Women in Leadership and My Church

Discussion in 'Church Office' started by De Jager, Nov 5, 2018.

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  1. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman


    So I know everyone's view here in terms of women being pastors, elders, deacons, etc. I am not advocating for this in any sense but am looking for advice.

    I currently attend a CRC - formerly a pretty staunch conservative denomination, but one that is well on its way down the well-trodden path of liberalism.

    I came out of happy-clappy evangelicalism partly due to the help of the current minister of the CRC that I attend. He has been a great friend to me, and mentor, and has helped me understand different facets of the reformed faith. I can honestly say he is a dear friend.

    We differ on the issue of women in office. While I do not see any biblical warrant for it, he is not against it and seems fairly convinced in his own mind. He told me that he used to be dead-set against it, but that one of his seminary professors convinced him otherwise.

    His preaching is pretty solid, he knows the gospel, preaches against sin and talks about our need for faith in Christ. He does not shy away from difficult topics, and doesn't seem to be too swayed by culture (except for this issue, I believe). Our church does not currently allow women elders but does allow women deacons (no, I have no idea how they came up with that position).

    I guess I am just looking for advice here - should I stay in such a place? I do know that he is a good friend and I consider him a brother in Christ but believe he is misled on this issue. How would you approach this situation? I am not going to make any snap decisions but look forward to hearing your two cents.
  2. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    There are no women now serving in some office? As I see it, there's no reason to walk away. Just keep an eye on things in your church and denomination. And it seems that your pastor is at least aware of your concerns. Keep him in prayer.
  3. Hamalas

    Hamalas whippersnapper

    Are there other confessional alternatives in your area? If not, it sounds like the Lord may have you where He wants you. Any decision you make should happen in conversation with your Pastor and Elders.
  4. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    There is one woman deacon. Everyone else on council is male.

    I think I can do a lot of good in this church. My pastor and I have a good relationship and he needs support. Like I said, I am not making any snap decisions but just looking for some advice, as maybe people here have dealt with something similar.

    If you know any of the history of the CRC, the women in office issue went off like a hand grenade in it in the 80s / 90s, splitting the denomination and families. The URC is a product of this conflict.

    The URC people view it as an issue of certain people not willing to submit to the authority of scripture (and to a certain extent, that is right), but that is not the case for everybody. There are certain real Christians in the denomination who I think are actually convinced that their position is biblical, and I believe that they have been misled. We know from scripture that the devil will seek to mislead people, and if possible would even mislead the elect.

  5. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    Is your problem the broader denomination or the congregation? I would be concerned at the direction the CRC is taking. I am not concerned with female deacons. My denomination (ARP) for example permits women in the diaconate while not having female elders. The RPCNA has kept a similar position for a couple of generations as well.

    While I'm not sure the exact way to think of it, there has been a long history of women being some sort of deacon in the church going back to the earliest days of the church (e.g., Phoebe in Romans 16) which has been interpreted differently through the ages including within the Reformed churches.
  6. PaulCLawton

    PaulCLawton Puritan Board Freshman

    My own opinion is that you should be a member of the closest church that you can attend in good conscience. For me that entails travelling 40 miles each way, often several times/week including meetings.

    I find it hard to understand how someone could be a member of a CRC church in good conscience, but people and circumstances differ.

    I would suggest attending Immanuel URC in Listowel.
  7. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    I would view this as a symptom to watch carefully. If you have a pastor who preaches and counsels faithfully, you have a great blessing. If the issue comes to a vote through a nomination, be very clear on the Biblical standard.

    The symptom points toward a weakening in viewing scripture as authoritative. Though I disagree with women deacons, it would not be a deal breaker.
  8. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Stay. If the gospel isn't threatened and they aren't advocating women elders, you can do a lot of good.
  9. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    I guess the question is, are there still God's people in that denomination? And if so, who is going to take care of them?

    Jesus would leave 99 sheep to find one lost one. How can we model that? Don't you think it is possible that there are some sheep in the CRC?
  10. PaulCLawton

    PaulCLawton Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, I do; I know some of them. However, I don't think the earnest desire to remain in a church or denomination that has in some sense stopped being a true church (Belgic 29) to have a positive impact should take priority over one's own duty to bind oneself to the true church.

    I would say (and I am open to correction from those with a better grasp of the history and current situation) that anyone advocating a "wait and see" approach in the CRC does not realize that the cow has left the barn. And gone down the hill. And took a left at the interstate.
  11. Guido's Brother

    Guido's Brother Puritan Board Junior

    Let's say you stay. Let's say that further down the track you're nominated and then elected as an elder. Then let's say you're delegated to classis or synod. And a woman, an elder or pastor from another CRC, is the president/chair of that assembly. Even if you're in a local CRC that does not allow women in positions of authority (personally I think the office of deacon involves leadership in the ministry of mercy), the decisions of the CRCNA as a whole are going to impact you at a certain point, especially if you're seeking to serve your church in a meaningful way.

    I would suggest you research the reasons why the URCNA came into existence. It wasn't just women in office, though that was the final straw for many of them. There's a good essay by Cornelis Venema in the festschrift for W. Robert Godfrey, Always Reformed (ed. by R. Scott Clark and Joel E. Kim).
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  12. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

  13. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I would recommend staying, as I discourage denomination hopping. The grass is always greener on the other side. For instance, I was part of what (on paper) was a very strict confessional denomination, but when it really mattered the ruling elite failed to defend the gospel and persecuted the orthodox.

    It is a good rule of thumb never to leave a church unless you are forced out of it. Your pastor sounds like a good man whom you, with rational and winsome arguments, may eventually be able to win over on the subject. As much as I oppose women in office, I do not believe that it can never be reversed nor do I see it as automatically requiring one to go elsewhere (it may in some circumstances, however).
  14. PaulCLawton

    PaulCLawton Puritan Board Freshman

    I do not see how that conclusion comes from that example.

    I really try not to be argumentative, but I feel like I must have clicked a link and I'm not on the PB anymore. Is anyone commenting in this thread who is advocating staying, at all familiar with the CRC?
  15. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I amended the post, as the way I wrote it looked like a non-sequitur. All I was saying is that just because a denomination appears more strict it does not mean that it actually is.

    If you are not trying to be argumentative then perhaps you should word things a bit more politely. I am actually arguing for the Puritan position, as the Puritan position is not the Brownist/Separatist one. Just because a denomination is scandalously corrupt does not necessarily require one to separate from it, especially in a situation where there are faithful remnants that still preach the gospel.
  16. PaulCLawton

    PaulCLawton Puritan Board Freshman

    I suppose I meant that I don't go looking for an argument where there doesn't need to be one. We are talking about a specific situation in a specific denomination, I am not learned enough to even know what the "Brownist/Separatist" position is or refers to.
    It is my contention that anyone advocating for staying in today's Christian Reformed Church is either not familiar enough with it or is using very poor judgment.
  17. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    It seems as though, rather than your church not allowing female elders, they merely do not have any at the moment. It may be a mere matter of time. If I were in your situation, I would be uncomfortable with a woman in any office. I'm in a denomination now that ordains women, and frankly I am not happy about it. Do see what other options are available. Some Lord's Day you might try visiting a solid confessional church if there are any around. (Not easy, I know. I'm from Ontario too.)
  18. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks Tom. I am definitely uncomfortable with it and I agree that it is a matter of time.

    I just recently visited an FRC that is about a 45 minute drive. It was really good. It is probably the top option I would consider.
  19. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    I visited there once - but it is too far away to make it a permanent church home, there are other options closer by that I would consider before the RP.

    But thanks for the suggestion.
  20. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, and taking the information that we have been given in the OP at face-value I see no biblical reason why the author of the OP should move. Fair enough if you think differently, but I can only pass judgment on the information that I have been given.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  21. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    I just want some reasons from the Bible as to why I should leave this church. Look, I get it that almost everyone who attends a URC currently thinks the CRC is an apostate denomination; and I for one think that it is in big trouble and going downhill very fast - I don't trust the leadership of the denomination; but as for leaving my current congregation, in which there are real souls and real Christian brothers and sisters in it that I know personally, you need to give me reasons from scripture that are better than what you are currently giving me, in all due respect. I was not raised in the CRC except for a few years. I made my exit from evangelicalism to reformed Christianity in large part to the witness and friendship from the minister at the church I now attend. That means a lot to me, and I don't think you really appreciate the conflict I am having internally. So please be sensitive to that.

    Thank you for pointing me to Belgic Confession Article 29. I am going to review that as part of my analysis.


  22. PaulCLawton

    PaulCLawton Puritan Board Freshman

    My latter responses were directed more to those who had replied encouraging you to stay than to you directly. I have sympathy for you in your situation, I left the evangelical church where I learned the beginnings of reformed theology to join a URCNA church and it was not easy, we left most if not all of our friends behind.

    There are others here much smarter and more learned than I, but in terms of reasons to leave I would say the following:
    The diaconate, while a position of lesser authority than the eldership is indeed a position of authority in the church, which scripture forbids. In practice this is especially true in the CRC and URCNA because the council, as opposed to consistory tends to make a lot of the decisions in terms of church life and practice.
  23. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Rev. Bredenhof,

    Thank you for your council. I will do some research.

    Your scenario is very realistic; I was nominated for the position of elder last year but did not let my name stand as I did not discern an internal call; but at some point, it will come up again.

    And I know for a fact that at Classis there are women reps, and I don't think I would be able to deal with that.

    I can envision myself as an elder one day and I would need to be able to serve on a council in good conscience.

    Thank you for your advice.
  24. Guido's Brother

    Guido's Brother Puritan Board Junior

    I think that's the correct route to follow. And if you think it through, the conclusion will be inevitable, even though it won't be easy. What I mean is:

    You're in a congregation that's part of a wayward denomination. You're in a congregation that, by staying in the CRCNA as a whole, says there's nothing majorly wrong with the preaching and teaching of the CRCNA as a whole. You're in a congregation that, by staying in the CRCNA as a whole, says you can sit at the Lord's Table with people who are in disobedience to the Word of God. You're in a congregation that, by staying in the CRCNA, says that disbelieving the Word of God about evolution/creation, women in office and other matters, is not a ground for discipline. There are implications to being part of a denomination.
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  25. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    I could not in good conscience be a member of the CRC if there were confessional church alternatives around. While I do not encourage leaving churches over small matters, these are not small matters.
  26. Hamalas

    Hamalas whippersnapper

    This is a tough decision brother. I'll be praying for you.
  27. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman


    Man, this is going to be rough. :(

    I guess I never really understood how much a denomination can influence a local church. In evangelical circles there is almost no governance or accountability.
  28. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    One of the main differences between the PCUSA and the CRC is that the trajectory has been much more rapid in the CRC. What took decades in the PCUSA *and its predecessor denominations took mere years in the CRC.

    Everyone has their breaking point or 'line in the sand'. In the PCUSA*, while there were other factors at each step, it was largely women's ordination for the PCA, abortion for the EPC, and homosexual clergy for the ECO. (OPC was before my time). Only you can decide where you will draw the line, and when you must depart. (As a practical matter, that may well coincide with your next pastor).

    Pray, and keep your powder dry.
  29. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I have it on good authority that the CRC in Blyth is, overall, a faithful church and one that holds more firmly to the historic understanding of what it means to be Reformed than do many congregations in the CRC (and also a church full of kind and godly people). I see no reason why you should feel you must leave, especially since you are not an officer. Staying is a legitimate option for you.

    Picking a church is a matter of (1) choosing the best option available, plus (2) not church-hopping, so that once you've chosen a church it takes something more than just "that other church might be a bit better now" to get you to change. So I can see why, having landed somewhere pretty good, you are inclined to remain if you can.

    The issue of potentially becoming an elder is one to consider, though. Within that denomination, your conscience might be tested in new ways if you were an elder. And the difficulty with having a pastor who believes in female elders, regardless of what the membership or consistory might think, is likely to continue as long as the congregation is CRC. There just aren't many complementarian guys who are willing to take a CRC pastorate, period. So if the church wants to stay complementarian, it is likely that it will always struggle to find a pastor who agrees.
  30. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Maybe, though I'm not sure. If so, it is largely because the CRC resisted much longer. And the CRC has not yet slid as far as the PCUSA. Generally, a preacher in the CRC can still proclaim that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved and receive a chorus of approving grunts in response (the Dutch aren't the type to shout "Amen!"). Try that in a lot of PCUSA churches and it won't go so well.
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