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ETS and the trinity: conclusions

September 1, 2012

With respect to the ETS doctrinal statement and the trinity, several historic creeds and commentaries say that the Son is equal to the Father in Macht (exousia) and potestas (exousia), and others say that the Son was equal to the Father in potentia (dunamis). The English word “power” is used to translate both exousia and dunamis. Therefore, the ETS doctrinal basis could mean that the Son is equal to the Father in either exousia or dunamis or both. It is sufficiently vague in English to mean any of the above, and as such functions well as a creed for a diverse group of Christians.

ETS Doctrinal Basis,

The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.

The Trinity Statement,

We believe that the sole living God who created and rules over all and who is described in the Bible is one Triune God in three coeternal, coequal Persons, each Person being presented as distinct yet equal, not as three separate gods, but one Godhead, sharing equally in honor, glory, worship, power, authority, rule, and rank, such that no Person has eternal primacy over the others.

In reviewing various creeds, as they were written in Greek, Latin and German over the past 2000 years, I  cannot find any creed which explicitly says that the Son was equal to the Father in both “power” and “authority.” Nor can I find any creed which says or implies that the eternal Son was “under the authority of” the Father.

However, it is my view that many creeds do imply that the Son is “ranked” second to the Father – the Greek word is taxis. Therefore, I feel that the Trinity Statement is not a useful replacement for the doctrinal basis of the ETS.

Having said this, I find the notion that a Father would plan and direct his totally subordinate Son to die on the cross, by means of his will dominating over the will of his Son, to be a repugnant metaphor and even more repugnant as a metaphor for marriage. I could not happily participate in fellowship with people who evoke these violent images about human relationships.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. lamont goodling permalink
    September 2, 2012 12:47 pm


    Your power/authority thinking has been interesting. In my experience, creeds are about drawing lines in the sand regarding heresies, and seem more often to be oaths of fealty than creeds of belief. So I think that new and improved creeds surface when one or both of two things happen: new heresies surface (or old heresies resurface) and need to be rendered powerless; and there needs to be a renewal of loyalty through a new and improved oath of fealty.


  2. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    September 3, 2012 12:47 am


    Thanks for following! I don’t think that the trinity statement will replace any former creed. However, I do feel that the application of Christ’s obedience unto death, to the wife’s marital duty, is bizarre in the extreme. I think it is a heresy that should not be overlooked, in fact, should be anathema, or some such thing. For those women who have suffered violence in the home, it is an evil.

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