Moving on in victory toward peace and harmony...

Libertideacon(David) Let's think for a moment about the meaning of presbyterial life.

If the essence of presbyterianism is elders willingly subjecting themselves to their brethren...

And if ordained elders should never willfully violate the PCA's standards without first submitting their teaching or course-of-action to presbytery for approval...

And if those who come to possess beliefs substantially opposed to settled portions of PCA standards should leave the PCA for a denomination sympathetic to their new convictions rather than mar PCA harmony by staying and fighting...

Then what, pray tell, are we to make of PCA churches actually laying hands upon women (and men) in services of "commissioning" to the diaconal office?

And what are we to make of this overture to the PCA's 2008 General Assembly from the Philadelphia Presbytery asking General Assembly to sanction retroactively the ordination of women to an office clearly forbidden them by PCA standards?

And finally, why has no one sought to discipline these churches and this presbytery?

The irony is so thick you could cut it.

(Thanks for the link, Andrew)

Comments

What I see happening from the outside in is making my head spin. I pray for you, and my other friends, in the PCA. May God strengthen you to stand for biblical truth, regardless of the cost.

As another outsider, I too have gotten dizzy watching what is, and what is not, happening within the PCA.

This tack of retroactively baptizing rebellion is drawn straight from the playbook of the pansexualist pagans within The Episcopal Church. In their case, there was a spate of ordinations back in the 1970s to the presbyterate (the PCA equivalent of teaching and ruling elder). This was followed by anguished, hand-wringing protestations of the blessings that flowed from such illegally ordained women. This was followed by a general assembly doing exactly as the Philadelphia presbytery has proposed: retroactively tidy everything up, calling legal and wholesome what formerly was called illegal and toxic.

Deja vu all over again.

But, not quite. The Episcopal Church, according to a Southern Hemisphere archbishop (Gregory Venables) has been on this road for about a century. His take: "There are two positions that have moved apart over the last century: the Bible-based orthodox Christianity that goes back to the early years of the Church and a post-modern Christianity that believes everybody can find their own truth. And those two things cannot work together."

On the other hand, the PCA website tells us that the PCA originally separated from the Presbyterian Church in the USA " in opposition to the long-developing theological liberalism which denied the deity of Jesus Christ and the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. Additionally, the PCA held to the traditional position on the role of women in church offices. "

So, now one of the main reasons for the PCA's existence is now a proposed matter to repent from?

At least, the liberal Episcopals were consistent. Here, it is ostenibly conservative Presbyterians who appeal to their church to do a backflip. No wonder onlookers' heads are spinning.

David and Tim, I trust you know that my anxiety here is genuine. Your task to recover from this within your own church is an arduous one. In the past century, only two Protestant communions have succeeded in reversing this tide -- the Missouri Synod Lutherans back in the Seventies, and the Southern Baptists (and, their ranks still contain egalitarian agitators who aim to reverse all the Patterson achieved).

I join James in praying you will succeed in galvanizing shepherds within the PCA to act before they awaken to find not only PCA seminaries, but also its denominational machinery firmly in egalitarian hands.

What I do not understand about Philadelphia is why

not just move to the ARP who does have women deacons?

The Mo. Synod has a pretty strong feminist movement, much stronger as I recall than that in the PCA. The confessionalists are a minority in that denom.

Missouri Synod Lutherans will ordain women in the next 5-10 years. Bank on it.

"TE William Krispin, who recorded the minutes in question, shared that the intention of

liberti was not to create a Diaconate per se, but wanted to create a leadership body to

develop works of leadership, hence the term “commission” of the one man and four women."

If thats the case, and liberti's request was granted, I guess they would THEN ordain deaconesses. Its not clear to me this is asking for retroactive approval.

Pduggie,

If they're claiming they didn't ordain, they only commissioned, they're as accomplished at parsing as Bill Clinton when he said, "I didn't have sex with that woman."

The BCO contains no "commissioning" service--not even the hint of one. It does define ordination as consisting of the laying on of hands and prayer:

17-2. "Ordination is the authoritative admission of one duly called to an office in the Church of God, accompanied with prayer and the laying on of hands, to which it is proper to add the giving of the right hand of fellowship."

It says of the ordination of a pastor:

21-7 "The people having answered these questions in the affirmative, by holding up their right hands, the candidate shall kneel, and the presiding minister shall, with prayer and the laying on of hands of the Presbytery, according to the apostolic example, solemnly set him apart to the holy office of the Gospel ministry. Prayer being ended, he shall rise from his knees; and the minister who presides shall first, followed by all members of the Presbytery, take him by the right hand, saying, in words to this effect: We give you the right hand of fellowship, to take part in this ministry with us."

It says specifically of the ordination of elders and deacons:

24-6 "...the candidate shall then be set apart, with prayer by the minister or any other Session member and the laying on of the hands of the Session, to the office of ruling elder (or deacon)."

Call it whatever they will, the act is one of ordination. That's the significance of the picture showing them kneeling, hands laid on them, prayer uttered over them....

If this isn't ordination then we're living in a looking glass world.

Your brother in Christ,

David Bayly

Even though this appears to be a question of merely taking an exception to one part of the PCA Book of Church Order, it actually touches virtually the entirety of being PCA.

Being against ordained deaconesses is of the essence of the PCA?

May I point out the obvious here?

Both of the authors of this post are PCA ministers, and, if they felt strongly enough about this, could bring it through the legitimate procedures of the court.

Why isn't someone doing something about this, indeed?

No irony at all.

Ken,

How long have you been reading this blog?

Brothers Bayly,

Well, I wouldn't have put it the way Mr. Pierce did, but since you've brought the matter up publicly, I would like to ask what you're doing about it procedure-wise. Charges? Memorials? Something else?

If that's not for public consumption, that's fine, but I figured I'd ask.

Blessings,

Keith

I've been reading this blog for years, and have always lauded Tim and David for standing up for the truth particularly in the area of gender relationships.

But, there is blogging, and there is action.

Perhaps I came across stronger than I intended (it's happened before), but what irks me is the incipient jabs against those in the PCA who sense the soul danger promoted by the FV, as if the advancing egalitarian agenda somehow exempts us from having to deal with a crusading hyper-covenantalism.

Again, I think BOTH things are dangerous. I am not about to shoot arrows at Tim and David for being concerned about feminism. I don't think it's right for them, however, to shoot arrows at those of us who think the very gospel itself is at stake in the FV controversy.

Ken,

I just learned of the overture and first saw the picture yesterday. (By the way, when we sign a post it means just one of us is its author.)

Surely there are those among the anti-FV leadership who have closer ties to the Philadelphia presbytery and this situation than Tim or I. Are you suggesting that the entire PCA just woke up to this situation, that Liberti's particularization commissioners never realized what the laying on of hands means, that this whole thing, like Minerva, simply sprang into being a full-grown GA overture from the mind of the Philadelphia presbytery?

Trying to cast responsibility on me for the failure to deal with this flagrant violation of our standards is silly. You likely knew about this before me.

Again, I will say it as frequently and as fulsomely as the Lord permits: if those who vigorously pursued the prosecution of FV men fail to deal just as vigorously with this violation of PCA standards, they're not concerned about the purity of the Church, they're playing political games in the House of God.

David Bayly

David,

I don't buy it. You're passing the buck. If this is an issue about which you both are well versed and passionate (and it is), then are you absolutely sure that the Holy Spirit is not calling you to do something about it?

And, the FV battle is far from over. Why are you asking the men who are still dealing with this issue to take on another one, when obviously there are others who can (and I think should), do it.

Unfortunately, I think because you are passing judgment on the anti-FV folk, you would be surprised (and maybe convicted) at how many of the anti-FV brothers would support you in this.

YOur indictment of those who have labored against the FV is completely off base, as well. It is hard to see how men who would line up on the "right" of our denomination had anything politically to gain by lopping off those with whom they would link arms on a host of other issues.

I really think you guys are blinded to this because of personal fondness for the FV proponents. Remember Paul opposed Peter to his face for his actions that were anti-gospel.

Yes, there are faithful brethren in Philly. But, you know how things go in presbytery --sometimes political clout trumps proper procedure. That's a reality in every ecclesiastical setting, not just the PCA.

As to who should proceed in this matter: where did the charges against LAP originate?

Just to add and hopefully not to pile on:

I found out about this particular offense on your blog.

But, who knew about this one first is rather irrelevant, because, as you say above, it is not as if this is a new thing. Several churches (and some suprising ones) have had unordained deaconesses for a long time, which I would argue is a disingenuous distinction without a difference.

So, you may have just awakened to Liberti. But, Liberti is certainly not the first.

I don't actually know the particulars of the liberti situation. I have a reflexive desire to assume Bill Krispin (who I have a known with from my teen years) is not a liar.

But I will say that I think one FVish issue plays into this, which is vast mushyness and ignorance in the PCA over liturgical and sacramental matters. Some PCA churches I know of practice intinction for communion, which is unbiblical and unreformed, and messed up. But somebody thought is was "cool" I suppose.

PCA churches "commission" short term missionaries (kids in their teens to 20s). I can see churches that do intinction because its cool laying hands on a 'leadership committee' because, well, laying hands seems like a 'religious' thing to do.

Maybe they were sick? :)

Dear Ken,

Yes, I understand. The fact that Tenth has done this is disturbing.

Brother, let me say that I have been quite critical of FV at key points. Yet I'm also sympathetic with them at some of the junctures where they depart from the traditions of modern Reformed/Evangelical thought. Ecclesiology is the key here, and the reason for my continued affection for certain FV men. It's my suspicion that an emphasis on a less baptistic ecclesiology has reverse-engineered certain likenesses to RCC soteriology into FV. Whether this is inevitable I'm not yet prepared to say. I've shared the ecclesiological concerns and thinking of FV men from before there was such a thing as "FV", yet I also realized the implications of where my ecclesiology seemed headed soteriologically and so I just stopped and backed off about seven years ago.

I'm not with those in the FV movement if FV really ends up soteriologically where I fear it may, but neither am I convinced that the jury is in on this. Perhaps my sympathy for their ecclesiology leads me toward charity at this point, but I also believe the orthodoxy and fruitfulness of Doug Wilson are unquestionable, and based in my firm trust in him I'm willing to withhold final judgment.

But, in the end, what happened at Liberti is simply a violation of the BCO, the Confession, the Catechism, and of Scripture. It's not a potentially bad thing. It's right there in the picture: ordination to office of women.

Surely this is--by a country mile--a more perspicuous and obvious violation of all we hold true than FV thought.

In Christ,

David

David,

Your last comment nicely summarizes why there is an unfortunate impasse between us (not that I expect that impasse to be of disproportionate concern, given both of our much more immediate relationships and responsibilities).

You wrote, "Surely this [liberti's commissioning service of women deacons] is--by a country mile--a more perspicuous and obvious violation of all we hold true than FV thought." That may be a "sure thing" depending on how you are defining the "we." But if by "we" you mean confessional and believing Presbyterians than I couldn't disagree more strongly.

I was a member of Philadelphia Presbytery, and was well aware of Tenth and some other churches making use of unordained deaconesses. I was well aware of that because my own church was one of those churches! My church had had unordained deaconesses for decades when I arrived there as an Associate. While I was there, however, I and one of the RE's were able to persuade the Session, and ultimately the whole Church, to change its bylaws and elimate the pseudo-office of "deaconess." So, obviously I think that what Tenth and liberti and some other churches do in promoting "commissioned" deaconesses is unwise.

But at the end of the day, I see the question of women's ordination as a church HEALTH question (churches that allow for it will be sicker than they otherwise would be) rather than an ESSENCE OF THE GOSPEL question. I understand that you and Tim (and maybe even my friend Ken) would disagree very strongly.

But further, at the end of the day I (and a huge majority of the commissioners to last summer's GA) see some (though certainly not all) of the FV distinctives to be PRESENTLY gospel-denying, not merely "potentially so." Again, I understand that you and Tim would disagree very strongly. Hence the impasse. But I thought it worth our time to make this simple distinction.

Blessings to you both.

JEff,

Just for the record: I agree with you. There are issues of the esse of the church (like the clarity and simplicity of the gospel) and the bene esse (like who should be deacons and whether deaconesses exist).

Can someone demonstrate that the 4 women and 1 man

1) have the duties of deacons?

2) were called deacons?

3) have any particular tasks to perform?

I can't find anything written about them other than the Krispin quote in the memorial.

I can't even find the name of the pastor on the liberti site, so who knows.

I just feel like I (any anyone else) don't have enough facts to evaluate this, other than to say something loosey-goosey happened, like laying hands on a teenager departing for a Haiti mission, or intinction, or ending a prayer to the Father "in your name, amen".

I'll also mention that Tenth has the issue of "grandmothered" ordained hand-laied deaconessess from the era when Tenth was in the PCUSA.

These women still perform the same acts of godly service to women who need care.

I have two questions:

In the orthodox Reformed world, how innovative are deaconesses? I ask because the Anabaptist tradition has provided for deaconesses from the beginning (the Dordrecht Confession from 1632 mentions them.)

Would you commission an unordained person (such as a missionary) in any circumstances? If so, why is this different?

"Leadership and Service Opportunities for Women

By James M. Boice

The following statement expresses the position of the Session of Tenth Presbyterian Church regarding leadership and service opportunities for women at Tenth. It was adopted December 22, 1992.

Leadership and Service Opportunities for Women at Tenth Presbyterian Church

The Session of Tenth Presbyterian Church reaffirms that all positions of leadership and service at Tenth Presbyterian Church are open to women, except for the authoritative teaching and disciplinary role that the Bible, in 1 Timothy 2:12-14, reserves for men. In a Presbyterian system of government, that role is embodied solely in the Session, composed of ruling and teaching elders. Aside from that function, women are encouraged to seek out all avenues of leadership and service, including Bible teaching, leading small groups, serving on the various church boards and committees, assisting in diaconal work and by any other means fully exercising their gifts for the greater benefit of the body of Christ Jesus.

This statement is consistent with the position taken by Tenth Church when we left the United Presbyterian Church (USA) in part over this issue. At that time the old denomination had changed its book of order to require member churches to elect

women to all boards of the church, including the eldership, and that compelled our Session to reexamine its view of the Bible's teaching on the role of women in the church.

...

The second error tends to be the error of evangelicals or at least some of them, and that is the error of making the verses say more than they actually do, thereby excluding women from virtually any leadership or service roles. We believe that is also wrong if for no other reason than that women did serve admirably and in many ways even in the apostolic age. What the text does seem to forbid, in our judgment, is what we would today call the authoritative teaching or disciplinary role in the local church. This is not a passage talking about women as such but is part of a letter in which rules for the operation of the churches are being passed on to Timothy by Paul. Paul is answering the question “How should the local church be run?” not “What are women allowed (or not allowed) to do?”

This authoritative teaching and disciplinary role is assigned differently in churches depending on their form of government. In a Baptist church this role is filled by deacons. In an Episcopal church it is filled by the rector alone. In a Presbyterian church it is the Session. Apart from that single function, it seems to us that every other form of leadership or service in the church should be open to women. Therefore the Session encourages the women of Tenth Presbyterian Church

to seek out such roles in accordance with the gifts God has given, in response to developing needs and in obedience to any perceived call by God to serve."

>But at the end of the day, I see the question of women's ordination as a church HEALTH question

I think Pastor Hutchinson demonstrates why the PCA is right on track to follow the PCUSA.

To David -

Years ago, in my Anglican days, we hired a young woman as a pastoral worker for children & young families; she also 'pastored' the young teenage women who weren't from Christian families, as well as the younger adult single women. As the vicar (rector) put it at the time, "Part of why we are doing this is because we have to be seen to be pure". Certainly such a role would be within the spirit of Titus 2, if not quite the letter.

Now, without calling the women involved deacons or even deaconesses, and without any suggestion that they should be leaders .... it's all very well to criticise the Presbytery for ordaining women as deacons, but your comments do beg the question as to how we should acknowledge women in ministries like these. We commission single women for mission work easily enough, or so I thought.

The PCA has apparently been under the delusion that it can indeed take fire into its bosom and not get burned.

I know there are still many faithful PCA ministers who oppose the feminist onslaught and capitulation. It is now time to lance the boil. If there is not courage to lance the boil now, who will have the courage to amputate the entire arm later?

1 Kings 19: 18 "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

Men, sorry I've not responded earlier. Things are tough this week and I'd appreciate your prayers.

>>Both of the authors of this post are PCA ministers, and, if they felt strongly enough about this, could bring it through the legitimate procedures of the court. Why isn't someone doing something about this, indeed?

Our presbytery has a church that follows a similar practice with women deacons and we voted last meeting to find them out of accord with the “Book of Church Order.” At that time we also appointed a committee to study the matter and I was appointed to that committee. Also, I served on General Assembly's AISCOWIM and was the primary author (with help from others including my brother, David) of its majority report now available with other PCA study committee papers here:

http://www.pcahistory.org/pca/aiscwim.html.

Further, David and I have written about the feminist influences at a number of institutions, PCA and otherwise, including Covenant College, Covenant Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. But in addition to writing, we've also served in a variety of private capacities in working for the reform of these institutions. Then too, we've served presbyteries, both privately and publicly. Both of us do more behind the scenes than we do in public, believing that brotherly affection and concern for the peace and unity of the church would be best served by private entreaty and exhortation, hoping not to have to move to public controversy. All of us want to be corrected gently and with kindness, don’t we?

But of course, due to its nature, such work is almost never made public.

So please, don’t judge us harshly on this matter. We have enough work out there for all to see that I can’t feel (did I use that word?) it fair (and that one?) for us to be accused of being armchair critics. Please remember that we are teachers, pastors, sons, fathers, and husbands as well as writers.

More later.

Take a look at the overture made by Liberti Church included as an appendix to the final overture brought to the PCA's GA by the Philadelphia Presbytery. GA's Review of Presbytery Records took an exception to the records of the Organization Service of Liberti: "Diaconate of new church includes 4 Deaconesses commissioned contrary to BCO 9-3.” This received two responses: 1) The Philadelphia Presbytery responded with a request: "Please clarify how the commissioning of 4 unordained women as deaconesses is out of accord with BCO 9-3;" 2) the leadership of Liberti church drafted an overture for the Philadelphia Presbytery to consider. The overture’s goal: to allow congregations to have the freedom to ordain women to the office of deacon with equal status with men.

So, we have the leaders of Liberti Church in a service of particularization laying hands upon a kneeling group of not just women but a mixed group, 4 women and 1 man. Clearly they were designating their diaconate and not simply commissioning deaconesses (unless the poor man has issues we don’t know about). Following the report of the RPR Liberti Church and her pastors respond with an overture to allow them to ordain women deacons. The pastors of Liberti believe women are ordainable, are willing to promote this position before the entire PCA, and laid hands on women during the designation of their diaconate during the particularization of their church, and the Philadelphia Presbytery responds with “But it was a commissioning of unordained women as deaconesses.” And brothers here are incredulous about what was happening during that service. Come on.

Sure, ordination involves setting apart through the laying on of hands and prayer. But only by a logical fallacy would this entail that all laying on of hands and prayer is an act of ordination, even when it is for the purpose of asking God's blessing upon a particular calling or function in the church. While the BCO prescribes that ordination be carried out by the laying on of hands and prayer, it does not reserve laying on of hand and prayer for the sole purpose of ordination.

Besides, to conflate "ordination" with simply "laying on of hands with prayer" is to pull ordination apart from its wider context of vocation and biblically mandated office.

After all, many of us, I would guess, have followed the example of Jesus and the disciples and laid hands on the sick and prayed for them, but without doing anything like ordaining them. And likewise missionaries and others entering into service to the church are commissioned in a similar way, even if only short term.

Or consider historical examples. When, in the early centuries of the church, bishops set people apart through prayer and the laying on of hands to roles such as lector, sub-deacon, acolyte, singer, and so forth, what were they doing? It wasn't "ordination" since that was reserved for the presbyterate and diaconate and involved a process of discernment, calling, and setting apart to particular functions, privileges, and responsibilities within the life of the church.

The fact is, a picture is not worth a thousand words. If I showed you a picture of a knife piercing abdominal flesh, you wouldn't know if it was a stabbing, an act of suicide, a freak accident, or life-saving surgery. What makes the difference is the larger context and the intent of the agent(s). Just so here as well. Without hearing the prayer that was prayed, how can we even begin to interpret?

I'll also add that we have deaconesses here in Philly and much of the North because we were once part of the RPCES which permitted this by the teaching of our General Synod: "churches...are free to elect Spirit-filled women as deaconnesses and set them apart by prayer." It was understood that when we J&Red with the PCA that this would continue to be permitted as part of what it meant for the PCA to "receive" us.

Garver,

This is not someone from the RPCES,but rather a new church into the PCA. You are correct the prayer being made is unknown except to those who were present. However, I do not think I need to know the prayer. Despite liberti's desire to call this a commissioning service it appears to be very much the same as I would witness at an ordination service. In my estimation the overture appears to be an attempt to make it acceptable to ordain women to the office of deacon even if not approved now the hope is to move closer to this goal. It seems parallel in some ways as to the homosexual movement wanting to have approved unions with the same benefits of marriage until they can just be married.

Tim,

Thanks for your response. I don't mean to imply you are armchair critics. I know of some of your labors and have often expressed appreciation for them here and elsewhere.

I guess what bothers me is what has become a constant refrain that, if you think the FV brothers need to depart, you must be politically motivated, and doubly so if you don't bring charges in the case of the ordination of women.

Can you really say that about all of us who would share extreme alarm about the FV? Fred Greco, Jeff Hutchinson, Sean Lucas and others? It is hard for me to understand what the political motivation would even be.

So, if thou dost not want to be judged an armchair critic, perhaps refrain from adjudging others so.

Jeff and Ken, the problem appears to be that this is an objective, photographable violation of the PCA's standards, while the FV stuff is not. FV would be such a violation if you said that that we are "justified by faith alone, apart from works of the law," and we said, "nuh uh." But if you say all that and we say "amen," now what?

It is as though Christ Church were accused of ordaining women deacons because of a report on the web, and we denied it, saying that Leslie and Loraine are both men's names, and sorry for the confusion. If the attack kept up after that, then I would suspect there were other factors and motives at work. Finding a place where I deny the essence of the gospel will be a lot harder than finding women in office in the PCA.

Ok. I have seen now a connection between the Liberti defenders and the FV defenders (who happen to be the same persons, in several instances): when called on something clear, obfuscate. When found red-handed, deny.

Scott and Andrew, you are right on here.

Ken and Jeff, I would simply stand up for my brothers Tim and David (not that I am anything, but you know me better than you know them, and the same is true for their part). Tim and David have *done*, not just said, much in this area of denial of the Biblical teaching of male leadership in the Church. While I would agree with you that the issue of deaconesses is a matter of bene esse instead of esse in the abstract; and while I would agree that the issues of FV are an attack on the esse of the Church (and I have had numerous, helpful private conversations with David and Tim about this); I would also say that for David and Tim this is not just an issue about deaconesses.

It is an issue of rejecting the authority of God's Word. The cavalier attitude that has been taken by those embracing ordaining women is what causes me concern more than the act itself.

Blessings,

Pastor Wilson,

You do realize that for your example to be true, it would have to have representatives from nearly every major Reformed seminary come out and talk with Leslie and Loraine, and declare that they are in fact women, even though they wear jeans and polo shirts. Followed by study by every NAPARC denomination (OPC, BPC, URCNA, PCA, etc.) and they come to the same conclusion, even showing that Leslie and Loraine have husbands and children.

You'll forgive us if we don't find the FV simply "misunderstood" at this date.

>>I guess what bothers me is what has become a constant refrain that, if you think the FV brothers need to depart, you must be politically motivated, and doubly so if you don't bring charges in the case of the ordination of women.

Dear Ken,

I haven't said this. And although David's words are somewhat closer to what you've written, I don't think you've done a good job of summarizing him, either.

First, I do believe it best that some within the F-V camp be corrected by their presbyteries (or higher if necessary), or that they depart from our fellowship.

Second, speaking (I think) for both of us: We have seen and heard things that cause us to believe that not everyone standing against F-V is motivated purely by love for God's Truth, but that some words and actions have been corrupted by malice towards one or more of F-V's principal proponents. Note the words "not everyone" and "some."

Further, we do not believe we are omniscient, and thus able to divine men's motives with complete accuracy. But we are convinced that motives are inextricably bound to actions in every church fight, and that we must all work to purify ourselves from the sins that corrupt our good work. For this reason we ourselves would quickly agree that our own work has, at times, been corrupted by bad motives in this very discussion. Who can write without pride, anger, selfishness, and a whole host of other sins?

I can't, and so I recognize the truth of God's Word, that where there are many words, sin is not absent. We're well over two million on this blog by now, and counting as I type.

Finally, many of those standing for and against F-V are, we believe, godly in their motivations and actions. And we thank God for those exposing F-V's errors on both sides (as indeed men on both sides have). We have spent a good bit of time working on this issue privately, seeking better conduct and doctrine on both sides of the issue. We would place ourselves mostly on the anti-F-V side, doctrinally.

So why does anyone go ballistic when we point out the obvious, that everything done on this issue within the PCA has not been lily black in its motivation and process? Seems to me the proper response should be, "Well, duh!"

As for the correlation between the work done by some opposing egalitarianism/feminism within the PCA and the work of others opposing the errors of the F-V, we recognize there are many faithful men who are working hard to purify and correct and expose false doctrine in both areas. And for this we are grateful.

But, it's clear to us that the PCA is very, very soft on sexuality. We'd be delighted to be proven wrong by the errors of prominent churches, pastors, and institutions being corrected, but we're not holding our breath.

The RPCES point was that many of the Presbyteries of the PCA were essentially carried over from the RPCES and these Presbyteries have preserved the culture and understandings of their originating body and have passed that along to succeeding generations of pastors, elders, church planters, and so forth. While liberti is a newer church plant, it is also a church plant of the Philly Presbytery which, in turn, is one of three now-existing Presbyteries that came into the PCA from the RPCES as a single Presbytery. Deaconesses have, as Jeff Hutchinson notes, been part of our culture and tradition for many decades here.

Moreover, there have always been pastors and other church officers in our Presbytery (and elsewhere) who have held that Scripture permits ordination of women to the office of deacon, as was recommended by the majority report to the 1977 General Synod of the RPCES. While that recommendation was not adopted by Synod, it represented the views of a significant minority in the RPCES and, indeed, the majority view within several Presbyteries.

That liberti PCA and others would like to raise the issue afresh is thus no surprise, as it has long been a minority view and, as far as I know, the PCA has never given the issue focused study. Liberti, it seems to me, is to be commended for their abiding by the restrictions of the BCO to not ordain women to the diaconate, despite what appear to be their convictions to the contrary.

I suppose posts on a blog from Liberti's current "Pastor of Church Planting," Steve Huber, which mention their ordination of elders, deacons, and deaconesses are open to interpretation...

http://libertinorthwest.blogspot.com/

>>Liberti, it seems to me, is to be commended for their abiding by the restrictions of the BCO to not ordain women to the diaconate, despite what appear to be their convictions to the contrary.

I was with you until this statement. Really, we're to commend Liberti for obedience and submission to our church Constitution? You can't possibly be serious.

It may turn out that Liberti is not doing what it appears they are doing, but if my son has been told not to eat any cookies before dinner and I catch his hand in the cookie jar, he's going to catch it. And more so if he protests that he didn't eat a cookie, and whines, "Why should I be punished just because I had my hand in the cookie jar?"

Submission is a posture, as is rebellion; and a father who disciplines the action but not the posture is foolish.

This is not to suggest that Liberti be brought up on charges without first ascertaining their motivation and actions. But to comment here that we should commend them for their submission precisely at the point where they appear to be rebelling against the Book of Church Order?

No, sir; absolutely not.

"Ok. I have seen now a connection between the Liberti defenders and the FV defenders (who happen to be the same persons, in several instances): when called on something clear, obfuscate. When found red-handed, deny."

Well, thats as clear as mud.

You mean Garver and Duggan? or Garver and Duggan and Wilson? Please speak more plainly.

I don't see Wilson as a liberti defender.

I don't see myself as a liberti defender either.

I just don't have a transcription of what was said, and I DON'T PRESUME there is some "agenda" at work, so I'm willing to entertain possibly obscure defenses BECAUSE THERE IS PRECIOUS little data.

I'm in a church that says grape juice is a fine substitute for wine in communion. I'm not surprised such churches would have the lack of interest in physical attributes to not recognize that laying hands, and saying, "commission not ordain" looks hinky.

Also, liberti started as a church plant of the philly presbytery, which is, I'm guessing (can't be sure) dominated by RPCES churches, even though liberti wouldn't have been an original rpces church.

Many PCA churches have diaconates that have complete equality of function (meet at same time, vote together, etc). So the diaconate of liberti was commissioned, and 4 were commissioned, 1 was ordained. They did it in a way that includes laying hands on everybody, which I claim is dumb (like inctinction, grape juice, and saying "let us kneel before the Lord our maker" while remaining seated), but not malicious.

I don't see a smoking gun that liberti is stealthily ordaining women to an office of deacon, though they have no principled objection to it. That fact alone isn't a smoking gun.

"and the Philadelphia Presbytery responds with “But it was a commissioning of unordained women as deaconesses.” And brothers here are incredulous about what was happening during that service."

yes.

Clearly, the Prebystery has sinned for not giving liberti a strong presumption of guilt on the fact of GAs merely raising a question. :)

Andrew:

That blog post is rather damning.

A charitable interpretation is that he's speaking his mind as to what he probably doesn't realize is contra the BCO (in his thinking, oridination, shmordination). But when it came down to it, he "commissioned", and didn't "ordain".

But he laid on hands, which was dumb.

pduggie, it's possible the male deacon was commissioned too, along with the women. There are a number of PCA churches that, because of their convictions about the biblical permissibility of women in the diaconate, don't ordain either men or women to the office, but commission both as a matter of analogous treatment, until such time the PCA permits that both may be ordained.

>>And brothers here are incredulous about what was happening during that service.

Who? Where? When?

Not incredulous at all. This is boringly normal within the PCA, done and argued for with impunity by our best-paid pastors. Speaking only for myself, when I hear about it, I yawn.

Although some later regretted it, Memphis' Second Pres. chose the EPC partly because women deacons would be allowed there. Apparently, it was all for naught; they could as easily have come into the PCA.

I served on the RPR Committee at last year's General Assembly and was one of the reviewers of Philadelphia Presbytery's minutes. I commented on this matter on this blog several months ago.

While David and Tim Bayly might not have taken personal action on this matter (yet) I along with the PCA General Assembly have flagged this as an exception of substance requiring a response from our brethren in Philadephia.

For the record, the minutes included a report from the presbytery commission that organized liberti PCA. The presbytery commission installed the pastor, ordained and installed ruling elders, then stepped aside to allow the newly constituted Session to "commission" the deaconesses and deacon. In other words, this did not happen in a corner. The representatives of Philadelphia Presbytery knew full well ahead of time how this was going down and apparently did nothing to stop it. What's worse -- liberti PCA doing the commissioning or the presbytery turning a blind eye to the commissioning?

I would simply urge this: when the time comes for the PCA to appoint a study committee on women deacons, they need to take special care to make sure that everyone on the committee has the same view going in. Minority reports are such a distraction. :)

Actually, maybe we should ask Tim his opinion. I know he so enjoyed the attempt to make the Women in Military Committee "balanced" in such a way that nearly no other committee was.

That is why that Study Committee was one of only a couple to have minority reports. I'll leave Tim to say whether that was a blessing to the Church.

(I share his opinion on that one.)

If one has the conviction that Scripture permits ordination of women to the diaconate and, moreover, if one believes that the church is called to recognize and support the gifts and service of all God's people, including those of women, then the PCA's exclusion of women from the ordained diaconate would seem to be a matter of injustice and a failure of the church to minister faithfully and biblically.

I know saying that sort of thing is likely to rub some folks the wrong way and sound like the worst sort of egalitarian claptrap, but it seems a natural conclusion given the premises.

Now, given such a perspective and given Scripture's emphasis on mercy and justice over human legislation (even legislation by well-meaning religious leaders), then any restraint on the part of churches with these sorts of convictions seems to me commendable.

Perhaps it's also because I've lived by whole life within the Philly Presbytery. I have trouble regarding the ministers and elders of our Presbytery with suspicion or seeing them as disingenuous.

Joel Garver's concise summary of the history of the RPCES Presbytery coming in to the PCA is right on, and I'm definitely in agreement with him on this: I do not regard the pastors and elders of the Philadelphia Presbytery with suspicion or see them as disingenuous.

Though I do not agree with the decisions the liberti church or the Philadelphia Presbytery have made with regard to this, and hence am glad it was flagged as an exception of substance by the GA review committee, this is a church health matter, and not an essence of the gospel matter.

Jeff, one of the reasons or being, if you like, for the PCA to come into existence was the ordination of women both to the eldership and the deaconate. It was not a matter of church health for those who started the PCA. It was believed to be part of the being of the church.

>It was not a matter of church health for those who started the PCA. It was believed to be part of the being of the church.

Amen.

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