Just In Time For The Latest ESS Dustup: With Presbycast On The Athanasian Creed

Even as we were recording this episode last night a new round of controversy (on social media) arose over the orthodoxy of the doctrine of the so-called “eternal subordination of the Son” or the “eternal functional subordination of the Son” AKA “eternal relation of submission and authority.” This view emerged in the 1980s and fundamentalists, evangelicals, and some Reformed folk were sought to ground their resistance feminism in the relations between the Trinity. Critics of ESS/EFS object that in so doing the proponents have verged upon or crossed into the heresy of Arianism, i.e., the doctrine rejected at the Council of Nicea (AD 325) that the Son is an eternal creature, that “there was when the Son was not.” The proponents of ESS/EFS deny this charge, of course. Some critics have called ESS/EFS “semi-Arian.” In this episode we also discussed the doctrine of the so-called “social Trinity,” and the proposal mooted in some Reformed circles that God may be said to be three persons and one person. We did all this as we walked swiftly through the 44 articles of the Athanasian Creed (c. AD 500). As always good fun and colorful theme music was enjoyed by all. For more on the questions discussed see the resources below.

Here it is.

For future reference: the HB media archive version.

From the gluttons for punishment department: the YouTube version:


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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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One comment

  1. Bruce Ware cites PT Forsyth regularly, and in God a Holy Father (by Forsyth, 1901) within a paragraph of Ware’s favorite quote, Forsyth equates Christ to the angels, and says he, unlike Satan, kept His estate as Son, by His obedience. So Ware is quoting a heretic (in the proper sense) to back up his claims. Not to mention their complete ignorance of the fathers’ exegetical use of the economy completely misses the Ecumenical Councils, and they completely miss the fact that if the Father predestines and the Son does not, then they are accusing the Son of lying when He says He does all things the Father does in John 5, as Nyssa and Augustine understood that passage in Against Eunomius, The Trinity, and the Tractates on John

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