Report of PCA Study Committee on Women in the Church (9): Joey Pipa at the lowest pitch of expression...

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Back in the study, I asked Solzhenitsyn about his relations with the West... "[Y]es, it is true, when I fought the dragon of Communist power I fought it at the highest pitch of expression. The people in the West were not accustomed to this tone of voice. In the West, one must have a balanced, calm, soft voice; one ought to make sure to doubt oneself, to suggest that one may, of course, be completely wrong. But I didn't have the time to busy myself with this. This was not my main goal.” (Solzhenitsyn, quoted in the New Yorker, February 14, 1994, p.74.)

It saddened me to read Joey Pipa's response to the Report of the PCA Study Committee on Women in the Church. As president of a South Carolina seminary offering a more conservative option to the PCA’s Covenant Seminary, I’d been hopeful his response, when published, would sound an alarm within the church against the Committee's 60,000 words conniving at the feminist heresy.

Apparently others hoped the same because Dr. Pipa begins by telling his readers that "many friends and former students" asked him to respond to the Report.

What a disappointment they all must have felt watching as Dr. Pipa preciously declines to engage the enemy. Reading his very short response—1,500 words is about one-third of a sermon—you get the feeling you’re watching...

a very weary Eli sitting on his rock waiting for news of the battle.

About the purpose of the Committee, Dr. Pipa writes:

...there is a widespread confusion and dissatisfaction with regards to how gender roles are understood in modern evangelicalism, and rightly so. 

“Confusion and dissatisfaction” over “gender roles?” The sentence is nonsensical. Is Dr. Pipa saying he or others are confused about how gender roles are understood in modern Evangelicalism? Is he saying Evangelicals are confused and he’s dissatisfied with their confusion? Is he saying Evangelicals understand gender roles and their understanding has caused non-Evangelicals confusion and dissatisfaction? Too, what does he mean by “rightly so?” Does his "rightly so" justify Evangelical's understanding gender roles or is it pointing out his own approval of non-Evangelicals' confusion?

Of course, we all know what he's trying to say, but why put words in others' mouths when you have the ability to say something yourself? In writing today, has it become a crime to be direct about your own judgments? Must we posture ourselves as an advocate for the confused?

Then there’s that deconstructionist phrase, “gender roles.” Do I really have to say this to the president of Greenville Seminary?

Dr. Pipa, don’t let them browbeat you into speaking of “gender roles.” The Bible never speaks of gender roles. R. L. Dabney never spoke of gender roles. It's Tim Keller and his wife Kathy who prattle on about gender roles, and that should be a clue to you not to join them.

God has never given a man or woman gender. He gives us sex and commands us to obey it. Our duty is to obey the sex God made us and this is anything but a “role.” You know the old feminist bestseller, Our Bodies Ourselves? They were right. Christians don't try to relegate our bodies to secondary significance. We obey them by living them, and living them is neither "gender" nor "role."

"Gender” and “roles” are social constructs—and that’s the point. The sexual anarchists demanded we no longer speak of God’s dichotomous sex, but replace it with their infinitely plastic “gender roles.” The battle cry of the sexual anarchists today is, "our bodies, NOT ourselves." Why would you want to adopt their language unless it is to hide your allegiance, making nice with the rebels outside and inside the church?

The problem isn’t any "widespread confusion and dissatisfaction with regards to how gender roles are understood.” 

The problem is universal rebellion against God’s bifurcation of “man” into only male and female, along with a corresponding rebellion against the duties He has assigned each one of His two sexes. 

Evidently Dr. Pipa can't see the nature of this rebellion, so he assures himself that the world doesn’t need his witness and the church doesn’t need his rebuke. A few expressions of gratitude and a bunch of gentle suggestions from an ever-so-humble servant will be sufficient.

Thus Dr.Pipa begins and ends by saying how deeply grateful he is for the Committee and its Report:

I thank the committee for its diligent work and desire to root its work in biblical exegesis and the historical practice of the Church.

 My suggestion is that the Assembly thank the committee for its work...

No doubt, Dr. Pipa is thankful:

I also appreciate the pastoral tone...

I appreciate the report’s dealing with 1 Tim. 2:11-15. 

I appreciate the pastoral tone...

Dr. Pipa is eager to ingratiate himself to the Committee, so he whitewashes their twisting of Scripture:

For the most part, I do not take exception to the committee’s exegetical work.

He commends their motivations:

the Committee was "well intentioned."

Also the motivations of those who appointed them:

The appointment of the Committee was “well intentioned.”

When he dares to issue a caveat with respect to something the Committee said, his language is crafted in such a way as to assure the Committee he has nothing so evil as a fight within him, and he means no harm:

It would have been helpful to note…

On the "prohibition in 1 Cor. 14:34, 35 for women to keep silent,” Dr. Pipa’s not quite comfortable with the Committee’s horrendous abuse of the text, writing:

The prohibition, however, seems much broader…

Similarly, a couple sentences later:

Paul seems to prohibit...

Then this howler of a summary of 1Timothy 2:14 (Eve being deceived):

There seems to be a direct correlation between Paul’s injunction and the woman being deceived.

By way of contrast, John Calvin's explanation of 1Timothy 2:14 in his commentary is manly and direct:

...the subjection of the woman is the punishment of her transgression...

Calvin's sermon on the text is even more helpful in demonstrating the meaning of this text's condemnation of female rebellion:

The pride of women was well condemned by Paul, when he shewed, that if they will needs brag and boast themselves, they should look upon Eve, who was the cause of all our undoing, and brought us to God’s curse, and under the tyranny of Satan: and that only by her pride. And seeing it is so: let women hold up their noses no more: for all their presumption is sufficiently beaten down here.

Dr. Pipa squeaks out this timid objection to women exercising authority at the presbytery and general assembly levels:

...there seems to be no warrant to place [women] in authoritative non-ordained positions at presbytery and General Assembly.

Dr. Pipa's "seems" become unseemly. Almost cloying: seems that the church’s priority ought to be...

Dr. Pipa is very excited to join the Committee in affirming:

a robust and gracious complementarian practice...

...whatever that is...

Dr. Pipa might be giving us a clue what “a robust complementarian practice” is when he is emboldened enough to issue this caveat:

I would have liked the committee to affirm that the wife’s calling is to be a helper 

The mouth gapes. The mind boggles. The saliva thickens. The eyes tear up. The knees knock. The ears go muffled.

The heart despairs.

This is what the sons of Calvin, Knox, and Dabney have become.

Dr. Pipa prattles on about what "would have been helpful.” It’s all of a fabric:

I concur...

I think...

I think...

I lay out...

It seems...

I think...

I hope...

Let’s end with this one:

...there is a hint ...that a woman’s primary role in the church is domestic...

What is it about Reformed men today? Are we not ashamed of ourselves? Are our wives and daughters not ashamed of us? Do we really think they don't see us ingratiating ourselves to the rich and powerful?

I've never met a mother of more than three children who gives a rip about Tim or Kathy Keller.

Why do all the Reformed men want his approval? Can't they see the plain truth about his wife's Committee, that it had a mandate to normalize at the General Assembly level the sexual rebellion against Scripture, the Westminster Standards, and the PCA's Book of Church Order that Tim and Kathy Keller—together with their phalanx of Redeemerites—have been practicing unhindered across the PCA for decades, now?

That is the meaning, the whole meaning, and nothing but the meaning of the Committee and its Report.

* * *

(This is ninth 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.)

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!