Luther Seminary professor Alan Padgett, argued in a paper at the 57th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society that Christ submits to the church. He also asserted that in the New Jerusalem the church will no longer submit itself to Christ.
VALLEY FORGE, Pa.—Does Christ submit to His church?
Luther Seminary professor Alan Padgett, argued in a paper at the 57th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) that Christ submits to the church. In the question and answer session that followed his presentation, Padgett—who serves as professor of systematic theology at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.—asserted an even more radical idea: in the New Jerusalem the church will no longer submit itself to Christ.
Padgett used passages such as Ephesians 5:21-33 and Philippians 2:5-10 to make his case for mutual submission between Christ and the church. While he argued that it is clear that Christ serves the church, he essentially equated the notions of submission and servant leadership.
Randy Stinson, executive director of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), said Padgett’s argument is fundamentally flawed. Stinson pointed out that the Greek word in Eph. 5 used for “submit” (hypotasso) means one-way submission to authority and not two-way.
Scripture also makes clear the doctrine of Christ’s sovereign headship over the church that explodes the argument of mutual submission which egalitarians commonly make, Stinson said.
To prop up his case for mutual submission between Christ and the church, Padgett drew an even stranger conclusion in response to a question following his paper. When asked when the church will cease to submit to Christ, Padgett answered “in the eschaton” at a time when “the church will be ‘knocked up a bit.'” In Christ’s eschatalogical kingdom, the church will no longer submit to Christ, he said.
Theologian Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said Padgett’s bizarre take on mutual submission and its concomitant teaching that submission ceases in the eschaton is sub-Christian.
“Alan Padgett’s proposal is not even Christian,” Moore said. “The idea that Christians will, in the eschaton, no longer submit to Christ is more than simply an unbiblical error. It is virtually pagan. In the new creation, as Paul tells us, and as John sees revealed in the Apocalypse, believers continue to serve Jesus as Lord to the glory of God the Father.
“Moreover, the concept that Jesus submits to his church is ridiculous. Jesus serves the church, but he serves her by leading and leads her by serving. The church does not initiate the plan of salvation or send Jesus on his mission.
“Instead, Jesus sets his face like flint toward the cross even when the foundation stones of the church, the apostles, tell him they will never allow him to be crucified. If this is where Christian egalitarianism is going with “mutual submission,” then it is clearer than ever that evangelical feminism is more feminist than evangelical.”
Stinson echoed Moore’s analysis, adding that Padgett’s view is further evidence that the slippery slopes of feminism and egalitarianism lead quickly toward a downward spiral away from orthodox Christianity.
“This is just one more example of what lengths egalitarians will go to in order to bolster their otherwise untenable position,” Stinson said. “Unfortunately, there will no doubt be many more theological aberrations such as this coming from the egalitarian camp. But as for me and my house, we are planning to submit to Christ for all eternity.”
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