Phil Ryken publicly corrects one error, and yet...

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(Tim) Today, Phil Ryken publicly repudiated his misquotation of B. B. Warfield in support of woman deacons. From Reformation 21, here's the complete text:

Deaconess Correction

The Reverend Tim Bayly is alleging publicly that I promote women deacons, that I have widely disseminated an error concerning the position of B. B. Warfield on the issue, and that I have refused his personal pleas to correct this error. These allegations are false, as Mr. Bayly should know...

from our private correspondence and from documents available on the Tenth Presbyterian Church website (www.tenth.org). [Yes, this and the following link are dead as I go live with this post. Maybe tomorrow they'll correct them. If you click on www.tenth.org above and get something other than a blank page, the problem's been corrected.]

To begin with, while believing that there is biblical warrant for the active involvement of women in mercy ministry, and that this ministry may be dignified with the biblical term "deaconess" (Rom. 16:1), I do not support the ordination of women as deacons. Anyone who is interested in my views can find them more fully articulated at www.tenth.org.

The quotation to which Mr. Bayly refers reads as follows: "If the people of a particular church would simply elect women as well as men to the office of deacon, making one board or two separate boards, at their pleasure, of course ordained with the same vows and responsible to the same authority, as now provided in our constitution, the order is restored."

This quotation does not come directly from Dr. Warfield, as I have it in my commentary on 1 Timothy, but from his colleague Alexander McGill. As Mr. Bayly knows, this error was corrected on the Tenth Church website several months ago. As Mr. Bayly also knows, I have requested that the publisher correct the error in future editions of the commentary.

Yet I believe Mr. Bayly is mistaken when he says that I have summarized Warfield's position inaccurately. In point of fact, Warfield quotes McGill approvingly in the citation mentioned above.  Although Warfield later takes issue with McGill's scheme for organizing deaconesses on a national basis, he agrees with his colleague's advocacy of the office itself (at the risk of repeating myself, I note again that this is Warfield's view, but not my own). These things being the case, my misattribution of the Warfield quotation is a matter of form, but not of substance.

Finally, inasmuch as Mr. Bayly has taken it upon himself to encourage the widespread dissemination of his allegation ("the widest possible circulation"), in all fairness I would ask anyone who has forwarded his post to forward my response as well.

Now that you've read Phil's correction, here's my response:

The Reverend Tim Bayly is alleging publicly that I promote women deacons...

This is the thing about Tim Keller and Phil Ryken: Precisely what is it that they want? If Phil doesn't really support woman deacons, exactly what change is it that he and Tim Keller are seeking? And if they deny they're seeking any change at all, I'm left scratching my head wondering what all the ruckus was about this past year?

Both Phil and Tim are for change. But apparently no one can get it quite right when they try to state the change these men are seeking. Here's the current practice of these men's churches:

Phil Rykens' Tenth Presbyterian Church: Back in her PCUS days, Tenth ordained (laid hands on) women to the diaconate. When Tenth left the PCUS and entered the RPCES, they stopped ordaining (laying hands on) woman deacons and began to commission them, instead. Phil Ryken says this practice which he continues to this day is fully within the boundaries of our Book of Church Order: "I believe that Tenth’s practice of commissioning women as deaconesses is faithful to the Scriptures and does not violate the Book of Church Order."

Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church: Tim Keller has men and women serving together as deacons. But in his byFaith plea for who-knows-what change, he refers to "deaconing women." In the past, he ordained the men but not the women. More recently, though, he's stopped ordaining the men. So neither the deaconing men nor the deaconing women have hands laid on them at Redeemer, now.

Across the PCA, men have understood Phil's Tenth and Tim's Redeemer to be pursuing change in the PCA surrounding woman deacons. Many would say that neither church's practice conforms to our Book of Church Order. A study committee was promoted, but rejected by the Assembly. Phil's writing in support of something-or-other is cited by churches also seeking change within the PCA to the end of allowing women officers. For instance, a month or so ago here in my own Ohio Valley Presbytery, Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Indianapolis) cited Phil's error in a paper their session distributed at our most recent presbytery meeting.

In his byFaith article, here's Lig Duncan's understanding of the changes sought by Phil and Tim:

I, for one, have the highest regard for my PCA colleagues who want to see our polity amended on this point. I think of men like Tim Keller, Phil Ryken, Jim Hurley, Ralph Davis, and others like them who believe, on scriptural grounds, that women ought to be ordained or appointed to the office of deacon, or to be ordained or appointed as deaconesses. These men are towering giants of theology and ministry, as well as dear friends and heroes to me. I care about what they think. I have not a shadow of a doubt about the purity of their motivations on this question. I take joy in their ministries and sit at their feet to learn from them with gladness in my heart. I rejoice that we are part of the same branch of the Lord’s church, because of who they are (by God’s grace) and what they do, and I want to be at least a small part of the reason that they rejoice in being in this communion too. 
 
But I also think that our denominational standards are clear and correct on this issue, and that the biblical evidence for the ordination of women as deacons is slender and weak, at best.

Why is it that everyone has the same misunderstanding of Phil's and Tim's goals in this matter? Why are they so misunderstood?

If Tim and Phil will tell us precisely what change it is they're seeking, I'll be glad to cite their actual words. Until then, we're left with a muddle and "women deacons" seems a fair summary of their position. Tim Keller's construction, "deaconing women," strikes me as a circumlocution. When anyone describes the changes Phil and Tim are pursuing together in the PCA, these men demand they be granted a distinction without a difference.

Tim Bayly is alleging publicly...that I have widely disseminated an error concerning the position of B. B. Warfield on the issue...

Repeatedly, I have provided links to documents containing Phil's misquotation of Warfield disseminated across the web by Tenth Presbyterian. Those links have been noted on this blog and sent to Phil himself in private e-mails asking him to correct them. For instance, here is the link provided in a private e-mail I sent to Phil back on June 15, 2008:

June 15, 2008

Dear Phil,

Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. I trust the Lord is blessing your ministry at Tenth and that your family is well. We'll be seeing (mutual relatives)....

We have greatly appreciated (a graduate school couple) here at Church of the Good Shepherd and thank you for sharing them with us... I look forward to seeing what God uses them for in the years to come and thank you for the investment Tenth made in them years past.

You know there's been much writing and conversation about woman deacons surrounding your Philadelphia Presbytery committee and the resultant overture originating in it these past few months. And with the assembly's action this past week, I've had opportunity to do some research and have found two things in the text of your commentary [Here I provided Phil the address of the document he needed to correct. As of today, December 3, 2008, that link is still available on Tenth's site for download, with errors intact.] on 1Timothy which I believe you'll want to correct in any shipments of the book which go out from this time on.

Specifically, two quotes from Warfield's essay which you use to support your position are misleading. Here are the quotes from your commentary, followed by the actual text of Warfield's article in the original (B. B. Warfield, “Presbyterian Deaconesses,” Presbyterian Review [1889])...

As I write this post today, December 3, 2008, that link I provided and asked Phil to correct is still being disseminated across the web by Tenth Presbyterian. Here it is downloaded from Tenth just now, and it reads:

The church of Warfield’s day did not ordain women to serve as deaconesses, but Warfield himself recognized the need for putting the gifts of women into service. He believed that returning women to the ministry of deaconess would restore order in the church: “If the people of a particular church would simply elect women as well as men to the office of deacon, making one board or two separate boards, at their pleasure, of course ordained with the same vows and responsible to the same authority . . . the order is restored" (Warfield, 287).

So Tenth continues to disseminate this misquotation across the web almost six months after I wrote Phil asking him to correct it. Do I think Phil's original misquotation of Warfield was intentional?

No. I've said repeatedly that I think it was a simple mistake.

Do I think Phil continues to allow the misquotation to be served from Tenth's web site in order to assure the misquotation even broader dissemination?

No, I think this too is a simple mistake.

Will Phil now correct this link? I do hope so.

As Mr. Bayly knows, this error was corrected on the Tenth Church website several months ago.

I know no such thing. First, the errant document continues to be served by Tenth's web site. Second, where Phil did provide another version of his commentary's citation of Warfield, at another link, he did not indicate to the reader that it was a correction of a prior misquotation.

This is not a correction.

To make this clear, when the New York Times issues a correction, it first notes its error and then provides the corrected information. The original mistake is always plainly identified. Yet, in the version of Phil's commentary that he changed, he gave no indication, explanation, or notification of the change. No one would know of the change at all, let alone where in the text it occurred.

Here's the corrected document as Phil had it served from another link at Tenth. It reads as follows:

The church of Warfield’s day did not ordain women to serve as deaconesses, but Warfield himself recognized the need for putting the gifts of women into service. He believed that returning women to the ministry of deaconess would restore order in the church. To that end, he quoted his colleague Dr. Alexander McGill approvingly: “If the people of a particular church would simply elect women as well as men to the office of deacon, making one board or two separate boards, at their pleasure, of course ordained with the same vows and responsible to the same authority, as now provided in our constitution, the order is restored" (Alexander T. McGill, quoted in Warfield, 287).

Not a word in the document--not even its title--indicates this is a corrected version of what previously had been in error. Even given the presence of the word 'edited' in its title, readers would be oblivious to why or how the document had been edited, and would have been clueless that the editing was actually a correction.

Moving on, Phil makes this statement in his blog post today:

As Mr. Bayly also knows, I have requested that the publisher correct the error in future editions of the commentary.

I know no such thing. I've repeatedly asked Phil to direct P&R to insert an errata sheet into the hard copies of the book that have not yet been distributed, but he's never agreed to do so. He's never said he wouldn't and never said he would; he's simply not responded to my suggestion.

Now he says I knew he'd directed P&R to correct the next printing.

Plain and simple, he's wrong. He never told me and I didn't know.

But beyond that matter, what has Phil done about the copies already printed still being sent out by P&R?

Really, at this point I'm weary of thinking about what Phil has or hasn't done.

Finally, Phil writes:

Yet I believe Mr. Bayly is mistaken when he says that I have summarized Warfield's position inaccurately. In point of fact, Warfield quotes McGill approvingly in the citation mentioned above.  Although Warfield later takes issue with McGill's scheme for organizing deaconesses on a national basis, he agrees with his colleague's advocacy of the office itself (at the risk of repeating myself, I note again that this is Warfield's view, but not my own). These things being the case, my misattribution of the Warfield quotation is a matter of form, but not of substance.

As for whether I'm mistaken in saying that Phil's mishandling of Warfield is not simply a matter of form, but also of substance; and that he has summarized Warfield's position inaccurately; let the record show that Phil doesn't provide his readers any workable links to anything to check what he's written, my criticisms of what he's written, or what Warfield himself wrote. Both links he provided to a corrected version of his commentary were (and as I write, still are) broken, and Phil doesn't bother giving readers of his post a link to what I've actually said, rather than what he reports me as saying; nor does he allow anyone to respond to him, publicly.

On the other hand, every time I've critiqued Phil's summary, I've provided a copy of Warfield's essay so readers can check it for themselves. Here it is again. And here is what I've said is wrong with the use Phil has made of Warfield. And directly below these words here written is where anyone may comment--publicly, for all to see.

To anyone willing to do the work, the record is clear.