Need help on the issue of women deacons

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Mayflower

Puritan Board Junior
We discuss this topic along time before, but it came back in my mind, because i read that serveral reformed theologions/preachers believe that women can be ordinated deacons, like Alexander T. McGill ,Thomas Withrow, BB Warfield en modern men like John Piper.

Als now in my own church there are planning to make to open to ordinated women deacons. What they say is that (women)deacons are ubder the authority of the elders of the church,and that they don't exercise authority but that they are helpen to those who are in need & and to help the elders in some kind of work (under their authority), like what we see in Acts 6.

I personally don't see anywhere in the Scripture that women were ordinated to become a deacon like Acts 6 & 1 Tim. 3 :)11). I believe that a member of the Church (man or women) can do a kind of work like a deacon, but that does not mean that someone is ordinated.

Al these arguments of like Rom. 16:1 of Febe that she would be a deaconess is a very weak piont, because DIAKONOS means a servant, so that does not say anthing that she would be ordinated.

It's a great concern i have, and i also responsed to it.

A great study on this subject is from Brian M. Schwertley : http://www.all-of-grace.org/pub/schwertley/deacon.html#McGill

Does anyone else has some thoughs on this ?

Or can you understand that people like BB Warfield or John Piper believes in ordinated women deacons ?

Would this be a reason if the church would hold to this teaching of women deacons to stay there, while knowing that you have communicated with them about this issue ?
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
John MacArthur agrees with female deacons as well.

Phoebe served the church in some official capacity (see Romans 6 where she is called a "deacon" in the Greek text).

And the qualifications for female deacons can be found in 1 Tim 3:11, where the word "wives" in some versions might better be translated "women."

In fact, those who refuse to allow for women to be deacons usually do not understand fully that the office is a position of service and does not entail any authority whatsoever. Servants serve, they do not lead.

So if we understand that to ordain is simply for the elders of the church to appoint one to a task, and that deacons are servants of the Body working at the direction of the elders, with no authority in the position at all, then there should be no problem with female deacons.

It may just be semantics: ordain = appoint, deacon = servant.

Phillip
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I don't believe that Warfield was in favor of women deacons.

With all respect, Phillip does not understand the nature of an office by what he argues above. If there is no authority vested in an office, there is no need for an office. An office implies and must have authority. With deacons, the only difference is as to what the scope of that authority is.

Elders serve. All Christians serve (Gal 5:13). Even Christ served (Mark 10:45). But that does not mean that service wipes out authority.

It is really this simple: the ordination (or pretend ordination, as in the case of several PCA churches to make an end run around our Book of Church Order) of women deacons is a violation of Scripture, the created order and is a caving in to the world on one of the most critical issues of our time. It is the complete abandonment of proper men's and women's roles that is a prime factor in the destruction of the family and the Church.

I would not remain at a Church where women deacons were ordained.
 

Mayflower

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by fredtgreco
I don't believe that Warfield was in favor of women deacons.

Dear Fredtgreco,

Thanks for the repley, iam agree with you.

Here is a part of Warfield & women deacons :
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B. B. Warfield
Among American Presbyterians in the nineteenth century B. B. Warfield was one of the strongest advocates of placing women in the ordained diaconate. The fact that Warfield was an excellent scholar and theologian and orthodox in his view of inspiration should focus our attention on his arguments. If there was an orthodox Presbyterian scholar who could make a well-reasoned case for placing women in the diaconate, it would be the distinguished professor from Princeton.

In a lengthy article written for the Presbyterian Review (1890) Dr. Warfield sets forth his case for women deacons. The article was important to Warfield because he was on "the Special Committee on Deaconesses" which recommended "the revival of deaconesses" to the General Assembly in 1889. Warfield, unlike other advocates of women deacons, admits up front that the scriptural evidence for women deacons is very small.

For it need not be denied that the office of deaconess is a Scriptural office, although it must be confessed that the Biblical warrant for it is of the slenderest. We cannot bring ourselves to believe that the Apostle means to speak of deaconesses, in the midst of the requisites for the deacon, in 1 Tim. 3:11, since this would require us to assume in that passage a double sudden transition from one subject to another, of the harshest and most incredible kind. [69]

Dr. Warfield rejects the pro-deaconess interpretation of 1 Timothy 3:11 and in the same article rejects the servant-widow interpretation of 1 Timothy 5:9. [70] For Dr. Warfield the whole argument must be based on Romans 16:1. Dr. Warfield says: "When we seek Biblical warrant, we have only the isolated phrase, 'Phebe the deaconess.'" [71]

After asserting that the whole case for women deacons rests upon the phrase "Phebe the deaconess" Warfield admits that there is no way to know from Scripture whether or not Paul meant diakonos in the general sense of servant or in the technical sense of a church officer (i.e., an ordained deacon).

This [Rom. 16:1] is no doubt a narrow, not to say a precarious foundation on which to build much of an ecclesiastical structure. The term here employed (diakonoV) is of very broad connotation; and Phebe might conceivably have been only an humble "servant" of the Cenchrean church, or indeed, for all that the term itself declares, only a Christian belonging to that church (cf. John xii. 26). Nor is there any compelling reason apparent in the context, shutting us up to the technical sense of "deaconess." [72]

Since Dr. Warfield admits that no one can determine from the context exactly what Paul had in mind, he does what most women-deacon advocates do: he looks to the history of the early church. "Nevertheless this [the technical designation] seems the more likely meaning of the phrase; and this interpretation receives confirmation from a clear indication, coming to us from the earliest post-apostolic times, that 'deaconesses' were then already an established order in the church." [73]

Dr. Warfield does not give one scriptural reason why he prefers the technical designation. Given his knowledge of Latin, his choice of Pliny's letter to Trajan (A.D. 112) as proof is truly puzzling. He argues: "...it is clear that ministrae (doubtless, as Dr. Lightfoot points out, Pliny's own translation of diakonoi) was already a terminus technicus, designating a well known office. But this is pretty nearly the only very early reference we have to that office." [74] Warfield rests his whole case on one word (ministrae) taken from an extra-scriptural account. Yet the Latin word ministra (plural: minsitrae) has virtually the identical range of meaning in Latin as does diakonos in Greek. [75] In other words, Pliny's letter to Trajan is just as ambiguous as Romans 16:1. As will be noted in the section dealing with Romans 16:1, the Latin ministra has such a broad range of meaning that Jerome invented a Latin word (diakonus) to avoid the confusion in his translation of the Greek into the Latin Vulgate. Jerome deliberately left Romans 16:1 ambiguous by translating diakonon as ministra.

Dr. Warfield (like the modern women-deacon advocates) is locked into the view that the reference to a female servant in Romans 16:1 and to female servants in Pliny's letter must refer to a female diaconate identical to the male diaconate. In a stunning admission that his case was based only upon the slenderest of scriptural evidence he wrote:

When we seek Biblical warrant, we have only the isolated phrase, "Phebe, the deaconess"; when we ask after the testimony of the first age of the church, we have only Pliny's witness that the church in Bithynia had ancillae which they called ministrae; after that all is darkness until the deaconess emerge into light again as part of the already considerably corrupted ecclesiastical system of the third century. We have no Biblical account of the qualifications for the office or its duties, and no very early account of the functions it actually exercised. We are left only to the meagre inferences that as Phebe was "a deaconess of the church that is at Cenchreae," the office was a local one and inhered in the individual congregation; that as Pliny tortured two ancillae, there may have been a plurality of deaconesses in each congregation; and that as the name was primitively the same and the functions exercised by them from the third century were parallel, they constituted a female diaconate similar to and of like standing with the board of deacons, which in the New Testament, we find in every church. Theories aside this is all we know of primitive deaconesses. [76]

If Dr. Warfield and the authors of the OPC Minority Report had a proper understanding of 1 Timothy 5:9ff. then perhaps they would not attempt to force Romans 16:1 (and 1 Tim. 3:11, for the authors of the OPC Minority Report) into an interpretation which contradicts Acts 6:3, 1 Timothy 3:12 and the testimony of church history. If 1 Timothy 5:9ff. refers to an ecclesiastical order, then the whole argument given by Dr. Warfield and others concerning Romans 16:1 and the women of Pliny's letter falls to the ground. Why? Because Paul sets forth a female order with very specific qualifications that both explains Romans 16:1 and the testimony of church history. And because the servant widows that Paul describes were not ordained and only ministered to women, it fully harmonizes with both Acts 6:3, 1 Timothy 3:12 and church history. Our goal when interpreting Scripture should be to avoid contradictions; interpretations that harmonize should be preferred.
 

Mayflower

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by pastorway
John MacArthur agrees with female deacons as well.
Phoebe served the church in some official capacity (see Romans 6 where she is called a "deacon" in the Greek text).


Phoebe is for me not argument, because DIAKONOS means servant. And Phoebe was a servant, but there is nothing written in the text that she was ordinated.

And the qualifications for female deacons can be found in 1 Tim 3:11, where the word "wives" in some versions might better be translated "women."


If you study the context of Tim. 3:11, than it is clear that Paul speaks about the relationship of the houshold, wife and childeren towards the him who is apointed as a deacon. Why should vs 11 & vs. 12 be seperated ? I believe they belongs together, the godliness of women towards her husband is very important toward the man who is ordinated as a deacon.
 

Mayflower

Puritan Board Junior
Dear Fredgreco,

What do you think in what i wrote in the beginning of this topic :

Quete : Als now in my own church there are planning to make to open to ordinated women deacons. What they say is that (women)deacons are under the authority of the elders of the church,and that they don't exercise authority but that they are helpen to those who are in need & and to help the elders in some kind of work (under their authority), like what we see in Acts 6.

So they are ordinated, under the authority of the elders. And will only serve not having authority ?
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by Mayflower
Dear Fredgreco,

What do you think in what i wrote in the beginning of this topic :

Quete : Als now in my own church there are planning to make to open to ordinated women deacons. What they say is that (women)deacons are under the authority of the elders of the church,and that they don't exercise authority but that they are helpen to those who are in need & and to help the elders in some kind of work (under their authority), like what we see in Acts 6.

So they are ordinated, under the authority of the elders. And will only serve not having authority ?

In my humble opinion, this is an accommodation to worldly egalitarianism towards women and a misunderstanding of what Scripture teaches about the offices. Whether you take a three or two office view, they are not based on hierarchical positions, ie; Pastor is a higher office than Ruling Elder, which is a higher office than Deacon. The the different offices are based on gifts alone. Just as Paul describes the Body of Christ in 1 Cor 12, the eye is not more important than the hand.

Within Presbyterian polity, Deacons are not appointed by Elders for service. Deacons are called by Christ and serve by the consent of the church (the church is confirming that these men do have the necessary gifts for the office). The Diaconate has its own sphere of authority that is separate from the Session, though the Session does oversee the activities of the Diaconate.
 

lwadkins

Puritan Board Junior
Acts 6:3-6

3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.
4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.
6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

I think it is pretty clear that this is the normative method of choosing Deacons.

The argument that is most often used to validate the selection of "œmen only" is that
this was a cultural bias against women. The same argument is used to justify women
elders and pastors, in that Christ chose only men in deference to cultural mores. Jesus, I might point out, was not shy about trampling on cultural mores and practices. I find it difficult to believe that God, had He wished it to be so, would not have been very clear about the permissibility of women in such offices.

Having said that, I also believe that the problem with this issue today is not the cultural
mores and traditions of the early middle east, but instead it is the cultural mores and
traditions of TODAY. In our individualist, egalitarian, democratic and TOLERENT society in America we desire to apply our human understanding to Scripture in order to
make it fair.

I believe that because of our current bias we find inferences in Scripture that are not
intended, and stretch Scripture to cover our modern bias. You can find this in the
proliferation of denominations and the inability of people in the US to submit to
anything much less submit to the clear teaching of God´s Word.

As a result if we have trouble with a teaching in the Word, we simply STUDY it
until we can find a way to interpret it to fit our thoughts and feelings. This also is
why you find a reaction of anti-intellectualism in the Christian church today.
Everyone has their own doctrine, and Pastors and Teachers will tell us that we
need to submit to the teachings of the Word (their interpretation) and yet many
of those same people REFUSE to submit to the teaching of their own churches.

So as one who came to Christianiy late in life I have experienced the confusion
and chaos in the Christian church first hand. I think it is one reason that cults
such as JW and the Mormons have such success in recruiting. Even though
they are cults they are more monolithic in their teaching and disciple well.

As a Sunday School teacher I always have to consider the question "œShould I
teach Presbyterian Doctrine, or should I teach the variety that is currently
in vogue in the local church? And there are always docturnal differences
because inevitably there are leaders in the local church who know a better
way and refuse to submit to the church´s understanding of what the Word
says, which may be an overreaction to Catholic traditions and government.
 

Calvibaptist

Dallas Cowboys' #1 Fan
Originally posted by lwadkins
I find it difficult to believe that God, had He wished it to be so, would not have been very clear about the permissibility of women in such offices.

Those who believe that 1 Timothy 3:11 refers to women deacons would argue that God has been very clear.

BTW, does the WCF say anything about this?
 

Rich Barcellos

Puritan Board Freshman
1 Tim 3:11 is often used in support of deaconesses or women deacons. Here's the way I see that verse in context (see below). Sorry for the distorted Greek. The issue surrounds the meaning of 'gunaikos' in v. 11. Supporting the NKJV translation ('their wives') is the fact that 'gunaikos' is used in vv. 2 and 12 and its meaning is clearly 'wife' in both cases. I think the outline below shows this translation to be based on the exegetical considerations of the text in its context. Cf. George W. Knight, III, "Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles," 171ff. for an excellent discussion of the technical lexical and syntactical issues and the various views. BTW, in case you're wondering, Knight advocates my view, or better, I advocate his, which is the traditional understanding, I believe.

1. Church elders 3:1-7
a. the well-known saying concerning the eldership 3:1
b. the necessary qualifications for the eldership 3:2-7
1) personal qualifications 3:2-3
2) domestic qualifications 3:4-5
3) spiritual qualifications 3:6
4) social qualifications 3:7
2. Church deacons 3:8-13
a. qualifications of deacons (Diakonou" wstautw") 3:8-12
1) personal 3:8-10
a) with reference to character 3:8, 9
1- He must be reverent (semnou") 3:8a.
2- He must be not double-tongued (mh dilogou") 3:8b.
3- He must be not given to much wine (mh oinw pollw proseconta") 3:8c.
4- He must be not greedy for money (mh aiscrokerdei") 3:8d.
5- He must be holding the mystery of the faith with a good conscience
(econta" ..) 3:9
a- by continually believing the truth (exonta" to musthrion th"
pistew") 3:9a
b- by continually living the truth (en katara suneideisei) 3:9b.
b) with reference to testing 3:10
1- the necessary prerequisite of testing-But let these also first be
tested (Kai outoi de dokimazesqwsan prwton) 3:10a
2- the subsequent result of testing-then let them serve as deacons (eita
diakoneitwsan, anegklhtoi onte") 3:10b
3- the practical reason for testing-being found blameless (anegklhtoi
onte") 3:10c
2) marital 3:11
a) the identity of Gunaika"-Likewise, their wives (Gunaika" wsautw")
3:11a
b) the characteristics of Gunaika"-must be 3:11b
1- A deacon's wife must be reverent (semna").
2- A deacon's wife must not [be a] slanderer (mh diabolou").
3- A deacon's wife must be temperate (nhfaleou").
4- A deacon's wife must be faithful in all things (pista" en pasi).
3) domestic 3:12
a) with reference to marital fidelity-Let deacons be the husbands of one
wife (Diakonoi estwsan mia" gunaiko" andre") 3:12a
b) with reference to domestic administration 3:12b
1- Deacons must be ruling their children .well (teknwn kalw"
proistamenoi).
2- Deacons must be ruling .their own houses well (kai twn idiwn oikwn).
b. rewards for deacons-For those who have served well as deacons obtain for
themselves (Oi gar kalw" diakonhsante" .. .eautoi" ...peripoiountai) 3:13
1) the necessary prerequisite for these rewards-those who have served well
(kalw" diakonhsante") 3:13a
2) the identity of these rewards-obtain for themselves (eautoi"
..peripoiountai) 3:13b-d
a) a good standing (baqmon ..kalon) 3:13c
b) and great boldness (kai pollhn parrhsian) 3:13d
3) the sphere of these rewards-in the faith which is in Christ Jesus (en
pistei th en Cristw Ihsou) 3:13e
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by Mayflower
Dear Fredgreco,

What do you think in what i wrote in the beginning of this topic :

Quete : Als now in my own church there are planning to make to open to ordinated women deacons. What they say is that (women)deacons are under the authority of the elders of the church,and that they don't exercise authority but that they are helpen to those who are in need & and to help the elders in some kind of work (under their authority), like what we see in Acts 6.

So they are ordinated, under the authority of the elders. And will only serve not having authority ?

Ralph,

This is the same old tired argument that has been used to allow women to do all manner of things.

For example, women are permitted to teach (in direct violation of 1 Tim 2:12) because they "teach under the authority of the Session." Women are even permitted to preach, for the same reason. In short (sorry that I don't have the time it takes to go into more detail - I believe a search on my name and "deacons" will provide past threads that would help), with this line of thought nothing is impermissible to women. I would envision that one could even state that a woman be the head of her household (including her husband), so long as the Session allowed her and promised to be in "oversight" (whatever that means) of her.

Such cases show that egalitarians alwas prove too much by their argument. Once the door is opened by this "you can have authority without having authority" there is no end in sight. After all, even as an elder, I am under the authority of the Church at large (i.e. I am required to abide by my vows and the rulings of the Presbytery and General Assembly). So what is to stop a woman from being an elder? Nothing. The only thing is that someone may try and reassure you that "they don't mean to go that far." To speak frankly to that: poppycock!

I would also point out that the exact same arguments used to advance women's authority (Paul influenced by culture, speaking to his age, etc) are what have been advanced by the advocates of homosexual ordination. In the PCUSA, the "conservatives" (I use the term incredibly loosely) are in fits because homosexual advocates are citing the very articles used by the "conservatives" in the 1960s and 1970s to advocate women's ordination, and they have no answer except "I don't like that" "it can't mean that" When you start messing with God's created order and His Church, you are asking for trouble.

Egalitarians are one of the main banes of the Church. They require God's created order (Genesis 3, 1 Tim 2, 1 Peter 3) to be a result of the Fall rather than Creation itself. To them, male authority is a result of sin, rather than God's design.
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
let me be clear that in our church if we had (we do not currently have) a woman deacon it would not be an "ordained position." Neither do we permit women to teach or preach other than teaching other women (Titus 2) or children, and in the series I preached last year on the roles of men and women in the home and the church I might make some of you look soft!! Where MacArthur put it on a few CDs our series contained around 35 messages (over 7 months of preaching).

If you would prefer, we could just say that we desire to have qualified women serving the body, just as we desire to have qualified men doing the same - doing what the Bible commands of men and women in the church. I guess by my definitions I just disagree with the idea that the position of deacon is an "office."

Phillip
 

Mayflower

Puritan Board Junior
Dear fredgreco,

Thanks alot for your explaination.

Can you (or someone else) please explain me what the offices of a deacon are leadership positions is , and what their authority means ?

Iam asking that because this is what my church denies.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Women deacons are currently allowed within the RPCNA, but more and more ordained ministers in the church are taking exceptions to the Testimony on this point, and there has been a lot of "talk" on it as of late. I don't think it will be around come another few Synods (hopefully).
 
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