Woman deacons and unordained male deacons are only a Trojan Horse within the PCA...

...no opinion can be either more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and falsehood upon the same level, and represents it as of no consequence what a man's opinions are. On the contrary, we are persuaded that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise it would be of no consequence either to discover truth or to embrace it.

(Preliminary Principle Number Four, 1788 Synod of New York and Philadelphia, 1789 General Assembly; 1973 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America)

(Tim) If a pastor were embarrassed by the Biblical doctrine of sexuality; if he believed God's prohibition of woman exercising authority over man was a hindrance to the furtherance of the Gospel, and that to align himself with it would harm his ability to reach out to the arbiters of culture, winning some for Christ and His Kingdom; if he felt it wise to adopt a halfway covenant on sexuality and so he stood midway between the sexual anarchy of egalitarian feminism and the father-rule created and decreed by God in the perfection of Eden...

if he had a sense that, with a little finesse and nuance, he might be able to appease those hostile to the Gospel because of God making Adam first, and then Eve; if he then set out to find the precise point where his work and witness would be counter-cultural enough to fulfill the minimal commitments necessary to claim Biblical obedience, but also contextualized enough to fulfill the minimal commitments necessary to claim cultural relevance; if what motivated this pastor was not standing in the gap, but avoiding it; not guarding the good deposit, but trimming it; not warning the sheep publicly and from house to house, day and night with tears, but building his own reputation as a profound and thoughtful man perfectly suited to ministry within the modern egalitarian context; if a pastor were to design his preaching and polity around such mollycoddling of the Spirit of the Age, what would it all look like?

It would look just like the trimming of past ages--characterized by just enough obedience to forestall ecclesiastical discipline, but enough rebellion to keep on pretty good terms with the world. It would parade its righteousness while plotting against the very laws it claimed to be honoring.

Concerning sexuality, it would tell the worldlings they needn't worry about the Biblical command of father-rule while safely ensconced in her fellowship; that this gnarly patriarchal narrative had no staying power within their fellowship, although everyone would need a little understanding and patience as they awaited its death; that until it died, there would be some aspects of communal life that would point back, rather than forward; and yet those aspects would be limited to two places, only: formal meetings of church officers (ruling elders) doing discipline and formal meetings of church officers (teaching elders) preaching during corporate worship. Other than those two specific and quite-limited time slots, one's sex had absolutely nothing to do with anything beyond who one was and wasn't able to consider as a marital partner.

Such a pastor would see how useful it could be to have some pithy summary of his halfway covenant--a summary that would stick in people's minds and put them at ease. Quickly such a summary was found and, being released, wormed its way into the minds and hearts of flock:

A woman may do anything an unordained man may do.

Sadly, though, this summary had one problem: whereas much had been made of sexual identity having no application other than the strictly limited contexts of Ruling Elders doing discipline during Session meetings and Teaching Elders doing authoritative sermonizing from the pulpit on Lord's Day mornings during corporate worship, the pithy summary he had chosen didn't speak only of Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders, but rather of those ordained and those unordained. But he'd forgotten there was another class of officers who also were ordained: deacons.

Quickly, then; it was the work of a moment to stop ordaining their deacons.

* * *

Anyone who watches the debate over woman deacons in the PCA today and thinks that debate has anything at all to do with woman deacons; anyone who wonders what the big deal is all about; anyone who thinks that keeping women off the session and out of the pulpit Sunday morning is proof positive of a pastor's Biblical orthodoxy on sexuality; anyone who would approve a PCA teaching elder for ordination who summed up his commitment to Biblical sexuality by the pithy remark, "A woman may do anything an unordained man may do;" is entirely lacking in discernment.

Until we have trained ourselves to recognize our trimming and avoiding the gaps and loving the approval of men and excusing cowardice by speaking of our commitment to contextualization and fleeing when the wolves attack; until we have begun to know ourselves--our strengths, but also our weaknesses--we will not begin to serve as faithful presbyters.

The issue in the PCA today is not woman deacons, nor is it the refusal of some churches to ordain their male deacons.

Rather, the issue is shepherds fleeing danger instead of laying down our lives for Christ's sheep. And if we're going to run when the attack comes, Satan is quite wise in giving us a good excuse. He knows the utility of pointing to the side, away from the hole in the wall, and crying out, "Look at the birdie!"

Woman deacons is the Trojan Horse the Evil One is using to infiltrate the church with rebels against God's order of sexuality. Pawns in his hand, they justify themselves by pointing away from the hole in the wall and crying out, "Calvin believed in deacons! John Piper believes in deacons! We're in good company!"

But of course, the feminist practices pervasive within the PCA churches and presbyteries currently trying to hide inside the debate over woman deacons would receive the instant rebuke of Luther, Calvin, Knox, Machen, Lloyd-Jones, Edwards, or every single one of the Apostles.

If "a woman may do anything an unordained man may do" is a Biblical doctrine of sexuality, then truth and falsehood are upon the same level, there is no connection between faith and practice, truth and duty, and it is of no consequence either to discover truth or to embrace it.

Comments

Not to put too fine a point on it.

:)

I agree wholeheartedly. It's a shame the PCA has turned down this road in so many quarters. It will be an ugly fight to set it right again, if it can be done. GA in Orlando this year may be a turning point, one way or the other.

What a great summary of the weakness within the churches of our time (and maybe all time). Either we are faithful to the Triune God of the Bible or we are faithful to the prince of the power of the air. When we try to do both and straddle the gap, we become the Neville Chamberlain of spiritual war. I know Christ can overcome any culture through His church, but we must use His weapons, not the worlds, to do so. Thanks for the encouragement.

There is another article and comments section on this issue. According to the article, at the Orlando GA in June there will be a debate between Ligon Duncan and Tim Keller. Here's the link: http://byfaithonline.com/page/pca-news/fifty-seminars-slated-for-general-assembly

Thanks to Bill's link to "By Faith Online" above, I was able to read-skim Tim Keller's and Ligon Duncan's positions on the matter. I appreciate the great respect and honor that they accord each other even while firmly disagreeing with each other. I also greatly respect and appreciate that they both hold to biblical patriarchy or complementarianism. They just differ in degree as to how complementarianism should be worked out in ecclesiastical practice at the deaconess level.

The question for this observer is to discern how much importance to attach to this intramural debate? Is it of great importance, a hill to die on, or is it of minor importance, where some latitude can be granted, or somewhere in between?

Once the scope of importance can be established, then the time, effort, and rhetoric can be scaled appropriately.

>Once the scope of importance can be established, then the time, effort, and rhetoric can be scaled appropriately.

So you read the so-called debate without finding this question answered?

I thought Tim and Lig were perfectly clear. Nothing at all is at stake. Good arguments can be made for woman deacons but neither of them have seen a good argument for woman elders or pastors--yet.

Mr. Anonymous, did you really miss that?

It would be hard to find two articles more perfectly reflecting the rhetorical technique necessary in dealing with postmoderns. Obfuscation mixed with ritual bows, and occasional feints and jabs added to keep the audience interested.

Sincere souls reading those two pieces would be left scratching their heads wondering what all the hullabaloo was about.

Make no mistake, though: it's about something very hard and concrete and organic and visible. It's about something called sex.

Where's the evidence for the below statement:

"It would parade its righteousness while plotting against the very laws it claimed to be honoring."

Where is your proof that those who advocate female deacons are seeking to undermine the PCA or the Bible?

Tim Bayly: "Sincere souls reading those two pieces would be left scratching their heads wondering what all the hullabaloo was about."

Yes, indeed.

Tim Bayly: "I thought Tim and Lig were perfectly clear. Nothing at all is at stake."

That may be so. If so, then the respectful interaction between Tim and Lig illustrates what Pastor John Piper has counseled his pastoral staff about "Six Biblical Guidelines for Loving Each Other Amid Differences":

1. Let’s avoid gossiping.

2. Let’s identify evidences of grace in each other and speak them to each other and about each other.

3. Let’s speak criticism directly to each other if we feel the need to speak to others about it.

4. Let’s look for, and assume, the best motive in the other’s viewpoint, especially when we disagree.

5. Think often of the magnificent things we hold in common.

6. Let’s be more amazed that we are forgiven than that we are right. And in that way, let’s shape our relationships by the gospel.

From: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2009/3819_What_I_Said_to_the_Pastoral_Staff_About_Unity_Amid_Differences/

>I thought Tim and Lig were perfectly clear. Nothing at all is at stake.

Yes, when Pastor Duncan actually cares about what is at stake, judging from his FV involvement, he can use a fairly wide assortment of tactics which are not on display here.

TUaD,

What is clear here is that the philistines are arrayed for battle and that they have sent out their GIANT.
“I defy the ranks of the PCA this day; give me a man that we may fight together.”

The PCA champion goes out to meet the GIANT. When the exchange is over he says,
"Nice talking with you. I have been looking for a good reason to defy the living God concerning sexuality and authority, but you haven't convinced me yet."

Meanwhile, back at the PCA pastors camp...
"Hurrah! Wasn't it beautifully respectful."

Softly, you hear from the pew,
"Why does everyone still have their head?"

The point here is not what the PCA is doing but all the millions of ways each church fails to recognize the cracks in our walls, how women are leading and men are retreating.

So often it begins in each family and by the time it gets to the leadership, it's just gilding on the coffin.

The PCA BCO does not permit:

1) electing women deacons
2) substituting an unordained group of women for diaconate
3) commissioning women with the same or similar vows as Deacons

In addition, last GA explicitly ruled on these points also in response to Northern California Presbytery.

So, these kinds of points are not a "debate" at this point.

Prayerfully, and charitably, this is becoming clear to all. It is really a matter of:

1)confessional church,
2)connectional polity,
3)church government,
4)ordination vows.

Dear Max (David) Curell,

Your comment presupposes an answer to my previous question, an answer which I'd like to confirm my understanding of.

My previous question asked: "[H]ow much importance to attach to this intramural debate? Is it of great importance, a hill to die on, or is it of minor importance, where some latitude can be granted, or somewhere in between?"

Is your answer that this is a BATTLE of great importance, a hill worth dying or killing for?

If so, then your comment makes more sense; otherwise, not so much.

TUaD,

Your response confuses me.
You refer to the debate as a hill.
You refer to the battle as a hill.
Are you saying that the debate was a battle?
If so, why would you ask if someone should be willing to die?
Isn't that exactly what we expect to happen on a hill in a battle?

Just for calibration:
Nathan's finger in David's face was a hill.
John's calling the pharisees vipers was a hill.
Jesus' overturning the tables in the temple was a hill.
Paul's opposing Peter to his face was a hill.
Luther's posting of the big 95 was a hill.
Calvin's denying communion to men who had 'kept' women was a hill.

This debate wasn't a "hill" at all.

It was a "nothing" that took place on a hill.

If a pastor of God's flock is standing on a "hill" he had better do some killing or some dying or get off the hill so he isn't cluttering up the place.

"Are you saying that the debate was a battle?"

Actually Max (David) Currell, that's what I'm asking you. If it is a battle, what is the magnitude of this battle according to you and why do you think it merits the magnitude that you assign it?

So the pro-deaconess crowd are the anti-God Philistines with Tim Keller as their "giant," and the anti-deaconess crowd are the poor, pitiable "true" PCA crowd with Ligon Duncan as their "David?"

I couldn't think of a more inflammatory, cartoonish, absurd, and ultimately laughable hyperbole if I tried. Mr. Curell, I humbly suggest you re-read each essay to better understand what a humble, meek, charitable, Scripturally-informed exchange between two godly men really looks like.

>[H]ow much importance to attach to this intramural debate?

More than who you vote for in a presidential election.

Men, please move on over to the latest post dealing with Metro NY Presbytery for your discussion. Thanks.

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