29)

A Quickhand Chart

Here’s a chart of the development of these doctrines which are further explored in the posts in this series.  They are critical to understanding the doctrines and the motives of those who teach them.


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A Connection between Marriage and Holiness? Part V of Tim Keller on Sex: A Virtual Discussion with Shirley Taylor

 Continuing the conversation between Cindy Kunsman and Shirley Taylor regarding Timothy Keller and sex and the Trinity

In an earlier post in this discussion, we read Shirley Taylor‘s summary of the writings of Tim Keller and those who ascribe to the misogyny that arises from Eternal Subordinationism.  This doctrine is used to argue that husbands rule and reign over their wives because, as the teaching asserts. Christ is subordinate to God the Father. who rules and reigns over His Son.  The Father is the exemplar for men and the Son is the exemplar for women in this paradigm

In the chapter entitled “Sexualization of the Trinity” in her book Dethroning Male Headship, she writes:

Keller is saying that when husbands and wives have sex, particularly when they climax (when else would there be “shouts of joy?”), they are emulating how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit rejoice in each other.  [. . .]. The ‘union’ between the Son of God and his bride the Church, according to Piper and Keller, is sex. Just as sex supposedly points to the love between the Father and Son, now the bride (the Church) is involved.

Hermeneutics and Understanding Holiness

A skilled and well-trained Rabbi can tell you that God rescued marriage from cohabitation by redeeming it through the Law, because the concepts are bound together in the meaning and the genesis of the words themselves.  The Hebrew word for marriage (to seize) is so close in meaning to sanctifying a sinner from their sin (redemption to set apart for holiness) that it is accurate to say that when God sanctifies His people through the keeping of the Law and faith in Him, it is fine and proper to say that God “marries” those that He makes holy.

*[See reference from Lamm’s text noted at the bottom of this post.]

The Rescue of Marriage from Cohabitation through the Law

Prior to the Law, marriage was just cohabitation which was profane (unholy).  The Law rescued the communion shared by married couples from just “living together” by setting marriage apart as something of a sacred thing entered into by the making of a sacred vow.

One must consider that the Apostle Paul’s epistles did not address Reformation age Martin Luthers or John Calvins.  He wrote letters to churches comprised of Jews who understood the tradition of Judaism along with non-Jewish converts — but the core of the theology was deeply rooted in Jewish meaning.  Learning New Testament Greek from a Jewish convert to Christianity strongly impressed upon me just how the Jews used the Greek language.


How does that affect Keller’s interpretation of Scripture concerning sex?

So what Keller promotes in context of his argument by quoting Knight is misleading and violates several principles of logic.  Think of chapter five of Ephesians.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.  (Ephesians 5:22-29 KJV)

From the perspective of Keller’s own preferred style of hermeneutic concerning things other than gender, he’s being deceptive.  The admonishment to husbands to love wives as Christ loved the church is a statement that signifies how redemption through the Law has been changed, transferring the Believer in Christ into the Kingdom of Love through Jesus, the Paschal Lamb.  Keller takes God and the Atonement and shoves it into his gender paradigm as a proof text as if it were written to 20th Century White Anglo Saxon Protestants.  The original letter written by a phenomenally well-educated Pharisee turned Christian addressed 1st Century Jewish converts who used the Greek language to talk about what the atonement meant for them in light of The Cross.

The means by which one becomes holy (sanctified) through faith has passed the means/object of Old Testament Law (which Paul calls the Law of Sin and Death in Romans 8:2) over to the better Covenant through faith in Christ who bids all to follow the Law of Love.  As Romans 8 goes on to state, Jesus condemned sin in His flesh because the Law could never do it it.  Our flesh was too weak and unholy, but Jesus was not.  He offered His own Holy Blood to translate us over into a new system which replaces the list of hard rules with love.  And as both Jesus and Paul illustrated, the only people from whom this loving kindness was withheld functionally were those who were spiritually abusive and taught false doctrine in the Name of Christ.

A “How To” Manual ?  A New Talmud?

This mysterious analogy is not given to us to help us understand gender laws!  They speak of how redemption passed from covering sins and the keeping the Old Law to grace through faith in the Atoning Blood of Jesus Christ — once for all people for all time.  If these passages are any kind of “how to manual,” they are manual describing how Jesus condemned sin in the flesh so that righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us as we walk in the Spirit. (That is also discussed in Romans 8.)  They aren’t a “Talmud of Sexual Conduct and Gender Roles.”

I find it ironic and would find it amusing if it were not so sad that those who capitalize on defining themselves as the Protestant Reformed have actually rejected the hermeneutics that demand that one consider the implications of Jewish theology — only to create what seems to me to be nothing more than their own version of a Talmud.  However, EVEN IF they’d have stuck to the writing of the Jews of antiquity, they would have derived a theology that esteemed women far better on many levels.  What they have derived is far more abusive to women than old Judaism ever was.

Robbing Jesus of His Preeminence and the Cross of its Significance

Ephesians in particular tells us how to walk in the Law of Love in terms of marriage through an explicit description of what that looks like,  It is most definitely not some esoteric instruction to men by which a sinful man becomes a household priest who somehow makes women holy.  How can someone who is covered in the mud of sin themselves wash another person to make them clean from that same mud?  It cannot be done, unless you make a woman a lesser creature — be it in essence (ontology) or in purpose or “role” (teleology).

What too few people understand:  When these traditions of men twist the Redemption of Christ and the meaning of His Atonement in this manner, they rob Jesus of His preeminence and theoretically make God out to be man’s equal, at least in some respects.  As I said several years ago, though it may be less of a concerted goal in Covenant Theology than in Greg Bahnsen’s style of Theonomy, but it seems that the whole goal is to return to Eden to become the “Uber Adam” who can get it right by truly being lord of the Garden.  In the process, women are baited to willingly surrender themselves to the hegemony of what is effectively a gender caste system in which they are a lesser being with lesser purpose.  This is an affront to all that Christ did as is recorded in the Gospels:  honoring, loving, and esteeming women.  If He wasn’t declaring Himself to be the Messiah, He was breaking all of the social, civil, and ceremonial rules of how men should treat women.  (I learned that in Greek class, too.  Those declarations were at the core of my professor’s conversion.)

A Concluding Summary from Shirley Taylor

From Chapter 20 of Dethroning Male Headship admonishing pastors to “be careful in their
conversation about women”: and denominations have a responsibility to be careful about what they promote as family values to their members. In the fall of 2012, many churches of a major denomination that has women pastors led a series on the family. Because they have women ministers you would expect them to be firmly grounded in their stance regarding equality for women. However, that was not the case.

One of their suggested readings was The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller, a book that is totally complementarian and which has already been mentioned in Chapter 17 under the heading “Sexualization of the Trinity.” This book expounds on the joy women have in being secondary to husbands in the home and in the church. Any teaching that tells women that they must submit to their husbands without mutual submission, also teaches that women cannot have pastoral authority over men. Whether by design or carelessness in research, this denomination that already has women pastors promoted an author who firmly believes and teaches that women have no place behind the pulpit.


I cite my primary source for this material from my undergraduate studies in classes on Judaism with professors who were rabbis (including Rabbi Richard Address), our college texts, and through the manner in which Dr. Gary Derechinsky taught Greek while I was in seminary.  Much of this same material is echoed in Rabbi Maurice Lamm’s time honored and revered book, The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage.

Supporting documentation from Lamm’s book can be read in quotes in these previous blog posts:

From Page 218 of Maurice Lamm’s The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage:

[From and about the Marriage Covenant Ceremony]:

“Praised be Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us concerning illicit relations; and has prohibited us those who are merely betrothed; but has permitted to us those who lawfully married to us by chuppah [nuptials] and kiddushin [betrothal]. Blessed art thou God, who has sanctified His people Israel by chuppah and kiddushin.”

[Lamm’s Explanation of the Ceremony]:

Who Has Sanctified Us.
God has not merely allowed human beings an erotic indulgence by legal validation of marriage. God has sanctified us by giving us the institution of marriage. Through it we achieve a closer relationship with Him and a more intimate relationship with other people. Thereby we enrich the family and perpetuate the species, for God created the world with the specific purpose that it be inhabited and civilized.

With His Commandments.
The Rabbis pondered whether this blessing could technically be classified as bikhat mitzvah (a blessing that precedes the performance of mitzvah), as the blessing over theshofar, for example. The predominant opinion held that it could not be so classified, since the mitzvah is not completed until after the couple had conjugal relations. In any case, the mitzvah did not depend on him alone, and the bride had not yet formally consented. Nonetheless, the Sages could not bring themselves to exclude such a mitzvahfrom having a blessing. Thus they instituted a special blessing for the sanctification of the Jewish people for practicing marriage that was properly authorized by the law.

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Is the Trinity a Sex Orgy? Part IV of Tim Keller on Sex: More Virtual Discussion with Shirley Taylor

Sex and the Trinity?  (Continuing the discussion of Tim Keller’s views on sex)

I didn’t intend to include this element of these teachings because I really don’t like discussing this aspect of the topic of the Eternal Subordination of the Son Doctrine, but this element keeps surfacing.  In a way, I’m glad to see people discussing the convoluted nature of the doctrine and how bizarre it is when you have time to think about it.  I think that people who sit in a seminary lecture or a sermon and hear these ideas take in the ideas fall into the traps of social proof and the appeal to authority.  They don’t have time to pull apart the rapid “pile on” of thoughts in order to make sense of them.  By the end of forty minutes of twisted logic from someone trusted in a room full of fans who accept what they’re told, I think people sitting there just absorb it as fact out of the fatigue of overwhelm.  But we who read here can take apart these ideas at our leisure with the freedom of time and logic apart from social proof and pressure.

The Analogy as a Direct Correlation

As we established in previous posts, Tim Keller’s writings (along with those of his like-minded ideologues) claim that marital relationships as well as sex itself gives us the best insight into the social nature of the Trinity and the personalities within it.  Along with thinking about our spouse as we are in the throes of passion, we are are told that we Christians should be thinking about the relationship between the Father and the Son.

The female counterpart in this arrangement within the Trinity has been assigned to Jesus — who happens to be the only Divine Person who had a male body, complete with a penis.  So much emphasis is put on the assertion that God is a sexual being who is male, and the Father is male.  So why is Jesus selectively female?  Well, those who ascribe to this bizarre riddle must have way to tie the female identity to the Godhead.  Though I did not read of this focus in early writings in this genre, the latter writings follow the theme of the enjoyment of sex to its logical conclusion.  If husbands and wives have sex because their identities are based on those relationships between the Father and the Son, then doesn’t it follow that the Father and Son have some degree of literal sex?

What does Keller profess?

Keller says in Chapter 8 of his book that marriage is a “commitment apparatus” after explaining that sex is not dirty and it is more than a physical act.  But then, he goes on to say that we need the “spousal love of Jesus” in our lives.  I find this to be a profane (unholy) statement and nauseating.  I need God’s sacrificial love, and I need the love of my husband, along with the love of family and friends, too.  God uses all kinds of people — even non-Christians — to demonstrate His love and care to me through others.  But I am not having sex with Jesus.  He then says that we all need the “cosmic need for closure that our souls find in romance.”  WHAT???  That means that if you are single, you can’t know God which is why Keller claims that if single, you must have a very large peer group community of singles who are all seeking marriage.

This also opens up into other conundrums such as the limitations that a man has to know the Father if he is to bond with his wife to understand Jesus.  He learns about Jesus but not about the Father through sex?  This may sound lewd as well, but I can just imagine that if a wife cried out “Jesus” in an act of passion, wouldn’t that be wrong theologically?  Her partner is analogous to the Father, so she would have to cry out, “Father God.”  This comes to mind because of Bruce Ware’s teaching that it is wrong to pray to Jesus because He lacks the authority to hear and answer prayer.  Ware contends that Jesus can only carry prayer to the Father and then delivers responses at the Father’s bidding.

And what goes around comes around, doesn’t it?  If sex is as vitally important as Keller professes, then doesn’t that mean that our marital sex must be patterned after an act between the Father and the Son?  When this sexualization is drawn out to such an extreme instead of poetic analogy, what can one conclude?

Note what Keller writes at the conclusion of the chapter on sex under the subheading of The Glory of Sex:

   “Sex between a man and a woman points to the love between the Father and the Son (1 Corinthians 11: 3). It is a reflection of the joyous self-giving and pleasure of love within the very life of the triune God” (pp. 227 – 228).

Doesn’t this sound like they’ve taken the analogy a bit to far?  Doesn’t it sound like the Father and Son pleasure one another with sex?  And I can’t for the life of me figure out the significance of his proof text.  “The head of every man is Christ and the head of woman is man….”  Sorry, folks.  If this is his proof text for this statement, then this sounds like a big orgy to me.  I find that to be profane.

Frank Viola’s Echoes

(original artwork source)

When discussing this with a friend, she mentioned reading something similar to this in one of Frank Viola‘s books, so I purchased it.  She said she never threw a book in the trash before, but she did so with this one out of sheer disgust.  She said it sounded to her as if Viola was describing sex between the Father and the Son.

Viola states in his book From Eternity to Here that the Father was full of passion for the Son.  He “pours out His passion” on Jesus who is called the “recipient and the responder.”  It sounds like some kind of bad science fiction novel that I read in the Seventies.  He goes on to say that the Son “had no beloved” upon whom to lavish His passion, though Viola says that Jesus reciprocated the Father.  So Jesus has to take His libido elsewhere.  In a subheading on page 41 declares “The Lord Jesus, a Lone Bachelor.”   There is a section where Viola claims that the Father wanted the Son to have His own counterpart who was like Him, so He made a bride for Jesus.  To me, though there are careful disclaimers included, it sounds like Viola tells us that Jesus the Son was not the same kind of co-equal and same-substance being as the Father. (It seems to illustrate all of the pitfalls of the Social View of the Trinity quite vividly.)

In a few short pages, I read the word “penetrate” at least six times.  The Father penetrates Jesus who penetrated His disciples… Viola couldn’t think of a less sexual word than that?  What kind of imagery would occur to a person outside of this evangelical bubble of those who are blackmailed by the appeal to authority and the social pressure to accept this kind of “teaching”?  I understand the utility of them:  to prop up views on gender.  But even I find these descriptions to go beyond the semi-arianism (that Jesus is of lesser essence).  But even I find this perverse.

Shirley Taylor’s Response

I had the opportunity to discuss this with Shirley Taylor last week in response to discussion of the earlier posts on this subject.  She is the founder of bWe Baptists for Women’s Equality and the author of three books about how the church marginalizes more than half of all Christians through prejudice against women.

People raised all of these kinds of questions and conclusions.  If sex in marriage is about the Trinity to help us know God, and we’re told by all of these authors that God’s love is passionate and essentially erotic which is projected on to man and woman in marriage, then the Divine Three must have sex.  There is also the claim in the writings out of Doug Wilson’s camp that the Holy Spirit is like unto the child of the Father and the Son’s union. [Jones, D. Spoiled By the Trinity: A Primer for Secularists. Credenda Agenda, 15(4)]

Since we know that babies are produced as a consequence of sex, and the Holy Spirit is like the child of Father and Son, then what kind of visual are people supposed to picture?  Then Jesus directs His erotic interests to men and women — and I guess he’s a spiritual hermaphrodite since men and women have the equivalent of the communion of sex with Jesus.  Who can keep it straight?

Shirley gave me permission to post her private comment to me:

 “I saw it. Tim Keller also says the sex between a man and a woman points to the love between the Father and the Son and used 1 Corinthians 11:3 to back it up. Sick!  They like the sex part of it. And pastors don’t have the guts to tell them to stop it.”

Sometimes, I wonder if I’m reading things into the text that isn’t there, but plenty of others find problems and issues with the same material that I do.

In conclusion, concerning books, I encourage people to refrain from purchasing Keller’s and Viola’s books.  If someone told me that this kind of Christian psychedelic science fiction would be counted as theology twenty years ago, I never would have believed it.

 Save your money and read some good sci fi instead.

 ~ ~ ~

In the final post on this bizarre doctrine, I will explain what I was taught about the connection between marriage and holiness.  Marriage is not a sacrament (that which imparts holiness), but is an illustration of what Christ accomplished on the Cross.  I will include some closing thoughts from Shirley as well.

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The Genesis of Eternal Subordinationism — Part III of Tim Keller on Sex

Part 3 of my discussion with Cindy Kunsman on Tim Keller and sex.

The Genesis of Eternal Subordinationism — Part III of Tim Keller on Sex

Having discussed this issue privately with Shirley Taylor, and as a continuation of this theme and topic, I include it here as part of our dialogue.  In a post that will follow in a close to this theme, I will include Shirley’s summary statements concerning this theology and what those who find it problematic can do.  Before hand, I will delve into the connection between holiness and marriage in subsequent post.  It’s all so much to take in because it is so convoluted, and the Calvinist learning curve is steep.

The previous posts discussed statements made by Tim Keller in his book, The Meaning of Marriage.  Along with many others who are held in high esteem within the Southern Baptist movement which embraces Covenant Theology and gender hierarchy, Keller professes the Doctrine of Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS) to validate his views on marriage.  Through a very convoluted interpretation of Scripture along with the extension of what I personally find to be the already dubious “Covenant of Redemption” by inserting hierarchy, Keller claims that marriage relationships are patterned after the love relationship between God the Father and God the Son.

NOTE:  In this post, I refer via links, in particular , a website devoted to the study of the Trinity, though I may or may not agree with the information presented there.  Links used here mean to give the reader some working understanding of the concepts in some depth.  If needed, google the terms if you need a more basic summary of them, as rank and file folks don’t often use them in our common language.

The Theological Basis of ESS

Many people ponder how anyone could have ever followed this path of reasoning to support gender, though it is based in a particular way of understanding the Trinity — a tri-personal, monotheistic God as revealed to us through Scripture — but not with great detail.  (I often think of the book Flatland, as though we are trapped in our perspective in this life which makes certain things about life, death, and religion mysteriously hidden.)  Personally, I prefer Moreland and Craig’s “Trinity Monotheism” view as defended in their Philosophical Foundations for a Biblical Worldview, though you can read a shorthand summary and a critique HERE.

Keep in mind that not one particular approach is necessarily right or wrong but is a function of perspective and personality and how one makes sense of information.  It is only wrong if it denies the basic and essential doctrines of Scripture.  This is a conundrum of difference, and we will always have some tension because we are not identical people and think and understand information in different styles and manners.

Understanding of the Trinity

It may be helpful to look at the chart that I put together to better understand the two primary and different approaches to the Trinity embraced by Evangelicals.

The Trinity Monotheism view works to avoid the trappings and limitations of the two primary views of the Trinity that are generally followed in Evangelical Christianity today.  Keller’s view favors the “Social” view of the Trinity which emphasizes the distinctives of each of the Divine Three — and it is embraced by most people who claim Calvinism, but not necessarily.  It is accepted as the preferred view in many forms of Covenant Theology.  The “Anti-Social” view of the Trinity emphasizes the oneness of God as opposed to the distinct persons.  Both groups profess monotheism and embrace tri-personal aspects of the mystery of the identity of God, though being a mystery, we do take much by faith in ambiguity.  This does not mean that God is unknowable, however, or that He is some “holy other,” nor is it a Roman Catholic view.

The pitfalls of the Social view include Tritheism (three Gods that are not one in tri-personal wholeness) and Arianism (Jesus becomes a lesser God which was first advanced by a 3rd Century ascetic Christian named Arius).  Some evangelicals argue that ESS amounts to semi-arianism.   Those who profess Social Trinitarian views often argue that personhood can only be defined and manifested in terms of a relationship, so they focus on the relationship aspects.  The pitfalls for the Anti-Social view include Unitarianism (directly denies that Jesus is fully God in all His fullness) and Modalism (denies personhood to the Divine Three and views each manifestation of God as separate modes — such as water’s possible state as ice, liquid, and gaseous forms, depending on conditions). Note that all of these pitfalls, in one way or another, rob Jesus if His deity.

That which the Apostle Paul stated was a mystery which could but demonstrate concepts to us through marriage, this group of modern theologians claim as gender role religion and as a magical guide to understanding God.  But in the end, they remain mysteries.  We run into theological error when we extrapolate beyond that which Scripture solidly supports, no matter how badly we hope to understand, qualify, and even quantify a mystery.  Personally, I believe that this theology attracts those who have difficulty tolerating ambiguity because it attempts to “relieve” Christians of that ambiguity and the tension that it creates.

The Extension of the Covenant of Redemption

In short, things happened this way:

  1. Covenant Theology:  A Calvinist interpretive tool of systematic doctrine to better understand Scripture.  It contrasts with the interpretive framework embraced by Dispensationalistsin the way that God reached out to mankind.  Covenant Theology identifies the origin of the church (the assembly) with God’s covenant with Abraham and sees subsequent events in the Judeo-Christian narrative as the unfolding of God’s plan which culminates in Jesus the Messiah’s sacrifice.  The Old Testament Law is divided into three categories (moral, ceremonial, and civil), and only the moral law is said to apply today — though many disagree on what rightfully falls into which category.
  2. God reached out to mankind *theologically* through Covenants.  (The Puritan Shop has a chart for sale.)   The first was the Covenant of Redemption when God made the decision to redeem mankind.  The second was the Covenant of Works which concluded when Adam sinned.  The third way that God reached out to man was through the Covenant of Grace.  According to Calvinists, we are still under the Covenant of Grace today.  Both the Old Testament Law and the New Covenant in Christ is seen as an extension of the Covenant of Grace.
  3. The Covenant of Redemption is dependent upon a Social View of the Trinity which emphasizes the distinctive of each personality of each of the Divine Three
  4. Lesser known and questionable Reformation age individuals (hailed as visionaries at the questionable Doug Wilson’s New St. Andrews Seminary) claimed that there was a hierarchy among the Persons of the Godhead, but their assertions were never adopted because they tended towards Arianism and Tritheism.
  5. George Knight III (quoted in the previous post) proposed in the late Seventies that there was not only a covenant struck by God for man in the Covenant of Redemption, but there was also something of a division of labor discussed among the Divine Three.  He went on to add that they were each bound to roles as individuals because of hierarchy based on their personalities and identities.  The Son didn’t agree to be the Messiah because he was eternally the Son and sat in submission to the authority of the Father.
  6. This change in understanding of the theology was aided by the change in the use and understanding of language over time as well as the translation of language from not only ancient texts and translations from other languages used to define and qualify those ancient texts.
  7. Knight also asserted that, to prove a statement once made by RC Sproul (Sr) that all doctrine somehow flows from the Doctrine of God.  Gender and gender related conduct thus becomes inextricably bound directly to God and His identity.  Gender not only tells us metaphorically about aspects of what Christ did to redeem mankind, the Trinity stands as a concrete exemplar of relationship between husband and wife.
  8. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and individuals within it who were inclined towards Covenant Theology took this concept and ran with it.  It eventually became known as the Eternal Subordination of the Son Doctrine.
  9. On this basis of the direct connection between gender and the identity of God, those who reject ESS have been said to be heretics who worship a false God, merely by rejecting the concept of gender hierarchy.
  10. ESS demands that a person understand God in terms of a Social Trinitarian view.

Read Moreland and Craig and the works of Kevin Giles concerning the Trinity for more information. I think that Jesus and the Father by Giles gives the best shorthand overview of the genesis of ESS — which is, of course, a book.

Additional posts supporting my understanding and documentation concerning ESS may be read HERE.

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Tim Keller on the Meaning of Sex Act in Marriage: A Virtual Dialogue with Shirley Taylor Part II

The previous post discussed the Doctine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son in the Trinity which the Southern Baptist Convention falsely contends has been the only orthodox understanding of the Trinity since the original Biblical texts were penned and a belief always held by theologians.

In Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage, he goes on to quote George Knight III in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in a statement of agreement:

Paul saw that when God designed the original marriage, He already had Christ and the Church in mind. This is one of God’s great purposes in marriage: to picture the relationship between Christ and His redeemed people forever!

Shirley Taylor responds to this statement in her book Dethroning Male Headship in the discussion of the “Sexualization of the Trinity”:

Salvation by faith has been replaced

But salvation for the Church Body was God’s grand design, not the marriage bed. Procreation was part of God’s grand design in marriage, and the Bible does not shy away from sex. However, God’s command to be fruitful and multiply does not indicate that the sex act reflects God Himself. Sex is procreational and recreational, but it is not symbolic of the relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In case you’re wondering who this Shirley Taylor is, I love how John Pierce describes her in the publication, Baptists Today:

[Quoting Shirley]

“We have sent emails and faxes to Paige Patterson, Al Mohler, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, the Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist General Convention of Texas, Lifeway Book Stores, Baptist encampments and Baptist newspapers.

[Blog host note:  Add to this list the document sent to the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood]

“How much does a snowflake weigh? Almost nothing, but one snowflake upon another can cause a tree limb to break. This is my snowflake. I add it to the weight of all those others who have come to realize that women should claim the equality that is already given them by Almighty God.”

Two editorial observations [as noted by John Pierce]:

1. There are other places in Baptist life where women are affirmed and other groups (such as Baptist Women in Ministry) where this concern is addressed.

2. However, I wouldn’t underestimate the impact of one Texas grandmother’s *woman’s snowflake.

*Shirley asked that the notation of “grandmother” be noted as “woman” because she is first and foremost a woman, and she doesn’t mean to limit any woman’s effectiveness or impact based on age.  And she is far more than a grandmother.

Shirley Taylor’s note: Dethroning Male Headship is being revised and updated. Look for Dethroning Male Headship: Second Edition by September 30, 2015.

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Tim Keller on the meaning of the sex act in marriage Part 1

Following is from Cindy Kunsman’s blog Under Much Grace regarding a discussion she and I had regarding the emphasis on sex by pastors and religious leaders today. It is in 5 parts. Please read. (Used with her permission).

Tim Keller on the Meaning of the Sex Act in Marriage: A Virtual Dialogue with Shirley Taylor Part I

Spiritual Sounding Board (SSB) just cross-posted my weekend commentary on Anna Duggar and the scapegoating that “spread your legs theology” doles out to women.    Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd swiftly proved my thesis on Sunday.

I read that the Dugggars “identify” with Floyd’s church where their daughter Jill married, though I understand that they often choose to worship at home as well.  By the time that the church deleted the online podcast of Floyd’s sermon, the lion’s share of the material had been reproduced by a host of journalists and bloggers, noting the manner in which their religion blames wives for adulterous husbands.  I guarantee that within the Gothard system specifically, the condemnation proves far more scathing.  The SBC as a whole isn’t quite as miserable about such matters.

And as an aside, I was happy to learn that Anna Duggar’s brother offered to take Anna and her children with Josh in and would support them, should Anna choose to separate.  Or something to that effect.

What turned out to be the middle of the night for me, a person commenting under the SSB reposting inquired about the specifics of statements made by Tim Keller that I found rather salacious, and in light of the drama over the past two years or so in the Duggaresque world, I didn’t feel all that hesitant use equally salacious terms to define the gender theology.  With permission, I quoted Shirley Taylor’s private comments to me a few years ago, qualifying Keller’s belief system little more than a theology of sexism which reduces women to creatures of lesser essence and purpose.  I believe that it is helpful to note that Shirley Taylor reached the status of septuagenarian a year or so ago.  I can imagine that her critics have characterized us both as young, foaming at the mouth man-haters.  She a loving wife, mom, grandmom and still works as a church secretary.  She even does home canning.  (And I turn 50 next year.)

Questions about Tim Keller

A polite person posted a response, asking for specifics about what Tim Keller had to say about marriage, as I am probably more disappointed in him and in D.A. Carson than all of the rest of those involved with this ideology.  Because the issue that I believe Keller gets very wrong is so central to the central message of Christianity, I will post the quotes and my response in at least two blog posts.  Shirley and I have discussed these matters many times in conversation, but I would also like to highlight her statements about these same matters from her book.  (She’s currently revising it and has written two more books since its publication.)  I noted at the SSB blog that I didn’t want to give Keller’s statements a platform of legitimacy without my own responses to them as well.  To me, it’s like handing out cookies laced with rat poison, and I don’t feel comfortable doing so.

There are several things in the Sex and Marriage chapter in Tim Keller’s marriage book that give me pause, and not because I am prudish.  I’ve been a nurse for 29 years, and I worked in hospital urology for two years when I first graduated.  I don’t agree with many things that Keller postulates in that chapter, but it’s a free country and I disagree with plenty of people on the planet, including fellow Christians.  I will limit my comments to those matters with serious doctrinal implications and that which I see as inappropriate in terms of what Scripture actually says.

I’ll keep this blog post limited to this series of quotes from the Sex and Marriage chapter in The Meaning of Marriage:

 “Sex leads us to words of adoration—it literally evokes shouts of joy and praise. Through the Bible, we know why this is true. John 17 tells us that from all eternity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been adoring and glorifying each other, living in high devotion to each other, pouring love and joy into one another’s hearts continually (cf. John 1:18; 17:5, 21, 24–25). Sex between a man and a woman points to the love between the Father and the Son (1 Corinthians 11:3). It is a reflection of the joyous self-giving and pleasure of love within the very life of the triune God. Sex is glorious not only because it reflects the joy of the Trinity but also because it points to the eternal delight of soul that we will have in heaven, in our loving relationships with God and one another.”

My Initial Response to Keller’s Statement

I don’t know about you, but from a reading of these proof texts, prior to ever hearing about the Eternal Subordination of the Son Doctrine (ESS), and thereafter, I can say with all honesty that I never saw anything concerning the actual sex act in them.  Never once did it occur in the midst of physical union with my husband over the past 25 years that I was supposed to be thinking about the analogous relationship between Jesus and the Church.  I thought about love for my husband and his love for me, and about the blessing of pleasure through that experience.

I would say that the more profound lessons about love and care that introduced me to a whole new, deeper level of being loved more than anyone had ever loved me came not through anything having to do with the sex act.  My husband’s patient kindness with me, self sacrifice, and all sorts of other ways in daily life that I never dreamed took me by surprise in the way he honored me in real life.  I remember the first time that he made and brought me a cup of coffee about a month after our honeymoon.  I thought about the profound effect that the way my father treated my mother had on my expectations and how the love my husband lived out for me so far exceeded any other love that anyone had ever expressed for me.  I still feel that way about him today.  And as all marriages, it has not been a rose garden.

A Gospel Coalition Sex Talmud?  (a.k.a,  I’ve been doing it wrong for 20+ years?)

I thoroughly enjoy sex and would say that it can feel transcendent in its own unique way, but it is such a small element of marriage in comparison to everything else that I can’t imagine cheapening the whole of our relationship by claiming that sex was the apex of it in the way that Keller lauds it.  (Keller’s associate Mary Kassian uses that description to qualify sex in marriage and writes about discussing the subject with Keller.)  My relationship with my husband is not that static, and life is too complicated to classify sex as an apex.  Maybe it was during the first decade?  I don’t know.

Admittedly, this is not not Keller’s statement who does make statements about marriage that I don’t see supported in Scripture, but Kassian goes on to say that if you’re not thinking about God during sex, she almost makes it sound like it’s tantamount to adultery.  I have other problems with her analogies and reasoning in this whole series of posts from 2012.  I recall one almost arguing for elder rule in a way that made it sound like an argument could be made that a woman could have sex with an elder if that’s what he desired.  I’m not bothering looking it up, but it had more puzzle piece pictures that were just…not right.   She didn’t say that you could commit adutery, but the whole line of argument was so bizarre and full of error, that’s what her logic (?) could justify.

From Kassian’s post, More Necessities for God-Glorifying Sex:

The final and overarching necessity for God-glorifying sex is “Godwardness.” By that, I mean understanding that your sexuality (and the rest of life) is ultimately not about you, but about reflecting truths about your Creator-Redeemer. [. . .]  When I work at desiring my husband and being desirable for him, I honor the gospel story. Godward sexuality is far more than following a set of rules for moral conduct. Having a Godward mindset informs and transforms me from the inside out, enabling me to embrace the fullness and joy of my God-given sexuality, and to live in a way that honors Jesus.


There is much rhetoric of this sort in the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and among those well accepted in Keller’s Gospel Coalition, and Keller echoes the spirit of it and has never challenged these types of ideas.  I feel safe to assume Keller takes no issue with these concepts.  John Piper is another one who has made provocative statements, and he’s definitely never publicly challenged Bruce Ware’s writing.)

Dethroning the Bizarre

Shirley discusses these and other statements in her book, Dethroning Male Headship.  As the wife of one husband, the mother of two sons, and a Christian who loves Jesus, and a woman of the Word who sees these glaring Keller’s description of marriage this way in her book, I thought her comments here were insightful, especially since I may have left those reading here with the impression that she was little more than a shock jock egalitarian.

In her chapter entitled Sexualization of the Trinity, she comments:

Keller is saying that when husbands and wives have sex, particularly when they climax (when else would there be “shouts of joy?”), they are emulating how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit rejoice in each other.

[. . .]

The ‘union’ between the Son of God and his bride the Church, according to Piper and Keller, is sex. Just as sex supposedly points to the love between the Father and Son, now the bride (the Church) is involved . . . if you believe what Piper and Keller are saying.

Why is it that a grandmother who has studied the Bible and never went to seminary can see right through these matters, and so many people can’t?   Or perhaps they don’t want to see any of it.  I really don’t want to know.


The next post will examine more problematic statements that branch back to the presupposition of the ESS Doctrine held by Keller, The Gospel Coalition, John Piper (a contributor to some of Piper’s works), and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

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