Thursday, June 12, 2008

You have to love Presbyterian meetings...

I love the above picture of the Westminster Assembly. Try to count the soul patches on these brothers. Parliamentarian procedure at it's finest...
I grew up Roman Catholic, a hierarchical form of church government if there ever was one. I went to a baptistic college that had students from all forms of congregational church governments where votes were taken for most decisions. I am now a committed Presbyterian which functions by congregations identifying elders to represent them and decide most matters on their behalf either in Session, Presbytery, or General Assembly.

Local Session meetings, geographical Presbytery meetings and our national General Assembly (the ginormous denominational meeting I am blogging from) follow Roberts Rules. For this reason, we Presbyterians are often accused of being too concerned with doing things "properly and in order" in a very parliamentarian way and therefore taking forever to get things done. The following joke describes the nature of our process-

Q: How do parliamentarians change a light bulb?

A: "The motion as to changing the light bulb shall properly be brought under new business. When the main motion has been made and seconded,amendments as to the acquisition of a ladder and/or the disposal of the old light bulb may then be brought. When the motion has been perfected, the moderator shall read the text of the motion. If there is insufficient light by which the moderator may read, then the motion shall fail and no action shall be taken."

We had a humorous example of how things "work" in such Roberts ruled settings when the moderator asked for a vote to see if the Assembly wanted to extend debate for 5 minutes. When the vote was taken, it was too close to call by a hand count, so the floor clerks had to manually count by section. It then took 15 minutes to determine if we should extend debate for 5 minutes.

Presbyterianism has rightly been called the worst form of church government EXCEPT for all the other forms!


M. Jay Bennett said...

I was very encouraged by the order and amiable spirit shared between brothers regardless of their disagreements.

Rick Calohan said...

How Many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb?


John Calvin essentially laid the foundations of Presbyterian polity and worship. His legacy lives with us, and can rightly be said is the founder of the United States of America, just as it did when the torch of Calvinism would pass to a fiery Scotsmen, and my hero of the reformation John Knox.

Knox’s determination to transform Scotland did not rest with the church, as he would set up universal education in Scotland, and centers for the indigent and the poor. Knox’s influence in Scotland would continue with Presbyterian Scots and English Puritans would join at the Westminster Assembly to write the Westminster Confession in 1643 and later when both groups would play a key role in the revolution in the colonies. The mass migrations of Scottish Presbyterian into the Ulster regions of Ireland spread Presbyterianism into Ireland, and eventually to the colonies, there they would continue the battles of Scotland in America

It can be said the American form of Government has its influence from John Calvin and Knox, that John Witherspoon the only member of the clergy to sign the Declaration of Independence and President of Princeton University then known as the College of New Jersey influenced many

Well, I rather be in a church that is governed by a group of elders, than some bishop in a pointed hat or a congregation of mob rule. At least at the PCA General Assembly while the issue to study the yada yada yada deaconess came up it was not shoved down the throats of local churches as in the PCUSA when the issue of chastity in singleness fidelity in marriage of ordained ministers and elders is brought up at every General Assembly. The slippery slope of that is ordination of homosexuals. At least the PCA elders looked at the slippery slope that could present itself should women be permitted as deacons.

I know there are many fine women of Christ who are at Redeemer, and in the PCA. Sometimes we can look at a person and their qualifications, see the leadership qualities in the person regardless of gender, and know that they have a role in the church. However, the PCA unlike the PCUSA looks to the Scriptures for Answers.

According to the ESV, the word deacon appears six times, perhaps the issue of women becoming a deaconess how the word servant is used. Tony since you know Greek perhaps you can shed light on the term diakonoi.

Romans 16:1
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[1] of the church at Cenchreae,
[1]Or deaconess

However, in the other five instances not once is a woman sited.

Philippians 1:1
Paul and Timothy, servants[1] of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers[2] and deacons:[3]
[1]Or slaves; Greek bondservants [2]Or bishops; Greek episkopoi [3]Or servants, or ministers; Greek diakonoi
1 Timothy 3:8
Qualifications for Deacons
Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued,[1] not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.
[1]Or devious in speech
1 Timothy 3:10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.
1 Timothy 3:12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.
1 Timothy 3:13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

My introduction to the PCA was in 2000, at Redeemer, eight years later under guidance of Elders and Deacons and with the support of their wives and families has seen Redeemer grow to be the Beacon of the Reformation in Kansas City. Women have a role in the church, and in our families,

Jeremiah 9:20 Hear, O women, the word of the Lord, and let your ear receive the word of his mouth; teach to your daughters a lament, and each to her neighbor a dirge.

Titus 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,

Ephesians 5: 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

As long as the PCA follows Scripture there is no need for study or debate, May God speak to us with His Holy Word and May His Name be forever praised. Amen.

Frontier Forest said...

Dear Pastors and Scott, I prayed for you as well as this great gathering of believers many times this week. And waited anxiously for a good report. I laughed aloud when reading your humorous/ harmonious disgust of the 5 minute debate taking 15 minutes to vote if there should even be a vote! Reading Rick’s powerful judgments and this poignant statement, “As long as the PCA follows Scripture there is no need for study or debate”, helped me too further ponder this fact. Even as much appreciation and joy I have found in being part of the PCA, and with great admiration for the way the PCA governs from only Biblical structure, even the best of presbyteries can sometimes get bogged down in trivialities.