A group of evangelical Christians concerned that the doctrine of the Trinity in Christian dogma has been inaccurately portrayed has released a statement that members hope will avoid the dangers associated with so-called unOrthodox teachings on subordination in the Godhead.
The Trinity is part of numerous creeds, including the Athanasian Creed, a Christian statement of belief, which says of the catholic, or universal, faith: “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity...For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.”
Being a core concept of the Christian faith, this creed does not appear to be very controversial. However, authors of the Evangelical Statement on the Trinity argue that statements on the Trinity have been twisted used to introduce a "heretical" interpretation and teaching that the Persons of the Trinity are not co-equal.
Authors of the statement point to the Rev. Dr. Kevin Giles' book, Jesus and the Father: Modern Evangelicals Reinvent the Doctrine of the Trinity, as telling of “how a whole generation of conservative evangelicals has embraced a new-fangled version of the ancient Trinitarian heresy of subordinationism."
According to Giles, a former Anglican minister, if Christians believe in a hierarchical, three-part God consisting of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, then hierarchies must also exist in humanity, since humans were created in the image of God.
It would then follow that hierarchies and ranks would need to exist in society. According to the Rev. Dr. William David Spencer, this is what led to “subordinationism” in the church, leading to sexist and racist theologies.
In a press release, Spencer said, "Some gender (usually the female) is ranked below the other (usually the male), and some ‘races' may be ranked below other 'races.' This conclusion not only undermines monotheism but also the equality of humanity as created in God's image."
Christians for Biblical Equality, in support of the new Evangelical Trinity statement, said in a press release Monday: "Both the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed were written in direct response to this error of subordinationism."
Spencer said he and others wrote the new Evangelical Statement on the Trinity because “an ancient mistake was creeping back into conservative Christianity.”
The Evangelical Statement on the Trinity was written by Spencer in consultation with Aída Besançon Spencer, Mimi Haddad, Royce Gruenler, Kevin Giles, and numerous other theologians, philosophers, historians, and exegetes.
The popular statement, as opposed to the academic Trinity statement, reads as follows:
“We confess the one true and living God, Creator of everything and Ruler over the entire creation. He has uniquely revealed himself in the living Word, Jesus Christ, and in the written Word, the Bible, as One Triune God-three coeternal and coequal Persons. Each Person is distinct, yet there is only one essence or Being who is God, not three separate Gods. Each Person of the One Triune God shares equally in honor, glory, worship, power, authority, and rank. The Bible never suggests that any one Person of the Trinity has eternal superiority or authority over the others, or that one is in eternal subordination to another. The Son’s submission and obedience to the Father were voluntary and related specifically to the time during which he humbled himself, took on human nature, and dwelled among us as a servant.”
The public has been invited to express support for the Evangelical Statement on the Trinity by adding their name to the statement at The Trinity Statement website.