The reformed Pub and EFS

What was the offense? Posting on an article accusing Tim and David Bayly of EFS ESS Heresy. I might have been a little more blunt than I needed to be but is there any plans on addressing EFS or ESS in a Sound of Sanity Podcast?

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  1. I haven’t been in the Reformed Pub for years, but my understanding is that capriciousness among the admins has been a hallmark.
  2. No one here can really back you up without seeing the actual comments you were banned for.
  3. Personally, I don’t think SoS would be a good medium for addressing EFS/ESS. My understanding is that the point of SoS is to speak common sense wisdom to Christians living in a world that’s gone insane. I don’t think the intricacies of Trinitarian theology really fit with that.

Thanks for speaking up, @Jadams07, but I gave up on the Reformed Pub a long time ago.

Would you mind sharing the original article with the accusation?

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Actually, I do think this can be done fairly simply, though not easily. It’s not hard to explain and see how there is an attack on the fatherhood of God today and this is a part of it.

Caveat: I’m not in charge of the content of SoS, and I’m not sure I’d do that topic if I was. Just saying it doesn’t have to be and isn’t really an arcane topic at the core. The arguments and such surrounding it surely are though. :slight_smile:

See, I think even framing the debate in these terms is a problem. I don’t think it’s fair to characterize all opposition to EFS as attacking the fatherhood of God. This may be due to my ignorance on the matter, but it seems like there are a number of EFS opponents who hold to a broad complemantarianism but are concerned with re-defining (as they see it) the immanent Trinity for the sake of defending that position. I admittedly haven’t read deeply on this debate, but from what I see, the most extreme/careless forms of each side result in heresy (Feminism or Tritheism), while most everybody else can generally be considered orthodox if their own nuance is allowed to stand. Obviously both can’t be right, so its worth disputing and I certainly need to do more reading on the topic.

But my argument is more that coming out strong for EFS on SoS would be as weird and off putting to me as coming out strong for infralapsarianism and calling Beza a feminist. Not because I’m necessarily convinced that EFS is wrong, but because I don’t see that as being what SoS is for. But that’s just one man’s opinion. :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m less knowledgeable and intelligent that the average, so please, what does EFS and EES stand for? :shushing_face::thinking:

Actually, that’s not coming out strong. It’s taking an issue that has tens of thousands of Christians confused and being battered about the head and accused of heresy for their simple belief in the Father/Son relationship and comforting them and giving them a framework to understand why they aren’t idiots.

The Fatherhood of God is certainly under attack in this. Men in the antiEFS camp who are the most anti-feminist/complementarian are unable to give any definition to the eternal Fatherhood of God except that He comes prior in order. There is nothing but that order (or “taxis”) in the relationship between the Father and Son. They can give no reason why the Son came/was sent as opposed to the Father. It’s happenstance. The moment they acknowledge the “rightness” of that happening flows from the eternal relationship between Father and Son we are in a different world of discussion—one that is not attempting at its core to undermine the Fatherhood of God.


EFS = Eternal Functional Subordination (of the Son to the Father)
ESS = Eternal Submission of the Son (to the Father)

The terms are often used interchangeably and sometimes “submission” and “subordination” are interchanged.

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I’ve admitted from the start that I need to do more reading on this. Do you have any recommendations on where to start? I’m especially interested in pro-EFS responses to the objection that submission requires more than one will and that the will is tied to nature, not person (thus requiring God to have at least two natures if EFS is correct). Based on what I have read, that seems to be the strongest objection against EFS.

The heresy accusations are a piece of the context of this debate I must have missed. My impression has been that each side has been lobbing this accusation at the other, but I’m seeing that maybe there hasn’t been as much parity as I first thought.

Concerning the “heresy” accusations, let me just say that, as seen above (and experienced by myself as well), the official position of the Reformed Pub is that EFS is heresy and no defense or promotion of it, no matter how careful, is tolerated. I’ve never seen anything like that sort of thing from anybody on the other side, though I don’t mind saying that the attack on the Fatherhood of God is today’s egalitarian heresy.

Moving on…

To my knowledge there is no treatment of any length that focusses on the claim that submission requires two wills. However, I’m not of the opinion that a treatment of any length is necessary to deal with the claim.

The extent to which the Son sent himself is the extent to which He obeyed Himself in coming. The extent to which the Son was sent by the Father is the extent to which He obeyed the Father in coming. I’m willing to grant, along with Augustine, that the former happened in a certain sense. However, I also insist that the Son was uniquely sent by the Father, because there is no escaping either of these things in the Bible.

If you acknowledge that the Father sent the Son in any way at all that differs from how the Son sent Himself, then you acknowledge a unique submission of the Son to the Father. Which is to say, if you insist on submission requiring two wills, you must likewise insist on sending requiring two wills.

There is no way of understanding sending without it either being an act of command to some person (“Go!”) or an act of power over some thing (“I sent the check.”). Command is obviously not allowed, according to my opponents, or they would have no problem acknowledging a certain submission. To make it an act of power is much worse, though, for now you’ve taken away Scripture’s teaching that nobody forced the Son to do this wonderful act. The only solution I’ve seen from these men is to imply that the Son was not sent in any unique way by the Father.

In other words, their argument means that the one will requires the fact that it was Father and Son Who were Sender and Sent, respectively, to be entirely arbitrary and even misleading. The only way to retain one will under this argumentation is to make the entire Trinity the sender and the entire Trinity the sent. This, of course, is unbiblical.

But there is another option. We acknowledge that the Bible teaches the Son is uniquely sent and the Father is uniquely sender, yet insist there is somehow still one will. Cocceius, who the best of our opponents insist is orthodox, agrees, saying:

“Indeed the will of the Father and the Son is the same, it is not diverse because they are one; but, insofar as the Father is not the Son, or the Son the Father; the same will is appropriated distinctly in its own way to both, namely, one going and sending, the other is given and sent.”


I’ve suggested these articles on this forum before, but let me do so again. They address a lot of this stuff.

The Ordered Godhead.

Don’t let the fact that they are on the Australian Gospel Coalition website put you off. The two authors are very good.


For any who would like to go farther with this to the primary sources, Matt Paulson, who has worked with The Ordered Godhead authors Baddeley and Moody in the past, has written a very helpful book-length treatment called Trinity-Ekstasis: A Response to the Trinitarian Theology of Kevin Giles.

Table of Contents of that work:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Form of Fatherhood and Sonship in the Trinitarian Theology of St. Athanasius of Alexandria
  3. The Orthodox Trinitarian Faith of the Catholic Church from the Nicene Era Onward
    • Alexander of Alexandria
    • Cyril of Jerusalem
    • Gregory of Nyssa
    • Gregory of Nazianzus
    • Hilary of Poitiers
    • Ambrose of Milan
    • Augustine of Hippo
    • Thalassios the Libyan
    • Maximus Confessor
    • John Damascene
    • Bonaventure
    • Thomas Aquinas
    • John Ruusbroec
    • The councils and official declarations of the Catholic Church of the middle ages
    • The official declarations of the contemporary Catholic Church
    • (several modern authors: Zizioulas, Rahner, Lossky, Congar, Bobrinskoy, Kasper, Kallistos Ware, O’Collins, Staniloae, Griffiths, Swinburne, Balthasar)
  4. Kevin Giles and the Trinity
  5. A Criticism of Kevin Giles’ Trinitarian Theology
  6. Conclusion (“Deus Candidae Gloriae: Theologia De Splendore Patris”)

(Paulson was writing under the pseudonym ‘Phantaz Sunlyk’ at the time.)

Several years ago I printed out the Trinity-Ekstasis paper and started looking up each primary source Paulson references to see the quotes in context and decide if I thought Paulson was faithful to the intent of the authors in his quoting. I only made it from Athanasius through somewhere around Gregory of Nazianzus, but in the time I spent I became convinced that Paulson indeed deals with the sources in a trustworthy manner. It’s a gold mine, very encouraging stuff.

There’s a richness in the relationship between the Father and the Son, and I look forward to seeing how God, through current controversies, will drive the church to study and know and take hold of these things, to the praise of His glory.


I went back to get it but I’ve been blocked completely.

They gave you a 1-week posting ban and then changed their minds and blocked you completely? That’s messed up. But sounds about par for the course considering it’s the Reformed Pub.

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Yeah I can’t find the pub in FB search anymore.

I appreciate all of the responses and the pointers towards resources. Thanks all