The Creator/Creature Distinction and Gender Debates

Given the recent posts and Twitter conversations surrounding the topic, and also given that I taught a course this past semester on fourth century theological interpretation in the Eastern Fathers, I have classical Trinitarianism and its relationship (or lack thereof) to the debates on gender roles on my mind. While I am a classic complementarian and hold to classic Trinitarian orthodoxy (the three persons are one in essence and only distinguished ad intra via their eternal relations of origin), I do not see anywhere in Scripture where these two types of relationships ought to be or are related to one another.

This distinction is in fact rooted in the created order. To put it in terms the Fathers used in formulating Nicene and subsequent positions, there is an unbridgeable gap from the creature’s side between the creature and Creator. This divide, known as the Creator/creature distinction, is applicable here, I think. The relations between the persons of the Trinity ad intra  are totally other from relations between creatures, even creatures of the same kind (i.e. male and female human beings). The relations between the persons of the Trinity are mysterious and incomprehensible to finite creatures like us, and to compare them to the relationship between human beings, or  to the mechanisms of church polity, or any other type of human relationship is to bridge the Creator/creature distinction.

I hope that we’ll refrain from employing Trinitarian relations to bolster our positions on gender roles in the future.

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