Friday, June 15, 2007

Here We Go Again

This morning I received news that on June 13th the 2007 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) voted 112 to 70 to remove the word "male" as a requirement for holding ecclesiastical office in the church. The vote clears the way for women to become ministers, elders, deacons and ministry associates in the Christian Reformed Church. While lauded as a "tremendous moment" by supporters, its hard not to wonder how this group, like so many others in our day, can take a position that is clearly contrary to what is taught in the Scriptures. The Christian Reformed Church which has been slowly moving away from biblical orthodoxy for years has merely taken another step which makes it difficult to take it seriously as Christian community that is shaped by the Word and led by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, if it does not live up to its name as "reformed" it will eventually cease to exist as a viable expression of the body of Christ. In my experience, the only reason the church continues is because of its growth from within by means of "covenant children" which is another major distortion of the Christian faith. Evangelism beyond the "confirming of covenant kids" is almost non-existent and I cannot see why anyone would want to get involved with the group unless it is because of their family and cultural background. Most folks that I know who become Christians leave the Christian Reformed Church looking for more solid instruction and a more vibrant Christian experience.

In the New Testament women are free to participate in the life of the church in many ways. But until Jesus returns at the end of the age there are particular responsibilities entrusted to some men in terms of leadership in Christ's church. We do not have the option of adjusting the teaching of the New Testament to suit the spirit of the age in which we live. Even though some theologians have become incredibly creative in their search for a way to dismiss the normative nature of clear biblical injunctions in this area, their attempts are most unconvincing. One thing I have noticed is that churches in this area where I live who have gone down that road eventually end up closing their doors one by one. Churches with a woman's name on the sign as pastor are at the end of their life cycle. While I am sure there are exceptions to the rule this tells me that what is laid out in the New Testament is not for unenlightened people who did not know what we smarties "know" today, but it is for all God's people until Jesus comes and make all things new. It is never the path of wisdom to pretend that we are wiser than God, no matter how "sophisticatedly reformed" we imagine ourselves to be.

11 comments:

stauf46 said...

In our group, the Fellowship Baptists, we have settled with an uneasy peace for the moment after years of struggle on this issue. It has been very frustrating.

The problem, perhaps, is summed up by a pastor I once respected speaking up in favor of women elders. He said, "The culture is leaving us behind on this issue!"

Who is in the driver's seat here?

Jer said...

"Relevance", which we might also call "blind tolerance" tends to run the show nowadays... typically in the name of potential outreach that never actually materializes.

Not to be overly cynical, but this decision wasn't entirely suprising in and of itself (various denominations have been doing so for years now)... I suppose the remarkable thing is that the decision goes against some of the essence of what it ought to mean to be "Reformed", at least in an historical sense.

Shane Sowden said...

This is a topic that interests me very much. What books would you recommend to read about this issue. I have heard about "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" . Are there any others? thanks so much.

The Clinging Vine said...

Shane, you'll find a veritable treasure trove of useful information, including online articles and book recommendations, at the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

http://cbmw.org/index.php

Enjoy. ;^)

Anne in Fort Worth

Kirk M. Wellum said...

Terry... it is sad the way the culture has driven the agenda in the church. The sad part is that the more we reflect the image of the world the more the world figures we have nothing to say to them. Unfortunately, in many cases the world is absolutely right.

Kirk M. Wellum said...

Jeremy... "Reformed" used to mean calling people back to the Scriptures and reforming our doctrine and practice in light of what they teach. Now it means changing like a chameleon in order to gain the approval of the world at the cost of God's blessing. You would think that we would have learned the folly of this course of action from Israel of old!

Kirk M. Wellum said...

Shane... Anne's recommendation is an excellent one, you must check out the material available from the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. In addition you might want to take a look at a book called, "Two Views of Women in Ministry," edited by James R. Beck and published by Zondervan. It will give you some idea of the dimensions of the arguments on both sides.

Kirk M. Wellum said...

Anne... thanks for your comment and fine recommendation.

Jer said...

It's Jerry. :)

Kirk M. Wellum said...

Jerry... sorry about that... I should really check the profiles before I respond :-). I thought you were someone else. Nice to have you participate on the blog!

Shane Sowden said...

Thanks for the recommendations.