I see that at least one teaching elder in the PCA mentioned in Bryan Chapell's assessment of the New Perspective/Federal Vision movement has responded to Mr. Chapell's piece.
I suspect this was not an altogether-wise move. Chapell's piece was surprisingly astute and fair. If I'd been in the FV crowd, I'd have thanked him and moved on.
If, as this individual claims in his reaction to Chapell's piece, the Auburn Avenue/Federal Vision crowd has been principally defined and united by the attacks of their opponents, proponents of FV theology should be cautious not to accomplish the same in reverse.
Second, I read in Peter Leithart's comments on my post on 1 Peter 3:21 that he is concerned I may be a closet Baptist. He also noted, correctly, my concern that those in the "baptism-does-something-indescribable-but-amazing" camp are close to being closet Roman Catholics. I'm tempted, facetiously, to ask which is better: to be a closet Baptist or a closet Roman Catholic. The reason I don't, however, is that I'm afraid my facetious question would draw a disturbingly non-facetious answer.
(Note from Tim Bayly: As I've noted in recent posts concerning Ted Haggard's advocacy of the repeal of anti-sodomy laws that are already on the books of our nation and states, other prominent Christians have blazed the trail he is on. One I'm especially aware of is Dr. David C. Jones who is a member of my own Ohio Valley Presbytery and served for many years as a professor at our denomination's seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary. Some years back I sent the following letter protesting Dr. Jones' position. In response to the letter I received a quite-graceful response from Dr. Jones and another letter from Covenant's president, Bryan Chapell. But neither of them responded to the substance of my letter. And so, the argument I make below remains my conviction about all those Christians leaders who seek the repeal of anti-sodomy laws in the name of Christian compassion.)
March 9, 2001
Rev. Dr. David C. Jones
Covenant Theological Seminary
12330 Conway Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63141-8697
Dear Dr. Jones,
At some point this past year, I came across your comments published in Christianity Today (October 4, 1999) arguing that "(the practice of sodomy) is not the state's business," that sodomy ought to be made legal, and that sodomites deserve to have their civil rights protected because no one made in God's image ought to be "put down" by "jokes or sneers or whatever..."
Greg Johnson is a graduate of my denomination's seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, and this article he's written strikes me as typical of the sort of poisonous grace talk I've run into too often, recently, including among men from Covenant. Because the error is so common, it might be good for us to critique this particular piece as a means of warning others away from these errors.
Note well: I am not saying everything in this article is bad. There are things here worth saying, some of which are downright helpful and good. But the admixture of truth and error ultimately renders this piece unsalvageable except as an exercise in the practice of that most-neglected-of-all-spiritual-gifts, discernment.
So would you please take some part of this article and, quoting it, show how it is contrary to Scripture? Don't worry if your work is duplicated by someone else. I'm hopeful we'll have thousands of words written about this piece, permanently deposited here in our comments section to be read by others. Of course, it's proper to note the good points Johnson makes, but my principal concern is to see the errors exposed as a warning to all.
Feel free to argue against another reader's critique. The goal here is to grow our discernment quotient, making us all more useful in defending the church against false teaching--particularly false teaching hiding behind the cover of "grace."
Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt: The rare beauty of Weakness Christianity
by Greg Johnson
1. The Diagnosis: Quiet Time Guilt
I recently watched as a congregation I love was spiritually raped. A Christian ministry came into the church for a three-day program whose purpose was to encourage believers to pray more. During one of the breakout sessions, a man expressed his frustration with unanswered prayer. He had faithfully prayed with and for his daughter for years, and still she was not walking with God. He was broken, depressed, perhaps more than a little ashamed. How does God in his grace speak to this man? A bruised reed was crying out for help.
"You need to try harder. You need to pray more." That was the message he was given. I was enraged. Having known this church for many years, I was horrified. What I was hearing was what one seminary professor calls sola bootstrapa. Self-reliance--we pull ourselves up by our own spiritual bootstraps. The teachers who said such things surely meant well. The problem was not a lack of sincerity on their part. The diagnosis is far more severe. The problem was heresy. Any heresy wounds the soul.
When I look upon the evangelical world today, I see millions of sincere believers who are loaded down with false guilt by teachers who fail to grasp the basics of biblical prayer. To sharpen the point slightly, Christ's sheep have been lied to. They have been told that prayer is a work that we must perform in order to get God to bless us. As heresies go, this one is often subtle. Prayer has become a work rather than a grace. The result has been a loss of joy in prayer.
And prayer is not the only grace we've turned into a work. Personal Bible study has become a source of bondage as well. A whole generation of Christians has been told that God will bless them if they read their Bibles every day, as if the act of reading the Scriptures were some kind of magic talisman by which we gain power over God and secure his favor. This is not the religion of the Bible. This pervasive belief that God gives us grace as a reward for our devotional consistency is antithetical to the religion of Jesus Christ. Prayer and Bible study--what evangelicals for the past century have called the "quiet time"--have become dreaded precisely because they have been radically misunderstood.
It's ironic, but the Quiet Time has become the number one cause of defeat among Bible-believing Christians today. At one time or another, nearly every sincere believer feels a deep sense of failure and the accompanying feelings of guilt and shame because he or she has failed to set aside a separate time for Bible study and prayer. This condition is called Quiet Time Guilt. And it's a condition with many repercussions. The shame of Quiet Time Guilt manifests itself in even deeper inability to fruitfully and joyfully study Scripture. Prayer becomes a dread; Bible study a burden. The Christian suffering from Quiet Time Guilt then despairs of seeing God work in his or her life, until finally he or she simply gives up. He may continue outward and public Christian commitments like church attendance, but secretly he feels a hypocrite. What is the root of Quiet Time Guilt?
2. The Culprit: Legalism
The root of Quiet Time Guilt is legalism. Often when we think of legalism, we think of the petty man-made rules that have so often strangled the churches--rules against dancing or drinking or makeup or 'secular' music. But these legalistic rules are merely an outward sign of a deeper legalism of the heart. When prayer and Bible study are thought of primarily as duties ('disciplines') rather than as grace, both prayer and the study of Scripture become unfruitful in our lives...
Click here to finish reading Johnson's article, "Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt."
Another exercise in discernment: please join this work. Resistance is not futile.
In the godly, fear and love embrace.
Dear readers, my brother, David, and I have often written here that our work on this blog is an extension of our calling to serve as shepherds of God's flock. And although we recognize this calling is primarily to particular congregations in Toledo and Bloomington, we approach this blog as an extension of our local ministry and work to serve as shepherds here, also. In fact, a high proportion of our readers are present or past members of our congregations. Whether the medium is the telephone, E-mail, church newsletters, or blogs, David and I are working to correct, encourage, and rebuke, with great patience.
At times we give in to the temptation to waste these words on inconsequential matters, but we hope not too often. Seeing the title of my recent post, "The World Cup, racism, and the reprobate," some likely wondered why I was squandering time on soccer? But the post wasn't really about soccer, but rather the sin of racism, and the failure of pastors and elders who connive at this sin in their congregations.
Why this lengthy preamble?
Here is a link to a piece I believe to be terribly dangerous. I've considered whether it's too dangerous to be circulated, but I think we need to read it. It's a sermon by Lutheran scholar Marcus Borg, titled "The Character of God," given at Calvary Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 24, 2000.
Professor Borg is leading the souls he's teaching in a liberal and academic context to a place that is similar to the place Covenant Theological Seminary graduate and PCA pastor, Greg Johnson, takes us in his piece , "Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt: The Rare Beauty of Weakness Christianity." Sure, Pastor Johnson uses terminology and arguments that would appeal to conservative reformed, rather than liberal Lutheran, academic types. But both pieces, I believe, lead souls to presume on God's grace and allow no place for the fear of God...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 17, 2007 - 2:08pm
Addendum: Wednesday evening, March 8, Bryan Chapell and I met together to discuss this recent series of posts. From our discussion, it became apparent that my concern with Covenant not zealously dealing with believers who reject biblical headship led to my identifying too closely the position held by Bryan Chapell and Covenant Seminary and the very different position held by Anne Graham Lotz. I regret this error. Please read the post keeping this clarification in mind.
Today the Washington Post ran a short piece by Billy Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, that resembles the current doctrine of sexuality held by reformed evangelicals and their institutions such as Bryan Chapell/Covenant Seminary, Tim Keller/Redeemer Presbyterian Church, and Carolyn Custis James/Reformed Seminary (Orlando). Put these leaders in a room, make them talk together, and although they may not agree on every detail, their central thrust would be egalitarian and feminist.
And whereas Ms. Lotz may not agree entirely with the Covenant/Redeemer/Reformed mantra, "A woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do," her only quibble would be with the "non-ordained" bit. I'm guessing she's more straightforward than the men, and would not agree to that final Pharisaical barrier. She's already preaching and teaching; for her, elders meetings are small potatoes.
The Bible states that in the very beginning of the human race God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it." (Genesis 1:27-28) In other words, the Biblical record is clear: God created men and women equal. Period. Dominion over everything was given to the woman as well as to the man. The woman was not created inferior to the man; nor was the man greater than the woman.
However, when sin entered the human race, one of the consequences was that men and women became separated from God. And that basic broken relationship distorted the Divine order in many ways, one of which was that men began to rule over women (Genesis 3:16).
At the beginning of her attack upon Scripture, Ms. Lotz writes as if she's a friend of Scripture, categorically stating, "the Biblical record is clear: ...dominion over everything was given to the woman as well as to the man." Wrong...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 25, 2007 - 7:01am
Deep in the bowels of the 54 comments under the post, "The Lotz/Chapell/Keller/James matrix...," an alumnus of Covenant Theological Seminary who held membership at Church of the Good Shepherd while earning his Ph.D. at Indiana University prior to receiving the M.Div. at Covenant, and who currently serves on the pastoral staff of Christ the Word (PCA) in Toledo, Ohio, documents the doctrine of sexuality he found pervasive at Covenant during his three years there. Pastor Dionne writes, "On a number of occasions I heard (Covenant) professors declare that chauvinism, not feminism, is the main problem in the church today. The work of complementarian authors (including Piper/Grudem and their Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) was denigrated as "demeaning to women."
Responding to Pastor Dionne's statement, several current Covenant students wrote in defense of their professors and Covenant's administration and president. Our readers may find a full record of the exchange here. Meanwhile, a few of my own observations:
Covenant Theological Seminary student Michael writes:
Biblical submission is a much more nuanced reality than the dichotomy you accuse me of propagating.
Paul's thinking is nuanced... Paul wrote to a different culture in a different time to a different group of people experiencing different situations. ...there must be more to our exegesis than ripping one verse out of context and co-text and the original language... there is more to proper and biblical exegesis than ripping parts of verses from the English translation.
Michael and Todd here serve us well representing the heart of the doctrine of sexuality held to by much of the evangelical and reformed world. Dichotomies are bad. But of course, God made this dichotomy dichotomous--namely male and female--and called it "Good." Then God's Holy Spirit told us the significance of this dichotomy: women are not to exercise authority over men.
And immediately that uber-weasel word 'nuance' rises to the surface of both Michael's and Todd's retreat. Not wanting to affirm the plain dichotomous creation of male and female as its significance is revealed by our Creator, they fall back into academy-speak, the same wearisome pattern of escape clauses I heard twenty years ago at Gordon-Conwell from evangelical feminists David Scholer, Roger Nicole, and Gordon Fee. "Different culture," "different time," "nuanced realities," "different group of people," "different situations," verses "ripped out of context," and so on.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 29, 2007 - 12:30pm
We all know what it is to play warfare in mock battle, that it means to imitate everything just as it is in war. The troops are drawn up, they march into the field, seriousness is evident in every eye, but also courage and enthusiasm, the orderlies rush back and forth intrepidly, the commander's voice is heard, the signals, the battle cry, the volley of musketry, the thunder of cannon--everything exactly as it is in war, lacking only one thing...the danger.
So also it is with playing Christianity, that is, imitating Christian preaching in such a way that everything, absolutely everything is included in as deceptive a form as possible--only one thing is lacking...the danger
-Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon "Christendom" 1854-1855, translated with an introduction by Walter Lowrie, (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1956) p. 258.
Addendum: Wednesday evening, March 8, Bryan Chapell and I met together to discuss this recent series of posts. After our discussion, here are several clarifications and corrections that I believe need to be made. I have made them here, at the top of the post, because it would be difficult to weave them into the post itself in a way that would call attention to them sufficiently as corrections.
First, it is unclear that the paragraph beginning, "The whole things is a tempest in a teacup" is not my judgment, but rather a hypothetical construct of what the average member of the PCA might have thought to himself.
Second, I refer to "the Covenant/Redeemer/Reformed mantra, "A woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do." Bryan told me that this is not his position and that he speaks against this position as an adequate representation of the Biblical perspective. This is an encouragement to me.
Third, Bryan rehearsed his actions in response to the chapel time in which Diane Langberg spoke, and clearly my own summary of those actions is not accurate. Here is an accurate record of what happened:
When General Assembly convened that summer and the time on the agenda arrived when President Chapell was asked to give an answer for what had happened on his watch, President Chapell told the assembly:
That Diane Langberg had been told ahead of time what the standards were for her speaking during the chapel time;
That after she spoke at Covenant Seminary, Diane Langberg received a letter reminding her of the standards, and expressing concern that those standards had not been followed; and
That the administration of Covenant Seminary met with students to explain the situation and to assure the seminary community that what had happened was not according to the standards they were committed to upholding.
Since I implied Covenant Seminary was not upholding the PCA position in its response to Diane Langberg's chapel time, I regret this inaccuracy and now believe Covenant's response was good.
Some wonder how I could accuse prominent teaching elders of the Presbyterian Church in America and the institutions they lead of sympathizing with the egalitarian, feminist cause? Don't I know the PCA's reason to exist is tied at the heart to opposing these ideologies? When a group of mainline PC(USA) churches left their own denomination for a more conservative one back in 1983, wasn't it necessary for them to found the new denomination, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, precisely because the PCA wasn't willing to compromise on women in office? And isn't the same reason behind our present failure to bring into the PCA many churches currently departing the PC(USA) train wreck: that these churches and their pastors are determined to enter a denomination that allows their women to serve as pastors, elders, and deacons?
So, as a denomination we've paid our dues. We've seen the cost of our convictions, and haven't wavered. What on earth am I thinking, then, to accuse our seminary and its president of being allies of the egalitarian, feminist ideology?
It's a fair question, although I have no confidence I'll be able to answer it to the satisfaction of more than a few because the heart of the answer is tied up, not with specific arguments about Scripture's teaching about sexuality, but rather its teaching concerning the nature of pastoral ministry.
Several years ago, Covenant Theological Seminary had a woman preach in chapel. When it was reported within our denomination, it scandalized a number of presbyters across the country...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 26, 2007 - 8:46am
Some weeks back, the Rev. Dr. Andrew Dionne, a recent graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, expressed serious concerns over the commitment of Covenant's administration and faculty to the biblical doctrine of sexuality. At that time, Pastor Dionne forwarded a couple of supporting documents from the years he and his wife, Sarah, were members of the CTS community. Not wanting to allow his material to be lost in the (rapidly depleting?) ozone, I'm depositing it here so it can be on record and debated...
Being raised in a publisher's home and married to a publisher's daughter, I try to keep up with debates over the ethics of journalism. One conviction developed over the years is that corrections should not be buried, but displayed prominently.
What that means with a blog, though, is not as simple as the New York Times. The Times does not display its corrections on page one unless those corrections are news on the order of their Jayson Blair affair. This blog, though, has no page two and no weekly "Week in Review." Rather than burying our corrections on old pages no longer visible, I'm calling attention here to clarifications and corrections I've just posted to a couple different posts dealing with Bryan Chapell and Covenant Theological Seminary.
Bryan and I met for a number of hours Wednesday night and had a frank exchange of our views. Following our time together, I believed these clarifications and corrections were necessary. They may be found on our Covenant Seminary page.
A few weeks ago, President Frank James and his wife, Carolyn Custis James, sent the above letter to RTS students encouraging them to register for a seminar sponsored by Mrs. James' Whitby Forum, The Impact Movement, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Reformed Theological Seminary. The April 13-15 seminar titled, "Mission Critical: Women on the Frontlines for the Gospel," will be led by Drs. Alice Matthews and Diane Langberg, and Mrs. James...
For a number of years, I've thought we need a book for preachers called The Feminization of Discourse. The book would show how the feminine priorities that have taken over the Western world have turned the preaching of God's Word from authority to mutual exploration and discovery. One friend lamented the preaching he'd sat under for a number of years saying, "Along with the indicative, can't we please have the imperative?" Read anything about the differences between male and female conversation and it's no mystery why the worship and preaching of our--yes, PCA--churches feel like a tea party. Having a reformed form of godliness, we deny the power thereof.
Our preaching is so graceful--more graceful than the preaching of Jesus or the Apostles. Anyone read the book of Acts, recently? Notice how often those listening to the sermon are confronted with the statement, "You killed Jesus!" No wonder repentance was the entry point to faith and baptism back then. But today? We're compassionate Christians, kinder and gentler elders, and sensitive graceful preachers who want to be liked. Above all. Yes, insofar as we can be liked and still be obedient, that's fine. But a choice between the two is no contest; being liked wins.
Now of course, right here the feminization of discourse kicks in and many are ready to condemn me for being dogmatic, making generalizations, or demonstrating a harsh and judgmental spirit, right?
Well, meet my friend Cesar Millan and see if we preachers have anything to learn from him about our exercise of the authority God has delegated to us, particularly in the pulpit...
(NOTE: About fifty deep in the comments under this post is one made by "PCA friend" that readers will find helpful in clarifying what happened at the assembly, as well as the actions' larger context in the intricacies of PCA polity. PCA friend also makes the valid point others also made; namely, that some supported the minority report--and thus a study committee--not out of a desire for change, but because they believed this would be the wisest course to take in supporting our church's present constitutional requirements.)
(Tim) Just now, I received a report on what is likely the most significant decision facing this year's General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. Several overtures to the assembly--most notably, one from Philadelphia Presbytery that came to the presbytery by recommendation of a presbytery committee including Tenth Presbyterian Church's senior minister, Rev. Dr. Philip Ryken--asked the assembly to appoint an ad interim study committee on women deacons. Others within the PCA (including Central Georgia Presbytery) opposed such a study committee, seeing it as a Trojan Horse for northern city churches moving the denomination in an egalitarian feminist direction.
Overtures to the assembly pass through the Bills and Overtures Committee which meets prior to the assembly and brings recommendations on each overture to the assembly floor. This year's Bills and Overtures Committee was chaired by Rev. Fred Greco who brought the committee's recommendation (its Majority Report) to the assembly floor. This Majority Report called for the overture requesting the appointment of a study committee on women deacons to be answered in the negative, in which case no such committee would be constituted.
The president of Covenant Seminary, Bryan Chapell...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 15, 2008 - 8:23am
(Tim, w/thanks to David) What's wrong with this picture?
Look more closely.
In a month and a half, Dr. Diane Langberg will be preaching at the Princeton Regional Conference on Reformed Theology co-sponsored by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and she'll be sharing the
conference pulpit with Don and Al. This ought not to be, right? Who governs this national parachurch
Among others, Bob, Lig, Al, John, C. J., Alistair, Mark, Phil, R. C.,
and Gene-- you know, men we all know as stalwarts in the battle for orthodoxy. So why are they approving and publicizing on their web site a
conference where a woman will preach to men? A conference on "reformed theology," mind you.
"Well, Tim; where have you been all these years? This is old hat. Women
have been plenary preachers at R. C.'s Ligonier conferences for years,
now. Dot your i's and cross your t's, dude. Clean up your precision.
Get a focus. When the Apostle Paul forbids women to "teach" men, he's
only speaking of the Church. Neither the Ligonier conferences nor any
number of other forums--say for instance, a seminary chapel
service--are the church. They're something else. Chill out, brother...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 19, 2008 - 12:33pm
NOTE FROM TIM: I've just taken the liberty of changing a couple sentences and adding some quotes to clarify this piece. So if you already read this post in its first day on the blog, please read it again. Having two writers contributing to this piece allowed a couple things through we'd normally have caught. They've now been corrected.
(David and Tim, w/thanks to Dave) Search for "Langberg" on the Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) web site and fifty-seven links are returned offering products produced by Westminster Theological Seminary adjunct professor Diane Langberg. (Here and here are sample pages.)
Check out CBE's directory for a recommended counselor in Pennsylvania and you will find Calvary Presbyterian Church (PCA) member Diane Langberg.
Several years ago, controversy erupted within the Presbyterian Church in America over whether or not a certain woman actually preached at Covenant Theological Seminary. The controversy came to a head at the 29th General Assembly when Covenant's president, Dr. Bryan Chapell, explained the chapel address had mostly not been preaching although some parts strayed into "sermonic (and) some applicatory material." Bryan Chapell explained to the Assembly:
That Diane Langberg had been told ahead of time what the standards were for her speaking during the chapel time;
That after she spoke at Covenant Seminary, Diane Langberg received a letter reminding her of the standards, and expressing concern that those standards had not been followed; and
That the administration of Covenant Seminary met with students to explain the situation and to assure the seminary community that what had happened was not according to the standards they were committed to upholding.
Note that the chapel message at the root of the controversy was given by Dr. Diane Langberg. Yet, despite her being at the center of this controversy...
Two years ago, the Christian education arm of the Presbyterian Church in America, Christian Education and Publications (CE&P), held its 2006 International Women in the Church Conference in Atlanta. The three women employed to teach the 4,000 assembled women of the PCA? Joni Eareckson Tada, Paige Benton Brown, and Dr. Diane Langberg.
Again, at Women in the Church's (WIC) 2007 Leadership Training Conference Dr. Diane Langberg was a plenary speaker.
Diane Langberg was principal speaker at Tenth Presbyterian (PCA) Church's 2008 TenthWomen Conference.
And this same Diane Langberg is featured speaker at the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals' Princeton Regional Conference on Reformed Theology--together with Al Mohler and Don Carson.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 20, 2008 - 7:37pm
(Tim) Is there a larger point that sits above this week's posts; a larger lesson to be learned from the vulnerabilities we've seen in the PCA's Christian Education & Publications, Women in the Church, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Westminster Theological Seminary, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Covenant College and Seminary, and Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City? What's to be learned from the sort of leadership we've seen demonstrated this week by the men called to guard these institutions and churches?
Joseph remembered the dreams which he had about them, and said to them, “You are spies; you have come to look at the undefended parts of our land.” (Genesis 42:9)
We have allowed spies into our midst and they are scheming how to capture the undefended parts of the land given us by our Heavenly Father.
Trustees, presidents, parents, and alumni of confessionally reformed colleges and seminaries (and, of course, leaders of denominational agencies and church elders) are going to have to decide which side they're on.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 18, 2008 - 11:05am
(Tim, w/thanks to Jake) Would you understand me if I said Baptists seem to have courage Presbyterians lack? Maybe it's a byproduct of being despised by Presbyterians, but whatever its origins, it's a wonderful gift from God to them and all of us.
Speaking of manly preaching, I give you Russell Moore. if you don't make a habit of listening to what he has to say or readingwhat he writes, you're missing out big-time. A few years back, Russ and I met at a conference. His work's been a great encouragement to me since then.
Here's a message he gave this past week at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary titled, "Joseph of Nazareth Is a Single-Issue Evangelical: The Father of Jesus, the Cries of the Helpless, and Change You Can Believe In." One of our ClearNote Pastors College students, Jake Mentzel, summarizes the message...
by David and Tim Bayly on December 2, 2008 - 4:48am
(Tim) The past couple of weeks, I've spent a great deal of time tracking down the historical record concerning the actions of the 154th (1976) Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod (RPCES) related to woman deacons.
Tim Keller wrote an article, recently, for the PCA's byFaith magazine arguing that the PCA should allow woman deacons because, just before joining with the PCA in 1982, the 154th (1976) Synod of the RPCES, "narrowly defeated a motion to ordain women as deacons."
Keller suggests the trajectory of the RPCES immediately prior to her union with the PCA was towards lifting her own restrictions against woman deacons, and therefore this same trajectory should lead the PCA now, thirty years later, to change our polity. Here's how Keller puts it:
A Personal History: In 1982 the Reformed
Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod (RPCES) joined with the PCA
shortly after its 154th Synod had narrowly defeated a motion to ordain
women as deacons. ...The
1982 PCA General Assembly did not consider the actions of the RPCES
Synods to be binding on us, but rather “valuable and significant
material which will be used in the perfecting of the Church,” and
therefore to be granted respect.
For Keller's argument to work, though, his version of history has to be right.
The RPCES did not vote whether to have woman deacons at its 154th (1976) Synod. And when the vote was taken, woman deacons were not "narrowly defeated." The vote was decisive...
by David and Tim Bayly on December 8, 2008 - 1:29pm
(Tim) Because Tim Keller sought to use the RPCES heritage of the PCA as a lever to move us toward woman deacons in his recent byFaith article, I've spent a good bit of time the past few weeks immersing myself in RPCES history on the issue. And in the process, I've come to see the RPCES influences still visible within the PCA today.
Note how influential former RPCES men (Will Barker, Dominic Aquila, and Joel Belz, for instance) and institutions (Covenant College and Covenant Seminary) are among us. How will RPCES history influence PCA actions in the next decade or so?
The personal history we bring to a controversy will bear on our convictions and conduct during that controversy.
For myself, this is certainly true. I'm no charter member of the PCA, nor did I spend any time in the RPCES. (I did in the OPC and the RCA.) My own trajectory, then, was through the UPCUSA and then the PC(USA). With my church, Grace Presbyterian in Pardeeville, Wisconsin, I left the PC(USA) back in 1992, transferring into the the PCA's then-Northern Illinois Presbytery.
If we can understand how this influences my own actions and commitments, the same is true of so-called "charter members" of the PCA as well as RPCES men who were received into the PCA.
To help us get our history right, here are some interesting quotes from the RPCES house publication, Mandate. I've pulled these quotes from a hard copy of the Mandate issued immediately following the 155th (1977) RPCES Synod where woman deacons/officers were definitively rejected by Synod members. At the time, Mandate was edited by our own Joel Belz.
These quotes should be helpful to us as we
proceed to have this debate for the umpteenth time, now, within
the PCA. It does seem as if we're simply picking up the debate where it left off when Jim Hurley and his troops lost their effort in their former denomination...
by David and Tim Bayly on December 31, 2008 - 12:35pm
(Tim) The Fall 2008 issue of Covenant Seminary's review, Presbyterion, has an article by Covenant's Dean of Faculty, Jimmy Agan, titled "Deacons, Deaconesses, and Denominational Discussions: Romans 16:1 As a Test Case." Dr. Agan works hard not be viewed as putting his finger on the scale of a greatly controverted issue being weighed by our ecclesiastical association known as the Presbyterian Church in America. He warns his readers not to come to any easy conclusions about the meaning of the texts, but he does seem to have a few conclusions, himself, and they are helpful.
First, this from Footnote 29:
While fuller discussion is beyond the scope of the present article, we may at least name two implications... for the office of deacon if the conclusions summarized above are correct. First, it seems that the ecclesiastical title diakonos was chosen not because of its associations with the service rendered by domestic or table attendants, but because it well suited an arrangement in which "deacons" functioned as "agents" in authority over the congregation and under the authority of the elders, at whose behest they carried out a variety of tasks. Second, if deacons were such" agents," we should not speak of the office as one which was (or is) devoid of authority.
It can't be emphasized often enough that, whatever else deacons may be, they are officers and exercise authority over the believers of their church...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 21, 2009 - 5:04pm
(Tim; pic by Perry Reichanadter/Genesis Photos) The music critic of World magazine, Arsenio Orteza, just wrote a fine short profile of Dr. David Canfield, one of the elders here at Church of the Good Shepherd. Arsenio originally intended his piece to focus on David's life as a composer of classical music, but David endearingly hijacked the interview to talk about the real love of his life: ClearNote Pastors College where he serves as one of the instructors.
ClearNote Pastors College (CNPC) is a ministry of Church of the Good Shepherd under our umbrella organization, ClearNote Fellowship. In addition to CNPC, ClearNote Fellowship oversees our support of foreign mission work, the composition and recording of music by Good Shepherd Band, the curriculum, pamplets, and books we're hoping to produce; and the planting of churches by CNPC graduates.
Christ the Word in Toledo, Ohio--the congregation served by my brother, David--has a similar ministry called Reformed Evangelical Pastors College. As sister churches, we do the largest part of the administration and instruction at both colleges together. We have had great success using a Polycom videoconferencing system for virtual classroom instruction and our principals, Andrew Dionne at REPC and Stephen Baker here at CNPC, work closely together on curriculum and schedules.
by David and Tim Bayly on February 9, 2009 - 9:26am
(Tim) No links to Rob Bell's schlock, the deep and sensitive thoughts of Brian McLaren, the Christian Medical and Dental Society, Talbot Seminary's groundbreaking ethics and public policy think tank, faculty members at Wheaton College, or CTi journalists on this site. Ron Sider and Jim Wallis haven't made an appearance just yet--nor their "me too" buddy, Al Gore. There's been no sighting of Niel Nielson or Bryan Chapell--nor any of
their professors, for that matter. In fact, no sign of anyone in the Presbyterian Church
...no opinion can be either
more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and
falsehood upon the same level, and represents it as of no consequence
what a man's opinions are. On the contrary, we are persuaded that there
is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and
duty. Otherwise it would be of no consequence either to discover truth
or to embrace it.
(Tim) If a pastor were embarrassed by the Biblical doctrine of sexuality; if he believed God's prohibition of woman exercising authority over man was a hindrance to the furtherance of the Gospel, and that to align himself with it would harm his ability to reach out to the arbiters of culture, winning some for Christ and His Kingdom; if he felt it wise to adopt a halfway covenant on sexuality and so he stood midway between the sexual anarchy of egalitarian feminism and the father-rule created and decreed by God in the perfection of Eden...
"Women at Redeemer will be free to use all the gifts, privately and publicly. There are no restrictions on (women's) ministry at all." -Keller/Redeemer
(Tim) In what was billed as a debate, but turned out to be more a love-fest between Tim Keller and Lig Duncan in the PCA's deniminational magazine byFaith, Tim gave his rationale for something approximating his church's practice of woman deacons. If readers take Tim's piece at face value without comparing this public argument with what Tim writes and does in his local church, everything will be muddied and obfuscation will win. The obfuscation may be unintentional or inadvertent, but it will win.
Thus it is that the article must be interpreted in the larger context of Redeemer's structure, words, and actions.
operative rule at Redeemer with regard to all things sexual is, "A
woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do." So the working out of
Redeemer's theology of sexuality is that women at Redeemer are allowed
to teach and exercise authority over men everywhere and always except
from the pulpit Lord's Day morning and in any way reserved for the
elders as they exercise something they call "teaching authority." But
whatever this "teaching authority" is, it's not when women teach
Scripture to men because that precise thing they explicitly allow:
"In a nutshell, our position is this: whatever a non-ruling
elder male can do in the church, a woman can do. We do not believe that
I Timothy 2:11 or I Cor.14:35-36 precludes women teaching the Bible to
men or speaking publicly. To 'teach with authority' (I Tim.2:11) refers
to disciplinary authority over the doctrine of someone. For example,
when an elder says to a member: 'You are telling everyone that they
must be circumcised in order to be saved--that is a destructive,
non-Biblical teaching which is hurting people spiritually. You must
desist from it or you will have to leave the church.' That is 'teaching
authority'--it belongs only to the elders. Thus, women at Redeemer will
be free to use all the gifts, privately and publicly. There are no
restrictions on ministry at all...
A prominent evangelical magazine just did a piece on the complaint by Calvin College faculty reps that Calvin's board has issued policy barring members of their faculty from promoting sodomy. The article starts this way:
The homosexuality debate that has torn apart mainline denominations is fanning faculty and student protests at Calvin College, and highlights a growing issue facing evangelical schools.
The magazine, published in Wheaton, continues:
The case is being watched with interest by other (evangelical) schools struggling to balance compassion and doctrine in their policies on gays.
"Struggling to balance compassion and doctrine?" What on earth are they saying?
Well of course, the point is that the evangelical world today is moving toward the normalization of sodomy and the rubric under which it's being done is the silencing of Scripture's denunciation of sodomy as an abomination before the Lord. Other abominations such as fornication, unbiblical divorce and remarriage, and adultery have already been normalized, and now it's sodomy's turn.
The path to normalization is cleared by much talk of compassion with only an occasional tip of the hat to sin and righteousness and judgment. Which is to say that the Holy Spirit is nowhere present in such discussions since "When He comes, He will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment."
There's no conviction of sin going on--none at all. Instead, we're busy balancing compassion and doctrine. Wheaton College's "sexuality scholar," Stan Jones, puts it like this...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 5, 2009 - 4:58am
(Tim: This from Rev. Andrew Webb) After two meetings of debate, yesterday (Oct. 27, 2009) Central Carolina Presbytery passed the following overture to the 38th General Assembly by a twenty-eight vote margin:
Overture to the 38th Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly Amend Book of Church Order 9-7
1. Whereas the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is grateful to God for the outstanding and selfless work done by the women of PCA congregations and freely acknowledges that the ability of the church to minister to a lost and dying world depends in large part on the self-sacrificing volunteer spirit of our female members; and
2. Whereas the PCA also believes that, the officers of the Church, by whom all its powers are administered, are, according to the Scriptures, teaching and ruling elders and deacons (Book of Church Order 1-5) and that in accord with Scripture, these offices are open to men only (BCO 7-2); and
3. Whereas the PCA believes that scripture teaches that the officers of the church are to be ordained not commissioned. (BCO 17,12-5, 8-6); and...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 13, 2009 - 6:56am
(Tim) This is written by a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. Thinking readers might have some responses, I post it here. I've received it second or third hand, so I don't know the writer or context.
While recognizing that some people have a calling from God to speak out specifically on these sins, I find that the focus among many Evangelicals on the abortion and same-sex marriage issues to the exclusion of all others reflects the extreme individualism of Protestant theology and ethics, both "conservative" and "liberal". Evangelicals care rightly about the killing that goes on within a woman's womb, and about the improper and irreverent use of our God-given sexual organs in our own bodies or in the bodies of others. But there is not always a corresponding concern about the killing and grave threats to human life that are present outside of the womb, and about the improper and irreverent use of the natural world and material possessions given to us by God.
I don't think it's an accident that the same individualistic faith traditions that emphasize and sanctify "my personal choice" (to accept Jesus as "personal Savior" in the case of conservative Protestants, to have an abortion as a "personal matter" in the case of the liberals) but downplay the physical unity and continuity of the Body of Christ across space and time would also be quite uncertain regarding the social obligations that Christians have to their political and military enemies, to the poor and sick among us, and to the rest of God's creation. A faith tradition that fails to connect our moral obligations inside our bodies with our moral obligations outside of our bodies is deficient in both its anthropology and its ecology.
To get things started, it seems to me evangelicals are now close to the heart of the movement for the social justice of cutting carbon emissions, calling for the government to increase funds for AIDS research, and shaming people who litter. Rick Warren, anyone? Brian McLaren? Rob Bell up there in Grand Rapids? Inter-Varsity? Zondervan? Navigators? Willow Creek? Tim Keller and his flock?
And of course, every last prof at Covenant and Taylor and Gordon and Westmont and Wheaton.
Maybe our critic is only speaking of historic evangelicalism--not the classic liberalism that's taken over these past few decades.
by David and Tim Bayly on February 18, 2010 - 8:01am
(Tim) Where have good card-carrying confessionally Reformed evangelicals shown more alacrity in signaling their commitment to keep their religion private than the matter of the meaning and purpose of God's Creation Order of sexuality?
Covenant Theological Seminary's professor of theology and ethics called for the repeal of anti-sodomy laws in a round-table with Christianity Today. It's fine for Christians to preach and teach against sodomy in the church, but what's the purpose of condemning it outside the church? We don't need these laws any more. Why make unbelievers live by Christian standards? I mean, think how divisive it is for our laws to say "No" to sodomy. Unbelievers can't live by God's Law anyhow, can they? Let's repeal these laws and let pagans be pagans. Gays shouldn't suffer just because they're gay.
So, today, I'd guess most Christians are two-kingdom, spirituality-of-the-church men when it comes to anti-sodomy laws. Sodom will be Sodom, after all, and our business is the Gospel.
As with sodomy, so with feminism. My years working with the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood drew to an end over the cheerful and carefully-cultivated silence of the Council over...
(Tim, w/thanks to a faithful man) By now, when the President of our own Covenant Theological Seminary invites Tim Keller to model pastoral ministry to his students over in St. Louis, he should know precisely what he's going to get and not be left batting cleanup for him. But take a listen to this exchange from one of Keller's recent visits, there.
It's a Q & A session in front of men preparing for pastoral ministry. A Covenant student asks the Rev. Dr. Tim Keller this question: "How do you think the church is or should be proactive with regard to the issue of homosexuality? I see the prevalence of homosexuality, yet the church seems to be afraid to touch the issue. How do we actively speak to believers about this topic in truth and in love?"
Which question launched the Keller/Chapell duo into this session of semantic dodge ball, with protective pads and helmets.
Was Tim Keller's answer bad?
Yes, his answer was bad.
Because he's a preacher of the Gospel and he ought to rejoice at being used by the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. He ought to know God's Moral Law is man's schoolmaster, his crossing guard to the Cross. Pastor Keller's ministry is to singles in Manhattan, so he should (and easily could, given his gifts) excel at the proclamation of the wickedness of sodomy along with God's love and mercy for those ensnared in this foul pit...
(The PCA needs to) provide safe places to talk about new ideas to advance the PCA’s faithfulness to biblical belief... (The PCA needs) more seats at the table; especially younger generation, women, ethnic leaders, global church representatives... e.g. advisory voice on committees, (S)essions, Boards, speaking at gatherings, consulted by presbyteries; employed in non-ordained ministries.
-Strategic Plan for the PCA
(Tim) I've been sent a number of links to discussions of the Strategic Plan for the PCA and I think it's time we do what is necessary to provide for the work of the Stated Clerk and the Office of the General Assembly in a way that relieves them of the indignity of begging for our support. The men and women who serve in these areas are essential to our well-being as a denomination and, in my experience, carry out their duties faithfully and with real wisdom. If it requires a change in the amount or method of payment to attend General Assembly to fund these works faithfully, let's do it.
However, there's no need for all the philosophical and sociological and political and metaphysical and ontological accretions and gnashing of teeth being tacked on as riders to the bill. Fund the OGA well and stop at that. All the rest of what's known as the Strategic Plan is simply jeopardizing this one thing we should all agree is necessary...
(David/Tim) When they couldn't get state legislatures to embrace abortion, men like Bernard Nathanson from New York City were pleased to have the US Supreme Court issue their 1973 ruling, Roe v. Wade, throwing out the western world's historic laws against abortion in one fell swoop across all fifty states. It was the exercise of raw judicial power. And speaking of judicial power...
At next week's PCA General Assembly in Nashville the Nominating Committee has put up these men for the Standing Judicial Commission: Bryan Chapell, Bruce Terrell, and Sam Wheatley.
Bryan Chapell, a teaching elder candidate for the Standing Judicial Commission, has had years to condemn or oppose the introduction of woman officers into the life of the PCA by Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Metro New York Presbytery, as well as the creeping of this practice across our denomination. Sadly, such concern finds no place in Bryan's strategic plan.
Pastor Sam Wheatley, another teaching elder candidate for the SJC, has this to say about the Strategic Plan Bryan is promoting:
"To me, the
Strategic Plan is a hopeful call to remembering our passion."
Sam agrees with Bryan's call for the PCA to create "safe places" to talk, and to provide "more seats at the table (for) women (to have an) advisory voice on
committees, (S)essions, Boards, speaking at gatherings, consulted by
presbyteries. In the face of a Strategic Plan for the PCA that's as strategic as cold mutton, Sam's voluble support must be considered an indication of his allegiances and priorities.
To complete the troika...
Bruce Terrell, a ruling elder candidate for the SJC, is Executive Director of Redeemer's Pastoral Staff. Before moving to Redeemer, he assisted Mission to the World's CEO, Paul Kooistra. The practice of woman officers within Bruce's church and presbytery gave rise to this disciplinary action filed against the presbytery that eventually made its way to the Standing Judicial Commission last year.
Voting to place Bruce Terrell on the Standing Judicial Commission is tantamount to voting for a response favorable to women deacons from the Standing Judicial Commission in any case that comes before it. We would prefer to see men elected to the Commission who do not have vested interests in opposition to the historic practice of Reformed Protestant churches concerning woman officers.
Not men associated with what we consider a feminist revision of that practice.
Obviously, the proponents of woman officers care a great deal about who has a seat at the table of the Standing Judicial Commission as it hears these complaints concerning the promotion of woman officers in the PCA.
We agree with them. The men we entrust with the judicial power of the PCA is critically important.
(David) A Marxist political science professor in my college taught a course on licensing in which he argued that licensure and certification processes always stem from the desire of elites to monopolize and control.
Perhaps the rank and file of the PCA could learn a thing or two about the link between depravity and the processes of power from a radical Marxist...
As the PCA considers a Strategic Plan which includes the goal of "Establish(ing) standards for voluntary certification of men and women for specific non-ordained vocational ministries" in order to "Endorse the importance of lay men’s and lay women’s gifts in non-ordained church ministry" within the PCA, let's consider the forms of ministry this will actually lead to, where power will accumulate under the plan and who will lose if the proposal is enacted.
Under the Strategic Plan's playbook the following steps are necessary for the achievement of this goal:
It's immediately apparent that big winners under this plan are Covenant College (CC) and Covenant Theological Seminary (CTS) which are granted the key role of designing (and perhaps applying--the plan is vague at this point) the testing for such non-ordained certification.
(David) I received the following email message from my good friend and fellow PCA pastor, David Wallover, after posting my initial reflections on the Presbyterian Church in America's 2010 General Assembly (GA). I've asked David Wallover if I could present both his thoughts and my subsequent response on this forum and he has graciously agreed. David Wallover pastors Harvest Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Medina, Ohio.
Hi, David (Bayly)-
I originally wrote the note below to be a posted reply to your blog today, but on reflection, thought I'd send it to you personally. You can decide if you want to use it on your blog or not. It's not a contrary opinion, per se, but it is a perspective from a different angle. Let me know your thoughts.
Your friend, David (Wallover) ________________________________
My dear brother, David (Bayly)--
What's at stake here? You, your brother, and I came up through the "bloodbath" of the UPCUSA/PCUSA. Did you imagine when we each found our way into the PCA, that it or any other manmade denominational institution, could possibly remain focused? What I said to my wife upon entering the PCA is, "Well, now we trade heresies on the left for heresies on the right"--my point being that fidelity to the truth, which is itself a fixed target, remains elusive because we are constantly shifting around the target. And even if the PCA falls prey to the old heresies on the left (which would be ironic in light of the whole "Federal" controvesy, which is a "heresy" on the right...), it still will be a result of OUR inability to stay fixed on the truth, veering as we do either to the left or the right.
"We don't want our denomination to develop a master plan for us. With due respect, we don't need the PCA to plan seats at our table or safe places in our assemblies. What we want and need are faithful courts--bodies that will hold us to our biblical, confessional commitments..." - David Bayly
(David) Below is the second installment of a dialogue with David Wallover, a friend and fellow PCA pastor. David Wallover's initial emailwas in response to this post giving my reflections on the Presbyterian Church in America's 2010 General
Dear David (Wallover),
Your presence in the Ohio Presbytery was one of the reasons we chose to cast our lot there so I appreciate your taking the time to respond to my post about the PCA's recent General Assembly.
An initial correction: you speak of the three of us having been in the PCUSA together. Though you and Tim were in the PCUSA in the 90s, I was in a non-confessional Brethren denomination which we left for reasons centering around their acceptance of Open Theism and Inclusivism and their ordination of women to pastoral office rather than the issues that caused you and Tim to leave the PCUSA.
I suspect the differences between our views of the PCA today find their root in the unique circumstances of our respective entries into the PCA.
It was as the pastor of a new church with a functioning elder board and 150 members that I entered the PCA. We weren't searching for identity in entering the PCA, we were looking for a confessional home for an already-established church. We weren't lacking energy, history or character. We didn't need external vision to guide us in serving as salt and light in Toledo. We needed a denominational home that would, should we encounter difficulties beyond our capacity to solve, serve as a 21st-century expression of the Jerusalem Council for us.
Newcomers to the PCA are often surprised to hear...
the center of her post were three questions she recommended to her
readers in connection with the decision whether or not to go to college:
What is the purpose? What is this education preparing me for?
What are my motives? Am I pursuing education for the sake of
education itself, a profession, money, status, the glory of God?
How much will it cost? Is it a wise investment of time, money, and
energy? If God leads me in a different direction two years down the
road, will the debt incurred prevent me from obeying God’s call?
Pretty calm, huh? It's hard to imagine these questions eliciting
screeches and howls--from women who claim the Name of Christ no less.
But elicit they did. May I say how much I admire the women of our
congregation? If you read the comments under Michal's post, you'll
better understand why. For one thing, what grace under fire!
So what about ye olde college education?
I've read all the screeches and howls, and this is by far my favorite...
by David and Tim Bayly on August 17, 2010 - 8:33am
(Tim, with tongue planted) Nearly every one of my friends is sending me a link to this Wall Street Journal piece announcing the earthshaking news that evangelicals are in love with hip and cool and dude and are trying to make their churches hip and cool and dude, also.
I'm floored. Someone quick call PCA and MNA headquarters so they can get a jump on battening down the hatches.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 11, 2010 - 1:20pm
Following Tim Keller, Redeemer, Metro New York and Northern California Presbyteries, as well as all the seminaries, churches, and pastors who believe in women teaching and exercising authority over men as long as it's not in the pulpit Sunday morning or voting on the discipline of a man in a session meeting, the PCA's Mission to the World e-mailed the following announcement across the world at the end of the day, yesterday:
From: (Mission to the World) Date: September 10, 2010 10:34:32 PM GMT To: Undisclosed recipients Subject: New Senior Team Members!
I am pleased to announce that Jill Milton and Heidi Harrison have been appointed new members of the Senior Team for Mission to the World. Jill has been with MTW since 1981 and has served in various capacities during that time. In 2009 she assumed the role of Director of the newly created Resource Team Department. Heidi has been a part of the MTW family for 17 years and has served in various roles during her time in the office. Most recently she been the Assistant to the Coordinator in addition to her role on the Latin America/Africa Resource Team serving missionaries in Africa. She will be adding the role of Project Coordinator for the Senior Team to her responsibilities.
Please join us in thanking God for Jill and Heidi.
In Christ, (Mission to the World)
So here we have this unilateral announcment exhorting us to "thank God" for women getting seats at the table that sets governing policy over MTW ministries and personnel...
by David and Tim Bayly on December 4, 2010 - 10:50am
(Tim, w/thanks to Steve M.) Read this post by Carl Trueman. It's almost excellent.
Almost because, sadly, the salient point to make about it is that there are no specifics mentioned, no men and their errors exposed. Sadly, that neglect says more than the good words Trueman has written.
To warn against theological and ecclesiastical and confessional and Biblical rebellion without warning against any particular man is to gnaw with gums instead of chewing with teeth. Until you name names, it's only one more hypothetical construct.
It wouldn't surprise me if reformation 21 had a policy against questioning or warning against any particular man's faith or practice--particularly if that man sells lots of books and is cited more than anyone else by Reformed pastors, today.
by David and Tim Bayly on December 23, 2010 - 7:07am
(Tim) At times, it seems best to promote a discussion to the main page. Readers lose track of discussions in the comments under old posts. Here's one such discussion that I'm promoting for reasons I hope are obvious.
It's my conviction that the endless mantra of grace that permeates our Evangelical/Redeemer/Westminster/Campus Crusade/R2K/Covenant world leads to us knowing little of grace because we despise God's Law and repentance.
In the midst of a discussion bearing on this matter, the historian Darryl Hart asked me to clarify what I meant when I spoke of the grace of the Law--that to preach the Law is Gospel preaching and that the Law is our Gospel schoomaster or tutor? Here I respond:
Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24).
This is the great failure of Gospel preaching in our time, and the reason for the absence of fruit within our churches. We fail to preach the Law, instead trying to save unregenerate sinners from the indignities of repentance. We preach grace without leading souls there through the Law. We repudiate the Schoolmaster. It's the habit of pastors only to address the regenerate within the Covenant Community while outside that Community we gag preachers, leaving Gospel proclamation and conversion to Campus Crusade...
by David and Tim Bayly on December 28, 2010 - 8:44am
(Tim, w/thanks to Mick)Excellent post by Doug Wilson. If you want to read him, don't bother; but if you don't want to read him, you simply must.
In passing, let me note here that, at the first meeting I attended of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood--the organization that gave us that mincing eight-syllable construction "complementarianism"--several of the more prominent council members shut down an attempt by a younger man to get CBMW to oppose women combatants in our armed forces.
It was clear the thought of CBMW making any statement about the application of God's Order of Creation outside the Christian home and church petrified them. Manhood and womanhood were private truths for the people of God, only.
It was much like the approach taken by Covenant Theological Seminary's resident ethicist David Jones who...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 22, 2011 - 7:46am
(Tim) On the subject of Joel Northrup forfeiting his state tournament wrestling match out of deference to a woman, one reader of this Baylyblog post called our readers' attention to a comment by a California high school wrestling coach on another web site. The coach's comment (No. 16) ended with this:
The Israeli army did extensive experiments in the 1960′s and 70′s trying to incorporate women into combat roles along side males, at a time when the survival of Israel was hanging in the balance. But the results were so disastrous, that they were soon abandoned. They found that men would routinely risk themselves and the units safety, and even abandon mission completion, whenever a female member of their combat unit was captured, or even injured. This protective role seemed to be so hardwired into these young men, that it was deemed impossible to “train out” of them. The Israelis determined that a boy would have to be trained from birth to disregard a foundational understanding (call it God given, or evolved) concerning the importance of women, as THE essential element in the continuum of human existence. To try and remove that understanding from the thought process of young men would result, I feel, in a world not worth occupying.
Few things are more indicative of these United States' moral and military bankruptcy than our ideological promotion of women in combat (of which women wrestlers are a sub-species), and few things are more indicative of the Reformed world's weakening commitment to the doctrines of Scripture than the PCA General Assembly AISCOWIM's split down the middle on whether or not to condemn women in combat (as well as the arguments made on the floor of GA when AISCOWIM presented its two reports). While it's true committee members talked much about the spirituality of the church, during internal debate it was always clear that...
(Tim) On the floor of Ohio Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of America, my brother, David, moved that the presbytery overture General Assembly to cut off the gravy train for the denomination's tiny circulation magazine, bYfAITH. The motion which easily passed calls for bYfAITH to be moved toward being self-supporting with all denominational funding to be cut off in 2012. bYfAITHresponded this week with a piece leading one reader to comment: "The article is an excellent example of 'advocacy journalism,' albeit quite subtle, ecclesiastical-style."
Brother David made the motion because the denomination's administrators at the PCA's Atlanta headquarters have been pouring money into this failing venture year after year, all the while complaining that churches have not been faithful in funding their work. Turns out their shortfall each year has been about fifteen per cent of their budget, precisely the amount they have chosen to sink into a tepid, house organ that speaks only for the denomination's power brokers and the hip children they've spawned.
bYfAITH quoted David saying he didn't seek the end of support for bYfAITH because of dislike for bYfAITH. The motion had been written by others and was being taken before Central Indiana Presbtery. David was sent a copy of it, thought it had merit and when another church in Ohio Presbytery called for a study committee to address all AC publications and spending, David suggested the Indiana overture as a better alternative. It seemed like a good way to solve the chronic shortage of financial support the PCA's denominational apparatus suffers. Ohio Presbytery agreed and sent it on to General Assembly where the commissioners will watch as the Bills and Overtures Committee is lobbied by the good-old-boys and buries the overture.
So beyond its complete failure, financially, what's wrong with bYfAITH?
(June 2--Please note that TypePad only displays the first hundred comments on a post by default. Comments past 100 can be displayed by clicking the "More Comments" link at the bottom of the 100th comment.)
Is Federal Vision theology (FV) worthy of the intense opposition Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) conservatives dignify it with? I suspect not. For a number of reasons, I suspect such opposition to FV theology in the PCA is a sign of conservative weakness rather than strength; opportunism rather than courage. But first a bit of history.
Four years ago when FV was first dealt with by the PCA at her 2007 General Assembly (GA), conservatives rallied in support of a report condemning aspects of FV theology. The report was adopted and trials of Federal Vision supporters followed, the latest of which is the upcoming trial of Peter Leithart in Pacific Northwest Presbytery. It would appear, then, that the PCA is dutifully reforming herself and the cleanup is mostly finished.
But perhaps as noteworthy as what happened within the PCA at the 2007 GA and following is what did not happen. To understand this, we must consider a pair of strange couplings that took place that year.
The 2007 General Assembly was notable, not only for its debate and subsequent vote on the FV report, but also for several mésalliances forged in the lead-up to that vote. On one side, the middle-aged lions of the Keller/Redeemer/hipster/missional party provided some support for the FV camp. On the other side, the old lions of the southern/tall-steeple/rich/broadly Reformed party provided some support for the Truly Reformed (TR) conservatives of the PCA.
When the heat of battle passed, though, both the hipster middle-aged lions and the rich old lions woke up to strange bedfellows. Neither alliance could last. Redeemer hipsters...
[From Tyree's video opposing sodomite marriage] I'm not political, I approach more from an angle of prayer. As much as people are going to voice their opinions and make those pushes in a negative direction, I feel like athletes, believers or people who are very strong toward marriage, especially in places of position need to really take this opportunity to voice it. Marriage is one of those things that is the backbone of society. So if you redefine it, it changes the way we educate our children, it changes the perception of what is good, what is right, what is just.
[Tyree twittered] People of faith ... direct some prayers my way. Got darts comin from every direction. Blessed are those persecuted for His name's sake.
The ethics professor at the Presbyterian Church in America's Covenant Theological Seminary told Christianity Today that he opposed sodomy laws. I wrote him a letter expressing my concern over his efforts to legalize sodomy and Covenant's president at the time, Bryan Chapell, wrote to reassure me that his professor was not going soft on homosexuality. Duly noted.
Now, the battle has moved on to sodomite marriage and "marriage equality" is all the rage...
by David and Tim Bayly on August 18, 2011 - 10:12am
Hazael said, “Why does my lord weep?” Then he answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the sons of Israel: their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword, and their little ones you will dash in pieces, and their women with child you will rip up.” (2 Kings 8:12)
Time and again, those who pastor souls are called by God to enter into the havoc and destruction caused by the sexual depredation of children. Sometimes it's the children themselves who initiate the sin; other times it's an older relative or some unrelated adult, both male and female. One tragic aspect of this ministry is watching how often sexualized children grow up into bondage to sexual perversion, themselves. Little boys molested by older boys or men grow up desiring men rather than women.
This simple fact needs to be forced out of the closet, into the light...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 19, 2011 - 1:07pm
"To be wrong, and to be carefully wrong, that is the definition of decadence." - G. K. Chesterton, A Miscellany of Men
Here we have a wedding ceremony of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Manhattan.
Presiding over the service on the congregation's right wearing a suit is a male pastor (Scott Sauls) who formerly held his credentials in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church--a Reformed denomination that approves of female pastors and elders.
Presiding over the service on the congregation's left wearing a minister's robe is a female pastor.
Wedding ceremonies not being sacramental among us Protestants, one might argue it doesn't matter much if female pastors co-officiate with male pastors...
by David and Tim Bayly on December 27, 2011 - 11:16am
An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it? (Jeremiah 5:30, 31)
You may want to dismiss it as looniness, but this assault against God's Order of Creation is rebellion against the God Who made us. It's not naive or misguided. It's evil. Attacks on God's Creation Order are all around us and we must recognize that each of them is a part of Satan's conspiracy to grease the descent to Hell.
Feminism is a Satanic conspiracy against God's Creation Order. God made Adam first, then Eve. Thus those who conspire to place woman in positions where she teaches and exercises authority over man are rebels against Almighty God. They are false prophets calling souls to Hell.
Homosexism is a Satanic conspiracy against God's Creation Order. God made Eve--not Steve--for Adam. Thus those who conspire to legalize sodomy and promote sodomitic unions are rebels against Almighty God. They are false prophets calling souls to Hell.
Veganism is a Satanic conspiracy against God's Creation Order. God created adam alone--both Adam and Eve--in His Own Image. He did not create animals in His Image. Thus those whose morality has descended to Veganism and the claim of personhood and legal standing for animals are rebels against Almighty God. They are false prophets calling souls to Hell.
Satan has conspired to paint each of these revolutions a pretty face. Feminism is a long-overdue correction of patriarchal oppression. Homsexism is a long overdue correction of homophobic oppression. Veganism is a long-overdue correction of speciest oppression.
Satan has also conspired to silence the Church of Jesus Christ...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 2, 2012 - 9:11am
For truth has such a face and such a mien, As to be lov'd needs only to be seen.
- John Dryden
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, As to be hated needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
- Alexander Pope
It took about twenty years for Evangelicals to change our view of sodomy from horror and shame, to tolerance. And now we've moved beyond tolerance to a mincing advocacy that masquerades as Christian sensitivity and compassion.
Ten years ago, Covenant Theological Seminary's professor of theology and Christian ethics, David Jones, was telling the future pastors of the Presbyterian Church in America that sodomy was a victimless crime that should be legalized. He was so far above fear of administrative discipline by Covenant's president or trustees that he took his liberation movement into the pages of Christianity Today. It was in those same pages that Tony Campolo's wife promoted sodomite marriage as a better alternative to sodomite promiscuity. Both positions demonstrate a similar (and I can't stand this word) mentality.
Covenant didn't condemn Jones' jonesing for the repeal of sodomy laws and Tony Campolo didn't silence his wife, so now these destroyers have won...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 11, 2012 - 11:54am
I don't write much about Indiana politics and government but it's caused me no small sadness to contemplate the term-limit-departure of our fiscally excellent governor a little over a year from now. Gov. Mitch Daniels will have completed his second term and will have to leave office.
If I am comforted in our loss of Mitch's magnificent fiscal leadership, my comfort comes from this: that his likely successor is a man, Representaive Mike Pence, who promises to govern with the same fiscal commitments while adding a theological framework to those commitments that promises to extend far beyond fiscal discipline, on to principles concerning many other areas of governance including the battlefields on which the destroyers of our nation and its states are focussing their revolution: sexuality, the Image of God in man, the origin and nature of sexuality and marriage decreed by our Creator in His Order of Creation, and so forth.
As you read through Daniels' penultimate State of the State Address delivered yesterday evening, you will gain a hint of why I respect him. He has been unflinching in disciplining the educationists of our state by a host of private initiatives that have finally brought competition into public education. True, he brags about over half of our state budget going to edcuation, and he seems to see higher education as an unqualified good. I disagree with both things as I disagreed with President Bush on similar matters. Mitch Daniels is not a wild-eyed enthusiast. He's a realist who really changed our state. Definitively. And reading, you'll see what difference it makes to each citizen of the state.
But there's something else I want to say, here.
Some thirty years ago, I was at the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly to oppose their denominational abortion policy. My dear Mary Lee was pregnant and, since we were in the habit of having home births, I'd called the midwest representative of the PC(USA)'s self-funded independent medical insurance plan to ask if they'd cover the cost of our midwife? It was awkward. He hemmed and hawed and said he didn't know and would have to get back to me on it...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 12, 2012 - 1:48pm
This is a post showing how (it seems to me) shame over the Bible's history of Creation has led to the (maybe) decline of Covenant Theological Seminary. But first, a short back-story...
Some time back I had a man in my congregation who had grown up Baptist and was pursuing graduate studies in science. One weekend he was home visiting his childhood church and he came under the influence of John Armstrong who--whether through preaching or conversation, I don't know--convinced him to stop graduate studies in science and begin graduate studies in theology. Being PCA at the time, I encouraged him to go to the PCA's Covenant Seminary over in St. Louis and he matriculated there a year or so later.
Watching him across the years is part of the reason I've warned people to avoid Covenant. There's more to say than this, but two things are worth highlighting...