Let’s All Be Nicene

I can think of no possible way that Dr. Ware’s words can be nuanced to be consistent with Nicene orthodoxy.

Theologians and church historians have been pushing back against the subordinationism espoused by Drs. Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem for years. Entire books have been written on the topic. Papers have been published. Moderated debates have been held. But all these efforts have taken place almost exclusively in a corner of the academic world rarely accessed by lay persons. We chose to speak up when we noticed how these errant views on the Trinity were being actively advanced to the laity in order to justify a view of authority and submission among men and women for which there is no biblical warrant. The fact is Drs. Ware and Grudem have for years resisted challenges to their views.

The following are passages from Bruce Ware’s book Father Son and Holy Spirit: Relationships Roles and Relevance.

“God the Father receives the ultimate and supreme glory, for the Father sent the Son to accomplish redemption in his humiliation, and the Father exalted the Son to his place over all creation; in all these things, the Father alone stands supreme over all – including supreme over his very Son. All praise of the Son ultimately and rightly redounds to the glory of the Father. It is the Father, then who is supreme in the Godhead – in the triune relationships of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and supreme over all of the very creation over which the Son reigns as its Lord.” – p. 50

“The Father is supreme over all, and in particular, he is supreme within the Godhead as the highest in authority and the one deserving of ultimate praise.” – p. 51

“…though the Father is supreme, he often provides and works through his Son and Spirit to accomplish his work and fulfill his will. I am amazed when I consider here the humility of the Father. For, though the Father is supreme, though he has in the trinitarian order the place of highest authority, the place of highest honor, yet he chooses to do his work in many cases through the Son and through the Spirit rather than unilaterally.” – p. 55

“In many ways, what we see here of the Father choosing not to work unilaterally but to accomplish his work through the Son, or through the Spirit, extends into his relationship to us. Does God need us to do his work? Does God need us to help others grow in Christ? Does God need us to proclaim the gospel so that others hear the good news and are saved? The answer is an emphatic no. He doesn’t need any of us to do any of this. Being the omnipotent and sovereign Ruler over all, he would merely have to speak, and whatever he willed would be done…. No, the humbling fact is that God doesn’t need any of those whom he calls into his service.” – p. 57

“It is not as though the Father is unable to work unilaterally, but rather, he chooses to involve the Son and the Spirit.” – p. 57

Here at Mortification of Spin we have been careful to not label Dr. Ware a heretic. Church courts make those determinations. But whatever else the above statements from Dr. Ware’s book are they are most certainly not historic Christian orthodoxy. The passages are not taken out of a context that actually shapes them into orthodoxy. Indeed, reading the entire chapter only drives home the point that Dr. Ware’s views on the Trinity veer far afield from what the church catholic has professed since at least the 4th century.

At this point it is clear to me that the “tone” of those first posts by Liam Goligher andCarl Trueman which kicked off this debate were actually quite measured considering the seriousness of the errors; even restrained. I wonder if those who accused Goligher and Trueman of slander, of being stealth egalitarians, and “accusers of the brethren” will now publicly apologize?

I will not speculate about motives. Neither will I draw conclusions about anyone’s love for Jesus. But I need help from those who would defend the above passages. If words mean anything at all, if there are any limits to nuancing and massaging statements to death then what else can those words be but profound departures from historic trinitarian orthodoxy?

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