I have for quite some time, been following an argument in recent complementarian circles regarding the authority of the Son. Bruce Ware, in his book, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (page 152) wrote,
The Father, then, as supreme authority over even his own Son and the Spirit, is the one to whom we gladly, but humbly, address our prayers.
God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.
Denny Burk blogged about this recently, and I asked a series of questions, which went unanswered there. However, I am grateful that John Starke has taken the issue up under Suzanne McCarthy and the Son’s Submission to the Father.
So, to express that there is a difference in authority but not in power between the Son and the Father is not unthinkable. McCarthy argues the opposite. She wonders how the Son can be “equal in power and glory, but unequal in authority, and how is this derived from the Scripture?”
It is true, I did ask that question. But the focus of my interest is on the English translations that were prevalent at the time that the doctrinal basis of ETS was formulated, I am guessing in 1949. If we take John 17:2 as one example, previous translations of the Bible do not differentiate between the "power" of the Son, and the "authority" of the Son.
What if those who formulated the doctrinal statement of the ETS actually intended to say that Christ was equal to God in exousia, since exousia, the Greek word most often translated as "authority" is also often translated as "power" in the KJV and RSV.
καθὼς ἔδωκας αὐτῷ ἐξουσίαν πάσης σαρκός ἵνα πᾶν ὃ δέδωκας αὐτῷ δώσῃ αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. (KJV)
since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him. (RSV)
We can see the same thing in Latin, German or French translations of the Bible. One must face the reality that theologians like Augustine, Luther and Calvin did not argue for a clear difference between "power" and "authority."
However, we can see that since the NIV, 1973, - a translation supposedly of dynamic equivalence - "power" and "authority" have diverged in English in accordance with the underlying Greek.
selon que tu lui as donné pouvoir sur toute chair, afin qu'il accorde la vie éternelle à tous ceux que tu lui as donnés. (Louis Segond)
Gleichwie du ihm Macht hast gegeben über alles Fleisch, auf daß er das ewige Leben gebe allen, die du ihm gegeben hast. (Luther)sicut dedisti ei potestatem omnis carnis ut omne quod dedisti ei det eis vitam aeternam" (Vulgate)
For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. (NIV)
since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” (ESV)
It seems clear to me that any statement that Christ is less than God in authority, while equal to him in power, can only have taken on common acceptance subsequent to 1973. But the Evangelical Theological Society has been around since 1949. I would be very interested in knowing if their doctrinal basis has shifted since 1949, and if most members realize that Christ is now not equal in authority to God, but only in power.
I always like to know what Bible translation a theological statement is based on. Curiously, many people cite theologians without referencing the Bible version or translation on which they are basing their theology.
I hope John Starke will take on this puzzle and perhaps find a clear article delineating when exactly Christ became less than God in authority, while retaining equality in power.