All the pretty language: Redeemer ordains women

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[NOTE: Tim Keller has responded to those opposed to his church's woman officers by issuing a letter claiming the ordination of woman officers here documented is not representative of Redeemer's normal practice. It was only done because the officiating pastor, Scott Sauls, is a "newer pastor" on Redeemer's staff who didn't know which ordination and installation liturgies he was not supposed to use. Sauls confused liturgies and lost track of how this and that word and phrase were to be parsed and he's apologized for his error.

We respond that the treatment of woman officers here documented is representative of Redeemer's practice. As one longtime Redeemer member puts it, the ordering principle of Redeemer's justification and practice of woman officers is to make no distinction between her male and female officers. Wrong words and liturgies may have been used here, but that's almost immaterial.

And Scott Sauls? It's hard to take seriously the talk of him being a "new pastor" and therefore susceptible to making mistakes in this highly conflicted matter that is at the center of Redeemer's national identity right now (as well as the heart of several judicial complaints filed in the courts of the PCA this year). Scott is one of Redeemer's top leaders, he's on their Executive Leadership Team, he has planted two churches, he is the supervisor of the Director of (all) diaconal ministries (who, by the way, is herself a woman), he is a graduate of Covenant Seminary, he has taught preaching there at Covenant, and on it goes. A newbie? Get real, guys.]

(David) The brazen nature of Tim Keller's revolt against PCA polity, never mind Scriptural teaching, is on display in this video of an "ordination" ceremony for deacons/deaconesses in May of this year.


Thanks to Andrew Barnes of Tchula PCA for finding this video and for locating the following within it:

(0:03) Male and female deacons installed together 
(0:13) Deb, elected a female deacon, is used to represent further deacons being installed later that morning. Pastor states: "Deb is assuming the Diaconal Role this morning." 
(0:20) Nominated by members of Redeemer just as other elders and deacons 
(0:28) Extensive Training Process 
(0:35) Interviewed by other officers of the Church 
(0:41) Elected by vote of congregation 
(1:17) Deaconess for Deb is an extraordinary calling 
(1:34) She is charged 

(4:26) Six Ordination Questions are asked to the woman 
(5:09) The Pastor clearly uses the word 'ordination' in regard to what is going on 
(6:02) The members of Redeemer promise and covenant to yield obedience to her 

What are we to conclude in the face of such explicit evidence of Pastor Keller's inability to conform practice to rhetoric? 

Nine months prior to the service recorded in the video above Keller wrote in ByFaith, the PCA's denominational magazine, "(I)s the biblical evidence...enough to make a case for women tobe ordained to the diaconate in the PCA? I would say no. I affirm and support the PCA’s belief in male headship in the home and church. I

would never want to see our denomination compromise its support of this biblical complementarianism."

Yet eight months later--and just one month before his "debate" with Ligon Duncan over the ordination of deaconesses at the 2009 General Assembly of the PCA--Keller's church ordains, rather than commissions, women deacons. 

Keller writes in ByFaith, "I believe--like the RPCNA--that biblically, deacons are appointed to service, not to juridical authority."

Yet Redeemer expects her members to "yield authority" to women deacons, the same commitment made in the installation vows for a pastor or ruling elder.

The issue here is not merely one of polity and biblical offices, it's one of honesty. Either Tim Keller doesn't know what his church is doing or he's misrepresenting his practices and position.