Skip to content

Trinity, universalism and women's ministry

How about that for a title?

Just two half-formed thoughts really that flow from recent musings on the trinity...

First, Bobby has some interesting posts here and here that touch on (among other things) Barthian methodology and avoiding universalism.  Now one way of describing universalism is the conflation of church and world - that is church and world become, in the end, identical.  Can trinitarian theology help?

Well Christ is Priest of God.  And we've been seeing that Christ and His Father are one - not identically but with important self-distinctions upheld in their mutual relations.   Christ as Priest has His distinct existence which is neither identical with the Father nor identical with humanity.  He is God for man and Man for God and this mediatorial existence is absolutely essential to His Person.  But in this mediation He does not collapse into either party.  He remains, in eternity, distinct.

Now the church, corporately, is a royal priesthood.  And, again, the absolutely essential nature of the church is mediatorial.  We do not exist for ourselves but find our very being in reaching out into the world.  But, church does not for this reason collapse into world.  Church remains, in eternity, distinct.   

Now it's interesting that Barth's trinity is explictly not 'three divine I's'.  He states emphatically that his trinity is a 'single subject thrice repeated'.  Here (IMHO) there is not adequate room for self-distinction in the Godhead.  I wonder whether the fruit of that, down the line, is inadequate distinctions being drawn between church and world?  Just a thought.

Secondly, more briefly.  If, as I've argued, the equal Persons are differently gifted and perform different roles, doesn't this re-shape what we mean by gender-equality?  Equality, if it's grounded in God's equality, includes and upholds real differences in gifting and function.  I mean let's do the exegetical work on the relevant passages, but beware playing the 'equality' card in a way that would commit you to modalism when speaking of God!

.

13 thoughts on “Trinity, universalism and women's ministry

  1. Angela

    HI! This is Bobby's wife, Angela! Excellent thoughts here! Bobby and I were just discussing this yesterday relative to "egalitarianism" vs "heirarchicalism" (pardon my spelling). We were discussing that these frameworks were/are flawed and that there is a better, more biblical way to think about how the Trinity interacts with us and how the roles of women/men cannot be individualized as we are part of the the Trinartian discussion. I love this way of thinking about it. Anyway, i hope this all makes sense! I am not as erudite as my husband!

    Blessings in Christ,

    angela :-)

  2. glenscriv

    Wahey! Both Grows, I am privileged indeed. Good to make your acquaintance.

    And yeah - what a false dichotomy! 'egalitarian *versus* hierarchicalism'??? Since when is equality at odds with hierarchy? Not with the One who says 'I can do nothing by myself... The Father is greater than I.' etc etc. The egalitarian side must get a better definition of equality. But also the hierarchical side needs to do a better job (in my experience) of modelling this as a joyful interplay of *equals* in hierarchy. Both sides (and me! I) need to learn from the trinity.

    God bless,
    Glen

  3. Bobby Grow

    Glen,

    I agree, Trinitarian theology, properly framed, i.e. Gunton, is the best frame to think about distinction and inseparable relationship in all areas theological -- which covers all of reality of course ;-) . I agree on your assessment of Barth, he is not clairvoyant in his articulation on the Trinity. His language of replication is not helpful, in my opinion.

    Nevertheless, getting back to your points, I think instead of talking about egalitarianism and hiearchialism relative to the gender issue, I think just calling it "trinitarianism and gender" would be more scriptural. Since egalitarianism seems to reduce to a crude dualism, and hiearchialism to subordinationism. Trinitarianism, as you note in this regard, is able to recognize both equality in ontology, while maintaining distinction in role.

    Good points Angela!

  4. Angela

    Bobby, thanks for the support! Love ya!

    angela

    Glen, thanks for bringing up this point! I think the beauty of the Trinity is so neglected in the Church, as far as teaching it and how our relationship with Lord and with eachother is so intermingled! I think a lot women would feel more "liberated" by a trinitarian view of gender roles.

    Blessings in Christ,

    angela

  5. Rev Charles Ndaru

    Hallo Praise the lord servant of God .Isaw in your web-site that you do preach in conference ,can Iinvite you to hold a conference in Kenya .please Iam waiting to hear from you soon .may the Almighty God bless you mightily amen

  6. Rev Charles Ndaru

    Hallo Praise the lord servant of God .Isaw in your web-site that you do preach in conference ,can Iinvite you to hold a conference in Kenya .please Iam waiting to hear from you soon .may the Almighty God bless you mightily amen

  7. Rev Charles Ndaru

    Hallo Praise the lord servant of God .Isaw in your web-site that you do preach in conference ,can Iinvite you to hold a conference in Kenya .please Iam waiting to hear from you soon .may the Almighty God bless you mightily amen

  8. Rev Charles Ndaru

    Hallo Praise the lord servant of God .Isaw in your web-site that you do preach in conference ,can Iinvite you to hold a conference in Kenya .please Iam waiting to hear from you soon .may the Almighty God bless you mightily amen

  9. Rev Charles Ndaru

    Hallo Praise the lord servant of God .Isaw in your web-site that you do preach in conference ,can Iinvite you to hold a conference in Kenya .please Iam waiting to hear from you soon .may the Almighty God bless you mightily amen

  10. Rev Charles Ndaru

    Hallo Praise the lord servant of God .Isaw in your web-site that you do preach in conference ,can Iinvite you to hold a conference in Kenya .please Iam waiting to hear from you soon .may the Almighty God bless you mightily amen

  11. glenscriv

    Thanks Bobby and Angela. Yeah meditations on Head and Body should really *begin* with Father and Son (1 Cor 11:3). And stay there for quite a while. And keep staying there for a bit longer. And only then move on to thinking about how we work it out in marriages and the church. Great to have both you guys on the blog!

    Hello Charles. I've been praying for your country - what terrible things are happening at the moment! Where are you in Kenya? How are things?

    Send me an email and we'll speak further about the conference thing: glen@christthetruth.org.uk

    God bless.
    Glen

  12. Byron

    Barth himself drew links between differentiation of roles within the Trinity and differentiated gender roles. The connection isn't irrelevant, but neither do I think it's particularly direct (1 Cor 11 notwithstanding).

  13. glenscriv

    Hi Byron, Would you add Gen 1:27 to the 'notwithstanding' category? I think Barth was right to highlight this differentiation as integral to the image of God. This is pretty close to another direct link do you think? But, you're right, now I'm racking my brains for more direct ones (e.g. Father-Son relations in John - one-ness, mutual indwelling) but only coming up with indirect. So you're right to flag up the paucity of direct linkage. Nonetheless, if we're going to think about Head-Body relations and the Bible says God Himself is one (even if only once) - then that's an extremely relevant piece of information. Wouldn't we say that studying Head-Body relations without thinking about the divine Head-Body relation is massively impoverished? Anthropocentric even?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Twitter widget by Rimon Habib - BuddyPress Expert Developer