Report of PCA Study Committee on Women in the Church (7): silence is obsolete...

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(This is seventh 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.)

The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. (1 Corinthians 14:34)

In a long section titled "The Roles of Women During the Apostolic Era," the PCA's General Assembly Study Committee on Women's Roles in the Church goes on at great length about what this and that New Testament passage does and doesn't mean. They quote lots of scholars saying one thing and another about the meaning of this and that Greek word. Some of it is unobjectionable, beyond the fact that the reader is left exhausted; and maybe that's the point?

Finally, though, the Committee is forced to conclude something or other about the texts' application to congregations within their own religious non-profit association. Given the spread of their legs from the concrete and timber dock of Jackson, Mississippi to the sleek yacht with a gaping hole in her hull up there in New York City, it's hard for them not to embarrass themselves by...

falling into the drink.

Here's one example in which the Committee tries to deal with this Apostolic command that women be silent in the church:

The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.(1 Corinthians 14:34, 35)

After spending 2,100 words explaining away this command, the Committee has to conclude something, so here's how they relegate this command to the dustheap of church history:

[T]he silence of women applies to the weighing of prophecies. 1 ...If women wish to inquire about the testing, they may ask at home; they must be silent during the testing itself. 2 ...while prophecy is tested, Paul required that women should temporarily stop speaking. Outside the testing, women may pray, prophesy, sing, and provide a lesson... 3

This is the sort of feminist abuse of Scripture that passes as "exegesis" in today's seminaries. It's perpetrated by scholars who have signed statements of faith confirming their commitment to the "inerrancy" of Scripture both at the institution that pays them and as a condition of their membership in their fraternal organization, the Evangelical Theological Society. One of the most eminent of these feminist revisionist scholars is Gordon Fee who taught both Tim Keller and me New Testament exegesis at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Fee sacrificed the plain text of Scripture to his idol of feminism, so it never surprises me to see his students doing the same.

Once, I asked Dr. Fee what the Apostle Paul meant when he said "for Adam was created first, then Eve?"

Dr. Fee answered, "Paul was just being rabbinical, there."

I responded, "that's right, Dr. Fee; just throw Scripture out."

Some readers may be relieved to hear that this was a private conversation, but had he said the same in the classroom, I would have had the same response, wanting to put other students on warning that Dr. Fee was not to be trusted with the Word of God's truths concerning manhood and womanhood.

It's no shock the Kellers repudiate the plain meaning of this Apostolic command of women's silence in the worship of the church. They may think the Apostle Paul was "just being rabbinical" here, also. But being in the conservative PCA, they can't actually say that. It would be too revealing and might cause suspicion among the sheep.

Instead, Mrs. Keller and her fellow Committee members spend 2,100 words explaining that two millennia of church fathers were wrong in their interpretation and application of this Biblical command. The Apostles say "women are to keep silent in the churches," but what they actually mean is that "women are not to keep silent in the churches" except during the brief time when men are debating and judging what some woman or man has prophesied.

Then and only then are women to be silent. And happily, no one ever prophesies during the worship of PCA congregations, so no one ever debates or judges prophecies during the worship of PCA congregations.

Very happily, then, the Committee leads all the souls of the PCA to see that this Apostolic command never applies to them.

  • 1. P. 2414:17.
  • 2. P. 2414:20, 21.
  • 3. P. 2414:34-36.
Tim Bayly

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

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