Subordination and #AltonSterling

I was about halfway through another post talking about theology and the Trinity and why claims for the “eternal subordination of Son” makes for bad theology.

And then I saw the new about #AltonSterling, another black man shot by white police.

And so I wrote this instead, because I couldn’t finish the other post…(it is 1am, Wednesday morning)


I’m mad. I’m really mad. I tried to go to bed but I just couldn’t.

I’m mad at my people, the evangelicals. I’m mad at conservative evangelicals who think they are just talking about a doctrine of God when they speak of the Son submitting to the Father. They think they are just (just?) talking about gender differences between women and men and why women should submit to men.

But conservative evangelicals, YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT POWER!

Every time you talk of authority and submission you are talking about power, and you therefore are not just talking about gender but also race, race relationships and racism. When you talk about power in any way you must understand that you are talking within a culture of white power, white privilege, even white supremacy.

I read a Bible where authority is always giving itself away. God hands over creation to his image bearers, giving them authority in all things. And when we screwed it up God does not demand obedience again, but entered as a SLAVE (Phil. 2:7) and became obedience himself (he who was Master would rather become a Slave than forcefully assert his rights as Master, so that all could be free and become children of God). That is the story I read.

From the conservative while male theologians (who I believe are not outright racists) to the pastors conferences they plan, to the pastors they teach, and then to the people (who often are racists) these ideas of authority and submission take shape and create a culture, a culture of expected deference to authority by “equal” people who are nonetheless expected to be “submissive”. And this expectation of submission to authority then blames the victims like #AltonSterling when something happens by the authorities, by the police.

I am angry about all this.

I am angry that white conservative theologians are so numb, ignorant, or blind to the fact that these ideas of “authority/submission” are continually used to denigrate women and minorities as they hide behind walls of abstraction and Biblicism (and I’m all for the Bible, but I see a very different story than they do). It is not enough to say “We are trying to be biblical” when those made in God’s image are being shot those in “authority”, especially when He who is the Image of God would rather himself die so that all might live.

Like it or not, these doctrines ARE causing incredible amounts of social apathy among white conservative evangelicals who are tempted to say “Well, if you just submit to authority then you won’t get shot.” Are we supposed to think that just like the Son submitted to the Father so too every black man should submit white police officers, or more likely, white police officers feeling like a black man should submit to them in every way, in excess of the law and trampling their rights?

“We are trying to be biblical by affirming authority and submission in the Trinity.” That is convenient that you are placing yourself as the authority of Scripture and not submitting to 2000 years that are in direct contradiction of your position. Why not submit to the church? And even those white conservative evangelicals who do not support this position of the Trinity, you still have fallen under the spell of submitting to authorities and turned a blind eye to our fellow black brothers and sisters. We (evangelicals) are all complicit! (Please see Divided by Faith and Disunity in Christ)

And so I am sorry.

I am sorry that I haven’t been more angry and more outspoken.

I am sorry to my Black friends, colleagues, and students that I haven’t been more urgent in exposing the dangerous theology and practice of the white evangelical community. That I haven’t been more bold in naming what is so obvious.

As one who claims an evangelical heritage, I often attempt to call evangelicals back to their better selves, their true traditions of spiritual conversion linked with social transformation. I am sorry that I have been too timid with the faults of persistent racism and white privilege.

I am sorry. Please forgive me.

Let our orthodoxy be known through our orthopraxis, otherwise we are noisy gongs and clanging symbols.


God’s love is coming; and so is his justice.

Lord, have mercy on us

Christ, have mercy.



5 Replies to “Subordination and #AltonSterling”

  1. Spot on, Geoff. I’m not in the USA, but in Australia we have a lot of while male superiority and assumed male privilege too.

  2. I wanted to give a heads up about I post I wrote on how Bruce Ware’s teaching enables abusive husbands, but your comments box seems to be very averse to anything faintly resembling a link. Even when I replaced . with DOT, it wouldn’t accept the text.

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