Subordinationism

An early, anti-Trinitarian, widely diffused sub-Christian Christology. One form of the doctrine concerned the origin of the preexistent Logos.* Most Christians rejected the Gnostic idea of intermediate beings, but that Christ is a divine being somewhat below the highest divine principle and that He derives His existence from it appealed to some, especially Origen.* Some see Subordinationist tendencies in Justin Martyr,* Irenaeus,* and Clement of Alexandria.* The fourth- century Arians (see Arianism) moved the christological issue back to the preincarnate origin of the Logos. Today, Jehovah's Witnesses* assign to Jesus Christ a preincarnate, derived existence.

Another form centered upon the man Jesus. He was a unique Galilean, perhaps sinless but still only a man, who was divinely endued (with the Christ) at his baptism for a special mission. The Ebionites,* Cerinthians, (see Cerinthus) and Paul of Samosata* held similar views. The teachings condemned in 1 John are probably those of Cerinthus. The Trinitarian form of Subordinationism is “Dynamic Monarchianism.” More recent Subordinationist Christologies are those of John Knox of New York and Norman Pittenger. The church has resolutely rejected christological reductionism in favor of the apostolic doctrine that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God made flesh.

See also Incarnation; Monarchianism; Trinity.