The paper below was given by Kevin Giles at the plenary forum on the Trinity at the Evangelical Theological Society annual conference, 15th November, 2016 at San Antonia. The other speakers were Dr Bruce Ware, Dr Millard Erickson and Dr Wayne Grudem; Dr Sam Storms presided.
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Thank you, Dr Storms, for your welcome. It is a huge honor to be invited to give the introductory address at this ETS plenary forum on the Trinity.
In putting my case this afternoon I am going to speak very forthrightly and unambiguously, as from past experience I am sure Dr Grudem and Dr Ware will do. Dr Erickson who stands with me in opposing Dr Grudem and Dr Ware’s teaching on the Trinity I am sure will be the clearest in what he says and the most gracious. I speak bluntly because the issues we are discussing are of monumental importance for the evangelical community. I believe what Dr Grudem and Dr Ware teach on the Trinity, and now very large numbers of evangelicals believe, contradicts what the Nicene creed, the Reformation and post-Reformation Protestant confessions and the ETS doctrinal statement teach.
To begin my presentation, I make three matters perfectly clear. First, I have no distinctive doctrine of the Trinity. My exposition of the Trinity which follows is simply an outline of what I consider to be the historic, orthodox doctrine of the Trinity as spelt out in the Nicene Creed. I know absolutely nothing about a so-called “evangelical egalitarian doctrine of the Trinity”
What this means is that I have basically the same understanding of the Trinity as the many complementarian confessional Reformed theologians who have “come out” in opposition to Dr Grudem and Dr Ware’s teaching on the Trinity. What this immediately reveals is that the divide on the Trinity is not between evangelical egalitarians and complementarians but between creedal and confessional evangelicals and non-creedal and confessional evangelicals.
Second, I want to state clearly and unambiguously that I think the doctrine of the Trinity has absolutely nothing to say about the relationship of the sexes. I personally do not ground my gender egalitarian commitments on the Trinity and virtually no evangelical egalitarian does. I have been publishing on women in the Bible since 1975 and I have never appealed to the Trinity to support the substantial equality of the two sexes.
The gender complementarian, Fred Sanders, who is giving the lecture on the Trinity after this forum confirms what I say. On his blog and in a personal email to me he says, “I have not been able to find one sentence where Kevin Giles works to secure his own [gender] egalitarian position by appeal to the Trinity.”
I do not appeal to the doctrine of the Trinity because I believe the doctrine of the Trinity is our distinctive Christian doctrine of God, not our social agenda, but why and how the doctrine of the Trinity might inform our doctrine of the sexes, whatever that may be, completely escapes me. The Trinity is three divine persons, all analogically spoken of in male terms. Why and how we must ask, can a threefold analogically all “male” relationship inform a twofold male-female relationship on earth? No analogical correlation is possible. The argument just does not make sense. The logic of this argument is that threesomes are the ideal, or male-male relationships are the ideal!! None of us I image would affirm these deductions!
The impossibility of correlation is made clear by Dr Grudem in his Systematic Theology. On page 257 in an attempt to make a connection, he likens the Trinity to dad, mum and their one child. In doing so he feminizes the Son – the Son becomes an analogue of the woman. Worse still, this family picture of God has nothing to do with the revealed doctrine of the Trinity. It sounds more like Greek mythology.
This observation takes us right to the heart of what I believe is the fundamental and inherent error in Dr Grudem and Dr Ware’s doctrine of the Trinity; depicting God in human terms, instead of how he is revealed in Scripture.
My consistent argument for nearly twenty years has been that that if we evangelicals want to get right our doctrine of the Trinity, the primary and foundational doctrine of the Christian faith, we must sharply and completely separate out doctrine of the Trinity and our doctrine of the sexes. They are in no way connected and when they are connected both doctrines are corrupted.
Read HERE the entire text of the presentation.
You may also find it attached below in PDF form.