Bruce Ware and Roles Within the Trinity (A Similiarity with Origen?)
I like Bruce Ware. He’s a systematic theologian and he writes the way that I think: in outline form. I recently finished his book, Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, & Relevance, and thought it was a great introduction to a study on the Trinity. In the book he focuses on the way in which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit relate to one another, to us, and the impact this should have in our own lives as believers.
As he discusses how the Trinity relates to each other, I could not help but see Ware come to the same conclusions I found in my study on Origen. He affirms that there is no distinction in nature among the Trinity. All members of the Trinity are fully God, equally God, and eternally God. Thus the Father is not one-third God and the Son and Spirit the other thirds. The question them becomes, “What distinguishes the Father, Son, and Spirit from one another?” If it is not their nature (since all possess equally and fully the one undivided divine nature), then what is unique to the Father that sets him apart from the Son? The answer Ware gives is simple: “what distinguishes the members of the Trinity from one another is their particular role within salvation and the relationships that each has with the other. I found this to be the same conclusion that Origen gave in several of his writings concerning subordinationism. The authority/submission roles seen within the Trinity are not a submission of nature, but of role in relationship. The Father establishes redemption, the Son accomplishes that redemption through his sinless life, death, and resurrection, and the Spirit applies this redemption, all to the glory of the Father. The authority of the Father over the Son, and of the Father and Son over the Spirit, is full of wisdom, goodness, care, and love. The submission of the Son to the Father and of the Spirit to the Father and Son is always joyful obedience, not begrudging duty. The implication for us inside of this Trinitarian framework is immense. Ware applies this to husbands and wives, of employees to employers, and of the church to its leadership.
Ware goes on to discuss what distinguishes the Son and the Spirit inside of the Trinity and to give concrete applications of these truths to our lives today. I thought the book was well-written, easy to follow, and gave a plethora of biblical support for his findings. It would be a great introduction for a class that was looking to begin an exploration of the Trinity and its importance to our understanding and engagement with the God and each other.