Redeemer NYC: Officer Nominations --> Deaconesses!!!

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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
The following is a public email sent to every Redeemer NYC member from Tim Keller (I will comment on said email):


From: Tim Keller [mailto: [email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 ____ PM
To: (Redeemer's members)
Subject: November is Officer Nomination Month

November 2, 2009

Dear Redeemer Member:
As you probably know, November is Redeemer’s officer nomination month. Once a year members have the privilege and opportunity to recommend other members for the offices of elder, deacon and deaconess.

So what is being said here is that Redeemer believes that there is an OFFICE of deaconess. Note please that all offices in the Confession and BCO and Scripturally are ordained 'positions'.


As we enter an exciting chapter in our ministry in NYC through the RENEW Campaign, there are more opportunities to serve than ever before. Identifying new leaders within our congregation has always been a priority at Redeemer, and we need your help to find members who have the right gifts and experience to serve on the Session and the Diaconate.

So not only are deaconesses described as leaders in the church in this paragraph, but also that deaconesses are on the Diaconate.



There are 49 men and women currently serving on the Diaconate and 20 men serving on the Session as ruling elders. These men and women have been elected by the congregation and have gone through theological and practical training to master the skills and the information necessary for these positions.

Again, women being described as being part of the Diaconate. Interesting that the Diaconate is placed prior to the Session...?



Elders are men who serve on the Session and provide spiritual and administrative leadership to the congregation through oversight of Redeemer ministries, leaders, and members. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.



The primary work of the Diaconate is practical deeds of mercy. Deacons and deaconesses (deeks) [sic] minister to those in our church family who find themselves in distress, crisis or emergency situations caused by illness, job loss, long-term unemployment, or other immediate physical, material, spiritual or emotional needs. Deeks also assist elders with membership interviews, and deaconesses provide input and support to elders working on complicated shepherding situations. Acts 6:1-4 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13.

So women who are on the diaconate as deaconesses have to fulfill these Scriptural commands that are set for deacons? Interesting...


Your faithful giving to the Mercy Fund over the years enables the Diaconate to care for our congregants during this economic recession. In addition to nominating deek candidates, you can help this ministry by encouraging congregants facing hardship to call the Diaconate Helpline – 212-726-1334.


Accepted nominees will begin training in January of 2010. We are looking for men and women who are members of Redeemer and willing to co-labor with us in these ministries. Please read the description and qualifications of the offices of elder, deacon and deaconess on this pdf or online.


Please prayerfully consider your elder, deacon and deaconess nominations and place a nomination form, with your signature, in the offering basket at any service during the month of November or mail/fax to:
Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Jenny Chang, Diaconate Director
1359 Broadway, 4th floor
New York, NY 10018
Fax 646-572-0020
You may also submit a nomination online.
May God give you discernment as you consider those who may be qualified to serve in these vital roles.
Sincerely,


Dr. Timothy J. Keller
Senior Pastor

This is again very interesting, a woman as the head of the Diaconate (Deacons and Deaconesses).
 

jason d

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, Tim Keller and Ligon Duncan gave their cases for this in August of 2008 (regarding the PCA policy).

Tim Keller was on the side arguing FOR deaconesses. You can read his case for it and Ligon Duncan's case for keeping it as is in the "By Faith Magazine" (a PCA Magazine) links below:


The Case for Our Current Policy on Female Deacons by Ligon Duncan



The Case for Commissioning (Not Ordaining) Deaconesses by Tim Keller


After those articles were written they debated it at the 2009 PCA General Assembly in June:

Keller vs. Duncan Debate: Women Diaconate MP3

It is a good debate and both Keller & Duncan were very gracious and firm on their stance.
 
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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Jason,

You may find helpful one of the recent threads on this topic.

There is a lot of background that may be helpful in understanding this.
http://www.puritanboard.com/f116/office-deacon-time-reformation-49835/

It's not a mere case of some people being "for" and some "against" 'deaconess'.

The issue for us in the PCA is that our doctrine, our polity, our vows and our Book of Church Order do not have the system the esteemed Pastor from New York is advocating and practicing at his church.

It has become clear that there is a willful violation of our constitution (PCA), vows and polity going on while there is this "debate."

It has come to the point that complaints have been filed and process is underway as we speak.
http://www.puritanboard.com/f117/complaint-filed-against-pca-metro-ny-presbytery-deaconesses-47488/

(The complaints detail practices that violate our constitution and the vows officers take before God that they receive and will uphold)

It might be helpful to understand it this way. If someone is arrested for going 100mph in a 65mph speed zone, the one charged with speeding would not call for a study committee on the nature of and compliance with speed limits. The issue would be only whether he was, in fact speeding, and then the sentence.

Here, we have a local church practice (in a confessional church) that:
1) has created an office that does not exist in our polity (this is a usurpation of power),
2) refused to lay hands in ordination on deacons (men) duly called by God to serve,
3) represented in the recent past that the office of deacon is only a synonym for "servant" (but is now switching on that),
4) changing the wording of vows in the Book of Church Order to accommodate their invention

and many other violations.

In effect, they have eliminated the I Timothy 3 authoritative office of deacon (men only) and substituted "commissioning" a group of mostly women to do the same or a similar function while denying, apparently up until the email posted in this thread, that 'deaconess' was an office.

This is denying men their right to ordination, as reflection of their call, and the congregation of their governance. It is a violation of the vows of elders who receive the polity of their denomination, which reflects its confessed understanding of Scripture.

PCA derives from scripture its understanding of the governance of the particular church:

Governance by I Timothy 3 and Titus I elders and deacons, with unordained men and women assisting them, and under their oversight.

Specifically, the men who are called, examined, and confirmed by each congregation as deacon:

1) oversee property stewardship
2) oversee mercy ministry
3) develop a "spirit of liberality" in the congregation

Unordained men and women assist them, without usurping title or oversight, and without the high process of qualification required for the men whom God appoints to govern in this way through His office of Deacon.

That's why this is so serious. We need to pray, in fear and trembling, for repentance, for the peace and purity of Christ's church, and fidelity to holy vows made before a holy God.:pray2:
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
This email just seems like a reflection of Redeemer's diaconate policy - which we're all familiar with having talked about it...often. It doesn't seem like there's been any change.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Andrew, you really shouldn't be at all surprised by this (if you are, even a bit). Nothing in this letter indicates that anything has changed about the way Redeemer deals with deaconnesses. They are fully equivalent to the male deacons, and Keller is simply doing what he has been doing. They believe that they are in line with the BCO because of they technicalities of how they "commission" their "deeks" (interesting that ultimately they must give the same name to each because of the tiresome nature of saying 'deacons and deaconnesses' - he seems not to want to just call the women 'deacons' even thought that is exactly what they are at Redeemer). Those who can see it see that the emporer has no clothing... however, I'm sure nothing will come of this or any other church who puts women into the role that is reserved for men according to Scripture.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
It appears Keller is speaking out of both sides of his mouth, i.e. it's an office, for which there is no other process but ordination for, but they don't ordain them.
 

re4med

Puritan Board Freshman
This is very disturbing, but as I am hearing, it has been a long-time problem. I really do not get it and I really do not get how a man (Keller) can actually live with himself. That session ought to be ashamed of their behavior.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
The joke is as much the PCA as Keller. Specifically the PCA is a joke for ignoring being publically mocked from within.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I am not surprised by any of this. The whole thing just seems to be contradictory to Scripture and the Standards. As well as their term 'deeks', shows a lack of reverence for the office that the Lord Himself created, as well as the Word of God.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
The significant point of the post here is that now, they are calling 'deaconess' an office, officially, after having denied that it was, that they were treating it as such.

Before, the public argumentation was either:

1) deacon is not an office (because it is merely a "servant" or "helper")
or
2) deacon is an office but
deaconess is not

Now, they are saying, officially, deaconess is an office.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Yes, Tim Keller and Ligon Duncan gave their cases for this in August of 2008 (regarding the PCA policy).

Tim Keller was on the side arguing FOR deaconesses. You can read his case for it and Ligon Duncan's case for keeping it as is in the "By Faith Magazine" (a PCA Magazine) links below:


The Case for Our Current Policy on Female Deacons by Ligon Duncan



The Case for Commissioning (Not Ordaining) Deaconesses by Tim Keller


After those articles were written they debated it at the 2009 PCA General Assembly in June:

Keller vs. Duncan Debate: Women Diaconate MP3

It is a good debate and both Keller & Duncan were very gracious and firm on their stance.

Think about the way this is presented here for a moment.

If the current "policy" (setting aside the fact the constitution is more than policy) is not commissioning 'deaconess' as the titling here assumes,

how is it the church is justified in violating the "policy"?

In the debate, it's set up almost as if we are both following this policy, but we are asking you to consider a change in our policy.

Rather, it is we are violating the "policy" right now, and although we claimed in the debate deaconess is not an office, in our emails to church members we ARE claiming it is an office.:)

The issues here go beyond what is being presented publically and involve the particular behavior... and the vows.

We know God does not take vows lightly. My prayer is that will be realized by all involved- for the peace and purity of His church.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
But look at the mentality he's creating! Good, educated people who say "It's true that our church constitution says deacons have to be ordained, but it also says if it's impossible to ordain deacons, the elders have to do the job of deacons. The word "impossible" was inserted for the benefit of people like us. It would be impossible for us to follow the constitution since it would make some people feel bad, therefore we don't have to follow the constitution".

You see that argument in the same form elsewhere from people Keller's influenced. "The divines didn't say one day out of seven in a normal week has 24 hours. And they COULD have. Therefore it is perfectly confessional to say a day in Genesis doesn't mean a day".

No one cares if the ARP allows deaconesses. Not really. It's the trickiness; the sly, cynical twisting of the constitution that bothers people. One thing about the OPC. They would have sorted this out long ago.

There's no reason to re-hash all the old arguments we've been through here on this subject. I would like though, one more time, to point out to those who HAVEN'T been on the receiving end of a Session that's hiding behind Keller's rebellion that you have no idea how far this attitude has taken churches WAY further than female deacons.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
What's really sad is what's behind the issue of "deaconess." It's the question, "Did God really say _________?" Are we really not suppose to eat from that tree? Are deacons really suppose to be the husband of one wife?
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Can someone PLEASE explain to me how a man can go on the public record in so many venues blatantly opposing our standards on this point and yet NEVER be brought on trial?

His brazen defiance is grating. The utter inaction on the part of the courts of my church is really disheartening.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
This email just seems like a reflection of Redeemer's diaconate policy - which we're all familiar with having talked about it...often. It doesn't seem like there's been any change.

But I expected there to be a change, after the GA. I don't know why I expected this. I just assumed that since it was determined that it was against the BCO, that Redeemer would change its position or leave the PCA.

What's really sad is what's behind the issue of "deaconess." It's the question, "Did God really say _________?" Are we really not suppose to eat from that tree? Are deacons really suppose to be the husband of one wife?

I disagree. I think there is a case to be made for women deaconesses. I personally am not buying it, but we can't deny that it can be made. For example, the RPCNA is a very conservative, Reformed, godly denomination, and they have ORDAINED women deaconesses. I don't see their position as being "Did God really say _________?" Though I am sure that they could indeed be wrong about things. (I think they are wrong about hymns being false worship, for instance.)

What I think is wrong about Redeemer is their "Did the BCO really say _________?"
 

N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
This email just seems like a reflection of Redeemer's diaconate policy - which we're all familiar with having talked about it...often. It doesn't seem like there's been any change.

But I expected there to be a change, after the GA. I don't know why I expected this. I just assumed that since it was determined that it was against the BCO, that Redeemer would change its position or leave the PCA.

What's really sad is what's behind the issue of "deaconess." It's the question, "Did God really say _________?" Are we really not suppose to eat from that tree? Are deacons really suppose to be the husband of one wife?

I disagree. I think there is a case to be made for women deaconesses. I personally am not buying it, but we can't deny that it can be made. For example, the RPCNA is a very conservative, Reformed, godly denomination, and they have ORDAINED women deaconesses. I don't see their position as being "Did God really say _________?" Though I am sure that they could indeed be wrong about things. (I think they are wrong about hymns being false worship, for instance.)

What I think is wrong about Redeemer is their "Did the BCO really say _________?"

Both the ARP and the RPCNA have had women deacons for well over 100 years.

I also disagree with the practice, but I have had to study the issue before being ordained in the RP Church- and although I disagree- the case for women deacons is an exegetical one- not a 'did God say' one. Those who uphold the position do so because they believe THAT IT IS WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Those who uphold the position do so because they believe THAT IT IS WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES.

Which is totally irrelevant to the point. One purpose of any constitution is to protect people from having to re-invent the wheel every time something comes up. The traffic cop isn't given discretion to ignore posted speed limits, whether or not those speed limits are proper. The speed limit has to be changed by duly constituted authority before he can write a speeding ticket for someone going 25 in a 30 MPH stretch of road.
 

N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
Those who uphold the position do so because they believe THAT IT IS WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES.

Which is totally irrelevant to the point. One purpose of any constitution is to protect people from having to re-invent the wheel every time something comes up. The traffic cop isn't given discretion to ignore posted speed limits, whether or not those speed limits are proper. The speed limit has to be changed by duly constituted authority before he can write a speeding ticket for someone going 25 in a 30 MPH stretch of road.

Tim, I mean in the RPCNA- the people who uphold the denomination's position do so because they believe that this what the Bible teaches.

Ben, right. I forgot that. The RPCNA is 1888.
 

Nathan Riese

Puritan Board Freshman
Okay, so many PCA people keep saying "why won't the PCA order discipline!?"

Is there something ordinary PCA people can do to let the PCA authorities know that discipline is necessary?

Or, as I can only imagine, that's already taken place and nothing happened then either?
 

LeeJUk

Puritan Board Junior
Don't understand why so many people are throwing stones at this man over the last few days and especially on such a secondary and non-essential issue.

People need to keep in mind that our interpretations of scripture are fallible, instead of defending them as if it's the doctrine of the trinity.

Theres more interpretations than just ours you know, and credible evidence for both from the scriptures.
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
I'll echo the question asked before. How can someone who so blatantly and publicly goes against the PCA's standards not have been disciplined by now?

I have a feeling the OPC would have sorted this out long ago if confronted with the same issue.
 

LeeJUk

Puritan Board Junior
I'll echo the question asked before. How can someone who so blatantly and publicly goes against the PCA's standards not have been disciplined by now?

I have a feeling the OPC would have sorted this out long ago if confronted with the same issue.


1) the scriptures teach we are to have unity over secondary issues
2) No one side has monopoly on biblical interpreation.
3) So you want to get this man or his church disciplined over a secondary issue, even when such a great work has been done and is continuing to be done in the gospel and building up of saints in that church?

It's at this point I get really angry, because you take one small bit of doctrine YOU don't agree with and you completely disregard all the great points about this man's ministry and doctrine and alll the fruit and you instead exalt this one thing, as if he's now a damnable heretic or someone to be kept at arms length.

I say with all reverence, God help us all, if we put as much effort into sharing the gospel or battling real heretics as we do our brothers in Christ over small points like this, then the church of Jesus Christ would be in a lot better shape.
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
I'll echo the question asked before. How can someone who so blatantly and publicly goes against the PCA's standards not have been disciplined by now?

I have a feeling the OPC would have sorted this out long ago if confronted with the same issue.


1) the scriptures teach we are to have unity over secondary issues
2) No one side has monopoly on biblical interpreation.
3) So you want to get this man or his church disciplined over a secondary issue, even when such a great work has been done and is continuing to be done in the gospel and building up of saints in that church?

It's at this point I get really angry, because you take one small bit of doctrine YOU don't agree with and you completely disregard all the great points about this man's ministry and doctrine and alll the fruit and you instead exalt this one thing, as if he's now a damnable heretic or someone to be kept at arms length.

I say with all reverence, God help us all, if we put as much effort into sharing the gospel or battling real heretics as we do our brothers in Christ over small points like this, then the church of Jesus Christ would be in a lot better shape.

This is man is openly disobeying the position (i.e. confession and BCO) of his denomination. Ministers are not permitted to teach contrary to what they have sworn to teach. This is more than an issue about deaconesses it is also an issue of rebellion.
 

LeeJUk

Puritan Board Junior
So What if he's disobeying the official position of a denomination, your right its an issue of rebellion, Tim Keller doesnt want to rebel against God's word and so that means he must rebel against the denomination because obviously for him, he believes God says that it's OK. Sure I value the westminster confession of faith, but if my interpretation of scripture differs from it on a point, then I've got 2 options either

1) Please the denomination
2) Go with what I think God says in his word

So if we claim to be going on scripture alone, should the man say...well I dont care what I think God's word teaches, I'll just be comfortable and conform to the "official" position.

Are we Roman Catholics now?
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
Lee, I think we all certainly appreciate your concern for charitable dealings concerning the non-fundamentals of the faith. It should be noted, however, that this deaconesses issue is not one of "disagreeing over doctrine." It's a matter of public practice and honesty in following the practices of the PCA's BCO. In accordance with the Book of Order, there is (unless it is *impossible* to do so) to be an ordained diaconate in the church, which naturally consists only of men: Redeemer has gone around this, and does not have an ordained diaconate, but an "unordained diaconate" so that it can include both men and women; all the while, saying that they are in accord with the BCO. This has caused strife and contention, and the proper thing would be to submit and bring practice into accord with the church.

So, this is not a matter of what people believe; it is a matter of public order. No one is saying Mr. Keller must *believe* anything about women deacons one way or the other; but ecclesiastically, the church needs to be walk in accordance with the BCO for the sake of peace and unity and honesty.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
Lee has a point in that people take their case too far: I don't think anyone can call Keller a damned heretic.

However, you can't dismiss the blatant fact he is disobeying the position of the denomination he is ordained in. That's an actionable offense, so far as my intuition tells me without a knowledge of the PCA BCO. He is in open defiance and he seems to be using backdoor methods and ad hoc definitions to effectuate his purposes and subvert the positions of the PCA. He should either amend his stance and teachings, or avail himself of another denomination that is amenable to that teaching.

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water though, he is a useful teacher in other areas.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
So if we claim to be going on scripture alone, should the man say...well I dont care what I think God's word teaches, I'll just be comfortable and conform to the "official" position.

Are we Roman Catholics now?

Again, no. That's not the issue here. No one is saying what Mr. Keller or the other elders of the church must believe; nor would (or even *could*) ordaining deacons (and not deaconesses) go against conscience or force him to do something he thinks is unBiblical.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
I'll echo the question asked before. How can someone who so blatantly and publicly goes against the PCA's standards not have been disciplined by now?

I have a feeling the OPC would have sorted this out long ago if confronted with the same issue.


1) the scriptures teach we are to have unity over secondary issues
2) No one side has monopoly on biblical interpreation.
3) So you want to get this man or his church disciplined over a secondary issue, even when such a great work has been done and is continuing to be done in the gospel and building up of saints in that church?

It's at this point I get really angry, because you take one small bit of doctrine YOU don't agree with and you completely disregard all the great points about this man's ministry and doctrine and alll the fruit and you instead exalt this one thing, as if he's now a damnable heretic or someone to be kept at arms length.

I say with all reverence, God help us all, if we put as much effort into sharing the gospel or battling real heretics as we do our brothers in Christ over small points like this, then the church of Jesus Christ would be in a lot better shape.

Lee,

Some consider ordination to be a primary matter and not a secondary issue. This man is trying to turn his congregation against the said standards of belief in this denomination concerning ordination. That is not necessarily a secondary issue. In doing this his congregation is acting outside of the set boundaries of order and policies of ordination in this denomination. Some fear that this might be a small stepping stone to get to where other confessional churches have ended up. For example look at the PCUSA. They ordained Senior Women Pastors now.

If Pastor Keller has issues with the denominations BCO then maybe he ought to consider moving his ordination to one that ordains women deacons. That would be best for unity sake in my opinion. He is not promoting unity in my opinion which is something I do believe he took a vow to perform.
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
So if we claim to be going on scripture alone, should the man say...well I dont care what I think God's word teaches, I'll just be comfortable and conform to the "official" position.

Are we Roman Catholics now?

Again, no. That's not the issue here. No one is saying what Mr. Keller or the other elders of the church must believe; nor would (or even *could*) ordaining deacons (and not deaconesses) go against conscience or force him to do something he thinks is unBiblical.

Thanks for the backup Paul and Martin. You've said it better than I attempted to before.

I resent LeeJUk's accusations that I have somewhere called Keller a heretic (which I have not) and yet I am now pseudo-labled a Roman Catholic. Not very consistent.
 
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