From our southern correspondent comes confirmation of an earlier prediction:

That –

The Assembly form a study committee on the issue of women serving in the ministry of the church (RAO 9-1; 9-3). The Assembly authorizes the Moderator to appoint the study committee. The study committee should be made up of competent men and women representing the diversity of opinions within the PCA (RAO 9-1; Robert’s Rules of Order [11th edition], §13, pp. 174-175, §50, pp.495- 496, §50, pp. 497-498 §56, p. 579]).

The committee should give particular attention to the issues of:

The biblical basis, theology, history, nature, and authority of ordination;

The biblical nature and function of the office of deacon;

Clarification on the ordination or commissioning of deacons/deaconesses;

Should the findings of the study committee warrant BCO changes, the study committee will propose such changes for the General Assembly to consider.

The committee will have a budget of $15,000 that is funded by designated donations to the AC from churches and individuals (RAO 9-2).

A Pastoral Letter to be proposed by the ad interim study committee and approved by the General Assembly be sent to all churches, encouraging them to (1) promote the practice of women in ministry, (2) appoint women to serve alongside elders and deacons in the pastoral work of the church, and (3) hire women on church staff in appropriate ministries.

Grounds: The Cooperative Ministries Committee may not make recommendations directly to the General Assembly but must do so through an appropriate committee or agency (RAO 7-3 c; 7-6). The CMC has had a subcommittee on the role of women and has sent several recommendations to the AC (including a proposal for a study committee on the issue women serving in the church) and CDM to bring to the Assembly.

The former moderator of the PCA GA, Michael Ross, likely approves of this proposal:

The third reason is close to Ross’ heart, since it relates to the theme for this General Assembly, “Generations in Community.” A champion of church revitalization, he recognizes understandable tension and unrest within the PCA – as with most denominations – between older and younger generations.

“In biblical terms 40 years is a generation, and it’s normal to hear younger people saying, ‘This isn’t 1972 anymore,’” he explained. “As moderator, it’s important to have the ear of both the older and younger groups, so everybody has a voice and can be well-heard.”

Past General Assemblies have dealt with a variety of controversial issues, and although Ross does not expect “any landmines this year … there are always overtures that come up.” As for the PCA as a whole, Ross commented, “I tend to be optimistic about where we are and where we’re headed.”

When he entered the pastorate, the PCA was “either all-white suburbanites or in little towns. Now we’re coast-to-coast, much more ethnically diverse, and there is a strong PCA presence in large urban areas.

“Our seminary and college are doing well, as is the women’s ministry. The women and men in the PCA work together very well, which is not typical of many denominations. But we also are in a time of transition. It’s time for change, and change is always scary.”

But as I asked before, isn’t racism different from egalitarianism?

To be clear, racism is arguably different from excluding women from church office. Furthermore, the consequences of racism have been far more consequential than barring women from special ecclesiastical office (though I know some feminists disagree). But the question is whether the PCA’s condemnation of racism leaves wiggle room for distinguishing racial equality from equality of the sexes. (Have we all forgotten the CRC‘s arguments for ordaining women?)

In fact, the power of egalitarianism is so strong you have to wonder if the PCA will have the wits in a decade to avoid repenting not merely for tolerating financial inequality among its members but even advocating it. After all, once you start down the road of equality, doesn’t history suggest your brake fluid runs dry?


94 thoughts on “Predictable?

  1. The article begins by stating, “As one GA Moderator put it, ‘Women in ministry is the atomic bomb for the PCA,’ meaning that if we do not review and recommend changes in the way we treat women, we will probably lose a large segment of millennials.”

    if there’s one thing I know, it’s that it is always good to justify something on the fear of being uncool.


  2. It’s beginning to feel like watching the E channel, I don’t know who anybody is anymore. I’m already married and interact with women at work, I’m pretty sure I’m maxed out on conversation/discussion/committee and expectations. Have I shared the story of the church work day when the elder’s wife decided to direct my work? Part of the interaction included, “Henry(not actual elder’s name) you might want to come retrieve your wife”


  3. If the PCA were to approve the ordination of women, what would the key differences between the PCA and the EPC be?


  4. Ordination of women as teaching elders in the PCA is still not on the horizon. Quasi office for women is already here. TKNY came up with “an unordained woman can do anything that an unordained man can do” — that’s why he doesn’t ordain deacons any more. The slope feels a little slippery though.


  5. TKNY came up with “an unordained woman can do anything that an unordained man can do”

    To be fair, Carl Trueman and Aimee Byrd have basically taken the position. I just think the latter don’t take that position in a way that undermines the ordained offices.


  6. Can’t help but notice the assumption of Every Member Ministry in the “Pastoral Letter” paragraph.
    If women’s ordination is the forerunner of overall theological liberalism / apostasy, is EMM perhaps a forerunner of women’s ordination?


  7. “Ordination of women as teaching elders in the PCA is still not on the horizon.”

    Give it time. I grew up in the CRC, so I’ve seen this song and dance before. The Progressives don’t / won’t let up.


  8. If female ordination is a mark of apostasy and male ordination is a mark of orthodoxy, does that make Rome more orthodox than confessional Prots would assume? But if giving Rome that kind of leeway doesn’t sit well then maybe fe/male ordination doesn’t rise to a vital or religion.


  9. Wresbyterian says: The article begins by stating, “As one GA Moderator put it, ‘Women in ministry is the atomic bomb for the PCA,’ meaning that if we do not review and recommend changes in the way we treat women, we will probably lose a large segment of millennials.”…if there’s one thing I know, it’s that it is always good to justify something on the fear of being uncool.

    ‘course if what you thought you heard was “Sure it’s against the will of God, but we got to retain people somehow”, loving your people, you’d have to do the most loving thing you could think of -plead the Lord’s clarity to minds and hearts; if while in that quiet, you were to hear that perhaps you may be ascribing motives of which you do not know, and further, you come to realize that man-pleasing, flesh indulging for sure though applied to you -you stop and beg God to change you just a little bit more today, desiring to please HIM.

    Col 1:9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God


  10. Ali ascribes motives about ascribing motives about something she knows nothing in language that makes little sense. What in the wide, wide world of sports am I supposed to do with that?


  11. Zrim,

    No it might not rise to that level, but for the prot denominations that have sanctioned female ordination, I wouldn’t say things have turned out that well.


  12. Rome shows it’s disregard for biblical teaching in many ways, though female ordination is not one of them. Prots show their disregard in many ways, female ordination being one of them. Is praying to Mary and the saints worse than having a pastor Megan? Probably, depending on what Pastor Megan is preaching.


  13. I always forget about the EPC, but, yes, that’s the trend. In fact, if you wanted to track it’s current trajectory, you’d go; southern RUF student-call-CTS training-return to RUF as minister(2-5 year stint)- Redeemer franchise plant(big funnel that never narrows) and the comment “I have a lot of minister friends in the EPC”


  14. Isn’t it a violation of 1 Timothy 2:12 (“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man”) for the Cooperative Ministries Committee to propose that women be placed on a committee that is charged with the task of giving pastoral counsel to presbyteries?


  15. As a former pastor of mine said. “Denominations are like cars; it’s inevitable that you’ll have to replace the old one.” It’s been a good ride, PCA. However the engine is starting to run a little hard.


  16. I will say one thing to the credit of the Cooperative Ministries Committee: at least they are being up front about their motives (cultural accommodation in hopes of gaining cultural influence) and the end that they have in view (instructing churches to get with the egalitarian program).


  17. Andy, but the Southern Baptists are 50 times bigger than the PCA and have nationally known spokesmen like Russell Moore and Al Mohler. Turning into the EPC is going to make the PCA influential (just on the precipice of TKNY’s retirement)?


  18. 1) What does a post-Keller PCA look like?
    There may never be such a thing. He has set the model and made the mold for everything they will do going forward.

    2) What does post-Keller Redeemer look like?
    Probably will slowly break up and dissipate with Scotty somebody at the helm or some guy from Austin or Atlanta. If the PCA does not go egalitarian fast enough the Redeemer decline will be blamed on their failure to do so.

    3) What does a post-Redeemer Keller look like?
    Speaking in all sorts of places. Appearing on MSNBC. Writing a little. Ecumenical maneuverings. Broadening as he’s liberated from denominational restraints.


  19. cw, what if the South rises again? What if Harry Reeder is the post-Keller PCA? What if Embers to Flame is the Presbyterian way of being earnest (think Piper) and Keller’s hipness was strange fire?


  20. DGH, I know. As a point of comparison, going the egalitarian route certainly hasn’t had great payoffs for the PC(USA). Nevertheless, in the byFaith article where he defends the CMC’s recommendation, Mike Ross argues, “if we do not review and recommend changes in the way we treat women, we will probably lose a large segment of millennials… This issue is complicated by a triangle of pressure points pushing into the PCA. First, there is an egalitarian spirit owned by more and more people in our culture, especially among the young. Second, the PCA has a history of passivity and even resistance to discussing the role of women in the church. Third, our understanding of a complementarian viewpoint of gender roles and relationships places constraints upon us as a church which our society denounces.”


  21. “[I]f we do not review and recommend changes in the way we treat women, we will probably lose a large segment of millennials.” – Mike Ross

    First and only question – Who cares? Stop whining.


  22. I don’t think there’s any question there’s going to be a backlash against the progressives, and that’s likely in the form of culture warring fundies and six day creationists(not something I’d hitch my wagon to), but what little I’ve heard about it centers around leaving the PCA.


  23. Let me remind everyone of the three objections southern PCA conservatives have against joining the OPC:

    1. They’re odd.
    2. They’re Yankees.
    3. They’re odd Yankees.


  24. Ali says something June 7, 2016 at 2:04 pm; cw l’unificateur says: June 7, 2016 at 2:10 pm
    Ali ascribes motives about ascribing motives about something she knows nothing in language that makes little sense. What in the wide, wide world of sports am I supposed to do with that?

    Helloo mr cw; did you even have a chance to THINK in that short interval before rapid-fire response. Isn’t the great legacy of OL, the exhortation to… THINK; and I’m pretty sure DG doesn’t mean it (I think) just for cats or wimmin; also pretty sure he doesn’t mean it (I think) by a conscience somehow apart from the word of God, but fully informed by it, by the Spirit.


  25. I’d like to add, however, that this is not really directly tied to Keller. Keller has promulgated this stuff and less discerning people have run with it, but Keller points out the RPCNA had ordained female deacons in the nineteenths century. And WSCAL and one of it’s brightest bib studies professors, Robert Strimple argue for female deacons. Seminaries have been teaching this for a long time.

    The real problem is the incomplete understanding of diaconal ministry expounded by Keller. John N. Collins’ resoundingly refuted the notion that diaconal ministry is the sphere of “mercy ministry.” The Diako- word group does not mean a ministry of mercy, it is more precisely that of a go-between (Collins proposes of the presbyters or the bishop).

    This faulty understanding of the diaconate is the root of the problem and IMO, the advocates for female deacons in the Reformed world miss this point entirely. WSCAL, Covenant, RTA, etc., all have faculty who favor the ordination of female deacons. In my interaction with that material, I think much of it is either ignorant of the ground-breaking work Collins has done, or, does not properly understand its significance (Gregory Perry). Keller perpetuates the animus for female deacons, but Keller’s proposals have fertile soil because of Reformed seminaries.


  26. BA, this is about more than deaconesses. See how vague and open-ended the proposal is — including pastoral ministry. This is about developing a program to make Reformed ecclesiology and structure more appealing to a certain kind of woman/market. Churches should not let marketing trump(!) what the bible says about church order.


  27. Dubya,

    Trust me, I get what you’re saying. Not trying to get into all the detail, but my own estimation is that the reason for this “softening” is because of some really bad arguments in favor of female deacons (I’m personally in favor of deaconess as a distinct office from the deacons–and I am sympathetic with T.F. Torrance’s take that the modern ruling elder is probably more like a ‘deacon’) at Reformed seminaries.


  28. Brandon, you’re a solid scholar, and have undoubtedly read the writings of various exegetes who have a much different historical/grammatical understanding of some of the men-only texts such as 1 Tim 2:12 (eg, since women were largely uneducated back in the day, Paul’s injunction there was more of a reference to not having uneducated people teach, than it was a reference to gender). Hard to go through all the texts, and nuances, in a combox…can you recommend any recent books by Reformed scholars who have engaged with, and refuted, the arguments put forth by anti-men-only scholars? Thanks.


  29. (eg, since women were largely uneducated back in the day, Paul’s injunction there was more of a reference to not having uneducated people teach, than it was a reference to gender)

    That seems like a stretch, Pete. When did Paul require a D Min?


  30. BA, not that you would disagree, but if we end up with deaconess’ it’s going to matter how we get there. If the PCA gets there on the back of radical racial or gender politics while trying to sell it as marketing to millennials, my complaint won’t have much to do with the fact that they’re women. And it’ll still be directly tied to Keller’s expansion of the gospel to include social justice, diminishing confessionalism under the guise of evangelizing in a post-modern context, franchising his developments(profit, ego, power motives) and empowering others to do the same often at the expense(money, people, effort, time) of confessional churches. He manipulated the structures already in place within the PCA to advance his own brand. And why not? Certainly I can replicate the Manhattan context in Kalamazoo and Dripping Springs and Lockhart and Alpine and Yuma, wherever, it travels.


  31. Petros,

    Thanks for the compliment Petros, but I’m just a guy with some narrow interests. I wouldn’t categorize myself as a scholar. I like to read them though!

    I haven’t read much on this issue in a while so I’d need to go back and look to see some of the best stuff. Off the top of my hand, nothing stands out as truly exceptional but most of the arguments in favor of female ordination are largely unimpressive, IMO. I’ll try to go back and looking in some of my reading material to see if there is anything truly exceptional.


    I agree with you wholeheartedly. The thing that frustrates me about Keller is that I appreciate so much of what he does, I just think there are times he is not as careful as he could/should be.

    For example, I can respect the decision to *not* ordain deacons as a form of protest to the BCO. I don’t even mind if churches say that they will have committees to fulfill diaconal functions and leave them open to men and women. I find it highly disingenuous, however, to not have deacons and call these men and women deacons. Claiming that the term only means servant is nothing other than deceptive. Also, introducing these “elected” “deacons” alongside the installation of elected elders but not laying hands on the deacons is truly sad. I’m all for churches to have the right and ability to protest various portions of the BCO, but Keller’s approach is not a form of protest, it is a power play.



    An OL piece makes it into a PCA overture, or at least an article about the overture — one of FORTY TWO (42) concerning race at this month’s Melee in Mobile.

    Overture 53, from Northwest Georgia Presbytery, is based on an article published in “Old Life,” written by Jonathan Inman, Pastor of Grace and Peace PCA in Asheville, North Carolina. The overture calls for the General Assembly to return all overtures calling for confession and repentance to the courts that originated them with the directive that the repentance called for be conducted according to BCO 38-1 and 31-2. In his article, Inman calls on church leaders who believed they have sinned, “whether covenantally or generationally, jointly or severally,” to confess those sins under the provisions of BCO 38-1, which specifies the way church courts are to handle cases where individuals take the initiative to confess their guilt of an offense. Northwest Georgia added BCO 31-2 as another appropriate provision to apply. BCO 31-2 provides directives as to how a court is to begin formal disciplinary process when there is a strong presumption that a member is guilty of an offense.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Ali says a chance to THINK in that short interval, cw…

    still thinking, meaning also, having the chance to think, or rather a chance to be given thought, that to be selectively energized about only some matters so important to the Lord, at the expense of others/diminishing any matter important to the Lord, is perhaps successful deception.

    Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;


  34. DGH,

    Well…yes and no. You asked for my opinion, but I don’t pretend it’s anything more than an opinion. I also don’t think the qualities mentioned below are completely bereft in other ministers, I just think Keller’s combination is unique and admirable. As my comment above illustrates, I’m not afraid to criticize him, but I’m equally content recognizing he does significant work for the preaching of the Gospel and for that I’m thankful.

    What I appreciate most about Keller is that he is a phenomenal preacher who consistently tethers incisive application to the Gospel. I affirm the active and passive obedience of Christ, but many redemptive-historical preachers a) Are boring b) Repeat themselves in their form and content c) do a poor job of inviting the congregation into the text d) struggle to tie the meaning of the text to the congregation.

    Keller sets a very helpful pattern for how RH-preaching can be done well. That’s not to say that there are not other effective preachers, but Keller is the cream of the crop.

    Coming from a more fundamentalist leaning background, I also appreciate Keller’s desire to engage with the broader culture. He does not shy away from engaging cultural ideas at various levels. He’ll interact with Justin Bieber and Martin Buber. It shows Christianity is not closed off to interaction but contrasts the biblical worldview (!) with alternative religions and ideologies.

    I also appreciate Keller’s demeanor. I think he is winsome, warm, inviting, and sincere. That goes a long way in drawing people to the Gospel and also makes the message more compelling. I understand that for Old School Presbyterians that can sound a bit too pietistic–and I get the concern–but I think it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I know numerous people who were broadly evangelical come to a deeper understanding of the faith found in Reformed theology because of Keller. Even for Keller’s deficiencies in his consistency with Reformed ecclesiology, I think he is a significant upgrade from Piper.

    Just my 2 cents…


  35. @CW, how Biblicist of you, as you’ve got a LOT riding on just a handful of texts, whether it’s a particular understanding of 1 Tim 2:12 or Rom 16:7 or Acts 18:26. I’m not here to argue against a male-only view, per se. Being the THINKING person that I am, I’d welcome a referral to which Reformed scholars you feel best engage/confront the arguments of the non-male-only view. Anyone who presumes 1 Tim 2:12 settles the issue once and for all, probably has not THOUGHT much about it, or certainly has not harmonized it with lots of other texts problematic for the male-only view.

    The red herring that gets typically raised is when people characterize the non-male-only view as being, egads, a defining mark of a church on a slippery slope to liberalism. That’s no more true than if a church doesn’t hold to a 6-literal-day-Young-Earth view that it’s on the slope to liberalism.


  36. Brandon, I appreciate your response. I disagree, but since TKNY has no real appeal to me, I’m always — in the words of Homer Simpson — “interest, maybe even a little curious” why others find Keller attractive.

    I would push back for now on cultural engagement. I wish Keller was not shy. I see him as being remarkably calculated, and never sticks his neck out beyond what will cost his standing in the TGC celebrity world.

    Bieber? Could that trivialize Christianity?

    Keller may draw New Calvinists (not real ones) into thinking they are Reformed, but you also have to track where the PCA has gone with TKNY as poster boy for the denomination and especially its home missions.


  37. Petros, not to throw C-dubs under any buses, but just to let it be known I think your last para is important. It goes to what I was saying above about the RCC. If male only is a mark of orthodoxy then maybe Prots owe Rome an apology letter? But I don’t think so. The three marks are still sufficient and don’t include anything about ordination. The CRC is a wayward denom, not a sect that has anathematized the gospel.


  38. Petros, as said above, the issue is not women deacons, per se. As you say, people disagree about that based on the Bible. So if that was the point of the committee, cool. But that’s the question. Or, rather, is the reason it is viewed as do-or-die (A-Bomb) because the PCA has already traveled down the eeevangie-hipster-RUF-TKNY-CharlesTaylor-EngageTheCulture-SwayBabes-TGIC-Buzzword-Continuationist-Hillsong-WhiteGuilt-SocialJustice-ConfessionsAreTooDogmatic slope?


  39. BA, you need a good dose of cynicism. I actually don’t appreciate Keller for the very winsomeness he puts out there. If you’re gonna go ahead and steal from me, let’s get violent about it. Smiling at me while you pick my pocket doesn’t make it better for me. And the big funnel, doesn’t turn out to be a funnel at all(shocker) but I can tell you it’s a big catch- all for rich, uber-white, disaffected mainliners and their chirrin. They’re gonna transform the inner city by riding on the back of rich developers as they gentrify the area, lofts included. I’ve done inner-city work, it has nothing to do with what the Redeemer franchises are putting out there as “doing the gospel” and “transforming the city”. Go find a rich real estate developer and you’d do a better job than these rich white guilted, I have a black friend, ‘gospelers’. Just my two cents.


  40. But, Pete, I don’t know how you can know that this is true:

    “Paul’s injunction there was more of a reference to not having uneducated people teach, than it was a reference to gender”

    Not biblicist to say that Paul probably meant what he meant with his plain words.


  41. Sean, there’s gonna be a moment when the BLM crowd stands up to the bistro crowd. It will be interesting. Will that be in Mobile? Maybe not, but as Rev. Wright says some day the chickens are comin’ home to roost. I can’t say if they’ll be fried food service chickens or free-range, hormone-free lightly grilled with a raspberry-mango marinade chickens.


  42. CW, we’ve got the GOBN and then we’ve got hipster millennials and now we’re working on our angry black folk demographic. The hipsters are afraid of the angry black folk demographic and desperate to not be the white onion they are, the GOBN are all, “that’s fine just not in my yard” and I’m out here, with my popcorn and beer doing play by play and calling winners and losers according to which way the dollars flow. But, it’s all pastoral and such and only about the exegesis. Just axe ’em. Is their anyone else I can offend?


  43. I’m still waiting for TGC/T4G/New Calvinists to unveil the Redeemer model targeted towards the real untouchables in our society – poor/uneducated/lower class whites. Until then, I remain cynical and unimpressed.


  44. @CW, I certainly don’t “know” that is what Paul intended in 1 Tim 2:12. I’m not making that argument. That was my short-hand way (incomplete to be sure) of just putting a placeholder out there that there is considerable and credible exegetical scholarship that, after surveying all the NT texts, and looking at what gender ‘headship’ principles may (or not) be rooted in Genesis, and attempting to harmonize it all, do not arrive at a male-only conclusion, whether for deacons, or even (egads), elders/pastors.

    But, if you “know” exactly what Paul meant , you’ve got a fair bit of ‘splainin’ to do about any number of other texts that don’t harmonize so well with your interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12.


  45. Don’t have time for splainin’ Pete. I’m busy trying to apologize to everyone Sean has offended. I don’t ever expect to get around to those that I’ve offended.


  46. DGH,

    First, my comment should read, “Even for Keller’s deficiencies in his ***inconsistency*****”

    As far as Keller’s celebrity, I don’t know the man personally, but I know people who do and know him relatively well. The report is that he is down-to-earth guy who is unassuming. Maybe you know something different, but I don’t believe Keller’s calculations are about protecting his reputation. I think they are weighted toward communicating the Gospel with charity. Sometimes I *do* think Keller can be softer than he should be, but I’m not sure your explanation (he’s propping up his celebrity) makes as much sense as mine (he’s imperfectly attempting to communicate the Gospel).

    In terms of citing Bieber, my appreciation for Keller is that he is willing to prophetically speak to popular culture *and* to intellectuals. I think interacting with artists like Bieber–who is consumed by the masses–can allow people to compare and contrast popular values with the Christian faith. Every compelling story has some level of conflict and it’s important for ministers to highlight conflicts in the everyday lives of parishioners. Thus, IMO, interaction with Bieber can be as legitimate as interaction with Buber (or are you being a TKNY-cultural elitist!?).

    Keller may draw New Calvinists (not real ones) into thinking they are Reformed, but you also have to track where the PCA has gone with TKNY as poster boy for the denomination and especially its home missions.

    Well, in my experience, Keller draws people into the breadth and depth of the Reformed tradition. Of course the New Calvinists flock to him too, but I think he is a more worthy representative of “Reformed” heritage than someone like Piper. I’m thankful for that and I also believe Keller’s influence has done healthy things for the PCA and evangelicalism generally.

    Yet, I also admit that Keller’s contribution needs to be critically assessed. I’ve noted some of my frustrations above with Keller and other’s power play with female deacons. That is concerning and needs to be critiqued. The level of discourse also needs to be changed. Keller’s take on the diaconate in general is wrong which blunts his argument on female deacons.

    I don’t want to be cliche, but I also think it’s more helpful to be moderate here. Keller does great things. Keller does bad things. I think Keller fanboys and critics need to be more critical of Keller *and* themselves.


  47. BA, I don’t get the Keller appeal. At all. He’s done his best to hijack an entire denomination and promote his brand. About what exactly am I supposed to be grateful/thankful? They get hold of the CCC and MNA and Admin and promote their own, they take the lion’s share of the budget, they take the best and brightest out of their sister churches and then they downplay the confession and tradition as ‘insider baseball’ and never get back around to catechizing any of those they bring in the fold. They have nothing left to say(no catechism, no confession) so, now the gospel is becoming social justice. Bleh. Social justice gets done a hell of a lot better by almost anyone else, including Mormons. It’s like talking with some of the womenfolk I know, “but I’m nice”. Except after dealing with these guys, up close and personal, they ain’t nice. They’re a bit vicious and territorial and you need to wear a cup. IOW, they’re political. Which I’m fine with, in one sense, but don’t worry me about my attitude while you’re stripping my church.


  48. @Brandon – very fair — hopefully, your comments will inspire good THINKING, rather than the usual knee-jerk TKNY-and-TGC are always ‘bad’ reaction.


  49. “Well, in my experience, Keller draws people into the breadth and depth of the Reformed tradition.”

    That hasn’t been my experience, for what it’s worth. He also, in my experience, seems to tread lightly on the need for repentance and focuses more on appealing (pandering) to people’s psychological needs/wants.


  50. sean,

    Again, I think pin-pointing Keller’s motives is more difficult than you do. Does Keller have an ego? I’m sure he does. Is Keller out for PCA-world domination? I’m skeptical. I think a more circumspect assessment would be that Keller uses the power to advances causes he believes in. There is probably an element of self-interest embedded in Keller’s political involvement, but given the size and influence of his church, his involvement should not be surprising.

    Re: the role of catechisms and confessions I think Keller could do better, but I know they occasionally use the confessions and catechisms in worship. The development of the New City Catechism is also an attempt to update the WSC–though one reviewer of the confession confided that he was disappointed with its depth. The point is that Keller values the tradition even if he could do it better. So let’s criticize him in ways he can be better.

    I also think it’s easy to lambaste Kellerites because sometimes they are hokey in their discussion of being “in the city for the city.” I get the sentiment. I hate the slogan. Caring for your neighbors is a logical extension of the Gospel and churches need to be encouraging their congregants to help their neighbor’s. I’m not aware of how Keller deals with varying political positions, but I can’t imagine it would be different than my church which acknowledges there are multiple perspectives on *how* to help my neighbor.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean about TKNY “stripping your church” or TKNY taking the “best and brightest.” It’s not as if these men are being forced to do anything. Perhaps you’re thinking of the financial leverage TKNY uses in MNA, MTW, & Admin?


    Yep, that’s undeniably convoluted. No defending TK there.


    He also, in my experience, seems to tread lightly on the need for repentance and focuses more on appealing (pandering) to people’s psychological needs/wants.

    I can understand why you would say that, though, on balance, I don’t think that’s fair. Keller always calls believers to repentance, but I think sometimes he could be clearer about the wrath of God against sin.


  51. BA, I’m not reading motives I’m reacting to his and the Kellerite’s behavior. I’m not happy selling moderate assessment while they go about recasting and reinventing(New City Cat). Burden of proof (of need) is on them not me and again the same for the assessment of the effort. Yes, as regards the committees mentioned and others, they winsomely and not so winsomely exert influence and control up to and including blocking candidates who haven’t come up through their tutelage. They’ve twice tried to force their own asst. pastors onto our congregation, for example. I’ll give a financial example, a Redeemer Franchise that has been particularized for close to ten years, has a campus, building and about half a city block of prime downtown real estate, yet still receives presbytery money as church plant as well as has the largest single budget line item in the entire church planting network, dog eared for a culture transformation conference. Last I looked, the conference promoted fusion jazz as a medium for the gospel and being for the city. So, what you can imagine and what I know aren’t going bowling together anytime soon. And fusion jazz sucks.


  52. Brandon, I didn’t mean to communicate that Keller is less aggressive in order to maintain his celebrity (though I wish he would have refused to be used as poster boy for the PCA). What I do mean to suggest is that Keller would be less popular and have less of a following if was more forthrightly Calvinistic about theology, ethics, and church life.


  53. Petros, all the reading here and you are still knee-jerk enthralled to Keller. Don’t you see you are evangelical (not real Reformed) and pro-Keller? That’s supposed to be a recommendation of Keller’s Reformedness? I’m thinking and not buying.


  54. Brandon, why isn’t it a problem that Keller received hefty PCA financial contributions but does not make planting PCA churches a priority? Don’t loyalty and gratitude count for anything?

    I get the sense that Keller is naive about how his activities might come across. That naivete does not suggest someone who is all that savvy about engaging culture.


  55. @DGH, you make your hyper-concern about internecine P&R issues w/TKNY very clear. Is there anything about him and his ministry that you think benefits the cause of the gospel?


  56. Nice, sounds like Keller is a confirmed SJW. He’s got the winsome thing down, and I’m sure his biggest opponents in the PCA are or will be considered angry cranks. Now the moderates just have to turn on the confessionalists and the story will have repeated. Time for a change in strategy, I’d say.

    Brandon, do you have a link to this Collins’ work on the diaconate?


  57. Sure, Pete. Lots of “sounds likes” and “may have beens”. Last sentence: “That sounds like a definition of preaching, does it not?” Sounds great. But Paul says bishops are to be male and there is no narrative of women preachers. Gotta go sweep the cave and look for a new bear-smiting club.


  58. Joel,

    Here is a summary article by Lutheran Karl Paul Donfried:

    The link to Collins’ book is here:

    A Reformed source that is critical of Collins is: Gregory Perry, “Phoebe of Cenchreae and ‘women’ of Ephesus: ‘deacons’ in the earliest churches” Presbyterion 36:1 Spring 2010, 9-36.

    If you’re interested I can send you a paper I wrote in seminary on this topic. I largely argue the Perry has missed the mark in grasping Collins’ point. To get that go ahead and leave a comment over at my blog and I’ll email you the paper.


  59. sean,

    Without knowing the details, the situations you explain are unfortunate and wrong. Using presbyter funds for conferences on fusion jazz sounds terrible as well. I’m sure the other side of aisle may give a bit more context to that assessment, but I generally find those sorts of endeavors pretentious and unfruitful. At the same time, I can imagine scenarios where providing presbyter funds to minister to a certain demographic would be acceptable. It would really depend on the situation, IMO.


    I’m not all that bothered by the manner in which TK doesn’t lead with his Presbyterian convictions. I’m of the opinion that those convictions should under gird what you do, but I don’t think it is wise to always make them explicit. In other words, I don’t necessarily disagree with Keller’s approach, *however* that doesn’t mean I also find his ministry as rooted in the tradition as it ought to be. But for me, I can criticize Keller on the one hand and recognize his (imperfect) work in the spread of the Gospel on the other.

    And I know that TKNY has planted numerous PCA churches, though I know he does work in non-PCA churches. I do think this “church-planting network” skirts Presbyterian polity in some ways. In other ways, I’m not opposed to influential churches with resources encouraging and funding church plants. I don’t claim to know the history of American Presbyterianism all that well, or certainly as well as you do, but my understanding is that the PCA’s southern heritage and history in the PCUS created an atmosphere of individual churches exercising more autonomy than her Northern neighbors.


  60. BA, figures. I move away from narrative to specific examples and I get, “well…..”. But, yes, I’m sure in true post-modern, millennial fashion, rather than a direct answer, you’d get ‘story’. And like all good millennials and posers and pretenders, the conversation would go like this;

    Me: Did you spend church plant money on a conference promoting fusion jazz as gospel medium? A simple yes or no, please.

    Kellerite: So,……….. (story, my story as cultural story-incarnational, my story and it’s intersection with the poor black experience as expressed in musical genre, more story, some more droning on with no direct answer but suddenly, abracadabra-the assertion that the gospel has been applied per ordinary means of grace according to my Redeemer Franchise primer and my story) . That interaction is followed with; so, Sean, are you(me) experiencing an explosion of the flesh of which you’re unaware but I can plainly diagnose.

    Me:( As I’ve moved into their personal space) Text, verse, secondary standards support and receipts, please.

    Kellerite: Reaches for Redeemer playbook and New City Catechism though the swivel to grab the book off the table is severely limited by the skinny jeans, which also have no extra room to pocket receipts but does buy time for more story.


  61. The Cooperative Ministries Committee (CMC) of the Presbyterian Church in America approved sending a recommendation to the PCA General Assembly that it erect a study committee on the issue of women serving in the ministry of the church. This proposal was assigned to the Committee of Commissioners (CoC) reviewing the work of the Administrative Committee (AC). The CoC considered this proposal and voted 31-7 to recommend that the General Assembly answer the proposal in the negative.


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