A breach with the Church fathers combined with no work of contextualization...

"Women at Redeemer will be free to use all the gifts, privately and publicly. There are no restrictions on (women's) ministry at all." -Keller/Redeemer

(Tim) In what was billed as a debate, but turned out to be more a love-fest between Tim Keller and Lig Duncan in the PCA's deniminational magazine byFaith, Tim gave his rationale for something approximating his church's practice of woman deacons. If readers take Tim's piece at face value without comparing this public argument with what Tim writes and does in his local church, everything will be muddied and obfuscation will win. The obfuscation may be unintentional or inadvertent, but it will win.

Thus it is that the article must be interpreted in the larger context of Redeemer's structure, words, and actions.

The operative rule at Redeemer with regard to all things sexual is, "A woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do." So the working out of Redeemer's theology of sexuality is that women at Redeemer are allowed to teach and exercise authority over men everywhere and always except from the pulpit Lord's Day morning and in any way reserved for the elders as they exercise something they call "teaching authority." But whatever this "teaching authority" is, it's not when women teach Scripture to men because that precise thing they explicitly allow:

"In a nutshell, our position is this: whatever a non-ruling elder male can do in the church, a woman can do. We do not believe that I Timothy 2:11 or I Cor.14:35-36 precludes women teaching the Bible to men or speaking publicly. To 'teach with authority' (I Tim.2:11) refers to disciplinary authority over the doctrine of someone. For example, when an elder says to a member: 'You are telling everyone that they must be circumcised in order to be saved--that is a destructive, non-Biblical teaching which is hurting people spiritually. You must desist from it or you will have to leave the church.' That is 'teaching authority'--it belongs only to the elders. 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... 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. (Tim Keller, "Women and Ministry, Redeemer Presbyterian Church").

When Tim Keller claims to hold firmly to Scripture's Creation Order of sexuality, those weighing his claim should know that the actual implementation of that Order in his church would be unrecognizable to any previous generation of Christians.

Simply to bar woman from holding something they call "teaching authority" in session meetings and the pulpit is nothing even close to confessing God's Creation Order of sexuality in our own cultural context.

It's an utter failure at contextualization. It's a mistake that could only be made by those wholly ignorant of the idolatries of our culture, and therefore unable to speak to our culture in any way that is comprehensible to unbelievers. It's to be tone-deaf to the preeminent meta-narrative ruling our public life: fundamentalist egalitarian feminism.

It's as if the Apostle Paul had actually said to the Areopagus, "In the past, God had not known of your great wisdom, but now he is commanding all people everywhere to come to Athens and learn your ways."

Sometimes I fantasize about church fathers of past centuries parachuting into discussions like this and trying to make sense of it all. But then I think they may understand what's going on here better than we do. After all, they wouldn't know any of our names or how rich and famous this or that man is.

In what he's written above, if my fellow GCTS alumnus Tim Keller has accurately summarized the biblical doctrine of sexuality as it applies to the Bride of Christ when he writes, "we do not believe that 1Timothy 2:11 or 1Corinthians 14:35-36 preclude women teaching the Bible to men...," please do me a favor.

Send me to the fields to eat grass for seven periods of time.

Comments

Tim Bayly: "When Tim Keller claims to hold firmly to Scripture's Creation Order of sexuality, those weighing his claim should know that the actual implementation of that Order in his church would be unrecognizable to any previous generation of Christians."

Dear Pastor Tim Bayly,

Whether an apt analogy or not, perhaps you are Apostle Paul to Tim Keller's Apostle Peter, I don't know. When I read your writings against Keller on a number of issues from abortion to egalitarianism I sometimes draw upon that analogy.

It is difficult for me at times to discern between whether you are boldly proclaiming the truth and standing firm in the faith versus being unnecessarily quarrelsome and contentious. I need to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you have the corporate health of the Body when you write forcefully and that that is your style of communicating truth-in-love. As someone who's been accused of being a clashing cymbal, for me to wonder whether you are a clashing cymbal really says something! ;-)

In looking for the things that you share in common with Pastor Keller, would you agree with the following:

(1) Pastor Keller is not an egalitarian as defined and specified by CBE, Christians for Biblical Equality.

(2) Pastor Keller is a fellow brother-pastor-in-Christ with you in the PCA. I.e., a fellow Christian.

(3) Pastor Keller loves and respects you as a co-laborer for the Harvest.

I ask you these things because some of your posts seem to exhibit more anger towards him than towards, let's say, Obama. And I wonder why.

>I ask you these things because some of your posts seem to exhibit more anger towards him than towards, let's say, Obama.

Obama is corrupting the nation, Keller is corrupting the Church.

My dear brother,

You're asking the right questions.

>(1) Pastor Keller is not an egalitarian as defined and specified by CBE, Christians for Biblical Equality.

Answering the precise question you've asked, yes.

>(2) Pastor Keller is a fellow brother-pastor-in-Christ with you in the PCA. I.e., a fellow Christian.

Without qualification, yes.

>(3) Pastor Keller loves and respects you as a co-laborer for the Harvest.

Yes, although we've never met.

>I ask you these things because some of your posts seem to exhibit more anger towards him than towards, let's say, Obama. And I wonder why.

I'd prefer "frustration" to "anger". As to why I oppose the position of Redeemer and Metro NY Presbytery more than President Obama, it's because my calling is the Church rather than the public square.

Thank you for honoring me by challenging me, dear brother.

Love in Christ,

Tim Bayly: "Thank you for honoring me by challenging me, dear brother."

Thanks for the thanks. And let me say likewise, thank you for honoring me by challenging me as well, dear brother-in-Christ.

5 Solas,

Pastor Bayly and others who oppose the notion that "a woman can do whatever an unordained man can do":

Within the context of the church (not society or at home), what do you believe an unordained man can do that a woman cannot do?

>Within the context of the church (not society or at home), what do you believe an unordained man can do that a woman cannot do?

Head a whole family?

Pastor Bayly:

While I don't believe in women pastors as being ordained by scripture, I am slightly confused by the term "teaching men." I have taken courses by Kay Arthur (Precept Ministries) and have been blessed tremendously. I know they have a male counterpart teaching the same course but listening to her is so much more helpful in the way she explains passages and doctrines. What would your opinion on taking a course like that?

I have also really grown in faith by listening to others like Elisabeth Elliot and a local lady on the radio that speaks the Word more boldly and forthrightly than virtually any male pastor in this area (she teaches and doesn't consider herself a preacher)> Thanks for your time.

Dear brothers,

These are good questions, but I'm up to my gills in commitments. Would you men please help answering them?

Thanks, and love,

"What would your opinion on taking a course like that?"

Reading a book or taking a course for personal development isn't the same as submitting to the authority of a woman in the context of the Church. Kay Arthur has no authority to require of you anything stipulated by her insights, whereas a deaconess who is given authority to teach by the elders of the Church is bona fide requiring a certain measure of obedience from those in her group.

Paul's specific injunctions in Timothy and Corinthians are contextualized in the Church, the ecclesia, the assembly of believers to hear the Word and partake of the sacraments. The extension of the Church's authority into various groups of delegated responsibility (e.g. community group, ministry committees, etc.) bear the authority and sanction of the Church, which fall under the same injunctions by logical extension, or good and necessary consequence (If a woman is prohibited from teaching and bearing authority over men in an official assembling of believers, and if extended groups of the Church are under the authority and delegation of the elder, then it follows that women are prohibited from teaching and bearing authority over men in such groups.)

Dear Mason,

Imagine a man looking out the window from his living room at night and seeing two houses across the street. One has a few lights on unusually late and the other is going up in flames. Then imagine the man saying to himself, "That house is on fire. But, you know, it's unusual for the other house to have its lights on this late at night. I wonder if something is going on? I better find out."

The question you asked above, though valid, is like wondering why the lights are on when there's a house ablaze. Feminism isn't just theoretical and hypothetical with fine lines to adjust and examine. It's an inferno scorching up the church. Only after you've called the fire station and unrolled your water hose will you be equipped to help with the lights.

With that said, I think the first thing to consider isn't ordination, but Creation. We'll never get ordained/unordained men pinned down until we get man and woman straight. Man's authority over woman was established by God in the garden and therefore applies to church, home, and society. It's imperative to recognize that while ordination carries a very certain weight, man's authority doesn't rest on it. This then gives us a framework to understand that unordained men have authority in the church that women don't simply because they are men.

I hope this gives you something to chew on. I know straight answers are easier, but by raking, you'll only get leaves. Dig a little and you might find diamonds.

Cordially,

I wonder if the frustration over egalitarianism in the church is an exercise in futility. Consider the odd fact that one of the first things that happened in the new Reformed church in England soon after the Protestant Reformation was that a woman became head of the church in England, a fact which scandalized the Catholics.

Dear Mason,

If there is a type of exercise of authority referred to in 1 Tim. 2 that goes beyond the limited sense of that authority exercised within an ordained office, then that would be something a man could do over other adult men that a woman could not do. Authority is a leading, directing others in the church. There are certain things done in a worship service or in church work, where that leadership might be done by someone not ordained, but would be very much an exercise of authority over those in the congregation who are following the leader.

For example:

1. Overseeing the congregation members meeting the physical needs and mercy ministries of the church (done by deacons -- whether ordained or not...) Deacons do not just service; they are responsible for overseeing and leading the service of every single person in the congregation (including adult men).

2. Preaching a sermon. An intern in the church might preach a sermon, or be given a ten minute time to exhort from a passage. Can you really say this falls outside of 1 Timothy 2's prohibition of women doing so over men?

3. Teaching adult men in Bible studies. (The leader or teacher of a Bible study is the one in authority in that class. There can be no equivocation on that.)

4. Teaching, discipling, or mentoring adult men. (This is referring to a relationship beyond what may have happened with the Apollos, Aquila, Priscilla situation where in a single conversation, things were shared that led to Apollos learning more. There is a difference between a conversation in private where sharing happened and an ongoing relationship. From reports I have heard, there are women deaconesses at Redeemer NYC who basically are over adult men in cases where these are men in need and this unordained deaconess is making decisions about how much money the man gets, paying his bills, etc. Is this authority not something that falls within what 1 Timothy 2 was talking about?)

5. Leading home fellowship groups where there are other adult men present. (I know from past experience -- I cannot speak to the current practice -- that Redeemer will appoint man and woman co-leaders for formal groups of the church. And also, that it has been stated that because of the size of the church the primary shepherding happens at the level of home fellowship group. And I know by eye witness accounts that often if the man co-leader is not present, then the woman co-leaders is leading and shepherding these adult men. Are they so certain exegetically that this kind of thing does not fall within what is referred to in 1 Tim. 2?)

6. Leading the worship service, including the singing part -- where there is more than a mere leading of music/audio function, but rather a leading of the congregation in worship, telling them to sing, to praise, to think about, perhaps sharing scripture and exhorting from the words of a song...

7. Leading the congregation in a prayer where the congregation is not merely listening to an individual woman praying (e.g. 1 Cor. 11), but is following the woman in a corporate prayer. There is a difference. There is a line between simply praying out loud -- e.g. when the worship leader asks that many in the congregation pray out loud in short prayers... and then the leader closes. There is authority exercised by that leader that is not present if a woman in the congregation in response to the leader prays a short prayer -- "thank you Lord for loving me and saving me..." vs. "Let's prayer. As we are praying, let us remember to thank God and confess our sins. ... Is there anyone else who would like to pray... I think we should take a little more time... we need to really think about our sins before God today..." The former is empty of the authority that the latter kind of leading in prayer has.

8. Leading a church prayer meeting.

9. Leading a congregational meeting.

10. Leading your whole family in church activities.

11. Reading the Bible out loud up front in a manner and demeanor that is authoritative versus reading the Bible out loud as simply providing a voice of someone to read.

12. Giving formal spiritual counseling to husband and wife couples...
-------------------------
--- In contrast following are some things that might not fall within 1 Tim. 2 and might be within God's design for women's roles. I personally think the following are, but feel free to explore this further and correct me if I have not considered some aspect of it.

1. Translating a sermon. (parallels --- women prophesying in 1 Corinthians... or interpretation of tongues...) Note -- in this case, the woman is only acting as a conduit for communication, the woman is not leading.

2. Scripture reading in an un-authoritative way --- (I do think there is a distinction -- in demeanor and inflection and also situation...) E.g. for a small church, if the worship leader asks a man to read the husband's part of a passage like -- "husbands love your wives..." and a woman to read the wife's part out loud -- "wives submit to your husbands"

3. 1 Timothy 5 -- direct works of mercy and service as the case of the widows who were put on a list... to be able to receive support. These women would be under the authority of the deacons, and doing the actual service --- e.g. taking groceries to an old lady who is homebound ... this is in contrast to e.g. making decisions on whether or not some needy man is eligible to receive support from the church.

4. Operating the powerpoint.

5. Musician.

6. Singing.

7. Perhaps even leading the musicians -- in their musical aspect. (This is different from leading them (e.g. the men) in prayer and devotions, discipleship etc. as being spiritually over a music team.)

8. coordinating Sunday school for children. (Note: if there are male Sunday School teachers -- there is a difference between checking on who is scheduled when versus instructing the men -- on if they did a good job teaching, what they need to change, etc.) You'd have to think this one out carefully.

9. organizing the mechanics of a church outing -- who is signed up, who has payed, informing everyone of the details...

10. teaching children's Sunday school. (The prohibition was against teaching or exercising authority over adult men. You have to decide on the borderline between childhood and adulthood. An example -- Jesus at age 12 was subject to his mom and dad, but as an adult he did not obey his mom's input about his ministry...)

11. Leading a woman's prayer group (Titus 2:2)

12. Leading a woman's discipleship/fellowship group (Titus 2:2)

13. teaching adult woman's Bible study

14. public testimonies as well as direct personal evangelism -- sharing the Gospel with both men and women -- e.g. a testifying to who Jesus is and an experience she has had with how God saved her... e.g. the women going to testify about Jesus' resurrection to the disciples... or the woman at the well going to testify to the town -- and perhaps Priscilla to Apollos.

There is a difference between sharing what God has done in her own life, versus, turning around and saying -- You (adult men) listening to me -- God wants you to do this.

15. Mentoring younger women in the faith.

16. Contributing to private discussions regarding to issues of faith and theology. (That is the difference between speaking up and asking questions or sharing your opinion versus leading a home fellowship group .) Again, there is a manner things can be done that is in quietness and full submission versus trying to be authoritative and over the adult man in the way you talk.

17. Assisting the deacons in mercy ministries. (There is a desperate need especially when dealing with needy single women, that there is a woman present -- to help the deacons be above reproach and not get into any compromised situation...) Also, in many cultures, the men and women are so separated that it is not possible for a man to evangelize and minister to the needs of a woman that is in another household.

18. Organizing or coordinating a mercy ministry. (Again, this depends on the way it is carried out...)

19. Coordinating food / snacks for the fellowship time after the worship service.

20. coordinating set up, take down (again... what if the coordinator comes and strongly requests some adult man take part... there can be a way that is maybe crossing the line...)

21. voting

22. Giving thoughts and opinions during a congregation discussion on an issue.

23. Counting the offering, helping with the accounting, etc.

24. Treasurer? (Although in the Bible it seems like the Deacons should be doing this themselves...)

25. Keeping track of absences and presences -- reporting the information to the deacons and elders.

26. Giving a mission report on what she did as a missionary or a ministry report (again in the category of testimony...)

I'm sure we could add more...

18.

17.

"direct works of mercy and service " .... sorry that word "direct" is unclear... I meant -- the immediate works themselves in contrasting to directing others in doing the work...

JHL,

Thanks for an excellent practical list of things that a women is not appointed to do in ecclesiastical functions by Scripture. This illustrates the error of saying, "A woman may do anything an unordained male may do."

While it sounds okay at first, it is not even logical, let alone biblical and your list illustrates that.

I also like how you carefully and charitably draw the list for "maybe" activities and your explanation.

My first review is that women probably can biblically do most of the functions on the "maybe" list but I appreciate your careful and biblically based attitude in presenting them.

JHL,

Thank you for your thoughtful post in response to my question. I agree with you on some things (all the things women can do), disagree with you on others, and a few areas you are wrong about what unordained men can do. I'll briefly take it point by point:

>1. Overseeing the congregation members meeting the physical needs and mercy ministries of the church (done by deacons -- whether ordained or not...)

I disagree. If the deacons are not ordained, can't women do their work as well? If not, what's the point of having male and female assistants that we all agree are in the BCO? If you believe in ordaining male deacons, then don't they do the overseeing? If you don't believe in ordaining male deacons, then both men and women can do diaconal ministry equally and their work is overseen by the Session. Either way, unordained deacons can do the same work regardless of sex.

>2. Preaching a sermon. An intern in the church might preach a sermon, or be given a ten minute time to exhort from a passage. Can you really say this falls outside of 1 Timothy 2's prohibition of women doing so over men?

I agree with you in principle. However, I've been in the PCA for nearly 30 years, and have attended dozens of PCA churches across the country. In all the hundreds of worship services, I can only think of once when the sermon was delivered by an unordained man, and that was Alan Keyes in 1996. And actually, I think he may be ordained in another denomination. Regardless, I'll agree with you, but stipulate that it is a very rare practice.

>3. Teaching adult men in Bible studies. (The leader or teacher of a Bible study is the one in authority in that class. There can be no equivocation on that.)

I agree with you, and would add "Sunday School" classes to this as well. But I do think women can teach an individual class or Bible study now and then, so long as it is not an exhortation from Scripture, but on another special topic.

>4. Teaching, discipling, or mentoring adult men.

Teaching I agree with (see my response to #3). Discipling I agree with, but would argue that this should generally be gender-specific anyway. Perhaps not always, but most of the time it seems appropriate that women disciple women and men disciple men. So "discipling" in general both unordained men and women can do, but it should be gender specific usually. Mentoring I disagree with, especially for younger men. I had older men and women mentors through college, and learned and grew just as much from the women as from the men. For older men I'll agree in general, but I think younger adult men can benefit from a woman's mentorship.

>5. Leading home fellowship groups where there are other adult men present.

I disagree. Hosting, organizing, facilitating fellowship is not leading. If it's a formal Bible study or class, then I would agree with you. But organizing fellowship is not demonstrating authority or leading.

>6. Leading the worship service.

I would argue unordained men can't lead the worship service either. Certain elements can be performed by men or women (BCO 50 and BCO 51 allow Scripture reading and song leading by any person), but the overall service is to be led by the pastor. I have never seen a PCA service not led by an ordained man.

>7. Leading the congregation in a prayer where the congregation is not merely listening to an individual woman praying (e.g. 1 Cor. 11), but is following the woman in a corporate prayer.

BCO 52 does not prohibit women from leading prayer in worship. One might could argue that BCO 52-4 indicates that only pastors can lead prayer, but I don't think this is the case. So either pastors only can lead prayer, or anyone appointed by the pastor can lead prayer.

>8. Leading a church prayer meeting.

If there is teaching, then I agree with you. But if it is simply organizing then I think a woman can do this as well as an unordained man.

>9. Leading a congregational meeting.

BCO 25 is clear than only ordained men can do this (TE or RE).

>10. Leading your whole family in church activities.

I agree, but this falls more under male headship at "home."

>11. Reading the Bible out loud up front in a manner and demeanor that is authoritative versus reading the Bible out loud as simply providing a voice of someone to read.

I disagree. You're splitting hairs here - reading the Bible is reading the Bible. BCO 50 says that Scripture reading may be done by any "person" in worship.

>12. Giving formal spiritual counseling to husband and wife couples.

I'm not sure on this one. I don't see any strong Scriptural concept to support only men performing counseling where it can be distinguished from teaching. Giving practical Scripture-based advice or counsel on ways to improve a marriage, child-rearing, etc. doesn't seem like a male-only duty. But if it's straight teaching from the Word, then I would agree with you.

Mason said,
“1. Overseeing the congregation members meeting the physical needs and mercy ministries of the church (done by deacons -- whether ordained or not...)”I disagree. If the deacons are not ordained, can't women do their work as well?”

The Deacons ARE to be elected, ordained and installed!

BCO 1-4 says the powers of the church are to be administered, according to Scripture by elders and deacons. This is not an option in the PCA.

Chapter 17 of the BCO is titled THE DOCTRINE OF ORDINATION

BCO 17-1:
“Those who have been called to office in the Church ARE to be inducted by the ordination of a court.” [emphasis added]

This is our Presbyterian system of government, which reflects deep doctrine of Scripture- ordination and installation of deacons and elders, called by God to administer authority in the church. Installation is a part where the congregation recognizes and honors their office (Elders and Deacons) and takes their vows to, among other things, obey them.

Mason said,
“If not, what's the point of having male and female assistants that we all agree are in the BCO?”

BCO 9-2:
“…In a church in which it is impossible for any reason to secure deacons, the duties of the office shall devolve upon the ruling elders.”

BCO 9-7:
“It is often expedient that the Session of a church should select and appoint godly men and women of the congregation to assist the deacons in caring for the sick the widows, the orphans, the prisoner, and others who may be in any distress or need.”

The session appoints (not congregation elects) them; they assist (not replace) Deacons. If it is impossible, then the duties fall on the Elders themselves (not to an unordained group of women or men).

It’s not impossible for a church with 6,000 members and 5 worship services to have Deacons!

Mason said,
“If you believe in ordaining male deacons, then don't they do the overseeing?”

This is not merely a personal belief of JHL or any other- it is the doctrine of our denomination, which we confess to be the doctrine of Scripture. OFFICERS TAKE VOWS TO UPHOLD THIS!!!

Where in the world does a Presbyterian get the idea that ordaining and installing officers God has called is optional? Offices the BCO commands to govern the church?

>Where in the world does a Presbyterian get the idea that ordaining and installing officers God has called is optional? Offices the BCO commands to govern the church?

From thirty years in the PCA.

Still, I'm rather surprised by the degree of agreement I have with Mr./Mrs. Mason's elaboration of his position, and am left scratching my head over the disjunction between his commitments and the commitments and practice of his church.

But thanks for that elaboration, Mr./Mrs. Mason.

Pastor Bayly,

It's Mr. Mason. My commitments don't differ from the commitments and practices of Redeemer. The only area where there may be some variance with Pastor Keller's view that a woman can do what an unordained man can do is when it comes to formal Bible study or Sunday School classes. Redeemer currently has neither, so it's a moot point in practice. So I would say his idea is valid, with the exception than unordained men can teach in formal Bible classes, whereas women cannot. But again, there are no such formal classes at Redeemer currently.

There are classes under the church's "School of Gospel Foundations." These are extra classes held outside the normal worship time frame, and are all led by men (mostly pastoral staff), with one exception. This quarter, there is a 3-session class on contemplative prayer taught by a female seminary student who has made a study of prayer in monasteries and how we can use those concepts in a loud, busy city like NYC. Personally, I don't think this is inappropriate, as I said in my original comment that I believe women can teach individual classes now and then on special topics.

***

PCA friend,

I'm not going to rehash the entire deaconess debate. JHL said specifically that unordained male deacons can do work that unordained female deacons cannot do. I disagree, and my point is that whether or not you believe male deacons should be ordained, there is no reason to believe there is specific work that unordained male deacons (or diaconal assistants) can do that female deacons (or diaconal assistants) cannot do.

***

Lane Bowman,

No one is arguing that feminism isn't dangerous in the church. I think the mistake that you, Pastor Bayly, and others make is assuming that female deacons or the idea that a woman can do what an unordained man can do is somehow either an accomodation of feminism or a step toward feminism and egalitarianism. Just because some people disagree with your practical application of the biblical concept of male headship doesn't mean they haven't mined the Scriptures to the extent you have.

>My commitments don't differ from the commitments and practices of Redeemer.

Sorry, Mr. Mason, but that's where we differ. Woman deacons is a subset of the larger practice at Redeemer. And it's that larger practice that leads Redeemer to rebel against Scripture and the Book of Church Order concerning woman deacons.

Case closed, despite your repeated protest to everyone who addresses you, here: "SORRY! Can't HEAR you!"

With love,

Mason said...

"I disagree, and my point is that whether or not you believe male deacons should be ordained,..."

Originally, I thought the discussion about whether women could be "deaconesses" stood on its own terms. Perhaps along the lines of having unordained assistants under supervision of the Deacons (elected, ordained, installed, qualified I Timothy 3, God appoints men, their wives examined also). This is what Mr. Calvin did in Geneva.

But now, I have now come to understand this is about something very different- elimination of the high calling of the office of Deacon.

You are saying ordination and installation of officers whom God has called, is optional.

This is not a matter of mere personal opinion. It is a misrepresentation of our doctrine, constitution and polity.

It is not permissible to deny officers called by God their ordination and installation and to deny the congregation of the benefit of them as officers.

To repeat again, only for outsiders trying to understand Presbyterian PCA doctrine and polity...

ORDINATION AND INSTALLATION OF OFFICERS IS NOT OPTIONAL IN THE PCA.

This is not a matter of personal opinion.

It is a matter of the polity of our denomination, our BCO and the vows of officers to uphold them.

Again, so that this is crystal clear to outsiders our BCO:

Chapter 1-4 established Deacon as an authoritative office, in the same proposition as Elders

Chapter 9-2 establishes that if it is impossible to have Deacons (e.g. small starter church), the duties fall to the Elders (not an unordained group of women or men)

Chapter 9-7 establishes assistants to Deacons must be appointed by Session (not elected by the congregation)

Chapter 16 establishes the doctrine of vocation (calling) of Deacons and Elders

Chapter 17-1 establishes the doctrine of ordination, that Deacons and Elders are to be ordained

Chapter 24-6 (6) sets vows of the congregation to yield to their Deacons and Elders "all that honor, encouragement and obedience in the Lord to which his office, according to the Word of God and the Constitution of this Church entitles him."

If this is what has been going on, I really wonder why none of the officers of Session addressed this. I really wonder why no members have filed complaints (before now).

May God grant us grace to repent and model the humility and submission befitting of those changed by Christ and particularly the 4th vow of every teaching elder:

4) Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?

Pastor Bayly,

Your dedication to upholding Scriptural and denominational standards is highly admirable. Unfortunately, I think your efforts are misplaced when targeting Tim Keller and Redeemer. Honestly, I'm not sure what "larger practice" you're referring to.

I know you disapprove of female deacons. I know in the Fall of 2008 you wrote a post disapproving of a "director" of fellowship groups being a female. I understand the concern, but I know and have worked with said director first-hand, and can tell you with 100% certainty she does not exhibit any authority. We can quibble about being called a director and all the semantics, but the truth is in practice her position is not one of true authority. So if my first-hand testimony won't convince you, I'm not sure what will.

So I ask in all sincerity, other than the deaconess issue, what larger practice do you condemn at Redeemer? Didn't you agree with my comment about what women can and cannot do? That's Redeemer's practice, so I'm truly confused about your objections...

Mason,

No matter what Tim's answer to you, you'll still have an issue with him. It always seems like a "yes, but..." thing with you. Someone will present to you an argument that is air-tight, plain, and clear, yet you'll still reject it.

No matter what, you still jab and jab and jab and jab and jab and jab and ya know what? IT'S ANNOYING.

It is obvious you are determined to see and believe what you want to see and want to believe. None of what the godly men here have shown you will change your mind. I highly doubt anything else brought to you will change your mind. From watching all these conversations, any one who tries to show you an argument simply wastes their time.

Indy PCA,

Has it ever occurred to you that I'm right and Pastor Bayly and others are wrong? They throw out unsubstantiated ideas as fact with no proof, and expect you and others to believe them at face value, which apparently you do. I attend Redeemer and know first hand what goes on at the church - Pastor Bayly, and I would venture to say all the readers/commenters on this, blog do not have such knowledge. So keep that in mind when you read my comments.

I may have the minority view here, but it doesn't mean I'm wrong. There are plenty of other sites where I would have the vast majority view.

Mason,

Wrong, wrong, wrong. On every count. In fact, some here disagreeing with you attend Redeemer with you. But, of course, you will believe what you will.

But to spice up the dreary game you're playing, why not list a few of those PCA sites where yours would be the views of the vast majority?

David Bayly

Mr Mason,

"They throw out unsubstantiated ideas as fact with no proof,"

Like the countless times you have been walked carefully through the precise wording of the BCO? Or the presentation of the exact words of the position statement adopted by these presbyteries? Or the link to the By Faith article that Keller wrote?

No, sir. The one who has not been providing proof for his position here is you. Countless times your arguments have been totally destroyed by very CAREFUL evidence and proof. While you stand there with your fingers in your ears shouting louder the same things over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over...

David Bayly,

I was speaking hypothetically about other sites - I'm not even sure this issue has been discussed on any other major Reformed sites that I know of. The point is that just because I'm in the minority here doesn't mean I'm wrong.

And if any other Redeemer members are here, I would love to see in what ways they disagree with me about women at Redeemer. So if you're out there, why don't you tell me how I'm wrong? Tell me specifically how what I see at the church is different from what you see. I see no women in teaching roles. I see no women in positions of authority. I see no women doing anything outside their role as defined in the Bible, the WCF/Catechism, and the BCO. So if I'm wrong, please tell me specifically how and where. Please affirm this "larger practice" beyond female deacons Pastor Bayly referred to in his comment. Otherwise, won't the readers of this blog draw the conclusion that what is said here simply isn't accurate?

Tis is such a great place to discuss, dissect, & make accusations about the problems in the church & the PCA especially since there are no avenues open to bring charges & the utter lack of parliamentry options in the PCA.

Bobby Avant said,
"especially since there are no avenues open to bring charges & the utter lack of parliamentry options in the PCA."

I'm not sure where you are getting that information, or that kind of cynical view.

There are many, many ways to re-dress grievances in the presbyterian system generally and in the PCA specifically.

Presbyterian polity is well known for such procedure and is the model for the American system of government.

While no system is perfect, it reflects biblical and practical principles well.

The PCA gives many procedural ways for both individuals and groups to be fairly noticed and heard within the context of a "connectional" and confessional basis of unity.

It was not a cynical comment against the PCA & her parliamentry procedures & disciplines but a sarcastic remark toward the tendency to try everything in the courts of the blogsphere. We have church courts let them work. I see a lot of assumptions & reading of other's motives & it makes me uneasy.

Bobby,

And in the courts of the church there are no assumptions or reading of motives? Really?

Or, it's proper there, but nowhere else?

Or, we're not to think critically except when operating within the context of a church court?

I have no idea where you stand on these issues. You may well hew to a thorougly biblical line, but the naivete of your comments speaks of a life lived far from the field of any serious or worthy conflict.

In Christ,

David Bayly

I'm not suggesting that the issue of women deacons or deaconesses is not proper for debate outside of the courts of the church. (although I belive that blogs & the blogsphere are not very effective ways to debate these issues but that is another issue).

My problem is the line of reasoning that takes by assumptions & the reading of other's motives leads to painting yr opponent much darker than he probably is.

For example: A.Tim Keller belives Scripture teaches women can be deacons.

B. There is a plot/plan to conform the PCA to a radical feminist agenda.

C. Therefore Tim Keller is the head(or inspirer of) of a plot to transform the PCA into a egalitarian denomination. Tim Keller's plan is to use deacons as a Trojan horse to bring women teaching & ruling elders into the PCA.

Has this been stated this way on this blog. maybe not this starkly but it seems to be the point.

At this point I wouldn't vote to change the PCA position on women deacons but I don't see it as some feminist plan to make the PCA an egalitarian denomination either & I don't believe that is Tim Keller's motive either. I take him at his word that he is strongly against opening up the office of elder to women.

Bobby Avant,

I couldn't agree with you more. My point all along has been that this blog has inappropriately accused the pro-deaconess camp, especially Tim Keller, of wrong motives. I think it's wise to consider the Larger Catechism:

Q. 145. What sins are forbidden in the 9th Commandment?

A. The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbours, as well as our own, especially in public judicature...passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil... ***misconstructing intentions, words, and actions*** ...raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense...evil suspicion...etc.

"I have no idea where you stand on these issues. You may well hew to a thorougly biblical line, but the naivete of your comments speaks of a life lived far from the field of any serious or worthy conflict."

Talk about jumping to conclusions based on just a few comments

Bobby:

Actually, on the basis of a few sentences. But the question is, am I right, or are you acquainted with the field of conflict?

Your comments suggest that you're either naive about the nature of conflict or so unfamiliar with the discussion on this blog that you come across as naive about conflict.

You say that you may not favor changing the BCO in this area. But you're denying the narrative being written in facts on the ground at Redeemer--facts which have led to this situation and which will one day be adjudicated. We're saying, "There's a violation here." You're responding, "Judging! Judging!"

If you're unfamiliar with why we say a violation is taking place, read more before writing. If you think pointing out a violation is hearsay and assumption, you need to familiarize yourself with the nature (and necessity, at times) of conflict within the Church.

David Bayly

Q. 145. What sins are forbidden in the 9th Commandment?

A. The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbours, as well as our own, especially in public judicature...passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil... ***misconstructing intentions, words, and actions*** ...raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense...evil suspicion...etc.

Yes, it is right to point this out.

What so concerns us is that taking vows to uphold the polity (BCO) and then repudiating it publicly is a violation of the ninth commandment- a very public one.

Misconstruing words, such as that our BCO allows particular churches to deny men ordination and installation as officers and the congregation of such governance when it does not.

And the vow to submit to brethren in the Lord (even when you do not agree)... not violate the constitution then petition for change of the constitution as an attempt to legitimize the disobedience to it.

Isn't it becoming clear how vows of officers here have not been upheld- and that is very serious indeed. It's a spiritual matter.

There is a whole lot of bearing false witness going on here, that's what is of such great concern.

>You say that you may not favor changing the BCO in this area. But you're denying the narrative being written in facts on the ground at Redeemer--facts which have led to this situation and which will one day be adjudicated. We're saying, "There's a violation here." You're responding, "Judging! Judging!" <

I think I was clear from the outset that my problem with many of these blogs & comments was not the conflict itself but the misconstruing of the motives of your opponents & those who disagree with you. Painting those on the other side as worse than they are is not constructive conflict but rather destructive. These blogs continually accuse or hint that the other side of the conflict has a feminist agenda. Or that they are using women deacons as a Trojan horse.

You have not even addressed this but have rather tried to spin it back on me as my failure to know how to handle conflict or my immaturity or naivete.

Yes I've read almost all of the links on this blog & all of them seem to fall into a pattern of demonizing the other side.

>What so concerns us is that taking vows to uphold the polity (BCO) and then repudiating it publicly is a violation of the ninth commandment- a very public one.

Misconstruing words, such as that our BCO allows particular churches to deny men ordination and installation as officers and the congregation of such governance when it does not.<

The problem with this is that the churches that have deaconesses have been doing so for a long time. 10th has been doing it as long as they have been in the PCA. At least since the early or mid 80s under Boice. I'm not certain but I believe Tenth came into the PCA w/their deaconesses.

This has been going on for a long time & was either allowed or overlooked by a lot of people. But that dosen't make it a plot or an attempt to misconstrue the BCO.

T

Dear Mr. Avant,

>This has been going on for a long time

No it hasn't, and this simple error on your part demonstrates either that you are ignorant of doctrine and history, or that you are persuaded by the other side.

As for your huffing and puffing about how those of us engaged in the battle against false doctrine wield our weapons, this is the sort of comment we'd expect from someone who declares, publicly, that the view that not ordaining male deacons and having man and woman serve together as deacons, without sexual distinction, is not feminist, not egalitarian, and has been practiced for a long time.

In Christ,

I was in 10th Presbyterian back in 1987 for their PCRT. In a foyer they had a display showing all their church officers including a signifigant group of women deacons(they may have labeled them deaconesses) so I can assume that unless they were all appointed in 1987 that served at least a few years before that.

Redeemer has had women serving as deacons either from its beginning or soon after.

The PCA is not been around that long so the comment that the practice has been around a long time is farly relative. If the practice has been going on since the mid 80s(although has increased in recent years with new churches) then thats a more than half of the life of the PCA.

>>"As for your huffing and puffing about how those of us engaged in the battle against false doctrine wield our weapons, this is the sort of comment we'd expect from someone who declares, publicly, that the view that not ordaining male deacons and having man and woman serve together as deacons, without sexual distinction, is not feminist, not egalitarian, and has been practiced for a long time."

Can I assume that from this statement that you do believe that Tim Keller & others do have some sort of feminist agenda?

I don't believe I've been "huffing & puffing" only pointing out that in contrast to politics & political conflict that brothers in Christ do not seek to paint those they disagree with in the worst possible light.

So If J.M. Boice was involved in appointing & promoting women deacons &/or deaconesses was he involved in a feminist or egalitaian movement?

Or was he unduly influenced by the feminist & egailitarian movement?

Dear Mr. Avant,

Read the sources and do your own work without demanding that those who have been hard defending the gap in the wall stop to take you through basic training.

What's being proposed by the San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia, and Atlanta combined forces is new in church history and the PCA. Not old, but new.

But then, what really matters is that it's contrary to the Bible and the Book of Church Order.

As for your final question, I'd suggest you stop accusing brothers of accusing brothers of accusing brothers--and so on. Or, better yet, read the Bible and ask its Author your questions, starting say in Galatians.

* * *

To other readers, please don't feel the need to respond to Mr. Avant until he demonstrates that he has done some basic homework on the issue. Thanks.

This is a good example. I state the the practice is not new. Maybe I should have clarified not new in the PCA which is what I meant since the practice has been going on since the mid 80s.

You respond not by asking for a clarification but rather putting the worst spin on the comment & proceed to call me either "ignorant" or part of the evil empire of Tim Keller" (my paraphrase).

All I am saying is you can debate & be involved in conflict without saying or implying that Gloria Steinham is whispering in Tim Keller's ear.

---Mason, please check your @chpnet email.

Here is an excerpt from the by-laws of 10th Presbyterian that shows that its by-laws, anyway, do not condone the practices that are being put forth in the proposals introduced in various presbyteries recently. In fact, the by-laws uphold what the BCO says, i.e., that deaconesses *assist* the diaconate. See for yourself. The by-laws are available on 10th Presbyterian's website.

Deacons

13. There shall be a maximum of thirty deacons divided into three classes, one class of whom

shall be elected each year at the December stated meeting for a three year term. No deacon

shall serve on the Board of Deacons for consecutive terms, either full or partial, aggregating

more than six years, but shall be ineligible to be elected to a new term until one year shall

have elapsed.

Deaconesses

14. There shall be a maximum of eighteen deaconesses divided into three equal classes, one class

of whom shall be elected each year at the December stated meeting for a three year term,

pending their appointment by the Session. No deaconess shall serve on the Board of

Deaconesses for consecutive terms, either full or partial, aggregating more than six years, but

shall be ineligible to be elected to a new term until one year shall have elapsed. The Board of

Deaconesses shall assist the Board of Deacons in carrying out its ministry, particularly in

areas where it is more appropriate for women than men to serve, and shall be subject to

oversight by the Board of Deacons (BCO 9-7).

"its by-laws, anyway, do not condone the practices that are being put forth in the proposals introduced in various presbyteries recently. In fact, the by-laws uphold what the BCO says, i.e., that deaconesses *assist* the diaconate."

I didn't say that Tenth supported the current proposals but that they have had practices in their church (prob when they came into the PCA) that support women deacons or deaconesses. A practice that has been criticised on this blog. My point was that this practice did not start with Phil Ryken but at least under the ministry of J.M. Boice who has never been accused of being a tool of feminism.

Dear Mr. Avant,

>evil empire of Tim Keller" (my paraphrase).

No, not your paraphrase, but your direct misrepresentation of the owner of this blog.

>not new in the PCA

Again, you're uninformed. The practice is even new at Redeemer, let alone the PCA. But then, you don't know what the practice is, do you? As I said, read the Deacon/Deaconess category so you can interact with us knowledgeably.

In Christ,

Bobby,

I think if you will take the time to look through the posts on this blog you will discover that Tim has not argued against assistants to the diaconate being referred to as "deaconesses." That is why Tim is asking you to do your homework.