The beginning of the seventh tour of the Truth Project sounded like we were revisiting the topic of the fifth tour: science. Del began by quoting Psalm 19, about the heavens declaring the glory of God, and talked to his audience about the design of a chicken egg. The chicken egg, he said, poses a problem: the problem of order. What we have is an orderly cosmos, and “God is not a God of disorder” (1 Cor. 14:33). Del doesn’t just say that God is a God of order, but also says (quoting James 3:16) that disorder is a vice.
Here is where he makes the transition to the current topic. God is “displayed in great glory through the physical creation, but even more so in the order that He has created in the social realm.” God’s social system, Del says, is where “the real battleground lies.” Since God is triune, he is social by nature. And the way that he has ordered society is bound up in his Trinitarian nature. Del quotes the Westminster Confession:
In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; the Father is of none neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
Del then looks at how this Trinitarian nature of God plays out in social systems, beginning with the family. In the family, the husband and wife are one in the same way that the Father and Son are one. The wife submits to the husband in the same way that the Son submits to the Father. Authority, submission, oneness and unity are shared by the Trinity and the family.
Then he turns to look at the church as social institution, comparing it to the Trinity and to the family. Christ he puts at the top (where the Father and the husband are in the other spheres), then he puts the leaders (in the place of the Son and the wife, respectively), and then he puts the flock (in the place of the Holy Spirit and the children). The flock is supposed to honor elders the way children honor their parents (1 Timothy 5:17).
Relationships are important, Del says, but at the Fall, relationships were severed: God and Man, Man to Man, Man and Creation, and Man internally. Social order is bound up in the nature of God because he created social institutions with the divine imprint of who he is.
Then Del argues that our culture attacks the sphere of family. Divorce is commonplace, though God says “I hate divorce” (Malachi 2:16). Husbands are inconsiderate of their wives, though Peter says that their prayers will be hindered if they do that (1 Peter 3:7). The family, Del concludes, is serious business.
The way that Del draws parallels between God’s Trinitarian nature and various social systems is, I think, problematic. When he diagrams the Trinity, he draws a triangle within a circle with the Father at the top, the Son below that and to the right, and the Holy Spirit at the bottom. He draws the same diagram when he describes social institutions. The problem with this is that he gives the impression that, simply because the Son submitted to the Father in his earthly life, there is inequality within the Trinity. When he says that the Son submits to the Father the same way that wives submits to husbands, and the same way that elders in a church submit to Christ, he is coming dangerously close to the heresy of subordinationism. I say “coming dangerously close” because Del may not believe that the Son is eternally unequal with the Father. But what he says does give that impression.
I admire Del’s effort to show that God’s concern for order proceeds from his nature, but I think that he went about it in entirely the wrong way. When you see Trinitarian relationships in anything but the Trinity itself, I think that you are treading on very dangerous ground, because you are making a parallel that the Bible itself does not make. The Trinity is mysterious, so comparing it to things that we know more about can be helpful at times. But comparisons are only just that: comparisons. When we really start to think of the relationships within the Trinity in terms of relationships within the family, we have diminished the Trinity. I know that Del is only trying to show his audience that God is a God of order, but I’m afraid he does more harm than good here.