Denominational seminaries always lead the way...

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.

Covenant Theological Seminary student Todd writes:

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.

But most importantly...

note well how Todd began this litany: "Paul's thinking is nuanced..."

At first glance no one may have been offended by these words, but let's try them another way. If we're escaping the clear application of a text to our lives and families and churches today by talking on and on about nuance and dichotomy and ancient cultural contexts, can we see why we'd begin our escape clauses with the statement, "Paul's thinking is nuanced..."? What if we changed two of Todd's words and wrote it this way: "The Holy Spirit's thinking..."? Things become clear, don't they?

But wait, let's add a couple more words: "The Holy Spirit's thinking is nuanced..."


Really, it's easy to recognize arguments that are aimed at cultural appeasement. It's good to know that Michael and Todd both desire to affirm Scripture's teaching concerning sexuality, and we wish them well. But for myself, I would encourage them to go somewhere else for their theological training. In fact, I'd encourage them to go to Fuller or Princeton or Bethel rather than Covenant. Why?

Because hitting their heads against the real McCoys of evangelical feminism might convince them there's really an enemy to be fought, that this enemy takes no prisoners, and that faithful soldiers of the Cross will wield the Sword of the Spirit in a dichotomous, non-nuanced, way--seeking to allow, not Paul but the Holy Spirit, to separate "joints and marrow."

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).

No doubt many students and professors at Covenant, as well as Princeton, Fuller, Regent, and Bethel, are ready to come to the aid, testifying to the biblical faithfulness of their alma mater (nursing mother). No doubt each school has faithful servants of the Lord who truly love God's Word and call their students to discipline their flocks with those truths hated by our culture--and any man even faintly conscious today must place hatred of authority at the top of this list, particularly authority that is a function of one's sex.

What remains is the testimony of one man who came to Covenant a couple years ago from a major research university where he'd taken his Ph.D., who then completed his M.Div. at Covenant and spent his time there keeping careful track of what he was and wasn't taught concerning the biblical doctrine of sexuality; and who upon completion of his three years there makes these observations. And I quote him here:

(Covenant) does very little to promote the biblical doctrine of sexuality. (Covenant's) professors declare that chauvinism, not feminism, is the main problem in the church today. (At Covenant,) the work of complementarian authors (including Piper/Grudem and their "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood") was denigrated as "demeaning to women." A lecture on 1 Corinthians 11 ...neglected to address any implications of this passage for women today and focused mainly on how men should respect women... Not once in a marriage and family counseling class did I hear any approaches that were sex-specific. Not once during my three years of course work for the M.Div. were headship and submission mentioned. In general, biblical headship was caricatured and biblical submission was ignored. The combined weight of all of Covenants teaching (or lack of teaching) most definitely gave the impression that she and her president were convinced egalitarians, promoting and practicing the idea that "a woman may do anything a non ordained man may do."

The Rev. Dr. Dionne's observations lead naturally to certain questions:

In today's world, how is it possible for a man to complete three years of training for the ministry of Word and Sacrament at a seminary paid for by faithful PCA congregants without being taught headship and submission? Is the man lying? Maybe he sat through chapel and classes listening to his iPod?

But then, we must go on and ask what kind of culture prevails within an institution where professors believe chauvinism, not feminism or rebellion, is the most significant sin of the church? (It occurs to me to wonder whether these profs are saying something about their president, here? Speaking hypothetically, what if these men live under autocratic leadership? Might it not be that their conviction about chauvinism permeating the church is only the natural error of generalizing from one's own experience to the broader world? Just a suggestion, but Covenant's board of trustees might be wise to investigate whether Covenant's president cultivates an atmosphere of blind submission rather than academic collegiality? Joke.)

And finally, is it possible to be in love with the truth of Scripture's doctrine of sexuality while denigrating John Piper and Wayne Grudem's "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" for being "demeaning to women"? And how is it that Covenant's administration and board of trustees has grown so lax in their supervision of their employees that this sort of statement is made, not in a private consultation with an individual student, but boldly to a whole classroom of students?

But I must say this testimony comports well with my own observations. Few Covenant grads have a heart for anything other than a minimalist doctrine of sexuality, but their heart for graceful nuances is huge. Certainly they have not been trained for battle.

Yes, these are generalizations. And there are always exceptions to generalizations. And when dealing with something like judgments concerning the kind of culture that pervades an academic institution, there will be many opinions and many facts cited as corroboration of each opinion.

Time will tell what lessons our denomination's pastors learned while taking their M.Divs. at Covenant. Meanwhile, David, Andrew, and I will continue to warn souls that evangelical feminism is the cultural reality within many reformed evangelical communities and churches, and that this culture is antithetical to biblical faith. Warning, exhorting, correcting, and rebuking on this matter is loving and graceful--not to mention obedient.

To those inclined to think such criticisms as those appearing above proof of my having a party or schismatic spirit, let me assure them that I have absolutely nothing to gain by writing these things. I'm not a part of any party of men (or women) that will pat me on the back for what I've said. Rather, I write because, for myself, I believe "the church reformed, always reforming" is not hypothetical. If we love the souls we shepherd, not to mention the confessional community we belong to, ecclesiastically, we must work for her future and not simply give ourselves to endless rehearsals of her glorious past.


Those two objections by the Michael and Todd are the objections that I have heard more than anything.

People try to woo me by saying that Paul was writing to Timothy who was in Ephesus where they worshipped Diana, and say "hey, those people really need to hear that, but it doesn't apply to us today."

If that doesn't work, they go ahead and make ridiculous claims that Paul was trying to be all things to all people.

(paraphrased) "Women at that time were dirt. They were unimportant, and looked at as an animal would be looked at. Of course Paul would tell Timothy for women to keep silent so that if an outsider came into the church, he or she wouldn't be uncomfortable."

One of my roommates said the above quote. Almost immediately after hearing him say that, I opened the Word to 1 Tim. 2 and I just wanted place it in front of him and tell him to read, but I don't think it would have been effective, even with the Word of God sitting there in front of him.

I feel you have quoted me unfairly. I made sure to add after talking about the "different people" and "different time" that this is not an attempt to relativize Scripture. By understanding the particulars, we gain the universals. As a minister of the Word, surely you will admit that there is more to exegesis than part of a verse out of context in the translation. Truly, one could make Scripture say anything with that exegetical approach.

I am most astonished at this response because I have consistently stated that "I agree with the complementarian position." That is, after doing "nuanced" exegesis in the original languages and understanding the context of the people to whom Paul writes, I affirm that Paul was issuing a universal prohibition. And yet I am lambasted for suggesting that this kind of exegesis is necessary to understand better what Paul intended.

I wish to show you the utmost respect, as an elder in my denomination, but I am frankly appalled at the tone and manner that you used in quoting me. I apologize if I have said anything disrespectful or (to quote some of your commenters) "apostate," but I stand by this seminary as led by Godly men training other men to submit themselves daily to the entire testimony of Scripture.

I have not been brainwashed, and I am not a feminist, but I think that the commenters on your blog should remember that these conversations are being held between members of the same body, the same family. We should be free to disagree with one another, but I firmly believe that disagreement should be charitable, humble, and loving.

Todd Gwennap

Brother Todd, Sorry you believe I've unfairly quoted you. But the good thing about blogs and comments is your protest is here immediately under what I wrote for all to read.

As for your claim that you're complementarian, I might respond, "complementarian is as complementarian does," or "the proof is in the pudding." But beyond this appellation, "complementarian," the real question is whether or not all previous generations have been in error in their understanding of Genesis 2,3 and 1Timothy 2, and whether Fee, Scholer, Nicole, Chapell, Custis James, and Keller are right.

One thing for certain, though: "A woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do" is not the confession of the church down through the ages concerning the metaphysics, ontology, or deep ecology of sexuality as revealed by the Holy Spirit in the Word of God.

To be blunt, true love for the lost today will not add nuance to the church's cavilling, but rather wield the Sword of the Spirit with courage and boldness knowing that to some we will be the stench of death, but to those being saved we'll be the sweet aroma of salvation.

As for affect, tone, grace, love, and similar matters, it's clear we have different standards by which we judge others with regard to these things. I'm certain they matter to you; be assured they are equally important to me and those on this blog with whom I agree. Generally, it seems better to focus on the argument itself than the tone of the argument. In other words, you are not the only one here who is appalled.

God bless you as you enter another semester of preparation for pastoral ministry, brother.

In one sense I'm smiling as I write this; in another sense, it is sad and distressing. This is similar to when Dr. Roy Taylor wrote his article in "ByFaith" mag and caused such a fire storm. If the Bible teaches complementarianism--and it does--then why are students at Covenant Seminary so exercised? Whatever the case, Carolyn Custis James in her writings to which we can all refer believes that woman (ezer)should be/could be translated "warrior" while the man (prior to the fall) has no such designation. This is cause for concern.
But apart from that, the discourse coming from Michael and Todd is highly predictable. They have both fallen victim to the "Gospel Contextualization Syndrome" and seem to believe that few, if any, outside of Covenant Seminary have ever read about contextualization, or, if they've read about it, are completely clueless as to what it means and how it needs to be applied.
The "humility and grace" with which Todd and Michael believe they have spoken is further evidence of what Neo-Neanderthals they're dealing with here. Not everyone has the distinct advantage of being a seminary student. It was with great surprise, therefore, when Jody's comments were termed an "uncharitable elevation of discourse." Now Jody doesn't strike me as someone who needs my assistance, but for the life of me I could not understand what was uncharitable about his discourse unless someone was unnecessarily sensitive.
I also take great exception to the examples used by Michael and Todd. I have no clue where the notion of extracted--although I have a good idea--about the Church--is there an address for "the Church?"--throwing hand grenades--does any local church have hand grenades besides my militant, oppressive congregation?--and saying, "Submit! Submit! Submit!" I'm less concerned about what is being taught at CS than I am about what's being smoked! Did the author of this piece of claptrap get his information from the coffee shop--no doubt drinking a designer Starbucks--while talking to college students about the ravages of submission?
If Todd is going to fight like a Marine for anything, I would like to know if he is or was a Marine. Semper Fi. If he were a Marine, then I thank him for his service. If he were not a Marine I find it highly presumptuous that he would think that he has any notion of what it is to fight like a Marine.
Finally, the 50% of marriages thing by Michael jumps quickly to the point he wants to make: men are grinding their wives into the ground with a gross misuse of the submission clause in the Bible. Does Michael know this from experience? College students? Statistics? Just for the record--and this is something to consider--what I'm finding--but remember, I'm just a pastor--is that a growing problem that the Church is facing today is marital infidelity on the woman's part as she has left the home--it's a contextualization thing having to do with the globalization of the Gospel where we're having to give new meanings to old biblical words like, say, adultery--and have become sexually intimate with others. Granted, the man will have to answer for his failings, sins, and shortcomings in such a situation, but it is gratuitous to assign the failures of Christian marriage to an abuse of a perfectly good and clearly defined biblical truth.
Apparently, our Lord--in his humanity--did not find submission beneath his dignity, where in Luke 2:51 we're told that he was "submissive" to His parents, and the Greek word is the same one used of wives in Eph. 5:22.
Rattlesnake 6

I am very troubled by this, though as a Baptist, I don't really have any dog--devil-dog or otherwise--in this fight. I am troubled because of one of the men who led me to Christ--he went to Duke for this Ph.D. to lend an evangelical flavor to otherwise liberal seminaries, and has arrived at a liberal seminary--attending a United Methodist church and campaigning for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

He could certainly be still more or less fundamental, and might be quietly stirring up a revival at his seminary and church. Maybe. I have to wonder, though, if the liberal mindset has infected him. Do we sometimes get so smart that we forget the obvious?

Rev. Bayly, Rev Dr. Dr. Gleason and Rev. Dr. Andrew, with all the respect accorded each of you by your positions as teaching elders in the PCA, I turn to John Calvin, one of our shared influencers, to remind you that

For who even of slight intelligence does not understand that as nurses commonly do with infants, God is wont in a measure to "lisp" in speaking to us? Thus such forms of speaking do not so much express clearly what God is like as accommodate the knowledge of him to our slight capacity. To do this he must descend far beneath his loftiness.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book I:13:1.

Gentlemen, thank you for reminding us of what it looks like for men to be of slight intelligence and slight capacity (as we all are), such that we are aware of the great accomodation/condescension God has been required to make, so that each of us might catch a glimpse of his truth.

I apologize if I have misrepresented anyone over the last few days, especially Covenant. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.


George Orwell once said, "We have sunk to such a depth that the restatement of the obvious has become the first duty of intelligent men."

Yes, our culture--and the church--has sunk to the level of this kind of "smartness." And it is the first duty of godly men to restate that which is obvious in Scripture.

>If you were expecting the professors at Covenant to convey what is true in the same obtuse tone that many here employ

michael your humility is just too much

As you seminarians, I hope you will learn something from your elders here that has evaded a lot of your generation: stating the obvious clearly and sometimes even bluntly (what you call obtuseness) is usually the most loving path. It is done over and over again throughout Scripture.

In today's culture, nuance is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

I'm not part of the PCA (I like my babies dry), know nothing of Covenant (other than listening to some of Calhoun's lectures on Calvin), but I have read and listen to most of what Timothy Keller has written and I have never detected any of the "back door to evangelical feminism" spoken of in his stuff. Keller is beloved and deeply respected in many of the circles in which I run. Thus, I'm curious is Keller just guilty by association, have you heard him say something to the extent accused here, and/or have I just overlooked something (which is entirely possible)? This of course isn't the main thrust of the couple post covering this subject but something I'm interested in knowing.

Jacks Pipe, I am learning from my elders here, but not what you may think. I have just learned frm you that nuance is the last refuge of a scoundrel. (Scoundrel-an outspoken and bold man who is good with many ladies, this word is usually spoken by a lady with a smile ) Of course that is not how webster defines it~

Thank you, Michael, for your last comment: you have given us invaluable insight into your exegetical and hermeneutical approach to words and, especially, Scripture. We need look no further than your handling of the word "scoundrel," for clearly you take any word and pour into it whatever meaning you desire in order to support your pre-determined belief.

Objective truth be damned, eh? As all real scholars know and remind us condescendingly, words have no actual referrant but are defined solely by the culture in which they are employed. Anyone who understands deconstructionism understands this, right?

There is little point in anyone attempting to reason with you further, for you will either rage or laugh, and there will be no peace. It is dangerous, indeed, to be wise in one's own eyes - I know this firsthand all too well. But now I am no longer young enough to know it all and must admit to some humility. You will find aging quite disconcerting and discomforting (but, of course, you can make those words mean whatever you want and that will change everything).

Right at the heart of what's being debated here is the question "what is preaching?" In some ways this is a difficult question to answer, but we know from scripture that when it happens some run to it and are rescued, and the rest pick up stones.

I'm sure that the seasoned preachers reading this who have remained faithful to scripture, focusing their efforts right at the heart of the gnarliest battles, would readily attest a hundred times over that he who twists Romans 12:8's "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (and like scriptures) to mean "let the gospel be offensive and not the man" always do so in order to silence the preacher. They have ears, but aren't hearing.

I mean this with all sincerity, Jody, and place the responsibility only on myself, but I have no idea what you just said or meant. Did you mean to be ambiguous or am I growing (more) dense and (more) obtuse as my arteries harden?


Dear Bayly Blog & Readers,

I am a PCA member and occasional reader of this blog. As I'm sure many others are, I'm concerned that my denomination's seminary provide faithful Biblical witness on the subject of human sexuality -- surely this is one of the most critical points of Gospel witness in America today. David & David, thank you for your efforts for the Kingdom in this regard. May the Lord bless them and you.

The commets to this post prompted me to pop over to the Covenant website: under the ministry resource files (covenant can be found the Spring 2000 Schaeffer Lectures on Women's Roles in the Church as well as a series of messages by Bryan Chappell on Ep. 5:21-33, entitled Each for the Other (I haven't read his book by that name.)

I assume that these would give a fairly accurate picture of Cov. Seminary's teaching? Having listened to the first message of Rev. Chappell's, ( here are a few off-the-cuff comments: A) Excellent Application. This was the meat of the message. Rev. Chappell talked a lot about wrong interpretations of headship and the need for the husband to be a leader in sacrificing. B) The Exegesis leaves me with some questions. (I do not believe that it is possible for me to have an exact understanding of Rev. Chappell's thoughts on this subject from the very incomplete data of the message, nor do I think that Rev. Chappell was obligated to provide that data in that context. Please do not take these questions as criticisms of Rev. Chappell.) 1) For one thing, Rev. Chappell links the end of vs.21 (submit to one another) to the following verses. He does not say that husbands are to be submissive to their wives, nor does he deny it. Especially given the way that the end of vs. 21 is used to support egalitarian interpretations, I believe that the denial is important. He does talk about wives submitting to their husbands, however. 2) Although I strongly agree with Rev. Chappell's points about husband's sacrificing for and serving their wives, it seems to me that the language of servant-leadership can be used to negate any ideas of hierarchy and authority. Please understand that I believe that the message of leaders sacrificing and serving is vital. I fully agree with it, and Rev. Chappell has done an excellent job of teaching it here. I was edified by his message.

Along the lines of the Christ/Church - Husband/Wife analogy -- after considering Christ's humiliation and sacrifice, it is also good to consider that He is our Lord, we are not His lords, He is in authority over us, we are not in authority over Him, He rules over us and commands us, we do not rule over Him nor command Him, He does not submit to us, we submit to Him. Christ's sacrifice and service do not do away with the essential hierarchical relationship. And surely we who are Christians delight in our submission, and find the idea of role-relationship blasphemous.

Along those lines, I do not believe that it is the teaching of the Bible that a man should submit to his wife. I also believe that male "submissiveness" (which looks a little different than womanly submissiveness) is also a problem today which needs to be addressed from the pulpit.

As an example of Rev. Chappell's exegesis which did not leave me with questions and which I find to be vital Biblical truth, let me mention his teaching that the man is also in submission in marriage -- submission to God. As I think about marriage, it seems to me that for a wife to take delight in submission, she must know that her husband is also "a man under authority" (Luke 7:8 Jesus and the Centurion).

I write as a young man, unmarried (hoping to be so someday), who would agree with CBMW, who is complementarian, and who believes that patriachy shouldn't be a taboo word. I have also grown up in a covenant home with two parents who modeled love and a Biblical husband-wife relationship. Because of this, I know that I do not have the negative reactions to "complementariansim" that so much of our society has.

I do not presume to know what Rev. Chappell or other proffessors at Covenant think. I was edified by Rev. Chappell's message which I've just listened to and I am thankful to him as a servant of Christ's church for giving it. However, I am concerned by the way in which he linked Eph. 5:21b to the following verses. (BTW, see the later edition of James Boice's Ephesians commentary on this.) I am also concerned in general that all of the Church's teaching on male headship not be taken up with servant-leadership (although I DO believe that this is vital and must be preached), with no time given to the naturalness, beauty, health, and God-imaging nature of the essential hierarchical relationship on which the servant leadership is predicated. It seems to me that most of what I encounter is the "servant leadership" stuff, with little to no time given to the other. Both are vital.

David & David, my apologies for such a long comment. May our God & Christ give us all humility and unwavering steadfastness in faithfulness to His Word.

Yours in Him,


1) Tim, I apologize for calling you David -- and for doing it twice.

2) In the paragraph on Christ and the Church, I meant to say that surely we find the idea of "ROLE-REVERSAL" blasphemous.


Finrod, you said, "As all real scholars know and remind us condescendingly, words have no actual referrant but are defined solely by the culture in which they are employed."

I recognize this and agree with you that this is a very dire problem. I was using irony to make that point in a conversation that is somewhat longer than just the one post that you saw. Sorry if there was some confusion there. I am also sorry to hear that aging has been a challenge for you. I will pray that the Lord will be very comforting to you in the coming days.


Unless you truly intend to pray for those you say you are praying for--and your snideness renders your honesty suspect--you should keep your mouth shut.

You prove yourself fundamentally unworthy of the calling you claim when you mock the things of the Lord in this way.


David Bayly


I am in no way mocking things of the Lord or being snide. There was nothing but sincerity in my words. The Lord knows that!

I am sorry that you heard it that way.

Jack's Pipe says,

"stating the obvious clearly and sometimes even bluntly (what you call obtuseness) is usually the most loving path"

David Bayly Says,

"your snideness renders your honesty suspect--you should keep your mouth shut. You prove yourself fundamentally unworthy of the calling you claim when you mock the things of the Lord in this way."

If David's comments as an elder are of love I'd hate to see the hate.

Josh, you should read David's comments in context. It was Michael who said, "Gentlemen, thank you for reminding us of what it looks like for men to be of slight intelligence and slight capacity (as we all are),such that we are aware of the great accomodation/condescension God has been required to make, so that each of us might catch a glimpse of his truth." If I understood all those big words rightly then I'd say ole Michael was a mite insulting and justly deserving of a dismissive post (particularly when you read the rest of his posts: he's been stacking the sarcasm with his elders) .


Since Michael used titles for folks I guess I'm a "Rev. Dr." too.

Rev. Dr. Nick

As a teaching elder in the PCA I'm concerned about these issues and I'm afraid that Tim and David's warnings ring true. It appears to me that this issue is being pushed in the PCA.

On an interpretational note I'd like to post something for consideration that I posted in response to an earlier thread. Please forgive the double posting.

I think we ought to consider that the passage in Timothy is a Chiastic construction and interpret it in light of that structure. A Chiastic structure is a literary structure used in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. Ideas are presented in an order ABC...CBA so that the first concept that comes up related to the last concept, the second is related to the second to last, and so on. I think once we consider the Timothy text in light of a Chiastic structure it makes more sense. I quote, "But I do not allow a woman to teach or (to) exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression."

Notice that in this passage there are two "activities" that are forbidden women. Women are not allowed "to teach" or to "exercise authority." We also have two events found in Genesis that serve as the ground for these injunctions. Those events are the creation order (Adam was created first) and the deception of the woman.

Chiastically this is how it looks:
A: Women are not allowed to teach and
B: Women are not allowed to exercise authority
B: Adam was created first (logically this relates to the authority injunction)
A: The woman's was deceived (logically this related to the deception injunction).

The Chiastic structure seems perfectly clear here. Man was created first - therefore women should not rule over men and the woman was deceived - therefore women should not teach men.

Let me make another point: both the creation order and the deception of Eve were pre-fall. The fall didn't occur until Adam ate and their eyes were opened.

Tim, David, I've enjoyed your site. Keep contending for the faith and for the Truth. Satan started out saying "Hath God said. . ." and he's still doing it. Why don't people see that he always starts with simple and harmless stuff like apples and equality?


Nick (aka known as Dr. B.)


I did read the entire argument. However, I stand by my statement. My understanding was that elders were leaders in their local church. How then are elders here judging and reprimanding others? Am I wrong here? If so, please explain.

Thanks Nick.


When a man preaches and someone comes up to him afterwards with a long list of scriptural reminders to be more sensitive to how he's being perceived, how his overbearing personality is getting in the way of the message, and how that message should really be a gentle, humble, strictly exegetical sort of a thing, the preacher knows at least these two things for sure: 1. What he's being told is "you're not really preaching, you're just being an egotistic ass!" and 2. He most certainly did just preach.

And this is what has been going on so far in this argument.

Responses to authentic preaching are always either "what must I do to be saved?" or "crucify him!" If a preacher isn't experiencing both of these with some regularity then he preaches himself, not his Lord.

"Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way." Luke 6:26

David -

I appreciate your defense of me but, really, I don't need to be defended. First, I'm not that important in the grand scheme of things (having finally accepted that obvious truth that all of us evade as long as we can - it's a real blow to our narcissism).

Second, I really don't care what my namesake thinks of me (I'm known elsewhere as "Dr Mike"); I suppose I react to him at all simply out of some warped sense of compassion. When I was his age and full of myself, in love with my in statu nascendi intellect, I was full of disdain for others, too. Rather than create my own space, I wanted to push others out of theirs so I could occupy the high ground.

I was at-risk for being educated well beyond my intelligence - a ubiquitous problem these days, it seems - and knew an enormous amount while truly understanding very little. It wasn't until God reminded me - repeatedly - that I was very ignorant that I was able to begin to overcome my Job-like syndrome. Wisdom comes slowly and, it seems, almost too late sometimes.

As far as having a hard time growing older goes: well, since we hit the peak of our intellectual skills around the age of 55, and given that I just turned 57, I don't feel he has much to say to me about aging and muttering obliquely through life. He's clueless about this, too, although it once again does not keep him from speaking presumptuously and proving his foolishness.

The question is: Will he gain wisdom with age and feel remorse for his youthful arrogance and condescension, or will he simply become an old fool? The jury's is out and will remain out for the next 30-plus years or so.

As for me, I've not yet finished the course but I am far, far down the way. It's easy to be puffed up and grunting like a bull moose in full rut when you haven't gotten too far out of the starting blocks. I have very little left to prove; Michael has proven nothing and knows it: it's evident in his resentment and anger toward older men. (Father issues are likely, don't you think?) He has gotten far and, at this rate, he may never get beyond the stunted spirituality and belligerence of most angry Christian men.

Which, sadly, means he'll do quite well in certain denominations. Thankfully, I'm not associated with any of them.

Well Josh, Tim and David are both teaching elders, ordained and recognized as such by local assemblies and they are the "elders" of this Blog.

As for David's response to Michael I'm reminded of the following Proverb: Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.

As for you:
1 Timothy 5:1 Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, (that's a father in the context of the first century - - I'd bet the standard for a "sharp rebuke" has changed in the past 1900 years, for the worse).

Rather than a tit-for-tat on propriety, I'd rather someone respond to the substance of my second post, but that may be wishful thinking.


(It is ironic that I would be defending Reformed elders: no other group has castigated and vilified me as consistently and unfairly as Reformed brothers. But even blind squirrels find acorns and that should be recognized - or should I refer to my own words and say that even monkeys fall out of trees?)

Josh wrote:

"If David's comments as an elder are of love I'd hate to see the hate."

I thought Tim's comments were flattering compared to the language and fierceness evident in the OT prophets (especially some of the "minor" ones). Tame, too, compared to Christ's rebukes of the self-righteous, knowledge-inflated religionists of his day. Are PCA elders not allowed to be passionate and to have zeal for God? Is that now part of the job description in the denomination?

Any pastor with a knowledge-based fire in the belly should be heralded and heeded, not hushed and sent to sensitivity-training classes. Do you prefer an ox to a bull? An androgynous metrosexual rather than biblical man? I'm no fan of Eldridge but he was correct when he noted that people like Mr Rogers don't get crucified.

Josh -

Sorry: I should have said "David's comments were flattering." It's hard to tell brothers apart, you know, especially when they sound so similar.

I can just as easily throw out scriptures about speaking to others with love, so, its a waste of time to try to one up each other with scripture.

If you were in a meeting at work and your boss brought up a discussion looking for comments and then told you to shut your mouth when your comments didn't match his, what would you say about your boss?

Your boss could have said, "Could you refrain from speaking any further on this topic." As the worker, you would probably honor his request and still respect his authority. If he told you to shut your mouth, you would probably lose respect for his authority and start sending out your resume.

This is futile. One would think that I would know better than to ask some people - Reformed or otherwise - to listen and think. God knows I've spent far too much time trying to reason with unreasoning people.

(If that description doesn't fit you, ignore it; if it does, you won't admit it anyway so you can ignore it, too: people who think themselves wise and without need of correction are worse than fools.)

I make an effort, I suppose, because of a hope of giving back: I have learned and grown much from interacting with believers from different traditions and theological perspectives. Most of all, I have learned to respect and love earnest, sincere believers who may see things differently than I but who love God every bit as much, if not more.

Thank God I'm not a part of a Reformed community (not that Reformed churches are the only ones with issues: they just seem to have a higher percentage of Truly Reformed members that are gifted at being obnoxious and obdurate. The Christian life is already difficult enough for me without having non-listening, unteachable Christians make it unnecessarily more so.

No offense to my reasonable Reformed brethren: I've no beef with you, other than to complain that you let so many misrepresent (I hope) the fruit of the your theological positions. Of course, when you do speak up, look what happens.

I won't say I'm sorry for this comment: if I were, I wouldn't leave it. I am sorry that I keep trying. I am a romantic idealist at heart, I suppose, or perhaps one who thinks most Christians really do want to know the truth and live it. Naïve, I know, but the alternative is more cynicism than I already wrestle with.


***Michael Foster asked: "...have you heard (Tim Keller) say something to the extent accused here, and/or have I just overlooked something (which is entirely possible)? This of course isn't the main thrust of the couple posts covering this subject but something I'm interested in knowing."***

Dear Michael,

Specific things have led to my concern over Redeemer and Pastor Tim Keller, but the key thing is to say that the post I just put up--"The church reformed, always reforming..."-- could as easily have been written about Pastor Tim Keller as about President Bryan Chapell. In writing these posts, I've checked and double-checked my concerns with men whose discernment I trust, and I've only been strengthened in these concerns. I might add that I've had concrete reasons for concern for a number of years, now, in the case of both men, and that my concern over Redeemer's ministry was raised initially, and continues to be strengthened, by souls who moved to New York City from Bloomington. We keep in touch.

A heart for the breach in the wall and focusing one's efforts there is, throughout Scripture, a test of pastoral faithfulness. And lots of talk about cultural engagement can be an effective way of diverting attention away from one's abandonment of that breach.

Thanks, Tim. Hopefully, I'll see you guys soon!

Jody--Thanks so much for your comments here and on the related posts. I've been very encouraged by your words. I've been thinking about the kind of reaction that I prompt from the people that I work with. The Apostle Paul was beaten constantly for the message that he preached. Do I regularly suffer such beatings? Certainly not--in fact I seek to avoid saying things that will get me beaten. What would it look like for me to assert Christ's Lordship not just in the abstract, but directly to a co-worker and concerning his very person? I think that perhaps I am an aroma of life to some and death to others. But, it's probably more of a faint waft than a pungent odor. May God give us boldness through his Spirit.

Add new comment