Patriarchy Preachers Teach that Jesus Is a Lesser God

If someone tells you they have discovered a new understanding of the Bible, skepticism is called for. After all:

 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8.)

God is who he is, always has been, and will ever be. His word the Bible, likewise, reveals who he is, who he always has been, and who he will ever be.

Some people are saying otherwise.

Degrading Jesus in the Patriarchal Camp

There are efforts to come up with a new understanding of God, and they are directed at the heart of who God is: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We call this the doctrine of the Trinity, and it has been expressed for 2000 years based on what the Bible says about God.

Some patriarchy proponents have created an agenda that goes beyond biblical doctrine, though, and seeks to subject all women to the authority of all men for eternity by comparing the  male/female relationship to the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. They subordinate Jesus to a position of being a lesser God and then say this is the same with women to men.

The point of my post today, though, is not to weigh in on the Trinitarian debate except to say that CBMW (The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) and those aligned with it in their rewriting of Trinitarian doctrine are wrong, and so wrong that their error rises to the level of heresy which blasphemes Jesus Christ. (See these responses to the bad doctrine for more detail: Liam Goligher’s On the Word “Heresy”, Aimee Byrd’s A Plea to CBMW, and Rachel Green Miller’s Does the Son Eternally Submit to the Authority of the Father?)

Rather, the reason I write today is to point out a related and pernicious danger. It is the rhetoric of those who fall into heresy, who leave orthodox teachings that rest on the words of the Bible and rewrite it as heterodox teaching that strays from biblical foundation. Rachel Green Miller identified some of the rhetorical devices common to these error-filled teachings:

Every heterodox theologian in history, back to Arius, will eventually respond the same way to critics:

1. You’ve misunderstood … because …
2. I’m using the same orthodox words you use … except
3. I’ve changed the meanings .. so yeah we may disagree … but
4. Can’t we all just be friends? Unity!

The Arian Heresy

Who is Arius? One of the earliest theologians to deny the full divinity of Jesus, Arias taught that God the Son is a lesser god than God the Father and that there was a time before God the Son existed. He also used various words and phrases, changing them as necessary to ward of those who tried to correct his blasphemous teachings. (See Ronald Hanko’s The Arian Controversy.)

His tactics did not win the day, but they did wreak havoc while they lasted. His rhetoric was his main weapon and it is one that continues to wreak havoc in the church. How do you combat it?

The Bible has the answer, and it is found in a group of people who dealt wisely with the teachings of the Apostle Paul. He came to the town of Berea and spoke of things in a way they had not heard before. Yet it turned out that he was preaching nothing new, but rather something firmly grounded in Scripture and now fulfilled: the long-promised Messiah of Israel had come in Jesus Christ.

As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. (Acts 17:10-12.)

This is how you know whether a person is teaching something that is true: it matches up with Scripture. That’s what the Bereans did and they were called noble for their efforts.

And this is what is needed with the heresies coming from CBMW and its adherents. They say God the Son is less than God the Father by nature and in turn they subordinate the Holy Spirit as well. But the Bible says the nature of God is such that none is less than another. (See Francis J. Beckwith’s The Trinity.)

Do not let shifting rhetorical devices fool you. There may be new ways to teach about God, but there is nothing new to teach about him.

What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10.)

Jesus is God, all God

As Jesus said of himself and his heavenly Father:

I and the Father are one. (John 10:30.)


 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. … Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. (John 14:7, 9.)

It is because of this that Paul wrote:

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form … . (Colossians 2:9.)

Check what Scripture has to say on everything you are taught about God. Reject the falsehoods, cling to the truth, and worship Jesus Christ as God your Savior.


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30 Responses to Patriarchy Preachers Teach that Jesus Is a Lesser God

  1. I appreciate this part, Tim: “There may be new ways to teach about God, but there is nothing new to teach about him.” Do these theologians really feel the need to adjust the position of Jesus just so they can reassert their belief that women are subordinate to men (Jesus=woman, God=man)? Whoa — what do they say about the Holy Spirit, then? I guess I need to read some of those links to answer my own questions.

    • Tim says:

      One of the people promoting Eternal Subordination of the Son and the related false doctrines has gone so far as to say that children in a family are like the Holy Spirit in the Trinity. Talk about blasphemy.

  2. Wow. Heresy. And I don’t use that word lightly. If you don’t subscribe to the doctrine of the Trinity being the Three-in-One what’s to stop you chucking out whatever else doesn’t suit you? It’s one thing to disagree on the status of men and women, quite another to disagree over the nature of the Trinity!

  3. Whoa! Arius and his heresy can still pop up in surprising places. Or–are they that surprising, after all?
    The CBMW, messing with the concept of the Trinity in such a perverse manner? And, for what? just to justify their own pet heterodox doctrine concerning subordination? I shake my head in amazement that the Arian Controversy can still be up-to-the-minute. Where is Athanasius when we need him? @chaplaineliza

  4. rrprewett says:

    The part that puzzles me: where in Scripture are we taught that the relationship of Father to Son is analogous to or a pattern for the relationship of husband to wife? Where did this idea of “families are like the Trinity” originate?

    • Tim says:

      They don’t have any passages that say anything like that, nor anything that says the way husbands and wives relate to each other (by husbands ruling the marriage in their way of looking at things) is the way all women are to relate to all men in every situation.

      But they will cite passages to support their teachings. It’s just that the passages don’t say what these folks say they say. That is the root problem of their subordinationist teachings about Jesus and about women. It’s not in the Bible but they make it doctrine anyway.

  5. FW Rez says:

    I attempted to compare the rhetorical devices described here with Al Mohler’s defense of the ESS proponents at, but found that he just took a very verbose approach to pleading “not guilty”. He did not provide any substantive response to the charges but dismissed them as “not just nonsense” and then went into attack mode “… — they are precisely the kind of nonsense that undermines orthodoxy and obscures real heresy.”

    Mohler, in addition to being associated with CBMW, is the president of the seminary where the main ESS proponents are on faculty. I do give him credit for standing up for his team.

  6. Rick says:

    Thank you for a primer on this controversy; it is sad to have to address once again issues that were once settled for us by those who confronted wrong thinking regarding the nature of God in the early centuries. All to justify putting boundaries around those who bear the image of God.

    • Tim says:

      Good point, Rick. This is nothing more than an attempt to justify placing boundaries around God’s own people. But the truth is that he is our shepherd, not these subordinationsists, thank God.

  7. James Williams says:

    Hi Tim – Wow! Another very interesting post! Please bear with a somewhat detailed response:

    1) Complementarianism is not patriarchy, and it is manifestly unfair to conflate the two. On that reckoning, Aimee Byrd would be a supporter of patriarchy. CBMW teaches the subordination of women to men in at most two things – the family and the church; patriarchy teaches the submission of women to men in all things – government, the marketplace, education, etc. No complementarian believes that women in general are subject to men in general; to label CBMW as patriarchal is misleading ad hominem at best, slander at worst. Your writing implies that the “patriachalists'” sinister agenda is to keep women in bondage… for eternity! (Good grief!) In the age to come, there will be no more marriage, and the giftings and leadership of the Church qua institution will pass away, only faith, hope, and love remaining. Please find me a complementarian who denies this. And, as Byrd’s example alone is enough to show, Complementarianism does not commit one to Wayne Grudem’s Trinitarian snafu. There are plenty of decent arguments to make for egalitarianism, but this is not one of them.

    2) No complementarians teach that Jesus is a lesser god. To claim such is the case is incendiary, irresponsible, and – most important – false. Perhaps a preoccupation with the CBMW crowd’s agenda clouds this matter for you, but in point of fact Grudem & Company’s doctrine of the Trinity, though dramatically in error, is neither reducible to misogynistic motives nor is it Arian.

    First, Wayne Grudem is a Baptist, and somewhere in the back of his Baptist mind he probably sees himself as standing against the actually un-Nicene view endorsed from time to time in Baptist circles. Leaders including Walter Martin and John MacArthur (before he started hanging out with R.C. Sproul and others) have taught that the three eternally distinct persons of the Trinity had no relational distinctions from eternity; the Father and the Son only became such or took on such roles with the Incarnation. Martin actually rejected the classic orthodox teaching of the eternal generation of the Son by the Father (Nicene) as too Arian. (Sorry, Martin: try the opposite of Arian.) Of course, Wayne Grudem, in his desire to ground the relations of generation (the Father generates), filiation (the Son filiates), and procession (the Spirit proceeds) in eternity, in fact goes beyond and even against the tradition he seeks to defend. Thus far, Grudem is right: there was never any chance the Son would send the Father to atone for the sins of mankind – that would go against the relations within the Godhead. (The economic Trinity reflects the ontological or immanent Trinity.) But this is not because of any hierarchy or subordination within the Godhead – and this is where Grudem is in error.

    He seems unable to appreciate the distinction between the relations within the Trinity and some sort of hierarchy of authority. That this is his root mistake is clear from his article which Rachel Green Miller so-adroitly rebutted:

    “These relationships between the Father and the Son are never reversed, not once in the entire Bible. The Son does not predestine us in the Father. The Son does not create through the Father. The Son does not send his only Father into the world. The Father does not come and obey the Son’s will. The Father does not sit at the Son’s right hand. The Father does not pray to the Son or intercede for his people before the Son. The Father does not, at “the end” of the age, subject himself to the Son. If the “temporary submission” view is correct, we would expect to see at least some variety, some reversal in these relationships. But there is none. To deny these unidirectional relationships between Father and Son is to fail to speak the way the Scripture speaks about the eternal relationship between the Father and the Son.” (26)

    Wayne Grudem is of course entirely right in everything he says here except for the fact that we should expect a reversal of these relations if “temporary submission” were true. That is a non-sequitur, but this mistake is not remotely the same, or even on the same scale, as suggesting the Jesus is only semi-divine. Whatever other, baser motives Grudem & Company may or may not have for making this mistake, such motives are known to the God alone who judges the hearts of men, and as such are not fair game.

    Second, I suggest that the big problem with Grudem, Ware, Strachan – is their denial of divine simplicity, the doctrine that God is not composed of parts, but exists as one, indivisible, essential Unity (“Hear O Israel! The LORD our God, the LORD is One”). They all affirm that Jesus is fully divine; none of them teach that the Son is a creature (as the eternal nature of eternal submission would rather preclude an Arian ‘coming into existence’ of the Son). Instead, they assert multiple wills within the Godhead, predicating will of person rather than of nature. If Jesus chose to obey the Father eternally, then he must have a will distinct from the Father’s in his divine nature, while the traditional, classic Christian teaching is that there is one, indivisible will in the Godhead, and two wills in the God-Man Jesus Christ (one for each nature). So Grudem is wrong, but he’s hardly the first person these days to reject divine simplicity (Al Plantinga, William Lane Craig). Even John Piper is forced to admit a multiplicity of wills in God to explain why God doesn’t save everyone. Given that Grudem is hardly alone in screwing up this point of theology, why is everyone going after him, and why now, with the recent revelation of his health issues.

    If Wayne Grudem is guilty of “heresy,” it is the heresy of monothelitism – the belief that Christ has one mind/will, rather than a divine and a human mind/will. I agree that monothelitism is false – for unless Jesus had a human mind in addition to the mind of the Godhead, there is no way the Father could know the day and the hour without the Son also knowing. Jesus adding on a human mind – or rational soul with its own capacity for choice (will), to get technical – in his incarnation is just the necessary entailment of his being made like his brothers in every way except sin (Heb 2:17). However, even though in error, monothelitism is hardly “heresy” on the same level or in the same sense as Arianism. Arianism is un-Nicene, but monothelitism wasn’t even on the table at Nicea or Constantinople. Un-Chalcedonian, sure, but not un-Nicene. And even Chalcedon did not directly condemn monothelitism; later councils took up that task, along with introducing false doctrines about icons. Accordingly, I’m hesitant to make those particular later councils the standard of orthodoxy.

    3)Robert Letham’s views may enable a salvaged version of Grudem’s position:

    I’m not sure I agree with Letham, but he at least upholds divine simplicity and denies monothelitism. Letham is at least right that the Son can eternally obey the Father without that entailing any sort of inferiority in nature or authority – that’s just another non-sequitur. The Incarnation reveals the self-giving character of God, even in its humiliation and submission, it does not conceal it. If Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, perhaps his obedience to the Father in the flesh in some sense reflects their eternal relationship. The Son may eternally submit to the Father without there being any difference in nature, authority, or glory, but simply because it is in the nature shared by of each of the Three Persons to seek the glory and pleasure of the Other Two. The real question is whether Letham’s position is inconsistent with divine simplicity or not. I’m not sure; I’m also not sure how the Eternal Covenant of Redemption is consistent with divine simplicity either, as that seems strikingly similar to the idea of the Son obeying the Father from eternity. But I am sure that all the recent mudslinging is simply unwarranted. CBMW is wrong to appeal to the Trinity to support their views on gender, and enough Complementarians have come out and said just that to make this attack on Complementarians unwarranted.

    Thanks for listening!

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for the details, James. I’d say that CBMW’s problem really is that they end up rejecting the long-held understanding of the nature of the Godhead, and many of your sources support that.

      • Recovering Lawyer says:

        The thing that cults and cultists do, the thing that people berift of the Holy Spirit invariably gravitate towards, is a diminishment of Jesus, in some way or form. He’s the stumbling block. I wonder what Mr. Grudem would do with the maxim that the universe, everything there is to create, was apparently not created by the Father, as John tells us it was all created by Jesus? I disagree vehemently with Grudem and Williams’s back-handed defense of him, Grudem is a full-blooded heretic if he diminishes Jesus at all, in any manner. He might just as well have sent the Father to do His will, for He and the Father are one, you see Him, you’ve seen the Father. Matters not the reason for the diminishment of Jesus, any reason will do, perhaps to demean women, perhaps to exalt themselves, whatever. But at bottom, the One they really want to demean is Jesus.

        • JYJames says:

          NASB John 1:3
          All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

    • roscuro says:

      On your first point – there is, in fact, complementarians, within CBMW, which teach that the role of male headship and female submission will continue into eternity. Link and quote:

      Finally, consider that in the new creation, those who were husbands in the former dispensation will, at last, be unencumbered by the flesh. They will be able, as never before, to genuinely love “as Christ also loved the church” (Eph 5:25). They will, as never before, have the capacity to relate to those they love “in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life” (1 Pet 3:7). Consider, moreover, that in the new creation those who were wives in the former dispensation, will have the mind of Christ, “who, although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and . . . humbled himself” (Phil 2:6-8). They will see in the example of Christ, as never before, the beauty and glory that inheres in gracious, selfless submission. With both man and woman thus perfected and transformed, are we to suppose that the new creation will abandon the order established in God’s original creation? I think not. Rather, such relations will bring to each true joy, and to God, more glory than before.

      • Tim says:

        Interesting, Roscuro. So even though Jesus said there will be no marriage relationships, this person thinks marriage relationship rules about submission still apply? Wow. Even assuming the person is right about what Ephesians 5 says about marriage submission (and I think he’s wrong) how can he suggest they survive to the new creation when Jesus said there is no marriage there?

        • roscuro says:

          That is what I want to know. If we look at the context of Jesus’ statement that there would be no marriage, he was answering the problem the Sadducees posed of the woman who married seven husbands and which husband would have her in the resurrection. If wives still are to submit to their husbands in the resurrection, then the Sadducees’ problem still stands and Jesus’ solution no longer works. In other words, to hold the position that submission and headship still operate between man and woman in the resurrection is to deny that Jesus spoke the truth.

        • Tim says:

          Totally true. Their position gives Jesus’ words about resurrection life no credence whatsoever.

  8. JYJames says:

    Just returned from the Middle East where I encountered a young woman (girl) in dire straights that I offered to bring back with me, if her handlers would have allowed it. Like Carter said, the #1 human rights issue in the world is in regard to women, , and this go around in church “teaching” does not help – help elevate women, that is. The obfuscation here is unending. Supposedly all men are kind, or deal with it, ladies? And slave owners were benevolent, or tough luck? And King George was so wonderful, the colonies should have remained in the Empire? Today, God’s people could have an impact in, for example, Eastern Congo, but instead are arguing about the subjugation of women. And, if this subordination is limited to marriage and church, then anything goes in those two arenas, or keep your mouths shut, ladies?

    • Tim says:

      It’s as if they are telling the oppressed to just sit there and take it. But the Bible is filled with instances of people calling out for help. Psalm after psalm after psalm.

  9. Pastor Bob says:

    Isn’t it sad when one takes an idea and runs into such a quagmire of errors? Even if there was a good root, the tree is contaminated that it must be uprooted and removed. This is one sick tree!

    Found this from another posting, does it fit?

    An insecure leader is constantly reminding his people who’s in charge. He brings up the word “submission” every so often. He doesn’t like to be challenged. He desires to be feared and would rather be respected than loved. His greatest fear is betrayal. And in his mind, the closer you get to him (or her) the more of a threat you are to betray him.
    A secure leader doesn’t need to remind his people who’s in charge. They know. He would never even consider using the word “submission” in order to have people follow him. He doesn’t mind being challenged, but will not bow to manipulation either. He desires to be loved, because he knows if he is loved, then he is loving others. But he will love you even without you reciprocating it. He understands betrayal will come, but refuses to put up walls in order to protect himself from it. His greatest fear is having someone miss out on the love of God and miss their God given destiny.
    Which kind of leader are you?
    I want to be the one who loves.

  10. Pingback: Patriarchy Preachers Teach that Jesus Is a Lesser God – GBFSV SPIRITUAL ABUSE VICTIMS' RECOVERY

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