"Most of (Redeemer's ministry leaders) were women..."

Feminists are masters of stratetgic incrementalism.

Sexual orthodoxy was repudiated about two decades ago in the Dutch Christian Reformed Church but some of the denomination's classes (presbyteries) still refuse to seat women who have been ordained. This causes CRC leaders to fulminate against this insult to their woman officers. In the midst of an in-house CRC discussion of the problem, one CRC leader commends Tim Keller's practice...

at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City: 

In 2006 I visited Redeemer Presbyterian church in NYC and had the privilege of not only meeting with Tim Keller but also with his church staff. Redeemer is part of the PCA which does not permit women to be elders. I spent a day meeting with most of the heads of ministry groups in the church and to my surprise found that most of them were women. ...I was pleasantly surprised to see how much positional power, control and responsibility women had in their church. 

Those outside the PCA have long recognized Redeemer's halfway covenant.

Beyond their woman-led ministries, the only step necessary for Redeemer to have a fully egalitarian elders board would be their granting the vote to all the women already present at the elders board's meetings. Those women already have voice.

But then maybe Redeemer would respond that their pastor is still a man, and he's the only one who really matters.

Watching Redeemer's pastor and the PCA reminds me of the poem "Lines and Squares" from A. A. Milne's book of children's poems, When We Were Very Young.

And they try to pretend that nobody cares
Whether you walk on the lines or squares.
But only the sillies believe their talk;
It's ever so portant how you walk.
And it's ever so jolly to call out, "Bears,
Just watch me walking in all the squares!"

- from A. A. Milne's "Lines and Squares"



And the little bears growl to each other, "He's mine,

As soon as he's silly and steps on a line."

And some of the bigger bears try to pretend

That they came round the corner to look for a friend;

And they try to pretend that nobody cares

Whether you walk on the lines or squares.

But only the sillies believe their talk;

It's ever so portant how you walk.

And it's ever so jolly to call out, "Bears,

Just watch me walking in all the squares!"

One of the 20th century's greatest writers. I grew up on this stuff and consider myself highly blessed. But to this day I cannot consciously step on the lines...

Here's the first stanza:

Whenever I walk in a London street,

I'm ever so careful to watch my feet;

And I keep in the squares,

And the masses of bears,

Who wait at the corners all ready to eat

The sillies who tread on the lines of the street

Go back to their lairs,

And I say to them, "Bears,

Just look how I'm walking in all the squares!"

OK, how long before the PCA, as a whole, goes where the CRC and much of the Reformed world has gone? Answers on the back of an envelope to ...

Mr. Abbott,

I know exactly what you are talking about. Eventually, it becomes an unconscious avoidance, where you automatically adjust your stride so you do not step on a line, that you only notice when someone points it out to you (which I had someone do recently, which is why I found out).

It makes brick sidewalks a nightmare. You just have to go for it with those and hope you can outrun the bears (or, at a minimum, the buddy with whom you are walking).


Interesting. I'd never heard this before; rather, I grew up with "Step on a crack, break your mother's back" and so I avoided all the lines and cracks for that reason. And so, Jim, I share with you the unconscious avoidance. I agree: Bloomington's brick sidewalks spell doom. And I was lucky (!) enough as a child to fall on one and put a hole in the middle of my forehead. Bled like a stuck pig. Now I avoid that sidewalk altogether.

- Carole

For the life of me, I cannot fathom why Pastor Keller wants to remain in the PCA or is allowed to remain in the PCA.

So any argument about women having authority over men will be met with "What? Authority? I said, 'positional power, control and responsibility'". If you don't know what authority is, you'll never know when you've violated I Tim 2:12.

Students who attend Redeemer do not even know it's a PCA church, or what that is, for that matter. They think it's just another hip-cool church, one of many to choose from in the city. Thanks for yet another example of Keller's heterodoxy. I'm not sure why he remains in the PCA, either, except maybe to drag others in the presbytery down with him. How's that for an overly-negative viewpoint ;)

No, it's part of the spirit of the age that individual churches do not "own" the movement or tradition that they come from. This problem is not restricted to Redeemer or the wider Presbyterian tradition as a whole - I've seen it a lot in the Pentecostal movements, that churches don't like admitting to be A/G, Foursquare, or any other label with perceived negative connotations.


I suspect they remain in the PCA for two reasons. First, no one's made a serious move to ask them to repent or leave -or- they like the ready-made platform being attached to a denomination gives them. It's the same reason the less incrementally-inclined Re-Imagining crowd used their denominational structures.

It is interesting to note that Redeemer/Keller were not asked to take part in the NYC41 effort to reduce abortions. The last time I trawler around the Redeemer website, I found only one reference to abortion, chastity, celibacy, etc. And that was to an abortion recovery group.

Another thought as to why churches stay in movements where, in theory, they shouldn't fit anymore, is inertia - on all sides. I saw this many years ago in an A/G whose culture was such that it really wasn't a Pentecostal church at all, but it stayed in that movement because there didn't seem to be a good enough reason to leave.

With women at all leadership levels in the workplace, doesn't it stand to reason that there would be a large percentage of women hoping to serve Redeemer at every level? Since they're reading the Bible from their NYC context, it's not terribly surprising that they're not putting themselves in Paul's shoes when it comes to gender in elder & deacon roles.

They might even point to R.C.'s and Vesta's decision, of late, for her to no longer wear a head-covering, and conclude that the Sprouls are finally reading Paul in a more modern context.

The fact is women's advancement in every area of leadership isn't subsiding. Even Midwest churches will one day have to confront it, as does Pastor Keller everyday.

Please pray for him.

>>women's advancement in every area of leadership isn't subsiding. Even Midwest churches will one day have to confront it, as does Pastor Keller everyday.

This is the conceit of people living in cities, that somehow life is much harder for them and they should get some passes because of it. Wake up. (And no, Allan, I don't think you live in the city. But your comment about New York is a type I hear all the time.)

Back in 1983 when I entered the ministry, my churches in rural Wisconsin had had women elders for decades. Shoot, a sixteen year old girl had been serving as an elder in my town church until she left for college. Yawn.

Some of us felt we should obey Scripture and repent, so our churches left the PC(USA) for the PCA where none of the women could serve as officers any more. But before we left for the PCA, many of the women had already repented of serving as elders. They'd heard the Word of God and led me, their pastor to repent of my complicity in it. And they refused to serve as officers any longer.

Then I get into the PCA and find Timbo Keller is all the rage because he's rebelling against the Apostle Paul's Holy Spirit-inspired, Creation Order-originating command that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men. And people make excuses for his rebellion saying he has it so very difficult because he's in New York City; and those of us out in the hinterlands better watch out because, soon, women in the Midwest too will advance to demand what New York City women are now demanding.

What on earth?

The feminist heresy is as old as the hills and three times as dusty. Why, even hicks in the rural Midwest knew about it and rebelled against the Word of God thirty years ago. The Apostle Paul wasn't even in the Midwest and he knew about it and opposed it waaaay back two thousand years ago!

What's wrong with Tim Keller that he can't lead with faith the way the Apostle Paul led with faith?

I've lived in Philly and Chicago and San Diego and Boston and Madison and Boulder and Bloomington and rural Wisconsin, and once and for all let me put to death this thinking that urban pastors face temptations and pressures Midwest and rural pastors don't face.

To think so is ludicrous. And beyond ludicrous, it's sinful when such naiveté is used to excuse a pastor's feminist rebellion. Do any of us read our Bibles any more? What do we think the Apostle Paul is opposing when he commands that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men?

Had he found Fred Flintstone being oppressed? Maybe it was a group of transexuals seeking to infiltrate the church of Ephesus?

How about we just, like, obey the Word of God, ya know?


Isn't the PCA currently filling its pulpits like this?

(a.) The PCA relies on the Covenant Seminary (and other Reformed seminaries') MDiv pipeline.
(b.) However, Covenant Seminary fabricated and duct-taped on another, $50,000 for each "Specialized Ministry Track ... to prepare men and women for ministry" MDiv, pipe.
(c.) Today, this pipeline is packed with 100s of deeply-indebted Reformed lady MDivs.

Now if you're a female and the PCA provides your MDiv, but your combined unforgivable undergraduate and graduate student loan debt exceeds $70,000, don't you think you'll search high and low for employment, even considering the PCA's office of Teaching Elder as a last resort, with the desperate hope of paying down your debt?

Multiply this scenario by the 100s in the PCA, and over time, see what happens.

It seems the PCA has not thought through its MDiv pipeline-to-pulpit process.

What positive outcome could ever come from this current powder keg?

This is no longer just Pastor Keller's or Carolyn Custis James' concern. Perhaps the PCA GA needs to take a look under the hood, and reform as required, to ensure an elder's qualification remains "the husband of one wife" and not vice versa.

Yes, Allan, the inclusion of women in seminary classrooms is bad on a number of levels. So also is the D.Min. fad. Both are milked for money to keep the whole engine running.

Pastors colleges in local churches taking as their model prior works such as Tennent's Log College are an excellent way to go.


Yes. The DMin certainly trumps. So if your pastor has a heart-attack early Sunday morning, and you've got a Reformed lady DMin (in Historical Theology and Church History) from Oxford in your small PCA, don't you think at least someone would be tempted to ask her to fill the pulpit?

Bayly's Log College does have a ring to it, but what Presbytery would approve of that credential at this time? :)

>>but what Presbytery would approve of that credential at this time? :)

Several groups of Reformed elders including a PCA presbytery have examined and ordained our men.


>Why spend time worrying about what is going on in a church thousands of miles away?

I guess Paul shouldn't have written the Corinthians.

Dear David,

Sorry that your comment now has no context. There's a man or woman in Tucson, AZ who comments on Baylyblog all the time and lies about his or her identity and e-mail address. When he comments now, I'm simply removing his comments regardless of what they are.

He's a mocker and i do not want to provide him any forum--thus my pulling the comment from this post to which you just responded. Again, sorry.

With love,


I was curious to read your comment on Vesta no longer wearing a headcovering a while back, but have since found out it is not correct. Where did you hear this?

R.C. Sproul Jr just corrected me in a brief exchange on Tim Challies blog. Here is the exchange (the post is about asking for questions for an upcoming interview with R.C):

For Dr Sproul: You have been known as one of the few people today who believes in headcoverings in public worship. Recently I gathered that Vesta no longer wears a headcovering in public worship. I'd be really interested to know what caused you to change your position on this, given that your son seems to have carried your tradition on after you? Many thanks,

Sorry to interrupt, but am wondering what lead you to this question. My mother still covers her head at corporate worship, so am wondering the source of this view that my father has changed his view.

Thanks for the correction and stopping this rumour in its tracks. I heard it on April 25th from 'Allan' over at Baylyblog in the comment section of a post called "Most of (Redeemer's ministry leaders) were women". I will post a correction over there also. So I happily rephrase my question for Dr Sproul: What was most instrumental in making you come to your unusual conviction on headcoverings? Do you think the practice will slip away from the Western church entirely, or do you think God will cause his people to return to this age-old Christian tradition? Does your minority status in this matter make you wonder whether you might be wrong? Have other Christian leaders you've met ever commented on your practice?

Sorry it became more than a single question.

Not sure my last comment was displayed but here is the link to the blog post: http://www.challies.com/interviews/help-me-interview-rc-sproul#comments

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