Original Research

The anti-eternal functional subordination versus the eternal functional subordination

Willem H. Oliver
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2781 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2781 | © 2023 Willem H. Oliver | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 December 2022 | Published: 25 April 2023

About the author(s)

Willem H. Oliver, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


This article is a follow-up of an article that describes the proponents of the eternal functional subordination (EFS). This evangelical movement was introduced by George Knight in 1977. The EFS refers to the relationship between God the Father and God the Son as an eternal authoritative position held by the Father, while the Son occupies an eternal subordinated position. This is not the position held by the mainline Protestant churches. The proponents of the EFS find the origin of their premise in the Bible as well as the tradition of the early church. Just like the Protestants, they refer to the Creeds and the Councils, as well as the Church Fathers to verify their arguments. Although the differences between the mainline Protestants and the EFS are seemingly insignificant, it can lead to interpretations that are detrimental for the growth of the church. In this article, the main opponents of the EFS are critically discussed in order to lay bare the shortcomings of the EFS and, to a lesser degree, the shortcomings of the anti-EFS proponents. Naturally, the scholars who are opposing the EFS, do not always speak from the same mouth, as each proponent has their own point of view. This emphasises the fact that a constant debate on the holy Trinity is imperative.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The EFS movement proposes the eternal submission of Jesus to the Father – contra the Christian Creeds. Anti-EFS proponents are opposing this movement, indicating the equality between the three Persons of the Trinity on both the ontological and/or immanent and the economic and/or functional side. Practical Theology, Church History and New Testament (NT) disciplines are utilised.


eternal functional subordination; anti- eternal functional subordination; trinity; Father-Son relationship; Holy Spirit; begotten; homoousios


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