Perspectives on EFS

As I survey the landscape of literature concerning the eternal functional subordination of the Son I see five basic views:

  1. The Son never submits to the Father, even after the incarnation. Authority and submission are seen as incompatible with intimacy and love and the kingdom of God.
  2. The Son submits to the Father only after the incarnation. The incarnation itself is not an act of obedience. Obedience is only creaturely.
  3. The Son submits to the Father before the incarnation (e.g. in creating the world), but only economically and ad extra (with respect to creation).
  4. The eternal Son submits to the Father before creation and ad intra (in the internal life of God) and this is grounded in the Son’s eternal generation from the Father.
  5. The eternal Son submits to the Father before creation, but this is agnostic to or in lieu of eternal generation.

Views 3-5 agree that the incarnate Son’s willing submission is an expression of his eternal Sonship, of his “filial identity.”

Views 4-5 see the Father’s primacy of authority as a personal property and not an essential divine attribute.