February 12, 2023

On Subordinationism

by Interfaith

Subordinationism crops up a lot in dialogues between myself and @muhammad_isa, so I wanted to clarify a couple of points lest anyone get the wrong end of a slippery stick.

Simply, Subordinationism is a doctrine that the Son of God is God, but in ‘eternal subordination and submission’ (ESS) to the Father. I wanted to make it clear that Subordinationists did not believe Jesus was not God but rather that they saw Him as in some mysterious way divine, but not equally so with the Father.

Famously Irenaeus and Origen, both influential theologians, are accused of – or at least tainted with – subordinationism. In Irenaeus’ case, I have not really studied the argument. In Origen’s case I have, and am convinced he was not, the ‘Origenist Crises’ and subsequent condemnations are of teachings erroneously imputed to him.

As the wiki site says, Subordinationism is a Trinitarian heresy – that is subordinationists believed in the Trinity as such, but expressed it in an overtly hierarchical manner, whereas the orthodox doctrine asserts the coequality and consubstantiality (the same substance) of the Three Persons.

It was Origen who argued that the Father eternally begets the Son, and thus the Son is eternally begotten – that there was never a time when God was not the Father, and thus never a time when the Son was not.

Arius, who followed Origen in many things, refuted him on this point, arguing that the Son was begotten at some point, and that there was a time when the Son was not.

Nevertheless, Arius believed in the divinity of the Second Person of the Trinity, he just didn’t believe it was the same order of divinity as the First.

Any questions, and you might be surprised to read this, I shall be glad to discuss at length and ad nauseam!

Thomas  Feb 3, 2023

Visit thread: https://www.interfaith.org/community/threads/20519/

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