For decades, theologians have debated Trinitarian doctrine: whether the Trinity exists in scripture; what the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are; whether the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate personas, etc. These debates and disagreements are still present in current doctrine, and provide some of the basis for denominational separation today. However, they actually date all the way back to the third and fourth centuries, when dozens of scholars sought to define and explain the foundation for the Trinity laid out by the apostles in scripture. Their endeavors at explaining scripture has served as the groundwork that has shaped Christian knowledge, and discussion, of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, it has even shaped the use of Trinitarian terms. This paper will focus on a specific area in Trinitarian debate called subordinationism, an extreme form of subordinationism known as Arianism, and contemporary conservative evangelical use of subordination. This paper will look at how subordinationism was defined in the early church in the third and fourth centuries, it will look at how Arianism radically reformed and developed its own subordinationism, and it will look at how contemporary evangelicals have manipulated subordinationism to support their doctrine about gender inequality. Through this historical account, this paper will argue that Trinitarian doctrines that do not have a balance between both the unity of the Godhead and individuality of the persons cause a heretical view of God, and lead to beliefs and behaviors that contradict His basic attributes, principles, and commandments for His people. Furthermore, this unity and individuality evidenced in the relational dynamics of the Trinity is the best example God could give His children for human beings striving to regain likeness with Him: it shows us how to successfully relate to one another in equality of nature, but difference in function.
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