Professional wrestling drama in the PCA big top...

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"In fact, right now, I’m in a denomination where only men should be

deacons and therefore that’s what I believe….and I mean…. that’s what I

hold to…and that’s what I support and I don’t…... I do very little in

the way of trying to undermine people’s belief on that."

- Tim Keller explaining that everyone watching him and his church and presbytery's actions for years, now, have misunderstood their significance. Completely misunderstood their significance. Things are not at all what they seem. Not at all.

(Tim) The debate between Tim Keller and Lig Duncan at the PCA General Assembly last month was a professional wrestling match with the conflict carefully scripted to produce no pain or

danger. The

room was packed with 750 commissioners and their wives, but if anyone showed up hoping for the appearance of consciences and convictions, they were disappointed: there there

was none of this, "Here I stand; I can do no other; God help me" sort

of thing.

Some of the statements documented here should have been

met with raspberries or guffaws.

So, why give the exchange broader distribution?

Well, I'm hopeful those who weren't there will be scandalized. And, seeing the words in black and white, some who were there will realize they should have been scandalized and it's not to their credit they weren't.

This stuff is totally awful and the fact that no one said so is

simply an indication of the hankering after fame and success that sells tabloids and woman church officers, alike...

One PCA pastor friend sent me a transcription of parts of the debate. It's possible some of the words or punctuation are slightly wrong. This happens with transcriptions. But if you think there's an error, please send me an e-mail and, assuming it's warranted, I'll change the text.

* * *

Questioner: Do our ordination vows require us to ordain deacons with the laying on of hands and do both of your churches practice that specific thing?

Tim Keller: Redeemer laid hands on our off[icers]……on our deacons for about half of our life. Several years ago, we stopped doing it. We thought...I thought that didn’t mean that we stopped ordaining them. Plenty of people think it does. As Ligon said, laying on of hands represents recognizing their gift, but you know….for example….if somebody said to me, "No, the PCA has spoken with united…..thru the SJC or the constitutional business……I mean the PCA has spoken and said, no you can’t call them deacons unless you lay hands on them too, you’re violating the BCO," then I would just go back and say fine. I mean you know the uhhh……For a quite a long time, we laid hands on them..…uhhhh we haven’t and it’s largely partly because some of our deacons asked us not to…originally.

As and it was difficult for me to get around to all the services and kind of make the explanation. So it was actually a logistical ummm. For me, it was actually logistically easier in some ways.

However uhhhh….I would be happy to go back to it.

If somebody said, "No, the PCA has made it very very clear. You are not ordaining them if you do not lay hands on them. If you don’t lay hands on them, you can’t call them deacons." Well, I do want to call them deacons and therefore I would do it. But its not...its….its not at all at the essence of what we do there. You know…In other words, for the first 7-10 yrs of Redeemer’s life, we laid hands on them. We didn’t after….that did not represent some kind of change in the way in which we operated.

Lig Duncan: Yes, I do…I do think we should…I do think that we’re obligated by the book to ordain our male deacons and we do lay hands on them at First Pres…..

Tim Keller: and you would say, friend Ligon, that they are not ordained if we do not lay hands on them?

Lig Duncan: I’m more concerned for you I mean when you say that they are still ordained…I think that is what the Book [of Church Order] is after. I know there is…Duncan can tell me now there was a time in Scottish Presbyterian history when hands were not laid on elders…….

Tim Keller: right….

Lig Duncan: ……only on pastors. So the way that ordination is done has differed in the history of the Reformed Tradition

Tim Keller: right…

Lig Duncan: and so I’m more concerned about the status of ordination than I am the particular mode whereby its bestowed.

Tim Keller: ahhhh…that’s interesting. See I did know about that. I did know that sometimes ordination happened without the laying on of hands. But it is so doggone visible….I understand the people who have a got a real problem with it. I’m sympathetic. I’m assuming that is going to be worked out over the next couple of years. But honestly, that would not, in any way change the way….change anything I’ve said here about what I think women should be doing with the diaconate.

* * *

Tim Keller: …….(48:55) I believe in male headship. I believe in the…uhhhh…traditional gender roles. My wife and I revel in them. And....uhhhh I’m completely in agreement. BCO is binding. Only men should be elders and ruling elders. In fact, right now, I’m in a denomination where only men should be deacons and therefore that’s what I believe….and I mean…. that’s what I hold to…and that’s what I support and I don’t…... I do very little in the way of trying to undermine people’s belief on that. If I’m gonna….if I want to change the denomination……then I’ll …you know….go to war in the right way. Which is we’ve got processes and then you do it…………(52:30)……I wanna basically say, let’s try to accept each other, let’s honor the BCO. Let’s uhhh…let’s be gracious as we talk. And that’s one of the reasons I haven’t pushed for women deacons over the years...

* * *

Here are a few comments provided by a PCA teaching elder.
 
1) "BCO is binding"; "Let’s honor the BCO" – If the "BCO is binding," how does Tim Keller justify breaking it? As an aside, I once (heard Tim Keller) argue that "laying on of the hands" (BCO 17-2) was optional, not mandatory. A PCA ruling elder corrected Tim Keller, noting the BCO writers were not ignorant of the distinction between optional and necessary language. "Prayer" and "laying on of the hands" are essential to ordination, while "the giving of the right hand of fellowship," while proper, is in a different category. Here is an example of deacon installation at Redeemer.

2) "I’m in a denomination where only men should be deacons and therefore that’s what I believe….and I mean…. that’s what I hold to…and that’s what I support." Is there a conspicuous absence of assent to practice (what the BCO mandates) concerning deacons? In other words, (note that Tim Keller) doesn’t say, "That’s what I practice." How can Tim Keller say "that’s what I believe" when he repeatedly says he wants women deacons? Is this (truthful)?

3) "If I want to change the denomination……then I’ll …you know….go to war in the right way. Which is we’ve got processes and then you do it." Doesn’t Tim Keller's involvement in the March Resolution (passed by his own Metro New York Presbytery and now the subject of a complaint before General Assembly's Standing Judicial Commission) directly contradict this assertion?

4) "I haven’t pushed for women deacons over the years." Did my ears really hear this? Again, his ...participation in the ‘local option,’ (and his actions and statements through the years seem to) contradict this assertion. (Why doesn't he) lay his cards on the table? (How can he) deny he has an agenda in all of this?