I want to sketch here how subordination within the Godhead might be thought of along the lines of kenosis; specifically, Karl Barth’s concept of kenosis. If this is sketch is correct, then to affirm subordination within the Godhead is simply a corollary of affirming kenosis. The questions will then remain if this concept of kenotic-subordination can be accepted on theological grounds, as well as whether or not there is reason to accept it over the older formulations.
One of the things I’ve picked up on in reading Barth and Torrance is that some of the most interesting aspects of their work lies in the areas where they parted ways. Perhaps the place where this departure is sharpest is on the issue of the subordination of the Son to the Father, and the implications this has for a doctrine of God as a whole (I’ve discussed the human aspect of Christ’s eternal obedience before here, and this has bearing on the topic at hand). What I find most striking, however, is the force with which both present their arguments and reasons – there are good and solid theological reasons for following either Barth or Torrance on this.
If you ask the average man on the street what a law of nature is, chances are you’re going to get a reply that’s not too dissimilar from what Nancy Cartwright calls the ‘facticity’ view – ‘the view that laws of nature describe facts about reality.’ (Do the Laws of Physics State the Facts?) Cartwright describes this view as so deeply ingrained into the (presumably human) psyche that it doesn’t even have a name. It is simply The View. Comparing the laws of physics with biological laws, Cartwright notes: Continue reading