Thursday, August 28, 2008


I just saw where Ligon Duncan and Tim Keller both have articles in By Faith magazine (a publication of the Presbyterian Church in America) on the issue of deaconesses. This is a significant debate in the PCA. Keller's paper does a good job of clarifying his position on non-ordained deaconnesses and its historical roots, showing that it is not cowering to feminism or an abandonment of complementarianism (as some have claimed). I think there has been a lot of misunderstanding of his position. Duncan's paper does a good job of outlining why the PCA's position on this issue should remain the same.

While we are on the topic, Phil Ryken also has a paper on the issue. It is included in his paper on Qualifications for Deacons. I don't think anyone would accuse Ryken (or his predecessor, Jim Boice) of being a feminist and I am pretty sure the feminist would not claim him. The church I pastor, Village Seven Presbyterian Church, used to have deaconesses in the early days and I am certain none of the founders of Village Seven were feminists. Somewhere along the line, Village Seven renamed their deaconesses to Sisters in Serving.

I am not pushing for deaconesses. The papers above are the only things I have read on the topic. So, I remain undecided, which leaves me with my default position of remaining the same. However, I am pushing for a reasonable debate on the issue. At the last General Assembly of the PCA, I was bothered by three things:

1) The debate by some on both sides seemed to focus on the role of women in our society rather than on the real issue, which is, what does the Bible say. We should not follow the culture either on the left or the right. Rather, we should always seek to be in submission to Scripture.

2) There are some who seem to be looking for ways to circumvent the PCA or their presbytery's stance on this issue. In doing this, they are showing a complete disregard for the authority of their presbyteries and the denomination, and thereby abandoning their vow of submission to the brethren in the Lord. All PCA ministers and elders have taken vows to submit to one another. If we only submit when we agree, then we aren't really submitting. It makes our vows meaningless.

3) On the other side, there are those who refuse even to debate the issue, claiming that, even to debate it, is to give in to feminism. Even though they know the issue is divisive, even though they know there are godly men who hold a different position, they are refusing even to discuss the biblical merits of the topic. I think this is injurious to the peace and purity of the church.

All this to say, I am thankful to have these thoughtful articles by Dr. Keller and Dr. Duncan. In my mind, this is the type of debate that we should be having. I only wish it had official status at the General Assembly level.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Summer is Over - What I Actually Read

The calendar may say that it is still summer, but school starts here tomorrow. So, in reality, summer is over. The kids are not the only ones going back to school. I will be joining them. Only this time, I will be a teacher. Because I had nothing else to do, I volunteered to teach the Senior Bible class at our school, Evangelical Christian Academy. I will teach them hermeneutics, beginning with the Redemptive Historical Approach to Scripture. I also will cover some of my other favorite themes like sanctification, biblical world and life view, and presuppositional apologetics. Should be fun (at least for me).

At the beginning of the summer, I posted what I intended to read during the summer. However, I must confess that I got a bit derailed in my reading. Here is what I actually read:
  • The Crescent Through the Eyes of the Cross: Insights from an Arab Christian by Nabeel Jabbour (NavPress). Very informative and helpful. I have had the added blessing of meeting with Nabeel regularly to discuss this book. I knew very little about Islam when I started, but feel much better equipped to discuss my faith with a Muslim now.
  • A Quest for More by Paul Tripp. Here is a sample quote: "I may be grateful for the gospel, but what really excites me is the hope that my relationship with God will give me what I really want.." Ouch!
  • The Ascent of a Leader, by Thrall, McNicol, and McElrath. Good, not great, but good.
  • Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll. The main reason I read this was because I have heard a lot about the author but never read him or listened to his sermons. Very orthodox and very relevant.
  • Communion with the Triune God by John Owen. However, I must confess that I did skip some parts and I need to go back and reread this one. Like a lot of John Owen, great stuff to say, but not the easiest reading for me.
  • I also listened to a few MP3 lectures on my IPod (I love my IPod), including: David Calhoun of Covenant Theological Seminary on the Early Church Fathers, several lectures by Mark Dalbey on worship, D. A. Carson's 3-part series on the New Perspective on Paul, D. A. Carson's series on the Emergent Church and postmodernism, Marc Driscoll on Creation, and, of course, a few sermons by Tim Keller. BTW, you can download lectures for free from Covenant. Also, through ITunes, you can get a number of free lectures from Reformed Theological Seminary. Great resources.

Besides the above, I did a little reading on Ecclesiastes and Genesis for my upcoming sermon series. I hope to post a little study guide for each of these books on the Village Seven website fairly soon. I also rewrote my Leadership Training (Officer Training) course.

I had planned to read Going Public with Your Faith by Peel and Larrimore and The Insiders by Petersen and Shamy. However, once I decided to teach at ECA, my reading fell by the wayside.

What's next on my reading list? Well, I still want to get to the two books above. However, a few books have moved ahead of them, including:

  • Samson and the Pirate Monks by Nate Larkin. Word on the street is that this is a good book for men serious about growth.
  • Minority Report by Carl Trueman. I have a lot about Dr. Trueman and his teaching at Westminster, but have never read him. Looking forward to it.
  • In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson. I alway enjoy Ferguson. His clarity reminds me of Packer.
  • Who Stole My Church? by Gordon McDonald
  • Reason for God and The Prodigal God by Tim Keller.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Some Great Quotes

A friend turned me on to a blog by Justin Taylor called Between Two Worlds. He posted part of an interview with J. I. Packer on worship. I thought it was very insightful.

"We have separated the ages, very much to the loss of each age. In the New Testament, the Christian church is an all-age community, and in real life the experience of the family to look no further should convince us that the interaction of the ages is enriching. The principle is that generations should be mixed up in the church for the glory of God. That doesn't mean we shouldn't disciple groups of people of the same age or the same sex separately from time to time. That's a good thing to do. But for the most part, the right thing is the mixed community in which everybody is making the effort to understand and empathize with all the other people in the other age groups. Make the effort is the key phrase here. Older people tend not to make the effort to understand younger people, and younger people are actually encouraged not to make the effort to understand older people. That's a loss of a crucial Christian value in my judgment. If worship styles are so fixed that what's being offered fits the expectations, the hopes, even the prejudices, of any one of these groups as opposed to the others, I don't believe the worship style glorifies God, and some change, some reformation, some adjustment, and some enlargement of spiritual vision is really called for."

I read another great quote on preaching from the quotable Howard Hendricks . He says:

"It is not too difficult to be biblical if you don't care about being relevant; it is not difficult to be relevant if you don't care about being biblical. But if you want to be both biblical and relevant in your teaching, it is a very difficult task indeed."