PCA pastor says Jesus' manhood is catching up with the world's...

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Presbyterian Church in America pastor Rich Bledsoe, one of Dr. Leithart's Theopolis Institute men, posted a piece on sexuality I take as typical of the posture of PCA and Oatmeal Stout Federal Vision pastors toward today's sexual anarchy:


I would like to beat a very old drum here, one that I beat a lot, but only because it has proven so illuminating to me. Back to Barfield’s “original to final participation”. Along with everything else, masculinity in its original natural form is dying.

Masculinity in its "original natural form" was created in the Garden of Eden by God. It started dying immediately after the Fall of Adam when, speaking to God, Adam blamed his sin on "the woman You gave me." Masculinity's original natural form was created to bear responsibility—not claim victimhood—and so masculinity started dying with the Fall.

Yet masculinity has also been being reborn since the Fall, generation after generation as men are born again. As Scripture says, "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation," so throughout history the power of the Holy Spirit has been conforming men to the image of Christ. Certainly He is "masculinity in its original natural form."

Sadly, Rich doesn't say a word about the Holy Spirit's work renewing masculinity among men of God. He only says masculinity is dying...


I don’t know about any of you, but when one is virtually anywhere in the “third world” it is amazing to me as an American, the extent and degree of masculine control over everything. As an American, and one who lives in a particularly liberal town, this kind of unthinking, effortless, control, which is as natural as a fish in water, is almost incomprehensible. I recently read an account of a missionary kid who was American by birth, but reared in Japan for most of his youth, being especially amazed upon returning to America at the degree of rudeness and "yelling" that went on here from women to their men in public. But he said what amazed him the most, was that the men “took it like whipped puppies”. Indeed.

According to Rich, the "original natural form" of masculinity is "masculine control." Of course, control is a Bad Thing, particularly when men do it. Add to this that the control Rich speaks of is "unthinking" and "effortless."

What if control were thoughtful? What if it were quite difficult and men applied themselves to it with a solid work ethic?

Nevermind. After celebrating the death of manhood's unthinking, effortless control, Rich moves on to the death of manhood's honor. Being an American from a "particularly liberal town," Rich tells us this loss of honor is old hat to him, but others aren't yet acclimated to it. Take, for instance, this child of missionaries, a young man who grew up in Japan. Rich reports the "kid" is "amazed" at how rude American women are to "their men," that they yell at "their men in public" and their men "take it like whipped puppies."

Rich responds "Indeed."

Cute. We're left wondering what Rich's "indeed" means? It could simply be Rich agreeing this is how American women treat manhood or it could be Rich expressing his solidarity with the missionary "kid" who finds women's rudeness and manhood's submission to that rudeness scandalous.

Which is it?

Sexuality is a battlefield today. There is blood everywhere and immortal souls are suffering eternal destruction because, hard on the heels of fornication and adultery, androgyny, feminism, and sodomy are carrying the day. So here Rich is, a PCA pastor who claims to stand in the line of the Reformers of the sixteenth century; he's addressing the great evil of our day, sexuality; he's telling us the obvious, that manhood's leadership and honor are dead and dying; and if we're reading him right, he thinks this is good. He's made his peace with it and so should you. And yet, there's that word 'indeed.' What does he mean?

Really, though, we have no time for cuteness. Put on a uniform, Rich—any uniform. Raise a standard so allies can rally to your side and enemies can shoot at you.

But alas, we're left wondering where on earth this teaching elder of the Presbyterian Church in America stands?

We could take a guess. If Rich is the typical feckless man-boy who lives in particularly liberal towns, we'd expect him to think men now having to submit to women's "rudeness" and "yelling," and taking it "like whipped puppies," are all good things because they redress the moral failure of past generations who sinned by allowing "unthinking" and "effortless" masculine "control."

On the other hand, if Rich is a Reformed pastor, we might expect him to be other-worldly. We might expect him to be less pathetic and more prophetic; we might expect him to call for the return of the original natural form of masculinity placed by God on our federal head, Adam, in the Garden of Eden. We might expect him to preach and teach and write that man is "the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man" (1Corinthians 11:7). We might hope for him to try to counteract the rebellion against God everywhere around us as husbands and fathers refuse to lead and wives and mothers refuse to follow. (I'd considered using the Biblical word 'submit' but remembered discretion is the better part of valor.)

We might expect a Reformed pastor today writing on sexuality to emulate the preaching, teaching, and writing of the Apostle Paul as he defends the original natural form of masculinity given us by God the Father Almighty:

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. (1Timothy 2:12-15)

The missionary "kid's" observations concerning the scandalous decline of the relations between the sexes might be expected to cause orthodox, Biblical Christians to lament this state of affairs. We thought women treating their men rudely and yelling at them in public is bad. Yo, Rich! You know the Bible tells us this is bad, right? Can you say it? Can you find it in yourself to join the missionary "kid's" lamentation?

But we're left hanging. An ambiguous "indeed" and Rich moves on:


I think the natural power of the male is over. He can rebel against it all he wants, but it is struggling in quicksand. The more struggle there is, the faster he sinks. The patriarchal head of household church movement is completely artificial and is NOT a return to something spiritual, but something natural, and it is nature that is dying.

First masculinity's original natural form is "control," and now it is "power." Rich is telling us masculinity's control and power are gone. He sees the death throes and he acknowledges that they are agonizing, but what are you gonna do about it? Certain groups may give themselves to pathetic attempts to keep masculinity alive, but they're so very stupid. And embarrassing to Reformed pastors who live in particularly liberal towns because most of those pathetic and embarrassing attempts claim Reformed doctrine.

Take, for instance, the "patriarchal head of household church movement." What a bunch of yahoos! Earth to Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard—Rich Bledsoe here. Time to close shop. I'm from Boulder and I've watched Naropa's giggling excitement over Allen Ginsberg and his fellow queers the past couple of decades. Dudes! We're whipped puppies and we should put our legs between our tails and move on. Don't you get it? Something about "lacklove and manless in Moloch." Your attempts at resuscitating manhood are ridiculous. Why don't you go live with the Amish and stop giving me and other Reformed puppies a bad rep?

"Calling all prairie muffins and their daddies, quit with the writhing, would ya? Lie down and go to sleep like good girls and boys."

Note carefully, here, that Rich is opposing the attempts of orthodox Reformed Protestants to live together in their homes and churches in a patriarchal way. He places "patriarchal" and "head of household" in a parallel construction. Patriarchy is a compound of the Greek words 'father' and 'rule,' so patriarchy means father-rule which in turn means father-head of household. This is the "patriarchal head of household church movement" Rich triumphantly proclaims is "completely artificial." It is "NOT a return to something spiritual, but something natural, and it is nature that is dying."

So now I'm confused: the "head of household church movement" must not be the "masculinity in its original natural form" Rich is opposing because he tells us the "head of household church movement" is "completely artificial." "Natural" and "artificial" are antonyms, right? Yet it appears Rich is telling us the head of household church movement is an attempt to rescue masculinity in its original natural form.

Which is it, this head of household church movement—"natural" or "completely artificial?"

As always with the Federal Vision men, it's neither and both, and isn't that deep? Like wow, man! Masculinity's original natural form is completely artificial! Like yes and no, both at the same time. White and black. Fat and thin. Up and down. True and false. Snow and elephants. Like, you know, cosmic, man.

Rich's post could be an Allen Ginsberg poem titled "Whimper."

But we move on. It's time now for throwing in the towel to be given some dignity. Maybe we can call in Jesus to cover our nakedness?


The only way forward for masculinity is to die. Jesus was the first man to give up his natural masculine powers. The Kenotic poem of Philippians is the essential telling of this story. It has now caught up with the world. It is only in dying to what is natural that masculine authority and headship can be raised again and come back in a new “final” form that is shorn of nature.

Rich is a prophet. He tells us the way forward—the "only" way forward—is for masculinity "to die." This absurd patter reminds me of a man who has spent the past thirty years condomizing his marriage bed into sterility and then proclaiming that condoms are the path—the only path—to the recovery of fruitfulness. The man who has spent several decades butchering beef-cows announcing to the world that the way forward into veganism—the "only" way forward—is to multiply butchers and slaughterhouses. The pastor who has spent his calls and ministry gagging himself at every point where his people hate God's Word and Law and then pronouncing that the way—the "only" way—to recover reliance upon the Holy Spirit for preaching as a dying men to dying men is to teach other pastors how and why to gag themselves. First they musty go off to seminaries where they will learn not to rely upon the Holy Spirit, to work against any conviction of sin, to avoid preaching repentance, never to say anything approaching "no," always to avoid conflict, and never to take up the cross of Jesus Christ.

Manhood is dying and the only path forward is for manhood to die. Jesus gave up His manhood and so should you.

You object to my referring to "natural masculine powers" as "manhood," but on what basis? Are not "natural masculine powers" what God gave man in the Garden of Eden? Did not He define masculinity's nature? Is masculinity's "natural power" not derivative from and reflective of the Fatherhood of God, and is this "natural power" not the very essence of manhood?

What about "In Adam's fall, we sinned all?"

But sadly, tthe much-vaunted Federal Vision seems to have been castrated. And worse, they're doing their best to make the death of manhood into a principle: manhood is dying and the only way forward is for it to die. "The Kenotic poem of Philippians is the essential telling of this story."

For those who don't know the scholars' lingo, when Rich writes of the Apostle Paul's "Kenotic poem" in Philippians, he is assuming readers know 'kenosis' is from the Greek κενόω meaning "to empty out." Rich is pointing to our Lord's relinquishment of divine attributes in His incarnation revealed in this passage:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

Rich tells us Jesus' emptying and humbling Himself "has now caught up with the world." Like Boulder, our world is filled with men emptying and humbling themselves—just like Jesus. But they're not catching up with Jesus. According to Rich, Jesus is catching up with them.

Jesus' surrendering the "natural masculine powers" of His Manhood is finally catching up with the men of Boulder and America, and women have helped Jesus catch up with their men.

Yikes! That sounds wrong, doesn't it? Shouldn't it be women helping their men catch up with Jesus?

Oh well, I'm not too bright and these Oatmeal Stout Federal Vision men are very deep. Profound, even.

Anyhow, back to women. Their "rudeness" and "yelling" has enabled their men to learn to whimper "like whipped puppies," but trust me, that's a good thing! Jesus didn't consider the thoughtless and effortless control of masculinity in its original natural form a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself of it. He took the form of a servant-leader and was made in the likeness of feckless American men who never had the gift of conflict and are happy to abdicate their leadership and responsibility. Rich claims Jesus is the model for Reformed pastors who are relieved finally to have a good excuse to abandon any speaking and exhorting and reproving; to give up every last bit of the authority God delegated to them for keeping His Church the pillar and foundation of His Truth (1Timothy 3:15). Rich abuses Jesus in order to provide cover for what is first nature to Reformed men today: we let absolutely everyone disregard us (Titus 2:15).

Rich assures us the state of affairs that scandalized the backward missionary "kid" is actually a reform movement. It is the revival of supranatural masculinity. Jesus' repudiation of natural masculinity has finally "caught up with the world" and Rich assures us this is a Very Good Thing because:

It is only in dying to what is natural that masculine authority and headship can be raised again and come back in a new “final” form that is shorn of nature.

Ahhh. Finally I get it. Until now I'd missed that crucial detail of Rich's thought and purpose, that he is interested in raising masculine authority and headship from the dead.

Dumb me.


Now, I know everyone will want details on what this means. All I know is that every man I have ever seen who tried to revive nature ends up being an ass. I have seen cases of the most macho masculine and by nature controlling men, with what are undoubtedly very high male hormone levels, just rendered helpless by the current culture. They thrive no better than an Apache warrior in modern Arizona. And in fact, the reality is exactly the same as for the warrior. He can only die, and be raised as a Christian, which looks very different and does not exist by humiliating and degrading women and children.

Yes, of course; how could I have missed it? Rich is leery of details, but inasmuch as he lowers himself to think out loud about the outworkings of his vision as an Oatmeal Stout BIblical theologian, he tells us masculinity in its original natural form is not just "power" and "control," but also making an "ass" of oneself, being "macho," allowing oneself to have "very high hormone levels," playing "Apache warrior," and "humiliating and degrading women and children."

This sort of wickedness, Rich assures us, is characteristic of all those artificial (but natural) "head of household church movements."

So why don't they all move to rural Ohio and make a living mucking Amish barns? This would please Rich very much, we're sure.


I think everything in the natural world exists by rivalry. In the natural world, the man is the man is the man by overpowering rivalry over against the female and the children. In God’s world, this is undone. In reality, it may well be that large elements of all of this death have only come to pass as late as the 20th century.

Yes, I'm surely getting it now. That artificial natural head of household church movement of men giving themselves to "thoughtless and effortless" power and control, to making an "ass" of themselves, to being "macho" and cultivating "very high [testosterone] levels," to playing "Apache warrior" in Arizona, to "humiliating and degrading women and children," to "overpowering rivalry... against the female and children," is being undone by God. You see, this is what we are observing in our world today.


If you've been hiding in the guardhouse as the enemy breaches the wall, a good tactic is to come out nonchalant-like, declare victory, and go back to the guardhouse. Who cares what's happening to the homosexuals? Who cares about the women and children dying in the streets? Abortion is just the breaking of the eggs required to make this wonderful omelette of masculine self-emptying that is just like Jesus.

One wonders: if masculinity is dying, does Rich think femininity is dying, also? And if so, who is the Biblical model catching up to women today?

Rebekah? Dorcas? Blessed Mary?

The time has long since arrived for Reformed pastors to be as simple, straightforward, and manly as the Apostle Paul concerning God's original natural form for manhood and womanhood. May God bless His Church with many such faithful men in the decades to come.

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!