An elegy for my dear father, Roger Nicole...
For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. -1 Kings 11:4, 5
The rebels are dying. First, a few months back, it was our dear friend Dr. Roger Nicole. Then more recently, Catherine Kroeger and Nancy Hardesty. Both Nicole and Kroeger taught at our alma mater, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, although Nicole finished his career at Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando).
Back in the early eighties, Dr. Nicole's rebellion seemed fairly innocuous. He advocated women's ordination but held the line on the husband's authority in marriage and family life. Someone suggested Dr. Nicole's failure was the result of his Baptistic polity; that he had no doctrine of ordination, so the ordination of women was no big deal. It seemed about right as part of the explanation.
But I was more convinced Dr. Nicole's innate irenicism made it difficult for him to teach on a campus where the feminist rebellion was institutionally enshrined and his lectures were attended by many women preparing for the ministry. It was my gut feeling...that Dr. Nicole couldn't bring himself to oppose these women, so he justified them. It was a sad day when, in Systematics III, Dr. Nicole's main argument in defense of women pastors was how much good they had done in the church.
Normally Dr. Nicole's authority was Sacred Scripture, but not that day. Scripture wasn't mentioned--only experience.
Authority is of a fabric, so as time rolled on Dr. Nicole's rebellion grew.
Back in the late nineties, my work as Executive Director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood required my holding membership in the Evangelical Theological Society, so I saw Dr. Nicole regularly and we talked. I was horrified to hear him say he no longer believed the husband was the head of the wife.
I had deep affection for Dr. Nicole, so the last time we were together I asked Dr. Nicole about a statement I'd heard he'd made--that the economic subordination of the Son to the Father was "heresy." Did he really believe our Lord did not submit to His Father? Nicole answered that Jesus only submitted to His Father "in His incarnate state."
Since I was orthodox in my theology, holding to Jesus' economic subordination; and since Dr. Nicole had led the charge to remove several men from the Evangelical Theological Society in years past for their doctrinal errors; I asked Dr. Nicole if he was going to seek my removal for holding to this doctine he now called "heresy?"
Dr. Nicole said, "No, I would not think you should be removed."
"But why not? If you believe I'm a heretic, you should seek my removal."
"Well, maybe you're not yet a full heretic; you're only flirting with heresy," he responded, smiling.
Authority is of a fabric. Pull on the thread here and the center dissolves. What started out as gentlemanly kindess to pretty young coeds preparing to be pastors ended with Dr. Nicole opposing the father's authority over his household, then denying the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity.
That day as I left Dr. Nicole, I was very, very sad. What a tragic ending to the life of the most influential and gifted professor I'd ever had--the man above all men (save one) who had taught me to trust the Word of God!
Why write this in his memory? Many others have mourned Dr. Nicole's death without calling attention to this tragic failure. Why not Baylyblog?
Two reasons. First, read those other mourners of Dr. Nicole's passing and you'll note none of them have any commitment to tear down the high places of feminism. Some of them may not worship there, themselves, but as far as they're concerned, those high places are no big deal. "Live and let live," they say.
But second, if we were to write summaries of our leaders' today that were similar to the summaries of lives recorded in Scripture by holy men of old, it's clear Dr. Nicole's rebellion would be recorded, as would my own. Knowing him as I did, if he were placed among the kings of Israel and his leadership summed up as theirs was, it would be said that he worshipped the true God as well as the Baals, and that he brought the prophets of Baal into Jerusalem.
So also Dr. Nicole's colleague, Catherine Clark Kroeger. So also Nancy Hardesty. So also David Scholer and Gordon Fee, both of whom were profs at Gordon-Conwell during our time studying there.
It's so very hard to end well. No one has ever done it save by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God.
What would it be like to stand before the Living God and give an account for defying His authority by promoting sodomy in His Name and among His sheep--His little ones?
It would be much like standing before Him and giving an account for defying His authority by promoting rebellion in His Name and among His sheep--His little ones.
Let us honor Dr. Nicole by remembering his rebellion against the Living God and His Word, noting the destruction of souls his rebellion caused and praying the Holy Spirit will keep us, also, from falling.
Shortly before her death, Nancy Hardesty demonstrated the fruit of this rebellion she shared with Drs. Nicole and Kroeger in this excerpt from an essay she wrote about her approaching death titled, "Some Thoughts on Living and Dying:"
Forty years ago a psychic told me that I would live to be 85. I was counting on that. I didn’t expect to hear this news when I was going on 69! ...
Some might have asked, “Why me, God?” but I did not. I pretty much subscribe to the unofficial A.A. mantra, to put it frankly: “Shit happens.” While I have had my share of disappointments, slings, and arrows, I often say I’ve lived a charmed life. Certainly I have not suffered in ways so many have. God has been good. Through my writing and teaching, I have touched many lives. So many people have shared with Letha and me how our book, All We’re Meant to Be, changed their lives. Within the Evangelical & Ecumenical Women’s Caucus I have left a legacy.
This Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus spoken of with pride has long promoted both feminine rebellion and sodomy in the Name of Jesus Christ. And now, Nancy Hardesty stands before the Judgment Seat of God. This is the faith of Evangelicalism, today.
From love for his brothers, the Apostle Paul writes:
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load. The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. -Galatians 6:1-10