PCA

PCA's Philadelphia Presbytery overtures General Assembly to study women elders...

From the blog of Pastor Andrew Dionne of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Spartansburg, South Carolina:

No need for a study committee...

It’s said that progressives will revisit settled issues until they become unsettled. The Philadelphia Presbytery is using such tactics, hoping to revisit the settled Biblical polity regarding the sex (the Philadelphia Presbytery shows her slip by using the word “gender”) of elders. They desire to find some wiggle room for candidates for ordination who “may come forward who understand Scripture to allow women to be ordained to the office of elder.”


J. Gresham Machen and Reformed ministry today...

After posting on Tim Keller and Redeemer, it seemed good also to post this excerpt from J. Gresham Machen's classic critique of early twentieth century liberalism, Christianity and Liberalism. If you have not read it, you simply must. This past Tuesday in our noon meeting with our church pastors and the students in our Clearnote Pastors College, I read the following excerpt out loud, making the point that this description of the liberalism of the early twentieth century is a very good placeholder for the culture of liberalism within PCA and other Reformed churches today. I say "culture" because the vocabulary of presentation has changed, but the substance is the same. There is no preaching of repentance in the PCA. Only grace everywhere and always. But grace without repentance is no grace at all. Instead, we preach to good people who just need to be a little less...


Tim Keller: hundreds of sermons, but no repentance...

A longtime pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) sent me an e-mail with an excerpt from a Yelp review of Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Going over there, I read all the reviews and here are some interesting excerpts...


World Vision's big boo-boo...

About World Vision, I'm sorry for what I wrote before. This matter deserved something more than snarkiness, and for that I apologize. I've pulled the former content off this post. So now, here's something I hope is more helpful:

I have never given any money to World Vision and I'd recommend against any of our readers giving them money. They are a hugely wealthy business and that's how you should think about them. Their marketing is as sophisticated as Apple's, although their product is slightly different. Instead of "Think Differently," it's "Feel Globally Compassionate."

But compassion should never be global. Normally, it should be personal, but not pseudo-personal through a marketing machine. Personal-personal. Like in adoption. I could go on about this, but time and priorities cause me to leave it with that. It's a trajectory of thought that many of you would do well to follow, though.

Beyond  the issue of the nature of Christian compassion and service, I would never give money to World Vision because it's hugely rich; it's richly huge and it's my conviction what's rich and huge in America is never ever godly. It may be Evangelical. It may have IRS non-profit status. But it's not at all godly. Which is to say Godliness—true Godliness—doesn't sell in America, let alone selling as supremely well as World Vision has sold for several generations, now.

Beyond the issues of the nature of Christian compassion and service and World Vision's all-American Evangelical success, there's the issue of exporting America's sins. For instance, ask yourself whether you believe in empowering women?

Of course you do. You're a Christian and Christians have always been leading the rest of the world in that uniquely Christian revolution of the empowerment of women...


Leadership is male: Women as trustees over Christian colleges...

With the collapse of Evangelical theology and the consequent unfaithfulness of Evangelical churches and institutions, many churches and fellowships of churches are starting their own colleges and seminaries. Readers of this blog will be familiar with New St. Andrews College, Bethlehem College and Seminary,  Clearnote Pastors College (site down just now for redesign), Reformed Evangelical Pastors College, and Athanasius College. There are many, many more. 

One question these new institutions must address as they set up their governance structures is the same question older colleges and seminaries have had to wrestle with: Should we have women serving on our school's top governing board?

As I have corresponded with a number of leaders of these colleges...


Here am I, send me...

An hour and a half west of Bloomington is the city of Terre Haute which is home to the small and reputable school, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Tomorrow night, this little conservative engineering school in the middle of a city notorious for its lowlife druggies (crystal meth) will host a forum on so-called "marriage equality," which is to say homosexual marriage. The questions to be addressed are:

(1) What is marriage from a legal standpoint? What distinguishes it from other legal relationships?
(2) Does marriage benefit the state?
(3) Why does the government recognize marriage?
(4) How does the Fourteenth Amendment apply to the legality of same-sex marriage? How are civil rights involved?
(5) How does marriage law interact with state and national law? How is marriage a judicial issue?
(6) Also, what are the legal ramifications of the HJR-3? [House Joint Resolution 3 prohibiting homosexual marriage]

Across America, the chattering class has found its latest heartthrob, and it's nothing as pretty as Taylor Swift. Desperately trying to clean it up, they refer to this lie and the dirty acts it exists to legitimize and institutionalize as "marriage equality." Their icy hearts go pitter-patter with deviancy's every advance, and they give themselves to exquisite shivers when these advances occur out there in the hinterlands. Already banned from New York by Governor Cuomo's henchmen, Christians are silent as the marriage equality movement inexorably expands out there in the Midwest. Cuomo rejoices that the hated "Bible thumpers" are one step closer to Siberia.

But what have we done to merit such hatred?


What's up with the Aquila Report...

Once upon a time, I used to check the Aquila Report, daily, to see what was up in the Reformed World. But now, something has changed over there and I'll check it no more.

You could almost hear the squeals of delight when Doug Phillips issued his apology for his moral failure. Several articles have been posted saying, “I told you so—that’s what you get with patriarchy.” All that was missing were emoticons of shaking heads, clucking sounds, and "meows"....


Sanctifying androgyny: "a woman can do anything a non-ordained man can do"...

Some may be unfamiliar with the saying, "a woman can do anything a non-ordained man can do." Trust me, this is a mantra in PCA and other Reformed leadership circles and it has received precious little critical scrutiny. Here then are several reasons why a woman can't do everything a non-ordained man can do.

First, a woman cannot impregnate her husband. A non-ordained man can impregnate his wife. There. I’ve written it. If this biological fact doesn't seem to have any application to the mantra, we can see how the androgyny of our world has seeped in and permeates the church's thinking.

An unordained man penetrates, but a woman receives. And this isn't simply biology...


The Church and the family...

Last week, Mary Lee and I joined Pastor Jerid Krulish and his wife, Aria, and the souls of Westminster Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Vancouver, Washington, for their 2013 Annual Heritage Conference. It was a great weekend and we appreciated the kind hospitality of all, but especially Elder Tom Berkompas and his wife, Cindy, and their wonderful chilldren who fed and coffeed us to our heart's content.

Here are the titles of the messages...


Joe Bayly to Marvin Olasky: Capital punishment is Biblical...

Here's a column Dad published on the subject of capital punishment in a thoughtful and mature Reformed magazine called "Eternity" back in May of 1977. Titled, "Bloodthirsty or Biblical: Hang the man or hang the logic," Dad turned away from the (even then) trendy hand-wringing over the death penalty. After all, he had studied Scripture and listened carefully to the fathers of the Reformed faith.

* * *

One element has been missing from discussions of Gary Gilmore’s recent execution and of the larger question of capital punishment.

We’ve heard a lot, mostly con but some pro, about the deterrent effect of capital punishment, and about the thwarted possibility of reformation. And more has been said about “murder” by the state, about the effect on the condemned man of waiting for time and appeals to run out, about society’s voyeurism, even about the suffering of the condemned man compared to that of his victim and the victim’s family.

But I have not seen a serious presentation of the one element in capital punishment that has found general historical agreement, among Jews and Christians: retribution, the punitive effect.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that this is absent from our consideration of the ultimate punishment, since it is also the missing element from our consideration of punishments for lesser crimes.

I am not especially concerned about the rejection of retribution by the secular mind, which in our day to a large degree is humanistic. Reformation of the criminal is the only reason for incarceration or other punishment, according to this way of thinking. But I am deeply concerned about its rejection by the Christian mind. As in so many other recent instances, it seems to me that we have in this turned from the Word of God and accommodated our theology, attitudes and values to this present evil world and its ruler...


Tim Keller's transformationalism...

But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. - 1Timothy 2:12

Imagine a fortress, absolutely impregnable, provisioned for an eternity. There comes a new commandant. He conceives that it might be a good idea to build bridges over the moats—so as to be able to attack the besiegers. Charmant! He transforms the fortress into a countryseat, and naturally the enemy takes it. So it is with Christianity. They changed the method—and naturally the world conquered.

- Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon “Christendom, (Princeton University Press, 1944), p. 138.

- In (her book, Jesus, Justice, and Gender Roles), author and co-founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church Kathy Keller ...encourages women to teach and lead in the church in ways that may startle some complementarians. (from Mrs. Keller's ad copy for her book on Amazon)

Upon the release of Tim Keller's "transformationalist" Bible, it's important to scrutinize the fruit of Tim's particular brand of transformationalism as it relates to the Biblical doctrine of sexuality. The past few days, I've been working with a man in the Philly area who is writing a document opposing his Reformed church's recent move toward women elders, and in the process of this work it's become clear that my friend has been led by Tim and Kathy Keller into error. Through the years, Baylyblog has not been appreciated for our work documenting how Tim Keller and his Redeemer Presbyterian Church have rebelled against the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America and Scripture in their election and practice of woman officers...


Covenant Seminary's Scripture Problem (No. 2): Jack Collins starts with a whimper...

"From my viewpoint, there is something lacking in the book. First as a Christian the author does not address the importance of the inspiration and authority of scripture. For the most part the author stands over the Bible rather than under the Bible." - from an Amazon review of Did Adam and Eve Really Exist by Jack Collins

C. John "Jack" Collins is an Old Testament prof at Covenant Theological Seminary who served as the Old Testament "chair" of the English Standard Version's Translation Committee. Collins did his undergrad work at MIT, his doctoral work at Liverpool, and has been given money by the Center for Science and Culture and the John Templeton Foundation to write on "faith and science."

Recently, Dr. Collins issued a book Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? enlarging upon a paper he wrote titled, "Adam and Eve as Historical People, and Why It Matters." It's that compressed version of Collins's book critiqued below and this is the second in a series. The first is found here.

Adam and Eve as Historical People, and Why It Matters

by C. John (Jack) Collins

(Summary) The best way to account for both the biblical presentation of human life and our own experience in the world is to suppose that Adam and Eve were real persons, and the forebears of all other human beings. The biblical presentation concerns not simply the story in Genesis and the biblical passages that refer to it, but also the larger biblical storyline, which deals with God’s good creation invaded by sin, for which God has a redemptive plan; Israel’s calling to be a light to the nations; and the church’s prospect of successfully bringing God’s light to the whole world. The biblical presentation further concerns the unique role and dignity of the human race, which is a matter of daily experience for everyone: all people yearn for God and need him, depend on him to deal with their sinfulness, and crave a wholesome community for their lives to flourish.

Baylyblog has a post category or tag titled "Gelded discourse." The tag comes from something C. S. Lewis said in his The Abolition of Man:

We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

Among Reformed men who enter the ministry, the castration Lewis mentions is usually accomplished in the three years prior to ordination by their seminary professors. The summary paragraph above is a perfect example of how seminary profs accomplish their nasty task...


It all starts (or stops) with Daddy...

An editorial in today's Wall Street Journal highlights the savings Rhode Island has seen the past few years in its Medicaid expenditures as a result of negotiating from the Feds some small liberties to decide for themselves how to fund healthcare for their poor. At the time Rhode Island received this privilege from the Feds, one of every five of its citizens were on Medicaid, a quarter of the state's budget was going to Medicaid payments, and the state's Medicaid expenditures were growing 7.6% per year. More recently, though, from 2009-2012 Rhode Island has reduced its growth in Medicaid expenditures to 1.3% per year as the other 49 states' expenditures increased 4.6% per year.

States rights is not only an ordering principle of our nation's Constitution, but also the necessary method of protecting our solvency. Return decisions concerning spending of Medicaid funds to Rhode Island magistrates and, that very minute, accountability returns and expenditures begin to decline.

How did they do it? 

Two major reforms in particular saved money. The first reduced costly emergency room visits by Medicaid recipients for routine medical needs, and the second reduced admissions to pricey nursing homes by offering home-care subsidies and promoting assisted living arrangements, which seniors generally prefer.

Whether ecclesiastical or civil, that government is best which is most decentralized and exercises authority over the smallest group of people. In Presbyterian government, the session (for church members) and presbytery (for pastors) are the courts of original jurisdiction; and that should be the end of it in everything but the most extreme cases.

If a humdinger of a controversy arises in... {C}


Covenant Seminary's Scripture Problem (No. 1): Doing the numbers with Jack Collins...

C. John "Jack" Collins is a prof at the Presbyterian Church in America's Covenant Theological Seminary. Recently, Jack published a book and article purporting to defend the historicity of Adam. Jack's work is dangerous because he is carefully wrong in a very soft and seductive way. Happily, though, if we follow the first rule of journalism—follow the numbers—we will not be misled. The numbers don't lie.

Collins writes:

The story of Adam and Eve, and their first disobedience, explains how sin, the alien intruder, first came into human experience, though it hardly pretends to explain how rebellion against God (as expressed in the serpent’s speech) originated to begin with.

Note that Collins speaks of the Fall as the responsibility of both "Adam and Eve." He uses the plural: "their first disobedience." This is directly contrary to the Word of God which explicitly declares the Fall and Original Sin to be solely the responsibility of...


Covenant Theological Seminary's C. John Collins dismisses the numbers of Scripture...

It's the first rule of journalism to "follow the numbers." C. John "Jack" Collins is a prof at the Presbyterian Church in America's Covenant Theological Seminary, and recently Jack published a book and article purporting to defend the historicity of Adam. Both are dangerous pieces of work because both are carefully wrong in a very soft and seductive way. But the numbers don't lie.

Collins writes:

The story of Adam and Eve, and their first disobedience, explains how sin, the alien intruder, first came into human experience, though it hardly pretends to explain how rebellion against God (as expressed in the serpent’s speech) originated to begin with.

Note that Collins speaks of the Fall as the responsibility of both "Adam and Eve." He uses the plural: "their first disobedience." This is directly contrary to the Word of God which explicitly declares the Fall and Original Sin to be solely the responsibility of...


In Manhattan, defending creation is woman's work...

Here's a delightful piece written by Virginia Heffernan, a former fact-checker for The New Yorker who's written for Talk, Harper's, Slate, The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine. Clearly Heffernan understands why no Manhattan pastor would admit to believing in creation. 

In New York City saying you’re a creationist is like confessing you think Ahmadinejad has a couple of good points. Maybe I’m the only creationist I know.

How poverty-stricken New York City is, that while PCA pastors promote Darwin and the high priests of Science, a female journalist is left to defend the Word of God. Like they say, "a woman can do anything an ordained man can't do."

A teaser...


Supreme Court and Redeemer sexuality...

Back in the early nineties, I began to recommend that grad students, musicians, lawyers, and artists leaving our congregation in Bloomington for New York City make the church served by Tim Keller (Redeemer Presbyterian Church) their NYC church home. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the PCA at the time and tickled pink there was a Biblical Reformed witness in NYC (Dad was from Flushing).

Sadly, I began to hear back from these men and women that Redeemer's pastors were soft on sexuality. They reported the pastors had no heart to preach or teach God's Creation Order of Adam first, then Eve, and that Redeemer women were promoted to positions teaching and exercising authority over men. It was from these discouraged Redeemer members I first heard that foolish betrayal of Biblical sexuality that now has become the PCA's shibboleth: "A woman can do anything a non-ordained man can do."

This was disheartening. I had just left the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) for the Presbyterian Church in America a few years earlier with the congregation I was serving in Wisconsin, and we had chosen to affiliate with the PCA because of the PCA's seeming commitment to be faithful to God's Word on sexuality. Our Wisconsin session had talked it over and one man said, "If we go into the EPC or CRC, we'll immediately be dealing with the same battles over sexuality we've had in the PC(USA), but if we enter the PCA it'll be about twenty years before the corruption arrives." That session meeting was held in 1991.

This past weekend Mary Lee and I were back in that congregation for the Fiftieth Anniversary celebration of my former clerk of session and his wife, Don and Evelyn Jerred, and I reminded one of the couples there of that conversation twenty years ago...


The story behind the cartoon/a fond farewell to Chuck Asay...

Back in 1988, the 200th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. was held in St. Louis, home of the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court of these United States which denied the legal standing of slaves and left our nation on the brink of Civil War.

At the time I was a board member of Presbyterians Pro-Life and we were mounting a considerable challenge to our denomination's promotion of the slaughter of the unborn by bringing Mother Teresa to address the assembly (of course, outside the official venue and time). The second prong of our attack was through our daily publications and exhibit booth, so we contacted Chuck Asay, a Presbyterian brother who did editorial cartoons for the Colorado Springs Gazette, and asked him to do a series of cartoons showing the parallels between Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade, the oppression of slaves and the slaughter of the unborn.

Chuck did a wonderful job with those eight or ten cartoons. We mounted a number of them on our PPL exhibit and featured them prominently in our broadsides handed out to the commissioners each day. Between Mother Teresa's prophetic condemnation of the "murder" of the unborn which was attended by every last one of the commissioners (as well as all St. Louis's Roman Catholic hierarchy, the mayor, and every media person within two-hundred and fifty miles) and Chuck's cartoons, the earth shook at that assembly and the counter-attack was swift.

A few blacks employed by men at the top of our denominational bureaucracy came onto the exhibit floor waving signs and shouting in front of our exhibit calling us "racist" for noting the parallel between the oppression of slaves and the slaughter of babies. Media and television cameramen showed up for the shouting, and now that they were on TV, the shouters shouted more loudly about racism and demanded we...


Hold me back...

One seminar I have to miss at the PCA General Assembly this year is that you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours tag team of Lig Duncan and Tim Keller. They tell us those who sign up for their GA seminar will be the lucky recipients of their inestimable prognostications concerning the next twenty-five years:

What are the deep challenges of our cultural moment? Where is the culture going? What will it look like in 25 years? Is the evangelical influence in our culture in decline? Does that matter? Should we be addressing or engaging culture at all, and if so, how?


Complaint of Hedman et al in Peter Leithart/Federal Vision case...

Here is the complaint Hedman et al recently filed with the Standing Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church in America. Those who are aware of Dr. Leithart's ongoing trial before PCA authorities should pray for wisdom to be given to those men making judgments and to Dr. Leithart as his public teaching is scrutinized.

Complaint

To Dr. Roy Taylor, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America.

And now, this fourteenth day of May, A.D. 2012, comes RE Gerald Hedman and complains against the action of Pacific Northwest Presbytery on April 27, 2012 in denying the complaint of October 18, 2011, RE Wesley Witt versus Pacific Northwest Presbytery, in connection with the trial of TE Peter Leithart on June 3-4, 2011, and in support of said complaint sets forth the following reasons:

Whereas it is the obligation of teaching elders to uphold in their teaching the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards (BCO 21-5.2), and;

Whereas presbyteries are charged to “condemn erroneous opinions which injure the purity or peace of the Church” (BCO 13-9.f), and;...