Woman deacons: what about Warfield's approach today...

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(Tim) A reader asks: "(D)id I understand your
introduction to say that you agreed with Warfield's approach inasmuch
as 'deaconess' could be a valid office in the church as long as it did
not entail the exercise of authority over men, and thus was not
conflated with the male diaconate?"

I respond: Yes, but I think such an action on the part of the PCA right now
would be unwise in the extreme, given the conflation of the biblical
office of deacon and these various helps women performed at times in
church history. Furthermore, as Warfield points out quite clearly,
Scripture itself cannot be said to provide a biblical basis for woman
deacons. Warfield's exactly right.

What we find is that at various times the church did precisely what
our Book of Church Order (BCO) allows: namely, to create ad hoc or ancillary groups of
women for service to the church--including helping those officers
called "deacons." Those women might be called "deaconesses," but across
church history they were never exercising authority over men.

And this is where the practice of so many churches of the uber-hip
metro-sophisticate variety leave us in a position that we must oppose
woman deacons...

They want--make no mistake about it, they want--women to
exercise authority over men in places other than the pulpit (I hope
this is still true) and session (elder) meetings.

Again, as I've said so often before, read the documents. These men
put women forward to lead in their churches in every place they
possibly can without actually making them ruling or teaching elders
(pastors). This is the entire purpose behind their constant refrain, "A
woman can do anything an unordained man can do."

This is why I'm opposed to any change in the PCA. I think we have
many, many, many men who either have never come to understand the
Creation Order of man and woman, or who are opposed to it and seek to
undermine it in every way possible that will not bring them up on

Men think if they give the rest of the backward, southern, church
the bone of teaching and ruling elders, the rest of the church will let
them alone with woman deacons serving alongside man deacons (in the
same office), women doing everything in corporate worship except for
preaching (and occasionally, even that), women administering the Lord's
Supper (keeping a man at the table itself, of course, to maintain
appearances), women exercising authority over and teaching men in small
groups, women exercising authority over and teaching men in Sunday
school classes and various other adult education forums, women
vision-casting for the entire church, women discipling men, women
teaching Saturday forums on women in the church, and the list goes on
ad infinitum.

When we discuss any part of the woman deacon issue in the PCA, we
must always bring up two things: First, that what is practiced today in
PCA churches around the country is directly contrary to our BCO and the
Word of God; and second, whatever is done by women in the church must
faithfully represent the Creation order of Adam first, and then Eve;
and consequently, must not involve woman teaching or exercising
authority over man.

Do I sound like a broken record? Well actually, it's the Apostle
Paul exegeting Moses' record of God's action prior to the Fall, all
written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So don't blame me.

Still, if I were to decide to oppose the Word of God in a way that
would make me uber-hip and allow my church to grow-grow-grow, I'd not
waste my time opposing the
women-prohibited-to-teach-or-exercise-authority-over-men part. That's
fiddling with the deck chairs on the Titanic.

As Harry Blamires would put it, let's start with the "If-any-man-wants-to-follow-me-he
must-take-up-his-cross" part. Why waste our time on
anything else? That's the heart of it.

Unless our practice and doctrine opposes egalitarian feminism in a
way that is constantly clear, unabashed and sending no mixed messages,
we haven't begun to contextualize the Gospel in our bloody, rebellious,
immoral, egalitarian, feminist culture.

* * *

By the way, if you haven't read Harry Blamires' The Christian Mind, you might put it on your reading list. My Dad gave it to me to read thirty years ago, and I'd simply say that if everyone who read The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind would, instead, have read The Christian Mind, Google wouldn't return as many as many hits for "Henry (sic) Blamires," and Christian scholars all over the world would have learned better how to discern between the pursuit of truth and what Chesterton refers to as "a giggling excitement over fashion."