PCA

Diversity in the PCA: enforcing peace rather than forging unity...

"...until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man..." (Eph. 4:13)

The fifth key area identified by the PCA's Cooperative Ministries Committee was "Practicing diversity well in the PCA" (first, here; second, here; third, here; fourth, here):

Practicing diversity well in the PCA – particularly, theological diversity within our confessional parameters, ethnic diversity, generational diversity, urban-suburban-small-town-rural diversity, worship style diversity, philosophy of ministry diversity, etc.

"Diversity" is one of those words that makes an alarm bell go off in my head. The same goes for Stanford professor Thomas Sowell:

If there is ever a contest for words that substitute for thought, “diversity” should be recognized as the undisputed world champion. You don’t need a speck of evidence, or a single step of logic, when you rhapsodize about the supposed benefits of diversity.

"Diversity" is not a Scripture-word...

Tags: 

General Assembly attractiveness in the PCA: doing the impossible...

The fourth key issue identified by the PCA's Cooperative Ministries Committee (first, here; second, here; third, here) was:

Making the General Assembly more attractive to younger pastors and ruling elders.

General Assemblies, like elder board and presbytery meetings, are work sessions. If we try to lure men to attend GA by it's attractiveness we detract from the task at hand: doing the work of the church. For me, GA would be more attractive if we dispensed with the pre-assembly sideshows and seminars and immediately got to work. We could define ourselves by our actions rather than by talking about who we are ad nauseam (sorry, I like the sound of that drum).

But, since you asked, here are a few more things that would make GA attractive to me...


Leadership in the PCA: protecting power structures while tossing a bone to younger men...

The third key issue (first here and second here) identified by the Cooperative Ministries Committee of the PCA at this year's General Assembly was "The rising generation of leaders in the PCA:

The rising generation of leaders in the PCA – particularly, seeking to find new avenues of including younger people in denominational leadership.

Are the fathers of the PCA really ready to grant younger men access to the reins of power? Here's a case study based on the Board of Trustees of the denomination's Covenant Theological Seminary...


Homosexuality in the PCA: on the road to affirmation...

The second key area identified by the PCA's Cooperative Ministries Committee was "Homosexuality and related issues" (for commentary on the first issue—"the role of women"—visit my previous post)...

Homosexuality and related issues – particularly, how the PCA may best minister in a fallen world to homosexual persons, graciously sharing the Gospel and maintaining biblical standards of conduct and biblical marriage.

As we were reminded repeatedly throughout the PCA's 42nd General Assembly, committees do their work carefully, thoughtfully, and intentionally. So I take it that the particular wording of these five key areas is not just a mumble. To be fair, I did not hear the CMC's report and have not seen the document, so I am going out on a limb by trusting the writer of the byFaith article. If the byFaith staff is faithfully reporting the CMC statement, I've got a bone to pick.

Notice that the CMC stated they want to help the PCA to minister to "homosexual persons." They did not write "persons tempted by homosexuality;" or better, "persons tempted to commit homosexual sin" or "persons tempted by same-sex intimacy." Intentionally using the label "homosexual persons" shows their hand...


Ordination in the PCA: the only distinction between men and women...

On Wednesday afternoon at the PCA’s 42nd General Assembly, the Cooperative Ministries Committee presented five critical issues that require study and subsequent recommendations. You might not be surprised to learn that the first has to do with the role of women...

The role of women in the PCA – particularly, giving women a greater voice and more visible roles, while maintaining the denomination’s position on male ordained leadership in governing.

The elders of the PCA approach the definition of their leadership like a defeated husband. He vaguely remembers there are verses in the Bible that talk about his wife’s submission, and femininity, and silence, and gentleness, and busy-ness at home, but he’s married a woman whose father trained her not to submit, not to be feminine, not to be silent, not to be gentle, and not to be busy at home. His heart’s desire is for his wife to be busy at home, but since she can’t have that he’ll figure out the required breadth of argument both to affirm her (and her father's) desires and hold on to some little authority. He’ll begin arguing like an egalitarian when it comes to giftedness: men and women alike have gifts of administration, and teaching, and leadership, and so on and so forth. He'll figure out ways for her to have “a greater voice and more visible roles,” all the while basically satisfied because he will retain one thing that is his own: ordination. She’s happy and he’s happy for a number of reasons: 1) she’s happy, and 2) her father’s happy, and 3) he’s retained some vestige of Biblical distinction by means of ordination. 

What happens if she asks for ordination? What will her poor husband do?


R2K hipsters want the PCA to merge with the PC(USA)...

To those who wonder why I left the PCA, most of it had to do with our pastors college and church planting with Clearnote Fellowship, our local presbytery. Then too, it was so tiring living in the middle this sort of faithlessness in my General Assembly work and on the floor of GA and presbytery meetings. This article is taken from the byFaith blog. Thus I suppose they would claim copyright. But really, there's nothing creative here to warrant copyright. They pulled the faithless words out of the public meeting of the Overtures Committee. Then there's the fact that byFaith consistently gags good comments and has been doing so for years. So I figure there ought to be one place where people are really free to leave comments (while of course abiding by our commenting rules).

To the issue at hand: the PCA General Assembly is meeting and its Overtures Committee just shot down the following overture using the following reasoning. The battle is all around them and they fear confessing Christ will jeopardize their hipster church planting.

You know, not one of these guys who lectured the other commissioners on the committee and Savanna River Presbytery about the danger of this statement has ever counselled or admonished or rebuked or excommunicated or encouraged or hugged or kissed (with a holy kiss) one single homosexual. It's clear from their whining that they don't know a thing about evangelizing or ministering to men tempted by same-sex intimacy. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Then, you add the R2K spirituality of the church nonsense and we have a hipster/R2K perfect storm of cowardice...


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...