Theological Cannibalism: The Trinitarian Controversy of 2016
By Matthew Castro
Recently, two prominent theologians, Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem, were accused by Carl Trueman and Liam Goligher of heretical teaching on the trinity. Ware and Grudem affirmed the eternal submission of Jesus Christ to the Father in the Trinitarian relationship. Liam Groligher writes, “Because, mark this, to have an eternally subordinate Son intrinsic to the Godhead creates the potential of three minds, wills and powers. What they have done is to take the passages referring to the economic Trinity and collapse them into the ontological Trinity.” Groligher fears Grudem and Ware have created a new god that is not represented in the Bible. Christ has been disrespected as an eternal servant to the will of the Father.
I respect my brothers in Christ for their desire to understand God properly, however, the arrogance on display by Goligher is disappointing. First, Jesus was sent by the Father to accomplish the mission of the Trinitarian God. John in John 17 reports the Holy Priestly Prayer of Jesus, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do . . . .” Secondly, Jesus affirms multiple time the complete unity because him and the Father. John reports the words of Jesus in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” After hearing the words of Jesus, the Jews picked up rocks to stone him.
Grudem and Ware do not hold a view that concurs with Arian subordinationism or a form of tri-theism. Ware writes, “Those who affirm the eternal authority of the Father and submission of the Son uniformly and adamantly affirm also the full deity of the Son, that the Son is homoousios (same substance) with the Father, and that the Father and Son, along with the Spirit, each possesses the identically same one, undivided, and co-eternal divine nature.” The Father creates, elects, judges, and redeems through the divine agency of Jesus.
However, the disappointment is the arrogance to accuse a brother in Christ of his orthodox, yet imperfect understanding of the mysterious trinity. Goligher and Trueman present themselves as judge and jury of the complete knowledge of the Godhead. Arrogrant is how many Reformed theologians present themselves to the world. Some, which includes myself, feast on theological cannibalism, which is likeminded theologians accusing one another of heresy without cause. Goligher and Trueman presented their fellow scholars in Christ disrespectfully by calling Grudem and Ware heretics on the internet. Jesus told his disciples and retrospect the church as well to love one another. How should believers love another with our views on theological issues?
I have been convicted of my own arrogance with my theology. I disrespect fellow believers in Christ with a pompous tone after learning of their view on an issue. The church forgets what is important. God’s kingdom has arrived. The Lord has commissioned the church to be his agent to accomplish his mission. God desires for the world to know him and his saving grace. Yet, scholars and leaders in the church waste precious time with pointless debates.
I am not advocating for an end to theological scholarship. However, sound teaching in humility and grace is lacking among the church’s theological discussions. Theological cannibalism must come to end. The gospel must go forth among cooperation, faithfulness, and holiness.