Throughout the history of Christianity, there have been many attempts to communicate coherently what the Bible teaches about the identity of God. Inevitably, some of these attempts have been woefully inadequate, erring in ways that result in a mony to His triune identity.
One such inadequate view, subordinationism, refers to any belief system that rejects the full equality of the Son with the Father. In the early centuries of Christianity, an influential movement called Arianism (named after a popular fourth-century preacher and theologian named Arius) taught that the Son was the first and most powerful being created by God the Father. The Arians taught that the Son was powerful, so much so that He might be called a “god,” though He was not the true God.
Thus, the being of the Son was subordinated to the being of the Father. The Roman emperor Constantine, concerned that the debates surrounding Arianism might irreparably divide the church, called a council of the leading Bishops at Nicaea in A.D. 325. At the council, Arianism was rejected as heresy. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was declared to be of the same being (Gk homoousios) with the Father. A few decades later, in A.D. 381, another council was convened at Constantinople, again rejecting Arian theology and clarifying the true personality and full deity of the Holy Spirit. This was necessary as most subordinationist movements teach that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force. The result of these two councils is the famous Nicene Creed, still recognized as the touchstone or Christian orthodoxy concerning the doctrine of the Trinity. These councils did not invent the doctrine of the Trinity, but they brought theological clarity to the Bible’s teaching concerning the doctrine. Today various movement still embrace a form of subordinationism.
Though differing from one another in many respects, both Jehovah’s Witness and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) adhere to a subordinationist theology. END OF PART 3