Christianity: Doctrine and Ethics

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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The PCA’s New Dilemma about Deacons (VII)

We are drawing some principles from Acts 6:1-6 regarding the appointment of “the Seven” regarding modern deacons. This is being done in conjunction with the belief by some in the Presbyterian Church in America that deacons do not require the laying on of hands, ordination, and certainly not the identical charge given to the congregation regarding elders, since their functions are so very different.

Different Offices; Different Functions

It is not being argued here that the respective offices of elder and deacon have identical functions. That they are different is quite clear from the Acts 6 verses. The apostles had one function: to preach and to pray; the Seven were appointed to serve tables, to serve the needy. Alexander Strauch comments, “Some people might find it hard to believe that appointing men to care for poor widows and handle money would require the laying on of the apostles’ hands.”[1]To some, perhaps it seems odd that the laying on of hands was necessary for the Seven to serve the needy. Nevertheless, it is recorded that the laying on of hands was indeed the case (Acts 6:6).[2]

A couple of key points are noteworthy here. First, all seven of “the Seven” were men. If there were going to be a change or shift in the gender of office-bearers in general or of deacons in particular, Acts would have been a magnificent place to spell that out. That is not the case, however. The Church was no longer limited to Israel, but was now inclusive of all nations, peoples, and languages. The Old Testament tradition and background for leaders and elders was exclusively male. Keith Van Dam points out the following regarding elders: “The Hebrew term used for the office of elder in the Old Testament (zaqen) is derived from the word meaning ‘beard’ (zaqan).”[3] This is instructive because as far as I can remember, I never dated a woman with a beard. I did date an Italian girl in Charleston once, who I think had a bit of a mustache, but beyond that I’m not aware of anyone else.

Ed Clowney, writing in the book Order in the Offices, follows Van Dam when he states, “Even before the appearance of Israel as a nation, we find elders in the Old Testament. The zāqēn is a venerable leader, often a noble or administrator. Originally the term meant one who wears a beard, a mature man, then an older man (Judg. 19:16). Seniority and authority are closely joined in patriarchal society. The heads of families and clan exercise authority commensurate with their status.”[4] Throughout the Old Testament the elders represent the people in both political and religious activities. This was so much the case that “At the time of the Exodus, the ‘elders of Israel’ formed a definite body of men whose authority was recognized. The Septuagint translates ‘the elders of Israel’ as ‘the senate of Israel.’”[5] Clowney appends these instructive words, “What is striking about the place of elders in the Pentateuch is the way in which those who naturally exercise authority by their seniority, family position, or leadership are given ruling responsibility within the covenant.”[6] Of course, these men were not expected to rule either autonomously or in terms of leaning on their own understanding. As covenant leaders in the covenant community, the expectation was that they would exercise their derived authority by thinking God’s thoughts after him. In other words, they would follow the directives of Scripture and not deviate from them.

When we arrive at the New Testament, the principles are the same as those explained in the Old Testament. The difference between the testaments in terms of the office bearers can be summarized this way: “Certainly the great change in the pattern of government among the people of God is brought about by the fulfillment of all office in the mediatorial calling and work of Jesus Christ.”[7] That is to say, “the shift of the exercise of authority is to the community under Christ.”[8] The further explanation of what Clowney is saying is that “Men with prophetic gifts minister Christ’s word with authority, yet they are not originators the word: the authority is ministerial—not theirs, but Christ’s.”[9] In other words, authority in the New Testament Church is also derived from and based on Christ’s perfect, accomplished work. Both the office bearers as well as the congregation must remain acutely aware of this fact.

Clowney contends in addition that the New Testament offices must be viewed through the lenses of God’s providential preparation. Just as the Old Testament was the time of “promise” with regards to God’s coming Messiah, so the New Testament is the time of “fulfillment.” That being the case, “The offices that exist among the new people of God are constituted by Christ’s gifts.”[10] Quite practically, the providential angle expects us to realize that the older structures vis-à-vis “office” are not destroyed, not abrogated; rather, they are fulfilled in Christ.[11] With this as background, then, let’s look at the New Testament deacon.

Ordain or Commission?

The biblical example of laying on of hands at the ordination of deacons tends to be problematic for those in the PCA who desire to commission male and female—but really, this is mostly about females—deacons. Since that portion of the PCA Book of Church Order regarding ordination and installation of deacons is ignored, these colleagues are intentionally neglecting what God ordained to be done. That ought to count for something. For those who do go the route of laying on of hands on both male and female deacons, then I would ask where the biblical precedent and prescription for such an action can be found.

In some of the “site churches” in the PCA, there are no deacons at all. That’s just yet another means of avoiding what God teaches us in his Word. The argument for no ordained or unordained deacons goes something like this: Every member should be called upon to render service. That is correct as far as it goes, but it simply does not go nearly far enough, does it? It is rather remarkable that in a day and age when so many claim to have re-focused on ecclesiology or, to use the modern term, on what it means to be “ecclesial,” surprisingly few have tackled some of the most rudimentary aspects of the Church’s spiritual government and spiritual power.[12]

While it is patently true that the visible covenant community at large is given derived authority in the Word of God, and while it is also true that “the authority belongs to the whole membership, and is therefore democratic,” it does not follow that everyone in the congregation possesses equal derived authority.[13] The authority comes from Christ himself and “The Christian Democracy is also a Theocracy.”[14] In the Christian Church then, “A real authority is bestowed, and real powers are given” and the “ratification of the exercise of power depends on its Christ-like use.”[15] That is to say, this derived authority is to be employed in the way the Head of the Church declares it should be used—engaging the culture notwithstanding. What we observe in Scripture is an “ecclesiastical order and arrangement of service” that is ordained, delineated, and prescribed by the Lord.[16]

This Christian community is “self-governing” in the sense of self-governing following the precise dictates, commands, and instructions of the Word of God. The congregation is typically intimately involved in the election of those office-bearers that meet the biblical criteria and qualifications. For instance, “The vice-apostle Matthias and the Seven were elected by the assembly, and a similar assembly appointed Barnabas to be its delegate to Antioch.”[17]

There were, according to the Pauline corpus pastors, overseers, elders, and deacons in the early Church. This leads Lindsay to conclude that “The references to the office-bearers of the local churches are always in the plural, and the government must have been collegiate.”[18] My point here is simply that the man-made idea that “everyone is a deacon” is not biblical and needs to be put into a proper perspective. What Scripture clearly teaches is that in the early Church, in the last decades of the first century, elders and deacons were chosen by the local congregations. Moreover, “each Christian congregation had for its office-bearers a body of deacons and a body of elders—whether separated into two colleges or forming one must remain unknown—and that the elders took the ‘oversight’ while the deacons performed the ‘subordinate services.’”[19]

These established office bearers “watched over the lives and behaviour of the members of the community; they looked after the poor, the infirm, and the strangers; and in the absence of members of the prophetic ministry they presided over the public worship, especially over the Holy Supper.”[20] Many Southern Presbyterians wrote both frequently and passionately about how the equivalent of a teaching elder should not take on the tasks of the deacon, except when compelled to do so, and then only for a period of short duration. Lord willing, we shall examine some of those forebears in future issues.

There is a good lesson in this for PCA church planters who tend to be “the show” when they first start out. This is a dismal and precarious position to be in for any number of reasons, not least of which is that bad, unbiblical habits can be formed without elder and deacon wisdom to guide the church planter’s decisions. In addition, the church pastor can become all too accustomed all too quickly not to have to confer with others. Speaking about the early Church, Lindsay points out that “There is no trace of one man, one pastor, at the head of any community.”[21] Each congregation ought to strive to put a biblical model of office bearers in place as quickly as possible.

Into the Second Century

Reading through the New Testament, one can discern “the local churches creating their ministry.”[22] What did this look like? There were two changes in the understanding and application of the New Testament offices in the second century. The first change focused on the prophetic ministry and the other concentrated on the local ministry. The “prophetic” ministry passed out of existence, “its functions being appropriated by the permanent office-bearers of the local churches.”[23]

As we go forward in our investigation of this time frame, we are going to investigate the teachings of two particular documents: the Didache (or, the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) and the Apostolic Canons. In the former, “we find the Christian society ruled by a college of office-bearers who are called ‘overseers and deacons.’”[24] The latter speaks to us about “a session of elders and a body of deacons.”[25]

In the previously cited article, Ed Clowney reminds us that “We find the Didache urging that bishops and deacons be honored with prophets and teachers (15:1-2).”[26] He opines that it is possible that the earliest “deacons” were also evangelists, given the exigencies of the early Church community. If this is the case, then there is no reason to doubt that those deacons possessed a form, some form of authority. It is also noteworthy that the Didache nowhere suggests that females should fill any of the ecclesiastical offices listed.

The Apostolic Canons show us “what a small Christian community was in the last decades of the second century.”[27] This document gives us a “snapshot” of the “birth and growth of a Church with its complete organization.”[28] Through the AP, it becomes manifestly clear that” every body of Christians however small is ordered to form itself into a congregation, and the implied thought that the Christian life must be lived within an orderly Christian society before the full benefits which accompany it can be enjoyed.”[29] “But,” someone may object, “what about church plants that have no office bearers from the outset?”

In a very real sense, the Apostolic Canons took such a situation into account. It was written in a time “when a few Christian families found themselves the only believers in the midst of a surrounding paganism.”[30] (Apparently, the Apostolic Canons were written by some surfer dude living in Southern California when for Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown served as Governor.) This document prescribes that “Every church must have at least three deacons, who are to be the ministers of the people in their private and home life. They are to report on any unseemly conduct which may call for discipline at the hands of the elders.”[31] In other words, the deacons not merely possessed authority in the early Church, but they also worked closely with the elders. Deacons had the duty to move among the people and to warn, to exhort, and, if necessary, to threaten.[32] It seems that early deacons knew mixed martial arts and were acquainted with 10-12 Christian hit men.

They also went to the wealthier members of the early Christian community and “insisted” that they open their hands to support the poor and for other ecclesiastical needs.[33] There is no hint in the Sources of deaconesses. Deacons are consistently and repeatedly described as men. It is also clear that the controversial and disputed text in 1 Timothy 3:11 was not taken to refer to female deacons.

Each congregation was to have “a ministry of women.” Aha! Deaconesses. Sorry, no cigar. Congregations were to appoint three women and “They are called widows. According to the Sources, two were to persevere in prayer for all those who are in temptation. One is to assist the women visited with sickness. “She must be ready for service, discreet, communicating what is necessary to the elders…”[34]

One final comment for this installment and that has to do with the appointment of a Reader. A number of PCA churches seem to find it chic and “culturally aware” to have a female “reader” in the service. This is viewed by some pastors as an indicator that the congregation is not comprised of luddites. They might not refer to her as that, but these congregations have females who read, lead in prayer, or both and that on a regular basis. In fact, it is expected that she will. There would be questions if a female did not read or pray or both. Briefly, the “Reader” described in the Sources was to be a male who was “an experienced Christian.”[35] In addition, “His duty is to read the Scriptures during Divine Service, and it is required that he should have a good voice and a clear delivery…. He is to be able to expound the Scripture that he has read.”[36] This is a far cry from being “hip” in a pagan culture and allowing a female to do what Scripture and the later Christian tradition forbids. Lindsay is spot on when he writes, “The Reader in these ancient times did what the pastor or bishop was expected to do in later times.”[37] Precisely.

God has carefully declared and outlined what ecclesiology is and how Christians are to “do church,” to coin the trendy phrase. It used to be that churches took Exodus 25:9 seriously and understood that when God told Moses how to construct the tabernacle, he was not interested in Moses’ creativity or his ability to reach out to the nations surrounding Israel. Rather, he was more concerned about Moses thinking God’s thoughts after him and doing things God’s way.

[1] Alexander Strauch, The New Testament Deacon, (Littleton, CO: Lewis & Roth Publishers, 1992), 40.

[2] These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

[3] Cornelis Van Dam, The Elder, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 2009), 27.

[4] Edmund P. Clowney, Á Brief for Church Governors,” in Mark Brown (ed.), Order in the Offices. Essays Defining the Roles of Church Officers, (Duncansville, PA: Classic Presbyterian Government Resources, 1993), 45-46. Emphasis added.

[5] Ibid., 46. Comp Ex. 3:16-18; 4:29; 12:21.

[6] Ibid., 47.

[7] Ibid., 52.

[8] Ibid., 53.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] For an excellent Reformed description of both of these, see Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics. Vol. IV, (John Bolt [ed.] & John Vriend [trans.]), (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 326-388 & 389-440.

[13] Thomas M. Lindsay, The Church and Ministry in the Early Centuries, (NY: Cosimo Classics, 2007), 25.

[14] Ibid. Comp. Rev. 3:7 where the real bearer of the “keys” is the Lord himself.

[15] Ibid., 27.

[16] Ibid., 32.

[17] Ibid. Emphasis added. Comp. Acts 1:23; 6:5; 11:22.

[18] Ibid., 153. Emphasis added.

[19] Ibid., 154.

[20] Ibid., 155. Comp. W.F. Dankbaar, Communiegebruiken in de eeuw der Reformatie, (Groningen: Instituut voor Liturgiewetenschap, 19872).

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid., 169.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid., 170. Emphasis added.

[25] Ibid. Emphasis added.

[26] Clowney, “A Brief for Church Governors,” 55.

[27] Lindsay, The Church and Ministry in the Early Centuries, 177.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid., 178.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid., 180-181. Emphasis added.

[32] Ibid., 181.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Adolf von Harnack, Sources of the Apostolic Canons, (Edinburgh: John Menzies & Co., 1895), 19-21.

[35] Lindsay, The Church and Ministry in the Early Centuries, 182.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.


Saturday, November 06, 2010

The PCA’s New Dilemma about Deacons (VI)

I want to continue to talk about the biblical concept of “ordination” in this installment, along with the biblical notion of the laying on or imposition of hands in light of the confusion that some have concerning the non-ordination of male and female deacons, but before I do that, I want to direct our attention back to Acts 6:1-6. “The twelve” (this is the only time Luke uses this designation for the apostles) were to appoint spiritual men (anēr) for a particular “duty” (chreía). “The seven” were to serve tables (diakoneîn trapézais). In other words, they were to administer the daily distribution of food, but perhaps they were given even more to do. Let me explain. New Testament scholar Simon Kistemaker, for example, comments that the word “tables” “points to either sharing food or doling out money designated for buying food.”[1]

An important function, therefore, was placed in the hands of “the seven,” and with that function they were called upon to act as biblical stewards as administrators or mangers of God’s money and food. Alexander Strauch opines that “The task the apostles gave to the Seven was specific. Its nature is partially described as ‘the daily serving’ (Acts 6:1) and ‘to serve tables’ (v. 2). The Greek word for tables, trapeza, is often used figuratively to mean food or meals (Acts 16:34). But the term tables is also used figuratively for finances, a money table, or a bank (Luke 19:23).”[2]

According to Acts 4 (34-37), at the very least it appears that “the seven” were tasked with collecting funds for the needy in the young church, distributing either money or goods to the needy, ensuring that each local congregation justly, impartially, judiciously, decently, and effectively distributed those funds and goods, and coordinating each local congregation’s charitable services to the needy. Common sense dictates that someone has to be in charge of this and that (authoritative) decisions had to be made. Like it or not in our egalitarian world, someone had to be in charge, someone had to make (sometimes tough) decisions, and the buck had to stop somewhere with someone or with a body of responsible people. In this case, the New Testament office-bearers are the designated bodies.

I am convinced that if younger PCA pastors (and others) comprehend that the apostles, the New Testament elders, and the New Testament deacons all possess derived authority, then they will understand why the same questions are asked of both elders and deacons as well as why each congregation is given the charge according to the Book of Church Order 24-6.[3] Both the questions, the address to the congregation, the laying on of hands, the prayer, the extension of the right hand of fellowship, and the pronouncement are of a piece. In addition, they are all reasonable and plausible if you do not have an agenda somehow, by hook or by crook, to do an end run around Scripture and to please the culture by having unordained, commissioned female deacons. Also, as I mentioned in previous installments, what we find in BCO 24 is not of recent vintage. This, or something very similar to it, has been standard fare in both the Presbyterian as well as Reformed churches for centuries, especially since the Reformation. This is not to affirm that our forebears were infallible, but rather it does point us to a rich tradition and heritage that we should not be willing to jettison so easily and without substantial and substantive scriptural proof—both of which are missing from the current debate within the PCA regarding deacons generally and female deacons in particular.

Tasks Differing

“The twelve” entrusted this task of “serving tables” and all that is summarized in that phrase into the hands of “the seven,” while the apostles continued to preach the Word and to be in prayer. If there are TEs who are in a quandary about how they are to spend their time as pastors, preaching and prayer are excellent starting points. “Networking” and making sermons at Starbuck’s is way down the list. No extra charge for that. Let me ask a very simple, practical question. Here’s the scenario: If you and your wife are at dinner and there is something awry with your meal, say, a dead bee in your salad, you call the waiter over. If he is uncooperative, you do what? You ask to speak to the “manager.” Why? Quite simply because as the manager, he has some clout and can either “comp” your meal or rectify the situation. He has the authority as the manager to do what the waiter does not have the authority to do. Thus, in the New Testament, managing the food distribution and possibly money matters as well carried with it a notion of (derived) authority.

Let me give a more contemporary example of how this works in congregations with an active deaconry. Let’s say family Doe has hit a rough patch in their finances. Simultaneously, the shepherding elder has ascertained that family Doe has a history of making bad financial decisions. They have come to the deacons a couple of times before immediately after the worship service with the bad news that unless they get a check from the deacons today, their utilities are going to be cut off. That’s a problem. More than that, it’s a long-standing problem because we all know that Ma Edison does not just turn off the electricity (if you live in Mississippi, call me and I’ll be glad to explain what electricity is) without substantially good reasons. After deliberation, it is decided to cut them the necessary check. Grateful, they drive off in their newly leased SUV. The pastor scratches his head, climbs into his 1950 Ford Fairlane that has 6,000,000 miles on it, that he just paid off the week before, and heads home.

At the next combined meeting, it is decided that family Doe needs a visit from the pastor, the shepherding elder, and a deacon. At the meeting, it is discovered that those members of the congregation, who have visited family Doe, noted that they have cable TV, a nicely furnished and appointed house, and other amenities. They also wear “designer” clothes, dad and mom both have iPhones, wear Birkenstocks, and serve caviar at the home visit. (Well, okay, the caviar is a little bit of a stretch.) It is also discovered that they are deep, deep in credit card debt. They have some major financial problems. At the end of the day, it is decided that one of the deacons who is very good with finances and budgeting will be saddled, tasked with helping family Doe. In the course of time, family Doe falls back into its old, familiar habits. Finally, the deacon says something like this: “Look, here’s the deal: We are willing to help you, but you must submit yourselves to our directives or we’re done. We will not continue to finance your bad decisions. If you are willing to cooperate, we are more than willing to work with you any way we can. We will not, however, continue to pour the Lord’s money into your bad financial decisions.”

This is not only an effective, authoritative tool to employ for church members, who refuse to cooperate and to be good stewards with that which God has entrusted to them, but it is also highly effective against the “scam artists” that plague churches these days. At Grace, if an “outsider” needs assistance, he or she must attend worship first and then talk to the deacons after the service. The point here is simply this: Both the elders as well as the deacons are given “derived” authority from the Head of the Church. Without a doubt, each office has a different function, but it does not necessarily follow that the one office is an authoritative one (elder), and the other is not. It is simply that the type of derived, God-ordained authority is not identical.

I am aiming at two issues with this example. The first matter is the supposition from certain quarters that deacons have no authority whatsoever. It seems plain and clear from Acts 6:1-6 that “the seven” were administers and managers of sorts. Moreover, since each congregation is a covenant community, there is the added element of the family setting here. In a family, there are parents and usually children. God places the parents in authority and not the children. Dad and mom both have derived authority from God to be godly parents and not “buddies” and “chums” to the kids. That will come later perhaps (with any good predestination, about age 40 when the aliens return and re-insert the brains that they sucked out of dad and mom’s head when the children turned 18. That’s why it is such a good idea to keep the aluminum foil in your baseball cap).

The second issue is one of managerial authority that is part of the function of New Testament deacons. Alexander Strauch points out that “If any organization is to maintain integrity and effectiveness, good management of funds and resources is essential.”[4] Management requires (authoritative) decision making. Much of the waste in government spending today is due to and caused by poor management, mismanagement. Again Strauch is spot on when he declares that “Mismanagement and disorganization ruins families, businesses, governments, and churches.”[5] 1 Corinthians 14:40 is a constant reminder that Christ’s bride is to do everything decently and in good order.

What Does It Mean to “Ordain” to an Office?

What does the concept of “ordaining” a person to a biblically described ecclesiastical office mean? What does it mean “to ordain” an office bearer? Our English word for “ordain” comes from the Latin ordinare, which means “to set in order,” “to arrange,” or “to appoint to an office.” It is essential that we understand this: When, in Presbyterian and Reformed circles we ordain a teaching elder, ruling elder, or deacon, it is not merely a human undertaking, but rather an exercise commanded by God. The word has a wide variety of uses in the Bible (cf. Ps. 132:17; Isa. 30:33; Heb. 9:6; 1 Chr. 17:9; Hab. 1:12.)

What has precipitated some PCA pastors to question the notions of ordination to the office of deacon and ordination to the office of deacon? Both the Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart and the Evangelische Kirchen Lexicon cite several texts to validate the biblical concept of “office” (Amt).[6] Basically, fundamentally the notion of “office” carries with it the connotation that someone is in “charge.” Strauch comments that “The Greek verb that means ‘to put in charge,’ kathistēmi, is often used to express appointment to an official position, such as the appointment of a judge or governor (Acts 7:10). It can also express appointment in an unofficial sense. Either way, the verb indicates a sense of authority, as R.J. Knowling in The Expositor’s Greek Testament states: ‘The verb implies at all events an exercise of authority.’”[7]

One of the primary meanings of our notion of “to ordain,” and the one that comes closest to our purposes is, “to set apart for an office or duty.” (cf. Mark 3:14; Jer. 1:5; Dan. 2:24; John 15:16; Acts 14:23; 1 Tim. 2:7; Titus 1:5; Heb. 5:1; 8:3.) It is all the more striking and important to note that the Greek word kathistēmi is linked to the laying on or imposition of hands. This symbolic gesture is repeated throughout the histories of the Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Furthermore, in both the Old as well as the New Testament, the laying on of hands played a significant role. It signified the conveying of a blessing (Gen. 48:14), the transfer of sin (Lev. 16:21), the transfer of defilement, or to “set people apart, such as in conveying a special commission, responsibility, or authority (Numbers 8:10, 14; 27:15-23; Deuteronomy 34:9).”[8] The last-mentioned use of the imposition of hands is also carried over to the New Testament where in Acts 6:6, 13:3; 1 Timothy 4:14; and 5:22 the clear implication is once again to “set apart or place in office.”[9] In other words, it is an official, authoritative position.

Strauch concludes, then, the following: “In light of this background, it seems reasonable to assume that the imposition of hands in Acts 6 visually expressed the apostles’ blessing, commissioned the Seven to a special task (Numbers 27:22,23), and transferred the authority to do the job.”[10]

It is more than just a little ironic that those PCA churches that are most vociferous about caring for the poor, the needy, the down-and-out, the homeless, and the disenfranchised are the most hesitant to ordain deacons to the task, office, and authority to which the scriptures call them. The office and their respective related functions and tasks are clearly defined and described in what we consider to be the infallible and inerrant Word of God. Why would we want to act in any way that is not in full accordance with and submission to Scripture? Do we know better than God? The Lord has given the Church of Jesus Christ offices and office-bearers. I can understand that the emergent church, for example, does not want any “leaders.” That movement was confused from the “get go” and matters have only devolved since then. People like Brian McLaren and others in the emergent church movement act as if it is a good thing not to have leaders when both testaments clearly, unmistakenly, and unequivocally teach the precise opposite. McLaren is a non-seminary trained loose cannon, who has a very high regard of his own self-importance. He is rapidly becoming the poster boy for modern evangelicalism. But for “Presbos” and conservative Presbos not to get it boggles the mind. What are they teaching in seminary these days?

[1] Simon Kistemaker, Acts, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990), 221. Emphasis added.

[2] Alexander Strauch, The New Testament Deacon, (Littleton, CO: Lewis & Roth Publishers, 1992), 32-33. Emphasis in original.

[3] Do you, the members of this church, acknowledge and receive this brother as a ruling elder (or deacon), and do you promise to yield him all that honor, encouragement and obedience in the Lord to which his office, according to the Word of God and the Constitution of this Church, entitles him?

[4] Strauch, The New Testament Deacon, 32.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Old Testament: Ex. 28:1; 1:16; Gen. 40:13; 41:13; 1 Chr. 6:52; 23:28; Ps. 109:8; Neh. 13:14; New Testament: Luke 1:8-9; 1 Tim. 3:10; Rom. 11:13; Acts 1:20.

[7] Strauch, The New Testament Deacon, 38. Emphasis added.

[8] Ibid., 39.

[9] Ibid. Emphasis added.

[10] Ibid.