The other day Pastor Scott Sauls of Christ Presbyterian Church Nashville (CPCN) happened upon his son eating ice cream in the family kitchen.
“Son, did I not forbid you to eat ice cream?” Sauls asked.
“Dad,” the son responded, “you said I should neither ride my bike nor eat ice cream. I am not riding my bike while eating ice cream. I am only eating ice cream.”
“Right ho,” father Sauls said, “you understood perfectly.”
This, for Pastor Scott Sauls, is what it means to stand squarely on the line of Scripture.
Sauls explains his church’s decision to commission deaconesses this way: “…we want to be squarely on the line at all times. The only safe and viable place for a tightrope walker is on the line….how much more so with the Scriptures that we all believe and practice?”
How then does Sauls justify placing women both as deaconesses and teachers over men at CPCN? He writes,
Preaching versus teaching. As we will see … gifted women are encouraged to teach in many ways. So what is Paul getting at when he says he does not “permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man?” 1 Timothy 2:12-13 relates specifically to the elder office, which includes a specific type of teaching that carries unique weight and authority in the church—the authority of those whose office includes preaching (1 Timothy 3:2). Outside of this kind of teaching, and this kind of teaching alone, gifted women are encouraged to use their teaching gifts liberally within the church.
Sauls knows what Paul said is not as he claims. Sauls says Paul forbids “teaching that carries unique weight and authority.” But God, speaking through Paul, forbids a woman “to teach or have authority over a man.”
Could it be more clear?
Imagine Sauls’s approach applied to the Ten Commandments … I am not to murder or commit adultery. But so long as I keep my murders and adulteries separate, I’m okay. David’s problem was that he did both at the same time.
Or the Sermon on the Mount…. Jesus says, “Do not be worried about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor for your body, what you will put on.” But I’m okay worrying so long as I don’t worry about food and clothing at the same time …
If this is Sauls driving squarely down the line, clear the road.
These are the games a man plays who does not like the Word.
Sauls plays the conflation game elsewhere as well. In his post he claims,
We at Christ Presbyterian are by no means the first church to commission Deaconesses. Notable pastors and theologians like John Calvin, Benjamin Warfield, John Frame, Jerram Barrs, CEB Cranfield, James Montgomery Boice, Philip Ryken and Tim Keller have all taught and practiced their own versions of this.
Sauls doesn’t mention that his “deaconesses” holding office alongside “deacons” with whom they “partner” in “leadership” would scandalize Calvin and B.B. Warfield. Both men would have brought Sauls and his session up on charges.
Pastor Sauls baldly asserts that what Warfield and Calvin wrote concerning the office of deaconess is exactly what he himself has designed and implemented at Christ Presbyterian Church Nashville. This is a lie. Warfield and Calvin’s Biblical writing concerning the work of deaconesses bears no resemblance to the gelded beast Pastor Sauls has imported.