Presbyterian Realignment, from Christian Observer

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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
As reported in an article in Feb 2007 Christian Observer magazine (first full para):

After a yearlong courtship, a formal engagement between the New Wineskins Association of Churches (NWAC) and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) was agreed to on 9 Feb. The NWAC, Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations unhappy with the denomination, voted unanimously on Feb. 9 to petition the EPC to create a non-geographic, transitional New Wineskins presbytery (NWEPC) for churches wishing to leave the PC(USA). The EPC, which has been working with New Wineskins on the presbytery idea and was already circulating a proposal, will vote on the matter at its June Assembly. If approved, the NWEPC presbytery, transitional for a period of five years, could be set up immediately.

The EPC "leaves decisions over ordaining women 'to the Spirit-guided consciences of particular congregations concerning the ordination of women as elders and deacons, and to the presbyteries concerning the ordinations of women as ministers,' according to a position adopted by the EPC's General Assembly in 1984."

Hence, the need for a "non-geographic" presbytery to accommodate the PC(USA) women "ministers" and "elders" coming into the EPC.


Here's the question: Will there be serious EPC and PCA discussions on union within 10 years?
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
I hope not!

I wonder if the PCUSA will allow those churches to leave with their properties?
 

jaybird0827

PuritanBoard Honor Roll
As reported in an article in Feb 2007 Christian Observer magazine (first full para):



The EPC "leaves decisions over ordaining women 'to the Spirit-guided consciences of particular congregations concerning the ordination of women as elders and deacons, and to the presbyteries concerning the ordinations of women as ministers,' according to a position adopted by the EPC's General Assembly in 1984."

Hence, the need for a "non-geographic" presbytery to accommodate the PC(USA) women "ministers" and "elders" coming into the EPC.


Here's the question: Will there be serious EPC and PCA discussions on union within 10 years?

Rev. Buchanan - as far as the question - what do you think you would do if there were?
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Is female ordination something worth dividing the church over?

It is an un-ambiguious violation of Scripture. Those who have allowed the ordination of women have had to go through some pretty severe hermanutical gymnastics to justify it. So yes In my humble opinion, it is worth dividing the church over.
 

jaybird0827

PuritanBoard Honor Roll
It is an un-ambiguious violation of Scripture. Those who have allowed the ordination of women have had to go through some pretty severe hermanutical gymnastics to justify it. So yes In my humble opinion, it is worth dividing the church over.

:agree:

Right on, brother.
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
It is an un-ambiguious violation of Scripture. Those who have allowed the ordination of women have had to go through some pretty severe hermanutical gymnastics to justify it. So yes In my humble opinion, it is worth dividing the church over.
:ditto:
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
Rev. Buchanan, on a different thread, you mentioned your thought that a large-side split in the PCA would join the EPC and that the small-side split would probably merge with the OPC.

What percentages do you think would make up each side (EPC-leaning/OPC-leaning)?

60/40; 70/30; 80/20; or 90/10?
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
Is female ordination something worth dividing the church over?

The ones who "split the church" are the ones who deviate from plain scriptural teaching. Please do not take this as a comment directed against you, brother, but I think this is a way of thinking that is too commonly seen even in reformed circles. Preserving institutional unity around something besides the truth is very dangerous. In such a case the orthodox have not split the church but the innovators have "split" it in terms of its peace, purity and unity by introducing something that does not conform to the Bible which is our standard for peace, purity and unity.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
If the feminists truly believed they were right and therefore the stronger brother, and those who disagree with them are in the wrong and simply following tradition, thus the weaker brother, aren't the feminists bound by scripture to not stumble or give occasion to fall? If they really were right, then they still cannot demand churches change their practice of male headship without being guilty of sin themselves. Because they are binding men's consciences with giving knowledge first. (I speak as a man because of the infirmity of their flesh. :lol: )

I agree that it is the feminists that are divisive. Because they force their agenda on churches without first giving knowledge. And they never will be able to give the knowledge necessary because it simply isn't there. :judge:
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
The ones who "split the church" are the ones who deviate from plain scriptural teaching. Please do not take this as a comment directed against you, brother, but I think this is a way of thinking that is too commonly seen even in reformed circles. Preserving institutional unity around something besides the truth is very dangerous. In such a case the orthodox have not split the church but the innovators have "split" it in terms of its peace, purity and unity by introducing something that does not conform to the Bible which is our standard for peace, purity and unity.

I agree that most of Christianity is overly obsessed with ecumenicalism but at least in conservative reformed christianity the tendency as I see it is the opposite. I'm still thinking through these issues, but as a member of the RPC, a Presbyterian dissenter, I know how the principle of splitting from those "who deviate from plain scriptural teaching" is carried out. The best practicioners of this principle are the Steelites. Have the orthodox split the church if there is recourse to other methods besides division? Certainly they are justified in their departure if they are required to ordain women, but you think they haven't unjustly divided the church merely because of the presence of women elders?!

wsw201
It is an un-ambiguious violation of Scripture. Those who have allowed the ordination of women have had to go through some pretty severe hermanutical gymnastics to justify it. So yes In my humble opinion, it is worth dividing the church over.

Are all un-ambiguious violations of Scripture grounds for separation?

What are the criteria for an un-ambiguious violation?
 
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Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Wouldn't the ordination of women result (either immediately or eventually) in women excercising authority over men? Would it not be a violation of 1 Timothy 2:12?

[bible]1 Timothy 2:12[/bible]
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
What percentages do you think would make up each side (EPC-leaning/OPC-leaning)?

60/40; 70/30; 80/20; or 90/10?

I don't know. It depends on what the next 10 years teach us about how the more recent GA level restructuring moves concentrate power in the hands of a few. Or what sort of parties develop from the current mix. What % wants to be known for "Strictness" and which want to be "The Winners of the 200 Year War for the Presbyterian Denomination in America (1834-2034)," a part of "The Biggest Presbyterian Church There Is" (TBPCTI)? Because I can almost guarantee that's what will drive the train.

The PCA alone already rivals the Mainline in average Sunday attendance, despite being smaller on paper. A bulked up EPC, joined by what is sure to be some of the larger PCUSA churches, that are jumping ship ("conservative" churches tend to grow, liberal ones shrivel) will put the EP-PCA "on the map". And the Mainline will die after that. But what sort of compromises will be made to get to the next level of "biggness"? The EPC look like they are creating a "women in ministry" Presbytery. Some men in the PCA will see that as a "containment" solution that ought to satisfy the "worry warts", on their way to dominating the Presbyterian Scene. But this is where the political and P/R guys excell.

But it won't happen without a split. I just don't know how much of one, or which whole Presbyteries might resist and depart. :2cents:
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Peter, You raise a good question. I agree with Bill and probably every one else on the board that women elders is a violation of the scriptures.

However the question now is what to do with those who exist?

If a congregation desires to join into a denomination BECAUSE of a "higher" view of scripture in the new denomination knowing that the new denomination does not hold the same views on female eldership as the denomination they are leaving what do you do?

Do you not accept them? Do you only accept them if they "un-ordain" the women elders? Do you accept them only if they agree not to ordain any new women?

Is this a similar situation to the one faced on some mission fields with polygamy and new converts?

How far would we go if we accepted them but not the (women) elders?

A lot of the "simple" answers could lead to donatism, I am afraid.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
With the PCUSA you Presbyterians have more on your hands than just the fact that some pastors are women. I don't want to go into lurid details but....
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Peter, You raise a good question. I agree with Bill and probably every one else on the board that women elders is a violation of the scriptures.

However the question now is what to do with those who exist?

If a congregation desires to join into a denomination BECAUSE of a "higher" view of scripture in the new denomination knowing that the new denomination does not hold the same views on female eldership as the denomination they are leaving what do you do?

Do you not accept them? Do you only accept them if they "un-ordain" the women elders? Do you accept them only if they agree not to ordain any new women?

Is this a similar situation to the one faced on some mission fields with polygamy and new converts?

How far would we go if we accepted them but not the (women) elders?

A lot of the "simple" answers could lead to donatism, I am afraid.

Venturing a guess here-would love for those in the know to verify/correct this. Wouldn't these ordinations be viewed as no ordinations at all? In other words,, there is no need to "un-ordain" them as they weren't valid to begin with? I think the analogy to the marriages would break down as they were valid but immoral.

On track or not?
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Peter,

Each denomination has to make the decision as to what they will and will not tolerate, but with very few exceptions, the Church throughout history has taken the position that Scripture does not allow women to be officers of the church. Only with the introduction of Liberalism into the church has anyone ever seriously considered women as officers. This issue was one of the reasons for the split within the PCUSA in the 1930's.

Are all un-ambigious teachings of Scripture worth splitting the church over? It depends upon what is considered un-ambigious. Considering the plain teaching in Timothy, Titus and 1 Corinthians plus the position of the church regarding these passages over the past 2000 years, I would say that the issue of women officers is worth splitting over. But then again, I would take the Machen approach, ie; squeel like a stuck pig until they through me out!
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
I think you are right Chris.

They are not in fact elders. No matter what they call themselves they are just pretending. But the question that I am wondering about is what do we do with the individual woman or the congregation she is part of.

In some cases that I know of in the PCC some of the women elders are part of the "conservative" party. Thay have accepted this office (sic) because of a desire to see the gospel be promoted. Not to advance a liberal agenda, these poor people I honestly believe (in some cases) are just poorly taught and ignorant.

Now as they see attacks on the gospel increase they may at some point be part of a movement toward a union with a more orthodox church. What I am wondering is should we say "sorry, you are not yet 'pure' enough because of x,y, or z. Go fix those things and apply again in a couple of years." Or do we try to be more open to errors in their belief and practice?
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Personally, I see women being admitted to the ministry as absolutely destroying a church, making it to be no more a church of Christ. As has already been said, women can't be ministers. A woman is not "ordained to the ministry" simply because a presbytery voted her in and laid hands on her. Regardless of what she and others may say, she is not a minister of Jesus Christ. The introduction of women into the ministry of a church vitiates its ministry, government, etc. by introducing persons forbidden from that office into that office.

I'll put it this way: As much as I would protest, I would not split over a rejection of unaccompanied exclusive psalmody. But I would split over women in the ministry.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
The PCA alone already rivals the Mainline in average Sunday attendance, despite being smaller on paper.
Bruce: I did not know that. Do you have a source for the statistics? It is something I would like to file away. Thanks
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Bringing in female pastors bring a lot more with it than the single issue. Barna's reseach shows that only 15 percent of female pastors have a biblical worldview, in contrast to 53 percent of male pastors. The research defined "biblical worldview" as "believing that absolute moral truth exists, that it is based upon the Bible, and having a biblical view on six core beliefs (the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize."
 

Ravens

Puritan Board Sophomore
A Couple Questions:

I know very little about the EPC, but I've always been under the impression that they either allowed women deacons, or that segments of the EPC were "pushing" for women officers and elders, even if they hadn't attained the critical mass needed to make it a reality. Am I just completely mistaken on that (like I said, I very well may be).

Secondly, what percentage of the New Wineskins / Confessing Church / whatever, etc. churches and presbyteries have women elders. Does anyone know? If the EPC has strong convictions on this issue (and they should), I think it would be good to put the PCUSA churches to the test:

Namely, if these PCUSA congregations are unwilling to strike out on their own, and the only options are the PCUSA, or the EPC, then they might ultimately be willing to say goodbye and part ways with the female elders. It might take a few years, but a solemn, unexpected "No thanks" from the EPC, given some time to sink in, coupled with the ever increasing debauchery of the PCUSA, might lead to a more pure "merger" a couple years down the road.

Has that even been considered, I wonder?
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
Sadly, the EPC doesn't take the lines it should: www.epc.org

12. What is the EPC’s view of women in office?
While this is a topic about which many Christians feel strongly, the EPC believes that there can be genuine unity amid diversity on the subject. Each congregation has the right to decide whether to have women officers. The local congregation, subject to presbytery approval, determines whether they will have women as pastors. We believe that, whatever a congregation’s view of office, women should be encouraged to serve as God has called and gifted them.

9. How does the EPC view the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
The EPC believes the Holy Spirit is active today in applying the benefits of Christ’s redemption and equipping the Church for service through the granting of spiritual gifts, including the gifts of office (Eph. 4:8ff.). The EPC believes the church should encourage God’s people to serve Him with all the gifts the Spirit gives. The EPC consists of churches which believe the charismatic gifts are still given today as well as churches which do not. This would be a prime example of what the EPC believes is a “non-essential.” We believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is part of the new birth (1 Cor. 12:13), but that every believer is commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit as part of the ongoing work of God’s grace (Eph. 5:18).

In Essentials Unity
Six months later, the first General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church met at Ward Presbyterian Church near Detroit, Michigan. To ensure that the ideals of faith would remain foundational to the new denomination, the Assembly drafted an intentionally brief list of essential beliefs. The Essentials of Our Faith define a church that is Presbyterian in theology and church government, as well as evangelical in sharing the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.

In Non-essentials, Liberty
Even though the founders of the EPC valued purity of faith, they wisely saw the danger of division over non-essential issues. To protect the new denomination from needless strife, the founders promoted an understanding of freedom in which less essential matters were left to the conscience of individual churches and believers. This understanding included such matters as the freedom of a local church to elect its own officers, to exercise spiritual gifts, and to own and keep property. So EPC churches study the Scripture and make their own decisions about issues like worship style and the ordination of women. At regional and national meetings, church leaders take for granted that they will work and worship with other leaders who differ with them on these and other non-essential matters.

In All Things, Charity: Truth in Love
The final statement of our motto speaks of love. We are fellow pilgrims, walking together with our Lord. We have, individually, received his charity toward us, so we extend that charity to each other. We speak the truth to define our faith and to extend it to others. But we speak it out of love for our brothers and sisters, and for our Savior.

So, while there are far worse denominations out there, these guys certainly aren't very exciting or interesting to this Confessionalist. Having been a Mainline Evangelical previously, I see no reason why PCUSA evangelicals couldn't find a nice, comfy home in the EPC.
 
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