Office of Deacon... Time for Reformation?

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Reformed Musings

Puritan Board Freshman
Mason,

Neither of the two polity positions that you state above are not supported by the PCA's BCO. There's no statement in the BCO that permits the commissioning of deaconesses. The BCO clearly lays out only two offices: elder and deacon. Commissioning is never mentioned in BCO 9-7, nor is the title of deaconess. If you think that the BCO should allow this approach, then I suggest that your presbytery put forth an overture to add this to the BCO. To act otherwise in hopes of remaining below the radar is not honest.

The sense of BCO 9-1 and 9-2 is that churches *must* ordain deacons just as it must ordain elders. This is not optional. Nor are there substitutes allowed for deacons, as 9-2 makes it clear that if "it is *impossible* for any reason to secure deacons, the duties of the office shall devolve upon the ruling elders." The word impossible seems clear enough, and even if impossible, the duties do not devolve to a group of unordained people.

The 36th GA refused to accept the practice of not ordaining deacons in favor of commissioning women and men as substitutes. It did this in the context of the review of presbytery records. The practice of not ordaining deacons, but instead commissioning substitute men and women violates the BCO and should properly be subject to judicial action. This subject came out in the discussion last week between TEs Duncan and Keller (your pastor, I believe), and the practice was not condoned by either. Redeemer, in fact, ordains deacons just as they should. TE Keller clearly expressed his strong view that the BCO must be honored in the PCA. I suggest that you follow your pastor's lead.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Reformed Musings

This subject came out in the discussion last week between TEs Duncan and Keller (your pastor, I believe), and the practice was not condoned by either. Redeemer, in fact, ordains deacons just as they should. TE Keller clearly expressed his strong view that the BCO must be honored in the PCA

I was surprised to hear that while this kind of public discussion is going on, in fact the church has not been ordaining and installing deacons. The church bulletin lists the head of the diaconate, a woman, and lists the deacons mostly, if not entirely, women.

If this is not true, that the church is and has been electing, ordaining and installing deacons per their Book of Church Order, please correct this. I wish it were not true. Really.

But that is what is so egregious here, and what has triggered the complaint filed. It really is hard to believe after all this time that a church is refusing to ordain and install deacons as per the Book of Church order, as that is part of our constitution and the vows officers take to uphold it.

But my understanding is that while maintaining a public posture in some circles of "A woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do," there has been a refusal to ordain and install men as deacons.

That puts a whole new light on "a woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do" when you eliminate ordained office.

Let alone what it does to the high calling of the office of Deacon, and the peace and purity of Christ's church.
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
I actually do not think the word "impossible" leaves much room for debate in a church of however many thousand like yours. I cannot imagine that you don't have even one man who is willing and able to serve in such a way. I mean, should the rest of the denomination be praying for your church? Is it like that?

And just in case you misunderstood my earlier post, which you said was an issue of semantics, I still don't see why your church insisted on calling the women deaconesses, rather than any other, non-controversial, title. I think that it is only semantics because of Redeemers and others refusal to accept the standards of our denomination. It is not the denomination playing word games. Nor am I advocating word games. I think I am advocating for more integrity in the language and submission to the denomination.

Jessi,

"For any reason" modifies impossible. So it doesn't matter what the reason is - if it's deemed impossible by the church, then it's impossible. It's not playing word games - deaconess is a biblical and traditional term, not one simply made up to cause controversy.

Mason,

Neither of the two polity positions that you state above are not supported by the PCA's BCO. There's no statement in the BCO that permits the commissioning of deaconesses. The BCO clearly lays out only two offices: elder and deacon. Commissioning is never mentioned in BCO 9-7, nor is the title of deaconess. If you think that the BCO should allow this approach, then I suggest that your presbytery put forth an overture to add this to the BCO. To act otherwise in hopes of remaining below the radar is not honest.

The sense of BCO 9-1 and 9-2 is that churches *must* ordain deacons just as it must ordain elders. This is not optional. Nor are there substitutes allowed for deacons, as 9-2 makes it clear that if "it is *impossible* for any reason to secure deacons, the duties of the office shall devolve upon the ruling elders." The word impossible seems clear enough, and even if impossible, the duties do not devolve to a group of unordained people.

The 36th GA refused to accept the practice of not ordaining deacons in favor of commissioning women and men as substitutes. It did this in the context of the review of presbytery records. The practice of not ordaining deacons, but instead commissioning substitute men and women violates the BCO and should properly be subject to judicial action. This subject came out in the discussion last week between TEs Duncan and Keller (your pastor, I believe), and the practice was not condoned by either. Redeemer, in fact, ordains deacons just as they should. TE Keller clearly expressed his strong view that the BCO must be honored in the PCA. I suggest that you follow your pastor's lead.

There are plenty of practices in churches throughout the PCA that are not explicitly endorsed by the BCO. If the BCO had to explicitly support every action taken by a church, there would be global paralysis within the PCA. So the position of unordained deaconess is no different from any other unordained position granted to women in that they are not explicitly condoned by the BCO.

I certainly agree that the BCO should be honored. While Pastor Keller may not advocate not ordaining male deacons at his church, he voted for a resolution that condoned such a practice by other churches. Redeemer technically ordains its male deacons, but it's a default title - as far as I know, there is no formal ordination ceremony. I understand the argument against the practice of Redeemer and other churches with regard to deaconesses, but I don't think an iron-clad case can be made against it based on the BCO. While their practice isn't the norm, it is acceptable, in my view.
 

Webservant

Puritan Board Sophomore
Some men are deacons, and they know it. And they love it.

They have no "ambitions" for a "higher" office. I've had the privilege to know several of them, I'm even related distantly to one. If there were even a dozen more like them in a single church or denomination, we could scarcely handle the blessing.

They remind me of nothing so much as David's Mighty Men.
I love being a deacon. I couldn't care less whether or not I am nominated to be an elder. In fact, I would probably decline. I couldn't ask anyone to vote for me if *I* wouldn't vote for me :think:.
 

Reformed Musings

Puritan Board Freshman
Mason,

TE Keller made it clear that Redeemer does ordain men as deacons. I take him at his word. I can only assume that you misunderstand the situation. Maybe it would be best if one of your elders spoke for your church's official position.

As for the BCO, I will address that when I get home tonight.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Redeemer Presbyterian Church
web site
June 24, 2009


Diaconate...


How do I get in touch with the Diaconate?

The Diaconate serves those in crisis or challenging situations within the Redeemer congregation only.

If you are in need of practical help please call the Diaconate Message Helpline listed below, and the deacon or deaconess on call will return your call within 36 hours. You will be asked some basic questions that we ask everyone who calls for assistance so that we can assess how to best help. The information you share with us will be kept confidential. Please keep in mind, due to limited resources, the Diaconate cannot take on all requests for assistance.

Diaconate Helpline: (212) 726-1334

For other inquiries please contact:

Jenny Chang, Director
[email protected]
(212) 808-4460 x1407
.
 
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ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
Mason,

TE Keller made it clear that Redeemer does ordain men as deacons. I take him at his word. I can only assume that you misunderstand the situation. Maybe it would be best if one of your elders spoke for your church's official position.

As for the BCO, I will address that when I get home tonight.

Bob,

I've never claimed to be an official spokesman for the church. I also said they do ordain deacons, though I wasn't aware of a formal ordination ceremony. I'm not sure where you see a discrepancy?
 

SemperEruditio

Puritan Board Junior
Mason,

TE Keller made it clear that Redeemer does ordain men as deacons. I take him at his word. I can only assume that you misunderstand the situation. Maybe it would be best if one of your elders spoke for your church's official position.

As for the BCO, I will address that when I get home tonight.

The men are ordained but no one lays hands on them to ordain them and the women are not ordained and no one lays hands on them either. That is what was clear at the Duncan-Keller debate. Unfortunately it was clear as mud to me what then classifies as being ordained which I think is a BCO issue.
 

Reformed Musings

Puritan Board Freshman
Frank,

That was my read as well. Forgive me if it sounded like I agreed with Redeemer's procedures concerning deacons. I certainly do not. But at the same time, I do believe that TE Keller was being open and straightforward in his views. He was clear that if the PCA declared that laying on of hands were required for ordination, he would happily comply.

-----Added 6/24/2009 at 06:30:11 EST-----

Rich,

Thank you for your selfless service to the Church.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
One can only ask, where have the many ruling elders on session been on this?

Now, we have "ordination" without laying on of hands!

Next we'll find out installation is without the congregation taking vows to receive the officers God has appointed for them- something like installation is a light refreshment reception after the service.

These are spiritual doctrines we're talking about here. They are supposed to be being taught from the pulpit.

This is demeaning to the office of Deacon, the doctrine of ordination, installation, and the polity of governance of the particular church through deacons and elders.

Where has the presbytery been on this?
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
Another greivous facet of this debate is the absence of concern the men in leadership are exhibiting toward the women given under their charge. The desire on the part of women to hold office in the Church is contrary to scripture and is a form of disobedience and rebellion. We are all subject to these passions, but they are always sin. Rather than love them by patiently showing from scripture why this is inappropriate and encouraging our sisters to follow the insructions of the Word, they are giving them the impression that these desires for recognition are good and acceptable. That's not shepherding, that's accomodating a spirit of rebellion, regardless of the professed motives.

That does peeve me a good bit, considering I have 3 daughters who need to be cared for and protected as weaker vessels rather than enticed with unbiblical 'ego trinkets' to lay aside the scriptures and revel in titles of recognition. These fellows are well-spoken and versed in the vernacular of christianity, but are promoting and supporting ungodliness among the flock. Smells very much to me like wolves in sheep's clothing.
 

tgoerz

Puritan Board Freshman
Deaconess is a Scriptural and historical Reformed term for females performing diaconal (service, mercy ministries, etc) work within the church. Phoebe is referred to as a deaconess in Romans 16, and in I Timothy 3:11 Paul interjects instructions to "women" when describing the qualifications of deacons. Some argue this is referring to the deacons' and elders' wives, but it is unclear. John Calvin used unordained deaconesses in his church and referred to them as such in the Institutes.

The context suggests Phoebe is a "servant" of the church. In this context, the term is not usually viewed as a technical or official term. It is noteworthy that the ESV, NIV and NASB all render 'diakonon' as servant not deacon.

In 1Tim, the word is 'gunaikas'...women or wives. Either way, the context refers either to the wives of the deacons or women who assist the deacons.

If you want to argue "unclear", than how can you make the case for it being "deacon"?

I rather agree with Lig Duncan that if Paul EVER intended to make the case for women deacons, he could have employed a technical term for deaconess, but he does not.


The REAL question should be "what kind of deaconesses, or female diaconal assistant, does the NT authorize and the best testimony of church history and historic Reformed polity confirm?"
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
The context suggests Phoebe is a "servant" of the church. In this context, the term is not usually viewed as a technical or official term. It is noteworthy that the ESV, NIV and NASB all render 'diakonon' as servant not deacon.

In 1Tim, the word is 'gunaikas'...women or wives. Either way, the context refers either to the wives of the deacons or women who assist the deacons.

If you want to argue "unclear", than how can you make the case for it being "deacon"?

I rather agree with Lig Duncan that if Paul EVER intended to make the case for women deacons, he could have employed a technical term for deaconess, but he does not.


The REAL question should be "what kind of deaconesses, or female diaconal assistant, does the NT authorize and the best testimony of church history and historic Reformed polity confirm?"

Tim, the way you quoted, it looked as if I posted those words. I believe it was Mason who provided the quote you responded to. Perhaps Mason would like to respond?

In Christ,

KC
 

brianeschen

Puritan Board Junior
"For any reason" modifies impossible. So it doesn't matter what the reason is - if it's deemed impossible by the church, then it's impossible. It's not playing word games - deaconess is a biblical and traditional term, not one simply made up to cause controversy.
Actually, Pastor Duncan rightly pointed out that deaconess is not a biblical term. It did not come into usage until after the canon was closed. It should be noted too that Pastor Keller agreed with this.
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
"For any reason" modifies impossible. So it doesn't matter what the reason is - if it's deemed impossible by the church, then it's impossible. It's not playing word games - deaconess is a biblical and traditional term, not one simply made up to cause controversy.
Actually, Pastor Duncan rightly pointed out that deaconess is not a biblical term. It did not come into usage until after the canon was closed. It should be noted too that Pastor Keller agreed with this.

And, though we hold to the position of "deaconess" being biblical, the term simply doesn't exist in Greek. It's always masculine and can only be considered to refer to a woman when context demands it.
 

brianeschen

Puritan Board Junior
"For any reason" modifies impossible. So it doesn't matter what the reason is - if it's deemed impossible by the church, then it's impossible. It's not playing word games - deaconess is a biblical and traditional term, not one simply made up to cause controversy.
Actually, Pastor Duncan rightly pointed out that deaconess is not a biblical term. It did not come into usage until after the canon was closed. It should be noted too that Pastor Keller agreed with this.

And, though we hold to the position of "deaconess" being biblical, the term simply doesn't exist in Greek. It's always masculine and can only be considered to refer to a woman when context demands it.
From what I recall in the discussion between Duncan and Keller, deaconess was used in the Greek language, but not until after the canon was closed.
 
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