Is the eternal Father/Son relationship a relationship of authority/submission? – Fred Sanders
The only image of the immanent Trinity is the economic Trinity. It is the economic Trinity which should serve as the model of any mimetic ethic we might undertake.
Is relationship between the eternal son and the eternal father egalitarian? or complementarian? No. It’s weirder than that. It turns on the eternal generation of the Son, a relationship in which the Son exists as always being from the Father, but in complete equality.
What else can we say about this eternal Fatherhood and Sonship? I do not think we should describe it as a relationship of authority, in which one commands and the other obeys. Why not? …
First, I do not think the persons of the Trinity are three distinct centers of consciousness, each with its own faculties of knowing and willing, its own mental contents and perspectives. That is, I am not a social trinitarian in the modern sense of the term, and cannot place Father and Son over against each other as negotiating between themselves the claims of their independent wills within the unity of the one God.
Secondly, I think that what we see here in the history of salvation – the Son obeying the command of the Father – is a true representation of what occurs between the Father and Son in the immanent Trinity, but it is a representation under certain specific conditions: conditions of incarnation and redemption. What passes between them in their eternal life together is something high and exalted, something we probably do not have a name for. What the Lord Jesus lives out, there in the being of God, is eternal sonship, sovereign filiality, perfect fromness. When it takes on flesh and dwells among us, that sonship is expressed in the form of obedience. But “obedience to a command” is not a worthy name for it as it exists on high.
The above is an excerpt from Fred Sanders’ post The Trinity in Gender Debates which was published on October 30, 2012. Some paragraph breaks have been added.