• Jared Willett

The Trinity and the position of Eternal Subordination

A review of Michael J Ovey's book 'Your Will be Done. Exploring Eternal Subordination, Divine Monarchy and Divine Humility.' Latimer Studies 83

The doctrine of the Trinity, as well as that of the person of Christ, are woefully neglected in the Church today. Often, it is waved away as too difficult, or it is insisted that everyone already knows about it and would find it boring. It seems that it would be difficult for the modern parishioner to properly detect an erroneous teaching and may dismiss teaching that is erroneous. One may adopt wrong teaching but they also may be overly zealous and dismiss a belief that is within the realm of orthodox belief. In his book “Your Will Be Done”, Michael Ovey sets out to defend his position of the Eternal Subordination of the Son against those who quickly dismiss it as Arianism in new clothes. Ovey condemns this dismissal as both unfair and almost sinful. He labors to show through church history, the Bible, and theology that his position is actually the one held by the majority of the greatest theologians of the patristic era and is taught in scripture. Ovey defends his position in these three areas because most critics of Eternal Subordinationism deny the teaching on these three grounds.

Historically, Ovey focuses mainly on theologians Athanasius and Hilary and their use of subordination in their defense of Nicene Christianity against Arian and Modalist understandings of the Son and his relation to the Father. Ovey displays these two theologians’ teachings on the matter and shows that indeed they do use subordination language in their writings. Biblically, Ovey focuses on the passages in John’s Gospel that seem to show the Son’s subordination to the Father. He shows that these passages on their plainest reading actually do teach that the Son is subordinate to the Father. Theologically, Ovey focuses on the early creeds and explores the controversies surrounding their formulation to conclude that they do not dismiss Eternal Subordination when they could have. Ovey concludes that those who formulated these ancient creeds did not see the Eternal Subordination of the Son to the Father as a problem or else they would have addressed it.