Headcoverings and the RPNA's position paper

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CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Headcoverings and the RPNA\'s position paper

1 Corinthians 11:2-16

This topic has been coming up often in my circles of interest. I see the strength of the arguments on both sides of the debate (viewed as cultural practice to the Corinthians OR to be practiced by all churches for all times as part of proper worship).

The RPNA has an "Official Presbyterial Paper" found here.

Has anyone read a rebuttal to it? For those here that cover or have a wife that covers, what do you think of this 22 page paper?

Many that take the "cultural" position refer to the washing of the feet and holy kiss practices for support of their view that head coverings are cultural. Even this position paper mentions them here

Words in italics are from the paper regarding foot washing and a holy kiss:

"¦Although the Lord authorized his disciples to wash the feet of others, as an appropriate act in their cultural context, we do not believe that in our society we are presently under an obligation to practice that specific cultural custom. We recognize there is a moral principle (of selfless service) that stands behind that cultural practice which we must continue to exemplify in our lives as Christ´s ministers and disciples. The Lord here illustrates the moral duty incumbent upon all who rule in His Church to be the greatest servants of all in caring for others. The actual practice of foot washing had cultural significance to those living in the ancient world, but it has no real significance to those living in the Western world of the twenty-first century. Perhaps our closest cultural equivalent to foot washing presently is offering refreshments and hospitality to guests who visit in our homes.

But we also acknowledge that we are not universally bound to the alterable, cultural custom of foot washing, but rather to the unalterable, moral principle of service. So likewise, we acknowledge that men and women are not universally bound to the alterable, cultural custom of uncovering and covering their heads, but rather to the unalterable, moral principle of lawful male headship under Christ and respectful female submission in the Lord within the assemblies of the Church.


But there is something that continually comes to my mind when hearing this particular line of argumentation. In the 2 cases of foot washing and holy kissing, the paper acknowledges a cultural "œreplacement" (so to speak) sign or practice that signifies the moral principal being taught. "œ"¦our closest cultural equivalent to foot washing presently is offering refreshments and hospitality to guests who visit in our homes." Agreed. This is a cultural custom, in modern times, which is the same in principle to foot washing during Apostolic times.
Likewise, a holy kiss today "œ"¦would likely be a holy handshake or perhaps a holy embrace"¦Again, we do not understand that we are bound by this specific cultural custom, although we would understand that the moral principle (of Christian love) that lies behind that practice does in fact continue as an obligation. So likewise, we acknowledge that men and women are not universally bound to the alterable, cultural custom of uncovering and covering their heads, but rather to the unalterable, moral principle of lawful authority and submission within the Church. Like the foot washing example, I agree.

But here is my question: What visible, tangible practice or custom is done today to signify the moral principle of lawful male headship under Christ and respectful female submission in the Lord within the assemblies of the Church? What has "œreplaced" the head covering?

We know what has "œreplaced" the foot washing and holy kiss custom as mentioned above. (note: I don´t mean "œreplaced" to be taken negatively). But what has replaced the head covering custom?

How would one, Christian or otherwise, observe the biblical practice of a visible sign of authority over the woman? If it is not a covering (because of our culture) then what is it? Or, what should it be? It seems to me that when the Apostle calls for a visible sign of authority or power upon the (woman´s) head, he is mandating that it ought to be immediately apparent to the observer of the rightful order of things.

My questions can be compacted into one: What modern day, culturally specific custom is expressing this absolute moral principle of submission and authority in the Church?

[Edited on 6-7-2006 by mangum]
 

Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
I read their position paper and I am completely unmoved. They interact very little with the text itself. They appeal almost exclusively to what others have done in the past.

They attribute the fact that in the culture during the time of the 1st and 2nd reformations the submission/honor symbol was flipped for proof that reformation Christians must have thought that 1 Cor. 11 was cultural. And because they were the purest form of the church they must have been correct.

The fact that the submission/honor symbolism of the time was flipped is against them having clear eyes on the matter. Especially when Paul is saying in the text that it is the complete opposite. Who are you going to believe, Paul or the prevailing culture?

Especially when it was not the culture of the time, when Paul said it. It was contrary to the culture of that time. It was contrary to what the Jews had been doing.

When looked at through covenantal eyes it is completely obvious that the principal is subjection to your covenant head and Magnum to answer your question there is nothing in our culture today that is the sign of subjection of the woman to her husband. There is definitley no "power on her head" in worship.
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Augusta
I read their position paper and I am completely unmoved. They interact very little with the text itself. They appeal almost exclusively to what others have done in the past.

They attribute the fact that in the culture during the time of the 1st and 2nd reformations the submission/honor symbol was flipped for proof that reformation Christians must have thought that 1 Cor. 11 was cultural. And because they were the purest form of the church they must have been correct.

The fact that the submission/honor symbolism of the time was flipped is against them having clear eyes on the matter. Especially when Paul is saying in the text that it is the complete opposite. Who are you going to believe, Paul or the prevailing culture?

Especially when it was not the culture of the time, when Paul said it. It was contrary to the culture of that time. It was contrary to what the Jews had been doing.

When looked at through covenantal eyes it is completely obvious that the principal is subjection to your covenant head and Magnum to answer your question there is nothing in our culture today that is the sign of subjection of the woman to her husband. There is definitley no "power on her head" in worship.

I agree completely.

I hope my post made it clear that if you want to argue for our modern cultural customs being different for the ancient foot washing and holy kiss customs (and that is why we don't practice them), then you'll have to show me what custom we practice today that substitutes for head coverings (biblical submission and authority).

BTW, it's Mangum not Magnum.

I get it all the time. ;)
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Chris,

Sorry if this is off topic;

The issue of headcoverings is one i have been thinking though of late as well.

I tend to be sympathetic to the idea that headcoverings were required for women in apostalic times when they publically exercised the inspired gifts of pray and prophesy that they were given at that time.

I definitely agree that understanding praying and prophesying is the key to understanding this passage. Many articles, i think, go off track by immediately starting to examine the principles of headship and submission, but regardless of the principles, it is the context of pray and prophesy that triggers the need for this particular physical sign of the principle.

Hence, the argument would go, women in the first generation church were allowed to speak/teach publically in the church because some of them were given inspired gifts of prophesy by the Holy Spirit. It was because this was contrary to normal practice in the church that inspired women had to wear a covering to show their submission to God's order despite their public activities in the church.

That the pray and prophesying in 11:3-4 is inspired can be seen, i think, from the overall context of the chapter within the 'spiritual gifts' section of 1 Corinthians, as well as more obviously from the fact that Paul allowed women to prophesy with a covering, in what seems to be a contradiction with 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2. Whilst it might be possible to consider women to be praying as part of corporate prayer, i do not see how that would be possible for prophesy.

I know Calvin has answered this before by claiming Paul left off the condemnation of women speaking until chapter 14, but with respect, i find his argument somewhat weak. There is no reason at all for Paul to spend half a chapter giving rules for a practice that was forbidden in the first place.

:2cents:
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
The position paper did clear up a misunderstanding I had about historical practice. In the past I used the argument that the headcovering principle was universal in the church until the last 150 years. Clearly that argument should be abandoned.

Also I no longer think the argument that men still follow this principle is correct. It's likely that men remove their hats to show their subordination to the flag rather than their headship.

Furthermore, I'm increasingly convinced that the WCF is actually against the universal application of headcoverings. I still think the text of scripture is on the side of headcoverings for today, so I may have to take exception to the WCF on this point.
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by SRoper
Furthermore, I'm increasingly convinced that the WCF is actually against the universal application of headcoverings. I still think the text of scripture is on the side of headcoverings for today, so I may have to take exception to the WCF on this point.

What leads you to believe this? Is there a specific section of the WCF you have in mind?
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
...Come on, I know someone here has something to say about this...

.......
...
.

:candle:
 

polemic_turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
Has anyone read or thought about the writing of Tertullian(~200AD) on this issue? He, like most church fathers, had some strange forays outside of the canon, but still provides some interesting historical background to this discussion. His writing is called "On the Veiling of Virgins".
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by polemic_turtle
Has anyone read or thought about the writing of Tertullian(~200AD) on this issue? He, like most church fathers, had some strange forays outside of the canon, but still provides some interesting historical background to this discussion. His writing is called "On the Veiling of Virgins".

Here is an article by Greg Price on Church History, including a few quotes by Tertullian.

This blog here mentions the same.

Theopedia has a few useful links found here.
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
I was refering to WCF 1:6 which was mentioned in the paper.

"[T]here are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed."

1 Cor. 11:13,14 is used as a proof text, suggesting that headcovering is a circumstance of worship.
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by SRoper
I was refering to WCF 1:6 which was mentioned in the paper.

"[T]here are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed."

1 Cor. 11:13,14 is used as a proof text, suggesting that headcovering is a circumstance of worship.

Interesting...:detective:
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
That proof text is adduced as a place where the light of nature is mentioned in scripture to justify that we can even appeal to it. This says nothing about what the divines indivudally or as an assembly thought about headcoverings. And besides, Paul's appeal to the light of nature is secondary ('even nature teaches' etc.).
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
BTW. FPCR's 1996ish headcovering video has been converted to DVD (hopefully the first of a process to convert all our videos over). It is available at the link below. We have discontinued the VHS version. The DVD is $7.50 plus postage (if you don't order anything else that is $11 with postage).
http://www.fpcr.org/catalog/catalog-online.htm#Videos
and page down to the item, in red type.
A distillation of the presentation in article form remains at the link below.
http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/headcovr.htm
and Dr. Bacon's recent two sermons on this subject are here:
http://www.fpcr.org/fpdb/OOW/2006/05142006.htm
 

kevin.carroll

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by mangum
...Come on, I know someone here has something to say about this...

.......
...
.

:candle:

If we do, there are two or three women on the board who will yell at us. Shhhhhhhhhhhhh. :lol:
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Not really funny nor would it be consistent if the women follow the rest of Paul's teachings on women in the church.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by NaphtaliPress
BTW. FPCR's 1996ish headcovering video has been converted to DVD (hopefully the first of a process to convert all our videos over). It is available at the link below. We have discontinued the VHS version. The DVD is $7.50 plus postage (if you don't order anything else that is $11 with postage).
http://www.fpcr.org/catalog/catalog-online.htm#Videos
and page down to the item, in red type.
A distillation of the presentation in article form remains at the link below.
http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/headcovr.htm
and Dr. Bacon's recent two sermons on this subject are here:
http://www.fpcr.org/fpdb/OOW/2006/05142006.htm

Interesting...

What exactly does the video contain? Is there anything specific that you wanted to show in visual format?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
If I recall there are some powerpoint "points". The video was first (and audio) and then the article was condensed from the presentation, less I think some of the Q&A etc.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
No, I don't think I need to lighten up at all. Some are simply too careless of others with whom they differ In my humble opinion.

[Edited on 6-17-2006 by NaphtaliPress]
 

BaptistCanuk

Puritan Board Sophomore
I just have a couple of questions.

Wouldn't women wearing things on their heads be a distraction? What do you do if your wife doesn't believe in that and thus, won't wear one? I mean, if she is convinced that it is not necessary then how would you go about getting her to do it? I think it would be wrong to force her.

As for today's equivalent, I think a handshake would be the equivalent of foot washing back then, as hands can get dirtier than feet at times and you just HOPE that the person you are shaking hands with...has washed their hands. Anyone agree?
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
I would be interested in how many reformed people take the view that headcoverings should be worn outside of public worship as well as within. Anyone have any idea?
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by mangum
Originally posted by Augusta
I read their position paper and I am completely unmoved. They interact very little with the text itself. They appeal almost exclusively to what others have done in the past.

They attribute the fact that in the culture during the time of the 1st and 2nd reformations the submission/honor symbol was flipped for proof that reformation Christians must have thought that 1 Cor. 11 was cultural. And because they were the purest form of the church they must have been correct.

The fact that the submission/honor symbolism of the time was flipped is against them having clear eyes on the matter. Especially when Paul is saying in the text that it is the complete opposite. Who are you going to believe, Paul or the prevailing culture?

Especially when it was not the culture of the time, when Paul said it. It was contrary to the culture of that time. It was contrary to what the Jews had been doing.

When looked at through covenantal eyes it is completely obvious that the principal is subjection to your covenant head and Magnum to answer your question there is nothing in our culture today that is the sign of subjection of the woman to her husband. There is definitley no "power on her head" in worship.

I agree completely.

I hope my post made it clear that if you want to argue for our modern cultural customs being different for the ancient foot washing and holy kiss customs (and that is why we don't practice them), then you'll have to show me what custom we practice today that substitutes for head coverings (biblical submission and authority).

BTW, it's Mangum not Magnum.

I get it all the time. ;)

I'm with the two of you.
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by kevin.carroll
Originally posted by mangum
...Come on, I know someone here has something to say about this...

.......
...
.

:candle:

If we do, there are two or three women on the board who will yell at us. Shhhhhhhhhhhhh. :lol:

We don't yell...just :banghead: once in awhile...or sigh and roll our eyes at you...

If you'd prefer though, I could drag hubby on here and he could yell at you...

Just a thought...;)
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
There is no equivalent to today...the practice is still called for today...that is my stand.

I do not see where it can be compared to footwashing. It is however, in the same passage as communion and under the same heading, "1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you."



Now as to the paper...same as Tracey said...it does not change my position, it is inadequate in it's statements, etc.


As to husbands dealing with a wife who won't wear a covering when he requests that she do so...well, it just goes to show that there IS a submission issue. That needs to be dealt with...generally on other levels first (ie., don't just cram one on her head...but study with her and work through the other issues you are having).
 

Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by LadyFlynt
There is no equivalent to today...the practice is still called for today...that is my stand.

I do not see where it can be compared to footwashing. It is however, in the same passage as communion and under the same heading, "1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you."



Now as to the paper...same as Tracey said...it does not change my position, it is inadequate in it's statements, etc.


As to husbands dealing with a wife who won't wear a covering when he requests that she do so...well, it just goes to show that there IS a submission issue. That needs to be dealt with...generally on other levels first (ie., don't just cram one on her head...but study with her and work through the other issues you are having).

Precisely, the fact that you have to worry about a wife who will not submit to your authority as her covenant head lays bare the reason and warrant for a public display before God of said authority.

Just look and feminism today. We now have a feminized culture, feminized judiciary, feminized government, and feminized religion. This is not the way it should be. The roles are all out of whack and we scratch our heads at this teaching and whether it is relevant to today!?

:banghead: :banghead:
 
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