Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Removing G-6.0106b-something about that rationale

This last Sunday I finished leading a series of Sunday classes which focused on the main issues coming to the PC (U.S.A.) General Assembly. I tried to make sure I tied them to Scripture and the Confessions. This last class dealt with committee 6, Church Orders and Ministry, and in particular with ordination. I discovered as I went through the various overtures, which are attempting to remove G-6.0106b, that each seemed to make a specific appeal to some supposed fact in their rationale. So I took each one, looked at its main point and answered it.

I decided to rework my handout a bit and post it here:

Overtures on removal of G-6.0106b

· 06-06-Appeals to a hierarchy of authority, that is, Christ, Scripture and then Confessions.

Answer: There is no hierarchy-The Bible is the written word of God. Both Christ and his word have equal authority. For more on Christian authority see “To what authority must church officers submit?” at Faith and Polity Project.

· 06-07-Appeals to inclusiveness –an idea that “no one is left outside the City.”

Answer: Not being left outside the city has to do with redemption, not with Church offices. The scripture and the confessions are clear that those who hold church offices are meant to live as models for fellow believers. See 1 Tim.3 and Titus 1. And “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” (Heb. 13:7)

· 06-08-Appeals to the grace of God- (See above)

· 06-09-Appeals to believer's lack of agreement, grace and that G-6.0106b is only applied to LGBT people.

Answer: There is agreement in scripture & confessions with the universal church. The practice of homosexual sex is sin. The issue is about not ordaining those who are unrepentant of their sexual sins. We are all sinners and we are all called to repentance. Those issues which are troubling the church today, and all sinful sexuality is included in the troubling, are the issues that must be dealt with today.

· 06-10-Appeals to the Scripture not being the word of God-with this line-“As Calvin understood, Scripture contains the word of God, but it is not the word of God. The result is that we depend on our confessions to inform the way we approach, read, understand, and interpret Scripture.” (Italics mine.)

Answer: This is what Calvin actually said, “All those who wish to profit from the Scriptures must first accept this as a settled principle, that the Law and Prophets are not teachings handed on at the pleasure of men or produced by men’s minds as their source, but are dictated by the Holy Spirit. … We owe to Scripture the same reverence as we owe to God, since it has its only source in Him and has nothing of human origin mixed with it.” (A statement from Calvin’s Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:16)

· 06-12-Appeals to new revelation-“That God can speak a new word in a new time if God chooses to do so, through the living word, Jesus Christ.”

Answer: But the Word has already been spoken. “God, after he spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the world.” (Heb. 1:12) with this “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) Any so called “new word” cannot change what the word of God has commanded.

· 06-13Appeal to a hierarchy of authority. See above 06-06

· 06-014-An appeal to the issue of divorce.

Answer: Divorce is acknowledged as a state of brokenness that must be repented of, with healing and transformation as the goal.

· 06-15-Hierarchy of authority-see above

· 06-16-“ “ “ “

· 06-17-An appeal to God’s love-

Answer: God is love yet real love offers truth and discipline. See Hebrews 12

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
‘My son do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by him; for those whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom he receives
.’ (12:4-6)


John McNeese said...


You write that “both Christ and his word have equal authority.” I also know your devotion to I and II Timothy and Titus, as you quote them so often. “Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”

The message of this writer is plain and clear, no ambiguity here. Women are not even saved as men are, but through child-bearing. So why are you teaching in church?

Catholics and Baptists are at least consistent. Not so for orthodox Presbyterians.

John McNeese
Ponca City, OK

Viola Larson said...

We have gone over this before. To say that Jesus Christ and the word of God have equal authority, because one belongs to the other, is not to say that proper exegesis cannot be used with scripture. The Bible interprets the Bible so you must reconcile the texts. But you cannot do that if you say that part of the text is not God's word.

John McNeese said...

“The Bible interprets the Bible so you must reconcile the texts.” Then by all means, Viola, reconcile I Timothy 2” 1-15 to your position as Elder and teacher in this denomination. What parts of scripture trump the clear and plain meaning of this passage?

John McNeese

Viola Larson said...

John I am quite satisfied that they can be reconciled and it would make a good blog posting but that is not the subject of this post. There are texts, many, in fact, in the Bible that lift up the ministry of women. There are no texts that do that for unrepentant practicing homosexuals. One issue can be reconciled the other cannot.
Here is a good place to start when thinking about the ordination of women.

John McNeese said...

No, Viola, this passage cannot be reconciled because it would be found wanting, thematically inconsistent with the depiction of God in other parts of the Bible. As such, they have no relevance or authority today. The same goes for those six passages that “touch” on homosexuality.

All this huffing and puffing is becoming moot. You have already lost. This coming generation of young people has made the decision for all of us.

John McNeese

Viola Larson said...

Not many of the young people I know John. And no one loses when they walk faithful to Jesus Christ and his word.

Dave Moody said...

Thanks Vi... keep your armor on.

@ John... I'd encourage you to do a bit of background research on what was happening in Ephesus @ the time Paul wrote Timothy. It sets his instructions to issue's specific to Timothy's context- Artemis worship, etc... also one of the rules of good exegesis is that of perspecuity... one should always interpret the difficult passages in light of those which are clear... and admittedly, this is a difficult one... but not impossible, by any means. I wish you the best.

Anonymous said...

You use the same arguments to defend your ordination that you trash in your post. Do you think people won't realize that? Or do you not realize that?

Dave Hackett said...

Very helpful review and approach, Viola.

Viola Larson said...

A friend just sent me this recommend, I thought you and probably others would be interested.

"I can recommend the book
William J. Webb, Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutic of Cultural Analysis (IVP Academic, 2001). . he develops a very careful redemptive-movement hermeneutic and demonstrates that in both the cases of slavery and women there is a redemptive trajectory toward equality. But in the case of homosexuality, there is not.

John McNeese said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John McNeese said...

How convenient for you, Viola, that “there is a redemptive trajectory toward equality.” Only a trajectory, whatever happened to full equality? How about the good possibility that the writer of 1 Timothy, who was not Paul, got it wrong with a distorted interpretation of Genesis 2-3? Paul would not have made such a statement. No need for a trajectory here.

Viola Larson said...

That is a redemptive trajectory toward equality and away from the fall of humanity which had serious consequences for men and women’s attitudes towards each other. The healing work of the cross affects both men’s sinful need to dominate and woman’s sinful need to allow that (passiveness).
Whether Paul or someone else wrote 1Timothy it is still God’s word. That is still the big issue, the authority of God’s word so thanks for bringing us back to my original subject.

jrtony said...

Two comments: First, Viola quotes a man, John Calvin, who is mischaracterized in the rationale. For those who want to use the ad hominem, try getting the basics true to reality.

Second, the Bible actually teaches women to pray and prophesy. The fact that in Timothy a particular prohibition is expressed is no reason not to take the whole of Scripture on this subject. After all the confessions teach that the rule of interpretation is that Scripture interprets Scripture. And let those who want to claim scriptural support for the ordination of those who engage without repentance in sexual intimacy outside of the marriage of a man and woman show the scriptural warrant for that. It's not there. Scripture is univocal on this subject. See Jesus in Mark 7.