Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bruce Ware’s "Trinity" an Effort to Legitimize Husband Authority and add to Submission Tyranny

Bruce Ware’s book, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance,” published in 2005, is an obvious attempt to redefine the trinity in order to support his belief in a husband’s authority over his wife. Since Ware has publicly stated that it is a wife’s non-submission that causes her husband to beat her, his conclusions in this book rouse my skepticism.

In an article Bruce Ware writes:
The relationships in the Trinity exhibit so beautifully a unity that is not sameness, and a diversity that is not discord. So, the kind of community that is the Trinity, and hence the kind of community God wants for us, is one that values both a unity in purpose and character and direction, but also a joyous distinctiveness in personal expression. Finally, the most marked characteristic of the trinitarian relationships is the presence of an eternal and inherent relationship of authority and submission. The Son always submits to, obeys, and carries out, the will of the Father, and when the Spirit comes, as Jesus says, He seeks always to glorify the Son. Authority and submission, therefore, are good because they are expressive of God! That is, it is God-like to express rightful, upbuilding authority; and it is God-like to express humble, assisting submission. Embrace rightful authority! Embrace rightful submission! Seeing this helps us understand so much better why God set up the authority and submission relationships he has, in marriage, in the home, in the church, and in society. The Persons of the Godhead delight in their eternal authority and submission roles, and we, too, ought to grow in embracing, not resisting, this same God-given structure.
Note first his statement “hence the kind of community God wants for us, is one that values both a unity in purpose and character and direction.” While this statement is correct as long as he is referring to salvation and growth in Christ, Ware jumps to the assumption that only one person of the trinity is involved in determining that purpose, character and direction. His whole argument is based on his assumption.

It would be just as valid to assume that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as individual beings agree together on purpose and direction, and that this agreement is part of their character, instead of a result of hierarchy.

To say that Jesus came to earth to die for us because it was the will of the Father, cheapens what Jesus did. It suggests He did Not love us all that much, and has instead an obligational love more like that of a babysitter or a slave.

On the other hand, to say that according to John 1:1-3, Jesus is the One who spoke the world into existence, and created us, (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God, the same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”) and therefore He was the One who wanted to redeem His creation, makes much more sense. In fact, since Jesus is the One who is our advocate with the Father, why not conclude that the Father would have written us humans off if it had not been for Jesus pleading with the Father to come into agreement with Him on our behalf?

Why not conclude (assume) that the three persons in the trinity decided together that humans needed a redeemer—AFTER Jesus plead with the Father for us. Since Jesus loves us with a deep, abiding and sacrificial love, and was the one who created us, he OFFERED and BEGGED to come redeem us and the Godhead conferred together how this would be accomplished.

The scene in the Garden of Gethsemane was the human side of Jesus shrinking from the pain, shame,and taking on of our sins that He had already volunteered to do out of love for us, and battling with the divine side of himself to continue with the course of action He had already purposed to take. It was NOT God the Father ordering Jesus to die for us and Jesus submitting to that. It was the Father and the Holy Spirit reminding Jesus of their joint plan of redemption, and that they would see Jesus, the human, safely through. Jesus submitted to the Father's reminder of what He had already asked to do.

When we get our theology right, Ware’s conclusion “The Persons of the Godhead delight in their eternal authority and submission roles, and we, too, ought to grow in embracing, not resisting, this same God-given structure” ends up with zero validity.

In Matthew 28:18, NIV, Jesus said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto me.” KJV uses the word “power.” Strongs Concordance # 1849 says the word comes from 1832 in the sense of ability, and further spells out the meaning as “privilege, i.e. force, capacity, competency, freedom, or mastery, (the latter as in “magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence:—authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.” If all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus, how could the Father have authority OVER Him?

In addition, Phil 2:5-11 makes it clear that Jesus is equal with the Father, and that every knee shall bow to him, “of in heaven and in earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (I left out words in italics.) If every knee in heaven shall bow, and every tongue confess, does that include the Father’s knee and tongue?

In Romans 8:34, Jesus is standing at the Father’s right hand, interceding for us. It appears that Jesus is the one who begged to redeem us.

Not only does Jesus already have all authority, and all knees will bow to Him, but Jesus is the One the Father listens to. Jesus is the One who gets our prayers heard and answered. Without Him, the Father wouldn’t listen to us at all. So who has the authority? Who is submitting to Whom?

Apparently, the Father submitted and submits to the Son. That turns Ware’s doctrine on its head.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel,"a story about a woman who grapples with her husband's demands that she submit--no matter what. Please visit


  1. For you, on Valentine's Day



  2. Exegesis is looking clearly at scripture and being sure it says in plain terms what it says!

    Isogesis is taking scripture and turning it into what you want it to say.

    Waneta, you have done a supurb job of Exegesis, to the best of my knowledge!!! Congratulations for your integrity and honesty.

    Whenever you have been stomped by a man who thought he was a God, you can't help but question any man's interpretation so as to make him a woman's "Supreme Being."

    We must always remember Jews and Greeks were a male dominated society so they were highly predisposed to put God's blessings on their "male cheuvenist pig" approach with women. For them, a woman was just another possession, and they had the right to trade her in on a newer / younger / more seductive model at any time! It was just a lusty male invention which easily was blessed because they had God in their minds as the "supreme man."

    Not so--as you wisely point out!

    Thanks for helping root out the stupidity of the author you analysed! A clear Exegesis makes the "proof texter" look rather stupid, but I doubt he will ever admit to it while we laugh at his stupidity!

    My daughter's situation is improving, but not enough for my wife (her mother) to come back home. However, we enjoyed a wonderful Valentine's evening and day in a honeymoon, of sorts. For 2 mates in their 60's to renew their love is lovely despite the pain of separation for the moment.

    When your daughter or son is suffering, it's time to help them and give up the selfishness of saying, "It's their problem and I have already done my part in rearing them."

    We are just enduring the pain of giving up our comfort for the sake of our children and grandchildren. Just wish it was old country days when most grandparents and their children lived within eyesight of one another. In those safe days, the grands could walk to grandma's house and spend the night when they wanted--so their parents could get a break.

    We will get "our break," hopefully, in the next few months--in time to sit in the sun beside the Pamlico River and become bored with each other again! Life is anything but boring these days as we suffer from the economy and from the needs of our children.

  3. Gene - I want to say that your daughter and her children are very blessed. I'm sure there are days in which you may not feel it, but I will tell you that alot parents are not capable of looking at her situation clearly.

    I hope you journal these experiences. You and your wife could be very helpful to others once you get past this season. You grandchildren due to the fact they don't know much different will appreciate you even more later in life when they realize what you both have done for them.

    Children learn a twisted reality for life during this, and I think at times we forget about them. Its hard enough to have an adult deal with reality when they are scared, beaten down, etc. Doing what needs to be done when looking at the future is like that story about the mustard seed when escaping abuse. Your wife and yourself made that decision easier in so many ways. We are to love and cherish the gifts that the Lord handed us, and YES that does mean past the time of raising them.

    You both need to hear what a blessing you are.

    I'm so glad to hear your daughter and children have escaped. The escaped part is just one baby step when you look at the reality of it. Its almost like you need to be deprogrammed from a cult or something. You have to learn to own you are indeed worth something. The children may have no sense of healthy boundaries, because their father gave no stability in their life's.

    They don't know which way to turn, because they realize either direction they may get jumped. Its hard to deal with life when you don't feel safe, and you tend to grab what you can - when you can due to this. Sounds like you will be a good role model for those boys, and what a blessing that is to them. You are going to need PLENTY of patience with them! They will have to unlearn everything their father insisted on. They had no choice, because they knew the consequences of NOT doing that.

    I realize this time in life is hard for you both at this point, and I know God will bless you both for the sacrifices you are making. I know I have been praying for your family.

  4. I agree on every point but this-- that the Father, Spirit and Son's will and purpose in eternity was ever anything other than one. They are not three gods, they are One God in three Persons. That would mean that they do not have different wills or purposes-- they are always one, in complete accord. Jesus did not need to beg the Father for our redemption. The Father loves us just as much as the Son does, for "if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father."

    It's too easy to read our human relationship dynamics onto the ineffable nature of God. His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts, our thoughts. There cannot be subordination in the Trinity because there is no distinction in will or purpose-- in short, there is nothing that one Person needs to submit TO, for there is never anything that One wants that the Other Two do not want as well.

    The submission of Jesus to the Father on Earth was the submission of Jesus' human nature to God's. Jesus' divine nature had no need of submission.

    Ware's doctrine makes them into three gods, not One.

  5. You are absolutely right, Kristen. Thanks for your addition to and support of my statement,
    "It would be just as valid to assume that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as individual beings agree together on purpose and direction, and that this agreement is part of their character, instead of a result of hierarchy."

    I brought up the submission of the Father to Christ as an example of how there is just as much scripture to say the Father submits to the Son as their is to say the Son submits to the Father. The truth is as you state, they are one God. If Bruce Ware were correct, they would be one God (the Father) with 2 servants (Jesus & the Holy Spirit) to do his will. Or as you put it, Ware's statement makes them into 3 gods.

  6. Hanna--

    Here is the latest on my daughter:

    We continue to covet your prayers for her and the boys as well as my wife, Lonya, who is staying with her for now except for beautiful weekends of Saturday evening to Monday mornings.

    It has become far more complex than we could imagine, but things are moving in a good direction with the 4 boys. Their behaviour and potty mouth is less and less as they stay away from their still drug using father.