Beginning tomorrow (November 15th-17th), over 2500 evangelical theologians from all over the world will convene in San Antonio, Texas, for the 68th annual Evangelical Theological Society National Convention. This is a very exciting time to hear excellent plenary speakers and hundreds of workshop presentations on every issue imaginable regarding biblical and theological topics. It is also a great time to buy books at a substantial discount from over forty publishing companies!
The theme for this year’s conference is The Trinity. You might think that everything has already been said on that topic, but that is not the case. This year will provide a large forum for the evangelical world to debate the issue of “Eternal Functional Subordination of the Son” (EFS). This does not mean that the Son is “ontologically” subordinate in His essence to the Father, as in Arianism that was condemned in 325 AD at the council of Nicaea. It does mean that the Son has always been a Son before and after the incarnation and as such has been economically subordinate to the Father. (The relationship to the Holy Spirit is another issue.) One of the reasons for the economic or EFS view is that it also allows for and supports the view that leads to complementarianism in marriage and provides the reason that women are not to be elders in the local church. Now you see why the stakes are so high in this issue. The EFS provides a major argument for hierarchicalism in leadership in both home and local church.
Both sides of this argument are evangelicals to the core, with a deep belief in biblical inerrancy and a theology of Trinitarianism as is required for all who are members of the Evangelical Theological Society. There has been much debate in the Christian public by many theologians on this topic. I am sure that the ETS conference will not be the last word on EFS. However, it shows that we must be life-long learners since theological issues are always evolving. And so we must demand the time to think and develop the habit of thought!
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, PhD
Grace Theology Press