September 2008

The fearful state of proud souls who reject the Church, with a postscript on harsh language from pastors...

(Tim) Few things have been responsible for more souls rejecting Church of the Good Shepherd than our fencing of the Lord's Table according to the requirement of the Presbyterian Church in America's Book of Church Order, that those who come to eat and drink must have placed themselves under the authority of the elders of our church or be a member of some other Bible-believing, evangelical church.

Typically, we surround those words with some explanation of the words' meaning and intent, focusing particularly on the fact that we cannot claim faith in Jesus Christ while rejecting the authority of Christ's Church and her officers which He Himself has commanded us to honor and obey. Whew, do the sparks fly!

Travelling around the country, I've been discouraged to observe how few PCA pastors submit to this Book of Church Order requirement. It's such a good and necessary rule, perfectly suited to drive a dagger into the heart of the cheap grace and hatred of authority at the heart of the reformed church today. So why aren't shepherds faithful to fence the Lord's Table in any other than a pro forma way?

Well, surely the rule has escaped the notice of some. Not every PCA pastor spends his life looking through the Book of Church Order for more rules to obey. Such a life takes a special kind of guy.

And yet, there are many of us who know about this rule and still don't obey it. Why not?

Well, as I said at the beginning, few things have been responsible for more souls rejecting Church of the Good Shepherd than our fencing of the Lord's Table according to this requirement. In other words, most of us don't do it because we don't want to discipline the flock to love and obey the Church and her officers. In a day when Rob Bell is hissing hatred of authority to everyone who will listen, it takes faith and faithfulness to teach, let alone require, submission to authority.

A few years ago, I was part of a lengthy e-mail discussion within our presbytery over whether or not this requirement was biblical. And as the discussion proceeded, the issue went beyond how the Lord's Table should be fenced, to the discussion of church membership itself--is it even biblical?

This afternoon, I was reading Calvin's sermon on 1Timothy 1:1,2 and came across a section that makes our duty clear in this regard. If pastors and elders read this and still allow men and women to come to our Lord's Table while rejecting the Church, her officers and authority...

Credit where credit is due...

(David) Tim and I commend to our readers the following blog posts on issues arising from the Palin nomination:

Doug Phillips rightly challenges the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) for limiting the implications of the creation principle of male headship to the home and the church while denying its sway over all creation, including civil leadership. Phillips says that CBMW has become a "semi-complementarian/semi-egalitarian" organization, a description with which we would agree. He sums up the position of CBMW on the civil implications of the order of creation this way:

"At this point, there is no clearly distinguishable difference between the feminist understanding of male/female distinctions and civil leadership and the position of CBMW. As to their view of the jurisdiction of the state, both are full-blown egalitarians. If substantive differences exist between the two positions, they are not immediately apparent, and the burden of proof is on CBMW to explain to us what they are. (Emphasis in the original.)

In addition, Doug Wilson has an excellent post continuing his reflections on the fallout from the Palin nomination. I'm pleased that Doug also believes Scripture's thrice-told story of the daughters of Zelophehad has bearing on our understanding of the creation ordinance of male headship. The effects of sin, including death, bring all sorts of anomalous situations into being. Not every anomaly is sinful. All are the product of sin, not all are themselves sinful. Women whose husbands die will head companies. Daughters will inherit fathers' possessions, including, at times, a portion of their civil and familial authority.

Tim and I agree with Pastor Wilson that the important thing here is the fundamental principle of male headship in every sphere of life, not the distortion of the biblical position which claims that there can never be an occasional, anomalous and righteous female authority in the home or civil society. And why do I exclude female authority in the Church from such an anomalous-but-righteous situation? Because Scripture explicitly tells us women are not to teach in the Church.


Letters to the editor and a certain faculty member at Covenant College...

(Tim) Blogs live in a weird world. On the one hand, posts can be responded to immediately in the comments section at the bottom of the page. On the other hand, posters can't live their lives responding to the comments unless the blog is all they do. Over 12,500 comments have come in to this blog in the past two and a half years and readers know it's not unusual for a single comment to run into the thousands of words.

Think about it this way...

Two praises...

(Tim) At 4:15 this morning, the God of the universe blessed Ben and Michal Crum (our son-in-law and his bride) with the safe birth of a son, Zion Bjorn Crum. Zion joins his older brother, Daniel Peregrine, and he and his mother are doing quite well. Praise God with us for this sixth grandchild.

Also, please join us in praising God for the graduation of our first class completing the three-year curriculum at ClearNote Pastors College. We have two graduates--Joseph Bayly and Steve Moxey. The worship service of thanksgiving and commencement will be held this Sunday afternoon, beginning at 5:15, with dinner and fellowship following. If any of you are close enough to join us, please do. My brother, David, will be here with us and we'd love to have you here, too.

And, as always, if you're considering pastoral ministry and your church would recommend you for preparation for that calling, check out the pastors colleges at David's church, Christ the Word, in Toledo; and our Church of the Good Shepherd here in Bloomington, Indiana. (Here's the web site of ClearNote's campus ministry at Indiana University.) For more information on Reformed Evangelical Pastors College in Toledo, please call Pastor Andrew Dionne at (419) 297-4453. For information on ClearNote Pastors College in Bloomington, please call Pastor Stephen Baker at (812) 360-7457. Fifteen students have enrolled thus far and we'd be happy to put you in touch with some of them if you have questions you'd like to ask students.

Early registration about to close...

FatherhungerRegister now for the Christ Church Ministerial Conference on Father Hunger October 16 & 17 in Houston, Texas. Registration is about to close, so don't delay.

The conference is aimed at pastors, elders, deacons, and those aspiring to the work of these offices. David and I attended  the conference last year and greatly appreciated it. We hope we'll see you there.

Governor Palin and the order of creation...

Woman was not made for this, O man, to be prostituted as common. O ye subverters of all decency, who use men, as if they were women, and lead out women to war, as if they were men! This is the work of the devil, to subvert and confound all things, to overleap the boundaries that have been appointed from the beginning, and remove those which God has set to nature. For God assigned to woman the care of the house only, to man the conduct of public affairs. But you reduce the head to the feet, and raise the feet to the head. You suffer women to bear arms, and are not ashamed. (Chrysostom, Homily on Titus 2:14).

(Tim) In other discussions on this blog of Governor Sarah Palin's candidacy for Vice President, someone left a link to a piece by Dr. Al Mohler commending the leadership of women outside the church and home--as long as the dishes are done and the diapers changed first, that is. Front end, I want to say that I have great appreciation for Dr. Mohler's leadership, particularly as it pertains to God's order of sexuality.

And yet, here is the heart of his argument:

The New Testament clearly speaks to the complementary roles of men and women in the home and in the church, but not in roles of public responsibility.  I believe that women as CEOs in the business world and as officials in government are no affront to Scripture.  Then again, that presupposes that women -- and men -- have first fulfilled their responsibilities within the little commonwealth of the family.

The New Testament does not clearly speak to the complementary roles of men and women (in) roles of public responsibility and women as CEOs and government officials "are no affront to Scripture." Yet here's what the Apostle Paul writes in that same New Testament to which Dr. Mohler refers:

But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (1 Timothy 2:12-15)

Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul declares he does "not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man." Why this prohibition?

Two reasons: First, because God established a Creation Order when He created Adam first and then Eve; and second, because Adam was not the one deceived, but Eve was deceived and fell into transgression.

According to the Holy Spirit speaking in the Word of God, we are not to "allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man" because of the Creation Order and the Fall. So says the New Testament.

When I served as the Executive Director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, I tired of those halfway covenant men who showed great zeal to defend the creation order where it maintained the male prerogative in the church and home, while dismissing it Monday through Saturday, everywhere else. Are the Fall and Creation Order really meaningless outside the church and home? Are they really immaterial everywhere else? Does it really not matter a whit that Sarah Palin is a woman?

Google gives in, allows religious people to use key word 'abortion'...

(Tim, w/thanks to Lucas) NYT reports that Google has finally agreed to allow religous groups to use the key word 'abortion' in their anti-abortion ads.

All along, Google had allowed doctors to use the word in ads promoting their fetal slaughterhouses, but those working to end that slaughter were rejected...

The English department leads the way...

(Tim) It's not too hard to get some names of Covenant faculty members likely to have responded to the survey by stating they intend to vote for Senator Obama for President. NB: I wrote "likely."

For instance, here we see the typical twisting of the Word of God that's the stock in trade of feminist ideologues--this one in particular promoting Ephesians 5 as a reciprocity, "mutual submisson" text. The comment was posted a couple months ago by the moderator of faculty meetings at Covenant, Dr. Cliff Foreman, who's here speaking to his president, Niel Nielson:

In your footnote on Ephesians 5:18-21, you neglect to mention that v.21 is also connected to what follows it, in that the verb “submit” is not repeated in Paul’s exhortation to wives. Thus the command to wives is a working out of the general command to mutual submission. It also seems clear that the command to husbands–that they die for their wives–is presented as a very balanced reciprocation of what Paul has said to the wives. It, too, is connected, and any paragraph division will distort that. Those who point this out are not engaged in some sort of feminist plot, as you imply. They are trying to correct a tradition of misreading this text as a command to husbands to rule over their wives–-something Paul does not say. It is commendable to exhort Christians to read correctly, but often, as in this case, one should see that when Christians disagree there is truth on both sides of the argument.

If we google Cliff Foreman, we come up with these condecensions he posted here a little while ago. And this statement by one of his former students on the faculty review site,

EXCEEDINGLY LIBERAL!!!! An angry liberal at that -- very knowledgeable prof. who honestly does have a heart to earnestly seek truth and make it known. Conservatives should at least give him a chance!

Keep googling the man...

Last person out, bolt the door...

(Tim) Really, what more is there to say about "If my father were still alive, he'd have converted to Eastern Orthodoxy" Franky Schaeffer? His trajectory was set twenty-five years ago with little but dishonor and shame since. Here's the latest in that line, taken from a piece he wrote for the Huffington Post (ephasis in the original). Yes, I know Franky's larger argument is to move the Democratic Party toward electability by getting them to distance themselves from the albatross of late term abortion, but the context of this piece is immaterial to me as I remember Francis Schaeffer while reading these words...

Spies in the land...

(Tim) Is there a larger point that sits above this week's posts; a larger lesson to be learned from the vulnerabilities we've seen in the PCA's Christian Education & Publications, Women in the Church, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Westminster Theological Seminary, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Covenant College and Seminary, and Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City? What's to be learned from the sort of leadership we've seen demonstrated this week by the men called to guard these institutions and churches?

Joseph remembered the dreams which he had about them, and said to them, “You are spies; you have come to look at the undefended parts of our land.” (Genesis 42:9)

We have allowed spies into our midst and they are scheming how to capture the undefended parts of the land given us by our Heavenly Father.

Trustees, presidents, parents, and alumni of confessionally reformed colleges and seminaries (and, of course, leaders of denominational agencies and church elders) are going to have to decide which side they're on.

Man U's redesigned kit...

Manure_strip (Tim w/thanks to David) Taylor, Jeff, Brandon, Andrew, and I are Gunners boys, so we're laughing like hyenas at Man U's new kit. (Here's the old one.) Serves 'em right, the spoiled brats. Still, with Russian oil and the Fed bankrolling Chelsea and Man U, things could get more bleaker.

WIC/CE&P, Covenant, Westminster, Tenth, and ACE preacher and speaker holds membership in feminist organization...

NOTE FROM TIM: I've just taken the liberty of changing a couple sentences and adding some quotes to clarify this piece. So if you already read this post in its first day on the blog, please read it again. Having two writers contributing to this piece allowed a couple things through we'd normally have caught. They've now been corrected.

Westminsterseminary(David and Tim, w/thanks to Dave) Search for "Langberg" on the Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) web site and fifty-seven links are returned offering products produced by Westminster Theological Seminary adjunct professor Diane Langberg. (Here and here are sample pages.)


Check out CBE's  directory for a recommended counselor in Pennsylvania and you will find Calvary Presbyterian Church (PCA) member Diane Langberg.

Several years ago, controversy erupted within the Presbyterian Church in America over whether or not a certain woman actually preached at Covenant Theological Seminary. The controversy came to a head at the 29th General Assembly when Covenant's president, Dr. Bryan Chapell, explained the chapel address had mostly not been preaching although some parts strayed into "sermonic (and) some applicatory material." Bryan Chapell explained to the Assembly:

That Diane Langberg had been told ahead of time what the standards were for her speaking during the chapel time;

That after she spoke at Covenant Seminary, Diane Langberg received a letter reminding her of the standards, and expressing concern that those standards had not been followed; and

That the administration of Covenant Seminary met with students to explain the situation and to assure the seminary community that what had happened was not according to the standards they were committed to upholding.

CovenanttheolsemNote that the chapel message at the root of the controversy was given by Dr. Diane Langberg. Yet, despite her being at the center of this controversy...

Wiccep Two years ago, the Christian education arm of the Presbyterian Church in America, Christian Education and Publications (CE&P), held its 2006 International Women in the Church Conference in Atlanta. The three women employed to teach the 4,000 assembled women of the PCA? Joni Eareckson Tada, Paige Benton Brown, and Dr. Diane Langberg.

Wicleadership Again, at Women in the Church's (WIC) 2007 Leadership Training Conference Dr. Diane Langberg was a plenary speaker.

Tenth_2 Diane Langberg was principal speaker at Tenth Presbyterian (PCA) Church's 2008 TenthWomen Conference.

And this same Diane Langberg is featured speaker at the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals' Princeton Regional Conference on Reformed Theology--together with Al Mohler and Don Carson.