Christians for Biblical Equality


Most theological text books mention a trinitarian error called, ‘subordinationism’ but they do not agree on how this error is to be defined. Possibly this is the most inadequately defined of all the major trinitarian heresies.

1.      The emergence of the term ‘subordinationism’.

In the fourth century, several groups of theologians who could not accept the use of the word homoousios (one in being) to define the Father-Son relationship in the creed of Nicea (325) were lumped together and called ‘Arians’- followers of Arius - by the Nicene fathers. Some of them insisted that they were not followers of Arius.[1] Later, the term ‘Arianism’ became a term either to designate those who in some way questioned the full divinity of the Son, or, as a catch-all pejorative term to designate any who deviated from to be teaching on the Trinity given in the creeds and later in the Reformation confessions.[2] From the middle of the sixteenth century until the late nineteenth century the term ‘Anti-Trinitarianism’ was often used as a synonym for the very broad understanding of ‘Arianism’ just mentioned.[3] In the middle of the nineteenth century it came to be recognised that a specific and precise term was needed to speak of those who, in differing historical times, proposed that in some way the Son and/or the Spirit were subordinated to the Father in the immanent Trinity. First, the English term ‘subordinationism’ began to be used for this purpose, and then later in German, ‘subordinationismus.[4]  From then on, this error could be contrasted with the errors of tritheism and modalism, and Arianism recognised as but one form of subordinationism. This technical term immediately discloses something about this theological error. It has to do with the sub-ordering or ranking of the Son and/or the Spirit below the Father; the hierarchical ordering of the trinitarian persons.

From CBE International:

There are many male leaders in the church who want to empower women leaders, but they’re stuck. They want to empower, but don’t know how to go about doing it. As a male leader, I have a strong conviction of the need to empower women in their God-given talents, passions, and leadership.

This article appeared in the print version of Mutuality, THE CBE International journal as "Text or Pretext: Loving Scripture, Living Egalitarian"

I was raised complementarian. More importantly, I was raised in something of a theological echo chamber where my complementarian convictions went undisputed. All diligent Bible readers would obviously conclude that men were to lead, and even more obviously, that women were not to be pastors. What could be simpler?

ABC News and 7:30 has been carrying out an investigation into domestic violence with disturbing evidence of domestic violence occurring in church communities. American research provides one important insight: men who attend church less often are most likely to abuse their wives.

For the full article click here.

7:30 report 19/7/2017 on ABC iview


The Trinity Argument for woman's subordination.
Kevin Giles

George Knight III in his 1977 book, New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women, invented the post Women’s Lib case for the subordination of women. He argued that the Bible teaches the “equality” of the sexes and their “role differentiation.” Who could disagree with this? However, when unpacked what we find he is arguing is that “equal” means spiritually equal and role differentiation means men have the “role” of leading and directing; women the “role” of submitting and obeying.

He argues this is what 1 Timothy 2:11-14 teaches grounding men and women’s “role differences” in creation before the fall. Thus women’s subordination is the transcultural and trans-temporal God-given ideal.

Then on the basis of 1 Corinthians 11:3 (the head passage) he argues that just as the divine three persons are ordered hierarchically, so too is the man-woman relationship is ordered hierarchically. Indeed, he argues the latter is predicated on the former. The Father is “head over” the Son, and men are “head over” women.  No higher basis for women’s subordination can be found; it is grounded in the life of God.

Knight’s Novel teaching was embraced with great enthusiasm by evangelical men who felt their God-given precedence was in jeopardy and by many women. As the argument from creation, predicated on a novel interpretation  and 1 Tim 2:11-12 failed to convince many Wayne Grudem in his 1994, Systematic Theology, revived the Trinity argument which then became the primary argument for the permanent subordination of women. Bruce Ware became his number one collaborator in this exercise. They were able to win over most of the evangelical world.

In Complementarian circles not one voice was raised in opposition to the Trinity argument and article after article and book after book put this case. From May 1st 2015 to May 30th 2016 no less than four major books put this case.