Report of PCA Study Committee on Women in the Church (1): Kathy Keller "Voting Member"...

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(This is the first in a series of ten posts critiquing the Report of the Presbyterian Church in America's Study Committee on Women Serving in the Ministry of the Church: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventheighth, ninth, and tenth.)

Preparatory to their 2017 General Assembly to be held in June, the Presbyterian Church in America has released the Report of their study committee on "women serving in the ministry of the church." This is the first in a series examining this committee's work.

When I served on a similar PCA General Assembly study committee on women in the military a few years ago, no woman was appointed to our committee. Study committees of the PCA General Assembly examine the interpretation of Scripture on theological matters where there is a need for the church to come to an authoritative judgment. Thus these study committees have been composed of pastors and elders—officers called to adjudicate conflict and make authoritative judgments. For this reason, many found it disheartening that Pastor Tim Keller's wife, Kathy, was placed on this study committee and that she agreed to serve.

It has long been normal practice for women to be present and participate in elders meetings at Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Mrs. Keller's appointment to this General Assembly study Committee is in line with the egalitarian practices Redeemer has long been practicing in her own fellowship, and advocating within her denomination.

But whereas the women attending Redeemer's elder meetings have been...

limited to an advisory capacity (with voice but no vote); and whereas this General Assembly study Committee had five "advisory members"—four men and one woman; Kathy Keller did not limit herself to serving in an advisory capacity on this Committee, but signed the Committee's Report:

Mrs. Kathy Keller (Voting Member)

My wife, Mary Lee, would not have agreed to be a voting member of this committee. She would have understood that such service is a sin against God's Order of Creation of man and women. Had Mary Lee been inclined to serve, though, I would have prohibited it. As her husband, it is my duty to help Mary Lee grow in her confession of her own womanhood as well as her submission to the officers of Christ's Church.

So we begin our examination of this study committee's Report by pointing out the sins against God's Order of Creation of Mrs. Keller serving as a voting member of the committee. The Moderator of the General Assembly sinned by calling Mrs. Keller to serve in this way; Mrs. Keller herself sinned by agreeing to do so; and Pastor Keller sinned in allowing his wife to sit formally as a voting member with teaching and ruling elders making theological judgments and recommendations concerning the proper relationship of the sexes within Christ's Church.

It is quite proper for pastors, elders, and deacons to ask for counsel from their wives and other women in the church. I proceed with almost no significant decision in the church without asking, and usually following, Mary Lee's counsel. Our other pastors and elders do the same. Yet when minutes, e-mails, letters, statements, confessions, and judgments are written, we don't ask our wives and the older women of the church to sign the documents with us, putting the words "voting member" after their names. There was no need for Mrs. Keller to be appointed a "voting member" of this committee in order to provide the committee wise counsel.

In the coming days as I critique the Report, readers wishing to spare themselves a lot of reading might want to stop right here. The rest of the Report's failures are telegraphed by this essential failure in the committee's own composition.

Mrs. Keller's "Voting Member"ship tells us all we need to know about the Committee's mandate and the sympathy of the Committee's members for an increased exercise of formal authority by women working side-by-side with the pastors and elders of the Presbyterian Church in America in guarding the doctrine and morals of the Church.

Teaching Elder Dan Doriani (Advisory Member)
Mrs. Lani Jones (Advisory Member)
Teaching Elder Roy Taylor (Advisory Member)

Mrs. Kathy Keller (Voting Member)

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!