Women Deacons, then Elders, then Pastors, then Gay Pastors, then…
… Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim Pastors?
The slippery slope argument is not a usually a good argument. It’s illustrated by the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy in this way: “Suppose someone claims that a first step (in a chain of causes and effects, or a chain of reasoning) will probably lead to a second step that in turn will probably lead to another step and so on until a final step ends in trouble.” Its fallacy, as pointed out by logicians, is that there can be a middle ground or stopping point that doesn’t lead to the next step.
I thought about this argument as I read a couple of articles about what’s happening with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) where there is no let up in the push for ordination of “deaconesses.” I can clearly see “slippery slope” in the descent of the PCUSA from its Biblical, Reformed beginnings to its apostate condition today, denying the perfections of Scripture and salvation in Christ alone, and ordaining women and homosexuals.
Here in the Philippines, I was raised in an evangelical denomination called United Evangelical Church of Christ, founded in 1932 with the help of American Presbyterian missionaries. In the 1960s, they already had deaconesses. Today, they have women elders and women officebearers called “assistants to the pastor.” It’s only a matter of time before they ordain women pastors. Who knows if they’ll go the way of the PCUSA as well?
In David Wegener’s post, “PCA debate over woman deacons: Itâ€™s about rebellion–not exegesis…” he argues for exercise of church discipline against those who are in rebellion against the church order:
This is one of the presiding myths on the topic: women in the diaconate is an exegetical issue and must be dealt with on that level…Â But the roots of this rebellion are not in exegesis, and so we must not fight this battle only on that level. The roots lie in our sin…This kind of rebellion needs to be dealt with just like any other persistent sin. Warnings need to be given and given and given…Â It doesnâ€™t matter who is guilty of this sin. Even if he is a man known for his expert grasp of justification by grace alone, through Christ alone, received by faith alone, then he needs to be disciplined if he has women serving and functioning as deacons (no matter what he calls them).
Tim Bayly’s blog has an update on what’s happening in the PCA concerning deaconesses. As a backgrounder, here’s what he wrote back in October 2008 about those who advocate women deacons:
Those who watched the battle over woman deacons at this year’s PCA General Assembly know Tenth Presbyterian Church [Senior Pastor: Philip Ryken] and its presbytery figured prominently in the work to change the PCA’s constitution to allow woman deacons.
Those in the PCA who advocate for woman deacons are at the forefront of a broader deform movement led by churches in which women do everything except serve as ruling elders and preach during Lord’s Day morning worship. Across the country, such churches (including those identifying with Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City) have an oft-stated guideline that reveals the deformity they practice and promote: “A woman can do anything a non-ordained man can do.”
If Tim Keller is the pope of the PCA north of the Mason Dixon line, Phil Ryken heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, called upon to provide conservative credentials for this deform movement. No one’s going to win brownie points pointing out the errors of such evangelical megastars. Yet there the errors are, in plain sight and still being cited by the agents of change within the PCA.
So Bayly says that now, in the PCA,
we find churches where women exercise authority over men as small group leaders, Sunday school teachers, seminar leaders, Bible teachers, and theology teachers; women lead the worship liturgy, administer the Lord’s Supperâ€”women do everything except serve on the session and preach Sunday morning.
One visited Bloomington, recently, and summarized the culture of her church’s Lord’s Day worship this way: “Women do everything in morning worship. They give the announcements, read the Scriptures, lead in prayer, serve the Lord’s Supper… The only time a man leads is sometimes our songs, and then the sermon.”
Tim Keller and Philip Ryken are two of the most revered “megastars” in the Reformed world, not only in the PCA, and yet, they are at the forefront of the deaconess campaign. If the PCUSA is not the best example of a church going down the “slippery slope,” I don’t know what is. The Unida denomination in the Philippines is well on its way. And the PCA has already launched itself down the same slope.
To be sure, the OPC in the 1930s and the PCA in the 1970s were able to stop the slide down the hill. But as the PCUSA folks have found out, once the sled is started down the hill, there is almost no way of stopping it.
I propose an alternative, Biblical version of the slippery slope argument: the Idol Factory Slope. This was coined in the 16th century by you know who, who said, “Manâ€™s nature is a perpetual factory of idols.” Nothing will stop us from being idolaters except the Word and Spirit. Even the Apostle James has his own version of the Idol Factory Slope:
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.Â Then desireÂ when it has conceived gives birth to sin, andÂ sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (Jas 1:14).
This is why every self-respecting Reformed believer must adhere to the Regulative Principle of Worship:
But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture (Westminster Confession of Faith 21:1).
No, I’m not talking about John Frame’s RPW deformation.