ETS Regional Meeting: Trinity and Gender

The ETS Regional Conference recently took place here in the Ontario/Quebec region—probably one of the newest Regional meetings of ETS, not to mention the only one in Canada. I’ve been a part of this group since its inception in 2013, and each meeting has been fruitful and enjoyable. The meeting this year was held at Heritage Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario.

This year, and I guess last year too (according to my colleague Joel Barker), I presented while sick. I don’t remember about last year (which means I probably was), but in any case, the theme this year was “Trinity and Gender,” most apropos given recent events within ETS.

The first plenary session was by Dr. Michael Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He presented on “The Eternal Son: Trinity and Subordinationism in John Gill.” It was a good start to the conference, but I was expecting some discussion on the related issue of gender. The only relation was that Haykin concluded that he agreed that the doctrine of the eternal subordination of the Son was not substantiated. This is probably a huge admission to note, especially considering where Haykin teaches and how this issue is shaping up in American theological circles.

For a smaller gathering (as compared to some of the other ETS regions), the topics of the individual papers were very interesting, a majority of them from PhD students at the nearby McMaster Divinity College. The parallel papers were:

  • “Hyperdulia: On the Preeminent Holiness of Mary and the Invisible Father” (Justin Roberts, McMaster Divinity College)
  • “The Neglected Role of Analogy in Linking Intra-Trinitarian Relations with Human Relations” (Bradley K. Broadhead, McMaster Divinity College)
  • “Participation with Christ: A New Status and a New Role for a New People” (Darlene Seal, McMaster Divinity College)
  • “A Linguistic View of 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 as the ‘Hopeful Endurance’ of the Pauline Triad in 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3” (Tat-Yu Lam, McMaster Divinity College)
  • “The Use of the Book of Wisdom in Hebrews 1:3 and Its Christological Implications” (Caroline Schleier Cutler, McMaster Divinity College)
  • “Jesus’ Christology and the Samaritan Woman: A Contextual Discourse Analysis of John 4:1-42” (David I. Yoon, McMaster Divinity College)
  • “Ephesians 5:21-33 as Christian Alternative Discourse” (Kelvin F. Mutter, McMaster Divinity College)
  • Hupotássō in Ephesians 5:21-33: Linguistic and Historical Considerations” (Karl L. Armstrong, McMaster Divinity College)
  • “Christ Against Culture? A Re-evaluation of Wang Mingdao’s Popular Theology” (Baiyu Andrew Song, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
  • “A Representation of the Beliefs, Experiences, and Ideals of a Group of Jewish People who Believe in Jesus” (Andrew Barron, Jews for Jesus Canada)
  • “The Theme of Creation in Old Testament Theology: Retrospect and Prospect” (David J. Fuller, McMaster Divinity College)
  • “Reading Psalms 108–110 with Trinitarian Eyes: A Prosopological and Canonical Approach” (Wyatt Graham, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
  • “Martyrdom Stories: Stories of Encouragement, Stories of Subversion” (Sid D. Sudiacal, McMaster Divinity College)
  • “Hillary Clinton and the Evangelical Feminism of the Start-up of Wellesley College” (Don Macleod, Tyndale University College & Seminary) “

My paper on “Jesus’ Christology and the Samaritan Woman: A Contextual Discourse Analysis of John 4:1-42” was an exploration of the notion of context of culture, in contradistinction to context of situation, which (the latter) I’ve been working on for my dissertation. I applied it to the discourse between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4 because there are significant subversions of typical cultural norms in that particular context. I was pleased to have good discussion arising from questions on my paper, especially regarding methodology and implications for language in the New Testament context.

The final plenary session was given by Dr. Cynthia Long Westfall, professor of New Testament at McMaster Divinity College. She presented on “Trinity, Gender, and Headship,” with a major discussion on the term kephalē in Koine Greek: it does not have exact correspondence to “head” in English, especially as a metaphor, and a better gloss in the contexts where gender is involved (e.g., 1 Cor 11; Eph 5) is “source.” A more detailed explanation is found in her forthcoming book, Paul and Gender, which should be ready in time for the annual ETS and SBL meetings. There was not any open disagreement in the subsequent Q&A time. If she is right (her case was pretty strong), then this has major implications for how some have interpreted these crucial passages in the gender debates.

Despite being sick, I still enjoyed the conference, and the camaraderie of fellow evangelical scholars in the area coming together on a Saturday morning to discuss various issues related to Scripture was encouraging. I would advocate those close enough to the various ETS regions to attend these conferences to engage in some stimulating biblical and theological discussions.

— David I. Yoon

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