Feminist influences in the Presbyterian Church in America...

The pastor of University Presbyterian Church (UPC) in Orlando Florida, Mark Bates, has been invited to candidate for the pastoral position at Village Seven Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Yesterday he announced his departure from UPC. Not knowing Pastor Bates myself, I downloaded a sermon, read some web stuff including his blog, Certain Hope, and checked out UPC’s web site. Pastor Bates is cut from the Pastor Tim Keller stripe, particularly in the matter of the nature and meaning of sexuality which today is the best predictor of how a man will stand in the gaps where Satan is focusing his attack on God’s Word. His Board of Elders at UPC adopted the paper titled “Women and Ministry” written by the Rev. Dr. Tim Keller and his wife, Kathy, as their own position statement on the matter. UPC’s elders make one differentiation, though, in the preface to the Kellers’ paper they’ve placed on their UPC web site :

(T)he Session adopted (Tim and Kathy Keller’s) paper as its position on the role of women in ministry, with the following exception:  The paper says that women may not be elders but that women may serve in any capacity within the local church that any non-elder male might serve. The Session of UPC would add to this that we believe this same limitation would also forbid women from shepherding men.

This short statement improves the Kellers’ position somewhat, but it’s also notable that two months ago UPC hosted Ms. Carolyn Custis James to teach Scripture on the subject of sexuality. Quite predictably, this led to what Pastor Bates on his blog referred to as some misunderstanding of UPC’s position within his flock...

(James’ message) left some people with a number of important questions about the role of women at UPC. In fact, some may even have left with the impression that there are no distinctions between the roles of men and women in the home or in the church. Others may have left thinking that the only reason UPC does not ordain women to the office of elder is because we are in the PCA. Still others may have thought that male-only elders is a hindrance to ministry.

Pastor Bates goes on to give a straightforward statement that it is the command of Scripture that women not serve as elders, and that the prohibition is rooted in God’s created order. This is good. But as we’ve often observed, the Holy Spirit declares in the pages of Scripture a heap of applications of this aspect of God’s created order that extend far beyond the simple matter of women elders and shepherding within the Church. This is what Keller and his disciples consistently fail to get. Or, what they get but refuse to teach or practice.

For instance, Keller and Keller summarize the teaching of Scripture and the leadership of women over men at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in this way:

Thus, women at Redeemer will be free to use all the gifts, privately and publicly. There are no restrictions on ministry at all. There is a restriction on the office of elder. Why? Because the Bible precludes it, and therein it points us back to the Trinitarian pattern which is strong in marriage and muted in society, but which is practiced in the church.

Beyond their being precluded from the office of elder, “No restrictions on the ministry of women at all?” Really? And the meaning and purpose of sexuality is “muted in society?” Really? (The section justifying this “muting” is certainly the most innovative exegesis I’ve come across on this subject, obviously twisted.)

The Kellers summarize their own church’s use of deaconesses—an office barred by our denomination’s Book of Church Order, by the way—in this way:

The Deaconesses will be women elected by the congregation who will do discipling, counseling, and shepherding in the church, particularly among the women. Spiritual maturity is the qualification. They will probably also exercise a teaching ministry in the church, depending on their gifts.

Note carefully the two statements, “particularly among women” and the prediction that these deaconesses will “exercise a teaching ministry in the church.” Here the Kellers explicitly state that their women officers will exercise authority over men in Redeemer. Try as I might, I can’t find any other way of interpreting what they’ve written. ‘Particularly’ necessarily implies ‘not exclusively,’ and we’re not talking about age groups, races, or other forms of diversity, but “women” and men.

Then too, what philosophy of ministry could someone conjure up that would involve “discipling, counseling, and shepherding” not involving the exercise of authority? None. It’s absolutely impossible to shepherd without exercising authority. One can be a hireling without exercising authority, but not a shepherd.

Then, note the Kellers’ mantra widely repeated across the PCA: “Women may serve in any capacity within the local church that any non-elder male might serve.” This is a pathetically weak, and therefore grossly errant summary of the biblical doctrine of sexuality.

Back to UPC and Pastor Bates: Interestingly, a man who appears to be one of UPC’s deacons responded to Pastor Bates’ blog post clarifying Ms. James’ message with this summary of what his own small group took away from James’ leadership at UPC:

My discussion group that night pondered a question about Ms. James's talk, though perhaps I didn't formulate it well when I presented it to the whole gathering. The message I heard was that we want to utilize women and their gifts in all areas and at all levels of ministry (perhaps Ms. James was speaking hyperbolically?), and we were then asked to discuss any impediments to achieving that goal in our church. My group's concern was that we have to be realistic: While we certainly can and should integrate women better into our operations, at some level our theology constrains us such that there is an uncrossable divide between the sexes -- namely, holding the office of deacon or elder. So while there are some unintentional and improper barriers to women engaging in ministry which need rectification, there are also some that intentionally prohibit women from some roles in ministry. In short, women cannot and should not be present at literally all levels.

Later in his comment on Pastor Bates’ blog, this same UPC deacon writes:

Ms. James was expounding the word for us that very night, for instance.

At this late date, it’s hard to imagine what hole UPC’s pastor and elders have been in that they didn’t anticipate Ms. James’ feminism and the stumbling block it would be to their flock. Also at this late date, it’s hard to imagine how the Kellers’ paper has been out and about since 1989 seemingly without causing a ripple within the PCA.

The good people of Village Seven Presbyterian Church need to take a close look at Pastor Keller and the ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian Church understanding that his ministry is likely a good predictor of the trajectory they're about to set out on.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.


Tim, did you express your concerns privately to Seven Village Church and Pastor Bates (and Pastor Keller) before taking this matter to the world wide web?


Michael's question to you in this regard in another thread is appropriate here as well: did you express your concerns in the matter above to Pr. Tim Bayly before taking this matter to the world wide web?

LOL, Mike -- not again! It sounds like they had already taken this controversial matter to the world wide web, as that is where Tim got his information.

I suppose if I do not like something President Bush says in public (or the local mayor), I have to confront him privately about it before telling anybody what I think? What nonsense, especially when they have published their official positions and decisions.

What a lout Martin Luther was, posting his 95 Theses on the church door instead of confronting the pope privately! He was probably just jealous because more people listened to the pope's sermons than his.


"The Holy Spirit declares in the pages of Scripture a heap of applications of this aspect of God’s created order that extend far beyond the simple matter of women elders and shepherding within the Church."

Can anyone here recommend resources deemed especially helpful in fleshing out the applications--both in church and society?

Mike--And I suppose Paul should have privately confronted the man committing incest before publicly calling for his discipline in I Cor. 5? Matt 18 is not the only relevant passage on this subject.

Tim Bayly is no Apostle Paul. Nor is David. They're not even close. For you to compare these two men to Paul is disgusting.


Paul considered it his duty to protect his flocks from false teachers, doctrines, etc etc. Tim and David do that as well. You seem to have a huge issue with this---perhaps you disagree with Tim and David on this particular subject. Why not talk about the actual issue, as opposed to attacking Tim?

If Tim is merely concerned for his flock, he'd be teaching this in his church, not on the internet. He's trying to make a name for himself; he regards himself as "a voice crying in the wilderness", etc. He clearly thinks of himself as a prophetic voice. But he's not. That's just what he tells himself when he contemplates why God hasn't blessed his ministry like He has Piper's. "Piper and Driscoll have sold out to the spirit of the age. [Note from Tim Bayly: I have never said this, nor do I believe it. In fact, it's because Pastors Piper and Driscoll have not sold out to the spirit of the age that I have deep respect for them.] They have huge churches and sell lots of books not because of God's blessing, but because people love a Satanic counterfeit. [TB: Again, I have never said this, nor do I believe it. In fact, last week I recommended that my dear friend, Dr. Adam Spaetti, read John Piper's "Desiring God," and yesterday I recommended Mark Driscoll's "The Radical Reformission" to my best friend, Pastor Robert Woodyard.] I'm the real deal, I've stayed true to the good deposit and refuse to compromise. [TB: No, I'm no real deal. I'm a pastor saved by grace with many sins struggling to be faithful to my calling.] That's why my church is tiny [TB: No, it's not "my church" and I'm not "tiny," but rather adipose, in fact.] and no one pays any attention to what I write. [TB: SiteMeter reports an average of 802 readers a day spending 5:02 minutes per visit. But I guess it all depends upon what you mean by "paying attention to what we write."] I'm a prophet." [TB: If I were, my presbytery would defrock me.]

He's way off, and you folks should not encourage him.

>He's trying to make a name for himself

You are a fool. And what's more the John Piper whose preaching I've sat under, in times past, and spoken with I doubt would want to be associated with your words. Don't know squat about Driscoll.


Think and pray before you write. What good have you done in what you've written? Have you edified anyone? Have you tried to encourage anyone? Have you shown humility in anything you've written? Have you tried to convey truth? No, you have done none of these things. You have, however, done the following:




These are sins, Mike. SINS. Christ was put on the cross for these things, they are not small and insignificant. They are SERIOUS. I exhort you to examine your heart, and look at your motives for lying, gossiping, and slandering, and REPENT.


We ARE greatful that your words are so very useful to help us understand whose faith is shipwrecked vis-a-vis the matters concerning which you are lodging accusations against the brethren.

In these comments we see a good reason for blog software to include a commenter's email address so some advice can be given privately.

In the meantime, perhaps emails could be sent to the blogmasters to pass along to the commenters.

Well, I wasn't really trying to compare Dave and Tim to the Apostle Paul. What I was trying to do was to help show you that confronting sin does not always have to be done first privately (though, in some cases, it should be--it depends upon features of the particular case). Particularly, when the nature of the sin is public, a public response is appropriate.

And Mike, seriously, if Tim and Dave wanted to make names for themselves would they continually take wildly unpopular positions? I mean, come on, man, they're not doing this for their own glory.


I enjoy Tim Keller and I'm part of A29 (Driscoll) and I love and respect Pastor Tim Bayly. You accusations regarding Pastor Bayly are just plain wrong. I know from personal experience. Get over the "how you say it" and get to the "what you said." Deal with their critique. Also, don't you find it hypocritical to rebuke him publicly and not even include your e-mail on the blog? Lastly, do we somehow know each other?

Mike's comment at 11am today serves as a poignant reminder of why we generally ought to be very hesitant to infer motives and attitudes. Generally, it ends up as gross slander.

Mike, sorry, but you need to apologize for that one. Our host was merely taking publicly available statements and commenting on them. When things become public, they generally need to be dealt with....publicly, just as Paul did in most of the first half of 1 Corinthians.

> Tim Bayly is no Apostle Paul. Nor is David. They're not even close. For you to compare these two men to Paul is disgusting.

What hateful venom you spit!

And in your haste to condemn, you miss the point. Paul was serious about contending for the faith, denouncing false teachers and warning about subtle twisting of the truth. Public errors were publicly confronted. People do not have to be Apostles, or John the Baptist, to do likewise.

> He clearly thinks of himself as a prophetic voice. But he's not.

I don't know how you can claim to know with certainty what he is, when you don't seem to have a clue what you are.

> That's just what he tells himself when he contemplates why God hasn't blessed his ministry like He has Piper's.

Sez you. On what grounds, I'd like to know. And what is *your* motive for doing what you are doing? Hardly pure from the sound of things. It is downright humorous how you rush to discredit someone when you have not a shred of credibility yourself. Tim and David quote their sources when making judgments. Where are yours?

> "I'm the real deal, I've stayed true to the good deposit and refuse to compromise. That's why my church is tiny and no one pays any attention to what I write."

Why, then, do you bother reading what he writes? Does that make you a nobody, too?

The more you play your vicious little broken record, the more saintly the Baylys look in comparison.

> He's way off, and you folks should not encourage him.

We're supposed to take your word for it -- why? ...because you have the gift of long-distance mind-reading? So far, all your unsubstantiated slander is unconvincing.


Brothers and sisters, because Mr. Addison's 11:00 AM comment could mislead people to think he was quoting me in several matters, I've edited his comment by adding my own responses interspersed with Mr. Addison's. My own comments are in brackets, preceded with my name or initials.

Discussion of an interesting topic was forestalled. I'd like to comment on it.

That Pastor Keller's church has deaconesses is disturbing. Not because it is so bad in itself-- personally, I don't think the Bible precludes it-- but because it is contrary to PCA rules, and it isn't so important a point that a church should feel compelled to break the rule out of principle.

Saying "They will probably also exercise a teaching ministry in the church..." is odd too. That doesn't seem like part of being a deacon, and looks like elevating them into quasi-elders.

On the other hand, I disagree with the post's saying that discipling, shepherding, and counselling requires authority. To guide someone along the right path requires only care by the guide and willingness by the straying person to listen and try to stay on the path. One Christian can do that for another without any authority. He can do that without any title, in fact, which goes back to the question of why the guides should be called Deacons instead of, say Guides, or Helpers.

Re Mr. Addison:

1. God HAS blessed Tim Bayly's ministry in ways both visible and invisible. He serves a congregation of several hundred people which has arisen from nothing through his ministry (not, of course, because of his own strength or virtue) in a community deeply hostile to the gospel and to its Reformed expression.

2. The notion that nobody should join a public conversation--which is what all these position papers and speeches that Tim criticizes or applauds are engaged in--unless he either personally talks first to the other interlocutors or is the pastor of a church exceeding some particular number of members (1,000? 10,0000?) is too bizarre to take seriously.

3. I write as someone who does not always agree with Tim, but always find him worth hearing.

Dr. Rasmusen, I've responded to one of your points on the main page. Thanks for your helpful interaction.

One clarification, Dan. Our congregation is the result of God's Spirit working through many men and women over many years and I give thanks to the Lord for allowing me to serve these dear brothers and sisters and their families. That they have loved me despite my sins and many failures is a testimony to the fruit of the Spirit in them, particularly the fruit of love that bears and hopes all things.

Interestingly, here we have a micro-case study of some of the very principles at work (or failing to work) that we are discussing.

First, Mr. Addison has without question and without provocation publicly attacked and slandered Rev. Tim Bayly. This is sin and he is in error.

Mr. Addison has also received a significant amount of public counseling/shepherding from multiple individuals who are biblically justified in confronting him but are doing so without binding authority as far as the church is concerned. As he has failed to publicly address this very public incident, it is clear that any “shepherding” he is receiving from this group (no matter who might have commented) is ineffective. Thus the issue of shepherding is inextricably linked to the issue of authority. In this case the authority to escalate shepherding to discipline and compel the offender to repentance and restitution.

So I would argue from this little road test of the whole “shepherding without exercising authority” that a crypto-official shepherd/helper/guide functioning in whatever that murky capacity would be, is actually worse in nature than a member of the church who exercises brotherly love in giving sound biblical advice to someone who needs it. At best it raises a lot of accountability issues.

However, if shepherding doesn’t require authority, it seems reasonable that anyone can and should be doing it. It doesn’t require official sanction of the deaconate to say “Go forth and be good brothers and sisters in the Lord” for people to do just that. Which begs the question: if anyone can do it, what’s the point of making such a public statement? IMO, the occasion is the vehicle, the statement is the driveway, but what we can’t see from our perspective is the destination.

BTW, Mr. Addison, I would challenge you to make restitution in the same manner that you have slandered: publicly.

Interestingly, my husband worked with a RE from Village Seven and he was greatly disturbed and out-spoken about the structure and function of women at City Pres. Either he was out voted in the call of Pastor Bates or Village Seven doesn't fully know what they are getting themselves into. My guess is that Village Seven is swinging more liberal these days. This doesn't bode well for those in Rocky Mountain Presbytery who object to the push for "female ministers".

After the GA this year, the RE's and TE's in the church I attend reported back to the congregation that "Overall, the PCA is doing well........once the fizz of pop culture influences vaporizes, we'll get back to the heart of the beer in years to come." I wish I had so much confidence! I have to say that I am truly disturbed to see that there are 3 or 4 Presbyteries in our denomination that support churches with these feminist ideals. OTH, I did see an article stating that City Church in SanFran was being dismissed from the PCA. Is that true?

Thanks, David and Tim, for your courage.


I perused the Redeemer paper by the Kellers (linked atop this thread), and found a peculiar statement in the "Pattern" section near the end entitled, "THE DEACONESSES AND THE ELDERS:"

* * * * * * * * * * *

"The church will continue to have broad-based planning and strategizing. Deaconesses will serve on planning/oversight committees (e.g. evangelism, education, worship) with other officers and non-officers."

* * * * * * * * * * *

How much more clear could the Kellers be that they view - and want their following to similarly view - the elected women to be quasi-officers than the last sentence? Patently heterodox. Why not "officers and other non-officers"?

In the same paragraph, legitimizing a practice eerily familiar to something the PCA calls "Session Meetings:"

* * * * * * * * * * *

"Also, the Elders, Deacons, and Deaconesses will meet regularly for strategy and oversight of the church. In matters of discipline and doctrine, the elders have the final say-they have 'tie-breaking authority'! Also, the elders represent the church at denominational meetings. But deaconesses will sit in positions of influence and will have regular part (along with many women on program committees) into the strategizing and decision-making process of the church."

* * * * * * * * * * *

To associate non-officers with the business of the session is one thing, but "tie-breaking authority?" It implies egalitarian standing of opinion tantamount to voting power in these "oversight" meetings. Does that suggest if the "influence" of the deaconess represents a shift of "majority" position, that the elders are unable to hold sway because there is no tie to break? The whole concept is ridiculous, and the carefully-chosen words of this sort are, as Tim B. remarked elsewhere, their very own conscience creeping in to mark the folly.

Finally, more confusing language that suggests there is something in the created and specially revealed order that is broken and needs fixing:

* * * * * * * * * * *

"The real challenge will not be to create a structure, but to create a climate in which men and women truly work together as equal ministry partners in the church, still recognizing the principle of male headship in the eldership."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Again, chipping away blocks in the wall by trying to separate elders from others and denigrating the office of deacon so as to include others who the Bible strictly prohibits.

The Keller's 11/89 paper is an insult to the PCA and to thoughtful discourse on biblical sexuality, and for other churches to even associate with it is regrettable. To append the document and then adopt it as an official position is essentially to endorse it.

In seeing yet another reference to tradition. I just thought I'd comment that I've started a series on patriarchy. At present I have part 1, which is nothing more than an outline of the argument / the intro ( http://church-discipline.blogspot.com/2007/07/defense-against-patriarchy... ). However I think this topic is likely to be of interest to people reading this blog. Also of some interest, the women who requested the series are (AFAIKT) essentially your membership evangelical/fundamentalist woman with a reformed or at least (quasi-reforomed) theology. Feel free to come over, explore the thread and debate.

I would note that "CD-Host" (perhaps his dad was Frank Zappa) quoted me in a misleading fashion on his blog. Hopefully it was mere sloppiness.

Also, from CD-Host's "About Me" section on his blog: "I'm not active in a church and I'm not a Christian."

As one whom the Apostle Paul states is unable to discern spiritual matters, I'd think CD-Host's thoughts on church discipline are fairly well irrelevant for Christians seeking the mind of Christ on this topic.

Fr. Bill --

Can you tell me where I've ever claimed to have insight into the mind of Christ on any topic? I don't make theological claims anywhere on the site.

David --

I'm sorry but I see no evidence you don't support that view. For example in http://www.baylyblog.com/2007/05/the_pca_and_gos.html#more you specifically use the 2000 years history against Pat multiple times in the context of egalitarianism. Frankly I don't think it is a misquote at all. You were the one who made your arguments so broad.

I'm in the process of changing the quote but that way indicates that I think my assessment of your views is incorrect.

>I'm sorry but I see no evidence you don't support that view.

Then you need to look harder. The quote you used was in reference to a discussion regarding women's ordination. I'll freely admit I'm patriarchal in my understanding, but that quote you used doesn't address that subject.

Is the new quote (explicitly defines the topic) OK with you?

As a follow up I've now done the 2nd part of the series (which has some actual meat) and isn't just an introduction ( http://church-discipline.blogspot.com/2007/07/defense-against-patriarchy... ) . The series is an attempt to disprove the contention that “patriarchy” was normative throughout Christian history until recently. This one looks at the early-mid 2nd century. Anyway I hope you all enjoy and I look forward to the debate.

Hmmm for some reason the l got trimmed off the link. OK the link under my name will get you there.

If someone is interested in commenting on the blog written by "CD-HOST" linked above, or any of his arguments against Scripture's doctrine of sexuality, please do not carry on your discussion with CD-HOST here on this blog. Thanks.

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