Via Denny Burk – Review of “Who’s Tampering with the Trinity?”

Denny Burk put up links today to an important review that appeared in the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (JBMW) .

Millard Erickson has written an important new book called “Who’s Tampering with the Trinity?  An Assessment of the Subordination Debate” which deals with the issues in the nature of the Trinity that form the theological basis of disputes about gender and gender roles today.  Erickson abandons the current Egalitarian/Eternal Subordination nomenclature and replaces it with “Equivalence” and ‘Gradation” – terms I think have some usefulness.

Burk links to a review in the JBMW by Stephen J Wellum called “Irenic and Unpersuasive.”

Erickson is clearly on the Equivalence side of the discussion, but according to the review, he makes every effort to present both sides fairly (though Wellum has several specific complaints in this regard).

It looks like a book that all of us who are interested in approaching this debate in a serious, theological and irenic manner should read.  Wellum review is also important as a balance.  Denny Burk provides a synopsis of the review which is also helpful.

I’m preparing a perspective on this, but thought our readers might benefit from reading Wellum’s review.


  1. Dave Miller says

    Of course, you are welcome to discuss this here, but would suggest that you at least read the review. Its about 11 pages and well worth reading.

  2. Christiane says

    An interesting ‘review’.
    Some questions, though:

    ? Important to the ‘debate’ is this COMMENT/QUESTION:
    “God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated Person, One in essence, equal in power and glory.
    Since, in Greek, “power” and “authority” are one and the same word, how can Christ be equal to God in power, but not in authority.
    If the Son is eternally in submission, he is not equal in power and glory.”


    Does the NEW book by Erickson approach this question in a way that is handled SUFFICIENTLY by Wellum, so as to put to rest this comment/question for his ’side’,
    OR does the comment/question remain still open for debate among ‘both sides’?

    In short, how definitive is Wellum’s response for those who hold to ESS, as regards this extremely focused and important comment/question?

  3. Christiane says

    THE ‘HOLE’ in the ‘ESS’ Theory:

    ESS stands for the ‘eternal subordination’ of the Son.

    This doctrine assumes ’separate’ wills for the Father and for the Son;
    and that the Son renounces His own will in favor of the Father’s will.

    This seems to be the RED LIGHT of a problem in the ESS theory:
    Can a group promote a ‘doctrine’ that denies that the Holy Trinity shares the same will. Would this denial then represent an attack on the Church’s historic orthodox teaching on the nature of the Holy Trinity?

    I think the answer is ‘yes’.
    ESS seems to be a departure from that historic orthodox teaching, which holds that the three Persons of the Holy Trinity share the SAME Will. Hence, no need to subordinate one will to another will.

  4. Christiane says

    “The idea that the Son must eternally obey the Father implies that the Father and the Son each have their own will. The Son must submit his will to the will of the Father. If the divine three each have their own will, then divine unity is breached and tritheism follows. To argue in reply that the Son can do no other than obey the Father—the language of compulsion is not appropriate—does not solve the problem. If the Father and the Son (and the Spirit) have one will, the actions of one cannot be conceived as obedience to another. In the NT, Christ is obedient as a human.” quote is by Ben Witherington