Two Conference Talks Worth Hearing: Ligon Duncan And Tim Keller On Women And The Diaconate

In 2009, at the PCA General Assembly, Ligon Duncan and Tim Keller each gave talks about the biblical, historical, and practical questionssurrounding the question of female deacons. The Presbycast has posted archival audio of these talks. The conference was in three parts. Duncan went first by making the case against female deacons (as ordained office holders). Keller responded by indicating some disagreement with Duncan but then proceeds to make a case for recognized but unordained female assistants or deaconesses. I am about 44 minutes into the session and Keller has not quite finished his presentation. The last third is a Q&A session. As Brad Isbell (host of this episode of the Presbycast), this archival audio sheds light on some important current discussions in 2022. Listen»

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  1. Didn’t listen although it’s good information for dialogue or debate with those especially interested in Tim Keller’s viewpoint..
    From Tim Keller’s point of view when he was a Pastor, (re)forming his church structure fit very well with attractional worship. I know for a fact he taught leaders and strove himself to change worship and ‘church’ solely to attract artists in the community.
    What all this tells me is the culture impression his ‘church’ had was his top priority thus the world wouldn’t hate him.

    • Some churches just think art is important just like some churches think a finely manicured lawn is important. I suppose both could be considered attractive to their neighbors, but that doesn’t have to be the motivating reason.

  2. I just got done listening to their talk, haven’t gotten through all the q&a. I side with Ligon but was appreciative of Tim’s perspective. The big thing I got out of it was to not be “reactionary” to outside forces, but to look at it biblically. My first knee-jerk reaction was to dismiss Keller from the onset, but I can at least see a Biblical and historical approach rather than an appeasement approach. A similar argument could be Christians’ reaction (see overreaction) to evolutionary theory and age of the cosmos. We must confess that God made ALL THINGS of nothing in the space of SIX DAYS. The Earth may be 6,000 years old, it may be 6 million or 6 billion. I’m only bound by Scripture and Confession on the “Who” and “Why” question as well as the historicity of the events.

    Likewise, Keller’s approach was in that kind of light and textually he may have some of that wiggle-room. However, I would like to know how in practice this works and what kind of true limits are established. There are plenty of examples of barrier erosion within the PCA in specific churches and presbyteries.

    I’m not going to die on the young-earth hill, and I probably wouldn’t die on the female deacon hill (if executed in the winsome way presented by Tim Keller). However, I’m leery of the intended and unintended consequences of opening that door. Twelve years ago, we visited a PCA church where no men prayed during worship and women were in the direction of the music. Another church we visited in the last 5 years had women helping in distribution of the elements during The Lord’s Supper. These are intentional practices with a desired effect.

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