God the Son: Eternally Begotten AND Eternally Submissive?
The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689), 2.3:
In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided: the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him.
(Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; Exo 3:14; John 14:11; 1 Cor 8:6; John 1:14, 18; John 15:26; Gal 4:6)
In an article focused on BCF 1689 2.3 [found HERE], Stefan Lindblad makes several helpful observations. For example, Lindblad notes that unlike in human begetting, in which the generic human essence is divided- and, by virtue of being begotten, a human being moves from a state of potentiality (non-existence) to actuality (existence)- God the Son is begotten of God the Father eternally (both Father and Son always exist), with no division of the divine essence. The doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son is both "expressly set down" and "necessarily contained" in Scripture (BCF 1689 1.10).
In his article, Lindblad defends the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son against current evangelical skeptics. In the final section of his article, Lindblad specifically focuses on Bruce Ware's teaching the Son's eternal distinction from and relation to the Father is best understood in terms of eternal functional submission RATHER THAN the Son being eternally begotten. Ware writes:
The conceptions of both the "eternal begetting of the Son" and "eternal procession of the Spirit" seem to me highly speculative and not grounded in biblical teaching. Both the Son as only-begotten and the Spirit as proceeding from the Father (and the Son) refer, in my judgment, to the historical realities of the incarnation and Pentecost, respectively. [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationship, Roles, and Relevance 162, n 3]By contrast, Lindblad objects to Ware's exegesis of 1 Corinthians 11:3 in which Ware asserts that Paul teaches that male headship is "a reflection of the authority and submission that exists in the eternal Godhead."
Notice, however, that the positions are not mutually exclusive, as both Lindblad and Ware seem to believe. There is no reason why, accepting Lindblad's defense of eternal generation, the reader must then necessarily reject Ware's exegesis of 1 Cor 11:3 (or vice versa). Eternal generation and eternal functional submission may be complementary rather than contradictory.
It is interesting that Lindblad makes the exact same objections to eternal functional submission that Ware and other evangelical critics make to eternal generation. Ware believes that the biblical language regarding the Son's being begotten or the Spirit's proceeding only refers to these Persons activity in time whereas language regarding the Son's submission to the Father reflects an eternal reality. Lindblad believes that the biblical language concerning the Son's submission to the Father only refers to the Son's work in redemption whereas language regarding the Son being begotten reflects an eternal reality. Both Ware and Lindblad believe that the other man's position logically necessitates Arianism or subordinationism whereas their own position in no way lends support to the Arian or subordinationist position.
What if both are right (AND both are wrong)? That is: what if the biblical language regarding the Son's being begotten AND the biblical language regarding the Son's submission to the Father all reflect eternal realities concerning the Persons within the Godhead? What if NEITHER position lends support to Arianism, as both positions involve eternal realities (none in this conversation teach that "there was a time when He was not:" the definitional statement of Arianism) and both positions teach eternal co-equality of Being shared by the Persons of the Trinity?